An unapologetic player and a reserved wallflower… one night would never be enough

Galan Black carries a burden he can’t share with anyone, least of all his two brothers. Not even after the blood, sweat, and tears, it took for them to open and make the Black Pearl Nightclub a raging success. He’s just glad his secret doesn’t haunt him half as much in the arms of the eager women he takes to bed.
Yet he can’t stop thinking about the plain Jane bartender and waitress, who he impulsively hired against his better judgment. Then she steps half-naked onto the stage for the club’s once-yearly charity auction, and he can’t keep his bidding paddle down, or his eyes off her. He’ll have her for the night and get her out of his system once and for all.
Layla doesn’t trust men, yet her infatuation with the eldest Black brother is getting beyond a joke. She needs to experience a night in his bedroom and get over her silly fixation. But then one night becomes two, with the heat between them showing no signs of cooling. Until Layla’s trust is put to the ultimate test and dirty little secrets are exposed.

Layla walked around the dance floor, searching for the man who’d tower over most other men. But he wasn’t there, or sitting at the bar, or talking to any of the bouncers.
Damn it. She’d been so looking forward to getting all hot and sweaty on the dancefloor with him, before getting even hotter and sweatier on top of him, in his bed. She smiled. It was probably where he waited for her even now.
She was heading toward the private elevator, and away from much of the noise, when Colleen hurried over and put a hand on her forearm to intercept her.
Layla blinked in shock at Colleen’s sudden need to seek her out, not to mention the blonde’s faintly sympathetic expression. “Colleen. Is something wrong?”
 The blonde’s stare moved to the elevator and back to Layla. She bit into her bottom lip before the words rushed out of her mouth. “You really don’t want to go up there.”
Layla frowned, unease moving over her like a dark fog and leaving a sour taste in her mouth. “Why?”
Colleen averted her stare. “Just… trust me, okay. Despite how I’ve acted lately, you’ve been good to me. I don’t want to see you hurt.”
What the hell?
 Layla’s frown deepened, sickening premonition already churning her stomach. “What’s going on, Colleen?”
Her workmate cleared her throat, a tinge of red coloring her cheeks as she again faced her. “Galan has another woman up there.”
For a moment Layla swayed, her mind buzzing with a rush of heat and nervous energy. She shook her head. “No.”
He loves me.
But even as she denied it, the truth was written in Colleen’s unsmiling, concerned face. Layla resisted taking a step back. Colleen had always been envious of her relationship with Galan, but surely even she wasn’t capable of making this shit up.
There was only one way to find out.
She entered the elevator’s password, her fingers surprisingly steady.
The doors hissed open and Layla stepped into the elevator before turning to face Colleen.
The blonde sent her a sad smile. “I hope for your sake it’s not true, Layla. I’m only sorry I had to be the one to tell you.”
Layla’s mind screamed rejection, a lump the size of a boulder sitting in her throat. If it was true, the proof would be up there for her to see. She inhaled slowly, bolstering herself while focusing on the woman she’d once considered a good friend. “Just tell me one thing.”
Collen nodded. “Anything.”
“Is… is this the first time Galan’s taken another woman up to his apartment since I’ve been with him?”
Colleen plucked at the top of her white lacy negligee shorts, revealing her toned belly with the navel piercing winking beneath. “As far as I know. What I do know is that he’s met up with that same blonde woman at the bar—numerous times.”
Layla somehow held herself together. Galan loved her. She’d put her faith in him any day over her once-friend who’d shown nothing but envy and bitter rivalry.
Did you forget? Once a player, always a player.
Colleen’s face softened, as though reading the doubts playing in Layla’s mind. “I’m so sorry, Layla. I honestly thought you two were perfect together.”
Layla jabbed at the button that shut the elevator doors, before she said starkly, “That’s because we are perfect together.”
Layla refused to believe Galan would cheat on her.
But still, she sagged as the doors slid closed and the elevator took her smoothly upward, her breaths coming out rough and erratic as one bad thought superseded another.
If Galan was cheating on her, how long had he been interested in this other woman? Were they even now in bed together? When he’d been screwing Layla, had he been thinking about the blonde?  She swallowed hard. Had he deemed it okay to cheat on Layla with one gorgeous woman, rather than dozens?
Lord help her, was it the sexy blonde lawyer he’d already slept with?
Nausea joined the queue in her throat, a rush of heat leaving her dizzy. The very idea of him having another long-term lover hurt even more than a nameless one-night stand. Because a lover was someone else, he cared about, someone else he kissed, licked and fucked, over and over.
The elevator doors slid open, and somehow, she held her nerve as she approached the front door of his penthouse and silently pushed it open. She stepped inside… and froze at the scene before her.
She pressed a fist to her midriff as a blade plunged deep into her insecurities. This was his idea of being faithful?
Galan stood in the kitchen with the beautiful blonde woman, his entire focus centered on her. That it wasn’t the sexy lawyer she’d imagined barely registered in Layla’s mind. She was too busy noticing how lost in the moment they both were, and how Galan’s face wore a tender expression, his hands clasping the blonde’s as he said gently, “You know that’s not true Sienna.”
Layla’s legs threatened to buckle as the blonde—Sienna—shook her head. “It is true. You don’t want anyone to know about me, not even Aiden and Liam. I’m just some dirty little secret.”
Galan shook his head, his expression tortured. “If I didn’t love you, Sienna, believe me, you wouldn’t be here now.”
Something inside Layla shriveled and died even as she took a step back. She clutched at her handbag, while a distant part of her comprehended the strangled, primitive sob had come from her own lips.
Galan’s head shot up. His dark gaze met hers. “Layla,” he rasped. His eyes flared at seeing her raw, exposed emotions. “Shit. This isn’t what you think.”
Yeah, and the tooth fairy is real too.
Sienna turned toward Layla, her teary eyes widening in shock before she twisted back to Galan and said hoarsely, “Who’s she?”
Layla didn’t want to see or hear anymore… she most definitely didn’t want to feel anymore. She turned and ran out of the front door, and back to the elevator, ignoring Galan’s hoarse shout to stop.
She stabbed at the elevator button with frantic fingers. When its doors immediately opened, she stumbled inside and banged on the ground floor icon.
Galan raced toward her even as the doors slid shut to his shell-shocked expression. Only when the elevator descended did Layla put her face into her hands and quietly sob.
The bubble really had burst. And now reality would return with a vengeance.
She’d put her trust in Galan had ignored every logical thought just to be with him. She’d truly believed he was different from her father, different from the man who’d had sex with more women than she had friends.
More fool me.

