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Love Story Box

Juicy Pickle

Juicy Pickle

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Can you imagine getting stuck alone on a deserted island with the person you hate most in the world?

The Pickle cousins have arrived, and they are just as hilarious, and as hot.

When a boss and the assistant he just fired get stranded on a cruise line's deserted private island, the two sworn enemies will have to work together to survive with only a hand-crank margarita machine and a ten-gallon bucket of pickles.

“Comedy--yes, sexy--yes, revenge gone wrong--double yes.” ~ Pause the Frame Book Blog

Also: The ebook version is exclusive to Amazon in Kindle Unlimited. Find it there.

Boss and ex-assistant. Stranded on a deserted island. Revenge plot turned steamy.

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Book Summary

Can you imagine getting stuck alone on a deserted island with the person you hate most in the world?

Well, that’s me. Bailey Johansson, former assistant to the absolute worst boss ever to boss in the boss world. Stranded on a tiny island owned by a cruise line in an abandoned party hut.

In a tropical storm.

This is not a love story.
It’s not a tale of redemption or heroism.

It’s a revenge drama. No — a revenge COMEDY.

Because I’ll get the last laugh. The cruise ship leaving early due to an approaching storm while we yelled at each other on the opposite beach was a SIGN.

I’m going to get that man back for everything he did to me. I’ve decided that Mr. Juicy, as my old coworkers called him (yeah, THAT’S a story), is going to rue the day he ever fired me.

And no, I’m not going to fall in love with him.
At least, I better not.

__

Juicy Pickle is the wildest not-love story that ever became a love story between a boss and his former assistant, stuck together on a private island with a manual-crank margarita machine and a ten-gallon bucket of pickles, surviving primarily on adrenaline and stress-banging. It’s part of the Top 100 bestselling Pickleverse, but you do not need to read any of the other books before this one. You can start your wild adventure with the Pickle family right here.

Read Chapter One

Chapter 1: Bailey





Confidence, Bailey, confidence.

You can fake anything with the right attitude.

Fake competence.

Fake knowledge.

Fake orgasms.

Ha.

I’m good at those. Nobody’s ever really hit the spot, you know? Close. But no banana.

Banana, ha.

Salami.

Pickle.

I kill myself.

Confidence, I repeat inside my head as I approach the ticket desk. You can pull off the fake of the century. You deserve this. You earned it before it was mercilessly snatched from you.

“Hello!” says a chirpy voice. The woman at the desk is cute and perky in her snazzy Blue Sapphire uniform. “You must be here for the Dougherty Inc. employee cruise.”

Time to shine.

I lean my arm on the counter to show how casual I feel. How much I belong. “I most definitely am. I’ve worked for Dougherty for two years.”

Minus the last two weeks, since getting fired by my horrible boss, Rhett Armstrong. But she can’t know that. And I still have my cruise pass on my phone.

“Lovely.” She rests her hands on the keyboard. “First and last name?”

“Bailey Johansson.”

“Like Scarlett Johansson?”

“No relation.”

The woman’s coral-colored lips smile adoringly. “Of course.”

My hairline pops with sweat. I’ve come early, really early, twenty minutes before the official start of the check-in time, hoping to get on the boat, in my room, and in hiding until we’re in the middle of the ocean. Then nobody can kick me off, not even the evil Rhett Armstrong.

I will get my Bahamas cruise, despite getting axed.

I earned this vacation, damn it. I worked my butt off, making sure I pleased my tyrant of a boss so that nothing would get in the way of me and this anniversary cruise for the company.

I endured Rhett. His rages. His perfectionism. His ridiculous hours.

I shoved my feelings into my shoes to avoid anything coming between me and my white sandy beaches.

I did not make it.

But I was very close, close enough to have gotten a boarding pass before my untimely termination. So, I’m here anyway.

The woman taps on the keys, a frown on her face. “I’m not seeing your cabin assignment.”

I’m ready for this.

