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Authors: Dara Girard

Honest Betrayal

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HONEST BETRAYAL

By

DARA GIRARD

Without limiting the rights under copyright(s) reserved above and below, 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 permission of the copyright owner.

Please Note

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 actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distributing of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

Copyright © 2012 Sadé Odubiyi

Published by: ILORI Press Books LLC

Cover Design: Kimberly Van Meter

Photographs: Dreamstime/iStockphoto

eBook design by Jessica Lewis
www.authorslifesaver.com

Thank You.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Prologue

PART ONE

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

PART TWO

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

PART THREE

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

More Books By Dara

About the Author

PROLOGUE

The Present

“You don’t love him.”

Brenna let the words linger in her mind like the sensuous feel of the forbidden kiss on her lips. She could blame the champagne for the kiss or the party or the man, but she wouldn’t. Brenna always took responsibility for her actions and this time wouldn’t be any different. She looked at the handsome man—her would be lover—as he stood under the lights of the balcony.

He caressed her cheek and again said, this time with more certainty, “You don’t love him.”

 Him. Her husband. He had a name, but she didn’t want to remember it right now. It made him too human, too real and nothing about their marriage was real. It was a business transaction, a partnership that was no longer working.

“Leave him,” her would be lover whispered, his words as tantalizing as his cologne. “You don’t need him anymore.”

No, she didn’t need him. Not like she used to. Not like the early stages of their marriage when his money and status were all that mattered. No, she didn’t need him, but did he need her? Had the roles changed? It wasn’t something he would admit; he was too proud a man. But was it right to leave him now? To set them both free?

She gripped the railing.

“When will you admit your marriage is a sham?”

“I’ve already admitted that,” she said.

“Then admit that it’s over.”

Brenna turned away, not sure she had the courage to do so. Yes her marriage was a sham—everything about it was false and no amount of time had changed its artificial sheen. How could it? From their first meeting it had all been a game…

PART ONE

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live
.

Dorothy Thompson

CHAPTER ONE

The Past

Brenna Garrett was afraid of two things. A large man with the habit of barging into rooms unannounced was not one of them. She watched the intruder settle himself in front of her desk, without any attempts at civility, such as introducing himself or explaining why he was there. Instead he took off his sunglasses and pushed them in his jacket pocket. Brenna glanced at her assistant, Pauline, who hovered in the doorway. Her wispy brown hair surrounded a pale round face, reflecting an expression of dismay.

Brenna sent her a reassuring smile. At Love by Design, her match making service, she had been forced to deal with all types of people (desperate virgins, melancholy widows, impatient bachelors) and had become skillful at handling a large number of situations. Undisciplined men, while not a specialty, presented yet another challenge. Pauline nodded, acknowledging Brenna’s smile. She glared at the back of the man’s head, making her thoughts of him clear then shut the door.

Brenna returned her gaze to the large figure who sat before her. He boldly stared back. A shiver of awareness raced up her spine as she looked into the piercing darkness of his deep-set brown eyes.
Arrogant, cocky and incredibly sexy
,
she thought. Brenna was used to quickly assessing potential clients, but didn’t like the direction of her thoughts. Unfortunately, a man like this seemed to resist typical hackneyed adjectives such as ‘good looking’ or ‘handsome’. He looked as though he’d been raised from the earth. His skin the color of a dust storm, his eyes the center of a whirling abyss, his lips too soft for such masculine features while his eyelashes curled as though a sculptor had taken special care with them. He was—in a word—trouble.

He stretched out his legs, crossing them at the ankles. Brenna watched as the fine material of his black trousers moved against his thighs. She was certain that trousers shouldn’t fit a man that well. Legs were a fascination to her because her left leg was deformed. His were, no doubt, as well formed as the rest of him. Large shoulders diminished the back of the chair, while long elegant fingers gripped the arms. She redirected her attention to his face ready to deal with the matter at hand.

“I take it you’re upset about something,” she said in an ironic tone.

His jaw twitched, but he remained silent.

She resisted a sigh. He was going to be difficult. She had hoped that today would be as peaceful as the spring afternoon outside her window, spreading a ray of sunshine on her carpet, while she listened to her favorite Caribbean station on the radio. She glanced at the Jack Russell terrier puppy as he played in the corner, his leash tied to the closet door handle. She was looking after the puppy for Pauline, who planned to give it to her niece as a birthday gift later that day.
She pushed the remainder of her chicken pattie and potato chips aside and leaned towards him. “Your rather grand display makes it clear you’re upset, but I’m afraid I am not a mind reader, so you’ll have to tell me the reason why.” She turned the radio off.

