Read A Vengeful Affair Online

Authors: Carmen Falcone

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Murder, #England, #Geneva, #Paris, #billionaire, #Contemporary, #london, #Revenge, #Romance, #erotic, #Suspense, #Switzerland, #sexy, #kidnapped, #Spain

A Vengeful Affair

BOOK: A Vengeful Affair
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A Vengeful Affair

Carmen Falcone

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2012 by Carmen Falcone. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at www.entangledpublishing.com.

Edited by Ruth Homrighaus

ISBN 978-1-62266-956-1

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition July 2012

The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Jaguar.

To Gian, my supportive and long-suffering husband.

You make the hard times shorter and

the good times longer.

Chapter One

 

Almost there.

Vivian Foster took a deep breath and wrapped her fingers around the door handle, the steel a cold weight in her palm. The key was already inside the lock, and she knew the moment she opened that door, everything she’d been taught by her parents would disappear.

Be good. Do the right thing
.
Don’t steal
.

Her conscience justified her action.
Stealing is okay if it fixes a bigger wrong
.

Revenge had its own moral code.

This was not the time for moral dilemmas. If she wanted to search Javier Rivera’s office before the security team made its nightly rounds, she had to stop thinking about what she was about to do. Javier needed to pay for killing Molly, and Vivian knew just the price—his coveted billion-pound merger.

It had been naive of Molly to start an office affair with the boss, but she hadn’t deserved to be fired for it, and she’d done nothing to deserve the emotional abuse that followed. And when Molly had retaliated by trying to take Rivera’s precious merger from him, he’d had her followed and harassed. Within a week of having her flat vandalized, Molly had been found dead in her bedroom. All alone.

The police had ruled it a suicide, but Vivian knew her friend would never shoot herself. Javier had done it—or ordered it done.

He killed her. Don’t forget. You heard his voice mail.

She entered the room, relocked the door, and withdrew the key. Slipping it into her pocket, she shut the door again with a small click. Vivian used a sleek flashlight to guide her through the spacious, dark office. She didn’t want to draw any attention by turning the overhead lights on.

Floor-to-ceiling glass along one wall showcased the twinkling lights along the opposite bank of the river Thames. Her white beam skipped over a long leather sofa, a low glass coffee table scattered with business magazines and international newspapers, a trio of bookshelves, a sleek refrigerator and minibar, then finally to the desk.

Vivian’s grasp on the flashlight loosened for a moment as cold sweat slicked her palm. Since her position was at the reception desk, she’d never been to the CEO’s office before. Mrs. Wright, his snooty personal assistant, screened all of his calls and appointments.

She walked among the shadows that stretched along the polished hardwood floor, approaching the heavy glass-and-metal desk, which had probably been custom made. Money was all that mattered to a man like Javier Rivera.

For a moment, she considered the computer in front of her, then shook her head, knowing the network would be secure. Sitting on the edge of the soft leather chair, she flashed her light over the desktop. Her fingers tapped the metal drawers, and she tried to pull them open with no luck. Contracts, notes, reports…anything would help.

She leaned over the trash bin.

Empty.

So was the recycling bin and the paper shredder.

Vivian had never thought this would be easy, but she had counted on finding
something.
Any piece of information that would lead her to—

Her eyes caught on the edge of a manila folder peeking out from between two finance books. She grabbed it and shone the flashlight on the few pages inside. A report.

She blinked at the numbers, and her breath caught. Could that be…?

Footsteps echoed from outside the door.

Vivian leaped to her feet with a start, her quickened pulse carrying a surge of fear through her and making her painfully alert.

The footsteps came closer. She tucked the folder inside her bag, her gaze riveted to the door.

It could be security.
But their rounds weren’t supposed to start for another half hour.

There was no time. Vivian picked up the flashlight with unsteady fingers and panned it around the office, looking for a place to hide.

Her first option was a walk-in closet with gray french doors. As the steps slowed outside the office door, she cut across to the closet, slipped inside, and turned off the flashlight.