“I only just confirmed that I could come. I might not have been assigned with the others.” I turn my phone to her to show her the pass that was sent to me a month ago, before the disaster.

She peers at it and keeps tapping.

“My sister was pregnant and due this week. I wanted to be there for her. But the baby came early, so I’m here!” This is all a total lie. I’m an only child.

“That’s lovely.” She moves her mouse around. “Okay, I see you on the original passenger list. I’m so glad you could make it. Did she have a boy or a girl?”

“A boy. Maxwell.” Maxwell is the name of my cat. I love him like I would a nephew. If I had one. Or a sister.

“How precious. I got you assigned a cabin.”

“Oh, good. Thank you so much.” First hurdle crossed.

She swipes a keycard and prints several tags for my luggage. “You can wait in Lounge A. Your bags will be waiting in your cabin.” She passes me the card.

“Oh, I can’t get on board?” I hear voices behind me. Someone else is early. I press my floppy sun hat lower on my head and resist the urge to put on the sunglasses tucked into the square neckline of my sundress.

“We will board you all together. The lounge has a breakfast buffet and a coffee bar all ready for you. Enjoy talking to your co-workers as you wait.”

She looks behind me to greet the approaching guests.

Oh, boy. I didn’t bank on having to stand around before we got on the yacht.

I beeline for the open double doors of Lounge A, then hesitate before entering, making sure no one is there. Only a woman in a chef hat and blue uniform is inside, stacking plates on a long table.

I move beyond the doors, stepping to one side before turning to peer out at the group behind me. I recognize Matthew from accounting. He was the one who handled my boss’s expense checks. The woman with him is probably his wife.

Another couple enters the lobby, Gina from HR and her husband. I definitely can’t let her see me. She did my exit interview, where I dropped more F-bombs than a pissed-off truck driver. I take a step back from the door. This is going to be trickier than I thought.

I survey the lounge. There’s a coffee bar with large brown carafes and perfect rows of gleaming white mugs. A long buffet is lined with silver chafing dishes.

My stomach growls. Too bad, morning belly, we have to hide.

There’s a ficus plant in one corner that might offer some protection, but not when the room gets busy. The chef heads through a side door, presumably to a kitchen. I don’t know how long I could hang out in there before someone ushered me out.

Otherwise, there’s only this door to the front desk.

I peer into the lobby. A second Blue Sapphire employee has arrived to help with check-in, so both Matthew and Gina are occupied with getting their bags tagged.

There’s a matching set of doors on the opposite side of the desk, presumably another lounge. But those are shut tight. They might be locked.

Another short hall leads to the bathrooms. Of course. That’s a safe place, and I better get there before anyone else arrives.

I pin my straw bag to my side with my elbow and angle my head so that my hat hides my face from my former co-workers. Then I race toward the women’s bathroom, push through the door, and quickly lock myself in the last stall.

I guess I’ll stay here as long as possible.

The toilet seat is up from being cleaned. I drop it down, perching delicately on the edge. I wish I’d asked how long it would be before we boarded the boat. I can’t believe we’re going in a group. This isn’t how I thought it would go at all!

And now if I get caught, my luggage is already in a cabin. I might never get it back!

I start to stomp my foot, but I slip into the toilet. I catch myself just before my butt hits the water.

“Get it together, Bailey,” I tell myself.

Long moments pass. It’s warm in the bathroom. Sweat pops on my brow. I pull out my phone, realize the signal in here is terrible, and shove it back in my bag.

Then, the bathroom door opens and I hold my breath, listening. Someone steps in, enters the stall two down from mine, and the sound of pee hitting the water breaks the silence.

I duck down to check out the shoes. I recognize those orthopedics. They belong to Marney in marketing, without a doubt. She hated me, mainly over my never-ending requisitions, as if they were my fault and not Rhett’s. She’d rat me out in a heartbeat.

And if I recognize her shoes, then she might know mine. I stand on the toilet, kicking myself for not wearing something plain that wouldn’t give me away. I love these pink Bernie Mevs, a perfect match for my pink-and-yellow sundress, but they are too obvious and unique.

