My obsession with Emily Campbell started when she was fifteen years old. Her age made her completely off-limits to me. The fact that she was my stepsister only made it socially frowned upon.
What complicates matters further is that my mother stole seventy million dollars from me, and her father was complicit in the crime. When the time comes for them to repay that debt, her father offers Emily up on a silver platter. I turned him down because I’m a lot of things but certainly not a cliché.
Instead, I gave him an additional three years to get his affairs in order. He didn’t know it at the time, but that was more for me than for him.
Not enough drama? Good because I’ve got another obsession.
His name is Kieran O’Rourke.
It started the day the Irishman introduced himself to me, although I’ve never admitted that to anyone. Certainly not him. Nor did I give in right away because that would’ve been too easy.
Complications are compounded when Emily believes I betrayed her and her family by taking back what was rightfully mine, which only delays my plans. Being one of the richest men in the world, I have an endless supply of resources, a long list of things to keep me busy, and an abundance of patience.
No matter what, I will introduce Emily and Kieran to one another, and when I do, life as we know it will be irrevocably changed.
This is my story of obsession, betrayal, and surrender. Some might say I have my work cut out for me.
Good thing I enjoy a challenge.
*This is a standalone romance novel.
A soft knock sounded on my office door seconds before it opened. “Mr. Montgomery, there’s someone here to see you.”
“I don’t have time right now, Betty,” I answered, continuing to type the email I was working on. “Have them make an appointment.”
“I tried. He’s insistent he speaks with you now, sir.”
Peering up from my computer screen, I stared at my assistant, curious as to who could cause the typically calm woman to fray at the edges. “Who is it?”
“A Mr. Rhett Campbell. He’s quite adamant about speaking with you.” She lowered her voice. “If you’d like, I could call security to—”
“Not necessary.” Taking a deep breath, I closed the laptop and stood. “Send him in.”
Of all the people I would’ve expected to make a surprise visit to my office, Rhett Campbell wouldn’t have even made the list. He usually intruded on my personal space, showing up at my residence. Then again, my recent move made it a bit more difficult to find me. And much harder to access.
I buttoned my suit jacket and adjusted my cuffs as I glanced at the calendar on my desk, confirming the date. November second. Every year like clockwork. Give or take a day.
My attention shifted to the door as I watched Rhett stroll in.
The man who ambled into my office was not a formidable man—neither in stature nor demeanor. Despite the fact Rhett was a one-percenter—at present, anyway—he’d always been too complacent to be intimidating, too proud of what little he had to ever strike fear in a man for what he could achieve. Hell, the man couldn’t see past his own hubris to accomplish much of anything.
Of course, Rhett did his best to pretend he was the alpha of the pack, but we both knew his bravado was balanced on a precarious house of cards. And the winds only grew stronger with every passing minute. Had been the case for the past decade, ever since I found out what he and my mother had done.
I slid my hands into the pockets of my slacks and stepped from behind my desk. “What can I do for you, Rhett?”
As he moved closer, I noticed he was walking a little too fast, his eyes skimming a little too quickly. Definitely nervous. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve said he was under the influence. The wrinkled suit, the way he was sweating and fidgeting, he looked as though he was either high or jonesing for a fix. However, my stepfather wasn’t a junkie, so I knew that wasn’t the reason for his nervous tic.
Rhett seemed fixated on the floor-to-ceiling windows that ran the length of three walls, the corner office offering a view of the surrounding buildings. Not much to look at, but I would admit it was better than staring at walls.
Whatever his curiosity, he was more than likely refusing to look at me, and I couldn’t blame him. He knew I wasn’t happy to see him.
“Rhett?” I repeated, attempting to draw his attention.
He looked at me briefly, then back out the window. “Can we talk?”
The man couldn’t even maintain eye contact. Very interesting.
“We’re capable, if that’s what you’re asking. As for what we might possibly have to discuss…” Returning to my desk, I let the sentence hang because we both knew there was nothing I had to contribute to a conversation with him. I’d said my piece a long time ago, and as far as I was concerned, the issue was only three days away from a rightful resolution.
“Sunday is Emily’s eighteenth birthday,” Rhett said, wiping his brow with the back of his hand.
“I’m well aware.” I tapped the date on the desk calendar as I took a seat in my chair. “Which has me wondering why you’re here. Shouldn’t you be packing up your family?”
