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A brother's best friend, enemies to lovers romance

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SYNOPSIS

***Buy now and have the preorder arrive July 3rd.

A spicy enemies to lovers, fake dating romance.


Rose

I have always had a crush on my brother’s best friend, Colton Black.

He was my first kiss, the one who shattered my heart.
Since then, I promised myself no playboys.

But I can't say no when Colton suggests a plan to help me win over my crush.

Now I’m stuck pretending to date him while in the Hamptons for four weeks, struggling against his charm and player ways.

But when we’re forced back to the office late one night, our façade crumbles and hidden desires ignite.


Colton

Barrett Black, my insufferable father, has left me no choice. Work in the family business or face being cut off.

That means enduring four long weeks with Rose Goldsmith by my side.

She’s as captivating as she was in our youth, but now she’s focused on driving me crazy.

If we don’t end up tearing each other apart, it will be a miracle.

So while I help her get the man of her dreams…

Somewhere along the way, I realize I want that man to be me.



CHAPTER ONE LOOK INSIDE

Very few things could ruin a night out with my closest friends.
A text from my father was one of them. Bonus points if he was good and pissed.

Dad: Get your ass home. Now. My study.

He was definitely good and pissed. It didn’t matter that I had a home of my own, nor that I was in the middle of having drinks with the guys. The great Barrett Black had made a proclamation and expected the world to comply.

I settled back in my chair, staring at the message while holding a glass of scotch in my other hand. “Fuck me,” I muttered before finishing off the rest of my drink, savoring the heat which spread through my chest. It was a lot more pleasant than the burning, seething heat Dad’s constant scrutiny usually stirred up in me.

“Fuck you? No, thanks.” My cousin, Lucian Diamond, laughed before lifting his hand to get our server’s attention—a cute girl, if too perky for my taste, somebody who probably would never rub shoulders with people like us if it wasn’t for her job. She knew it was in her best interest to smile brightly and be a little flirtatious, and she had given us plenty of both.

She flashed that blinding smile again when she joined us. Her gaze darted around the small corner table, taking us in one at a time—Lucian, Noah Goldsmith, one of my oldest friends, Evan, and me. Tipping her blonde head to the side, she asked, “Are you all brothers? I swear, you look so much alike!”

We did, somewhat—tall, dark-haired, athletic. Maybe the similarities appeared stronger in the bar’s dim lighting, or perhaps she was kissing ass for a bigger tip by starting a conversation, getting personal. “Something like that,” I settled for.

“Wow. What a gorgeous family.” She shook her head like she couldn’t believe it before asking, “What can I get you, boys?”

Noah had been my best friend practically since we were born, so it didn’t come as a surprise when he leaned back in his chair and deliberately looked her up and down. “I don’t know. Are you on the menu?” he asked before sharing the kind of grin that normally sent a woman’s panties sliding to the floor.

“Don’t listen to him.” Evan shook his head and pretended to scowl at Noah. “He has no manners.”

Lucian lifted his hand to regain the girl’s attention. “I was going to order another round. How does that sound?” he asked, looking around the table.

“Not for me.” I knew I would catch hell for it, but I refused the offer. “Gotta go take care of something.”

“Or someone?” Evan asked, snickering once the server bounced away. He gazed at her retreating ass before grunting out, “Dibs on that one.”

Noah knew me best and laughed knowingly. He narrowed his eyes, looking me up and down as I patted my pockets to make sure I had everything. “No, not the way you’re thinking,” he predicted with a snicker, elbowing Evan to get his attention. “I know that look.”

Shooting him a cold glare, I demanded, “What look?”
“The look that says your balls crawled up into your belly when you got that text from Barrett,” he announced with a laugh. “Sorry. I could see the screen from here.” The others laughed with him, which was no big surprise, while I quietly seethed.

“Go fuck yourself,” I grumbled once they calmed down. Certain topics were off-limits as far as I was concerned, at least in public—no busting each other’s balls about our demanding parents.

And in my case, disappointed parents. No, parent. Singular. There wasn’t much I could do or say that would get my mom too upset. The few times I’d ever witnessed my parents arguing was over me and the fact that Dad thought she was too easy on me. More than once, he’d called me a spoiled brat. All because he’d worked to get where he was, while all I’d ever had to do was rely on him and my trust. It’s not my fault I wasn’t driven like he was, not having goals and ambitions and all that shit.

