Authors: Capri Montgomery
Copyright © 2011 Shunta Montgomery
All Rights Reserved
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
Vendetta is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, event or locales is entirely coincidental.
Thank you, Barb, for catching the mistakes I missed. Your assist with editing has been wonderful.
By Capri Montgomery:
Shadow Hills: M is for Murder
Seducing the Bodyguard
Shadow Hills No Valentine
Shadow Hills Fallen Hero
Secrets and Lies
Saints and Sinners
The McGregor Affair
The Geneva Project
The Admiral’s Daughter
Watch Over Me
And Many Others…
Shadow Hills: Deadly Deception
, book five in the Shadow Hills Series.
Betrayal of the Dove
, book nine in the Men of Action Series.
Come into my lair said the spider to the fly, but once you do I promise you will not survive.
Part One ~ The Prelude
~ Two Months Earlier ~
he felt a firm hand wrap around her upper arm as if it belonged there. She couldn’t see the person behind her, but she didn’t feel threatened because in that firm grip was also restraint. She knew she could be hurt, or killed, without a second thought yet somehow that one restrained touch set her mind at ease. She knew she had been being followed from the moment she got out the car and walked two blocks she had that uneasy feeling, but she put it off on nerves. She never met a client at night, and definitely not on his terms in an area of town that wasn’t exactly at the top of the list for safety, but she couldn’t turn this down. Her business wasn’t in trouble but this contract had the potential to really grow the business her father had entrusted her with. He could have left his company to anybody else—Kyle even, but he hadn’t. He left it to her and she was not going to see the demise of something he loved so much. This contract could change everything, so she decided to throw caution to the wind and break her own rules of safety.
In hindsight she realized that was a dumb idea. No; she actually knew it was dumb from the beginning. But the second she felt that spine tingling chill race through her body, that chill that only fear could deliver, she knew it could be the last dumb mistake she made. And then somebody had grabbed her and for a brief second she thought she was going to die in Boston tonight—or worse.
“Thena Davis, what are you doing down here?” The low angry rumble and the deep timbers in the voice above her were unmistakable.
She exhaled slowly. “Thomas,” she turned to get a better view of him. When she looked up what she saw was one angry man ready to chastise her for being right where she was at the time and she wasn’t in the mood for it. He had scared her and he had no right to do that. Beyond that, he had no right to be following her. He was supposed to be working on a case himself. “I’m meeting a client,” she wiggled her arm free of his hold. “What are you doing here? Following me?” She narrowed her gaze and shifted her portfolio in her arm so that she was able to tack one hand to her hip.
“I’m working,” he said. “I’m down here doing surveillance on a very dangerous man when I see my woman walking straight into the bastard’s lair. What the hell do you think you’re doing? There aren’t any clean people down here, Thena. They’re all dirty, and you being down here is just damn foolish.”
“Hey, you never curse at me!” Never mind the fact that he had just called her foolish—or more like he had called her actions foolish, but that was a point for another time. Right now she wanted to address the fact that he had just cursed at her—twice.
“Yeah, I never do and I am now. Do you know how crazy this is? You could be dead right now.”
“No. I could be inside right now if you hadn’t snuck up on me and yanked me into this…” she waved her hand around, “alley…whatever.” Alley might not have been the right word, but right now she was too angry to worry about it. “This guy comes highly recommended from a senator…or more like a senator’s aide I guess since that’s who I spoke with. I’m just presenting some of my work. If he hires me then I’ll be building a homeless shelter. Apparently Mr. George Marlan is planning a multi-million dollar facility.” When she got the call she had been surprised herself. Everybody knew of her charity work, but never had she received a call for a paid charitable build. This guy was willing to pay top dollar to have the facility built and wanted to use her company to do it. Of course she had to show her portfolio and discuss his vision for the facility. She knew he wanted a section where they could provide temporary housing, a place to feed the homeless and offices for a staff of more than two hundred people. Something of this size was unheard of—at least she hadn’t heard of a project this size that wasn’t going to turn a profit. But when senator Nicolas Goldberg’s personal aide, Trisha Meyers called her and told her she was at the top of list for designers and builders she couldn’t pass it up.
Trisha had told her Mr. Marlan had a vision where they would slowly clean up Boston’s homeless numbers. He planned to have a team of therapists, along with life coaches and employment experts to help get people off the streets and back to work. This was so close to her heart, and so close to what she had done with Twist of Fate—before Madison kicked her out of her house and broke off their friendship and professional relationship. She wanted to do this. The fact that she was going to make money while doing it was the icing on an already beautiful cake.
