Melody Anne's Billionaire Universe: One Sweet Summer (Kindle Worlds Novella) (Love by the Numbers Book 1)

BOOK: Melody Anne's Billionaire Universe: One Sweet Summer (Kindle Worlds Novella) (Love by the Numbers Book 1)
4.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.

This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Melody Anne. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Melody Anne's Billionaire Universe remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Melody Anne, or their affiliates or licensors.

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A Kindle World Novella by

J.A. Coffey



Dedications: To Melody Anne, for giving me the chance to expand her dynasty. To MacKenzie, because I wanted to start something you’d love, too. And to Jody Wallace and Caroline Lee, who encourage me to expand my own horizons daily.


Sweet Readers,

I was so very excited to write in Melody’s world. Billionaire bachelors and new adult romance brought out the sweeter side of me. I invite you to share your feedback on this or any of my books. Authors rely on your input. Feel free to leave an honest review or drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Happy Reading!

J.A. Coffey


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Chapter One

Kane Maverick rolled over and punched his alarm clock. Noon on a Saturday was way too early to be up and at ‘em. After a job-hunting trip to Vancouver dried up he’d been up late partying with a few college buddies, Matt and Nate, and somehow the shots had stretched into morning. Now his head felt three feet thick and his tongue tasted like roadkill, but at least he didn’t have another landscaping show to tape.

Not since he’d walked off the set of
Kane is Able
last month.

“Kane?” A knock on the door resounded in his head like a jackhammer.

“I’m up, Mom. Be right down.” Her footsteps receded as he slung a goose-down pillow over his face.

He was living on borrowed time and money, shacking up at his parents’ large house on Bainbridge Island at his mother’s insistence, when most of his friends were getting hitched or buying their first homes.

The Maverick mansion was huge, nestled near the shoreline like a giant bleached gull, half-hidden by towering trees and craggy rocks. He had to admit, Bainbridge Island was the perfect place to catch his breath, with restful communities framed by the Puget Sound and distant snow-covered mountains. Even better, it was only a thirty-five minute ferry ride from Seattle, which had a decent landscape architecture industry. His parents’ mansion was a place of comfort. A place to lick his wounds and regroup while he considered his next move.

If only he knew what that move should be.

The reminder of his hazy future woke him the rest of the way. Gone were the days when he’d been up before dawn laying turf or mulching planter garden plots with the crew. Still, something was bound to come along. He just had to keep trying.

He sighed and rolled out of bed, wincing as his bare feet hit the hardwood. Someone had left his bedroom window open last night and the infamous Seattle chill had settled into the floorboards. Probably his drunk-assed self.

Kane padded into the bathroom, took a swig of MintyFresh mouthwash, and grabbed his toothbrush to scrub away the taste of tequila before he shuffled into the kitchen.

“I wasn’t expecting to find you awake before lunch on a weekend.” Bev Maverick perched at the kitchen table, playing a word game on her tablet. She was formidable at best, nagging at worst. Today she seemed to be the lesser of two evils.

“Mhmm.” He removed the toothbrush long enough to kiss her cheek, then spit toothpaste froth in the sink. He tilted his head under the faucet to rinse, catching her disapproving stare, and winked.

“Do you really have to spit in the—” She shook her head. “Never mind. Thanks for installing the new drip irrigation. It saved the landscapers from having to do it.” And spared his parents the bill. The landscape crew would’ve taken a month to do what Kane had accomplished in a week.

“Love you, too.” Kane gave her his best grin—the one that had won him the hearts of American housewives and their daughters for the past two years. He grabbed the coffee carafe off the charger and poured a huge mug of the heavenly brew, inhaling appreciatively. Ohhh yeahh. No one did coffee better than Seattle.

She set her tablet aside. “When are you going to put down roots, honey? Find a nice girl who won’t expect you to wine and dine her.”

He wasn’t the settling type. More the ‘hit it and quit it’ type. Hell, he’d only been able to maintain a TV show for two seasons, and it hadn’t exactly been cancelled due to low ratings.

