Authors: Lisa Cardiff
Sins, Lies & Spies
Black Brothers Series, Book Two
By Lisa Cardiff
Sins, Lies & Spies
Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Cardiff.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: February 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Until last week, my life revolved around my mom. Her golden hair reminded me of the sun. When she smiled, her red lipstick was like a beacon drawing every gaze in the room. Her dark eyes managed to look both happy and sad at the same time, and I loved her more than anyone in the world. She was my world.
So when my mom walked out the front door of my uncle’s house last Tuesday with a bright smile on her face promising our life was about to change for the better, I believed her. I believed we’d finally have a home of our own, and we wouldn’t have to live with my grumpy uncle who grunted more than he spoke. I believed we’d have enough money for me to take all the dance lessons I could ever want. I believed she’d finally have more than a few minutes to spend with my sister, Faith, and me. Except she still hadn’t returned.
“Staring at the window won’t make her come home,” my uncle grumbled, tossing a slice of pizza on the coffee table. Grease pooled on top of the cheese, making my stomach churn.
“She promised me,” I mumbled, keeping my gaze glued out the window. I couldn’t see anything except miles of inky darkness peppered with tiny pinpricks of light.
Even the moon couldn’t be bothered to make an appearance tonight. My uncle lived in the middle of nowhere.
He drummed his beer bottle against his thigh. “Yeah, well, people lie. Get used to it.”
I swiveled around and folded my arms across my chest. “My mom isn’t a liar. She’ll be back.”
My uncle snorted, rubbing his hand down his reddish-blond beard. “Listen, Trinity. Your mother isn’t coming back. You’ll never see her again.”
Tears snuck out of the corners of my eyes and my throat closed mid-inhalation. “But she gave me that music box and told me we’d have enough money to do whatever we wanted. She loves me. She loves Faith. She’d never leave us. We had plans.”
“Honey,” he sneered, tapping me in the middle of the forehead with his meaty index finger. I stumbled backward onto his stinky olive green couch. “The people you love the most will disappoint you the most. That’s the way life works. Got it? By the way, that life lesson is free of charge.”
“You’re wrong. You don’t know anything,” I cried, shaking my head back and forth.
He twirled the hair under his chin into a sharp point until he resembled a comic book villain. “Believe what you want, but I don’t want to hear any more talk about your mom.” He aimed the mouth of his beer bottle at me. “Not one word. Not even her name. She’s gone. The best thing we can do right now is pretend like she never existed. We’ll be safer that way.”
“I’ll never forget my mom,” I vowed between strangled sobs.
He stared at me pointedly. “Then you’re a bigger fool than she was.”
“You look nice,” a female voice murmured. “Where are you headed?”
Stifling a groan, I froze mid-step as I opened the front door of my apartment. “Brenna, what are you doing here?”
Her gaze darted to the side and she sucked her lower lip into her mouth. “You haven’t returned my calls for over a week. I’m beginning to think you’re avoiding me.”
Beginning to think I’m avoiding her?
Pushing up the cuff of my shirt, I glanced at my watch. Ten minutes until the fundraiser at Representative Lang’s house started.
I didn’t have time for this.
“I never promised to call. In fact, I remember telling you on no less than four separate occasions that I’m not a relationship type of guy and not to get your expectations up.”
Her mouth dropped open, and her bluish-green eyes narrowed. “Are you serious? After last weekend, I thought I meant something to—”
I clenched my teeth. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I grumbled under my breath. For the most part, I considered myself a patient man, but I couldn’t deal with this shit right now. She knew the score. I never hid my intentions from her. I didn’t play games. It wasn’t my style. We discussed how I didn’t want anything serious, and she assured me that she didn’t either. Only, here we were. “Did I tell you that I changed my mind?”
She opened and closed her pouty, red lips. “No, but when I asked you if I could stay Saturday night, you agreed.”
Casually buttoning the top button of my black tuxedo jacket, I stared at the oatmeal colored wall over her head. She was right. I should’ve known better, but I had worked my ass off all day and I was too tired to call her a cab. Give a woman a teaspoon of hope and she’d twist it into a white picket fence and two-point-five kids. I barely stifled the visible evidence of the shiver that ghosted down my spine.
I shoved my hands into my pockets, struggling to reel in my frustration. “I didn’t have a choice. It was three in the morning, and we’d been drinking. If I’d thought you’d read anything into it, I would’ve called you a cab.”
Her eyelashes fluttered, blinking away a few tears. “So that’s it then?” She waved her hand back and forth between us. “You’re not going to give us a chance?”
I glanced at my watch again. “No, like I told you when we met, I don’t want a relationship. It doesn’t matter if it’s casual, committed or anything in between. My feelings haven’t changed. My feelings will never change. If you wanted something more than an occasional hook-up, you have the wrong guy.”
I wanted to tell her that the minute she showed up on my doorstep was the minute I decided I was done with her. Lately, I had toyed with the idea of wanting more than a casual fling, but tonight reminded me why I stayed true to my three-date rule. After date number three, women expected things. They started talking about feelings and hinting about a shared future. I was happy with my life. I didn’t need a woman or a family. I wasn’t cut out for that life.