Rhett stepped closer to my desk, but he didn’t take a seat. Instead, he stared down at me for a moment as though he wasn’t sure how to proceed.
“I’ve got things to do,” I informed him. “What do you need?”
“I’d like to make a proposition,” he said on a huff of air.
“Would you?” Steepling my fingers, I smiled. This should be interesting.
“An amendment to our original agreement,” Rhett clarified.
I’d figured as much.
“I’m quite content with the terms.” I met his wild gaze momentarily. “I don’t see a reason to modify anything.”
Come Sunday morning, I would be adding another company to my current portfolio, as well as a few numbers to my net worth. Neither of which I needed, but it was the principle of the matter.
“I can’t lose my home or my business,” Rhett blurted, his brown eyes slamming into my face. “It’s all I’ve got.”
“You’ve got a wife and a daughter,” I reminded him.
“I know. And I’m doing this for her.”
For her. Not for them. I didn’t care for the direction this was headed.
I kept my tone calm and controlled. “You probably should’ve thought about that when you stole seventy million dollars from me.”
Rhett’s thick eyebrows darted down. “You know I didn’t steal that money.”
“You’re right. Your wife stole the money.”
“She’s your mother,” Rhett countered hotly.
“She is.” I gave him a mirthless smile. “That doesn’t make it okay.”
“I…” Rhett took a deep breath, seemed to calm himself. “I’ve apologized for what happened. And I fully understand that you’re upset.”
I didn’t think pleading his case and begging for mercy qualified as an apology, but I let it go.
I shook my head. “I’m not upset. I’m quite content, in fact.”
Rhett’s eyes were wide, beseeching. “I’m here to throw myself on your mercy, Knox. I’ll do anything. Give you anything. Just … don’t take it all away.”
I cocked an eyebrow, pretended to consider his proposition. As it was, Rhett Campbell would lose everything as of 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. Everything except for whatever millions he might have in the bank. Based on the contract he’d signed, every physical possession he owned would become mine on the day his daughter turned eighteen, the day she became officially legal to take care of herself. It was the least he owed me after he and my mother deceived me the way they had.
I got to my feet, preparing to dismiss him. “You have nothing to offer me, Rhett.”
“Surely there’s something.”
“I’m already taking your houses, your cars, and your company.” I barked a laugh. “Short of your only child, you’ve got nothing left.”
“Emily?” he said as though just now realizing she was a part of his life.
Rhett’s eyebrows rose, and I didn’t care for the gleam that came into his eyes.
“What if…” Rhett swallowed again and squared his shoulders. “You can have Emily.”
I stared at him, frowned. What the ever-loving fuck?
I was not a man who was usually at a loss for words, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t wrap my head around what he was offering me.
“You can have her,” Rhett repeated, his words coming faster. “I can’t lose my company. I just can’t. It’ll devastate Kitty. It’s a fair trade.”
A fair trade? Was he fucking insane?
“What do you say, Knox?” Rhett’s eyes flashed with hope as he stepped forward. “Do we have a deal?”
The man was absolutely out of his fucking mind, and though my own dark and twisted desires urged me to take what he was offering, it wasn’t an option. Not now, not ever.
“No, we don’t have a fucking deal,” I ground out fiercely, masking my expression. “You’ve had plenty of time to get your affairs in order. I think I’ve been more than fair.”
For three years running, Rhett had shown up in person to make a formal request that I give him more time to tend to things. Each time he seemed more stressed, as though his feeble world was already crumbling at his feet. Which, I figured, for Rhett, was probably the case based solely on the fact he was married to my mother, Katherine Marie Wybler Campbell, a.k.a. Kitty. Because she was nothing more than a gold-digging whore, the cracks in his foundation were likely growing direr each day. We both knew the minute Rhett lost everything, Kitty would move on to a bigger payout, and he would be left with nothing.
Hence the reason he was here offering up his own child as payment.
The man was as fucked up as my mother.
“Are you suggesting I haven’t been fair?” I prompted, wanting him to get on with it.
He studied my face as though searching for salvation. He certainly wouldn’t find it with me.
The plea in his tone was likely meant to tug at my heartstrings, but it didn’t work. I’d lost all respect for Rhett back when I’d originally found out what he and my mother had done. Even more so now that I knew he was willing to barter his only child.
“Surely there’s something I can do,” he stated, his shoulders squaring. “Give me more time.”
“More time to what? Do right by your daughter?”