“He can’t know about Veronica yet, can he?” Lucian’s brows knitted together before he winced. “I mean, unless he got word from my dad.” He winced again, almost like he felt guilty for his father making a phone call.

Yes, trouble seemed to find me again this evening, but then again, Veronica never could handle her liquor. To think her wild temper was one of the things that had drawn me to her in the first place. That and a killer pair of legs that went up to her neck and tits with the power to make me drool. I couldn’t keep my dick from waking up a little at the memory.

         But not for the first time did I ask myself what the point was of having a media empire in the family if stories about a good-for-nothing playboy having a public blowout with an internationally famous model couldn’t be suppressed.

Would that be too much to ask?

A little family loyalty?

No, instead, our dads lived by their ancient bro code. Uncle Connor would have rather gone behind my back and rat me out to my old man than bail me out for once.

“I’ll deal with it, either way,” I told him, then lifted a hand before leaving the table and making my way to the exit. The bar was pretty damn close to packed, full of beautiful bodies, some of which I would’ve liked to get to know a little better. Instead, I settled for nodding at the blatant come-hither looks I received from one eager woman after another.

Something told me getting chewed out by my father wouldn’t be nearly as pleasant as what I could get up to with one of these willing partners.

The night was warm but still cooler without so much body heat pressing in from all sides. After signaling the valet, I rechecked my phone. The text wasn’t any more pleasant than it had been when I first read it, and my jaw ached thanks to my grinding teeth.

The arrogant asshole.

He snapped his fingers and expected me to come running.
If I was, it was only to spare Mom his ranting over me. She didn’t deserve that. If he had something to say, he could tell it to my fucking face.

Earlier tonight, I broke up with a coke addict who would only end up causing further embarrassment, yet somehow, my father would find a way to make me the villain.

Once the car arrived and I tipped the valet, I slid behind the wheel and wrapped my hands around the leather. It was a satisfying feeling, something like regaining control after the shame I would be blamed for heaping on my family only hours ago. The Bugatti shot forward like a bullet from a gun, tearing through the night. I liked to drive fast. I didn’t have time to waste, even when I had no doubt I’d get my ass handed to me once I arrived at my destination.

It had been years since I’d moved out of the penthouse my parents shared. Yet, pulling the car into the familiar parking garage felt like stepping back into the past. I moved on autopilot, parking in one of the family’s designated spots. My parents’ cars were present, along with the pair of black BMWs they used when they required a driver, the other reserved for my sister, Sienna. At least Dad hadn’t called her in to witness my assassination.

I rolled my eyes and sighed as I exited the car and headed for the elevator. At least I’d had the presence of mind to stop home and change before meeting the guys, or else I would’ve reeked like the dirty martini Veronica had thrown at me before the fight had really heated up.

I was twenty-eight years old and well beyond the point of getting called into Dad’s office for a talking-to. Yet there I was, staring at the light over the elevator doors and watching it change as I climbed. Once the final floor was illuminated, a soft ping preceded the doors sliding open.
It didn’t come as a surprise to find Mom pacing the wide hall leading from the elevator to the living room. She was dressed in workout clothes, and I remembered she took some fitness class with my Aunt Evelyn a few nights a week. Something told me it wasn’t yoga or Pilates that had her looking flushed.

“There you are,” Mom hissed, coming to a halt with her fists on her hips. “What were you thinking? I told you I didn’t like that girl.” She barely stopped short of shaking a finger at me as I approached.

“I had a feeling it was something to do with that,” I murmured before groaning. “I can explain. You know I wouldn’t do anything like that without a reason.”

Mom held up both hands, shaking her head. “I don’t want to hear it, and I don’t need to. It’s your father who wants to talk to you about this. He’s waiting in his study,” she said as if I needed to be told.

“What’s the temper on a scale of one to ten?” I asked, arching an eyebrow as I turned my head to gaze down the hall leading from the living room deeper into the penthouse
.
“Roughly fifteen,” she whispered as her lips drew into a thin line. “And that’s after I talked him down from level thirty. He’s very, very upset. Don’t say something you can’t take back,” she added in a frantic whisper as I began crossing the room.

