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Dating the Rebel Tycoon

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«Dating the Rebel Tycoon» - Элли Блейк

The black sheep billionaire…As a gawky teenager, Rosie knew she never stood a chance with heart-throb Cameron Kelly. She had pigtails and glasses, and washed dishes by night to help support her and her mother, whilst Cameron came from one of the richest and most revered families in Brisbane…Years later they meet again, and Rosie finds herself on a date with the gorgeous billionaire! There’s something different about him – he’s darker, more intense, dangerous. But she’s determined to ignore his three-dates-only rule and get to the heart of the rebel tycoon…
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Praise for Ally Blake:

Praise for

Ally Blake:

‘Ally Blake’s FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR is a sweet, often funny story, with a wonderfully written pair of lovers and a believably developed relationship.’

—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

Ally Blake also writes for Modern Heat

‘Ally Blake’s THE MAGNATE’S INDECENT PROPOSAL starts with an amusing premise and quickly moves into an entertaining love-at-first-sight tale. It’s full of humour, witty dialogue, a hero to die for and a heroine who’s his match in every way.’

—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

‘I’d really like to see you again,’ Cameron said.

Snap! Rosie’s eyes flew north till they met his. Deep, blue, heaven…‘Seriously?’

He laughed. She bit her lip.

Just because he’d used her full name in such a deferential way, and just because more than once she’d caught him looking at her as if she was the most fascinating creature on the planet, it didn’t mean she should go forgetting herself.

He said, ‘Do you want a list of reasons why? Or would you prefer them in the form of a poem?’

Rosie’s heart danced. She knew that taking guidance from one’s heart was as sensible as using one’s liver for financial planning advice, having witnessed firsthand what listening to the dancing of your heart could do to a woman. If she needed any further reason to call it a day…

And then Cameron had to go and say, ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’

Mills & Boon® Romance brings you a fresh new story from Australian author

Ally Blake

Indulge yourself with this vibrant,

witty and fabulously flirtatious novel!

Having once been a professional cheerleader, ALLY BLAKE has a motto: ‘Smile and the world smiles with you.’ One way to make Ally smile is by sending her on holidays—especially to locations which inspire her writing. New York and Italy are by far her favourite destinations. Other things that make her smile are the gracious city of Melbourne, the gritty Collingwood football team, and her gorgeous husband Mark.

Reading romance novels was a smile-worthy pursuit from long back, so with such valuable preparation already behind her she wrote and sold her first book. Her career as a writer also gives her a perfectly reasonable excuse to indulge in her stationery addiction. That alone is enough to keep her grinning every day!

Ally would love you to visit her at her website:

Ally also writes for Mills & Boon® Modern Heat!




To my baby Boo.

You own my heart, you crack me up,

you dazzle me daily,

and it is my absolute privilege

watching you become you.

Love Mum xxx


CAMERON KELLY opened the heavy side-door of the random building, shut it smartly behind him and became enveloped in darkness. The kind of inky darkness that would make even the bravest boy imagine monsters under the bed.

It was some years since Cameron had been a boy, longer still since he’d realised people didn’t always tell the truth. When he’d found out his two older brothers had made the monsters up.

The small window between himself and the Brisbane winter sunshine outside revealed the coast was clear, and he let his forehead rest on the cold glass with a sheepish thunk.

Of all the people he could have seen—many miles from where a man such as he ought to have been while commerce and industry raged on in the city beyond—it had to have been his younger sister Meg, downing take-away coffee and gabbing with her girlfriends.

If Meg had seen him wandering the suburban Botanical Gardens, pondering lily pads and cacti rather than neck-deep in blueprints and permits and funding for multi-million-dollar skyscrapers, she would not have let him be until he’d told her why.

So he, a grown man—a man of means, and most of the time sense—was hiding. Because the truth would only hurt her. And, even though he’d long since been cast as the black sheep of the Kelly clan, hurting those he cared about was the last thing he would ever intentionally do.

He held his watch up to the parcel of light, saw it was nearly nine and grimaced.

Hamish and Bruce, respectively his architect and his project manager, would have been at the CK Square site for more than an hour waiting for him to approve the final plans for the fifty-fourth floor. This close to the end of a very long job, if they hadn’t throttled one another by now then he would be very lucky.

He made to open the door to leave, remembered Meg—the one person whose leg he’d never been able to pull, even with two adept older brothers to show him how—and was overtaken by a stronger compulsion than the desire to play intermediary between two grown men. His hand dropped.

