Title: True Deceptions
Author: Veronica Forand
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 19th, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Select Suspense
Print Length: 85K
Format: Paperback and Digital
Trade ISBN: 978-1-63375-426-3
After his partner was murdered, Simon Dunn was finished with MI6. But the cold, violent world of British intelligence never lets anyone go free. Now Simon has been blackmailed into a new job...with a beautiful new partner who's going to get them both killed.
Robotics expert Cassie Watson is a newbie field agent with as much sophistication as...well, a pacifist, vegan computer nerd. Now she's abruptly thrust into the cutthroat world of espionage with a partner who is as cold as he is brutally—and brutishly—handsome.
But when their mission is betrayed from the inside, Cassie will be forced to place her life in the hands of the one man who's anything but trustworthy...
Simon didn’t want to know what the future held, and he didn’t want to acknowledge the past. At this exact moment, however, he wanted Anna Marie from Wisconsin, an all-American blue-eyed, blonde pharmaceutical sales representative looking to experience everything life offered. During dinner, he’d given her his usual warning that people weren’t always what they seemed, but she’d ignored his words and stroked the length of his leg with her foot, requesting some private time with him.
“Listen love, I think we should call it a night. I’m leaving Bermuda soon and so are you, and, at this point, I don’t have room in my life for a relationship.”
She laughed and reached across the table for his hand. “I’m looking for company for one night only. I have to return home tomorrow, and so far, I have nothing to take home with me but memories of business meetings and a tour of the local hospital.”
She caressed the top of his hand and weaved her fingers between his. How could he turn down such an offer?
He lifted her fingers to his lips and kissed them. His gaze rested on full lips painted blood red to entice and seduce. “I’m sure I can provide you with some far more interesting memories to take home.”
“Good.” She stood up and encouraged him to the door of the restaurant. “I bet I can leave you with a few as well.”
Once they were alone in his hotel suite, Anna Marie poured them each some champagne, bending over enough to reveal an amazing pair of breasts about to cascade out of her floral sundress. Biting her bottom lip, she lifted her gaze to peek at him through golden hair. Seductive energy swirled around her. Simon read her intentions like the cover of a tabloid.
He stood on his balcony. The view overlooked Castle Harbor at night, but he faced his dinner companion who continued to pour them each a drink. Dinner had dragged for two hours, and he was ready for his dessert. Her eyes lifted from her task. Her smile reminded him of the carefree and happy life he’d enjoyed before Nicola had died in a blaze of heroism.
“This is the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever seen. It’s four stars up from the hotel I’m staying in.” Looking like a child in a candy store, she’d probably sacrifice everything to live in Simon’s world. She had no idea how costly it could be. And he’d never allow her to find out.
“I’m glad you like it.” He sat on the couch and stretched his legs under the bleached wood and glass coffee table.
“Wisconsin is beautiful in April, but there’s no ocean breezes like here. Even the smell of the water is nice. Bermuda must be totally different from England, too.”
“Have you ever met anyone with a title?”
Besides his father and half brother? “No. The British aristocracy doesn’t lower itself into my social circles.”
She laughed and whipped her hair over her shoulder. “I love the royal family. The dresses. The hats. It’s all so glamorous.”
“Come here.” He had the perfect cure for her tiresome prattle.
She carried the crystal flutes to the couch and handed him one. He placed it on the table and focused his attention on her. Her blue eyes could swallow a man whole and keep him hypnotized. He had difficulty looking away.
She sipped the champagne too fast, without seeming to enjoy the taste, only the exclusivity of the beverage. "I haven't had champagne since my sister's wedding. I usually drink cosmos. What do you usually drink?"
"Most of the guys I know drink beer." She took a few more sips. Her eyelashes fluttered, and her tongue peeked out of those perfect lips to lick a leftover drop of her beverage.
Simon reached his conversational limit. He took her glass and placed it next to his. Her smile became demure, but seductive. She placed her hand on his leg, both an offer and an acceptance. That was all he needed. Tonight, nothing mattered but the beautiful woman in his arms. He pulled her toward him, his hand caressing her back. Straight blonde hair fell across her shoulders. He brushed it aside in order to taste the salty air flavoring her neck. A sigh escaped her lips. He wanted all of her, all night.
When he pulled the straps of her dress down and claimed an exposed breast, she sighed again and spurred him on by brushing her fingers though his hair. His thumb played with her nipple until her sighs turned into moans. Soon he had her sprawled across the couch, topless and begging for attention. He complied with her wishes and provided her with pleasures small town farm boys had probably never shown her.