Can call girl Anna see past Benedict’s less-than-perfect physical façade to the man who loves her?
Anna was once a spoilt daddy’s little princess…until one fateful New Year’s Eve she is witness to her father shooting his best friend over a botched gun and drug deal. She soon uncovers her family’s nefarious past and despises what her surname, Leon-Zade, represents. It’s a name synonymous to the biggest organized crime family in Australia. She can’t be what her family wants her to be anymore. She runs away and becomes Candy, a beautiful and desired call girl.
Benedict Knight is the first to admit that he’s far from perfect, inside or out. His huge battered body, thanks to his ex-rugby days, isn’t the prettiest to behold, and he’s done things he knows are best left in the past. It doesn't stop him from wanting the most exquisite, perfect escort on the planet, and no price is too high to obtain her. He’ll stop at nothing to bring Candy to his huge cattle station for a weekend and enjoy her all to himself.
Except Benedict knows Candy is really Anna, daughter of a well-known and notorious family. She hasn't just locked her past away, she's locked her emotions away, too. Benedict's new goal is to release all of Anna’s emotional inhibitions and show her that bringing in the New Year doesn’t need to be a tribute for lies and deception. He intends to prove that it’s not just about resolutions…it’s about facing her fears and trusting her heart.

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Benedict Knight nodded to an acquaintance inside the Melbourne Cup marquee. Yet another celebrity enjoying everything the big race day had on offer.
Canapés and free-flowing alcohol were served to the patrons, many of whom also indulged in a massage or beauty treatment, before getting last-minute alterations to their outfit as they sipped champagne or boutique beer.
He exhaled heavily and resisted scratching at his throat, where the buttoned-up shirt and tie threatened to choke him. Give him a football jersey any day over the tailor-made suits that ensured he’d fit into the crowd…almost.
At six-foot-six he was a giant compared to most of the people here, his big body that had served him well on the football field, getting as many second looks, as the tribal ink flowing down his arms. At least his tats were mostly hidden under his formal attire, though truthfully, his ink served a purpose.
The women here might radiate class, but they were no different from anyone else. They were fascinated by his tats as much as his big body. He smirked. He’d lost count of all the women who’d wanted to writhe beneath a celebrity bad boy and discover if his anatomy really was as big as the rest of him.
So far there’d been no complaints.
Yet as much as he loved women and sex, he was restless and more than a little indifferent to the ladies parading through the pavilion. Many wore too much makeup and overpriced jewelry, while clothed in the ‘less is more’ concept.
He shook his head. He enjoyed bared skin as much as the next man, but maybe he’d had too much of a good thing…maybe he needed more in his life.
If only he knew exactly what more was.
He grabbed a beer and sat gingerly on one of the spindly chairs at the back of the marquee. He needed to unwind for a bit. Hell, even the quality horseflesh out on the tracks wasn’t raising any of his normal levels of enthusiasm, which was saying something. If rugby league football was his number one passion, his interest in horses had to be a close second.
But then much of his earlier years had been all about horses, thanks to living on the huge cattle and sheep station his dad had purchased when Benedict was barely eight years old. He’d spent more time on a horse than being homeschooled, much to his mother’s despair.
A tinkling laugh, like chimes catching a sea breeze, snared his attention. He watched as a couple entered the pavilion. He barely glanced at the man; Benedict’s attention was all on her.