At any rate, I didn’t have the time or inclination to explain this to Brenna. The clock was ticking. I had a job to do and escalating this wouldn’t help my cause. I was already cutting it close if I wanted to get in and out of Representative Lang’s house without being caught.
“You’re an asshole, Knox.”
I refrained from rolling my eyes at the predictability of her comment. “I know. Are we finished, or do you want to continue arguing about why I need to change my mind about wanting a relationship just because you lied to me about not wanting one?” My voice trailed off as I pinned her with an icy glare.
Brenna’s gaze shifted to the floor, then quickly down the narrow hallway. “Fuck you,” she said without any heat. Her voice quivered and my chest squeezed with a tinge of guilt. I stifled the emotion as quickly as it materialized, and my anger surfaced again. I never lied to her.
Exhaling, I resisted the urge to respond with a crude comment. “Have a nice life, Brenna.” I stepped around her and pushed open the door to the exit stairwell. I didn’t want to call the elevator and risk prolonging my confrontation with her.
I stepped through the door of Representative Lang’s home. The house hummed with polite conversation. Elegant people gathered in tiny circles, drinking champagne and martinis. Servers dressed in black pants and white collared shirts held silver trays with bite-sized appetizers.
I waved to acquaintances, and greeted anyone at the fundraiser who made eye contact. I feigned excitement for Lang’s re-election campaign. I laughed at dumb jokes. I shook enough hands to consider making a quick detour to the bathroom. When that was done, I engaged him.
“Representative Lang.” I clapped one hand on his left shoulder while I stuck out my other hand.
With steady eye contact, his fingers curled around mine in a practiced shake meant to demonstrate his authority. He was in his late fifties and at least four inches shorter than my six-foot-two frame. His watery blue eyes contrasted with his overly leathered skin. Gray hair liberally threaded the sides of his light brown hair. He looked like the typical politician, and I didn’t mean that as a compliment.
“Mr. Black.” He smiled a toothy, veneered grin that raised my hackles. “I’m surprised to see you here.”
I tipped up my chin. “You know I couldn’t pass up the chance to personally deliver my donation to your campaign.” I pulled a folded check out of my pocket and handed it to him.
It disappeared into the pocket of his pants almost immediately. “Thank you. I appreciate your support. Do you know if Black Investments will be supporting my campaign this time around? There are rumblings of a new bill that will smother investment firms. I’d hate for your brother’s company to get tangled up in miles of red tape.”
My brother, Archer Black, ran an investment firm with billions of dollars in holdings. He recently relocated his headquarters to L.A. to support his fiancée’s acting career. As much as I missed living near my brother, I couldn’t be angry. He loved Langley, which was a fucking miracle. I never thought Archer would love anyone enough to get married. He was a cold bastard most of the time, but I couldn’t fault him. Our childhood emotionally handicapped both of us in different ways. At least one of us managed to put the past behind us.
“I’ll pass along the information to my brother. I’m sure he appreciates all your hard work. The country has a brighter future with you in office.” I smiled like a jackass to conceal the lie. And no, lightning didn’t strike me dead for the metaphorical pile of bullshit I heaped on his head.
A wide Cheshire cat grin split across his face. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“Anytime.” I patted him on the shoulder again and excused myself. There was only so much smoke I could blow up someone’s ass and still respect myself in the morning.
I grabbed a glass of champagne off a small round table near the back of the room and dashed down the white and black tiled hallway. According to my sources, Lang kept his personal computer in his home office at the rear of the house, adjacent to the bathroom.
Earlier today, I’d hacked into his home security system and dismantled the office and hallway cameras. Now, I had to pray no one wandered into the office in the ten minutes it’d take to access his computer, download everything from his hard drive onto a couple of thumb drives, and replace his USB cord.
As I walked into his office, I rapped lightly on the wood paneled wall. Even former military intelligence officers needed a bit of luck now and again.
I unplugged his computer, shoved the cord into my pocket, and replaced it with a special USB cord equipped with a tiny transceiver, which would communicate with my briefcase-sized field station set up in a vacant apartment my partner and I used as an office about four miles away. It would enable me to access data on Representative Lang’s computer even if he disconnected it from the Internet as he frequently did.
Next, I inserted a thumb drive into the computer. Tapping my finger against my thigh, I waited for the information to transfer until it was at capacity. “Hurry up,” I mumbled as I glanced at the closed door across the room. When it finished, I double clicked on the folder for the thumb drive to verify the transfer, and I pulled it out, before quickly jamming another one into the USB slot.
The hardwood floor creaked behind me. The back of my neck prickled. Instinctively, I spun around, my hand flying to the gun hidden in the holster beneath my jacket.
A woman in a floor-length, gold strapless gown with a side slit to the middle of her thigh stood less than five feet from me. Her dark, nearly black hair draped over her shoulders in soft waves. Her lush lips were painted a deep red, and the lids of her chocolate eyes looked like she had sprinkled them with gold dust. Teardrop pearls dangled from her ears. She was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. Unfortunately, she was also pointing a gun at me.