The toilet flushes, and shortly after, the outer door opens again. Is someone else here?

I wait, straining to listen, then realize the room is silent.

No, Marney from marketing just doesn’t wash her hands.

I shift carefully to get down, but I’m not coordinated enough for toilet squatting. I lose my balance, and one of my beautiful Bernie Mevs hits the toilet water with a decisive splash.

“Noooo,” I hiss, stepping to the ground and pulling my dripping foot from the bowl. “No, no, no, no.”

This is Rhett Armstrong’s fault. All of it.

But I’m going to make it onto this boat if it’s the last thing I do.

At least the water was clean. I unroll toilet paper, kicking off my shoe to dry my dripping foot. Then I do my best to soak up the wetness from the shoe. The pink is twice as dark as on the dry one. It looks ridiculous.

Damn it all.

How weird would it be to go barefoot? Weirder than shoes of different colors?

I toss the wet paper into the toilet and flush.

Stupid Rhett. Stupid firing. Stupid job.

After what feels like eternity, the door opens again. I decide to hell with it and take off both shoes, setting them on top of the metal box attached to the stall for non-flushable items. The floor was just mopped. My feet will be fine.

I don’t have to look under the door to know the person who entered is Viola, my former work bestie. She was directly involved in getting me fired, so obviously, we don’t talk anymore.

I mourned the loss of our friendship as much as the job. But I recognize the clop-clop of her Jimmy Choo mules. She wears them everywhere. She never got over finding them for five dollars at Goodwill and tells every stranger she meets all about it, whether they ask or not.

“Did you see Rhett?” Viola asks, and I realize someone else came in with her.

I duck down to look at the other person’s shoes. Black flip-flops, totally nondescript. That could be anyone.

Who would Viola come in with? We never ate lunch with anyone else. For Viola, office gossip was a blood sport, and she had no love for anyone but me.

And Rhett, of course, the subject of her never-ending Cinderella fantasy where she bangs him in his imaginary penthouse and they fly off in the private jet that also does not exist. Dougherty isn’t that rich of a company, even though this cruise is pretty posh.

Viola works in marketing with Marney. Maybe she’s with Kenna from accounting? I peer down again. I can’t tell by the ankles, but the legs are wearing capri yoga pants, and that’s totally a Kenna outfit.

Viola keeps talking. She’s like that. It can be hard to get a word in edge-wise. “See why we call him Mr. Juicy? He looks perfectly delicious in those shorts and that polo. Gawd. I’m going to juice that fruit on this cruise if it’s the last thing I do.”

“You sure?”

Yep, that’s Kenna. Her brown ponytail and make-up-free face come instantly to mind.

I peer through the crack in the door. I can only see Viola. She’s peacocking in a blue crop top and bright pink shorts with a silver sparkle belt. Her mixed blonde-and-black hair is twisted into an updo with curls popping out the top. It’s adorable.

I want to tell her it’s gorgeous, but she’s not my bestie anymore. Our falling out is as permanent as the “asshole” she once wrote in Sharpie on a white sofa at a party. The man who lived there pinched her butt in the back hall and called her “fatty.” Viola exalts her curves.

She coats her lips with a pink the exact shade of her shorts. “Mark my words. Rhett Armstrong is in the bag.”

I can’t see Kenna’s reaction, but Viola blows a kiss at herself in the mirror. “Let’s get out there. They’re about to board.”

Are they?

I wait until Viola and Kenna have left the bathroom, then I carefully slip my shoes into my straw bag and exit the stall.

I slowly pull the outer door open.

I can only see the lounge door and a narrow swath of the lobby, but it’s bustling. People talk and laugh, holding coffee cups and plates.

My traitorous stomach growls again.

Hush, now.

I spot Rhett and almost stumble backward.

Viola is right. He looks good. He’s tall and tan, his dark hair sweeping across his forehead like Henry Cavill’s version of Superman. He’s always had broad shoulders, but they are particularly prominent in his pale-yellow polo, the fabric stretching over his chest.

