Authors: Shadonna Richards
THE PLAYBOY BILLIONAIRE
(THE ROMERO BROTHERS, BOOK 3)
2014 by Shadonna Richards
by Keri Knutson
rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
by any means,
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otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or
have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is
Thank you, God, for all my blessings. To my
cherished son and husband for your unconditional love.
gratitude to my family and friends for your endless support.
Jermaine, Merdella, Nesitta, Monica, and Percell. To my editor M.M. for always
being brilliant. To M.H. and K.D. for your wonderful support.
THE PLAYBOY BILLIONAIRE (THE ROMERO
BROTHERS, BOOK 3)
Blue Monroe needs to get her
life together. The once-promising TV reporter was wrongfully fired by
Channel 31 News
, thanks to her jealous
ex, and newly hired by the wealthy Romero family. She desperately needs this
job! All she’s got to do is keep out of sexy, hot playboy Zack’s way and
everything will be fine. Blue's got other things to worry about like putting
food on the table, taking care of her younger sister and keeping her dark
family secret secure.
Sexy philanthropist and
playboy billionaire Zack Romero’s seductive past may soon catch up with him.
Skilled in his taste for fine wine as well as fine women, he does a smooth job
of running the Romero family’s prestigious award-winning winery and vineyard.
But his world is soon rocked when a scandalous sex-tape with an ex-girlfriend
threatens to surface. Zack's grandfather and the Romero patriarch, Toni’s
his love life! No sex for at least thirty
days! But when Zack is forced to hire Blue Monroe to work closely with him to
produce a documentary for the vineyard, will it be sour grapes or a sweet
pairing from heaven?
The glorious morning sun glowed radiantly
over the sprawling estate owned by Mayberry Hill’s most affluent family, the
Romeros. The breathtaking scenery of the massive Romero Winery and Vineyard in
all its miles of fresh green grass that seemed to go on forever into the
horizon and vibrant rows of flourishing crops could be seen from the
floor-to-ceiling windows of the study at Romero Manor. Toni Romero sat, once
again, in the study surrounded by several of his successful grandsons whom he
had a hand in raising from their teens to young men. The Romeros were all
dressed in their finest suits. Only the growing look of disdain on the elder
Romero’s face made it evident that this morning’s family meeting was not going
to be a pleasant one.
Another scandal threatened to mar the
reputation of the Romero family. This time, Zack Romero was the target.
“What do you think will happen if the press
gets wind of this despicable…video tape, Zack?” Toni growled.
Zack leaned against the study desk with his
arms folded across his chest. He was getting ready to give a tour of the winery
to a few college students from the class where he was guest lecturing this
semester. Nothing seemed to be going good right now.
“I’m sure I can handle it if that does
happen. If!” Zack answered in a cool, low voice.
“Zack! This is a sex tape! A sex tape! This
is much more critical than you could imagine.”
His grandfather had a point.
Zack's brother, Lucas, was plagued by some woman who’d claimed he
was the father of her unborn child—a huge fiasco last year that almost
blew up in his face
different. Zack's ex, Selina, had a video recording of their rendezvous in
For chrissake! The explicit lovemaking was wild
as sin on that video. He’d certainly performed some delicious sexual acts that
could very well be illegal in some of the countries that distributed his
company’s products. The kinky things he’d done with her in that tape were more
than X-rated. Heck, if that ever got out there would be no turning back. For
the first time during the family meeting Zack felt uncomfortable and loosened
his silk Italian designed tie. He slid his fingers through his hair.
“He’s right, Zack,” Pamela, the family’s
press secretary intervened. “We need to do pre-emptive damage control in case
the tape does get out.”
the tape gets out,” Carl shot to his brother’s defense.
The young men were dressed in corporate
attire and getting ready to venture out to their prospective businesses. But
one thing was certain about the Romero family—during times of crisis or
impending trouble, they banded together like a pack of protective wolves. They
were tight. Family came first. They would drop what they were doing and meet up
at the grand estate to deal with matters if at all possible. Currently, Zack’s
other brothers, Jules, Alonso and Dion, were out of town. Jules was in Europe
opening up a franchise; Alonso, who practiced medicine, was in Haiti opening up
a clinic; and Dion had flown to New York to deal with a merger. Lucas was with
his pregnant wife Maxine but Carl remained by Zack’s side, brainstorming on a
plan of action. Antonio III was with his wife Lucy and their toddler, Anderson.
“Zack, you really need to get a hold of
that tape,” Toni pressed. “You’re going up for the National Winery Awards for
Excellence in Community Service.
A high honor.
created more useful employment for young adults than any other organization.
You’ve provided more guidance and practical skills to help lower the
unemployment rate. You deserve it. But this…thing you’ve done needs to be
cleared up or everything you've worked so hard for, dedicated your life to,
will be over.”
“He’s right, Zack,” Carl reiterated.
“You’re teaching at the college, man. Sex tapes and colleges don’t mix. Well,
they do if you're some stupid jock frat boy, but in this case, the board will
have a field day. By the way, I’ve already contacted the guys down at the
office to look into the whereabouts of the video. The tech team is sending out
searchers to see if any of it got online.”
