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Authors: Shelly Bell

Black Listed

BOOK: Black Listed
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Chapter One

a breath, the tightening in his chest becoming more pronounced as he watched her glide across the dance floor with a glass of champagne in her hand. She'd changed since the last time he'd seen her. Gone were her halo of white blonde tresses that spilled down her back and those round silver irises that looked at him with what he'd believed was love. Like a chameleon, she'd adapted to her environment, her chestnut hair cut into a sleek bob and an air of sophistication clinging to her designer-clad body.

With a smile on her face, she had everyone at this wedding fooled, but he knew the truth. She was a cold-blooded whore, a con artist who had stolen millions from unsuspecting men and women. At the drop of a hat, she could become someone else, fade into the crowds until she turned invisible, only to return moments later as someone new. And no one would ever guess the truth. She'd mastered the art of disguise, her ability to convince someone of her love and devotion worthy of an Academy Award. Just when she had you wrapped completely around her finger, she'd disappear without a trace, taking your money and your heart with her.

But she'd grown careless when she'd allowed herself to be photographed, the picture on the front page of every major newspaper. She'd been in the background, barely discernable to most. But not to him. Never him. He'd know his chameleon anywhere.

She had no idea he was watching her.

Stalking her.

Hunting her.

His chameleon had forgotten to use the reptilian sense that warned her of impending danger. If she had, she wouldn't be here at the wedding of one of her closest friends, but instead would have left her cozy life as a publicist and disappeared into the mist once again, shedding her old skin for a newer one. She didn't deserve to live like a powerful lion when she was more befitting as a lion's dinner. She might believe she was a predator, but she was now the prey.


He slipped his hand into the pocket of his pants, moaning at the feel of her cool silk camisole caressing his flesh. Her scent had disappeared from the fabric years ago, but when he closed his eyes, he recalled it with vivid clarity. She smelled like summer and freedom and money and
, all mixed together and packaged into one beautiful girl. When she left, she took it all away, leaving behind an empty shell of a man longing for someone he both loved and despised. Summer had become an endless winter, freedom turned into a virtual prison cell from which he couldn't escape, the money dried up like an empty well, and the memories of
grew hazy without his daily reminder.

Sweat dripped down the back of his neck, and black spots flickered in his vision. He shook his head as if clearing the cobwebs from his mind. Didn't she understand he needed her? After everything he'd done for her, she owed him. It was time for her to repay her debts.

Time and fate had kept them apart for far too long. But now that he'd found her, he was never letting her go again.

She loved to play her games.

He smiled.

A game was what they'd play.

Chapter Two

make her break out in hives.

All afternoon, Lisa Smith felt as though eyes were tracking her every move as she set up the wedding reception. Resisting the urge to flee, she laced her fingers together and took a deep breath. She was being paranoid.

No one was watching her, but old habits died hard.

She schooled her worried face into one of pleasantness. Today it was all about the bride and groom. With guests including federal agents, police officers, and private security agents, the backyard of the sex club, Benediction, was probably the safest place to be at the moment.

It wasn't the idea of marriage that bothered her. It wasn't the dressy clothes or the tiered cake or the hundreds of dollars spent on gifts that the bride and groom would never use. It wasn't the officiant's references to commitment and God.

No, it was the damn photographers, and the way they didn't respect the boundaries of the guests. No matter how hard she tried to avoid having her photo taken, the photographer always managed to get at least one of her. She had to weigh the consequences of having photographic evidence against drawing too much attention to herself when she avoided the camera. Luckily, it hadn't happened too often.

But as the wedding coordinator of her friend's special day, Lisa couldn't avoid it. Already married, Danielle and her Master, Cole DeMarco, had repeated their vows for their friends and family in the backyard of their mansion, which also housed the sex club, Benediction. While the vanilla guests would remain outside, members of Benediction or those interested in kink could go inside to partake of the club's offerings.

Lisa got her first taste of what all those offerings entailed when she'd added some special wedding touches to the dungeon. She could only imagine how a sadist would use fresh roses with their thorns still attached. Her past experience with kink hadn't been in a club like Benediction.

Moisture pooled in her panties as she was bombarded with memories of being spanked over a desk and handcuffed to a chair. The way her Master's soft hands would turn rough on her skin, darkening it from a blush pink to a rosy red. One night he'd be her royal prince and the next her captor. And although they'd negotiate the scenes beforehand, he'd always surprise her with his ability to take her further than she could've ever thought possible.

He could've been an actor with his rugged good looks. Blond hair long enough that she could grab onto as she rode him to climax. Copper-colored eyes that seduced the hearts of women across the country. Those eyes had been full of hope when she'd met him. And then they had been full of love. For her.