She wore a long-sleeved, sunset-orange dress, which showed no skin but hugged her lithe body as though it was a part of her. An orange net fascinator with a trio of peacock feathers sat on one side of the head just above her ear, her dark hair spilling halfway down her spine. She wore no jewelry, and aside from an earthy-brown lipstick, she wore minimal makeup.
Not that she needed any enhancements. She was fucking gorgeous, and probably woke up looking that way.
He swallowed hard, his dick jerking into life. He didn’t believe in love at first sight, but he now wholeheartedly believed in lust at first sight. His senses buzzed with a need to possess…to fuck.
“Would you care for another drink, sir?” a passing waiter asked.
Benedict forced his stare away from the woman as he considered the waiter. “No more drinks, thank you. But I’d be grateful if you could give me the name of that young woman over there.”
The waiter turned, his mouth curling and eyes gleaming. “That’s Anna Leon-Zayden.” He cleared his throat and said meaningfully, “And her partner, Jonathon Burkle.”
Benedict’s breath hissed. He recognized the names. Both families were notorious for their illegal dealings, most notably drugs and firearms. It was clear crime really did pay—and pay well—but not just because of their expensive clothes. They had the look of people who presumed nothing, and no one could touch them.
Benedict’s stint on the wrong side of the law had been a rather brief experience. But it’d been a blessing in disguise. He’d been able to get out relatively unscathed.
He withdrew his wallet and handed the waiter a couple of hundred-dollar bills. The man’s eyes widened  before he nodded and murmured, “Let me know if there’s anything else you need.”
Benedict nodded vaguely. His focus had already returned to Anna, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. What he wouldn’t do to have her in his bed, tasting her, fucking her, and hearing her cries of pleasure.
He closed his eyes, his dick throbbing even as he forced back some level of self-control. Huh. If someone planted a fist in his gut right now, he wouldn’t notice. It’d just add to the burning ache building within.
His interest hadn’t just been stirred; it’d exploded!
Except even as a part of him planned on how to win her over, a bigger part of him knew she wouldn’t fall for a man like him. Yeah, chicks dug him, but it wasn’t because he was a handsome lothario like Jonathon. No, Benedict was forbidden fruit. One taste was all women wanted before they returned to their normal lives.
He wanted Anna to be hungry for him, wanted her to return to him again and again. His gut clenched. Unlikely. With his rugby career behind him and a huge cattle station to run, he was even less inclined, for fashionable parties and formal dinners, places where Anna no doubt thrived.
These days he was happy to be sitting on a horse once again, working long hours on his station where the sun relentlessly burned, dust billowed, and the pungent methane scent of cow shit lingered in the air.
He forced his gaze away from her to take in Jonathon. The man appeared more than happy to show off his gorgeous lover as he slipped an arm around her and tucked her tight against him, a tellingly possessive gesture.
Had Jonathon sensed competition?
Anna glanced up at Jonathon with a radiant smile, and Benedict’s mouth dried even as something too close to jealousy flared white-hot deep inside him. What he’d do to have Anna look at him like that.
A pity Jonathon’s returned smile to Anna didn’t come close to reaching his eyes. There was a distant aloofness about him, a distinct lack of empathy that came with the territory as a drug and arms dealer.
The bastard didn’t deserve her.
Yet it was Jonathon who walked Anna out of the marquee, Jonathon whose bed she’d no doubt be sleeping in tonight.
Not for much longer…not if I have anything to do with it.
He pushed the beer away from him, losing the taste for the bitter brew as he stood and strode toward the exit at the far end of the marquee.
He needed to learn everything about Anna Leon-Zayden. And the sooner he started, the better.

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