Authors: Annabelle Weston
Cadence lived a quiet, safe life
until her supposedly adoring father cut her from his will. Penniless and alone,
she seeks out Night and Night, International. She expects to find help and
answers. Instead, she finds the ultimate temptation in Preston Night. He’s
tall, built and devastatingly handsome, the kind of man Cadence has never had
the courage to approach.
Preston may be a player but he’s
loved Cadence from afar for years. He can’t stop thinking about her—or touching,
teasing and tasting her. And despite her shyness, Cadence can’t seem to get
enough of him either.
Preston makes her feel alive, sexy
and deliciously naughty in ways she’s never felt before, but Cadence can’t get
over the secrets and lies surrounding her. Sure, Preston can give her
mind-blowing orgasms but that doesn’t make him trustworthy. As more and more of
Cadence’s family secrets are revealed, Preston is determined to prove, once and
for all, he’s worthy of her love.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Mr. Temptation Copyright © 2012 Annabelle Weston
Edited by Carrie Jackson
Cover design by Christina Cartwright
Photography: Ana Abejon/istockphoto.com
Electronic book publication January 2012
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To Sarah: Thank you for your tireless effort in making this
book happen! Couldn’t have done it without you!
To Cindy Moore: We ache, we break, but we do survive.
Cadence would like to smack the creep but she wasn’t about
to cause a scene at the perfectly respectable affair. Her butt cheek smarted
where Cyrus—her stepbrother—had pinched her, and now the idiot made kissing
sounds as he brushed past her.
She gave him a neutral smile and swung her gaze to the
portrait of her father. “How could you have let such an S.O.B. call himself
Her father peered down at her with eyes the color of her own.
He’d expected her to always show a brave face to the world, to be constantly
smiling, to give the impression that all was well.
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, I can put up with him for
appearance’s sake. After this party, I’m so out of here.”
Cadence touched the heavily carved antique frame. The
painting had been done in his first year as mayor, a man in his prime. Her hand
lingered on the gilded wood. The sweet smell of lemon polish, too strong, too
recent, turned her stomach.
Unhappily, they hadn’t been close after Mother died. In the
aftermath of 9/11, their grief had been a nation’s grief. Why her mother had
been in the South Tower that morning, no one ever explained. Then the mayor
Now on Cadence’s university graduation day, with her studies
behind her, she wished for the thousandth time her parents could have been
there to celebrate with her. She was acutely conscious of how much she missed
them and how alone she was.
Anger reared its ugly head and she took another deep,
cleansing breath and let it go slowly. She didn’t want anyone to see her break
Except, a little self-pity wasn’t such a big deal, was it?
“Come along, dear, you mustn’t neglect your guests.”
Cadence bristled, hating the sound of the sweet syrup in her
stepmother Victoria’s voice. She wasn’t fooled. The woman was waiting for just
that one moment she could strike out at a stepdaughter she couldn’t control.
Cadence turned and saw them—Victoria, the epitome of evil
stepmother, and the twins Sybil and Cyrus—huddled together. She knew she had
time. They would see to their guests until the last one said his or her
goodbyes before they pounced with their complaints and their demands.
Cadence couldn’t show her contempt. She wouldn’t show them
anything. Her father had taught her the importance of keeping her emotions
under careful control.
“Don’t ever let them see you sweat,” the mayor had cautioned
her. “Especially your enemies.”
She’d always heeded his warning, tried to be on her best
behavior. She’d wanted so badly for him to be proud of her.
“Sorry,” Cadence told Victoria. “I wanted to share a moment
with my father.”
The woman nodded, no doubt believing she understood exactly
how Cadence felt.
The well-wishers, mostly friends of her father and
stepmother, spoke in mercifully hushed tones, talking of trivialities, anxious,
Cadence was certain, to see who had come and to be seen. They’d soon make their
excuses and leave for the next party.
The party had been perfection, the caterer one of the best
in the city. She wasn’t under any illusion that the party was actually for her
but Cadence was grateful.
Victoria hustled the society set like a pro, spending
lavishly, her ambition unstoppable. Those three had sucked on her father’s bank
account like a trio of leeches.
