Authors: Ava Hayworth
Laws of Seduction
Copyright © 2016 by Ava Hayworth.
All rights reserved worldwide. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, locales, or events is purely coincidental.
No part of the book may be reproduced, uploaded to the Internet, or copied without express written permission from the author.
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Cover by Domi, Inspired Cover Designs
After a while, I give up trying to catch someone’s attention by pounding on the door. I turn around and inspect my prison. A desk and chair are the only pieces of furniture in the room. I move towards the shadowy form of the desk and feel along the surface until my fingers meet the remote that works the lights. Once the light is on, I once again take stock of my surroundings. Across from the doorway is a large window. I rush over to it, but can’t get it open. I scan the top of the desk for something that can help me and see nothing. Sitting down in the desk chair, I start opening desk drawers, and find nothing but writing materials and stamps. Defeated, I bend my forehead down and rest it on the desk in front of me.
My best chance of getting out of here is to alert someone when they walk by the door. James may even be looking for me. This thought propels me back to the door. I press my ear up against the door, but I can only identify party sounds drifting up from below. Surely someone will come by eventually. I try to imagine what Becca could be doing and why she has locked me in here. When I come up blank, I replay our earlier conversation. Could she have started the fire in my office? What if she is planning to light another fire tonight? I would be trapped with no way to escape. My mind flashes back to being trapped in the sinking car with Seth, and panic makes my chest tighten. I take deep breaths trying to push it back. Terror claws at my throat, and in desperation I resume beating on the door. When a voice greets me from the other side, I sit back inhaling large mouthfuls of air. I don’t need to panic. Someone is here to get me out. Forcing my voice to work, I call out. “Hello? I’m locked in here.”
A female voice responds. “Let me go get Rex. I’ll be right back.”
“Thank you. Please hurry!” I beg.
“Hang tight. I shouldn’t be long.” With that the voice is gone.
I struggle to push back the panic that continues to eat away at my reason. Someone knows I am in here. They will get me out soon. Leaning back, I rest my head against the wall behind me and close my eyes, concentrating on breathing evenly. The voice is back, and she is speaking with someone. “Rex?”
“Lainey, is that you in there?”
It’s Rex. I have never been so relieved to hear someone’s voice. “Yes, can you please get me out of here? I’m locked in.”
“Why is the key missing here on the outside? I always leave it here.”
“Becca took it when she locked me in here.”
“Someone locked you in there on purpose?” Shocked amazement rings in Rex’s voice.
“I’ll tell you about it later,” I promise through the door. “Just get me out of here.”
“Right – I’ll take care of it.”
I hear Rex talking to the woman, but can’t quite make out what they are saying. Then there are a few minutes of silence before the door handle rattles a bit. I watch hopefully, but as time draws on, my heart sinks. What if he can’t get it open?
As if sensing my worry, Rex calls out. “I’ll have you out in a minute. I found the right spare key.”
A few seconds later, the doorknob clicks and the door opens to reveal Rex standing with a woman that I remember seeing at the party. Fighting back tears, I ask, “Where’s James?”
“He thought you had left and went to go look for you.”
“Left? To go where?”
“To the Carlton, a hotel in Montauk.”
I am sure Becca is behind all of this. I will have to find out how later. Rushing past Rex, I head back to the pool area, where I had left my phone on the table next to James. When I get to the table, I see that my phone is gone. Whipping around, I find that Rex has followed me. “Do you know what happened to my phone?”
“James took it with him.”
Of course he did. “Let me have yours. I want to call him.” Rex pulls his phone from his pocket and taps around on the screen. The phone is already ringing when he hands it to me. It rings two more times before going to voicemail. ““James, I am still at the house. Becca locked me in the office. I don’t know why you thought I would go to the Carlton, but whatever the reason, it is all lies made up by Becca. Call me on Rex’s phone if you get this message.””
“Is Becca the Rebecca from your office?” Rex looks confused.
“Yes, but she always goes by Becca. Do you know her?”
Rex grabs the back of his neck with one hand. “I met a Rebecca who works at your firm a few days ago. She made it sound like you guys were friends.”
I arch both my eyebrows in disbelief. “We are most definitely not friends. What else did she tell you?”
“When she found out that you guys were staying with me this weekend, she mentioned that she would also be in the Hamptons, so I may have told her she should come tonight.”
Now I knew how Becca had ended up at the party. “Did she also tell you that she has a huge thing for James?”
Rex looks abashed. “She didn’t mention that, no.”
I can see that Rex hasn’t told me everything so I prompt, “What else did she say?”
Looking extremely uncomfortable, Rex admits, “She was the one who told me you were at the Carlton, and I passed the information on to James.”
