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Married in Michigan (Fifty States of Love #3)
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Cleaning up after playboy Paxton deBraun is a full time job.
His family is worth billions. They are the elite. They influence politicians. They’re the power behind the power. Paxton is their golden child, wealthy in his own right, a rising star in Washington DC’s political scene…a 21st century Jay Gatsby, prone to throwing lavish, expensive, wild, and destructive parties.
I’m a housekeeper at a hotel owned by his mother, Camilla deBraun, and I’m sent in to clean up after such a party.
What I wasn’t expecting was to find Paxton naked in his bed, passed out and breathtaking even hungover.
Even more unexpected is the proposal bombshell he drops on me: Marry him.
A man I met once, a golden god, richer than belief, gorgeous beyond comprehension, and arrogant beyond fathom.
Me, a hotel maid working three jobs to make ends meet…Marry him.
It’s supposed to be fake, more of a business agreement than marriage proposal.
Only…it turns out there’s more to this sexy billionaire than meets the eye.
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I haven’t even clocked in before Tanya, my immediate superior, is hovering behind me. I try to ignore her, but I can tell she’s a little bit stressed. I clock in, change into my uniform—a classic maid outfit: black knee-length shirtwaist dress and white apron, modest and sensible. I examine myself in the little mirror on the inside of my locker: my explosively curly brown hair is braided back into a tight, neat fishtail, the wispies around my temples clipped back with bobby pins. My blue-green eyes look right back at me, friendly and open, and I take a quick peek at my skin—the color of caramel and milk chocolate. No makeup at work because the last thing my employers want, or I want, is to be noticed while I’m cleaning rooms—it’s a contracted part of the job, as a matter of fact.
I’m a housekeeper at Beach by deBraun, a boutique hotel in Petoskey, Michigan—owned by none other than the deBrauns; a sprawling family of billionaires. The deBrauns have investments in shipping, technology, hotels, politics, and real estate. This particular hotel is a favorite of the deBrauns, personally overseen by Camilla deBraun, the matriarch of the family, as her pet project. She’s here frequently, and personally decorated every room, chose every wall color, lighting sconce, tablecloth, and piece of silverware. Every member of the staff, from housekeeping to desk clerks, are interviewed and hired and fired by Camilla. Front desk clerks are hired as much for their beauty as their skill and experience, and are taught diction by Hollywood voice coaches so as to articulate each syllable perfectly, without accent, with perfect elocution. Chefs are Michelin-starred, and even room service dishes are prepared and presented with five-star flair and elegance. Housekeepers are trained to the same exacting standards as the housekeepers at Buckingham Palace, and I am not exaggerating—Tanya’s job, as a matter of fact, is to inspect each room before it is assigned to a new guest, and she does so literally wearing white gloves. From toilets to tubs, nightstands to windowsills, every corner and crevice must be dusted to perfection, the beds turned down without a single wrinkle in the freshly laundered sheets and comforters. And we, as the housekeeping staff, are to be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen—“invisible and efficient!” is the motto Camilla insists we live by. Even the shoes we wear are checked for squeaks and creaks. Cart wheels are oiled regularly, vacuums are custom designed by Dyson for deBraun hotels in order to be as silent as possible.
Mine is a very demanding job, and one for which I am well paid.
I finish my preparations for my shift, and finally turn to face my boss. “Let me guess, someone trashed a room and no one else wants to touch it?” I ask, tying the apron around my waist.
Tanya, on the older side of middle age, with graying brown hair in a severe bun, carrying more than a few extra pounds in the usual locations, huffs. “I wish it was that easy,” she says.
I stifle a groan. “Bachelor party in one of the suites?”
“Worse,” Tanya says.
I blink. “Worse than a bachelor party…a bachelorette party then?”
She cackles. “You wish it was a simple matter of penis-shaped glitter balloons.” She eyes me with sympathy. “Let’s just put it this way—Camilla herself assigned this job to you, and she has authorized me to pay you time and a half for the work. This assignment is your sole job for today.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Time and a half? What could have happened that she’s assigning me for a full shift at time and a half?”
“Two words—Paxton deBraun.”
I groan out loud, “Shit.”
Paxton deBraun is a notorious playboy—a twenty-first-century Jay Gatsby, complete with the aura of dark, dramatic mystique, and Paxton is infamous for throwing absolutely wild parties. And by wild, I can truthfully say the stories I’ve heard make my housekeeper’s blood run cold. It seems that until last night, his mother has succeeded in keeping him away from her precious boutique hotel, but it sounds as if that run of good luck is over. I’ve spoken to other deBraun hotel employees, and they’ve cleaned up after Paxton bashes in the past, at some of the other hotels, and it was not pretty.
I shudder all over. “You’re kidding.”
Tanya sighs, patting me on the shoulder. “Nope. He threw a party in the penthouse last night.”
“Of course he did.”
The penthouse—the entire top floor of the building, with a private elevator, also comes with a private floor of the parking garage, both a private chef and a concierge available twenty-four hours a day, and a Mercedes S-Class with a private driver also available at all hours.
Let’s review a few housekeeping facts: the penthouse is an entire floor in the hotel. It takes a team of eight women working in concert for four hours to clean an entire floor’s worth of rooms. But this is just me, in a single shift, and I’m cleaning up after a Paxton deBraun party.