Since the mayor’s death, Victoria had shoved Cadence to the
side, showcasing her two children as they attended charity functions,
fundraisers and other high-society soirées. She’d worked to keep the spotlight
on her son Cyrus.
Cadence knew too well what was going on. Victoria and her
children meant to exploit her father’s reputation, take credit for his
successes and bask in his popularity. Unlike Cadence, they loved politics and
politicians. They used the Burke name to elevate themselves in society. A name,
in Cadence’s opinion, they’d no right to.
She didn’t doubt there was an election in Cyrus’ future. His
mother would be the power behind the throne. Cadence scoffed at how ridiculous
Cyrus would be as an elected official. He didn’t care about anyone other than
himself. Would probably use his office to line his own pockets. The Burke name
would become mired in scandal.
Cadence wanted no part of it.
Victoria’s neglect had left no mark. Cadence welcomed her
ambivalence. She’d no time for parties and fundraisers. She’d pursued a
graduate degree in art history, made new friends. None of them had been invited
to this affair but Cadence didn’t mention her disappointment at the omission.
Today was her day to celebrate and she would keep a civil
She joined the family as they said goodbye to the guests.
“I had a wonderful time,” said an elderly matron who’d been
one of the mayor’s biggest campaign contributors.
“It was so good of you to come,” Cadence said sincerely and
kissed the woman on the cheek. The woman accepted the kiss and then handed
Cadence an envelope tinted gray.
“A little something for you to splurge with,” she said with
a short laugh. As Cadence thanked her, the lady turned to address Victoria.
“Victoria, you did yourself proud. You must send me the card of the caterer you
used. I loved, loved, loved the
“I will be delighted to share his name with you but it’ll
have to be our little secret,” Victoria said, lowering her voice to a
The lady’s eyes sparkled. She was someone, Cadence knew, who
was used to getting what she wanted. Victoria was smart enough to give it to
“Thank you, Victoria, for the party,” Cadence said. “I
appreciate all the trouble you took.”
“Of course Edward would’ve expected a celebration. He would’ve
been so proud to see you so accomplished.” She said the words as if recited,
without the slightest trace of sincerity.
The others in the room murmured their agreement. Victoria
smiled in triumph. She was, after all, the doting stepmother.
Cadence was the dutiful, ever-smiling stepdaughter.
She said farewell to her other guests, thanked them for
their gifts and congratulations. Victoria, engaging to the point of gushing,
remained by her side. She shook hands and kissed cheeks, laughed and took each
compliment for the elaborate party with a false humility that made Cadence’s
stomach twist into knots.
The thought occurred to Cadence that Victoria was shopping
for rich spouses for her evil spawn. Her father had been dead almost three
months now. Had Victoria and her children already run through the money he’d
Cadence didn’t care. No doubt they would find another rich
family to drain dry.
As more guests left, she could hear the twins whispering
behind her. Probably complaining how boring the affair had been. She didn’t
blame them. Their sham behavior at her graduation party couldn’t have been easy
The last guest to leave was her father’s former law partner.
She remembered him coming to her parents’ house when she was a child, bringing
little gifts, a doll from American Girl, a charm bracelet from Tiffany’s. After
Mother died and Father remarried, he didn’t come by as often. When Father went
into politics, their friendship soured and the partnership did also.
“Look at you,” he said. “All grown up.”
“I’m so glad you came. It’s good to see you again.”
“Ed always said you had the smarts in the family.” He
pressed a card into the palm of her hand and pushed her fingers around it. His
gaze never left hers as he held her hand closed.
He leaned in as if kissing her on the cheek and whispered in
her ear, “If you need help, and I suspect you will, call the number on the
He pecked her on the cheek and she smelled his cologne and
She didn’t dare look at the card but glanced at Victoria.
Had she noticed? She didn’t seem to have seen the exchange. What was this all
about? Why was her father’s former partner so secretive?
Cadence guessed the man’s guarded manner had a great deal to
do with her inheritance. According to her father’s will, she was to come into
her share of the money on her twenty-sixth birthday. She’d turn twenty-six in a
couple of weeks.
She hadn’t forgotten. No doubt Victoria hadn’t either.
