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Authors: Lace Daltyn


BOOK: Masquerade
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub









2014 Lace



ISBN: 978-1-77130-846-5


Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs


Editor: Kerry







WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of
this book
may be used or reproduced electronically or in
print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in reviews


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are
fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.






To my husband, who gives me the time to write without complaint and is a
much better marketing director than I am.








© 2014






Michael Smith walked off
the elevator of the New York high-rise, vigilant as always as he strode down
the taupe-shaded hall. Two exceptions spoiled the pretense that this hallway
was like any other.

First, only two doors
were visible. One, he knew, opened to a secure stairwell that led up to a rooftop
helipad or down twenty floors to the underground garage. The second door, which
he stood in front of now, led to what
come to
think of as the inner sanctum.

The other big difference
about this hallway was the sophisticated security system that guarded each
door. Michael glanced up at the camera following his movements.
worked enough protection details to know the PIN and
thumbprint pad beside the door was top notch.

A wariness bred by too
many back-door ops made him glance over his shoulder before entering the access
code. No one was ever behind him. Michael rubbed the back of his neck, recognizing
that his employer’s paranoia had rubbed off on him. That
the only thing, either. A memory of lips tinted with ruby-colored disdain
caused him to botch the code, and he endured the required wait time before
trying again, knowing she watched him. Knowing she waited for him.

Knowing she knew his
thoughts had been of her.

Fuck. How much crap would
he tolerate? This struggle of wills was making him say and do things completely
against his nature.
found out the hard way that
being submissive only got him screwed. The promise
made himself to never take orders again was sitting like a lump of acid in his

worth it
he told himself.
worth it.

The room he entered
looked like a hybrid living area. A neat, uncluttered modular desk shared space
with the futon
used more than once as a bed. A
small fridge with a combination coffee and water station on top and a low table
under the sole window in the room, completed the furnishings.

Michael stowed his duffle
and crossed to the table. Grabbing the spray bottle, he lifted the plastic that
kept several different species of orchids thriving and misted the dirt. Orchids
very much like his boss, both fragile and tough at the same time.

After making tea, he
knocked on the door to her office. Entering, Michael reached for the light
pulled his hand back as he remembered.

No lights.

Only a computer screen
and one single, shroud-shielded lamp behind the desk provided what little
illumination the room held. The rest remained in shadow, swirled in whispers of
un-divulged sorrows Michael could only guess

He knew his employer was
Mid-twenties at the most.
Slender, unlined
as yet
untouched by time moved with delicate
precision across the keyboard. These were his only indication of her age.

His employer sat behind a
black desk, its finish dulled to swallow any light that touched its surface.
Even the chrome edges, polished to perfection, found little to reflect.

Though she sat with a
posture that only comes with much training, Michael had yet to see her face.
Each time he entered, she pulled the ever-present hooded cloak tighter, hiding
all but the tip of her alabaster nose and lips that made his balls tighten with
each glimpse. Painted
, they were full and lush
as if designed for the sole purpose of sucking a guy’s cock.

What enticed him just as
much, though, was her voice. Low and sultry, it called to him like a siren. It
was as if she
had been trained
as a courtesan. What
little he could see and hear
was designed
to please,
to draw him closer.

Michael felt the familiar
hardening of his cock and repressed the desire to indulge the fantasies that
had invaded his nights. Her lips, quirked at the edges, reminded him she knew the
effect she had on him and Michael tried to bury his arousal deep. He wanted
her, needed her
he needed air to breathe.
Had ever since starting this gig three months ago.
not for some one-night roll in the hay, glorious as that
would be.

For now, he would have to
settle for assisting her in other ways.

“Your tea, Drea,” he
said, setting the cup at the edge of her desk.

Those lips tightened for
the briefest moment. “I have asked you repeatedly to call me Ms. Fortier.”

Michael fought the urge
to close his eyes and let her words settle around him like his own cloak.
Instead, he slid into the cocky grin he knew annoyed her. “I know.”

“Then why do you not
Really, Michael.
What sort of secretary wears jeans to the office?”

sort that doesn’t have normal hours.
The sort that works in his boss’s
home and got hired because he could maintain and fly that fancy helicopter.” He
pointed toward the ceiling.
“The sort that does everything
from research to security to unclogging drains.”

He wanted to lean toward
her, get closer. To smell the elusive spice that defined Drea Fortier. A quick
intake of breath warned him he must have shifted in her direction. Her hand
shot up to ward off any contact, and the sleeve of her cloak fell back.

Too late, she pulled it
down. Too late, he saw the jagged, puckered dots on her forearm. Scars he knew
only the hot end of a cigarette could make, and at an angle that was obviously
not self-inflicted. Scars that exposed
a past even nightmares
could not do justice to. Scars he could not erase for her, no matter how much
he wished for exactly that.

Michael stepped back, his
fists tight against his sides to keep him from pounding a thousand holes in the
wall with his bare hands. He knew about pain, both good and bad. This was very
bad. Drea had seen violence in her life. When and how he
know, but he intended to find out.

For now, he suppressed
the questions, and his libido, and allowed her the rigid control she clung to
like a lifeline. Some day in the near future, he would help Drea move beyond
her past. First, though, she must learn to trust him. Michael quieted his
breathing, focused on lips now
pulled in
a tight line,
and uncurled his fingers.

“I apologize—”

“Don’t.” Sultry gave way
to steel as she spoke. Arms clutched across her stomach stretched out as she
placed her palms on the desk. No one would notice the slight tremor in her
hands or the almost nonexistent hitch to her voice.

No one
except him.

“We will not speak of
this again.”

It took a granite will to
acquiesce to her demand. He nodded, certain that if he spoke, he’d say enough
to get an instant
pink slip
. He
leave her.
Not now.

not ever.

Drea turned to her
computer. “I’ve selected an applicant and would like you to do the usual
research and background check.”

Finding the switch back to
business difficult to match, Michael grunted his consent, executed a military
about-face, and closed the office door behind him with quiet precision.

Sitting at his desk, he
stared at the application on his screen. Another lost soul his employer chose
to help.
thought her crazy when she first had him
run the obscure advertisement, but this was the third one they’d worked on together.
Helping others to heal seemed to feed her soul.
proved to him that Drea knew what hope was.
that alone, provided the momentum for Michael’s belief that he could, in turn,
help her. What had she gone through that
herself in this dark box? Michael meant to find the key.

One of these days,
unlock the secrets that had turned Drea into a recluse
who trusted no one. One of these days,
find out
who had scarred her, both physically and mentally.

God help that person when he did.



Are emotional scars
holding you back? We can help you let go of the past and give you the
opportunity to reach for a happier and more fulfilling future. Begin the
healing through this one-of-a-kind offer. Take the chance. To initiate the
process, complete the short questionnaire below. Remember to be honest, both
with yourself and with us, so we can correctly evaluate your needs.

BOOK: Masquerade
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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