Stranded with the Rockstar
A stewardess and the world’s favorite rockstar are stranded together in the middle of the ocean. Can these enemies find a way to survive together, or will the bigger battle be for their hearts?
Just like thousands of girls, Vivien Stevens watched as her teen idol became the biggest name in country music. Now an adult, she lands a job as a stewardess on his private plane, ready to act professional and polite though her inner fifteen-year-old wants to fangirl. But when they meet, it’s obvious he’s very used to fangirling and he doesn’t need it from her. So, the sparks shooting through her system? She can bury those.
Blade Jackson enjoys a lot of nice things with his hard-earned money–and so do a lot of other people. It seems like the only friends he’s got aren’t friends at all – always calling in favors or making him pick up the check. He wishes he could find someone–just one person–who could see the man behind the rockstar.
On a trip to Getaway Bay, the engines on his plane stall. When the plane goes into the ocean, Blade and Vivien are the only ones washed up together on a deserted island. Survival is the name of the game, but Blade finds it hard to survive when the woman he’s falling for wishes he’d fall off a cliff.
Can Vivien see the good in Blade? Or will she put impenetrable walls around her heart and close off the possibility of true love?
Maybe Vivien should marry a pilot. There were a lot of eligible men in that part of the industry. Or maybe she went after someone who was on the ground. Air traffic control men had power and stability, even though they ran very stressful jobs.
“You have a serious look on your face.” Timothy, the current pilot of the plane Vivien worked, tapped her shoulder gently. “Are you thinking of jumping?” He wiggled his blond eyebrows at her as he rolled his eyes in the direction of the main cabin.
Timothy definitely didn’t run short on stewardess attention. If Vivien were going after husband material in someone like him, she’d be better off jumping. She grinned, reaching into the top drawer in front of her and pulling out a stack of napkins. “No, but if I do, I’ll make sure to leave you the parachute.”
He nodded and poked his head out into the cabin, addressing the three men lounging in the stuffed leather seats. “Gentleman, we’ll be approaching Getaway Bay in just under four hours. Please, let your stewardess know if you need anything.” He ducked back behind the partition separating the two sections and lowered his voice again. “They’re all yours.” He patted her back, his hand lingering longer than Vivien would have liked, but not long enough for her to say anything.
She hated gray areas.
Shooting him a tight smile, she poured sparkling water over the circle-shaped ice cubes and tucked a straw into the bubbling depths.
Jumping wasn’t on her list of activities when she was frustrated. Dumping the drinks into the plane owner’s lap would be vastly preferable. The door clicked behind Timothy as he returned to the cockpit of the smaller plane, rejoining the co-pilot.
Saying smaller plane just meant it wasn’t a 747, but it was bigger than a crop-duster in Vivien’s hometown south of Amarillo, Texas. The owner didn’t do little and the plane matched his brand.
He also didn’t do polite, or kind, or anything else that might make him more appealing as a human. What he lacked in personality he made up for in looks and talent.
Vivien arranged the final drink on the tray and placed it back on the cart beside the sushi trays and antipasto dishes he had ordered. She took a deep breath. Any time she was around him, she could feel the attraction in her skin and the irritation in the room.
She took a deep breath, pushing her sassiness to the side and resetting her shoulders. She could do what needed to be done. She had to do what it took to keep her job. The cushy hours, great pay, and relaxed environment – for the most part – were exactly what she needed to get out of debt and keep her anxiety low. Too many people stressed her out.
Opening the silent partition and clicking it into place to stay open, Vivien pushed the stainless-steel serving cart into the cabin. Her smile felt glued in place and maybe a piece of it was. As enviable as her job was, there was no true joy. Maybe what she needed to do was get out of air service and move into something else – like catering.
The first two men sitting together didn’t own the plane, but they definitely benefited from its use. Bobby O’Hare and Jesse Stevenson worked for the owner in some capacity. With their heads close together, they whispered between themselves, every once in a while, glancing back at the other passenger. Across from each other at a small table, they leaned over the surface, not leaving much room for the items she needed to set down.