Let the boys think he was making a grand entrance when he finally got there. It’d give them something to agree upon for once. He could live with people thinking he had an ego the size of Queensland. He was a Kelly, after all; impressions of grandeur came with the name.

‘We’re closed,’ a voice echoed somewhere behind him.

He spun on his heel, hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. Though he hadn’t boxed since his last year at St Grellans, in a flash his fists were raised, his fingers wrapped so tight around his thumbs they creaked. Lactic acid burned in his arms.

It seemed fresh air, sunshine and tiptoeing through the tulips weren’t the catharsis for an uneasy mind that they were cracked up to be.

He peered around the huge empty space and couldn’t see a thing past the end of his nose, bar a square of pink burned into his retina from the bright light of the window.

‘I’m desperately sorry,’ the voice said. ‘I seem to have given you a little fright.’

Unquestionably female, it was, husky, sweet, mellow tones drifting to him through the darkness with a surprisingly vivid dash of sarcasm, considering she had no idea who she was dealing with.

‘You didn’t frighten me,’ he insisted.

‘Then how about you put down your dukes before you knock yourself out?’

Cameron, surprised to find his fists were still raised, unclenched all over, letting his hands fall to his sides before shucking his blazer back onto his shoulders.

‘Now, I love an eager patron as much as the next gal,’ the mocking voice said. ‘But the show doesn’t start for another half-hour. Best you wait outside.’

The show? Cameron’s eyes had become more used to the light, or lack thereof. He could make out a bumpy outline on the horizon, rows of seats decked out auditorium-style. They tipped backwards slightly so that an audience could look upwards without getting neck strain, as the show that went on in this place didn’t happen on stage but in the massive domed sky above.

He’d stumbled into the planetarium.

Wow. He hadn’t been in the place since he was a kid. It seemed the plastic bucket seats and industrial carpet scraping beneath his shoes hadn’t changed.

He craned his neck back as far as it would go, trying to make out the shape and form of the roof. The structural engineer in him wondered about the support mechanisms for the high ceiling, while the vestiges of the young boy who’d once upon a time believed in monsters under the bed simply marvelled at the deep, dark, infinite black.

Finally, thankfully, one thing or another managed to shake loose a measure of the foreboding that ruminating over rhododendrons had not.

He kept looking up as he said, ‘I’ll wait, if it’s alright by you.’

‘Actually, it’s not.’

‘Why not?’

‘Rules. Regulations. Occupational health and safety. Fire hazards. Today’s Tuesday. You’re wearing the wrong shoes. Take your pick.’

He slowly lowered his head, glancing down at his perfectly fine shoes, which he could barely see, and he was a heck of a lot closer to them than she was.

He peered back out into the nothingness, but still he couldn’t make her out—whoever she was.

Was she security, ready to throw him out on his ear? A fellow interloper protecting her find? A delusion, born out of an acute desire to change the subject that had shanghaied his thoughts since he’d caught the financial news on TV that morning?

‘Go now, and I can reserve you a seat,’ the honeyed tones suggested.

Management, then. And strangely anticlimactic.

‘I’ll even personally find you a nice, comfy seat,’ she continued. ‘Smack bang in the centre, with no wobbles or lumps, that doesn’t squeak every time you ooh or aah at the show. What do you say?’

He didn’t say anything. He could tell she’d moved closer by a slight shifting of the air to his left, the sound of cloth whispering against skin, and the sudden sweet scent of vanilla making his stomach clench with hunger.

Had he forgotten to eat breakfast? Yes, he had. He swore softly as he remembered why.

The appearance on the financial report on the TV news by the very man who had made him a family outcast many years before had not been a bolt from the blue. Quinn Kelly, his father, was a shameless self-promoter of the family business: the Kelly Investment Group, or ‘KInG’ as it was irresistibly dubbed in the press.

His father was the epitome of the Australian dream. An immigrant who had come to the country as a boy with nothing to his name but the clothes on his back, he had built himself the kind of large, rambunctious, photogenic family the press prized, and a financial empire men envied. Tall, handsome, charming, straight-talking, the man acted as though he would live for ever, and the world believed him—needed to believe him—because he had his fingers in so many financial pies.

Cameron hadn’t realised he’d believed the man to be immortal too until he’d noticed the pallor make-up couldn’t hide, the weight lost from his cheeks, the dullness in his usually sharp eyes that would only have been noticed by someone who went out of his way not to catch a glimpse of the man every day.

