Authors: Caitlin Daire,Avery Wilde
BAD BOY BRIT
A British Bad Boy Romance
By Caitlin Daire with Avery Wilde
**Warning: This novel contains explicit sexual situations which may be objectionable to some readers. Not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.**
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This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Any similarities to events or situations is also coincidental.
2016 Caitlin Daire & Avery Wilde
All Rights Reserved
In my head, I could hear the song ‘London Calling’, and I took a deep breath and looked around with wide eyes and a big smile.
Although I’d never been to England before, I’d always felt a deep connection to the country, to its people, and to some of its customs. During World War II, my Grandpa had been stationed in Britain, prior to the D-Day landings, and he’d developed an affection for the place which he’d passed onto his son, who’d in turn passed it on to his only daughter—me. It was, therefore, a tremendous thrill for me when I took the final step from the plane and placed a foot on British soil for the first time in my life.
It was a huge moment for me, but its importance was somewhat lost on the rest of the plane’s occupants, queued up behind me, waiting to get off and wondering why this strange woman had simply come to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. I flashed an apologetic smile and a wave to the people behind me and hurried on into the airport building. For the next half hour I was shunted through the unpleasant but necessary formalities of modern travel, finally picking up my suitcases at baggage claim and stepping out of the main doors of the airport to find myself face to face with England.
The flood of sensation that hit me was palpable. From this particular vantage point, England might be little more than an overcrowded parking lot and an underwhelming taxicab stand, but it was still England, and that was all that mattered. I’d dreamed of this place for so long, had listened to my father and grandfather talking about it so often, and now I was here.
“You looking for a taxi, love?”
Even the overweight man in the stained T-shirt now addressing me seemed beautiful through the rose-tinted glasses I was currently wearing.
“Yeah, thanks,” I replied with a smile.
The man hurried to help with my bags.
“The wife and I took the kids to Disneyland last summer,” the man said as he heaved a suitcase into the trunk. “Although, now I come to think of it, that was Euro-Disney. Still,” he added, “we’re all a little bit American now, aren’t we, eh?”
“Sure.” I wasn’t altogether certain what the man was talking about, but right now it didn’t matter.
I got into the back seat and the car pulled away, the driver talking all the time, mostly about his wife, the kids and Euro-Disney. I sat back and let the man’s chatter fade into white noise. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was finally here in London, and better yet, I was here for a reason that genuinely excited me.
There were aspects of my trip here that I found distasteful, but those aspects took a back seat for now as I focused on everything that was brilliant about me being here.
Alongside his love of Britain, my grandfather had instilled in my father a love of one particular British obsession—soccer….or football, as they called it here. In turn, my father was a lover of all sports, and he and I had bonded over that shared interest, especially after my mother had passed away. We watched football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis and pretty much any other sport that was on TV, but above all we enjoyed soccer. Grandpa had always called it football, which had thoroughly confused his fellow Americans, but he insisted. After all, as he was fond of pointing out, in football you used your feet—the name just made more sense than soccer. I had to admit, he wasn’t wrong about that.
Working as a U.S. sports journalist as I did (and how proud my father had been when I got that job straight out of college last year!), I’d thoroughly gotten used to American football being the only sport called ‘football’, but now I was in England, and I would have to change that habit. The British were, in very many ways, a very tolerant people, but if you started calling football ‘soccer’ then things could get ugly. I’d have to get used to calling it ‘football’ now that I was here in London, although the word still conjured up all-American images of quarterbacks and shoulder pads in my mind.
For the last year, I’d worked exclusively in the States, and I’d been very happy to do so. After all, it was my home turf. However, at the back of my mind, there was always a hankering to cover the sport that had been such an important part of my childhood. But there was a problem with that: nobody cared. While football was popular across the globe, and practically a religion in some countries, it had never really taken hold in the States. This had been a source of some irritation to me for a long time, not least because there were so few people to whom I could talk about my love of the beautiful game with. But then two things happened, neither of which was really related to sport itself.
Regardless of the sport, what the general public really loved was a personality—
to root for, rather than something. It was always the individual that made the experience of watching sport so rich and made sports agents so much richer. If a footballer other than David Beckham had arrived in America, it would have been to a chorus of indifference—no one would have cared, no one would have watched, and the nation’s interest in the sport would have remained unchanged. But Beckham was more than a footballer; he was a charismatic personality who attracted a lot of media interest, and he’d begun to raise the profile of football in the US. I was a great admirer of David Beckham as a player, as an ambassador for the sport and as a man. The way he’d raised the profile of football in the States was the first thing that led to me being right here in England at this moment.
The second thing that happened was similarly personality-based, and it had a name.
Croft was a rising star of the game in England, the Premiership’s most valuable player, and he was regularly hailed as perhaps the most natural footballer ever to play the game. In addition to this apparently god-given skill, he was a huge media personality; his behavior off the pitch drawing twice as many gossip column inches and several times as many pictures as his performance on it. I was a great admirer of Liam Croft as a player…but that was about it. From what I’d seen of his personality, he was nothing but an overly-tattooed, party-obsessed man-whore.
And yet, he was the reason I was here now.
“Here we are, love.”
The voice of the driver snapped me out of the reverie I’d sunk into, and I realized that I’d been driving through London, a city I’d long-dreamed of seeing, without really looking at it. Then again, that didn’t matter too much—there would probably be time for a small amount of sightseeing once I’d done the job which my editor-in-chief had sent me here to do. I peered out of the car window and looked up at the Regency Hotel, which the cabbie had just dropped me off at.
“Nice place,” I said.