“I hope you told him that,” I muttered, squaring my shoulders as I walked. Now, I knew how a condemned man felt during that final walk down the tiled hall, heading toward certain doom.

Instead of striding through the partly open door all at once, I paused. Years of going toe-to-toe with the man had taught me a few things about how to best deal with him. The less I said, the better. I loosened my jaw and pulled in a deep breath, preparing myself to go blank-faced, if only to piss him off.

“Are you going to take all night out there?” Dad’s voice was loud and sharp. “Believe me, this won’t get any easier for you if you keep me waiting.”

The prick. I continued on and pushed the door open before striding into the familiar room. Instead of leaving it a single room devoted to work, Dad removed the wall between it and the room next door, turning it into more of a man cave. It had evolved over the years, but the old arcade games and pool tables were still in place. However, the home theater system had been greatly improved as technology advanced.

It was no surprise he wasn’t in the mood to shoot a game of pool or screw around with his new VR headset. He sat behind his desk, a glass of scotch in hand, still dressed for work in one of his typical suits, though he had removed his tie and popped the top two buttons on his crisp shirt. After running a hand through his gray-flecked dark hair, he motioned for me to come closer. “I would ask if you would like a drink…” he began in a tight voice, “… but I understand you’ve already been on a tour of Manhattan’s most popular night spots this evening.”

I offered as much of a shrug as I felt like managing. “She came back from the bathroom with white powder around her nostrils. I reminded her that was a dealbreaker for me. She threw a drink in my face. It went downhill from there.” With another shrug, I added, “Who knew there was a substance out there more addictive than I am?”

His inscrutable expression left me wondering whether he’d believe me. Probably not. It went against his nature. “Your Uncle Connor did me the favor of calling me to give me the heads-up. It will be front-and-center tomorrow morning across all social media platforms and online outlets,” he growled out before spinning the computer so I could read the headline:

Son Of Manhattan Construction Billionaire In A Public Brawl With A Supermodel

“Not the family’s proudest moment.” He took a sip from his glass, eyeing me as he did. I was twenty-eight, too old for the sight of his disappointment to sting, but I had to fight off a flinch just the same. I couldn’t remember a time he hadn’t demanded more from me than I was able to give.

“The family will get over it.” When I stepped toward one of the leather chairs in front of his desk, he cleared his throat loudly.

“I don’t remember asking you to sit,” he reminded me in a tight voice that felt a lot like a slap across the face. “And this little fiasco tonight wasn’t the reason I wanted to see you. Though it’s probably the perfect segue,” he observed, staring into his tumbler and swirling what was left inside.

“What does that mean?” I dropped into the chair anyway and tried to ignore the way his voice had quieted to something closer to a slither. It raised countless red flags.
“I’ve let you get away with this for too long,” he quietly mused, still observing his liquor in favor of looking at his son. “I told myself you would grow up and stop recklessly bedding and discarding women.”

Staring at him while he sat in judgment of me for doing nothing more than what he’d done in his day was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “I’m not giving up women for the sake of the family,” I flatly informed him. “It’s not going to happen.”

“That’s not an excuse for bumming around with no direction. No goals.” Lowering his brow, he growled out, “Bedding every woman you brush up against doesn’t count as a goal.”

There wasn’t much I hated more than hypocrisy. I knew damn well what a notorious reputation he had when he was my age. There was a reason Mom and her friends had a special nickname for the great Barrett Black and his crew. The hunk holes. I couldn’t let it go. “It was for you at one point,” I muttered.

“Watch it.” I could barely see his eyes, they were so narrow. “I was still running the business at that point. I built it from the ground up. Yes, I played hard, but I worked twice as hard. You keep this up, and that trust fund of yours might just be revoked.”

A shock wave rolled through me at the threat. Of all things, I never expected that. “You would cut me off?” I asked, stunned. I always knew he was a self-important prick, but this was a new low, even for him.

He shook his head firmly. “I would never cut you off. I would, however, restrict your access to the assets. There’s a reason the trust is revocable versus irrevocable.”
He had me by the balls. The worst part was he knew it. That smug little grin he wore as I processed this and searched my brain for any way out told me so.