For that reason it was highly possible that not even the family knew something was very wrong with Quinn Kelly. The rest of the clan was so deeply a part of one another’s lives he could only imagine they had not noticed the infinitesimal changes.

He’d lost hours trying to convince himself it wasn’t true. And not for the kinds of reasons that made him a good son, but because he’d felt the sharp awakening of care for a man not worth caring about.

Why should he care for a man who’d so blithely severed him from his family to save his own hide, and that was after laying waste to any naivety Cameron might have yet possessed about loyalty and fidelity? And at an age when he’d not even had a chance to make those decisions himself.

It wasn’t even nine in the morning and already Cameron wished this day was well and truly over.

‘The door is right behind you,’ the only highlight in his day so far said.

Cameron pulled himself up to his full height in the hope the unwanted concerns might run off his back. ‘While I’m enjoying the thought of you testing each and every seat for me, I’m not here to see the show.’

‘You don’t have to act coy with me,’ she said, her teasing voice lifting him until he felt himself rocking forward on his toes. ‘Even big boys like you have been known to find comfort in the idea that there might be something bigger and grander than you are, out there in the cosmos, that will burn bright long after you are a two-line obituary in your local paper.’

Surprising himself, he laughed out loud, something he had not expected to do today. It wasn’t often people dared to tease him. He was too successful, his reputation too implacable, his surname too synonymous with winning at all costs. Perhaps that was why he liked it.

‘Your expertise on the ways of big boys aside,’ he said, ‘I saw the show years ago in middle school.’

‘Years ago?’ the husky voice lobbed back. ‘Lucky for you, astronomers hit a point at exactly that point in time when they said, “Well, that’ll do us. We’ve found enough stars out there for a hundred generations of couples to name after one another for Valentine’s Day. Why bother studying the eternal mystery of the universe any more?’”

He laughed again. And for the first time in hours he felt like he could turn his neck without fear of pulling a muscle. He had not a clue if the woman was eighteen or eighty, if she was married or single, or even from this planet, but he was enjoying himself too much to care.

He took a step away from the door. He couldn’t see the floor beneath his feet. It felt liberating, like he was stepping out into an abyss.

Until he stubbed his toe, and then it felt like he was walking around in a strange building in the dark.

Something moved. Cameron turned his head a fraction to the left, and finally he saw her: a dark blob melting into the shadows. If she was standing on the same level as him, she was tall. There was a distinct possibility of long, wavy hair, and lean curves poured into a floaty calf-length dress. When he imagined seriously chunky boots, he realised he didn’t have any kind of perspective to trust his eyes.

But he’d always trusted his gut. And, while he’d come to the gardens searching for the means to navigate his way around a difficult truth, the only real truth he had so far found was the voice tugging him further into the blackness.

‘How about you turn on a light?’ he said. ‘Then we can come to an arrangement that suits us both.’

‘Would you believe I’m conserving power?’

There wasn’t a single thing about the tone of her voice that made him even half believe her. His smile became a grin, and the tightness in his shoulders just melted away.

He took another step.

‘Not for even half a second,’ he said, his voice dropping several notes, giving as good as he got to that voice—that husky, feminine voice. Mocking him. Taking him down a peg or two. Or three, if he was at all honest.

He—a Kelly and all.

Rosie kept her distance.

Not because the intruder seemed all that dangerous; she knew the nooks and crannies of this place like the back of her hand, and after stargazing half her life she could see in the dark as well as a cat. And from the lazy way he’d held his fists earlier, like he’d instinctively known nobody would dare take a swipe, she’d surely have been able to get in a jab or two.

She kept her distance because she knew exactly who he was.

The man in the dark jeans, pinstriped blazer, glossy tie and crisp chambray shirt poking out at the bottom of the kind of knit V-necked vest only the most super-swanky guy could get away with was Cameron Kelly.

Too-beautiful-for-words Cameron Kelly. Smart, serious, eyes-as-deep-as-the-ocean Cameron Kelly. Of the Ascot Kellys. The huge family, investment-banking dynasty, lived their lives in the social pages, absolutely blessed in every possible way Kellys.

She would have recognised that untameable cowlick, those invulnerable shoulders, and the yummy creases lining the back of that neck anywhere. God only knew how many hours she’d spent in the St Grellans school chapel staring at them.

