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Authors: Kathryn Shay

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“Buttoned up like a four-star general,” Ludzecky commented.

“At least she sets a good example for her troops.”

He clicked on
background information
; the screen split, and statistics came up next to her picture.

“She doesn’t
look forty-three.”

Joe thought she did. A good forty-three, though. Smooth skin. Only a few laugh lines around her eyes. Sculpted chin.

Married. Widowed. She’d been climbing the academic ladder, on her way to a college administration position, when her husband had died from a heart attack. She’d shied away from working at the local college where he’d taught the ethics of law. Instead,
when she’d finished her doctorate in education, she called on her initial experience as a high school social studies teacher, then school counselor, and finally assistant principal; she’d applied for and received the principalship at Fairholm High five years ago. She had one son, Josh, a senior at the school. He scanned the rest of the general information. “This isn’t what I need to know about her.”

Ludzecky sighed dramatically. The kid should be on stage. “I don’t understand why we didn’t just tell her we were comin’ in undercover. She’s the principal, for Christ’s sake.”

That got Joe’s back up. Superintendent Maloney had had doubts about Quinn accepting the undercover work without a fuss, and after Joe had read her files, he’d made the decision to keep her in the dark. Maloney hadn’t
been comfortable with that, and Joe himself had had second thoughts about it. But his instinct had told him to wait, and on more than one occasion, those instincts had saved his life.

“You read her mission statement for the school and her own personal essay on management style; she’d balk at covert actions. She’s preached democracy and openness and flexibility with evangelistic zeal.” He glanced
at the screen. “What I want to know is why.”

“Afraid she’ll interfere with your commando tactics?”

“No, I was afraid her objections would make it harder for us to get into the school. You know time is of the essence, after the latest developments. I decided to go under covertly; when everything’s set up, I’ll let her in on the plan. By then, it’ll be too late for her to do too much damage.”

Ludzecky scowled. “Don’t you get tired of playin’ God all the time?”

Joe ignored the sarcasm which came in a steady stream from the young agent’s mouth. He continued to flick through the files. Pictures came up of her son—he resembled his mother, with blonder hair but those same eyes. Her husband was next. Joe clicked on an icon labeled Lawrence Quinn. Fifteen years her senior. Second marriage.
First wife deceased. Professor at NYU in legal ethics. Ah, maybe this was the source of her rabid belief in honesty at all costs. They moved to Fairholm when their son was born; her husband taught at a local college, and she took a teaching job at the high school. Assessment by team: good marriage, low-key, no known separations, seemed to love their kid.

“Geez, look at that,” Ludzecky said.


“The guy died on their fifteenth wedding anniversary.”


The younger man snorted. “Not surprised
didn’t notice,” he grumbled.

Joe knew Luke’s, and others’, attitude toward him. They called him Iron Man, Stone Man, the Ice King. Not that he cared. His restrained personality was a hell of a lot better than mimicking his parents. Besides, he hadn’t always been
like this.

Joe nodded to the section on Quinn’s husband. “It could be just her husband’s views that’s got her so jagged on honesty. Your typical liberal couple.” He tried to hide the disdain in his voice, caused by the memory of the liberal couple who raised him. Clicking the remote, he brought up the section labeled

Her family grew up right here in D.C. Mother, Joanna Carson.
Schoolteacher. Raised four children on her own after father died in 1960—two months before Suzanna was born. Father’s career!

Even Ludzecky leaned forward and read with interest. “Holy shit.”

“Nathan Carson was brought down by good old Senator McCarthy,” Joe said, finding the last piece of the puzzle.

They read the report together. Nathan W. Carson was a captain in the
army when McCarthy’s Communist-seeking bullets had hit him. He’d been one of the several U.S. Army officers brutally questioned in the infamous thirty-six hours of televised hearings.

“I wonder if the superintendent knew about Carson and that’s why he thought she’d balk,” Joe commented, almost to himself. “Those investigations included undercover work, phone tapping, infiltrations.”

to mention that he was found innocent.” Ludzecky’s tone was grave.

“There was almost no proof against anybody McCarthy accused. Didn’t matter, though, the damage had been done.”

“Click again, see what happened to Carson.” Ludzecky straightened and peered intently at the screen.

Joe brought up the next slide. “Damn.”

Luke sighed again, this time sympathetically. He had yet to develop
a hard veneer, which was one of the things that got him in so much trouble. That and his lack of plain common sense.

Suzanna Quinn’s father had committed suicide two months before she was born. He’d “involuntarily resigned” from the army and never bounced back.

“Well, I’m sure she can be managed effectively,” Joe commented.

“Goddamn it, Stonehouse, don’t you feel any sympathy for the
poor woman?”

Sick of the kid’s needling, he snapped back. “Sympathy gets in the way, Agent Ludzecky. It’s what keeps getting you in all that hot water.” He fiddled with the computer. “Let’s look at the other school personnel.”


PROMISES TO KEEP is available on


About The Author

YORK TIMES bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction with Bold Strokes Books. She has won five RT Book Reviews awards, four Golden Quills, four Holt Medallions, the Bookseller’s Best Award, Foreword
Magazine’s Book of the Year and several “Starred Reviews.” Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over five million copies of her books in print, along with hundreds of thousands downloaded online. Reviewers have call her work “emotional and heart-wrenching.”


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BOOK: Risky Business
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