He was watching me intently when I noticed another gleam come into his eyes.
“Yes,” he said quickly. “You’re right. I haven’t done right by my daughter. I just need more time.”
I thought about the last time I’d gone to visit my mother and encountered Emily. It had been more than a year since I’d laid eyes on my stepsister.
Granted, I had never viewed Emily as such. Hell, I’d never been around her long enough to establish any sort of bond, much less one of a sibling. Truth was, I hadn’t given Emily much thought at all initially. My mother had been married to her father for all of three months when I moved out of Rhett’s house. And during those brief weeks I’d resided there, I had viewed Rhett’s then seven-year-old daughter as nothing more than a pest. Since the day I’d hightailed it out of that house, moving to New York to start the life I was meant to live, I only saw Emily on the occasional holiday. Even those were few and far between, considering my complete distaste for my mother and stepfather thanks to their heinous betrayal.
Of course, Kitty and Rhett weren’t the only reasons I stayed away. However, I preferred to use that simple explanation rather than try to rationalize or, God forbid, explain the shift that had taken place inside me that one fateful day three years ago during a brief holiday visit to the Campbell estate.
It had started like any other visit I had scheduled, with me planning to blow through Kitty and Rhett’s life, looking forward to making them miserable while they pretended all was right in the world. I had returned, fired up to piss off my mother, but my intentions shifted almost instantly upon my arrival when I caught sight of my then fifteen-year-old stepsister standing on the balcony of her bedroom, overlooking the ocean. Her hair had been long then, the silky dark tresses curling down her back, blowing in the gentle breeze, caressing her alabaster skin. Her elbows rested on the railing, her chin in her palm as she stared out, seemingly deep in thought. I still remembered what she’d been wearing—light blue cotton shorts and a thin, nearly see-through tank top. The mere sight of her had struck something deep inside me at the same time it made my dick hard.
Fifteen fucking years old, and Emily had captivated me in a way no woman ever had. To this day, I’d never seen anyone so beautiful. Or so incredibly sad.
My reaction to her had been inappropriate, to say the least, and it was more than the fact that I was eleven years older than her. The problem was, I was a man who embraced his dark desires, and at that moment, Emily had tempted me like nothing I’d ever known. Which was the very reason I’d kept my visits short and infrequent since then. I never trusted myself to be alone with her. Still didn’t.
Not that it had mattered. Every time I saw Emily, I found myself more and more ensnared by her, my desire to do dirty things to her intensified. And the older she got, the deeper my obsession became. There was no doubt in my mind that seeing Emily now would have disastrous results.
And that was what had me saying, “Three more years, Rhett.”
His eyebrows popped up, and hope glittered in his dull brown eyes.
“You have until Emily’s twenty-first birthday.”
“I’ll take it,” he bit out.
I stood. “Good. Expect to get the amended paperwork from my lawyers by the end of the day.” I motioned toward the door. “See yourself out.”
If Rhett had said thank you, I would’ve considered punching him in the face. After all, I wasn’t doing this for him.
I have been totally immersed in this book for two days and I don’t want to leave the world that Nicole Edwards has created for us. - That was my initial reaction upon completing the book and it still holds true days later.
Knox and Emily are step siblings but because of their age difference they only lived under the same roof for about three months before Knox left for college and never returned home, other than holidays. So for me that was very light on the Taboo factor, I get that some may not feel the same way but these are my feelings on it.
Knox and Kieran are friends and business partners. Knox has always wanted to be with Emily and Kieran, the question is can this billionaire get what his heart desires or will circumstances get in his way?
Nicole did a fabulous job with creating characters that we can root for and feel for. My heart broke with the way Emily was treated by her stepmother and father, but Knox did everything in his power to do right by her and he scored bonus points with me for the little things he did that she didn't even know about.
The chemistry is AMAZING with all three and in any combination you put them in, they work well together in all aspects. If you enjoy Menage Romances that will have you feeling all the feels I highly recommend this book to you.
About the Author:
Nicole lives in Texas with her husband and their youngest of 3 children. The two older ones have ventured out in the world on their own. She has a beautiful granddaugther and a rather spoiled grand-puppy.. Oh, she and Colt also have four dogs. Most of the time, you can find her hiding in my writing cave. If she's not there, she's probably hanging out with the family, reading, or watching hockey and football. One thing for sure... Nicole is always trying to have fun.
*Book Teaser and Excerpt are property of Nicole Edwards
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