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Bad News Billionaire: Bad News
Bad News Billionaire: Bad News
Bad News Billionaire: Bad News
Электронная книга206 страниц3 часа

Bad News Billionaire: Bad News

Автор Louisa George

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When the only thing worth fighting for is love …

There are two things ex-boxer and casino tycoon Rey Doyle is an expert in: fighting and gambling. He trusts no-one, but he needs a fiancée to help seal a business deal and part-time casino waitress Kate Wilkinson agrees to the pretence.

Undercover journalist Kate is on a mission to expose Rey Doyle for the pitiless criminal he is, but the more she learns about Rey and his past, the more she begins to admire the man. When the chance to bring him down arrives will she take it? Or will this bad boy billionaire claim her heart instead?

 

Book 1 in the Bad News newsroom series, where secrets and scandals are all in a day's work. Read all about it…

 

(Adapted from a novella previously published as A Deal With the Devil)

 

Praise for Louisa George:
'This story was wonderfully written. The author had my attention with every word.. I couldn't put it down. I laughed, I cried and I laughed some more...'

Also by Louisa George:

Something Borrowed

Something About You

Something Beginning With Mistletoe

Something Secret

Something Blue

Healing Hearts Medical Romance series:

Still The One
One More Time
No One But You


The Two Lives of Charlotte Evans
The Summer of Lost and Found

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательLouisa George
Дата выпуска26 авг. 2021 г.
ISBN9798201878740
Bad News Billionaire: Bad News
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Louisa George

Award-winning author Louisa George has been an avid reader her whole life. In between chapters she managed to train as a nurse, marry her doctor hero and have two sons. Now she writes chapters of her own in the medical romance, contemporary romance and women's fiction genres. Louisa's books have variously been nominated for the coveted RITA Award, and the NZ Koru Award and have been translated into twelve languages. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

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    Bad News Billionaire - Louisa George

    1

    Kate Wilkinson had a tell.

    Which was downright inconvenient for a night when she needed everyone to believe she was exactly who she said she was. Yes, she was working on fixing it, but nothing seemed to stop the traitorous twitch below her left eye that screamed, to anyone who cared to look, that she was way, way out of her depth.

    As she tugged on the hem of her cherry-red latex skirt to make the length a little more acceptable to her slightly unadventurous tendencies and wiggled her feet into four-inch-high black patent stilettos, she determined she would damn well eradicate that twitch before she came face to face with Rey Doyle. No question. Too much was at stake for her to fail now.

    Her phone, resting on the garish gold-tiled bathroom vanity, pinged with a message: Hey, girl. You okay?

    Nina Marsh. Her best friend and work colleague. The only person Kate had confided in about this whole charade, and who was probably about to try and talk her out of it again.

    But, man, it felt good to have someone care about her.

    Kate snatched up the phone and tapped the keys with fingers that felt too thick and shaky. She decided not to mention the twitchy-eye tell or the dread gnawing in her gut because admitting it out loud might make her hightail it out of here.

    Yes. Just sorting out my make-up. I haven’t worn this much eyeliner since I was fifteen and trying to get into pubs underage.

    Glancing one last time in Doyle’s Casino’s staff locker room mirror, she ran a manicured finger—blood red seemed fitting—under each eye, smudging her eyeliner to something she hoped would give her a smoky ultra-sexiness, instead of a B-list zombie-actress vibe. Maybe, by some miracle, the smudge would hide the tiny mischievous tell muscle.

    She smeared on lipstick the same colour as her nails and smacked her lips together. Goodbye Kate Wilkinson, undercover journalist. Hello Kate Wilkes, the casino hostess with the very mostest.

    Her phone pinged again.

    Nina: You know you don’t have to do this, right?

    Kate tapped back: I do. For Jake’s sake.

    Nina: There must be other ways we can get the bastard. You could get hurt. Worse …

    The dread in her gut intensified as Nina put words to Kate’s fears. Kate breathed in deeply, shaking herself. Can’t think of anything better than catching Doyle at his own game.