More like due to his refusal to strip down and sell out.

“I’m barely twenty-five. Settling down isn’t really my thing yet.” He took another sip, blowing on the coffee to cool it.

She peered at him over the top over her glasses. “So I’ve noticed.” His mother played sarcasm better than she did online Scrabble.

“Settling down can wait.” He took a healthy swig that didn’t quite scorch his tongue. “It’s good to be home, Mom. Even if you did nag me into it.” Bev frowned.

“I don’t mean marriage, just something besides...” She waved her hand over him. “This.”

Kane scowled. “What’s wrong with this?”

He glanced down at his plaid pajama bottoms and bare chest. Trim and fit from years of working outdoors with heavy equipment. In fact, he was downright manly. “I think I look pretty good.”

“You can’t plant flowers in my yard forever, son. Eventually I’ll run out of yard. Now get dressed.” Bev, unmoved, picked up her tablet again. “Your father wants to see you at the gallery today.” She tapped out a few letters with a long, polished nail.

Kane felt his smile melt away. “Why?”

His family owned The Maverick, the oldest art gallery in downtown Seattle, a place he’d hated before he snagged the national spotlight. His father had made his money in shipping, but spent it on art. While Kane appreciated the culture, he’d much rather be outside, digging in the dirt or hauling landscape timbers, than rattling around the dusty archives of the gallery. The Mav, as the locals called it, was a dark, moody dungeon that held some of the most exclusive crap someone could dub art and still get away with. He still remembered the season every work of art in the gallery had been graced with a red dot in some form.

Every. Single. Piece.

At the press event, Kane had called it his father’s “Menstrual Period,” a quote that hadn’t gone over too well at the Maverick mansion.

“He thinks you’ve been larking about.” Bev pushed the tablet away with a sigh.

“You and I both know that I haven’t.” Kane took another sip. He’d put in more hours before sun-up this week alone than his father probably had in a month. Too bad his father didn’t consider landscape design as a viable profession.

“I know, I know … I’d thought if we just gave Carson some time to appreciate what you enjoy doing, but he’s resolved to see you applying yourself to something more appropriate.”

“Appropriate according to whose standards?”

“It’s bad enough that you threw away a perfectly good career. You need a real job.” Her trendy unlined bifocals slid down her nose as she gave him the Mom eye. “Your father doesn’t believe you’ve done anything since you…

Mavericks don’t quit.
Not even…landscape architects. He could almost hear her unspoken disdain, tainting his morning coffee with an extra dose of bitter.

“I’m on it, Mom.” Kane shrugged. He just needed more time to find the right fit.

His last job, though, was a hard act to follow. Financially, at least.
Kane Is Able
had paid well, even if he hadn’t been able to put his landscape design degree and knowledge of structure, color and plant lore to much use. His dreams of creating eco-friendly outdoor spaces had been sunk by a director and production crew that cared more about his abs than his artistry.

He’d wanted to do something cool, something big. Something that people would appreciate and remember for more than just his last name. Yet somehow the execs kept finding more and more reasons for him to lose his shirt. Literally. Once his contract had come up for renewal, he’d walked.

“Could’ve fooled me, Kane.” Bev pierced him with a look.

“I got a lead on the Fields Agency, a new commercial landscape company here in Seattle. They might be hiring.”

“What happened to Vancouver?” she asked.

“Interview didn’t go well. They kept asking what I wanted to do as a follow up to the show. Don’t worry though.” He followed the frown between her arching brows. “One of the girls I met last night has a brother who worked for the city development office. Maybe I’ll chat her up and see if there was anything going on.”

“Sounds stellar.” Her voice said it was anything but. “If that’s what you want.”

What did he want? Maybe for his parents to be proud of him for once? To support the decisions he’d made for himself.

He covered her hand with his. “I know you don’t completely understand, Mom.”

“Then enlighten me.” Her tone told him she wasn’t really in the mood to listen.