Until her Master, she'd never known love. Her parents had taught her and her two brothers that love was a weakness they couldn't afford, not even for each other. They were told to look out for themselves, because no one else would. Of course, after her mother died, her father had expected Lisa to give up her life for the family.

And she had. Not in the way he would've preferred, but in the only way she knew how.

But her family and her Master were all in someone else's past. Lisa Smith, on the other hand, came from a good family, with a mother who was a teacher and a father who worked as a mechanic. They didn't have money, but the love they had for each other made them the richest people in their small Ohio town.

Too bad they didn't really exist.

Just like Lisa Smith didn't really exist.

Honestly, Lisa didn't know her legal name. Her family had called her Annaliese and told her their last name was Hunt. But from city to city, from con to con, it changed. Annaliese became Annie or Anna, and Hunt had changed to suit the different nationalities and ethnicities of their marks. Hair had been cut and dyed, styles of clothes altered, accents and personalities transformed. Once she'd had to gain twenty pounds to seduce a guy who liked his women on the voluptuous side. She'd enjoyed every moment of those two months, as she'd gotten to gorge on cookies and milk shakes.

Tonight, if she was lucky and got to eat dinner, she'd dine on risotto and white wine. Narrowing in on the caterer, she crossed the dance floor, her shimmery silver dress's organza overlay blowing with every swish of her hips. She needed to check that everything was on schedule for the evening.

From the corner of the dance floor, Danielle caught Lisa's eye and smiled widely at her before she and Cole strolled over. She threw her arms around Lisa. “Thank you so much for organizing this wedding for me. It's everything I could've ever imagined.” She moved back and placed her hands on her swollen belly, laughing as it shook from the force of the baby moving. “Okay, maybe I didn't picture being pregnant at my wedding.”

Cole slipped his arm possessively around Danielle's waist. “Then I guess we'll just have to do it again after you have her.”

Danielle looked up at Cole lovingly. “Him. And no, two weddings is plenty. I thought nothing could top our wedding in Arizona, but here, with family and friends all around us, I'm overwhelmed with love for you.”

Lisa ignored the pangs of envy she felt as she observed Danielle and Cole together. There was once a time she thought she could have that kind of love, but like everything else in her life, it had been a mirage. But she didn't begrudge Cole and Danielle their happiness. After everything they'd gone through, they deserved a lifetime of happiness.

“Still don't know the gender of Baby DeMarco yet?” Lisa asked. “I was sure Cole would get it from the sonogram tech when you weren't looking.”

Danielle shook her head. “No, Cole would never . . . ” She stopped, staring at Cole, whose lips had tugged up slightly on the sides, as if he was suppressing a full grin. “We're having a girl?” Danielle shocked the hell out of her by bursting into tears.

Cole took her face in his hands and gently wiped her tears with his knuckles. “I am so sorry for ruining the surprise. I was kidding around. I didn't mean—”

Pressing a hard kiss on her husband's lips, Danielle laughed. “These are happy tears. We're having a girl. I'm going to have a daughter.” She wrapped her hand around the locket she always wore around her neck. “Now the day is perfect.”

Feeling a bit voyeuristic, Lisa glanced at her bare wrist as if looking at her watch. She didn't need a clock to tell her it was time to start the dancing. “If you're ready, I'll have the band leader announce you.”

Danielle raised a brow suggestively at Cole. “Right now, I'd rather skip the dancing and go straight to the honeymoon.”

“Later,” Cole said, taking Danielle into his arms. “First, I want to dance with my wife and my daughter. And you need to eat. It's been a long day, and I promise you, we're going to have a long night.” They kissed, oblivious to Lisa and the rest of the guests. Or maybe they didn't care. They were exhibitionists, after all.

Lisa coughed, but Cole and Danielle remained in their own little world. “I'll just . . . yeah.” She backed away, giving them a moment to enjoy each other. “I'm giving you a five-minute warning.” She turned with the intention of speaking to the caterer, but her friend Gracie stopped her before she could take more than a few steps.

On five-inch heels, Gracie wore a sparkly red sheer dress that looked more like a baby-doll nighty than a cocktail dress, the fabric barely covering her upper thighs. Previously one of Cole's slaves, she was now without a Master but had been given a job overseeing the education of sex slaves at Benediction.

“Squee! You look amazing.” Not having many boundaries, Gracie ran her hands down Lisa's sides. “Wow, why haven't you ever shown off that figure of yours? You're always wearing those business jackets. I never even knew you had boobs.”

Lisa shook her head, used to Gracie's exuberant behavior. “Having fun?”

“Best. Time. Ever. But I can't wait until the dungeon opens.” She sighed wistfully, her gaze landing on Roman, Danielle's stepbrother, who was talking with Cole's parents over by the hors d'oeuvres. “There's something that's so sexy about being beaten by a man wearing a tuxedo.”

“Are you and Roman finally . . . ?” Lisa asked.

