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More Than Desire You
Author: Shayla Black

 

ABOUT MORE THAN DESIRE YOU

 

 

I seduced her for revenge…but I won’t let up until she’s mine.

 

I’m Xavian Costa—financial master, maverick, and manwhore. Since my dad ran out before I was born and my best friend slept with the woman I intended to marry, I don’t get close to people. But Parker, who poached my ex, is now a bestselling author with a movie deal, and he’s modeled his villain after me to ruin my reputation. I want revenge.

 

Then his innocent little sister, all grown up, traipses into my office. To save her burgeoning business, she needs a fake fiancé. Since she’s the sexiest brunette I’ve ever seen, I’m happy to help—for a price.

 

We begin our whirlwind “engagement,” and I get to know Corinne, not as the gawky teenager I remember, but as a beautiful woman.. She’s sweet, sassy, and smart as hell. I admire her kindness. I relate to her ambition. And I love the way she moans when I take her to bed. Soon, I’m falling and questioning my plans to use her to destroy Parker. But when our sham blows up in my face, I’ll have to prove to Corinne that I feel more than desire for her until she says yes for real.

 

 

Thursday, Late August

Maui

 

 

Xavian

 

 

I figured I would be notorious someday…but I didn’t count on it happening like this.

My phone buzzes for about the hundredth time in the last ten minutes. I glance at the screen. “Son of a bitch.”

Again, I silence the device. Still nothing but paparazzi, press, and professional gossipmongers wanting me to comment about my former “friend’s” monster bestseller Pushed Too Far. So they can twist my words to fit their BS narrative? Fuck that.

It’s a goddamn Thursday, and the Dow is ending the session by taking a dump. Since I’m a broker who helps manage a few billion dollars of other people’s money, I expected at least a few panicked calls from investors. This morning has been too silent. It’s a bad sign. I’ve gritted my teeth so much, it’s a wonder my molars aren’t dust.

Across the breakfast table, the oldest of my half siblings, Maxon Reed, cocks his head. “Damn, X. You weren’t kidding. The shit over this book really has blown up.”

“Right in my face,” I grouse, stabbing a potato with my fork. “It was bad enough when that fictionalized ‘tell-all’ piece of trash released and shot to the top of the bestseller lists.” It sat there, packed full of lies, for months. Unfortunately, it’s back again because the movie is dropping.

Tomorrow.

“I remember the speculation. Everyone wanted to know the true identity of the nefarious Xayden Coast character.”

I snort. It wasn’t too hard for internet sleuths to prowl through author Parker Emerson’s past to come up with my name and spread it. After all, Xavian Costa is ridiculously close. Media outlets picked up on it and speculated about me some more. Parker has stopped just shy of confirming my identity in interviews. He knows I’d sue the shit out of him. But it hasn’t mattered. Readers everywhere believe my former pal’s supposed poor-little-rich-boy account of his college years, despite the fact it’s only half the story.

“Parker didn’t do much to hide my name. Since the studio changed the release date of the movie to take advantage of the summer season and they’ve launched a big PR campaign, the public’s curiosity has intensified again.”

“You’ve never defended yourself. Why not tell your side of the story?” my second-oldest half brother, Griffin Reed, suggests.

“No one cares about the truth.” That would make the media’s golden boy look like the backstabbing sack of shit he is. It’s easier to pile onto the self-made suit, especially since I’m the bastard son of the infamous Ponzi-scheme swindler Barclay Reed. I never met the man. But since that inconvenient truth refutes their salacious tale, it will be left out.

Griff sighs. “Good point. Unfortunately, it will get worse before it gets better.”

I’ve already figured that out. This morning’s gossip rags sported such ridiculous headlines as Shocking Diary Entry Reveals Parker Emerson Barely Survived Financial Thug and Emerson’s Bullish Tormentor Slammed as Savage.

“Are you sure you want to partner up with me? It’s obviously a fucking inopportune time…” As much as I want to be in business with the two brothers I discovered a couple of years ago and admire the hell out of, I have to give them an out. For the last few years, their thriving real estate business here on the islands has been expanding all over the Pacific Rim. Sure, we’ll be able to really grow clients’ investment portfolios and property fortunes if we team up, but this bullshit can’t jeopardize my brothers’ reputations.

Maxon and Griff exchange a quick glance, then nod.

“Of course we’re sure,” Maxon says. “With the promotional push leading up to the movie’s release getting so much attention, you’re going to be a hot topic for a while. But it will blow over.”

Before I’m a senior citizen? I’m not convinced. In the time it took Maxon to answer me just now, my phone buzzed twice more. “I appreciate that. But if it makes you more comfortable, we can postpone the launch…or cancel the deal altogether.”

“No.” Griff shakes his head. “Investors should only care about your talent and integrity as a money manager, and you’ve got a more-than-proven track record.”

Will that be enough when I’m being portrayed as a devious, lying bully in the court of public opinion?

“What do Bethany and Clint say?” Maxon asks.

“Same as you two. So far, they’re ignoring the negative press.” And I’m grateful.

My half sister and her husband originally hired me into their once-fledgling brokerage and are now letting me buy in as full partner and lead this property-based expansion because the three of us have been beyond successful, beating the market by double digits each year. Our client list has ballooned, as have the assets we invest for them.

On the personal side, they’ve been rocks—just like all the Reed clan. As families go, they’re everything I wanted growing up the only child of an overworked single mom.

Early in life, I spent a lot of time alone, so I learned to be self-reliant and independent. I resented it as a kid. As an adult, it’s a big contributor to my success. While losing my mother when I was barely nineteen made me feel even more fucking alone, friends got me through. Most were great. And learning shortly after college graduation that I had an actual family, thanks to a sperm donor who couldn’t keep his pants zipped, was stunning but welcome news.

“That’s good.” Maxon sips his coffee and sends me another considering stare. “I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re family and we won’t turn our backs on you, professionally or personally.” He winces. “Look, my wife would murder me for asking, because we know you’re not the asshole Emerson portrayed, but it would be helpful to know what really happened.”

“It would,” Griff agrees. “By the way, I’m not shocked Keeley said that. Britta said the same thing.”

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