Neither of his parents had understood why Kane had been so adrift since he left the show. He didn’t quite understand the feelings himself. It was like trying to start his life over before it had even begun.

“Can’t. According to you, I’m late.” Kane chucked his empty mug in the sink and went upstairs to change.

How could he explain?

At first, things on the television show had been great. He’d had a life of privilege, grown up around fine art. It had given him a unique approach when working in natural materials like plants or stone. He’d executed some creative projects, even if they weren’t his designs.

The time they sent him dumpster diving in Detroit for a garden bench. The backyard in Boston where he’d built a retaining wall by hand from locally-sourced rock. Then there was the arbor in Alabama crafted from antebellum architectural salvage. There’d been so much sawdust, he was sure his lungs were still cobwebbed together, but the sweet old lady had cried with joy, so it had seemed worth it at the time.

But each episode had gotten more and more uncomfortable, as he went from flannel shirts to T-shirts. T-shirts to tank tops. Tank tops to…nothing. They just kept coming up with more ridiculous scenarios that ended up with him half-naked and covered in crap. Once the show went viral, the interviews and articles started to weigh him down, and he practically couldn’t go out anymore without someone trying to tear off his clothes.

The problem was, fans of the show weren’t interested in his designs. They tuned in to see him land in ridiculous situations that forced him to disrobe. A hit with the homemakers and weekend warriors, sure, but not so much with the critics who claimed his only legitimate offering to landscape architecture was his chiseled pecs.

That stung.

While fame and fortune had sounded great, it turned out causing a riot anytime he set foot inside a Home Depot wasn’t such a good trade-off for the salary.

He yanked on a pair of jeans, T-shirt and a flannel over-shirt. On Bainbridge Island, he got to be just…Kane instead of that guy on television who never wore a shirt.

If people weren’t going to take him seriously, he’d just work on his family’s estate until something better came along.

But first, he’d have to face his father.

In the expansive six car garage, he hesitated at the door to his truck. It was the same dilapidated-looking, but perfectly functional, Ford 4x4 he’d driven on the show, part of his brand as a shirt-shedding hunk. The afternoon sun had burnt off most of the damp, and he could use a little air to clear his head before meeting his father. Something that wouldn’t piss his father off—that didn’t scream “lawn guy.”

He could take his Mom’s Mercedes, but she might need it. His father had probably driven the other Mercedes. That left the Ferrari, the Hummer, and the golf cart.

No contest.

A half-hour later, he was twisting through the streets of Seattle in his father’s precious, which was also his favorite car in the world—the 1969 Ferrari Dino 206. The car was cherry, one of eight that had been manufactured in the signature “Amaranto” color—a deep wine-brown somewhere between chocolate and burgundy. Kane caressed the polished wood steering wheel. This car had been part of a museum collection for years, and his father rarely drove it, which was a shame. It was a beauty—sleekly curved and purring—just the way he liked his women.

His father wouldn’t be thrilled to see it out of the garage, but what was the point of owning a car you never drove? Besides, this would be a short trip, just to The Mav and back. When he wasn’t hauling landscape timbers in a truck, Kane loved a sporty ride and the wind in his face, and heavens knew he was easily tempted.

As he neared The Mav, a parking spot on the street opened up as if by magic. He could use valet parking in the garage two blocks over, which his father would prefer, or he could park right here to go see what Pops summoned him for. The spot wasn’t close enough that anybody inside The Mav would see the car, but it was close enough to allow him a quick escape.

He might need it.

Convenience won out over filial duty. He parallel parked the Dino along the curb and shut off is purring motor.

“Hey there, Marta. You rannnnng?” Kane waved at his father’s assistant and did his best Lurch imitation as he crossed the threshold into the black and glass interior of The Mav. A few abstract paintings hung under the lights, strategically placed to draw the viewer in.

BOOK: Melody Anne's Billionaire Universe: One Sweet Summer (Kindle Worlds Novella) (Love by the Numbers Book 1)
4.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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