Authors: L.A. Fiore
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2014 L.A. Fiore
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of
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Cover design by Laura Klynstra
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014903117
For the fans of
I am humbled by the response it’s received; you have made my dream come true. This book is for you.
For Lois: Gone but certainly not forgotten. We miss you.
There have been extensive revisions to
, particularly with the secondary characters and their associations with one another. An example of this is the character Trent is now named Kyle.
follows these character changes. Check out L.A. Fiore’s Facebook page for these character revisions.
nother one. Goddamn it.”
He was probably not even two and looked even smaller. Despite that, the clothes on his back seemed new and his recently trimmed mahogany strands shined from a shampooing and combing. He had been loved, this child, loved and left at the front door of the old orphanage.
Sister Margaret continued, “I really hate children.” She turned in a swirl of black cloth and started back inside, sweeping past Sister Anne and calling to her from over her shoulder, “Bring the little beggar inside.”
His little legs shook with fear, his eyes wide as Sister Anne knelt down in front of him. Those eyes—his most remarkable feature—were like the water off the coast of the Caribbean: not blue and not green, but a shade just in between. She reached for his hand and saw that his fingers were curled around something. It took a bit of effort, but she was able to pry open his grip to reveal a small square of paper that simply read, “His name is Lucien and he deserves more than I can give him.”
Sister Anne looked down at the little boy who was so terrified, but trying desperately to be brave. His eyes locked on her. She reached for his hand again and instantly his little fingers closed around her palm.
“Stop dillydallying and don’t bother making friends with him. He’ll end up like all the rest of them in ten years: dead or doing time.”
Sister Anne looked down at the little boy, and though he was young, she knew he understood the Mother Superior’s cruel words.
“Prove her wrong, little one. Fate is what you make it.”
Lucien would hear her words for the next fifteen years—they stuck with him and unconsciously guided his every move. He had been abandoned, but he would make something of himself if for no other reason than to prove everyone wrong.
Sister Anne Black died right before Lucien’s eighteenth birthday. So when he left the orphanage, heartbroken and alone, he took more than her words with him; he claimed her name, the name of the only mother he had ever known.
ucien Black pulled off his tie and shoved it into his jacket pocket. If only the pomp and circumstance could be shed as easily. He was unaccustomed to being forced into the spotlight. The exit sign just across the room flickered like a goddamn beacon, but he was the guest of honor; so even as he sought freedom, he was stopped by countless people wishing to offer him congratulations.
Tonight the fine people of the state of New York honored him as a humanitarian—a feat for someone with his shady past—all because he’d donated to various charities to help children have a better time of it than he’d had. Who knew that all you had to do to get a golden statue and a fucking plaque was write a check?
And be willing to ignore the irony of attending a charity gala that cost enough to have provided food, clothes, shoes, and books for half of those very children. Not that there were any of those children in this room—the people in attendance were concerned for the children, but only at a distance.
He glanced at his watch; the time read close to eleven. He had somewhere else to be, so he walked with determined strides to the exit and, just when freedom was in his grasp, an all too familiar voice spoke up from behind him: Judge Jonathan Carmichael.
Lucien hadn’t been completely forthcoming with his friends last year about his association with the Carmichaels. Dane was a partying jackass who didn’t understand the meaning of the word no. The senator and DA he knew of only by reputation, but the same could not be said of the judge.
The judge had made it his business to meddle in Lucien’s affairs, presumably to find something to hang him with. The judge wasn’t having much luck, though, since Lucien had lots of well-paid lawyers, but it was a constant irritation. Lucien had been all too happy with the part he played in getting an ethics committee to look into the judge and DA after Dane’s attack on Ember last year. He knew the committee wouldn’t find anything—the Carmichaels were too smart for that—but he enjoyed watching them get a small taste of what he’d been dealing with from the judge on a regular basis.
A waiter passed by and Lucien reached for a glass of champagne and deliberately took his time tasting it before he turned his attention to the judge. The color that bloomed on the older man’s face at the snub was very gratifying to see.
“All the money in the world won’t make you respectable,” the judge spat by way of greeting.
“Respectable like you, you mean? What an aspiration,” Lucien replied.
“Buying your way into society won’t work.”
Lucien’s fingers tightened on the stem of the glass as he worked to control his anger at the arrogance of the man before him to presume to know anything about him. Unlike half of the people in this room, Lucien wasn’t looking to enter society; he was only helping those who needed it. None of the people in here knew what it was like to be cold, to be hungry, to feel forgotten. Having been there and having survived it, he would continue to do all he could to give those kids a fighting chance.
“I’d bet my bank account that if you scratched at the shiny exterior of the society you praise, you’d find that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Take you, for instance. Those black robes can’t hide the skeletons in your closet. You have almost as many as I have in mine.”
“What the hell do you mean by that?” It wasn’t what the judge said, but how he said it; Lucien had hit a nerve. He was intrigued far more than he wanted to be. Was there really something that would give Lucien the leverage to get the judge off his back? He was going to damn well find out. More than eager to leave the man guessing and seething, Lucien changed the subject.
“As much as I would love to stand here and continue this riveting conversation, I’ve better things planned for my evening.” His eyes moved to his date; she wasn’t hard to spot since she looked like a porn star. The judge’s startled breath almost made Lucien laugh with pleasure. Kelly or Kelsey—he never could remember her name—was currently talking up one of the judge’s respectable colleagues: old enough to be her grandfather, but richer than the Queen. Even from their distance he could see the old coot staring at her rack.