Their crisp suits and shining watches gave away their wealth, but they were only rich because of the man Vivien didn’t want to look at just yet.
“I’m not going to tell him, just yet. I don’t want him to fire us.” The man on Vivien’s left tapped the table and glanced up at her. “Did you bring my rum and coke, sweetheart?” His gaze traveled the length of her shape and when he discovered she wasn’t tall, lanky, and blonde, he dismissed her, glancing back at the man on her right. His thick red hair and freckled skin wouldn’t be comfortable in the sun in Hawaii. Vivien held onto that thought as she worked on not dumping his food on him. He thrust his finger at the table. “If you had just done what I told you to do, the money would be in the bank and we could have quit before everything caught up to us.”
Shooting Vivien an uncomfortable glance as she set cups and plates on the table, the second man with thick lips and a weak chin wrapped his fingers around the sweating glass. “I told you, access to his accounts was changed. I couldn’t get in over the last few weeks. I think he’s onto us.” He leaned over, glancing down the short aisle to the man in the last of the three rows of lounge-style chairs with tables.
Vivien wasn’t ready to look on him yet. She smiled politely at the men as if she hadn’t just heard them plotting to steal from her boss and theirs. “Is that everything, gentlemen?” She ignored as they waved her off, stuck in their conspiracies and duplicities. Their boss wasn’t a nice guy, but that didn’t justify stealing from him. No matter how rude he’d been or was.
Unable to avoid him any longer, Vivien turned toward the last man in the cabin and the first man most women dreamt about. Okay, the first real love of Vivien’s life – except he never knew it. She had his posters around her room when she was fifteen-years-old and listened to all his albums on repeat.
Blade Jackson. His crooning country songs spoke of heartache and loss and hope and rodeos. All the things that made Vivien’s heart work like it should. She rolled the cart toward his seat close to the window and stopped it in line with the table. He didn’t move or acknowledge that she’d even arrived.
Leaning against the window his hand propped under his chin, Blade appeared to have fallen asleep. That wouldn’t be a stretch since the world’s most famous country singer never seemed to stop and take a break. He worked tirelessly as he zipped from studios to show venues to movie sets and more. Vivien watched from afar as he appeared bored with the things he did even though he never stopped.
Everyone he came in contact with on the plane or around the plane had been subjected to his biting remarks and rude disposition.
Grabbing up a napkin, Vivien set it on the table and then placed his sparkling water on top of it. The first time she’d flown with him had been about six months previously and she would never forget the dashing of her crush, the biting sting to his tone, or the fact that she could never be herself at her job because he wouldn’t appreciate her personality.
His chair had been tilted back as if he were trying to sleep. Blade had a bedroom in the back he could sleep in, but the flight to Getaway Bay wasn’t supposed to take longer than six or seven hours. A plush cashmere blanket had slipped from his lap to the floor, the blue and brown material pooled at his feet and covering his cowboy boots.
Vivien placed a plate of nachos beside his drink and pushed the cart past the seat so she could stoop down to the ground. A blanket that nice didn’t belong on the ground. She could pick it up and replace it on the sleeping man, and he’d never know.
As long as his sultry gaze wasn’t staring at her, Vivien could keep her mind focused on the task at hand. She wrapped her fingers around the edge of the blanket and tugged the blanket up his legs, careful not to move too fast or nudge him in any way.
Her efforts at stealth were in vain. He dropped his hand and turned his face her direction, his expression hard to read. Scanning her from head to foot, Blade arched an eyebrow and then pulled the blanket from her grip. “Not interested.” He drew a booted ankle up to rest on the opposite knee and reached for his glass.
Appalled at what he’d suggested, Vivien gaped at him. She’d been trying to be helpful, kind even, and his response was that he wasn’t interested? Interested in what? The blanket? She stood, arching an eyebrow and mocking his expression as she stated clearly. “Neither am I.” She gripped the cart and tugged it behind her as she turned from his table, ignoring the startled expression crossing his face.
Score one for Vivien.
She ignored the other men as she ducked back into the “safe” zone of the plane where Blade and his guests never went. Returning the items on the cart to their rightful places, Vivien held her jaw clenched. Her hands shook in anger.