The driver nodded. “Oh, yeah. Not the Ritz, but not bad. Not that I’ve ever stayed at the Ritz, you understand, but I had that Leonardo DiCaprio in the back the other day…”
The driver’s unlikely but surprisingly engaging narrative continued as he unloaded my bags and passed them to a smartly dressed concierge—who had rushed up in hope of a good tip—and it reached a satisfying conclusion moments later.
“So I said to him…I said, ‘You may be King of the world, Leo, but it’s still twenty-seven fifty.’ Anyway, I digress. Have a nice stay, love.”
I chuckled at the story, and the driver smiled and reached into his pocket before pulling out a greasy rectangle of cardboard which he handed to me. “You need a cab, you call Mikey. I’m Mikey,” he clarified, in case that point had been somehow lost on me. “You want someone to show you the sights, I’m your man. Londoner, born and bred. Well, I was actually raised in Manchester. But I know London too. You know what I mean, right?”
“Yeah. Thanks,” I said with a grin. I’d seemingly made my first British friend, and if he was anything to go by, I could already understand why my grandfather had liked the people here so much—they didn’t always make perfect sense, but that was part of their charm.
Check-in at the reception desk was an easy process and the optimistic concierge showed me up to my room on the sixth floor.
“Here we are, Miss.”
“Thanks very much,” I replied with a polite smile. “The bags are fine right there by the bed.”
The concierge put the bags down and turned back to me with a gleam in his eye. “Anything else, Miss?” he asked in a hopeful tone.
I fumbled with my purse. “Umm...I’d like to…I don’t really know pounds from dollars yet. What’s a sort of generally acceptable tip?”
For a moment it seemed as if the concierge’s eyes might spin round in their sockets like a slot machine to reveal pound signs, but he checked himself. “A couple of pounds is fine, Miss.”
It was always better for a concierge in this position to be circumspect: you can only cheat a guest once, but if you’re honest then they’ll tip regularly and generously.
I gave him a five pound note, just to put us on a good footing, and partially because I still couldn’t quite see the rather colorful notes as real money that I needed to be careful with. The man left a moment later, and I rushed to the window to check out the view. The sixth floor wasn’t high enough to give me the best views of London, but it wasn’t a bad start, and my eyes widened as I took it all in. God, I was really here! I knew it was the millionth time I’d thought that, but I couldn’t help it; I was just so excited.
But of course I wasn’t here for fun. I had a job to do.
A week ago, I’d been called into the office of my editor-in-chief, Alan Granger, for a new assignment. My heart had been beating crazily fast in that moment—rumors about a British assignment had been whizzing around the office at speeds that only a rumor can achieve. Everyone wanted the job, and suddenly people who had previously shown nothing but scorn for the sport of ‘soccer’ were trying to find out the difference between Manchester United and Manchester City, and trying to figure out where Manchester was even located. I’d felt that I had a pretty good chance, given my genuine interest in the game, but I’d been almost too scared to hope. However, as Granger called me into his office and indicated for me to take a seat that day, the dream had suddenly seemed like a real possibility.
I thought back to the exact conversation we’d had.
“Allison,” Granger had said as he eyeballed me. “Can you explain the ‘offside’ rule in soccer to me?”
I shrugged. “Sure. A player’s offside if he…”
Granger held up a dismissive hand. “Nobody wants to know that. Don’t be silly. I just needed to know that you actually know. You should’ve heard Jen trying to explain it—it was like watching a dog trying to do nuclear physics. I want you for the London assignment.”
My heart leapt with excitement.
“You’re going to interview Liam Croft.”
My excitement didn’t alter, but my brain performed a momentary spasm of irritation. I had strongly mixed feelings about Liam Croft.
“That’s why I’m choosing you,” Granger explained. “Firstly, because you actually care about the game. Can’t imagine why, but that’s your issue. Secondly, Croft is a ladies man, and you’ve got a great rack.”
Had it been the first time that I’d heard Granger say something like that, I would’ve been rightly incensed and gone straight to HR to report him, but I’d swiftly learned on taking this job that my boss spoke like that to everyone, male or female, and there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could do about it. Only yesterday he’d sent Christopher Pine along to interview a women’s basketball team because, ‘all those butt clenches and squats are really paying off. You could crack walnuts with that thing!’
Granger’s own sexuality was a topic of some speculation within the office.
“Now, I know what you’re thinking,” Granger continued, inaccurately as it happened. “Doesn’t Croft always have some stick-thin blonde on his arm? You’re right, he does. So why am I sending a curvy brunette to talk to him? Well, firstly, I don’t have a stick-thin blonde who knows shit about soccer. Come to think of it, I don’t have a stick-thin blonde who knows shit about anything. Secondly, it doesn’t matter if a man prefers stick-thin blondes—every man likes a nice pair of tits. And yours are solid. He’ll be putty in your hands. Plus the soccer knowledge. So you’ve got the gig.”
Taken out of context, it didn’t sound like the ideal way in which to get a job, nor the ideal reason to be chosen for it, but knowing Alan Granger as I did—and there was a reason he was at the top of his profession—I couldn’t have been any happier. Besides, I had more or less stopped listening and caring after he’d said ‘I want you for the London assignment.’ Nothing else mattered, because I was going to freaking London, baby!
Now it was a week later, and I still felt the same way: I was here, and nothing else mattered. I threw myself back on the comfortable hotel bed, reached for the remote and turned the TV on. I was startled to find myself immediately staring at the man I’d been thinking about only moments ago—Liam Croft.
He was giving a press conference onscreen, and as the camera briefly showed the assembled body of reporters, I was forced to reflect on the fact that my boss had known exactly what he was doing—there wasn’t a single man in the room. Liam Croft liked the ladies, and the newspapers and TV companies had caught on quickly, meaning his press conferences were almost always a sea of pretty, mostly-blonde women. Male reporters could wave their hands and shout all they wanted, but they weren’t getting picked to ask a question.