British accents should come with a warning label. When they’re attached to deep, baritone voices that belong to sexy, cocky men, you should have to sign a waiver.
Most people wouldn’t touch short-term rental properties, but since my business partner took off with my client list, I need every deal I can get. Enter, one insanely sexy and completely exasperating Camden Reid.
The smug executive found fault with every property I showed him. Too cramped. Too feminine. Too far from a decent pub.
His demands were ridiculous, and I couldn’t wait to be rid of him and his British bangers.
Somewhere between the first property and the zillionth, though, my attraction to Camden grew impossible to ignore.
His insane demands finally met, the arrogant Adonis proposed we christen his new temporary home.
Little did I know how addicted I’d become, or just how unforgettable my time with Camden would be.
After all, I knew we had an expiration date.
All good things must come to an end, right?
Except our ending was one I didn't see coming.
British Banger is a Cocky Hero Club World book, written in the world of Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. It features Camden Reid, brother of Calliope from British Bedmate.
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The bitch took my stapler. I scan the top of my desk again and open each drawer of my desk for a second time, pulling each one all the way out to inspect its contents.
The navy blue Swingline, a rare, all-metal stapler, in an age of plastic, disposable everything, is one I’ve carried with me from place to place since my very first job during co-op in high school.
The bitch must’ve taken it, along with everything else in this office.
“Kimberly?” I crane my neck as I call out and peer toward my open door.
I hear the clip-clop of heels down the hall toward my office. The petite blonde, my last and now only employee, appears in the doorway looking every bit as frazzled as I feel. “What’s up?”
“I can’t find my stapler.”
“Oh. Well…” She walks over to the desk and begins opening the same drawers I searched just moments before.
As she peers into each one, finding them as empty as I had, I roll my chair back from the desk.
“I don’t see it. Maybe we misplaced it somewhere.” By we, she means me. It’s her non-confrontational way of asking if I’m starting to lose my shit and have perhaps put it someplace that it shouldn’t be. Like the refrigerator, because that’s where we are now. That’s the level of discombobulation we’re dealing with here.
My business partner, Connie, left the real estate brokerage we were running together two days ago. She must’ve been planning it for a while, because she managed to take all of my clients with her, along with every other agent too. The only person that stayed was Kimberly, the best assistant a girl could have and a damn good friend.
Maybe the divorce didn’t spur the breakup of Connie’s business partnership with her soon-to-be-ex-husband after all. Maybe he divorced her as an excuse to get out of business with her crazy ass.
Kimberly tips her head down and meets my eye. She’s looking at me with an empathy that borders on pity and it’s just enough to tip me over the edge. My lip quivers and heat claws at my throat. I blink and feel the moisture starting to pool at my lashes.
Kimberly scurries forward, coming to my rescue. “Oh, no. No, no, no. We’re not doing this. We are strong, independent women, and we’ve got this. We own our destiny. We will not let crazy-ass Connie get to us a moment longer. Not today. Not tomorrow. No more.” She leans forward and puts her palms on my shoulders. “Are you listening to me, Quinn? You are a goddess. A woman who owns her power and won’t let anyone else steal it.”
A pitiful little whimper escapes my lips and the unmistakable pressure across the bridge of my nose and cheeks tells me it’s about to happen. I’m going to cry big, fat, ugly tears, and my nose is going to turn red, and I’ll get so snotty I have to breathe through my mouth. It’s coming, and I can’t stop it.
“Oh, hon.” She cocks her head to the side, and that’s it.
I bury my face in my palms and let the waterworks fly. My shoulders rise and fall, my chest quivering with each sob. Kimberly scans the room, finding a box of tissues on my desk, and pulls several from it, handing them to me. “Here you go. Should I make you a cup of tea? Or something stronger? Some coffee? I can even spike it. How about it… huh?” She sing-songs the last phrase like a mom trying to coax her child to cheer up.
I shake my head from side to side. “How could I have misjudged her so much? I mean was she always a greedy, conniving, spiteful…”
“Bitch? Yes, Quinn. She was. You just couldn’t see it. You were blinded by the flash, the promise of top clients and high commissions. She snowed you.”
I pull my hands down a little and peek up at her through parted fingers as I raise a brow.
Kimberly continues, “I mean, she snowed me too at first. It’s not your fault. She’s a pro. Anybody could’ve been taken in. All you can do is pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward.” She pats my shoulder.
“We’re going to be okay, huh?” My voice creaks a little as I ask the question.
“Yes, we are. We are strong and resilient. We’re going to be better than okay. We’re going to be spectacular.” She grabs my wrists and pulls my hands down from my face. “Aren’t we?”
I blink twice.
“I said, aren’t we?”
I nod this time.
“Okay, then. I’m going to go get the mini bottles I’ve got stashed in my desk and you’re going to crack open that laptop and go find some new clients. ‘Kay?”
I nod again. “Okay?” My reply comes out as more of a question than an answer.
I breathe out a sigh as Kimberly walks out of my office.
I gaze over at the framed dollar on the wall of my office. It represents the first dollar I ever made in real estate. The bitch didn’t take that, at least.
Looking at the framed bill, I sit up a bit straighter. I built this business from the ground up, by myself.
I did it before and I can do it again.
I’m glad I cried. I got it out of my system. Now it’s time to pull on my big girl panties and get to work.
I open my desk drawer and pull out a hair tie from the little cup that holds my assortment. The elastic has baby goats printed all over it. I pull all of my hair into my hands and gather it in a high pony at the top of my head, securing it with the band.
When Kimberly appears at the door a moment later, she smiles. “Well, shit! That’s my girl.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Your ponytail. The more determined you are, the higher on your head it gets. That’s a Pebbles Flintstone if I’ve ever seen one. It’s practically straight up. That means you’re about to kick some ass.”
I grin and nod once. “I am. I’m going to build my business from the ground up all over again, starting today. Fuck Connie.”
“Fuck Connie! Cheers to that!” The rum sloshes against the side of the coffee mug as she pours one for me and another for her.
We each take a mug and throw back the liquor in one swig.
“Okay. Let’s do this thing.” I pull open my laptop as Kimberly walks toward the door. “Oh, and Kimberly?”
She turns with a bounce and smiles. “Yes, boss?”
I raise one brow and quirk my lips to the side in a grin that belies my newfound determination. “Find me a damn stapler.”