    Nina came straight back. If he doesn’t catch you first. But your assignment sure beats sitting in council meetings trying to survive Councillor Hill’s flatulence. Is he always this bad?

    Kate: Sadly, yes. He has issues.

    She almost smiled. Almost. One good thing about being here was getting out of covering the very dull council meetings. And if she hadn’t been so damned scared and raging with anger—a heady mix that had already landed her here so far out of her depth she was almost drowning—she’d be excited about doing something so high risk. But seeing as every part of her shook with nerves, excitement was a reach. Right. It’s game time. Deep breath.

    Nina: Lucky you. I daren’t breathe. At risk of asphyxiating.

    Kate laughed, grateful her friend knew her well enough to make fun while she was quaking in vertigo-inducing stilettos. I feel your pain. Wish me luck.

    Nina: Luck! And be careful! Don’t do anything illegal!

    Too late. She’d already lied about her experience and her identity just to land this casino job. No comment. But I’ll be careful. I wouldn’t look good in a prison onesie.

    Nina: Or sipping your meals through a straw. Or swimming with da fishes.

    Kate: Nina …

    Nina: Soz. I’m just worried about you. I prefer my friends whole, with teeth and fully functioning limbs. This man is dangerous. But I know I can’t talk you out of this, so give him hell, girlfriend.

    Kate: I intend to be his worse nightmare.

    She sent the message, switched her phone off and shoved it into the locker she’d been assigned. Then she took a steadying deep breath.

    Fueling her resolve by remembering for just a moment a broken body and the promises she’d made during the endless hours at the hospital praying for her brother to recover, she made her way through the disorienting maze of tables and slot machines. Mechanical cheers and coin-clanging, washed over with the mellow, soulful soundtrack of mind-numbing instrumental music, accompanied her as she walked, but it was all white noise to Kate. She had one thing on her mind, and it wasn’t winning money.

    Rey Doyle, London’s casino king, was a marked man. He just didn’t know it yet.

    The music in the VIP room was more upbeat, and the carpet less tacky—an inoffensive beige with a midnight blue ‘D’, for Doyle, enclosed by a gilt crown repeated ad nauseum from one end of the room to the other. The lights were dimmed, and the ambience calm, unlike the violent beat in Kate’s chest and, no doubt, the infuriating twitch under her left eye.

    She walked to the bar, which was no mean feat in those damned shoes, and introduced herself to the ancient barman, Carlos. ‘Hi, I’m Kate, I was sent up here from the Rose Lounge to fill in.’ That had been pure serendipity coupled with the fact she was first to put her hand up in the staff meeting earlier. Oh, and that she’d outright lied about her stellar waitressing experience. ‘Not so busy tonight?’

    Carlos gave a weary shrug. ‘The big boss is coming in for some kind of meeting, so we’re keeping things quiet in here for him.’

    That wild beat in her chest just got a whole lot wilder. She tried to play nonchalant. ‘Ah, yes, somebody mentioned that in the staff meeting … something about the … Hong Kong deal?’

    ‘Macao.’

    ‘Oh, silly me … what do I know? Is he going to open a casino over there as well?’ Playing dumb seemed the easiest way to extract information from her colleagues, but she had to be careful not to ask too many questions … at least not at first. A few hours working at the casino and so far she’d managed to bite her lip and not go through her long list of questions about Rey’s murky past and dodgy present. With a bit more luck and a lot of strategic playing, she would feature large in his future, and he wouldn’t be overly thrilled at the prospect. Slow and steady wins the race.

    ‘Kate, you’re new here, so you wouldn’t know … and you seem like a nice girl.’ Carlos leaned over as he wiped down the bar with a towel with the same ‘D’ in a crown embroidered in the centre. Her new ‘boss’ was clearly an egomaniac as well as a brute. ‘But if I were you, I’d use your mouth to be polite and to smile, and definitely not to mention Doyle’s business. He doesn’t take kindly to chit-chat from the staff.’