Not that getting up close and personal or turning on the light would have rendered her familiar. She’d been the scholarship kid who’d taken two buses and a train to get to school from the indifferent council flat she’d shared with her single mum. He had attended St Grellans by birthright.

Post-school they’d run in very different circles, but the Kellys had never been far from the periphery of her life. The glossy mags had told her that dashing patriarch Quinn Kelly was seen buying this priceless objet d’art or selling that racehorse, while his wife Mary was putting on sumptuous banquets for one or another head of state. Brendan, the eldest, and his father’s right-hand man, had married, had two beautiful daughters, then become tragically widowed, adding to the family folklore. Dylan, the next in line, was the charmer, his wide, white smile inviting every magazine reader to dare join the bevy of beauties no longer on his speed dial. Meg, the youngest, was branded bored and beautiful enough to rival any Hollywood starlet.

Yet the one Rosie had always had a soft spot for remained mostly absent from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. He’d played into the Kelly legend just enough by sporting fresh new consorts every other week: a fabulous blonde senator on his arm at some party here, a leggy blonde dancer tucked in behind him at a benefit there.

Yet the minute he’d appeared without a blonde in sight, her soft spot had begun to pulse.

‘Rightio,’ she said, curling away to her left, away from Cameron and towards the bank of stairs leading to the front of the auditorium. ‘What are you doing here if not to once and for all find out who truly did hang the moon and the stars?’

‘Central heating,’ he said without missing a beat. ‘It’s freezing out there.’

She grinned, all too readily charmed considering the guy still seemed to have blinkers when it came to skinny, smart girls with indefinite hair-colour and no cleavage to speak of.

And now she was close enough to make out the subtle, chequered pattern of his vest, the fine platinum thread through the knot of his tie, and the furrowing of his brow as his eyes almost found hers.

She took two definite steps back. ‘The café just up the hill has those cool outdoor furnace-heaters—big, shiny brass ones that have to be seen to be believed. And I hear they also serve coffee, which is a bonus.’

After much longer than was at all polite, his voice drifted to her on a rumble. ‘The allure of coffee aside, the warmth in here is more appealing.’

Her knees wobbled. She held out both arms to steady herself. Seriously, how could the guy still manage to incapacitate her knees without trying to, without meaning to? Without even knowing her name.

She wrapped her russet beaded-cardigan tighter around herself, squeezing away the return of an old familiar ache that she thought she’d long since cast off: the sting of growing up invisible.

Growing up with a dad who’d left before she was born, and a mum who’d never got over him, being inconspicuous had come with the territory. Being a shy unfortunate in a school saturated with the progeny of politicians, moguls and even royalty hadn’t helped the matter.

But since then she’d achieved a master’s degree in astrophysics, run with the bulls, stood at the foot of the sphinx, spent a month on grappa and fresh air on a boat off Venice and surveyed the stars from every corner of the globe. She’d come to terms with where she’d come from. And now hers was a life lived large and not for anyone else to define.

Cameron took another step forward, and she flinched, then indulged in a good eye-roll. An eyelash caught in her contact lens, which was about all she deserved.

As she carefully pulled it free she told herself that, just as she’d evolved, this guy wasn’t that Cameron Kelly any more—the Cameron Kelly who’d seemed the kind of guy who’d smile back if she’d ever found the pluck to smile first. Maybe he never even had been.

Right now he was the guy wasting the last precious minutes she had with the observatory telescope, before Venus, her bread and butter, disappeared from view.

‘Okay, tell it to me straight. What do I have to say or do to get you to vamoose?’ She paused to shuffle her contact lens back into place. ‘I know Italian, Spanish, a little Chinese. Any chance “off you pop” in any of those languages will make a dent?’

‘What if I leave and not another soul turns up?’

Rosie threw her arms out sideways. ‘I’ll…grab a seat, put my feet up on the chair in front and throw popcorn at the ceiling, while saying all the lines along with the narrator. It wouldn’t be the first time.’

That got her another laugh, a deep, dry, rumbling, masculine sort of laugh. Her knees felt it first, then the rest of her joined in, finishing off with her toes curling pleasurably into her socks.

She remembered exactly what the smile that went along with the laugh looked like. Deep brackets around his mouth. Appealing crinkles fanning out from a pair of cornflower-blue eyes. And there was even a dimple thrown in for good measure.

Yikes, she hadn’t waded quite so deep into the miasma of her past in a long time. It was time she moved the guy on before he had her remembering former lives.

Knowing he’d follow, she circled him to the left and herded him towards the exit. ‘I thought you weren’t interested in the show?’

