More Than Want You Page 1

Author: Shayla Black

Series: More Than Words #1

Genres: Romance

CHAPTER ONE


Maxon

“I’m fucked.” I sink into a wooden chair at a high-top inside the dingy sports bar, almost smearing the sleeve of my suit coat through mustard. Britta and Rob, my tireless staff, love this place. For them, I choke down a slab of greasy beef on a soggy bun, surrounded by drunk tourists and neon Bud Light signs, once a week. But not happily.

Then again, Lahaina isn’t exactly bursting with five-star dining choices. Maui is a quaint paradise, smaller than you think. Its size works both for and against me at times. This is definitely an against occasion.

“Maybe not, Maxon,” Britta counters with a frown. “The call went better than expected.”

I’ll give her that since Mike Sperry, the attorney representing the filthy-rich Stowe estate, at least listened. Figuratively speaking, I hustled to the “party” late and barged my way through the door without an invitation. But that’s real estate. No one ever earns multimillion-dollar years by sitting back and letting the properties come to them.

“I have to agree,” Rob cuts in, pushing a feathered wing of his salt-and-pepper hair from his eyes.

I want to tell my marketing manager to ditch the eighties ’do. He looks stuck in a time warp. His somewhat steady girlfriend aside, I’m shocked he’d ever got laid.

“Why?” I challenge.

“At least Sperry agreed to pass your proposal on to the Stowe heirs. You’re the number one real estate agent on Maui, and it’s ridiculous you didn’t get the call to start with. But with you persuading them while Britta and I work the angles…if we get this listing, the social media campaign—and the buzz—will be amazing. Almost easy money.”

Despite looking like someone who crawled out of The Breakfast Club, Rob is killer with sound bites and live video. He knows how to make buyers desperate to see a house. Sadly, the enthusiasm doesn’t always last through escrow.

I scoff at him. “If. But I don’t just want to list this place. I want both sides of the transaction.”

Persuading the seller to list with me and finding the perfect buyer will be a challenge. Which is one reason I want to do it.

But not the only reason.

Rob winces. “With all due respect, one step at a time. Focus on convincing Mrs. Stowe’s kids to choose you and keep your ego out of this.”

“With all due respect, fuck you. This isn’t about my ego.” Well, not entirely.

Britta rolls her eyes as our waitress greets us by name—a clear sign we come here too often—and takes our orders. While Rob is asking about some new Pan-Asian crap on their limited menu, I mentally sort through our recent meeting. One issue disturbs me. I tried to ignore it on the drive over…but it’s not working. My suspicion still tugs and pokes. It has since we ended the call.

I glance at my staff. “Sperry said there’s one other agent in competition for this listing. Based on the description he gave, who do you think that is?”

Rob falls silent. Britta suddenly finds the drink menu fascinating. So they’ve figured it out. Good. I hire smart people for a reason.

“Yeah. It’s my brother. That’s why I want to both list and sell.” It’s also most likely why I’m fucked.

“You’re better than he is,” Rob argued.

In some ways, yes. In other ways… Griff has always been brilliant at connecting buyers with the perfect-for-them house. It’s an instinct. He creates emotional bonds between people with ready cash and the big-ass mansions with to-die-for views they crave, even half a world away. It’s one reason we made a great team. I sniffed out great properties and closed the listing appointments, promising the sellers the fucking world if they simply signed on the dotted line for ninety days. I always market upscale properties with far more than the standard pansy-ass cocktail party of air kisses and champagne. But Griff has a knack for matching buyers with the place they’ll fall head over heels for that I lack. Between the two of us, our closing rate was sick.

Then came the debacle with that obscure prince. Then the Tiffanii fuckup. After that…well, we haven’t spoken in three years. To say we loathe one another now would be kind.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence”—I nod Rob’s way—“but you’re biased because I sign your paycheck. The truth is, Griff has gotten shit-tons better at snaring sellers.” This part of the deal is still my game to lose, but since I’m not the estate’s first choice, I could easily strike out. Or fail to kick the game-winning field goal. Hell, insert the sports metaphor of your choice. “With the Stowe heirs hunkered down with the business they inherited, Griff and I both have four weeks to perfect our pitches. It’s essential I lead with something beyond spectacular. Or I have one hell of a plan B. I need ideas. And…go.”

Because it isn’t every day an oceanfront estate worth nearly thirty million dollars lands on the market. The commission on one side of this deal could reach seven-figure territory, but to get paid by both buyer and seller… I would earn half my usual annual haul in a single transaction, probably well before June. It makes the Realtor in me hard.

But beating Griff would be way more exciting than the cash.

“I think we go in big with a slick video of your endorsements and awards.” Rob nods, warming to his subject. “Then show these brats from Vermont everything they don’t understand about the Hawaii lifestyle.”

Britta shakes her head. “Rubbing a seller’s face in what you think they don’t grasp is a surefire way to annoy them. The point is to prove why Maxon is the right listing agent.” She turns to me. “We have to give them big-picture ideas for how you’re going to get quality buyers onto the grounds so they can fall in love. We stress your cache of foreign contacts—China, Russia, UAE—you can bring in the big-money people who won’t think much of dropping that kind of cash on the perfect vacation house. We show them the creative ways you’ve sold before. Your close rate is pretty insane.”

“You know Griff’s is better. That’s what they want. Quick close. All cash.” I lean across the table to her. “You’re looking at this wrong. Yes, I’m better at listing than my brother, but the seller is already half convinced that Griff is their guy, probably because no one finds the perfect buyer and brings them to the closing table faster.”

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