He growled low in his throat. She could tell he was angry with her. Sure she knew it wasn’t the brightest idea not to tell him where she was going, but how was she supposed to get in touch with him. He had been working non-stop for the past several days. He hadn’t even come home. He kept changes of clothing at his office, where he also had a full bathroom so he could shower and he didn’t bother to come back to their place, mostly her place since he seemed to be MIA from the home and the bedroom lately, so what was she supposed to do—hunt him down? That wasn’t her style. They had been together for almost three years now, but she knew him, he was used to being single, living in his own space and doing things on his own time table. He had moved in with her, but he hadn’t changed. He still needed that freedom, and she wasn’t going to be the woman to try to take it from him. She didn’t want him to try to take her freedom from her either, but she would have loved it if he would do more than leave a curt voicemail message that he wouldn’t be home tonight. There was no “hi baby, I love you, but I have to work all night.” There was no sweet explanation, just a simple. “I won’t be home tonight,” and a click. Well hello, nice talking with you too, Thomas.
She knew she could have called his office and left a curt message of her own, but before him she was her own woman, and she would still be that woman long after he left—if he left. She wasn’t sure what was going on with them lately. This new case he was working seemed to take him away, physically, mentally, emotionally. He didn’t even notice, but she did. Maybe things were getting too comfortable for him. He didn’t want a wife, or any other deep commitment, and maybe nearly three years of being together, living together and being with each other was starting to feel like that kind of commitment for him. Maybe he was using this new case as an excuse not to see her, or maybe he really was busy. She didn’t know, and she wouldn’t know because in the last week they hadn’t even seen each other until now. They wouldn’t be seeing each other now if she weren’t working in the same area he was working in.
“You couldn’t call me and tell me you were coming down here?”
“No. I guess I couldn’t. What difference would it have made? I probably would have just ended up leaving a message with Janet anyway.” She was spending more time getting to know his secretary than him recently. If this was his subtle way of telling her they were over, done, finished with, then she wished he would state it in more direct terms because the message she was getting off him lately was so convoluted that she wasn’t sure what to think.
The last time they had made love was world tilting—her world anyway. He had come home late. She was in the shower, but she had left a note for him that dinner was in the refrigerator and he could warm it in the oven or microwave. She had waited as long as she could, but by ten o’clock she gave up. So she went in, took her shower and had every intention of crawling into bed when she finished, but before she could, a very naked, very frisky Thomas McGregor decided to join her beneath the hot water. The look in his eyes had been primal, basic and laced with pure sexual need. He didn’t waste time taking what he wanted. With her hands pressed against the shower wall he pulled her back against him and there he took her, hard, fast, completely. He dominated her body in a way that had her screaming for more. With each solid thrust she felt the full force of his love, of his passion, and she begged for more. She had three cascading orgasms back to back in one love making session and that had never happened to her before.
He played with her body all night long; waking her when he was good and ready by climbing on top of her naked body and entering her with one smooth, fluid thrust. He kept her body beneath his most of the night and she didn’t mind at all because having his weight on top of her, pressing her into the plush mattress beneath them, felt right—it felt perfect, as if she was always meant to be here with this man. He loved her completely and held nothing back—until now. This case, whatever it was, seemed to have him pulling away. But when she thought about it, maybe it wasn’t the case at all, maybe it was her. Maybe they were getting too comfortable with each other and he wanted out—needed out. She made up her mind in that very instant that she wasn’t going to fight for a man who didn’t want to be fought for…not now, not ever.
She pushed her attention back to the task at hand. “Thomas, I have a client to see just down there,” she pointed to the dimly lit building. She imagined all the staff had probably gone. For some reason the hairs on the back of her neck seemed to tingle with a different kind of fear. This was the dumbest thing she had done in her life—well, maybe not the dumbest, but it was definitely in the top ten. She was meeting a man she didn’t know, in a building that was probably devoid of any other life other than that one man and she was doing it because of a request from another man she didn’t know. Sure, he was the senator and he had asked his aide to call her, but gosh, she didn’t know any of them. Senators were politicians and politicians weren’t exactly the most upstanding citizens in the world. But she hadn’t heard anything bad about this particular senator before and she couldn’t think all of them were complete bastards just because of a few idiots—could she?
She realized Thomas had a right to be angry, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. Instead she took to new ground. “I don’t tell you how to do your work; don’t tell me how to do mine.”
He inched closer to her and she took a step back until she found her back up against the brick wall of one of the buildings he had pulled her between. “Um…” she swallowed thickly realizing the man was not in the mood for her sass and he wasn’t going to let her off easy. She could just imagine he had a slew of curse words hidden under that angry mask and that he was probably about to lose whatever control he had over keeping them in.
He placed one big hand on the wall, trapping her in place as he leaned down enough to bring them face to face. He was still too tall and she too short so she looked up, angrily sweeping hair from her face so that she had unobstructed view of the big man angrily invading her space. When her eyes met his she was suddenly sorry she bothered to look. The man was pissed—not angry, not just a little mad, he was full on pissed—at her! Wow, she had never seen that look before.