Of all the rude and brutish and boorish things to assume. Who did he think he was? Of course, he knew who he was, but that didn’t mean he had to act like he was some power-drunk god or something. The man bled like the rest of them. Didn’t he have goals and dreams like normal people? Or maybe he’d hit all the dreams possible. Maybe he was bitter because there was nothing left to pursue.
Well, whatever the case, Vivien wondered if she’d lose her job for lying. Of course, she was interested. Wasn’t every female with a pulse on the planet interested?
Over the last half a year, Vivien’s interest in him had waned. She knew he wasn’t the type of man to have a relationship with or to even hope for a chance with. His attitude had spurned the tearing down of all her posters and other swag from concerts and his brand. But that didn’t mean she didn’t like the way he looked or the way he sang his songs.
She just had to remember who he was on stage was nothing like who he was in real life. Vivien would let herself crush on the brand but the man she’d leave alone.
There was only so much jerk a girl wanted in her life.
Blade couldn’t quite make out the whispering from Bobby and Jesse’s corner of the plane. Resting his chin on his hand and closing his eyes, he could make out a word here and there but he wasn’t sure he could get much out of the and him. Certainly, not enough to warrant firing them. He’d caught some inconsistencies in his accounts and he’d limited access a while back.
He suspected they were trying to get more out of him than he already paid the lazy bastards. As it was, Blade couldn’t prove anything. Until he could, he was working on paranoia and suspicion. Two states a man didn’t want to be in for a long period of time.
The stewardess surprised him. Again. And again. This time, though, her snarky reply left Blade speechless as she walked away, her curvy hips swaying side to side like the world’s best pop dancer.
When Timothy, his main pilot, had suggested Blade hire a new stewardess to replace the one who had just had a baby, Blade told him to take care of it. Blade didn’t have the time to deal with those things. The appearance of a new airline hostess the next time the plane had been ready hadn’t been unexpected.
As she’d stood beside Timothy and Trevor, the co-pilot, the stewardess had clasped her hands at waist level and bounced on the balls of her feet. Her smile, though attractive, had been too excited as she watched him and his group approach.
Another fan. Blade needed to have some drooling woman swooning all over him as she tried to act out her teenage fantasies about as much as he needed to rope a tornado. Blade had stopped to shake Timothy’s hand and then put on his best female deterrent attitude he had. He ogled her with a practiced leer. “Who is this delicious tart?”
Used to Blade’s artifices, Timothy had laughed, introducing the woman who barely held her smile in place. Blade ignored the dashed excitement in her gaze. He didn’t care what she thought or if she liked him. She was to work for him in the privacy of his plane where he went to escape fans and adoring people who wanted his money and his fame.
Blade had ignored her extended hand as he brushed past her to get on the plane.
Every encounter since had been tense but professional. Exactly how Blade preferred it. He couldn’t help that he noticed the way she looked. Or that he’d started flying a lot more. He was male and she had an enticing allure to her curves and the openness to her expressions he found refreshing.
Sipping his sparkling water, Blade glanced into the bubbles popping up around the ice cubes. Not for the first time did he wonder if she might have added something to his drink to make him decidedly more uncomfortable. The woman was a vixen and he wouldn’t put it past her.
Except she was never anything but professional unless provoked. And to be honest, Blade had provoked her. He knew she wasn’t trying to be fresh with him. She had retrieved the blanket he’d accidentally kicked off. In the cabin the temperature was kept low and Blade liked having a blanket on his lap.
He’d spoken harshly to her to remind himself she wasn’t his type and he didn’t mix business with pleasure. Plus, she had the makings of a groupie and Blade had those in spades.
Her nametag read Vivien, but Blade had never called her by name. She wasn’t his type. No. She had dark brown curly hair that she clipped back off her face and large brown eyes. Her fair skin reminded him of a fairytale his mom liked to read him growing up where the princess had lips like a red rose and skin like snow. He hadn’t thought someone could actually exist like that. Apparently, that princess had grown up to be his stewardess.
Blade preferred them tall, blonde, and stupid. That way they were harder to insult and they had confidence oozing off them like perfume.
