“If Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins had a baby, this would be it!”
“The thrilling gangster bonk buster of summer 2020!”
DANGER, DECEPTION, DESIRE
“The sexiness of Jackie Collins with the storytelling of Jeffrey Archer.”
“Hollywood glamour and gangland London clash in exciting style. I couldn’t put this down!”
Bad boy Clay Caulder has it all. He runs the glitzy rooftop Flamingo Club for notorious gang boss Frankie Finch and enjoys status, a dream lifestyle, and a constant succession of beautiful women in his bed.
All that changes when film star Pandora Caine sashays into the club and turns his life upside down.
Passionate romance turns into dark obsession and they find themselves dragged into a desperate game of deception in gangland London where death is a constant threat.
As a rival gang encroaches on Frankie’s East London turf and clan war threatens, can Clay prove his loyalty and keep his head? Or will he lose everything, including Pandora, as his life spirals out of control?
Notorious is available as ebook and paperback. Free to read with Kindle Unlimited.
Book 1 - NOTORIOUS: Danger, Deception, Desire
Book 2 - ACCUSED: Stardom, Scanda, Survival
Book 3 - CAGED: Rock, Ransom, Retribution
Book 4 - DRIVEN: Racing, Rivalry, Revenge
Book 5 - FIXATED
Prequel: MADE: The Frankie Finch Story
Click to read the first chapter of Notorious: Danger, Deception, Desire
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Ivy saw Clay’s eyes light up and she suppressed a sigh. Following his gaze, she realised why she’d lost his attention—new prey. A woman with long dark hair spilling over her shoulders had just walked into the club. She was pretty, wearing a glittery cream cocktail dress. A bit obvious, thought Ivy, but that was just his type.
Poor unsuspecting thing. Ivy couldn’t decide whether to pity or envy the woman. After all, if Clay succeeded in charming her, she would have no complaints. When he lavished his attention on someone, it felt glorious, but like a supernova, his interest burnt out all too soon.
She chewed her lip as she wondered whether Clay would pay her more attention if she glammed herself up, but quickly dismissed that idea. She didn’t want to be discarded the way those women were. They may have his undivided attention for a few hours, it may be a night they’d remember fondly, but that was all they ever got.
Ivy watched as the woman made her way across the room, eyes wide with excitement as she clutched her boyfriend’s hand, for all the good that would do. A boyfriend wouldn’t stop Clay, not once he had his sights set on her. She’d seen this scenario unfold all too often before.
Like a hawk, Clay focused on the woman who was chatting and giggling, taking in the exotic surroundings complete with fountains, the famous flamingos and of course the night sky above which made this London’s leading rooftop nightspot.
Ivy gave a small shake of her head and went to serve a customer. As she mixed a gin and tonic, she glanced back over but knew she’d lost Clay for the evening. Why did she put herself through this?
Smiling automatically, she placed the drinks on the bar and was left once again to her thoughts. She leaned her elbows on the countertop. Clay was bad news; she knew that. He wasn’t a bad person; he just had a short attention span and an eye for the ladies. His head was always turned by a pretty face, but despite that, she didn’t seem able to walk away. She couldn’t help but wonder - would he always be content with one night stands and easy conquests? Or would he one day want more, to settle down? She let out a breath. She had to face facts. If she were going to be the one to tame him, it would have happened years ago. She needed to move on and get a life that didn’t revolve around him, stop being such a doormat.
Clay was one of those guys who seemed to have everything, a perfect life, but it hadn’t always been that way. His real name was Clarence, but only his mum called him that. Some of the boys in the club nicknamed him Pardon after an incident left him with part of his ear missing and a wicked scar which ran the length of one side of his face. Despite this, he was easily the best-looking man in the club and had a smooth charm which he used to great effect to keep punters happy and the club a top London party venue.
He was dressed, as always, in a sharp suit, the cruel scar highlighting the beauty of the rest of his face and giving him an edge of danger, enough to remind people that this place was owned by the notorious Frankie Finch and they were in gangster territory. Beautiful, opulent gangster territory, but gangster territory all the same. This wasn’t a place to start a fight.
Not that anyone minded. The lure of partying in such luxury with an added glimpse of the underworld was part of the club’s appeal, and the tables were full night after night. The typical customers had steady jobs and were bored with their everyday lives, to which The Flamingo Club added some longed-for spice.
