More than want you, p.1
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       More Than Want You, p.1

         Part #1 of More Than Words series by Shayla Black



  CHAPTER ONE

  Maxon

  “I’m fucked.” I sink into a wooden chair at a high-top inside the dingy sports bar, almost smearing the sleeve of my suit coat through mustard. Britta and Rob, my tireless staff, love this place. For them, I choke down a slab of greasy beef on a soggy bun, surrounded by drunk tourists and neon Bud Light signs, once a week. But not happily.

  Then again, Lahaina isn’t exactly bursting with five-star dining choices. Maui is a quaint paradise, smaller than you think. Its size works both for and against me at times. This is definitely an against occasion.

  “Maybe not, Maxon,” Britta counters with a frown. “The call went better than expected.”

  I’ll give her that since Mike Sperry, the attorney representing the filthy-rich Stowe estate, at least listened. Figuratively speaking, I hustled to the “party” late and barged my way through the door without an invitation. But that’s real estate. No one ever earns multimillion-dollar years by sitting back and letting the properties come to them.

  “I have to agree,” Rob cuts in, pushing a feathered wing of his salt-and-pepper hair from his eyes.

  I want to tell my marketing manager to ditch the eighties ’do. He looks stuck in a time warp. His somewhat steady girlfriend aside, I’m shocked he’d ever got laid.

  “Why?” I challenge.

  “At least Sperry agreed to pass your proposal on to the Stowe heirs. You’re the number one real estate agent on Maui, and it’s ridiculous you didn’t get the call to start with. But with you persuading them while Britta and I work the angles…if we get this listing, the social media campaign—and the buzz—will be amazing. Almost easy money.”

  Despite looking like someone who crawled out of The Breakfast Club, Rob is killer with sound bites and live video. He knows how to make buyers desperate to see a house. Sadly, the enthusiasm doesn’t always last through escrow.

  I scoff at him. “If. But I don’t just want to list this place. I want both sides of the transaction.”

  Persuading the seller to list with me and finding the perfect buyer will be a challenge. Which is one reason I want to do it.

  But not the only reason.

  Rob winces. “With all due respect, one step at a time. Focus on convincing Mrs. Stowe’s kids to choose you and keep your ego out of this.”

  “With all due respect, fuck you. This isn’t about my ego.” Well, not entirely.

  Britta rolls her eyes as our waitress greets us by name—a clear sign we come here too often—and takes our orders. While Rob is asking about some new Pan-Asian crap on their limited menu, I mentally sort through our recent meeting. One issue disturbs me. I tried to ignore it on the drive over…but it’s not working. My suspicion still tugs and pokes. It has since we ended the call.

  I glance at my staff. “Sperry said there’s one other agent in competition for this listing. Based on the description he gave, who do you think that is?”

  Rob falls silent. Britta suddenly finds the drink menu fascinating. So they’ve figured it out. Good. I hire smart people for a reason.

  “Yeah. It’s my brother. That’s why I want to both list and sell.” It’s also most likely why I’m fucked.

  “You’re better than he is,” Rob argued.

  In some ways, yes. In other ways… Griff has always been brilliant at connecting buyers with the perfect-for-them house. It’s an instinct. He creates emotional bonds between people with ready cash and the big-ass mansions with to-die-for views they crave, even half a world away. It’s one reason we made a great team. I sniffed out great properties and closed the listing appointments, promising the sellers the fucking world if they simply signed on the dotted line for ninety days. I always market upscale properties with far more than the standard pansy-ass cocktail party of air kisses and champagne. But Griff has a knack for matching buyers with the place they’ll fall head over heels for that I lack. Between the two of us, our closing rate was sick.

  Then came the debacle with that obscure prince. Then the Tiffanii fuckup. After that…well, we haven’t spoken in three years. To say we loathe one another now would be kind.

  “I appreciate the vote of confidence”—I nod Rob’s way—“but you’re biased because I sign your paycheck. The truth is, Griff has gotten shit-tons better at snaring sellers.” This part of the deal is still my game to lose, but since I’m not the estate’s first choice, I could easily strike out. Or fail to kick the game-winning field goal. Hell, insert the sports metaphor of your choice. “With the Stowe heirs hunkered down with the business they inherited, Griff and I both have four weeks to perfect our pitches. It’s essential I lead with something beyond spectacular. Or I have one hell of a plan B. I need ideas. And…go.”

  Because it isn’t every day an oceanfront estate worth nearly thirty million dollars lands on the market. The commission on one side of this deal could reach seven-figure territory, but to get paid by both buyer and seller… I would earn half my usual annual haul in a single transaction, probably well before June. It makes the Realtor in me hard.

  But beating Griff would be way more exciting than the cash.

  “I think we go in big with a slick video of your endorsements and awards.” Rob nods, warming to his subject. “Then show these brats from Vermont everything they don’t understand about the Hawaii lifestyle.”