Because there was one secret no one knew about Blade and he couldn’t afford for anyone to find out.
He drowned in insecurity. For all his money, and albums, and fans, and everything else he could attribute to his fame – he experienced more fraud syndrome than he’d ever thought possible. Fraud syndrome where he believed any second the world would wake up and realize he couldn’t sing, that he wasn’t that good-looking, or even that they didn’t like country music.
No matter what, he’d never let anyone know just how uncertain about himself he was. He wore confidence and boredom like a suit of armor, wrapped around him tight.
Blade turned his gaze out the window to take in the expanse of blue ocean peeking between the fluffy clouds beneath them. Why wouldn’t he be insecure? His high-class girlfriend slept with his drummer, his business manager had been caught in a Ponzi scheme, the guitar player and his best-friend wanted to change the direction of the group, even though the group was more Blade than anyone, and his dad had texted him that morning to let him know his favorite mare had died over the weekend.
If anyone lived a country song sob story, it was Blade. Who knew, it might just get him another Emmy.
Unable to stop thinking about her, Blade glanced again in the direction the stewardess had disappeared. He wasn’t used to getting sassed back. Maybe she needed a reminder on who was boss.
He set the plastic cup on the table and unclicked his seatbelt, ignoring Bobby and Jesse as they fell silent when he stood. Oh yeah, they were up to something. He just wasn’t sure what.
Reaching up, Blade trailed his fingers along the close ceiling of the cabin as he moved toward the shut partition. He didn’t even glance toward the men he’d hired to keep his business ventures safe. His business was in trouble and he couldn’t trust them to save it. When he reached the partition, he didn’t knock or anything. He just opened the door and went inside the service area. The plane was his. He could go anywhere he wanted.
Vivien stood with her head bent as she organized something, moving with short deft motions. She didn’t know he was there as she tapped her foot and hummed a song that definitely wasn’t his. Hitting the beat with the side swing of her hips, she subtly danced to the rhythm. Maybe she wasn’t a fan of his any longer. For some reason that disappointed him. It shouldn’t have since he’d worked to squash any positive emotion toward him, but it did.
His shoe scraped on the floor and she stopped dancing to turn, pressing her hand to her chest. She took a deep breath, something sparking in her eyes until she quelled it. “Mr. Jackson. What can I do for you, sir?” She blinked at him as if he hadn’t just caught her dancing at work.
The dark blue uniform with its knee-length skirt and white blouse fit her well without being immodest. Colors that shouldn’t have been flattering on her complemented the tone of her skin and enhanced the dark curls struggling to get free from her up-do.
“I…” What had he gone there for? To see her? To call her on her attitude? All of it seemed trite and he suddenly didn’t know what exactly he’d set out to do. He cleared his throat and motioned toward his neck. “Do we have lemon and honey? My pipes are sore.” He wasn’t sore. He was just embarrassed.
She nodded. “Of course, sir.” Turning, she reached into a pocket closet and pulled out the items, making him a hot lemon and honey water concoction just as he’d asked. She turned again, offering him the saucer with the cup on it.
As a rule, he didn’t say thank you. He wasn’t sure why he’d started it, but he’d stopped using his manners. He suddenly realized how disappointed his parents would be as he forsake a lot of his simple Montana upbringing.
Suddenly, the plane lurched, sending Blake backward against the wall. He dropped the cup, reaching out to pull the falling Vivien toward him. Something made a screaming sound from outside the plane as the lights flickered off.
They toppled to the floor as the plane didn’t right itself.
Vivien fit in Blade’s arms – something odd to note as they careened about in the sky.
The cart slid to the side, bumping Blade’s shoulder as it moved. Something rolled around the floor, moving with the plane. Vivien was shaking. Blade tightened his arms around her back, pulling her closer as he reached toward the yellow floatation devices tucked under the foldup seats for the service area.
He yelled over the volume of the engines. “Put this on!” She nodded, tugging the neck piece over her head and rolling from his arms to fix the strap about her torso and waist. They were over the water. There was nothing else that would help them as much as those floatation devices would.