Clay was happy to deliver. He had a natural ability to make everyone feel special; he remembered people’s names, had an excellent memory for faces, and just five minutes of conversation with him could make someone’s evening and raise the mood of a group.
The same effortless charisma also made him a hit with women, and when he focused his undivided attention on a girl, she invariably fell under his spell. Ivy should know.
The doorman knew Clay’s tastes well and must have let the couple skip the queue. Big Arf had been in his job since the club was a snooker hall and was well-schooled in who got special treatment and who was left standing out in the cold. Towering over most people at an impressive 6ft 9, Big Arf wasn’t a man to mess with. Although that never stopped Clay, who joked he was called Arf because he only had ‘arfa brain, much to Ivy’s annoyance. He might not be the sharpest tool in the box, but Big Arf was one of the sweetest men she’d ever met. Unless you broke the rules of course, then you saw a very different side to him. His job was simple, but he did it well. He unclipped the velvet rope for the rich and well-connected and held back the regular people as they shivered in their gladrags outside. And of course, he managed any trouble and kept an eye out for pretty girls and let them skip the queue.
And now Clay had scented tonight’s quarry.
Ivy had known Clay forever. They’d gone to school together, and she was one of the few people who knew him before he got his scar. They’d even dated for a while at school, and he’d been her first, something she’d never quite been able to leave behind, but which had just been the start of an extensive list of conquests for him. Perhaps it wasn’t surprising with the parade of beautiful women flaunting themselves in front of him every night.
Someone moved into Ivy’s eye line, and she looked up.
“Seriously girl? Are you mooning over him again?” said Clementine, hands-on-hips.
“What? No, I was just lost in thought.”
Clementine wasn’t fooled. She reached over and tucked a stray strand of Ivy’s auburn hair behind her ear; a gesture so affectionate that it took the bluster out of Ivy’s sails. “So why are you standing there staring at the back of his head then? If you spent less time fawning over Clay and more time chatting to the customers, you might actually find yourself someone nice.” Her voice dropped to an excited whisper. “Hey, you’ll never guess what, I’ve just been asked out by none other than Monty Granville.”
That got Ivy’s attention. Monty Granville, or to give him his full title Lord Montgomery Geraldo Edwin Granville, son of the rakish Stephen Granville, Marquess of Shropshire, was one of the most eligible bachelors in London and following in his father’s rather infamous footsteps. Beautiful socialites were practically beating each other with their Birkin handbags in a race to get him down the aisle. His reputation was notorious, but everyone knew he was under pressure to settle down and start producing heirs. Besides, he was very easy on the eye, which made his indiscretions easier to forgive. Ivy nodded, impressed. “Good on you! Nice work!”
“I know, he’s taking me out to dinner tomorrow.”
Ivy smiled, pleased for her friend. Perhaps Clementine was right. There was no point hanging around hoping that Clay would change his ways. She needed to buck her ideas up. Ivy glanced back over at the unsuspecting couple. They had been sent a complimentary bottle of champagne and looked thrilled. For a moment, she felt a pang of sympathy for the boyfriend. He had no idea what was coming. But Ivy did. She’d seen it all before.
Clay felt a familiar excitement rising as he took a seat at his usual table, the boys budging up to make room for him. The chase had begun.
The couple kept looking over at him. The man had been pleased when the free bottle of champagne was sent over. It made him look important in front of his girlfriend, or so he thought. The woman shot Clay a coy smile, and his eyes sparkled. A lamb to the slaughter.
After a glass or two of champagne for Dutch courage, she nervously approached their table.
“We just want to say thanks so much for the champagne,” she gushed, colour blooming in her cheeks. “It’s so kind of you!”
Clay gave her a megawatt smile and asked if the two of them would like to join their table. Watching her hurry back, he waited, confident she’d return. When they did, the group parted allowing the couple to slide into the middle of the curved booth: Clay on one side and the boys on the other. They called for a bottle of whiskey, and the man, a little overawed by his new gangster drinking buddies, tried to keep up. He wasn’t used to hard liquor, and it wasn’t long before he was slurring and laughing too loudly at their jokes.
Meanwhile, Clay concentrated on the woman. She was nervous, twitchy like a frightened rabbit, but with some gentle coaxing, she gradually relaxed. He asked a few probing questions then just let her talk, topping up her glass of champagne and listening. She really was very pretty. He saw a flash of annoyance cross her face as her boyfriend laughed raucously and caught her with an elbow as he told a story. She was having such a lovely time, and he was embarrassing her.