Squeezed in among hanging suits and leather shoes, she inhaled the pine scent of floor cleaner. At six feet tall, Vivian had always felt out of place, particularly between her petite mother and short stepfather. Now there was no doubt: she wished she were shorter.

A razor of light stabbed through the gap between the closet doors.

Vivian covered her mouth with her hand, holding her breath. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Her heart drummed in her ears.

“Tell the pilot to wait. I have to pick up my briefcase.” The voice was deep, with a strong Spanish accent.

Vivian blinked, swallowing the lump in her throat. This wasn’t security. This was Javier Rivera.

She’d seen him cross the reception area quite a few times, always talking on his mobile. He’d never greeted her with more than a nod, but she’d heard his commanding voice as he spoke to others. And now he was within feet of her, and she was hiding among his Italian suits.

Vivian stiffened. His footsteps approached her hiding place. She closed her eyes and hoped he would just turn around and go away.

Silence.

His footfalls faded, and she let her breath out in small gasps, desperation almost turning her into an optimist.

His briefcase could be anywhere in his office, couldn’t it? Nowhere obvious, or she’d have spotted it. The odds were that Javier Rivera would simply leave to get on his private jet, and she’d still have time to resume her search in his office and then vanish before the security team returned.

The doors swung open. Bright light filled her hiding place.

Vivian blinked.

Up close, Javier Rivera looked a lot more intimidating. His rugged face was framed by short, dark-brown hair. He had a slight bump on his otherwise aristocratic nose and a small scar on his chin. He was several inches taller than her, broad-shouldered and powerful.

She opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out.

Javier’s angry black eyes locked with hers, and she stood completely still, frozen like a winter river. Her heart galloped.

“What the hell are you doing in here?” he asked.

Vivian swallowed. “M–Mr. Rivera. I’m so sorry. I came to deliver a fax, and when I heard someone coming in, I got scared and hid in the closet.” Vivian stepped out of her hiding place and tried to push past him, but Javier didn’t give an inch.

He studied her face, his full lips tight and a glint of disbelief in his eyes.

“I was on my way out when these came.” Vivian’s fingers trembled as she opened her messenger bag and handed him a couple of sheets of paper she’d brought along in the event she needed a cover story. “Since Mrs. Wright had already gone home, I wanted to hand-deliver these. They’re marked ‘confidential.’”

Javier’s eyes scanned the pages. “All faxes that come to me say ‘confidential.’ These are only confirmations of dinner reservations and hotel arrangements.”

“Well, sir, there they are.” She managed a smile, holding the strap of her bag so tightly her knuckles whitened.

For a moment, his eyes trailed down her neckline. Was he staring at her chest? Vivian crossed her arms, and Javier pointed to the place where her name tag should have been.

“What’s your name?” he demanded.

“Vivian Foster, sir.” She squared her shoulders.

“How did you get in, Ms. Foster?”

“I used the master key.”

He frowned. “You shouldn’t have access to it.”

“Look, Mr. Rivera, I’m sorry about this misunderstanding. I wanted to drop these off because I thought they were important.” Vivian shook her head. “I didn’t even know what they were about. I’m new here…”

She glanced around the office. It had a cool sophistication that unsettled her. Or perhaps it was the man who did that. The black leather sofas, contemporary standing lamps, and Surrealist art had nothing on Javier’s inquisitive posture, his eyes piercing through hers, and his mocking smile.

“How convenient for you to be at my office after hours,” Javier said drily. “Are you looking for a shortcut up the corporate ladder, Ms. Foster? Since you are
new
?”

“A shortcut?” Vivian’s eyes narrowed. “I’m offended you would think I need to cheat to move up any ladder.” She raised her chin and tried again to move past him. “I’ll go, and I’ll pretend you didn’t say that, Mr. Rivera.”

“Not so fast, Ms. Foster.” He seized her wrist, his unwelcome touch sending a shiver through her body.