Blade mimicked her movements, unable to click the strap into place. Vivien glanced at him, her eyes wide as she acknowledged what they were going through. She leaned over, reaching behind him and adjusting the strap and then clicking it.
Almost as if they were on a rollercoaster, the pitching and weightlessness softened and then intensified. Blade braced himself between the two walls, reaching out and grabbing Vivien’s hand. He opened his mouth to ask if she was alright when everything went black.
Warm water lapped at Vivien’s shoulders, moving her hair around her head. Tight plastic seams dug into the flesh under her chin and along the sides of her neck. A twisted strap kept her body attached to the device keeping her afloat.
She couldn’t remember what had happened. Blade held her hand and was about to say something when the plane had seemed to crumple in on itself and then split in two. Everything else was a blank screen in her mind.
Blinking, she opened her eyes, half expected to find a huge ocean around her and sharks circling her body.
Her relief that nothing circled her coupled with the overwhelming gratitude when she tried to turn around by kicking her feet but found herself limited by sand and corral under her. She stood, her bare feet flinching as she straightened on the sharp edges of the corral and lava rocks. Only about fifteen feet from shore and the water wasn’t more than three or four deep.
She wasn’t out in the middle of the ocean. She’d made it to shore – some kind of shore. Maybe she was lucky and she’d made it to Hawaii.
Water dripped down her face and she walked carefully out of the soft waves pushing her closer to land and then pulling her back. Silky sand wiggled between her toes and then shifted out again. The more she emerged from the water, the heavier she felt. Parts of her ached she hadn’t realized she had.
Stumbling from the water, she fell to the warm sand, bending her knees to set her legs to the side as she stared out at the sapphire blue of the waters. Where was she? If she was in Hawaii, where were the leis? The men performing hakas? Where was the roasting pig?
Vivien swallowed, a salty taste in her mouth she desperately wanted to replace with the refreshing taste of water. She reached up, unhooking the life jacket from her waist and pulling it off over her head. She set it to the side. Wringing the water out of her hair, she shoved it behind her shoulders and took a deep, steadying breath. She couldn’t sit there all day. She had to find help.
Who had made it? There were six people on that plane and so far, she was the only one who made it. For some reason, that left her disoriented. She’d been responsible for the men in the back and their well-being. The only one she knew had a flotation device on was Blade. Had he made it?
Everything had happened so fast, she hadn’t been able to check on them or on the pilots. What could have gone wrong? She had no idea what had happened.
Okay, she was obviously on an island. Which one, though? It didn’t matter. She needed to find someone and get help. The whole rest of the plane needed to be found. If she was the only one there so far, she needed to help the others get rescued.
She’d worry about her job later – if at all.
The only sound was the crash of the waves at her feet. Humid air clung to her, cloying as if it teased her about potentially drying off, although not any time soon.
Stretching her hands to her sides, Vivien pushed herself to stand. Legs shaky, she got her bearings under her. She would stick to the edge of the shore, so she wouldn’t get lost. Leaving the flotation device where she’d sat, she took off in the direction she assumed was north. Maybe. For all she knew she was stuck on the east part of the moon.
Every step hurt but not her feet. Her muscles felt bruised and battered. That was okay. She could shake it off. At least nothing was bleeding or missing. She could get help for the others just fine in her condition.
Glancing behind her, Vivien took in the beach she’d washed up on. It looked like a crescent bay with lava rocks projecting out like fingers into the water, protecting the sandy shore. Trees lined the shore about twenty feet from the water’s edge. Pushing across the soft, shifting sand, she soon reached the lava rock protruding toward the sky in a gradual slope from the sand.
At the top of the rock, Vivien turned to survey her position and her jaw dropped. She could see the other side of the island from where she stood, across more lava rock, a clearing, and all the way to another beach on the opposite side of the island. The island in whole couldn’t be more than thirty or forty acres.
Still searching for something, she just wasn’t sure what, Vivien forced herself to move forward, scanning the land and the water. Maybe she held out hope for survivors or supplies, or something. Or maybe she hoped she’d been wrong and she was just on a peninsula for a bigger island. Any of those scenarios would be preferable to being alone on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere.
