"Austin's first Beauty and the Brit book takes an all-too-familiar trope and turns it into something remarkable... an engaging work on a number of levels and the sum total is a novel that is unique, erotic, and passionate."—RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick!
Allie Campbell will do anything to hold onto her family home—including entering into an unusual arrangement with the brooding, wealthy Englishman that now holds the deed.
Allie is determined to take care of her family, no matter the cost. But when her father loses their home to British tycoon Trevor Blake, Allie finds herself forced to plead for more time to pay off the loan...and if she has to use her own body as collateral, then so be it.
Trevor isn't moved by Allie's story. But when Allie impulsively offers to do anything to keep the house, he's intrigued enough to raise the stakes: for the next two months, she must cater to his every need, no matter how depraved. To his amazement, she agrees.
Allie has no intention of enjoying her time with the arrogant, domineering Brit, but it doesn't take long before he's got her aching for his touch—and he'll do whatever it takes to make her beg...
Beauty and the Brit Series:
His Every Need (Book 1)
His Kind of Trouble (Book 2)
His Too Keep (Book 3)
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His Every Need
By Terri L. Austin
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Terri L. Austin
All rights reserved.
Allie Campbell frowned at the black SUV parked in her driveway. One of Monica's friends? Damn it, if her sister ditched school again, Allie was going to handcuff herself to that kid and haul her delinquent butt into class. And even though Monica was an adult — technically — and could make her own decisions — really stupid ones — she was going to graduate high school this year if it killed them both.
Allie parked on the curb and shoved open the driver-side door. It groaned, sounding as tired as it looked. And for a Ford Festiva that had seen seventy-five thousand miles too many, it looked exhausted.
Before she could grab groceries from the backseat, a man strolled around the side of the house, clipboard in hand. Middle-aged and slightly paunchy, he waved at her with a tape measure.
"Great, you're home. Would you mind letting me in so I can get some measurements, ma'am?"
Allie shut the car door with a bump of her hip and adjusted her purse strap. Ma'am? Twenty-five wasn't ma'am territory. She walked across the narrow strip of yard, stopping directly in front of the stranger who wore a polo shirt with the name Dave embroidered on his chest.
She had been on her feet for the past nine hours soothing unhappy hotel guests. The Festiva's air conditioner was on the fritz. Again. And her polyester uniform — hot and itchy on a good day — stuck to her in all the wrong places. Add the ma'am comment, and she didn't have any niceties to spare. "Who are you and what are you doing in my yard?"
He pointed at the truck. "Dave Buchanan, home appraiser. I'm taking measurements for the owner."
Allie glanced at the white magnetic sign affixed to the truck's door. Sure enough — Dave Buchanan, Home Appraiser. "My dad is the owner, and he didn't mention this to me."
Dave examined the clipboard. "Says here Trevor Blake ordered an inspection." He shrugged. "Maybe he forgot to tell you?"
Who the hell was Trevor Blake? "No, you've got the wrong house. Would you mind moving, so I can pull into my driveway?" She turned and walked toward her car. Crisis averted. No need to have another pointless argument with Monica. At least not about this.
"Nope," Dave called after her. "This is the place. I need to get inside. I have a couple more houses to see this afternoon."
A small tingle shot up Allie's spine. She spun around to face Dave, if that was even his real name. Was this some kind of scam to get into her house? If so, he'd picked the wrong place. They didn't have anything worth stealing.
Pulling her phone from her pocket, she glared at the man. "If you don't leave immediately, I'm calling the police."
He shrugged. "Whatever, lady. It might speed things up."
Well, that wasn't the response she was expecting.
He squinted down at the form. "The signature says Trevor Blake. There's a second one here too — a Brian Campbell?"
Alarm bells started clanging in her ears. This had to be a mistake. She speed-dialed her dad's cell number, her eyes tracking the stranger as he pointedly looked at his watch.
"Yeah, Al," he answered, "I already know. School called this morning. Monica never showed up. I don't know what to do with her. I'm out of ideas." He sounded weary.
Allie pinched the bridge of her nose. "It's okay. I'll deal with it. Listen, a guy's here at the house, says he's an appraiser?"
There was long pause on the other end. "Damn, he's there already?"
She blinked. Something was wrong. Seriously wrong. Her dad didn't make a sandwich without asking her opinion. "You're not thinking about refinancing, are you? You never even mentioned it."
"I, uh." He cleared his throat. "I don't know how to tell you this, honey."
His answer scared her. The afternoon sun seemed brighter, hotter, making her skin feel prickly. A bead of sweat slid down her back. "Just say it." For some reason, her voice didn't sound like her own.
"We ..." He trailed off. "No, not we. Me." He stopped. "This is my fault. I did this. I lost the house, Al."
Despite the dry Vegas heat, Allie went cold all over. "What are you talking about?"
Dave tugged on his earlobe and wouldn't make eye contact.
"I'll explain it all tonight." Another drawn-out pause. "I didn't know how to tell you."
She shook her head, gripping the phone like it was a lifeline. "Tell me now. And who is Trevor Blake?"
