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Authors: Adrienne Giordano

A Just Deception

BOOK: A Just Deception
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A Just Deception

By Adrienne Giordano

The protector:
Peter Jessup, former Navy SEAL, currently employed by Taylor Security. He likes being the hero—in charge and in control.

His client:
Lawyer Isabelle DeRosa. The sexy brunette is the personification of Peter’s fantasies. She’s willing to get physical but nothing more serious.

The assignment:
When Isabelle becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her cousin, Peter is there to protect her and help her find the real killer. Their investigation leads to a big-name charity that seems to draw cultlike followers. Isabelle manages to infiltrate the group and become close to their leader, leaving Peter both jealous and worried for her.

As their search leads to danger, Peter realizes he’s falling in love with Isabelle. He wants all of her, but she’s too used to guarding herself to let him in…

91,000 words


Dear Reader,

What do you get when you cross summer with lots of beach time, and long hours of traveling? An executive editor who’s too busy to write the Dear Reader letter, but has time for reading. I find both the beach and the plane are excellent places to read, and thanks to plenty of time spent on both this summer (I went to Australia! And New Zealand!) I’m able to tell you with confidence: our fall lineup of books is outstanding.

We kick off the fall season with seven romantic suspense titles, during our Romantic Suspense celebration the first week of September. We’re pleased to offer novella
Fatal Destiny
by Marie Force as a free download to get you started with the romantic suspense offerings. Also in September, fans of Eleri Stone’s sexy, hot paranormal romance debut novel,
can look forward to her follow-up story,
set in the same world of the Lost City Shifters.

Looking to dive into a new erotic romance? We have a sizzling trilogy for you. In October, look for Christine D’Abo’s Long Shot trilogy featuring three siblings who share ownership of a coffee shop, and each of whom discover steamy passion within the walls of a local sex club. Christine’s trilogy kicks off with
Double Shot.

In addition to a variety of frontlist titles in historical, paranormal, contemporary, steampunk and erotic romance, we’re also pleased to present two authors releasing backlist titles with us. In October, we’ll re-release four science fiction romance titles from the backlist of CJ Barry, and in November four Western romance titles from the backlist of Susan Edwards.

Also in November, we’re thrilled to offer our first two chick lit titles from three debut authors,
Liar’s Guide to True Love
by Wendy Chen and
by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz. I hope you’ll check out these fun, sometimes laugh-out-loud novels.

Whether you’re on the beach, on a plane, or sitting in your favorite recliner at home, Carina Press can offer you a diverting read to take you away on your next great adventure this fall!

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to [email protected]. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James

Executive Editor, Carina Press


For my mom, who knows all about challenging, good-hearted
partners and how to love them.


Thank you to my husband for helping me make my dream come true. And for unknowingly providing hero material. I love you.

To the dynamic duo, John and Mara, thank you for sticking with me and brainstorming scenarios.

I must, must, must acknowledge Jackie Powers and her wonderful insight when working through early characterization issues. Your advice helped me dig deep and I’m so grateful.

And, to my usual suspects, Kelsey Browning, Tracey Devlyn, Theresa Stevens and Lucie J. Charles, you continually push me to do more. Thank you!

Milton Grasle, you helped me empower Izzy when she needed to be physically strong. Nobody will mess with our Izzy.

To my wonderful editor, Gina Bernal, who encouraged me to take chances, I appreciate your faith in my ability. To the marketing team at Carina Press, you guys rock. Thanks for always answering my myriad of questions.

And, to my son, who smiles at me every day and makes my world a wonderful place. I love you.

Chapter One

From her crouched position filling the copy machine drawer, Isabelle spied her cousin Kendrick in the doorway and knew the next few minutes would be worse than a bad case of chicken pox. Irritating as hell and no scratching allowed. Already he blocked her only exit from the cramped room—that was no accident. She drew a searing breath and straightened to her full height, determined to confront him.

Kendrick wore black chinos and a white Oxford shirt, but the preppy clothes couldn’t hide the predator. With a shudder, she remembered everything about him she would rather forget. Despite her resolve, the small room pressed in, and she backed away.


His leer forced her to dig her heels into the floor and a relentless gnawing tore at her stomach.

Lawyer mode

“Kendrick, it’s been a while.”

Three years, two months and thirteen days.

“I’m here to see my father,” he said. “I saw you in here. Thought I’d say hello.”

She leaned against the copy machine, folded her arms and squeezed until her fingernails bit into her biceps. After years spent grappling to rise above her brokenness, something in his tone—that confident, you’ll-never-get-me attitude—shattered her. “Well, I’m sure your father is waiting for you.”

“I’m a few minutes early.”

“Your father prides himself on the comfortable waiting area. Maybe you can find something to read while you wait.”

Kendrick ignored her suggestion and moved into the compact room. She remained still, but tracked him with her eyes, watching him until he halted a foot from her.
Too close

A quick glance across his shoulder revealed the safety of the outer corridor where two associates spoke in hushed voices. Assistance was nearby if needed, but screaming for help against the boss’s son? How humiliating. Not to mention having to explain it. “I have a client in my office.”

He inched closer, and Isabelle held up a hand to stop him. Silly her for believing he would let her leave. She had to get away.

“I need to talk to you,” he said.

Okay. Deep breath. She concentrated on diffusing the internal bedlam this man caused.
Get a grip. Don’t give him the control
Don’t look at him.

After a few seconds, her thundering pulse settled to its normal rhythm. She could do this.