She covered the distance to the other beach in moments, breaking onto the sand from the rocks and trees with her arms akimbo. The waves felt different on this side of the island, but she couldn’t put her finger on why.
The beach sand had more drift wood on it, plus there seemed to be an abundance of shells spotting the cream-colored sand. A man lay on the sand, his dark hair visible from where Vivien stood. She sighed in relief, tears finally pricking the sides of her eyes. She must have been in some kind of shock to keep her emotions at bay.
She lengthened her stride, pushing through the thick sand, moving faster and faster as she reached her fellow survivor.
She’d even take him at this point. Kneeling beside him, Vivien gently shook his shoulder. “Blade? Are you okay?” She pressed her fingers gently against the side of his neck to check for a pulse, glad to see his chest rose and fell with each breath.
He jolted upright, spinning toward her as if he wasn’t sure what to make of her there. A slight trickle of red streaked his flesh from under his hair line. He pressed his fingers to his forehead and closed his eyes. “What do you want?”
Vivien reared back. Was he joking? Even out there, just the two of them, he was still going to be rude to her? “Excuse me?”
He opened his eyes slowly, squinting in the glaring sunlight. “I asked what you want? Did you bring an ambulance or anything with you?” His wet blue t-shirt clung to his muscles and they flexed as he moved.
Vivien had never been more repulsed by him and yet she wanted to run her fingers down his chest. She had something wrong with her to be attracted to a man with such a personality flaw. She folded her arms over her chest and narrowed her eyes. “Go fetch one yourself.” She didn’t bother telling him good luck on finding one. If Blade had looked for anyone else, he would have noticed they were stuck on a tiny island without any sign of other people around them.
He blinked at her as if she’d grown five heads. Slowly, he lowered his hand to his side and stared at her as he walked past. He moved with exaggerated slowness like he expected something to hurt. Vivien had no doubt it did.
In seconds, he reached the trees where Vivien knew he would be able to see the other side of the island. She turned to face the water, ignoring him and the despair that had to be rippling through him. He was still human, right? She was discouraged and she’d already had some time to adjust to the discovery.
After a few minutes, he returned to her side, staring at the water like they both watched the same show. “We need to build a fire and a shelter.” His idea had merit, but the way he said it suggested he expected Vivien to do it.
There was no job to worry about and now that she’d survived a plane crash, she had to admit, she didn’t want to work for a rude man anymore. She had other talents she could use to further her spot in life. She didn’t need to be rich. She just wanted to pay off her debt and be happy.
“We? Did you pack someone in your pocket?” Vivien planted a hand on her hip and turned her attention toward him.
“What?” Blade glanced at her, his focus shifting from the waves to her face. He blinked like he hadn’t heard her right, but Vivien hadn’t stuttered or whispered.
She couldn’t believe it. He was going to hold onto his rudeness? Even out there on the island? No. She wasn’t going to tolerate it and she didn’t have to. Shaking her head, Vivien poked her finger his direction and adjusted her feet so she faced him square on. “Let’s be clear, Blade. I’m not stranded with you. You’re rude and uncouth. Your money is worthless out here. If we die? You’ll be in the same sandy pile that I am.” She clamped her mouth shut before words her mama taught her not to say came out.
She shook her head and turned from him, stomping away, but stopped before she got too far away. Spinning back to him, she smiled. “Oh, and I quit.” Whirling back to her path away from him, Vivien took a deep breath. She hadn’t said everything she wanted to say and she most likely would regret her decision to stay by herself, but at least it was on her terms. She didn’t have to tolerate him anymore. If she survived the situation, she wouldn’t go back to stewarding. She had a lot of options open to her and she refused to live another minute catering to a man with no manners and no respect of others.
For the briefest moment, she longed to have access to her albums so she could destroy them. But they were her favorite, even if an egotistical monster had created them. She didn’t have to punish her music-loving side just because the man was a jerk.
As she stomped across the clearing to the other beach where she’d washed up, she split the island mentally. He could stick to his side and she’d stick to hers. May the better person survive.
And may the rude rockstar fall off a cliff.