About the Book
Title: THE REVENGE GAME
Author: Alice Gaines
Pub. Date: September 23, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Indulgence)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo
Adam Morrow is a self-made millionaire. But one night with her could ruin everything…
I’ve worked my ass off for what I have, and I’m damn proud of it. I started off with nothing and now I’m filthy rich. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like revenge to help you get your ass in gear. And that’s what I’m taking, with every exclusive resort I open—sweet, sweet revenge…on her.
Nicole Westmore was my first love. The poor little rich girl stole my heart with her sweet smile, hot body, and irresistible innocence. The summer I worked for her father was the best time of my life…until he drove me away. Even then, I thought Nicole would wait for me. She didn’t.
And so, I decided to get even, opening rival hotels, slowly driving them out of business. The old man is gone now, but Nicole is still running the company that’s about to collapse. All my hard work will soon pay off. And then I catch sight of her at a wedding, and all those feelings come rushing back–for both of us. Still, she doesn’t know what I’ve done—yet—and she seems more than willing. What will one night in her bed hurt?
Two years ago
Testosterone hung like a cloud in the basketball court at the insanely expensive gym in uptown Manhattan. Tuesday afternoon meant a game of two-on-two hoops for Adam Morrow and his friends. Adam’s background in college boxing qualified him as an athlete. Grant Howard played quarterback in the NFL, and Ryan Stewart made his fortune off sports medicine.
True friends through good times and bad. These guys were worth their weight in gold.
Of course, they needed a fourth for their game, or two of them would have ganged up on the third for a friendly pummeling. Only the club manager, Roger—who’d played college ball—could measure up. All three men were competitive to the core. Otherwise, they never would have achieved the level of success they had.
Though only in his thirties, Adam had founded a series of world-class resorts. His first, Finesse, had taken the industry by storm. His most recent, Lit, was breaking records for profits, making him not only one of the youngest CEOs in the hospitality business but also one of the richest. His properties brought in obscene amounts of money, giving him success in everything he’d ever wanted, except for one thing—getting revenge for how Nicole and Maurice Westmore had humiliated him by dumping him for not being good enough. And he’d have that, too, soon enough.
Adam elbowed Grant as he drove around him to the basket. A quick layup gave his side two points.
“You fouled me,” Grant shouted. The smile on his face belied the anger in his words.
“I don’t see a ref. Do you?” Adam answered. An NFL pro, Grant had taught Adam how to get away with stuff when the officials weren’t looking. Payback was a bitch, but Grant was probably prouder of Adam for learning the lesson than anything else.
“Are you two going to keep jawing, or are we going to play?” Ryan asked.
Roger stood bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. He needed to spend less time in the office and more on the court.
Ryan slapped Roger on the back. “Come on, guy, catch your second wind.”
Adam couldn’t help but fill with pride, studying his friends. Adam could hold his own with both of them. He did it the way he’d fought his way through life and his college boxing career—by scrapping. And he had the scars to show for it—even a broken nose from a back-alley fight before he’d learned discipline.
Beside the court, Roger’s phone went off, and the man appeared truly relieved for the interruption. He trotted over, answered, and listened for a moment, then grabbed his towel. “Trouble at the front desk.”
“You told them to call you if we were kicking your ass,” Ryan said. “Didn’t you?”
Grant held his arms out. “What am I going to do for a partner?”
“Play with yourselves,” Roger said on his way out of the court.
“Very funny,” Adam called after him.
“I don’t know why he puts up with us,” Ryan said. “We always run his butt ragged.”
“Because we’re his best customers,” Adam said. Which was true. Not only were they the three richest men in the club, but they drew in clientele—a lot of it female, in hopes of hooking up with one of them. “Eligible bachelors,” or so a lot of women thought. Thanks to Nicole Westmore and her father, Adam had given up on love years earlier. Grant’s divorce had accomplished the same thing for him. Only Ryan remained the innocent, and he was currently involved with someone.
“Free throws,” Grant said as he went to the line and sent the ball arcing toward the basket. It swished through—nothing but net. Of course, a quarterback would have a great arm. “Loser buys dinner.”
“You’re on,” Ryan said as he snatched the ball from under the basket and approached the free throw line. Ryan shot and missed—something he almost never did.
Grant laughed as he caught the ball and heaved it back at Ryan. Totally off guard, Ryan let the pass smack him in the middle of his chest. Ryan let out a loud “oof,” which made Grant laugh all the harder.
“What’s up with you today, man?” Grant asked.
Ryan retrieved the ball and threw it to Adam with as much force as Grant had used. “Just waiting for you two to stop clowning around.”
Requiring more finesse than bravado, free throws weren’t Adam’s strong suit, and he’d probably lose again. The winner would choose one of Manhattan’s most expensive restaurants, and they’d have drinks before dinner. He could afford it.
The kid who could barely remember his bastard of a father and had gone through college on scholarships and gotten an MBA from Princeton? The kid who’d worked on Westmore’s cars and driven the old man around like the royalty he thought he was? The kid who was part of the help but uppity enough to think Westmore’s princess of a daughter was in love with him? Well, that kid had grown up to be richer than the old man. And he’d been plotting his revenge for years.
It hadn’t been too complicated, really. All he had to do was spread rumors that Westmore Hotels was floundering, then buy up stock from nervous investors. Use the “no confidence” clause from Westmore’s bylaws to remove the CEO—now Nicole, since her father’s death. Then merge their companies under his own name. Everything Maurice Westmore had built, now part of Morrow Properties. Sweet.
Adam smiled as he toed the free throw line. He made his first shot. The competition might go on for a while.