    ‘Noted. Thanks for the warning.’ Swallowing her resurrected fear, she flashed Carlos a wide smile. ‘I’ve never met him, but I’ve heard so many things. What’s he like?’

    ‘Doyle?’ The barman paused mid wipe and raised an eyebrow. ‘Regardless of his reputation, he’s a fair man. Do right by him and you’ll be fine. Do him wrong and you’ll live to regret it, believe me.’

    ‘What reputation? I mean, I know he was a boxer years ago and he’s an astute business man …’ She’d researched as much as she could find, read snippets on the internet of his outstanding boxing career before he sank all his winnings into a global casino franchise, and perused glowing reports of his empire acquisition. It seemed that everything he touched turned to gold.

    But looks could be deceiving, and she also knew, too damned personally, about illicit and savage bare-knuckle fight clubs he was involved in. Only, the trail had gone cold, with no real proof other than a description given to her by a badly injured kid and some messages she’d seen but been unable to decode on a chat room on the Darknet, the internet’s seedy underbelly.

    She’d got close though. So close to hacking more messages detailing the fight club members and fight venues. That was why she was here, with more of her flesh revealed than felt comfortable and playing a dangerous game: to find out more about his barbaric fight club, then to expose the sordid dealings of a man who many celebrated as a golden boy, a West End lad done good, a shining example of success triumphing over adversity. But she knew the man was a fraud, and it was high time everyone else knew too.

    Luckily, Carlos wasn’t averse to a bit of chit-chat himself. ‘Back years ago, when he was still boxing, he had a nickname, The Destructor, because he would, literally, hammer his opponents home. He was cold. Calculating. Precise. Deadly. He showed no emotion and no fear; some said he had no heart at all. And now, in his business dealings, he’s the same.’

    ‘Deadly …?’ Kate couldn’t prevent the shudder down her spine. As if she needed a reminder of how destructive Rey Doyle could be.

    Carlos looked at her with concern and smiled. ‘Hey, chick, don’t worry, he’s fine with his girls. Serve his drinks and look pretty, you’ll do okay. Look, here he comes.’

    A frisson of change in the atmosphere, like a sudden electric charge, had her turning to the VIP entrance where two beefcakes dressed in expensive-looking dark suits flanked a similarly attired man. She inhaled sharply, her heart rate faster now.

    My God 

    He was famously camera shy, only grainy photos of him after a fight were on the internet, so nothing had prepared her for what Doyle was like in real life. With every step, he loomed larger and broader. His coiled, energised presence filled the space. The man was tall. Big. And, unexpectedly, almost arrogantly … beautiful.

    She’d been expecting a shorn bullheaded neanderthal, not a riot of unkempt dark hair that was somehow scraggy yet perfect, a face that bore scars of his boxing days, and a nose bent out of shape that made him appear more rugged, more masculine, raw. High, sharp cheekbones slashed across his face above a forceful jaw. His hands were rough, but not unattractive. In fact, something about them had her transfixed as he straightened his cuffs and secured gold cufflinks.

    Those hands would save you if you fell. A safe haven.

    Or he’d crush your bones.

    He’d ended many a man’s career in one way or another and almost ended a few lives, too—as she knew to her cost. Getting cold feet, she thought about turning away, even leaving, but something compelled her to keep on looking, keep taking him in, all of him.

    As if he sensed her watching him, he turned and his cold grey gaze caught on hers. A look of surprise flashed momentarily, and then it was gone, banished. He didn’t like to show emotion, Carlos had said, but for one tiny second she’d caught Rey Doyle off guard, and that boosted her confidence.