‘You should never have told me about the popcorn.’

He edged closer, and she could tell by the slightest amount of diffused light from the window in the door behind her adding colour to his clothes that she couldn’t back away much further.

She glanced at the glowing clock on the wall by the ticket office. Venus would only be visible another fifteen minutes at most. If she wanted to finish the day’s assessment, she’d have to get cracking. ‘So, try a movie. Far more action.’

‘More action than supernovas, red dwarfs and meteor showers?’

‘You boys and your love of all exploding, fiery things,’ she said. ‘Thank goodness there are women in the world to appreciate the finer details of the universe. You should sit still and just stare at the moon once in a while. You’d be amazed at the neural pathways a little down-time can open up.’

‘Maybe I will.’ This time the lift of one blazer-covered shoulder was obvious in the hazy sunlight. ‘I was holding out on you before. I have my own telescope.’

Damn it! There weren’t many things he could have said to have distracted her, but even a passing interest in the one great overriding passion in her life was a pull she couldn’t resist.

‘What type?’ she asked.

‘It’s silver. Not solid silver. Maybe not even silver. Silver looking.’

‘The silver-look ones are the best. It comes down to the light refracting off all that extra shininess.’

His half-second pause as he decided whether or not she was taking the mickey out of him was a pleasure. So much of a pleasure it made her soft spot for him stretch and purr.

‘To tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘All I remember from way back when is the bit about the wormholes. And I’m man enough to admit I lost a couple of nights’ sleep over them.’

His voice was low. Rough. Suggestive. Her bad, bad lungs contracted until the air inside her felt like it had nowhere else to go but out in a great, big fat sigh.

She played with a turquoise bead on her cardigan. It had been sewn by the hand of a woman she’d found on the way to Rosarito, Mexico. She’d lived alone in a shack made of things she’d found on the edge of the most beautiful beach in the entire world. It reminded Rosie that she’d been places, seen amazing things, and was not easily impressed.

Waxing lyrical in the dark with Cameron Kelly ought not to feel so much like a highlight.

She straightened up. ‘Fine. Since you’re not staying for the show, I’ll let you in on the big climax. Pluto isn’t a planet any more.’

‘It’s not?’ he asked, genuinely shocked. ‘Poor Pluto.’

This time she was the one to laugh. Loose, low and most enjoyable.

And then she realised, all too late, that Cameron was close enough now that she could see the sunlight brush over evenly tanned skin, a straight nose, a smooth jaw and deep-set eyes. Eyes that had become so used to the light that they’d finally found hers.

He wasn’t likely to be able to see much more than their shape, and perhaps the curve where ambiguous grey met the dark edges of her pupils, which were no doubt dilated from the lack of light. But he certainly seemed keen to try.

When his eyes left hers, she breathed again. Unfortunately she was not to be let off so lightly.

His glance took in her hair, which was likely a mess, since she’d had it up, down, twisted in a knot and in plaits since she’d arrived a little before sunrise. Then there was her long, floral dress she’d thrown on that morning because it had been atop the clean-clothes basket, the cardigan she’d found in the back of her car, and the comfortable boots that had taken her all over the world and brought her home again in one piece—but did little in terms of being fashionable or flattering.

It was the briefest of perusals. Really no more than a flick of his gaze. But that didn’t stop her from wanting to fix her hair, hitch her bra, and wipe fingers beneath her eyes to remove any traces of smudged mascara that several hours of awake-time would have left behind.

Thankfully his gaze cut back to her eyes.

All traces of thankfulness dried up smartly when those famously blue eyes remained fixed on hers. Her throat grew dry. She tried to swallow, only to find she couldn’t quite remember how.

She had the distinct feeling time was running out on something she was meant to be doing, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember what it was. She wished ultra-hard for a light-bulb moment.

And got one.

Fluorescent bulbs by the dozen flickered in the walls around them, strobing on and off like disco lights.

In between dark patches, Cameron’s eyes locked with hers, deep, dark, determined. She wondered for a moment how she’d ever thought she knew him…

And then he smiled. Cheek brackets. Eye crinkles. Dimple. And she felt like she was fourteen years old, complete with glasses, funny clothes and a crush.

Her glasses had been exchanged for contacts, and her now mostly pre-loved wardrobe was probably still a little funny. But at least the moony kid she’d once been was no more.

With every flash of intense white light, Rosie made sure her feet were well and truly on the ground.


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