“I’m in the middle of a client meeting.” She turned, made the copy she’d come in for, grabbed her papers and attempted to push by him.

Kendrick sidestepped to block her exit. Unbelievable. She was trapped in here with him. Close enough to feel his breath on her skin.

“I only need a couple of minutes, Isabelle.”

Never. He didn’t deserve it. Not after what he’d taken from her already.

She met his gaze straight on, their eyes locking for an instant. “I don’t have time, Kendrick.”

“I have an offer for you.”

Any offer from him could result in her losing a slice of her soul. Her answer would certainly be no. She found triumph in that. Telling him no. Definitively.

She’d let him say what he needed to, indulge in saying no and then boot him out. “Two minutes.”

“Oh, Isabelle. You do amuse me.”

She made a show of checking her watch. “Now it’s one minute.”

“You know I’ve bought property in Ohio, correct?”

Oh, she knew. She was thankful every day that the state of Pennsylvania
provided a barrier between them. Living on the Jersey Shore rewarded her with a sense of ease, and Kendrick being in the area chipped that comfort. “If you need legal advice, talk to someone else. I won’t be objective.”

He laughed, his big white teeth flashing. Isabelle ground the heel of her black pump into the floor. Her leg ached from the pressure, but the pain would keep her focused.

,” he said. “I’d like to have you visit. Take a look at the place. Maybe stay in one of the bungalows. It’s a wonderful piece of property.”


He held up his hands again. “I know you’re still angry over the misunderstanding, but let’s put it behind us. We’re family. I
my father would appreciate you letting go of the hostility. Come see the compound. Stay awhile. You’ll be taken care of. Any need or want you have will be fulfilled by one of the staff members.”

What was all this babbling about his compound?

She narrowed her eyes and let his comment about his father—her boss—roll off her. Convincing herself to accept a job from Kendrick’s father hadn’t been easy, but working at one of New Jersey’s top criminal defense firms would catapult her career. Her cousin’s goading wouldn’t jeopardize that. “I need to get back to work.”

“Not staff, really,” he continued. “Tenants, I guess. Fifty of us live on the property. Some in the main house and some in bungalows scattered throughout the hundred acres. You’d have your own place, of course.”

A flicker of perverse excitement twinkled in his blue-green eyes, and sickness swirled in her stomach. She needed to get him out of there before the toxic waste he spewed consumed her. “I’m not interested.”

Kendrick reached down and tugged at the sleeves of his shirt, but made no move to leave. Idiot.

And yet, she remained wedged in the room. With a client waiting in her office. The brutal pressure of these few minutes finally overtook her, and a chill penetrated her bones, puckering her skin.

Don’t let him win

He tried the slick smile that always worked on the little girl she’d once been, and she imagined him bursting into flames.

“I need you, Isabelle. There are…things happening and I could use your legal expertise. I promise I’ll take good care of you.” He dragged his gaze over her body. “I always did.”

Sick, sick, sick.

She fisted her free hand until her knuckles popped. Her only other choice would be to pummel him. Probably not a good idea in his father’s building.

A knock on the doorframe brought deflating relief to her tense body. Her assistant stood there, her eyes shifting to Kendrick and back. “Mr. Parker is looking for you. I would have made the copies.”

“You were away from your desk. Besides, we’re done.”

“I’ll give you time to think about it,” Kendrick said.

“Don’t bother. My answer will still be no.”

No. No. No.


After her meeting with Mr. Parker concluded, Isabelle dialed a familiar cell phone number. Vic Andrews, a longtime family friend, lived in Chicago, but he’d come through for her. He answered on the second ring.

“Ah, the lovely Isabelle DeRosa.”

She sat back in her desk chair. The late afternoon sun blanketed her arm, and she shifted toward the window for the full effect. Between the sun and Vic’s Southern charm, a comforting feeling enveloped her.

A long, piercing car horn sounded and Vic let out a stream of creative swearing. All righty, then.

“What’s going on?” Vic asked after his verbal tirade ended.

“Where are you?”

“I’m attempting to pick up Lily from day camp. I gotta tell ya, Cambodian jungles are easier to get through than this line. I should put some of these moms on my staff. They’d be world-class operators.”

Isabelle snorted. A former special ops guy, he’d seen a lot of action in his lifetime.

“What’s up?” he asked.

She swallowed hard and fiddled with her pen. Vic was one of the few people outside the family that knew her secret. “Kendrick is back.”

“Son of a bitch. Is it a permanent thing?”

“No. He wants me to visit him in Ohio.”

Silence. She knew how he felt. Helpless and stunned.

Vic finally spoke. “What the fuck?”

“Exactly. He’s as nuts as ever. He cornered me in the copy room at the office.”

“Did you beat the crap out of him?”

“I wanted to,” Isabelle said.

“What can I do?”

Kill him
. Heaven help her. That would be all she needed. Thinking back on the years she’d lost and what Kendrick did to her, she probably did have that much anger. Scary.

She tossed her pen on the desk and picked a piece of lint from her slacks. “I need a security system on my house.”

“Done,” Vic said. “I’d rather hit him with a double pop between the eyes, but if you want a security system, it’s yours. I’ve been telling you that.”

“Nag, nag, nag.”

“You know it, darlin’. I’ve got a guy out there on vacation in Nosrum. I’ll get him over to your place ASAP.”

She had no doubt she could defend herself, but the alarm would be added protection. She knew damn well Kendrick wouldn’t go away so easily.

BOOK: A Just Deception
5.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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