    For a foolish moment, she noticed the gunmetal-coloured shirt he wore gave his eyes a deeper, more dangerous edge, before she pulled herself together. She wasn’t just a small-town journalist writing soppy copy now. She was hard-hitting, serious, and undercover. And while she was also a hot-blooded woman with fully working ovaries, she refused to find anything about Rey Doyle that she liked. Nothing would distract her from this story.

    Yet, as her gaze met his, a rush of something she couldn’t describe raced through her. His easy stance may have screamed confident and calculated, but a keep-out sign might as well have been tattooed on his scarred forehead. Caution, mistrust, guardedness. And still her heart jittered with something akin to excitement just looking at him. She put it down to the adrenalin spike of being in her adversary’s lair.

    Doyle nodded at Carlos. ‘The usual. And who is this? Where the hell is Monica?’

    ‘Monica’s off sick, Mr Doyle, sir. Kate is here for you tonight instead.’ The barman pointed towards Kate and blood hit her cheeks in a hot intense blush. What should she do when introduced to the casino king? Bow? Curtsy?

    No freaking way.

    ‘Good evening, Mr Doyle.’ Drawing a line at calling him sir, she summoned what she hoped was a confident smile and nodded at him. ‘Please, take a seat. I’ll bring your drink over.’

    ‘Kate.’ He tested the word out and appeared to be unimpressed if his frown was anything to go by. Those intense grey eyes scrutinised the length of her body before coming back to her face. The heat in her cheeks spread through her as Doyle shrugged. ‘It looks like I have no choice. You’ll have to do. I’m expecting guests, so I need your full attention tonight.’

    His accent was laced with his West End roots, but his voice was deep and lush and did something fizzy to her insides. Inconvenient, but not debilitating. Strange, though, for her to have such a physical reaction to a man. It must have been the lair thing happening again. She nodded. ‘Yes. Absolutely.’

    ‘Make sure you’re around for anything else I need.’

    ‘Of course, Mr Doyle. Just ask.’ Now her mind was working overtime. What more would he need other than drinks?

    Only one teeny problem. Apart from rehearsing this waitressing act in the comfort of her cosy flat in Elgin Crescent, she’d never served a drink in her life.

    Her eye began to twitch.

    2

    Rey Doyle did not like surprises, particularly on one of the most important nights of his business career. He needed smooth. He needed no hitches. He needed a girl he could rely on. Monica, he knew. Monica was aware of what he liked, how to do things, and what to say when required. Monica was reliable, level-headed and knew the score: sex was sex and nothing more.

    This new girl was a whole other ball game. Not least because she looked like she’d never set foot in a bar let alone worked in one. She appeared supremely uncomfortable in the uniform: her white blouse buttoned up one button too many, her skirt a fraction longer than all the other waitress’. Surely she knew the higher the skirt, the better the tip? And with legs like hers—shapely and long—she’d make a decent amount.

    And also because, when she looked at him, it was like a dare, almost a threat. And he’d never had a woman— a member of his own staff to boot—look at him like that before. Usually they fawned over him, desperate to get into his pants or his wallet. Whatever. It made little difference to him. He was a Doyle, after all, and used to taking what he wanted and giving little in return.

    But this Kate woman … interesting.

    While waiting for his drink, he focused on work and made a quick call to his long-time friend and Head of Security at Doyle’s. Trouble, it appeared, came in duplicate these days. ‘Ted, what’s the score? Any idea who the hacker is or how close they got?’

    Ted Butler’s irritation with the current security scare was palpable in his gruff voice. ‘ISP location is local. West London. We can do some digging. They didn’t get close enough to do any damage, we have firewalls in place for that, but it’s interesting that they were trying to hack the codes for N.S. and nothing to do with the casinos. A few clicks and they’d have been signed up to the chat room, if that was what they wanted. Seriously, if they were that bothered about joining the club, there is a more straightforward way. So, I surmise they don’t want to join; they want to watch anonymously. Maybe cause some trouble. And I don’t like that at all.’

    N.S. No Surrender. Rey sucked in air. ‘Probably some spotty kid

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