His kisses moved up her neck, stopping to nibble her earlobe. She turned toward him, demanding his attention on her soft, full lips. His mouth feathered over hers until she parted her lips, and their tongues met. She tasted like champagne mixed with nuts. Almonds. Bitter almonds. Shit.
Her eyes widened, and she gasped for breath. He pulled away just before her body began to convulse. Five to ten minutes since the last sip—someone must have spiked the hell out of the champagne for the poison to hit her so quickly. It didn't help that she'd spent dinner flirting instead of eating. She had nothing in her system to stop the cyanide from killing her.
Simon turned away from Anna Marie and spit out her saliva. He wiped his tongue on his shirt and then spit again. He'd be fine, but she wouldn't be. He knelt next to the couch and brushed her hair back. Her body rocked, and he held her steady by her shoulders, whispering stupid nothings, but the horror reflected in her eyes didn't subside. Her convulsions had slowed, and tears fell fast down her cheeks. She would die in the arms of a stranger who didn't know her, love her, or have the capacity to mourn for her.
Anger rushed through him. Another woman dies because of me. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
Struggling to breathe, she stared at him as though he was a monster, until her eyes shut, and she faded away from Bermuda and the glamorous life she'd never have.
No one was supposed to know his location. He'd stayed hidden for the past eight months. It was time to relocate and hide somewhere new.
The next few hours involved moving her body to a vacant room in his hotel. The task was easily handled with the help of a laundry cart and knowledge of the security cameras. He cleaned off the champagne bottle and left it by her side for the local authorities to play with.
When he returned to his suite, he had a visitor. An unexpected and unwanted visitor.
"Simon Dunn. On a stakeout, are you?" Dressed in white trousers and a pink polo shirt, Tucker Magee looked like a pretty boy on a modeling assignment instead of a spineless intelligence officer.
"I'm on vacation."
"For eight months?"
"How the hell did you find me, Tucker?"
"The problem with shagging every sexy woman on the island is their love of social media. The boys at headquarters have had the facial recognition program scanning for you for months."
"Glad to know the vast resources of the Secret Intelligence Service are used for employee retention instead of actually protecting the commonwealth. You could simply offer more vacation time and a better benefits package."
Tucker glanced at the back of his hand. No doubt he'd just had a manicure and was admiring the handiwork. His image had always taken priority over his actual job requirements. "Her name was Sarah, here on break from university."
"I don't remember her."
"A picture of her in a bar with her friends showed your ugly face in the background. They tagged you 'hot guy.'" He smiled, the snotty prat.
"What the hell do you want?"
"My assignment is to bring you back to London."
"I'm not ready."
Tucker's eyebrows rose. "Word on the street is you killed Luc Perrault after he stole away your latest piece of ass. They even say you snuffed Nicola in a rage of passion."
His accusation fueled Simon's anger. "I didn't kill her."
"Doesn't matter. The rumor will increase your influence brokering arms deals.
Everyone's going to mind you now that you're a known murderer, and that makes it even more important that you return to your post."
"I don't think you understand your options. Come back immediately or stay here and face a murder conviction." Tucker tapped his fingers together beneath his chin and grinned. "Choose wisely."
Simon's heart accelerated to full speed, drugged by adrenaline and fury. The bastard had framed him, killing a beautiful someone in order to punish him for leaving a job that slowly burned away his soul. He stormed over to Tucker's chair, intent on ripping his heart out. Before he reached him, Tucker pulled out his revolver and pointed it directly at Simon's crotch. His eyes narrowed, and he waved Simon back with the barrel of the gun.
"What makes you so sure I won't disappear again?" Simon asked.
"You've always hated collateral damage. It's your biggest weakness. We don't have time to insert anyone else into the game right now. Return to work or we'll create a bloody trail behind you so deep you'll drown in it." Tucker rose from his seat and strode to the door. "I expect to see you back in your flat by tomorrow." He left the room without looking back.
Other romantic suspense by Veronica Forand!
About Veronica Forand:
Veronica Forand is an attorney and an award-winning writer of romantic suspense. She's lived in Boston, London, Paris, Geneva, and Washington, DC and currently resides near Philadelphia. An avid traveler, she loves to roam across continents with her husband and kids in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and finding the perfect piece of chocolate.
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