Zack nodded. “Good. Keep me posted, Carl.”
Ironically, it was Zack who’d helped Lucas the year before with hunting down the
stalker who’d been terrorizing Maxine. Now, Carl was helping Zack while he
tended to business matters. The brothers used a contracted detective agency to
handle certain security matters from time to time. The head of the agency was a
distant cousin of theirs and had office space at Romero Towers in the downtown
core of the city.
Toni's lips were pinched with fury. “Why
couldn’t you settle down with a nice girl? You need to stop dating different
women and the wrong kind. You’re a Romero and a high profile one at that. I’ve
told you boys before. We Romero men could be easy target and prey for media and
publicity seekers. We need to take extra care.”
Zack felt a muscle twitch in his jaw.
He remained in cool, poised, daring the
whole situation not to rile him up too much. He was often the smooth one who
could control his emotions, especially his temper. But right now, his mind
raced dangerously at the thought of what else was lurking.
Selina was his ex-girlfriend from many
years ago. He’d ended it with her. Zack was upfront with her about not wanting
to settle down. The trouble was, she had problems, but he never held that
against anyone. He wasn’t perfect either. But she’d accumulated a lot of debt
and played the casinos one too many times. Yeah, he’d helped her out even when
they weren’t together. That was the Romero bloodline running through his veins.
Romero was a Spanish surname meaning
protector or guardian of the sacred place. It was in Zack's
(and his siblings to some degree) DNA to
always jump at the chance to protect those who were close to him by any means.
Even ex-girlfriends. Well, this instance had proved to be a costly mistake.
Zack didn’t take very well to getting burned. Very few would cross his path if
they knew what was good for them.
The last time Selina asked him, he
finally told her he would no longer "loan" her money. He told her she
needed to get help for her addiction before she saw another shiny dollar coin.
So naturally, that revealing video they’d made years ago was going on the bidding
block with the highest price from any slimy media outlet that would take it.
Zack grimaced at the thought. But the last
thing he wanted was to make it his grandfather’s problem or his brothers. He
was going to deal with it his way, on his terms. No way in hell did he take to
extortionists, but he would think of something fast. Zack always got himself
out of his troubles no matter how crazy things seemed. He got himself into it.
He’d get himself out of it.
Even if it killed him.
But this only served to reinforce his
doubts about getting married or settling down with one woman. Ever. Good for
his brother Lucas and Maxine. They were a nice pair.
for his cousin Antonio and his bride Lucy and their lovely little son.
But for Zack?
No way in hell was he going that route.
Women were nothing but trouble.
“Don’t concern yourself any further,” Zack
finally spoke up as he pushed away from the study desk. He shoved his hands in
his pants pockets and lifted his chin as he faced his grandfather and brothers.
“I’ve listened to each of you tell me what I should and should not be doing and
I appreciate your input very much. However, I’m man enough to sort this out on
“Oh, no. We’re in this together. If your
name goes through the dirt, so does the family name.” Toni stood up, his cane
in one hand.
“I’ve got it under control,” Zack assured,
his voice stern. He loved his grandfather but sometimes he felt Toni pushed too
hard to keep tabs on the boys.
“Under control? Under control?” Toni’s face
grew red. “You can’t even seem to control the zipper on your pants, Zack.”
“Ouch,” Carl said in Zack’s place.
“What did you just say?” Zack asked,
incredulous. His grandfather was known to be a bold man all his life, one who spoke
the truth even if it shot out of his mouth like a speeding bullet and woe to
whoever was the intended target.
the prize. His ears must have deceived him because they were buzzing.
“I think I’d better leave,” Pamela said,
turning the color of the red dress she had on. She turned to leave but then paused
at the door and spun around to face them again. “Oh, um…Toni, the writer will
be here soon to get set up for the documentary production.” Pamela reminded him,
“She’s the one you hired to work on the vineyard clip with Zack for the
National Wine Awards. Her name is Blue.”
“Thank you, Pamela,” Toni said, his voice brusque.
“Blue?” Zack responded in shock. “Not
reporter who tripped up and
secretly recorded you speaking with Lucas about an arranged marriage?”
“Yes, that’s the one,” Toni confirmed,
“And why?” Zack’s lips were pinched in
“She’s an excellent writer and I told her
it would be fine to work on the special feature story and documentary about the
family business in the winery industry with a profile on your commitment to
community. You realize that this segment will be featured at the Awards
Ceremony so it is crucial that we don’t screw it up. And later, she could do a
book on the family.”
“Don’t you think she’s done enough damage
to the family?”
“I heard her side of the story, Zack, and I
am satisfied that it wasn’t her fault.
She was set up by the
boyfriend as a joke
. He also worked at the station. Besides, she no
longer works there.”
Zack shook his head and chuckled. “I’m not
working with her. I can handle my own publicity.”
Toni shook his head, his eyebrows creased
with fury. “Back to the subject at hand.” Toni’s voice was firm as he made a
point to switch the subject back to the reason they had all convened at Romero
“Back in my day,” Toni continued with his
verbal lashing against Zack, “men were perfect gentlemen and we didn’t feel the
need to…record such things as you’ve done with this Selina woman. What were you
recording your business with her for? Educational purposes?”