I've Got This Read online

  Table of Contents



  Author’s Note

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen


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  I’ve Got This

  By Louisa Masters

  A Joy Universe Novel

  Derek Bryer loves his life. His job as an assistant director at Joy Universe, the second-largest theme park complex on the planet, makes him indirectly responsible for bringing joy (pun intended) to millions of people. So what if none of his relationships are that close? Everyone he meets loves him.

  Except Trav Jones. For some reason, the visiting Broadway performer would rather Derek just go away. He appreciates Derek’s work ethic, though, and after Trav steps up when Derek desperately needs someone to fill in for his sick staff, Derek seizes the chance to convince Trav he’s not such a bad guy.

  Falling in love while distracted by a murder at the park, food poisoning, and colleagues placing bets on their relationship won’t be easy, but between the two of them and with the magic of Joy Universe, they’ve got this.

  Once again, for Becky Johnson, who insisted this book was worth it when I was ready to give up. Don’t tell her how right she was!

  Author’s Note

  JOY UNIVERSE is obviously fictional, but I don’t think it takes much effort to guess what it’s based on. Disclaimer: I have never run or even worked at an entertainment complex of that size, and freely admit there’s probably a lot I’ve got wrong. I hope you love it anyway.

  Chapter One


  I JUST can’t help it—I sing loudly to myself and the cars around me as I drive to work. Well, considering the speed traffic is moving at, it’s unlikely anyone in those cars can hear me, but I like to think that maybe I’m brightening someone’s morning with my off-key warbling along to the radio. Everyone should be as happy to face the morning as I am.

  Admittedly, I have a pretty great life. I’m thirty-seven and have great parents who live far enough away that I don’t have to see them too often. I’m also financially independent, with friends around the country—the world, actually, thanks to my employer’s propensity for hiring talented people from around the globe—and generally get along with everyone. I can recognize the good things about myself—and the not-so-good things, but why would I want to tell you about those? Let’s call it confidence. I’m confident in myself. And that means that most mornings I wake up happy to face the day.

  Some people hate their jobs. Not me. I’ve worked damned hard since graduating college, and now I’m in the enviable position of being an assistant director at the second-largest entertainment complex in the world—the youngest ever assistant director. For those of you who don’t know, that’s Joy Universe, a resort and theme park complex in southern Georgia, not far from the Florida state line. JU has four theme parks, twenty-six resorts and three campgrounds, and a shopping and entertainment village that rivals anything on offer anywhere else.

  The downside? The complex is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, except for the town that was established to provide housing and services for staff. It’s called Joyville, and is now a thriving small city, actually beginning to attract residents who don’t have any connection to JU—although, as a long-term resident myself, I don’t know why. Still, the University of Georgia recently decided to build a campus in Joyville, so I guess it’ll keep on growing.

  I’m just turning in the entrance of the JU complex when my phone rings, cutting off the musical talents of whatever pop star the radio was playing. I flick a glance at the in-dash display.


  It’s Dimi, my assistant. He’s an ambitious overachiever, so he usually beats me to the office, despite the fact that I get there at seven thirty and he’s not required to start work until eight. The point is, he knows exactly when I’m due to arrive, so the only reason for him to call is if there’s an emergency.

  I’m just about to hit the button to accept the call when sirens shatter the morning calm. A peek in the rearview mirror shows two police cars, lights flashing, tearing around the corner from the highway. They zip past me as I answer. “Are those sirens for us?”

  “Murder at Tiki,” Dimi says tersely.

  Double fuck.

  A horn blares through the speaker, and Dimi swears. He’s in his car, probably headed from the office to the resort. We don’t get deaths too often, let alone murder—on average less than five deaths a year in the whole of JU, which considering how many million people visit each year is pretty amazing. Most of the deaths are from natural causes—like heart attacks—or accidents because people don’t follow safety instructions. Only twice in the history of the complex, which is fifty-seven years, has the fault for a death been found to lie with JU. Murder is even less common—in the last ten years that I’ve been working here, we’ve had one. Our security in the parks and the village is intense, and in the public areas of the resorts too, but there’s only so much we can do in the guest rooms.

  “I’m five minutes away,” I tell him, hanging a U-turn. It’s a lie, or would be normally, since Tiki Island Resort is halfway across the complex from where I am now, but I don’t plan to adhere to the posted speed limit. Thank God it’s early and there’s not too much traffic on the complex roads. “Tell me what you know.”

  “Not much, sorry, Derek,” he says. “Resort housekeeping got a call about thirty minutes ago from one of the deluxe bungalows, requesting a linen change, so they sent a housekeeper over. We’re not entirely sure of the details from that point, because the night manager says she’s hysterical, but apparently there’s blood everywhere, a dismembered body on the bed, and another guest acting like nothing’s wrong.”

  Fuck fuck fuck. Could this get any worse? Our housekeepers for the deluxe bungalows are pretty unshakable. They see a lot of weird shit, because those rooms go for over a thousand bucks a night and rich people can be eccentric—hence the reason nobody batted an eye at the request for a linen change before seven in the morning. But a dismembered body… yeah, that could freak out even the most jaded housekeeper.

  “Is the situation contained?” The road is completely clear, so I press down on the accelerator. Our security team actually monitors the roads for speeding drivers, since guest safety is one of our highest priorities, but security should already be aware that we have a grisly murder on our hands and will likely not stop me from getting there as soon as fucking possible.

  “As much as it can be. The housekeeper hit her panic button and got the hell out of there. Security found her about twenty feet away, hiding behind a tree. They say she was pretty composed when they first got there, but then fell apart. They’ve got eyes on the door and have quietly evacuated the guests on either side—thank God it wasn’t a standard room.”

  Hell, yes. Standard rooms at Tiki are in long buildings and share walls with each other, whereas the deluxe bungalows are completely separate and actually have about fifteen feet of space between them. If this had happened in a standard room, JU policy dictates that security would have had to evacuate the entire building—fifty rooms, and up to two hundred guests. A nightmar