  Britta shakes her head. “Rubbing a seller’s face in what you think they don’t grasp is a surefire way to annoy them. The point is to prove why Maxon is the right listing agent.” She turns to me. “We have to give them big-picture ideas for how you’re going to get quality buyers onto the grounds so they can fall in love. We stress your cache of foreign contacts—China, Russia, UAE—you can bring in the big-money people who won’t think much of dropping that kind of cash on the perfect vacation house. We show them the creative ways you’ve sold before. Your close rate is pretty insane.”

  “You know Griff’s is better. That’s what they want. Quick close. All cash.” I lean across the table to her. “You’re looking at this wrong. Yes, I’m better at listing than my brother, but the seller is already half convinced that Griff is their guy, probably because no one finds the perfect buyer and brings them to the closing table faster.”

  “So you have to beat the champ at his own game.” Rob sighs, sounding like he finally understands my proclamation that I’m fucked.

  There’s no way to top Griff. He’s got a goddamn natural gift.

  “Okay, your brother might find a buyer a week or two earlier.” Britta shrugs. “But you’re the better man.”

  “They don’t give a shit about that.”

  “You always come through,” she argues.

  “To the people dying to unload this estate so they can cash out, those seven days make a five-figure difference in their bank account. Besides, they don’t know the Maui market. And they don’t know me except as the pushy salesman who barged in. They certainly don’t know my reputation except through boring statistics and my own claims, which they probably see as bragging. It sounds as if Susan Stowe was fond of Griff, so she picked him. Her heirs would need a damn good reason to cross her wishes.”

  My brother would have to fuck up badly. And he never does. Well, almost never…unless there’s a gorgeous woman involved. Unlike me, he has a bad habit of allowing his dick to distract him. Always has. That’s how he started fooling around with Britta at the office once upon a time. Too bad he’s not having a torrid fuckfest with someone high maintenance now—at least not according to my spies. A good hourglass-shaped distraction in Griff’s bed would sure help my cause.

  As the waitress sets down our drinks, the lights dim. Everyone turns to the stage at one end of the cramped sports bar. Ah, the live entertainment. After the tragic act last week, I was hoping we would miss the show.

  But then I see her.

  Crooked smile. Pink hair. Winged black liner over laughing blue eyes. Vivid red lipstick. Tacky cheetah-print dress. Tiny waist. Sleek legs. Chunky black heels that have seen better days. I don’t think I would have looked at her twice normally, but she’s got two things going for her: an obvious zest for life and a great rack.

  Griff can’t resist either.

  I turn in my chair to watch as she grabs the microphone with deft confidence. She’s comfortable on stage.

  “Aloha, Lahaina. I’m Keeley Sunshine. I’m going to sing you some of my favorite songs, and since I’m a single girl in the middle of a long drought, they’ll probably all be about sex. You can buy me drinks after the set if you’d like to change that.” She winks.

  She’s got a certain charm. Griff values that, along with a sense of humor.

  “I’d be more than happy to end her drought,” Rob whispers in my ear as the small band nods at one another.

  Keeley Sunshine—clearly not her real name—closes her eyes as the primal beat of the music rises to a quirky old tune. It’s familiar. I know I’ve heard the song but I’m having trouble placing it, until the chorus. Then, while she sways her hips to the beat, she’s belting out that she doesn’t want anybody else. She just thinks about me and touches herself.

  Oh, yeah.

  Less than thirty seconds; that’s how long it takes me to have my first boner for her. And I’m a tough customer. At thirty-three, I’m not used to adjusting my dick or embarrassing myself around a girl. That stuff happened, like, fifteen years ago.

  As she deftly transitions to the second verse, I picture her naked, pretty tits pointing at the ceiling, legs in the air. In my head, she’s got a bare pussy, which I realize may not be accurate, but that’s how she looks in fantasy. Griff likes them smooth, too—about the only thing we agree on anymore.

  When Keeley assures everyone in the room she would get down on her knees and do anything for whomever she’s singing to, she’s not looking at anyone in particular.

  She ought to be looking at me.

  But she seems lost in the song, in her passion for the music. She’s got a surprisingly smooth voice with just a hint of rasp. Another check in her plus column.

  As the song winds toward the end, her oohs and aahs grow breathier and louder, higher-pitched. Shit, she’s having a choral orgasm center stage. And yeah, I squirm, fighting the urge to pry my hard dick off the teeth of my zipper. I can’t help it. I’m a guy, and Keeley Sunshine drips sex.

  The old Divinyls classic ends to hearty applause. I have to agree that this vixen is a musical savant compared to last week’s squeaky screen door on repeat. At a tap of Keeley’s toe—I notice her nail polish is black—the band begins the next tune.

  Old jazz, the kind you drink to, so easy it makes you smile. But they’ve modernized it with guitars and drums. Still, I know this tune well because my granddad loved it. Eddie Cantor’s 1929 classic “Makin’ Whoopee.” But she sings it like Rachel MacFarlane, smooth and vampy.

  I gotta admit, I’m mesmerized. I can’t stop watching her mouth. Her lips are bee-stung and would look great wrapped around a cock. Mine, for instance.