“Nice going,” Ryan said. “You must be getting some regularly.”
“Nah,” Adam answered. “Kristen’s job took her back to Australia.”
“Too bad,” Ryan said. “She was good for you.”
Maybe too good. Neither of them had wanted a relationship. Kristen because her career never let her settle down. Adam because he’d never trust another woman with his heart. They’d genuinely liked each other—best to break it off before liking grew into anything else.
“How about you?” Adam asked.
Ryan stared down at the floor. “Well, uh, not so much.”
Okay, trouble. Adam’s sixth sense plus Ryan’s sloppy play had told him as much. He and Grant shared a glance over Ryan’s head.
“Want to tell us about it?” Grant said.
“Not much to say.” Ryan walked to the bench where they’d left their gear. He grabbed a bottle of water and twisted the top off. “Melissa and I called a truce and walked away.”
Grant also went to the bench and picked up a towel to wipe the sweat from his face. “Truce? Sounds like war.”
“I guess it was,” Ryan said.
Adam had been there and done that—in spades—when the only woman he’d ever loved had given up on him before he’d had a chance to prove he was good enough for her.
Grant, on the other hand, had been through a divorce and understood betrayal. Seemed like this would be Ryan’s turn to learn about how everything turned to shit when you allowed yourself to fall in love.
When Ryan sat, Adam joined him and put his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “You guys seemed pretty happy.”
“I thought we were. We started joking about marriage,” Ryan said. “You know how that goes.”
Grant sat on Ryan’s other side. “Oh, man, do I ever.”
“Then I mentioned the prenup,” Ryan said. “She turned into someone I didn’t recognize.”
Grant looked from Adam to Ryan. “Yeah?”
“She pitched a fit as if it was a personal insult. Claimed I didn’t trust her,” Ryan said. “It got ugly pretty fast. I’m afraid I didn’t react well.”
“Do you trust her?” Adam asked.
Ryan thought for a moment, rolling his water bottle between his palms. “I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t. Or maybe not enough.”
“Trust…that’s the big one,” Grant said. “You can’t know if a lover’s on the level until she’s already gotten too close.”
“A prenup isn’t too much to ask,” Ryan said. “Otherwise, how do I know if she really wants me and not my money?”
“Sorry that happened to you,” Grant said. “A guy in your position has to know lots of women are going to want you for all the wrong reasons.”
“Well, I don’t have to worry about Melissa any longer.” Ryan sighed. “I must have misjudged her, big time.”
“Easy to do.” Adam gave Ryan’s shoulder a shake. “At least you found out about her before you made a big mistake.”
“I can’t marry someone who only sees dollar signs when she looks at me,” Ryan said.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Grant said.
Ryan glanced at Grant. “Is that what broke you and your wife up?”
“Nah.” Grant rubbed the back of his neck. “It was a lot of other crap.”
“Well, whatever. It hurts like hell,” Ryan said.
Adam’s stomach clenched. The pain of Nicole’s betrayal still snuck up on him from time to time. He and Ryan had gotten Grant through his divorce more or less unscathed. Now Ryan’s turn for a little friendship therapy had come.
“I should be like you two,” Ryan was saying. “Lots of friends with benefits. Nothing deeper.”
Grant raised his hands toward the heavens. “Praise the Lord, he has seen the light.”
“You won’t regret it, my friend,” Adam said. “Work hard, play hard, and let the rest of it go.”
“I got the work-hard part covered,” Ryan said. “I guess it’s time to play.”
“This calls for a celebration,” Grant said.
Ryan perked up, his shoulders lifting from their slump. “We should have our own club or something.”
“The Love ’em and Leave ’em club,” Grant said.
“Not that,” Adam said. “Love” wouldn’t ever enter the equation, if he could help it, and “leave them” sounded too harsh. “It needs to be simpler. We have a good time getting laid and make sure our lovers do, too. That’s it.”
“Sex with no complications,” Grant said. “I like it.”
“Pure physical pleasure,” Ryan said. “Nothing wrong with that.”
“From now on, let’s make a pact—a players pact,” Adam said. It sounded good. “In it for the fun, with no strings to tie us down.”
“I’ve had enough strings to last a lifetime.” Ryan held his hand out, and when Grant took it, Adam added his own hand in the shake. None of them would ever let a woman get close enough to cause pain. They’d take their fun where they found it, with no entanglements and no regrets. Life could be a whole lot worse.
“Let’s have an initiation into the new club,” Grant declared.
“I could use a few fingers of some really great Scotch,” Adam said.
“I could use a few more than you’re having,” Ryan said.
“And a huge slab of beef,” Grant said. “Bloodred rare.”
“I’m hearing The Tap Room,” Adam said. A place where the steaks were aged as well as the Scotch and the bill could make some guys’ mortgage payments. Their favorite haunt.
“I’m going to have lobster with my T-bone,” Ryan said.
They all laughed. Each of them could afford to buy the restaurant out of lobster if they wanted.
“And if we should run into a few women looking for fun, that wouldn’t hurt, either,” Grant said.
“To sex without strings.” Ryan raised his water bottle in imitation of a toast. “And to the Players Pact,” Adam and Grant said in unison.
About the Author
Alice Gaines lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in a fixer-upper house she never fixed up. Aside from writing and reading hot, hot romance, she loves cooking, knitting and crocheting, and her church. She has a pet corn snake named Casper. She’s insanely passionate about the funky soul band, Tower of Power.
You can write to Alice at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see information about new releases at http://www.alicegaines.blogspot.com. Sign up for her newsletter. From time to time, she raffles off her handcrafted items to her readers.
1 winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card. Click here to join.