He smiles and shakes hands with everyone as if he owns the company. Which he does not. But he’s definitely Dougherty’s right-hand man.

Dougherty himself never visits the office. I don’t know if he’s even coming on the cruise. I worked there for two years and never met him, not even at a holiday party.

A woman I don’t know heads for the bathroom, so I quickly back away from the door and retreat to my stall.

She pees quickly, washes swiftly, and heads out. While the door is open, I hear an announcement. “If you have been checked in, you may proceed out the side door to the dock.”

I might have to wait to be the very last person on. Riskier than my dashed plan of being first, but doable.

I peer out the door again. It looks like most of the company has checked in while I hid. They’re all inching in the same direction.

Rhett moves out of view. Then Viola and Kenna. Marney. The accounting crew. A couple of guys from tech. Husbands and wives, girlfriends, boyfriends.

When no one is visible, I step out and creep to the end of the hall. The early group is already disappearing through a glass door out the back of the lobby.

There are several people checking in, but I only know Peter from the maintenance staff and he probably won’t notice me. He’s staring at his phone.

I’ll take advantage of the lull.

I swiftly cross the lobby to the side door, where a woman smiles at me. “You have your keycard?”

I nod.

She notices my bare feet but says nothing.

Outside, a sidewalk lined with decorative ropes leads to the dock. Men and women in blue suits with white caps gesture to us to keep moving. I walk slowly, trying to avoid catching up with the rest of the group. The gap between them and me stretches out.

I’ve got this.

When I arrive at the metal ramp, a man holds out his hand to help me across the tiny gap between the dock and the threshold to the ship. “Watch your step.”

I hold his warm hand for only a moment, then I’m on the boat!

Inside the entrance, a woman waits, alone in a wood-paneled entryway. “Let me check your card, and I’ll direct you to your cabin.”

I pull it from the front pocket of my bag. She taps in the number, and a diagram appears on the screen. “Here’s where we are,” she says, pointing to a pulsing green dot. Dotted lines appear. “Follow the hallway to the right until it ends, then go up one set of stairs and your cabin will be about five doors down.”

I take my card. “Thank you.”

Voices trickle in from the outdoors. People are coming. I hurry toward the stairs, my feet flying along the navy carpet patterned with silver diamonds.

The boat smells lightly of cleaners and the sharp tang of the ocean. The walls are pale blue fading into white near the top, crystals affixed to the wallpaper in an artsy scatter, glinting in the wall lamps. It’s fancy.

The upstairs hall is mercifully empty. I find my door, scan my card, then I’m in my room.

Safe.

I let out a long sigh and look around.

The cabin is larger than I expected for a cruise. A narrow bed fills one side with a sofa on the other. A gold-framed instructional image explains how to pull out the sofa to make an extra-large bed that spans the cabin. Cool.

The bathroom is blue and silver with a shower, sink, and toilet. A sliding door on the other side leads to a balcony so tiny that only one person can fit. But it’s there.

My cabin is ocean-side, and the bright blue water fills the horizon.

I’ve done it.

A knock at the door startles me so hard that I whip around and bang my knee on the corner of the bed. Damn it! I half-hop, half-stumble to the peephole. Please don’t be Rhett Armstrong.

A young man in a blue uniform stands outside with my mismatched bags. Thank God. I twist the lock and open the door.

“So sorry for the delay, ma’am. Here are your bags.” He rolls them inside. “Sorry if I’m in a hurry. We’re a little behind.” He tips his hat and heads back out.

I press my hand to my chest to slow my slamming heart. You’re okay, Bailey. Just hole up until we’re away from the dock.

I start to close the door.

A shadow is my first hint someone is coming.

Please be another employee!

But I see a classic boat shoe, an ankle, and a well-toned leg.

It’s Rhett.

Oh, God.

I slam the door right as I spot his yellow shirt and sweeping hair.

Did he see me?

I lean against the door and close my eyes, waiting for the worst.

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