I could either fall in line and do as I was told or be cut off. If not exactly cut off, as good as. When I tried to imagine living in some shitty studio apartment in Brooklyn, bile began to rise in my throat. I would have to start budgeting and buying groceries rather than going out for all my meals. I would have to live like a so-called normal person, and the idea repulsed me almost as much as the idea of working.
He sighed before placing the glass on the desk. “It’s time to push you out of the nest and force you to fly. I only want the best for you, son.”

I didn’t like the sound of that. The back of my neck prickled, but I gritted my teeth to fight off any obvious reaction. “Meaning?”

A slow, taunting smile spread across his face. “You’re going to work in the family business, and I’ve already set up your first project.”

Fuck me.


*PREORDER: Releasing July 3rd, 2024.

“You want Landon Jones? I can get you Landon Jones.”

He stroked his square jaw, and what a shame it seemed like he was laughing at me since he had such a nice, disarming laugh. “I can serve you Landon Jones on a silver platter.”

I did not like the sound of that. Rather than trying to figure him out, I laughed it off. “Right. I’m a little too old for fairy tales.”

“Believe me or don’t. It’s not my problem.” He pretended to check his nails but kept shooting me looks from beneath his brows, silently daring me. I shouldn’t have entertained his insanity, but there was no ignoring my curiosity. “You mean to tell me you, of all people, can set me up with Landon?”

“That’s right.”

“Like you’re just going to order him up at the deli?” I asked with a disbelieving laugh while turning the idea over in the back of my mind, wondering if it was possible.

“Says the girl who thinks she can make a boyfriend out of a guy just because she decides that’s how she wants it,” he countered with a smirk.

Was he serious? How could he be? What I needed to do was tell him to go, that we would meet up in the morning, and ideally, put all of this behind us. At the moment, it didn’t matter if I never heard Landon’s name again. I wanted this to be over. I also wanted to know what he thought he could do. “What’s your plan? You’ll put in a good word for me? And what do I have to do in return? Go out with you? Sleep with you?”

His brows drew together, but he shook his head. “No. You don’t have to do that.” He was being entirely too calm and reasonable about this. Suspicions skittered up my spine and made the hair on the back of my neck lift.  Last chance. Get out while you still can.  

No way. I had to know what was going on in that handsome head of his.

“What would I have to do?”

The corner of his mouth pulled upward. “Pretend. You only have to pretend we’re dating.”

TROPES:

❤️ Workplace Romance

❤️ Forced Proximity

❤️ Enemies-to-lovers Romance

❤️ Brother's Best Friend

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✔️ Seductive Hearts - eBook

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Seductive Hearts - eBook PREORDER

€4,95

*PREORDER: Releasing July 3rd, 2024.

“You want Landon Jones? I can get you Landon Jones.”

He stroked his square jaw, and what a shame it seemed like he was laughing at me since he had such a nice, disarming laugh. “I can serve you Landon Jones on a silver platter.”

I did not like the sound of that. Rather than trying to figure him out, I laughed it off. “Right. I’m a little too old for fairy tales.”

“Believe me or don’t. It’s not my problem.” He pretended to check his nails but kept shooting me looks from beneath his brows, silently daring me. I shouldn’t have entertained his insanity, but there was no ignoring my curiosity. “You mean to tell me you, of all people, can set me up with Landon?”

“That’s right.”

“Like you’re just going to order him up at the deli?” I asked with a disbelieving laugh while turning the idea over in the back of my mind, wondering if it was possible.

“Says the girl who thinks she can make a boyfriend out of a guy just because she decides that’s how she wants it,” he countered with a smirk.

Was he serious? How could he be? What I needed to do was tell him to go, that we would meet up in the morning, and ideally, put all of this behind us. At the moment, it didn’t matter if I never heard Landon’s name again. I wanted this to be over. I also wanted to know what he thought he could do. “What’s your plan? You’ll put in a good word for me? And what do I have to do in return? Go out with you? Sleep with you?”

His brows drew together, but he shook his head. “No. You don’t have to do that.” He was being entirely too calm and reasonable about this. Suspicions skittered up my spine and made the hair on the back of my neck lift.  Last chance. Get out while you still can.  

No way. I had to know what was going on in that handsome head of his.

“What would I have to do?”

The corner of his mouth pulled upward. “Pretend. You only have to pretend we’re dating.”

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