Perfect. Giving her a kind smile, he took her hand and led her off to dance. She hesitated, unsure whether she should, and glanced back at her boyfriend. But he was seated with his back to the dance floor and was too busy having fun with his new friends to notice she’d gone. Sod him, she thought angrily, and as she and Clay moved together to the music, she softened and leant into him.
Clay took his time, charming her and making her laugh, and they kept dancing as the music became slower and the atmosphere more intimate. He pulled her closer and felt the mood between them shift. This was where the stakes were raised. If she was going to back out and lose her nerve, she would do it now. He kept moving, his hand on the small of her back, her body pressed against his. He could feel the tension between them; the air almost crackling with it. With his lips close to her ear, he whispered: “Christ, you’re beautiful”. Her breathing was fast and shallow as he dipped his head and laid the lightest of kisses on her neck, making her gasp. Clay glanced over her shoulder at the boyfriend. He looked like he couldn’t focus on the men around him, let alone on what his girl was doing.
“Let’s get some air,” he said, taking the woman’s hand. She nodded, eyes wide and serious. But instead of taking her to see the view, he led her through a door marked Private and into his office. Closing the door behind them, he pulled her close and kissed her. She melted against him, their tongues softly exploring, a low moan escaping her lips. He slowly unzipped the back of her dress, letting it fall to the floor, his hands roaming across her soft curves. Pulling away, the corner of his mouth twitched as her face creased in a frown. He put his hands on her shoulders and, stepping back, looked at her, her eyes heavy with desire, naked except for panties and shoes. Magnificent.
Liberated by champagne and longing, the woman was no longer the shrinking violet she had been earlier. She’d just needed the right man to unleash the wildness in her. He moved back in, kissing her throat and running his hands over her breasts, eliciting a groan as her head fell back, hair cascading in dark waves behind her. Clay smiled to himself. This was just how he’d imagined her when she’d first walked into the club. Slowly he slipped his hand between her legs. Wet and ready for him. They always were.
The woman fumbled with clumsy fingers to undo his tie and shirt buttons, struggling to concentrate as his fingers worked expertly away, distracting her.
Then he gently leant her back against the desk, the moonlight through the slatted blinds making shadows across her body. Clay paused for a second to appreciate the sight of her, lying there ready for him, eyes bright and excited until he felt her hips move to urge him on. He pushed into her, both of them exhaling raggedly as they drew together. Then he began to move.
Afterwards, they lay panting on the desk, flushed and elated. Clay re-fastened his belt and poured a couple of fingers of whiskey over ice. The woman propped herself up on her elbows, hair tousled and face glowing. Clay took an ice cube into his mouth then, his eyes playful, leaned forward and planted an ice-cold kiss on her nipple. She gasped and closed her eyes, then laughed. He stood back, crunching the ice, his lips pulling into a smile.
“We’d better get you back to that boyfriend of yours before he misses you.”
The woman’s expression fell as she remembered her abandoned boyfriend. Her hand flew to her mouth.
“Shit, Jerry! I’d completely forgotten about him.”
“Well, I would hope you had,” smiled Clay slowly. “My feelings would be hurt if you’d been thinking about him this whole time.” He ran his lips along her neck again, then pulled her to her feet and brought her in for a long slow kiss, his hands resting lightly on her hips. Releasing her, he slapped her on the bottom with a wink.
“You’d better get dressed sweetheart. The boys won’t be able to keep your boyfriend busy forever. You leave first. We don’t want him seeing us coming out together. If he asks, say you’ve just been to the loo. He’s had enough to drink that he won’t question it.”
Clay sank into his leather desk chair, watching as she wriggled back into her dress.
“Shit,” she said flustered, “Where are my knickers?” After searching for a few moments, she shrugged and gave up. Now the moment was over, she was feeling anxious. Keen to get back to her boyfriend before he rumbled her. She’d just have to brave the rest of the night without underwear. It was hardly the riskiest thing she’d done tonight. Jerry would be too drunk to notice anyway. And if he did, she’d pretend she’d done it as a risqué treat for him. She opened the door a crack, turning to smile at Clay before ducking out and back into the club.
Once she’d gone Clay put his feet up on the desk and poured himself another drink, pulling her knickers out of his pocket with a grin.
He rested his head back and chuckled. Life was good.
There was a knock at the door, and Ivy appeared, looking worried.
“You’d better get out here Clay. Frankie’s just walked in.”