"He's an investor. English guy." His breath sounded ragged, his voice shaky. "I borrowed money for the business. But when your mom ..." He didn't finish. He didn't need to.
Allie staggered backward a few feet until her ass hit the Festiva's taillight, her stomach in free fall. She felt a little woozy. "No," she whispered. "It's all we have left." Lose the house? They'd already lost so much. "The business will pick up. We just need more time to pay off this loan. I could get a second jo — "
"No. The business is busted. It's over. You don't know how sorry I am." She heard his pain, as clear and sharp as her own. "Trevor Blake's the new owner."
A thousand thoughts flooded Allie's brain. How were they going to survive? Where would they live? How much time did they have before the new owner kicked them out?
No, she couldn't think about any of that. She needed to fix this. Now.
She gathered herself together and pushed off the car. "Dad, I've got to go. We'll talk about this tonight." Without waiting for his reply, she hit the end button and tossed her hair over her shoulder as she strode back to Dave, shoving her phone into the pocket of her slacks.
Another day, another freaking crisis. She needed to get rid of this guy before her youngest sister got home. If Brynn thought they were losing the house — well, Allie had to make sure that didn't happen.
A red-faced Dave looked at her with pity. "Sorry. These things are tough," he said. "The economy's bad for everyone right now."
God, Allie was so tired of pity. So tired of empty platitudes. She squared her shoulders and clung to her purse strap with both hands. "This isn't a bank thing. We're not in foreclosure." Realizing how defensive she sounded, she swallowed and tried for a softer tone. "Can I see that?" Allie nodded at the clipboard.
"Sure, of course." Dave handed it over and stared at the Garcia's house next door. With its freshly painted exterior and decorative yucca plants, it was the complete opposite of Allie's raggedy place with peeling brown paint and a crumbling driveway.
She read through the form, making a few mental notes. "Mr. Buchanan? I need you to put off this appraisal until tomorrow." She held out the clipboard.
"Not possible. Look, I'm sorry for your troubles, but I've got a job to do."
All right, Dave, time to pull out the big guns. Allie widened her eyes, glanced up at him through her lashes, and took a deep breath. "Please? Just twenty-four hours, that's all I'm asking." She placed a hand on his forearm and squeezed. "Please, Dave?" she whispered.
He gulped and licked his lips, his eyes darting back and forth. Finally, he let out a gusty breath. "Okay, what the hell? But I'm coming back tomorrow. And I'm getting in the house, one way or another."
Allie smiled. "Thank you." Ma'am my ass.
He sniffed and hitched up his jeans before climbing into his truck.
She had bought herself some time, but how was she supposed to get their house back in twenty-four hours? And what if she couldn't?
She closed her eyes for a second. Focus. One thing at a time. Groceries first.
Allie made three trips, hauling bags into the house. As she shoved a box of cereal in the cupboard, she heard the front door slam. "Brynn, is that you?"
She stuck the milk in the fridge and glanced at the kitchen doorway to find her fifteen-year-old sister propped against the jamb. With a bulging backpack, she looked like a turtle ready to topple over. Brynnie was pale. And too thin.
"How was your day?" Allie asked.
Brynn studied her thumbnail and shrugged.
"You hungry? I could make you —"
Allie grabbed four potatoes out of the bag and dropped them in the sink. "What about your geometry test? Did you kick ass and take names?"
Brynn scuffed her toe over the worn, beige linoleum, causing a high-pitched squeak. "It was easy. Boring."
"Your art teacher emailed me this morning." Allie glanced over her shoulder. "She said you didn't want to enter your drawing in the art show this year."
"That's the drawing of Mom, right? The one of her in the hospital." Their mother had been beautiful, even if she had lost all her hair and forty pounds. Her frame was thin, her face gaunt, but her smile was radiant. Brynn had captured that. "Mom was proud of that picture, Brynn. And your teacher said you could win an award." Allie scrubbed at the potatoes and blotted them with a paper towel.
Brynn rolled her eyes. "Who cares about awards? I'm not showing it. Ever. And why're you making so many potatoes? Dad will be late and Monica won't be home." Digging a hand in her pocket, she whipped out her phone, her thumbs flying over the keyboard.
"Have you heard from her?" Allie asked.
"Right. Like she talks to me."
"She skipped school again today."
Brynn ignored her.
"Did Monica even get on the bus?"
"No." Brynn paused and glanced up. "One of her stupid friends picked her up at the bus stop. As usual."
Fantastic. Banking her anger and frustration, Allie dried her hands on a dish towel. "We're having pork chops for dinner tonight." Pork chops were Brynn's favorite. That's why Allie'd bought them, even though they weren't on sale. She knew the chances of Brynn coming out of her room for dinner were almost nonexistent, but she kept trying.
"I'm not hungry. Sometimes ... I just wish we could all be together again." She said it so quietly, Allie barely caught the words.
"We can be. I'll text Monica and tempt her with chocolate cake. A family dinner would be nice." The cheerful note Allie forced into the words grated on her nerves. She knew what Brynn meant. But if she thought about it right now, she'd completely fall apart. And she couldn't do that in front of her little sister.