  When the jazz standard ends to even more enthusiastic applause, Keeley picks another decades-old tune. I suspect she’s got an old soul. It fits her slightly retro vibe.

  After a sexy, rhythmic intro, she drags in a deep breath, nearly kissing the mic, and uses her breathy voice to say that she put a spell on me because I’m hers. Right now, I can’t argue, especially when her words sparkle brighter than glitter.

  Listening to her, I get chills.

  Britta leans closer, lips near my ear. “Put your tongue back in your mouth.”

  I shoot her a quelling glance, but she’s right. Under normal circumstances, I’d wait for Keeley Sunshine’s set to end, buy her a strong drink, and sweet-talk my way into her panties for the night. But right now the needs of my business outweigh the needs of my dick.

  If Griff could see this woman, especially if I cleaned her up a bit, he’d be all over her. In fact, that’s a great idea. I need to figure out how to hook the two of them up—fast—so he stops thinking about the Stowe estate with all those beachfront views.

  Still, I can’t suggest that to Britta without upsetting her.

  “Blow me,” I murmur instead.

  Britta scoffs. “No, thanks. You’re an asshole.”

  “I am.” That’s something I’m proud of. Best way to get ahead in business.

  “It runs in the Reed family.”

  She’s right. My old man is an impeccable textbook example of a puckered anus, too. From him, I learned well. Vaguely, I wonder which pretty young thing he’s banging in his office while my mom buries her head in some all-talk/no-action ladies’ function, but they’ve moved to San Diego. It’s no longer my problem. I’m only irritated they took my younger sister but didn’t persuade Griff to shove off with them. He’s a total sphincter.

  Keeley hits and holds a growly high note that demands my attention. Her voice sneaks behind my fly and wraps around my cock. Her puffy lips are mobile and soft. Her dress exaggerates the womanly curve of her hips, which she swings as she roars out the last note.

  I might have thought I wouldn’t look at her twice, but that’s bullshit. I could definitely listen to her for hours. And I think I could do her all night long.

  As her final note trails off, the applause is even louder, like the audience has realized she’s pretty damn amazing.

  She blushes as she laughs off our reaction. Her smile quickly proves to be the most beautiful thing about her. White, blinding, real. She’s enjoying the crowd and yet seems almost surprised by their enthusiasm.

  With a swing of her long pink hair, her curls catch the light, then fall gracefully over her shoulders. She shrugs at her guitar player, an old man who looks impressed.

  “This will be our last song for the set. If you have requests, write them down and leave them in the jar.” She points to the clear vessel at her feet. “We’ll be back to play in thirty. If you have a dirty proposition, I’ll entertain them at the bar in five.” She says the words like she’s kidding.

  I, however, am serious. In fact, I’m really pondering this whole situation.

  Keeley starts her next song, a more recent pop tune. In a breathy, a cappella murmur she admits that she can’t keep her hands to herself no matter how hard she’s trying to.

  Personally, I’d rather she didn’t try at all.

  She taps her thigh in a rhythm only she can hear until the band joins during the crescendo to the chorus. Keeley bounces her way through the lyrics with a flirty smile. It’s both alluring and fun, a tease of a song.

  Though I rarely smile, I find myself grinning along.

  As she finishes, I glance around. There’s more than one hungry dog with a bone in this damn bar.

  I didn’t get ahead in business or life by being polite or waiting my turn. She hasn’t even wrapped her vocal cords around the last note, but I’m on my feet and charging across the room.

  I’m the first one to reach the corner of the bar closest to the stage. I prop my elbow on the slightly sticky wood to claim my territory, then glare back at the three other men who think they should end Keeley’s supposed sex drought. They are not watering her garden, and my snarl makes that clear.

  One sees my face, stops in his tracks, and immediately backs off. Smart man.

  Number Two looks like a smarmy car salesman. He rakes Keeley up and down with his gaze like she’s a slab of beef, but she’s flirting my way as she tucks her mic on its stand. Our eyes meet. I smile back.

  She may not be my usual type, but the attraction is real. Man, I’d love to hit that.

  Out of the corner of my eye, I watch the approaching dirtbag finger his porn ’stache. To stake my claim, I reach out to help Keeley off the stage. She looks pleasantly surprised by my gesture as she wraps her fingers around mine.

  I can be a gentleman…when it suits me.

  Fuck, she’s warm and velvety, and her touch makes my cock jolt. Her second would-be one-night stand curses, then slinks back to his seat.

  That leaves me to fend off Number Three. He looks like a WWE reject—hulking and hit in the face too many times. If she prefers brawn over brains, I’ll have to find another D-cup distraction for Griff.

  That would truly suck. My gut tells me that Keeley, with a little sprucing up, will be perfect for the job.

  “Get lost,” I mutter to the steroid junkie.

  “You gonna make me?” he challenges, all but baring his teeth.

  “No,” Keeley murmurs, her voice husky and assured. “I’m going to tell you I’ve found someone else I’d like to get to know and ask you nicely to leave us in peace.”

 
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