He was so massive, his nearness almost made her feel delicate, which she knew she was not. “But sir…” She tried to twist from his grasp. He carefully turned her to face him, reducing the gap between them and holding her captive with those dark eyes.

A murderer’s eyes. She’d had six months since Molly’s death to learn to hate him.

Javier leaned over her, his hot breath fanning her earlobe. “Ms. Foster, I will ask you one more time. What were you doing in here?”

She breathed in deeply, trying to regain control, but succeeded only in inhaling the minty scent of his aftershave.

“Mr. Rivera, I already…” She gasped when he patted her shoulders, then ran his hands down and around to brush the sides of her breasts.

“How dare you—” Vivian choked on her words, angry that he would touch her so blatantly.

“I’m making sure you don’t have any weapons,” Javier said casually, as if touching a woman he barely knew was the most natural thing in the world.

Well, for him it probably is.

He brushed his hands over her stomach and hips. His brief touch was neither sexual nor aggressive, yet the weight of his long fingers on her black polyester suit made her blood pound hotly through her veins. His hands moved down her long legs, and she avoided looking directly at him when he knelt down, touching the hem of her pants and sliding his fingers softly along the inside of her ankles.

“No weapons.” Vivian raised her voice, yanking away from his touch. Javier Rivera had no right to—

He slid her bag off her shoulder and abruptly upended it over his desk.

“You can’t do that!” Vivian said, feeling a wave of heat rising to stain her cheeks. He had just played her for a fool. She should have known. Nothing Javier did was pointless.

“You aren’t looking for a promotion,” he said calmly. He picked up the folder she’d found, a pack of gum, her mobile, a small wallet, and a makeup case. Stray coins rolled along the desk and fell to the floor.

Vivian took a deep breath as she bent to collect the coins, picking them off the hardwood to escape the inquisition of his eyes. “Of course I’m not.”

When she rose to her feet, smoothing her ponytail with one hand and clenching the cold coins with the other, he glared at her, his arms folded.

“What was my folder doing in your bag?”

“Your folder?” She frowned. “I was about to place your fax on your desk when I heard a noise, and I pushed them into my bag. I must have picked up the folder at the same time.” Vivian wondered how much longer she’d have to lie. It was new to her, and dodging his questions made her feel like a circus juggler. A first-day-on-the-job circus juggler. All the balls could drop at any time.

“Ms. Foster, I am not patient or stupid. You came in when I wasn’t supposed to be here. When
no one
was supposed to be here. And you have in your possession confidential information of a business transaction which I had left on my desk.”

“I didn’t even know what that was,” Vivian said innocently.

He opened the side zipper of her messenger bag and rummaged around with long, tanned fingers. “Planning on going somewhere?” Javier held her passport up.

“That’s none of your business.”

“Ms. Foster, do you really want to make things harder for yourself?”

“I’m going to South America with friends in a few months. I brought my passport to make copies of it. I’m applying for a visa, though it’s really none of your business.”

“You have an answer for everything, don’t you, Ms. Foster?” Javier examined her driver’s license, his eyes narrowing over the picture.

“Give me back my things.” She reached for her bag, then scooped her makeup case, wallet, and other personal items inside. “Mr. Rivera, I need my passport and my mobile. If you don’t give them to me right now—” She stretched her open hand toward him, but he pocketed both items.

“Yes, go on. What will you do, Ms. Foster?” His lips curved into a cynical smile. “Call the police?”

Vivian clenched her fists, her short fingernails digging hard into her palms. “I should, shouldn’t I? After being harassed as if I’m some lowlife burglar by the CEO.”

“Yes, I can make that call myself. But I guarantee you the outcome won’t be favorable to you. What were you looking for?” There it was, that predatory look again, assessing her from top to bottom.

“But I already said—”

“Whoever is paying you, I can pay you double if you cooperate.”

BOOK: A Vengeful Affair
10.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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