"Monica would never pull this crap if Mom were here. I miss her so much." Brynn pressed a hand to her abdomen. "I remember how it was before she got sick."
Allie remembered too. The house had been filled with chatter and laughter and the smell of her mother's sweet perfume. But the chatter had been replaced by Monica's bitching and Allie's nagging. Deep lines of stress and worry etched their way across her dad's face, and he seemed older than his fifty years. Losing Mom changed everything. For all of them. And Brynn was right. Monica wouldn't dare act like this if Mom were alive. Allie was doing her best, but she made a poor substitute parent. And Monica resented the hell out of her for it.
Allie glanced away from the pain in her sister's eyes. "Dinner will be ready soon. Do you have homework? When is that English essay due?"
"I know what I need to do," Brynn said. "You don't have to keep reminding me. I'm not a six-year-old."
Allie stepped forward, her hand outstretched to pat Brynn's shoulder, but her sister turned and walked out of the kitchen. As Allie's arm fell, so did the fake smile that left her cheeks sore.
She wanted to follow Brynn, hold her close, tell her everything would be all right — even though it was a lie. Everything will be fine. It gets better. We'll be okay. Lies. She said them over and over and felt like a fraud every time.
A hug wouldn't make Brynn feel better. Wouldn't bring her mom back. Wouldn't heal her family.
Allie glanced at the wooden doorjamb Brynn had been leaning against and the growth marks her mother had charted. Each sister had a different color. She traced a finger over her own red marks. This was her family's history.
Crossing her arms, Allie cast her eyes over the dated kitchen, took in the red-and-white-checkered curtains and the rooster wall clock. Her mom loved that stupid rooster.
Allie made a promise. Take care of the family. She was supposed to hold everything together, but she was failing. Big time.
Losing the house would be like losing her mom all over again.
She had to talk to this Trevor Blake, make him understand, beg if she had to. Allie was prepared to do anything to keep the promise she made. She would take care of everyone — starting with the house. She was going to get it back.
And she wouldn't take no for an answer.
* * *
Trevor Blake sat behind his polished desk and stared at the girl — woman, really — who'd come to plead her father's case. Her lips were full and pink. Her cheeks were bright with color. She was flustered, nervous, hand trembling as she repeatedly tucked her pale hair behind one ear.
Lovely. Although that uniform should be burned. The bright green waistcoat hid a spectacular pair of breasts.
"So, that's why we have to keep the house." She looked at him and waited.
Chin propped on his palm, he stared at her. Truly lovely. He roused himself and straightened in his seat. "I don't care, Miss Campbell."
With wide blue eyes, she stared back. "Excuse me? I don't understand."
Trevor placed his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers. "I said I don't care. Not about your problems, not about your house. I don't care about any of it."
She blinked a few times. "But my mother died six months ago. We're still trying to recover."
"I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do." He gestured toward the door.
She shook her head and a few blond strands slid over those amazing tits. "No, I won't excuse you. Didn't you hear what I said? I don't know what my father owes, but we can pay you back. We just need time."
"I was only half listening, really." He leaned forward, his gaze resting on her face. "You're rather beautiful. I find it distracting."
With a clenched jaw, she clutched the armrests of her chair until her knuckles were white. As she took a deep breath, the green buttons on the waistcoat strained and looked ready to pop right off the bloody thing. Very distracting indeed.
"Please, I'm trying to keep my family together, Mr. Blake. Since my mom died, that house is all we have left. Surely you understand that?"
"I don't have family, Miss Campbell. Relatives are considerably more trouble than they're worth." A pain in the bloody ass was more like it. He flatly refused to acknowledge his own.
"Please?" Her voice was a breathy whisper and she tugged on that full bottom lip with her teeth. "Can you give us an extension? Just a month or two. I promise we'll pay every cent."
He bit back a smile. Oh, she was good at this. Very practiced. Most men probably tripped over their own cocks to give her what she wanted. But he wasn't most men. And her sad eyes left him as unmoved as her tragic little family drama. "Do you know what I do, Miss Campbell? Who I am?"
She met his gaze. "Who are you, Mr. Blake?"
"I am, for lack of a better phrase, an investment angel. When I loaned your father money to expand his business, he put your house up as collateral." He lifted his shoulder. "But he's hemorrhaging money, an astounding feat given that he has a commercial refrigeration repair business and we're in the middle of a desert. He even sold off the tools and equipment, which were also mine." He raised a brow in annoyance. Brian Campbell had gone behind his back. Did he think Trevor wouldn't find out? And even though the loss was trivial, Trevor hated losing money, no matter how small the amount. "How your father's managed to keep his head above water this long is something of a mystery."
"What? No, you're wrong. He wouldn't do that without telling me." She scooted to the edge of her seat and placed her hands on top of his desk. Her nails were ruthlessly short, the skin around them red and rough. "You can't do this. My sisters will be out of a home. I'm begging you."
"I am sorry for your plight, but it changes nothing. Now, I trust you can find your way out." Dismissing her, he turned his attention to one of the computer screens and checked the commodities prices. Wheat held steady, oil down, gold up.
Excerpted from His Every Need by Terri L. Austin. Copyright © 2014 Terri L. Austin. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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