“I’m Hunter Randolph.” His voice was low, deep and smooth, moving about the quiet of the room like a serpent. There was no anger in his tone, an unnerving contrast against the fire in his eyes.

Hunter Randolph. She repeated the name twice in her mind. She knew about the Randolph Medical Supply Company, but his name didn’t register. She raised a brow. “Yes...okay, and I’m Brenna Garrett. If we’ve met before I’m afraid I don’t remember.”
If they had met before, she was certain she would have.

He glanced around the office with a guarded expression that gave no indication what he thought of her office’s peach colored walls with abstract paintings of embracing couples. The wind gently toyed with the petals of the white and yellow tulips on her windowsill, their fragrance lightly scenting the air. It was disconcerting that a man who was evidently so angry could look so calm.  “No, we’ve never met.” He straightened his gray sports jacket then met her eyes. “You have, however, met my fiancée, Janice Brinkton.”

Brenna widened her eyes, but quickly controlled her features before her mouth dropped open. Janice was
his
fiancée? “That’s impossible. Janice is engaged to Michael Peterson.”

“She was engaged to me first.”

Brenna stared at him as the pieces finally came together, but all she could say was, “Oh.”

He folded his arms. “Now you understand.”

She nodded. “Yes, she dumped you.”

His arms fell. “She must have been suffering from cold feet. That’s the best explanation I can come up with. Why else would she come here? Maybe she was just curious.” He shifted in his chair, his eyes accusing. “Don’t you check your clients’ backgrounds to see if they are in relationships first or do you also provide married women with boy toys and married men with mistresses?”

Brenna kept her tone level, refusing to let him upset her. “Janice made it clear she was not involved with anyone.”

His voice was low. “She lied.”

“Well, liars make poor wives, Mr. Randolph. Consider yourself lucky.”

He tapped the arm of the chair. “That’s not the point.”

“What is the point?”

“She was engaged to me and you encouraged her to run off with another man without giving me the chance to win her back.”

Brenna could understand why Janice would choose to run off. Hunter’s name fit him perfectly. There was a calm, watching quality about him that would make a person cautious. He was too patient; too calculated. If Janice had given him the opportunity to win her back, he would have. The only way to escape him would be to catch him off guard and run into the arms of another man. But would another man be a strong enough defense? An uneasy thought flashed through Brenna’s mind.

“Did you hurt him?” she asked.

“Who?”

“Michael.” She couldn’t help assessing his form again. He made Michael’s slim build appear almost boyish.

“Why? Do I have blood on my knuckles?”

She was not amused by his sarcasm. “It’s not funny. With your passionate nature I know you must have been upset and perhaps not yourself for a few moments.”

He looked offended. “I do not have a passionate nature, Ms. Garrett. However, I can assure you that had I taken the liberty to make my dissatisfaction clear, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

“Where would you be?”

He didn’t reply, inviting her to create an answer.

Brenna nodded, seeing no need to elaborate. “Let’s look at this from another angle. Are you certain you were engaged or had that been your plan?”

“It was understood.”

“By whom? You?”

“I told her I would marry her when I returned from New York. Our families have known each other for years. I was only gone for two months. If she had any misgivings she could have come to me and I would have been able to allay her fears and assure her how appropriate our union was.”

“Perhaps she didn’t come to you because she didn’t want her fears allayed? Maybe she knew you would convince her to marry you.”

He looked blank. “Exactly.”

Brenna bit her lip trying to choose her words carefully. Unfortunately, she found nothing that would be subtle, so she decided to be blunt. “Mr. Randolph, she didn’t want to be won back because she didn’t want to marry you.”

He straightened clearly perplexed. “Why not? I would have made an excellent husband. I’m successful, organized, dependable—”

“Do you love her?”

“Considering you own a company called Love by Design, I am sure you recognize that emotions such as ‘love’ can be manufactured. I believe that common interests and backgrounds are the basic needed components for a lasting relationship such as marriage.”

A slow smile spread on her face. “You’re an excellent businessman, Mr. Randolph. Very skillful at giving vague answers to direct questions. However, let me make this easy for you. I only require a yes or no response. Do you love her?”

BOOK: Honest Betrayal
11.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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