The two had stuck up a strange friendship when Danielle had moved back to Arizona after having temporarily broken up with Cole. Gracie had taken it upon herself to call Roman daily, saying it was to check up on Danielle, but Lisa had a feeling that wasn't the only reason for the calls.

Gracie pulled her gaze away from Roman. “No. We're still just friends.”

Even if Lisa couldn't find love, she wanted it for her friends, especially Gracie, who went above and beyond for everyone.

Apparently her thoughts must have registered on her face. Gracie shook her finger. “Don't give me that sad expression. I do not have feelings for Danielle's stepbrother. He's not my type.”

Lisa couldn't help herself. “You have a type?”

“Until I find the right person or persons looking for a full-time slave, I'm only looking for sex. If I scene with Roman, we'll lose our friendship, and these days, he needs all the friends he can get.” Gracie smiled. “Besides, he could never handle me.”

“No one could handle you.”

“Ed and Serge handle me just fine. They're meeting me tonight in the Jungle Room. Two Tarzans ready to swing me from the ceiling and go primal. What more do I need?”

“What about love?”

“I'm not holding my breath that I'll find someone who wants a full-time slave and also will fall in love with me.” Her friend squared her shoulders. “But enough about me. Now that you've been inside of Benediction, aren't you a bit curious about what it's like during business hours?”

Kate, one of Lisa's best friends, sidled up beside them with a glass of red wine that she held out to Lisa in offering, knowing from their weekly girls' night she preferred wine over liquor. “Gracie, stop trying to recruit Lisa.” Kate looked positively radiant in her black dress and her blonde hair in a messy bun with tendrils framing her face. “Do you need any help tonight?”

Lisa gave her a smile of gratitude for both her offer and her rescue from Gracie. “Between the hired help and Cole's slave trainees, I think I've got it covered.”

“Of course you do. You're the most capable person I've ever met. Nothing flusters you,” Kate remarked.

A couple of years ago, the two of them had met at a law firm, where Lisa had worked and Kate had interned. But they hadn't become close until they'd lost a mutual friend. During the crisis that had followed his death, Kate hadn't understood how Lisa had kept her composure, surprised that a legal secretary could organize a funeral, field phone calls from the press, and coordinate the entire law firm's public relations without shedding a tear or breaking down from sheer exhaustion. That's when the idea of Lisa opening her own public relations firm was born.

Now, Lisa represented several hockey players, a handful of local businesses, and one large credit union. Oh, and when the need arose, she also represented her friends, most recently criminal defense attorney Logan Bradford and television reporter Rachel Dawson, who had been framed for the murder of a local mobster.

Kate was right. Lisa didn't fluster easily. With her background, she'd learned early on how to keep her pulse steady and to maintain eye contact even while lying through her teeth.

But what her friends didn't know about her could get them all killed.

Without a date or anybody to play with inside Benediction, she was here simply to work for the rest of the night. Maybe that would help the envy snaking its way into her heart as she watched all the lovers laugh and kiss around the tables.

She cleared her throat. “I need to speak with the caterer and get the band leader to cue the first dance, so why don't you both go enjoy yourselves.”

Walking away from her friends, she took a sip of wine and headed toward where she'd last seen the caterer. Not spotting him, she stopped and scanned the crowd.

“Lisa!” called Rachel.

Lisa turned and caught sight of Rachel walking toward her with two men by her side.

It took only a moment for it to register.

The long blond hair she loved to tug on during rough sex.

The stubble lining his jaw that used to scratch the skin of her inner thighs as he worked her over with his mouth.

The roguish and lighthearted appearance he maintained in public and the dark dominance that lurked beneath the surface.

It was him.

He was here.


He had found her.

She blinked a few times, trying to see if maybe she was imagining that the man she'd run from four years ago was suddenly only feet away and talking with her friends as if he knew them. That was impossible, right?

Her heart galloped a wild beat, and the sounds of the crowd disappeared under the roar of her pulse.

She wanted to run

She wanted to run

All the sorrow and regret she'd buried deep down inside came rushing back with a force that nearly bowled her over. And when the ghost from her past stood right in front of her and looked at her like a stranger, the glass of red wine slipped from her shaking hand onto the green grass, the liquid pooling beneath her heels.

Seemingly oblivious to her shock, Rachel smiled, a twinkle of mischief in her eyes. “I'd like to introduce you to Logan's friend, Sawyer Hayes. Sawyer, this is Lisa Smith.”

Logan's friend? Sawyer was Logan's friend? This was the man who had helped Rachel and Logan in Las Vegas when they were framed for murder and running from the FBI?

“Hello,” Sawyer said cordially, standing so close she could feel his body heat radiating off him and smell a scent that reminded her of the best days of her life. “It's nice to see you again, Annaliese.”

BOOK: Black Listed
13.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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