Becca was clever. I would give her that. She knew that James would look at everything she said with skepticism, but if it came from his best friend, the information would be considered much more reliable. “That would explain why James thought I would leave the party without telling him.”
Rex clears his throat. “He might also have been lead to believe that you were meeting a guy named Davis there.”
“What?” Things were going from bad to worse. “Why would he think something like that?”
“Rebecca, I mean Becca, said she overheard you telling someone named Davis to meet you in the honeymoon suite at the Carlton.”
How did Becca know about Davis? Then I recall that he had been my date for the company cruise.
“Lainey,” relief rocks me back at the sound of my name spoken with that familiar voice. I look around to see James striding towards me. Ignoring the guests who are looking at us with interest, I leap into James’s arms. His arms wrap around me. “Where have you been?”
A hiccupping sound that is halfway between a laugh and a sob escapes me. “It’s a long story. I thought you were on your way to the Carlton?”
“I was. Then reason overtook me, and I turned around.”
“So you don’t think I ran off to the Carlton with Davis?”
James pushes me back so that he can see my face. “How did you know?”
“Rex told me, and he got the whole thing from Becca.”
“Becca?” James asks in surprise.
I tell James the whole story of how I thought I had seen her at the party, and how she had locked me into the office. I also told him my suspicion that she had started the fire in my office. “There’s one thing I can’t figure out though. How did she know that you and Rex were friends?”
“Good question.” Then, I watch as a lightbulb seems to go off in his mind. “Melanie.”
“Your assistant, Melanie?”
“Yea, I saw her together with Becca a couple of times last week, which I thought was pretty strange, since Becca tends to socialize with other juniors. I remember wondering what they were finding to talk about, since Melanie has a husband and kids which wouldn’t be interesting to a person like Becca.”
“You think Becca was hitting Melanie up for information about you?”
“What are we going to do about this? I mean we don’t have any evidence that she did anything. Even locking me in the office would be her word against mine.”
“Come on,” James says, pulling me towards the patio doors. “I have an idea.” He takes me to his car and opens the passenger door for me.
“Haven’t you been drinking?” I ask him as he climbs into the driver’s seat.
“I think I am still safely under the limit with one beer. My date disappeared before she could bring me another,” he says giving me a wink.
I roll my eyes at his schmaltzy tone. “I take it we’re going to the Carlton.”
“Smart woman. The honeymoon suite to be exact.”
He pulls up in front of the Carlton and hands his car keys to the parking attendant. James holds my hand as we cross the lobby and request the room number for the honeymoon suite.
We take the elevator to the 14
floor and follow the signs to the correct door, finding it slightly ajar. Before we reach the door, James takes out his phone and goes through several menus.
“What are you doing?” I ask in a hushed whisper.
“Microphone,” he mouths back.
“You know anything we record won’t be admissible in court.”
“I’m not planning on prosecuting her. I want her gone from the firm.”
“Good luck getting her to admit anything. She was pretty cautious when I spoke with her.”
James gives me a dazzling smile. “You don’t have my famous charm.”
“Overconfident much?” I ask with raised eyebrows.
“Never. Now you stand back so you can’t be seen from the doorway.”
“You’re going in there without me?” I ask with as much outrage as I can muster in a whisper.
“I’ll leave the door cracked.” He pins me with a pointed stare and mouths, “Don’t move.”
I don’t make any promises, but for the moment step back against the wall so that I cannot be seen from the door. After a few moments, James reappears and ushers me in. “She’s not here.”
I step into the suite and look around. A familiar pair of panties lie on the floor in front of me. Bending down, I take a closer look. “I think these are mine.”
“I thought they looked familiar.”
I smirk up at him. “I had no idea you paid so much attention to my underwear.”
“Baby, you have no idea.”
Raising my eyebrows, I wait for James to continue, but he doesn’t. Instead he diverts my attention by pointing out a lace bra laying over the back of the couch. I snatch it up. “Hey, this is mine too.”
James snickers. “Looks like somebody has been on a panty raid.”
I roll my eyes and move to the bedroom. The sheets from the bed have been thrown on the floor. “It looks like we just missed a wild orgy.”
James glowers as he turns in a half circle, taking in the destruction of the room. “That’s what it looks like alright.”
“I can’t believe she thought you would be taken in by this. I mean, why would I leave the suite without my bra and panties? Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Or was I supposed to have clutched an extra set in my hand on the way to my quickie tryst? I don’’t think she thought this through.”
A look of chagrin falls over James’s face, and I realize he is thinking about his initial reaction. “You know I’m cursed with a mile-wide jealous streak.””
I send him a forgiving smile. “Yea, the green-eyed monster has gotten to me a few times too.”