Unattractive thoughts raged in her mind, reminding her that
the woman could be a snake. She’d stayed away from her for almost three years,
safe from the cesspool of mistrust Victoria was so famous for creating. She
couldn’t wait to say her goodbyes. With luck, she wouldn’t have to see them
“Can I go to my room now?” Sybil sneered as Father’s partner
left and Victoria closed the door behind him.
“Not just yet,” Victoria replied. “We have something
important to discuss with your sister. Let’s go into the parlor where we can be
The sulky twins mumbled their objections in unison. Victoria
led the procession into the elaborately decorated room and took a seat on the
leather sofa. The twins sat beside her.
Cadence took her place opposite them in a bad copy of a
Louis XV chair.
“You are expecting some money from your father’s estate,”
Victoria stated without any preamble. Leave it to her stepmother to get right
to the point.
Cadence decided not to let Victoria upset her but she
couldn’t leave now. She had to listen to the woman as she announced the terms
of her father’s will, no doubt with regret.
Make no mistake. Cadence would be out of here and out of
their lives within the hour.
“I understand my share of my father’s estate will come to me
on my birthday,” she said. Of course, this wasn’t news to her stepmother.
Victoria pursed her lips. Her lipstick was like a slash
across her mouth, her skin stretched smooth across sunken cheekbones. Her dark
eyes shone with such hatred, Cadence shrank back.
“I’m afraid we have a serious misunderstanding in that
regard,” Victoria replied. Her stepmother always spoke with a slight English
accent even though the woman had been born and raised on Staten Island.
The twins smiled.
“Misunderstanding?” Cadence frowned. She wasn’t sure what
the woman meant or what she was after but it wouldn’t be good news.
“Correct. My dear Cadence, the mayor was a generous man but
unfortunately not a wealthy one.”
“What are you talking about? My father received a sizeable
inheritance from my mother’s estate when she died.”
Victoria’s gaze fluttered to her children and she cast them
a maternal smile. “That was a long time ago, my dear girl, and we’ve had
Cadence tensed. “I understood Father left you a generous
“A mere pittance,” Victoria replied.
This can’t be good
, Cadence decided. What did Victoria’s
financial situation have to do with her and her inheritance? Straightening her
spine, she faced the trio of demons.
Cold, gray, calculating eyes stared back at her with brows
furrowed, challenging her.
“Edward was a good husband,” Victoria said, her voice cool
and smooth. “And father.”
Cadence couldn’t help but notice something in her tone.
Superiority? Triumph? Her two minions leered beside her as if they knew what
“What are you getting at, Victoria?”
“Perhaps you didn’t know?”
Victoria folded her hands in her lap. She could be sitting
for her portrait instead of discussing important legal matters. “Your father
left me in control of his trust.”
“He left both of us as trustees.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. Edward changed his will just
before he died.”
“He told me…”
“You went off to school and we heard so little from you. He
meant to tell you but the opportunity never came.” Victoria sighed deeply, as
if regretting what she had to say next. “When you consult a lawyer, and I
suspect you will, you’ll find your father’s new will is perfectly legal.”
Of course, she hadn’t known about a second will. She hadn’t
had a clue.
“Victoria, I don’t know what this new will says but I’m
entitled to my inheritance.”
The woman’s smile could’ve curdled milk. “You are mistaken.”
“There’s no mistake.” Cadence fought to control her building
anger. “I won’t accept any further delay in receiving my money.”
Victoria was the first to break eye contact. “I’m sorry but
the mayor left everything to me.”
Cadence felt the color drain from her face,
sure she looked as pale as the white roses piled in vases around the room. The
coiled knot in her stomach tightened. This couldn’t have been right. This must
have been a trick of some kind, a devious plot to steal Cadence’s money.
“I don’t believe you,” Cadence said and stood, a little
wobbly. She wasn’t going to listen to Victoria’s lies.
“You’re in shock,” Victoria said.
Do you think?
Cadence took a deep, cleansing breath. She wouldn’t give her
stepmother the satisfaction of seeing a meltdown. “The mayor would’ve told me
he changed his will.”
“He intended to but he died so suddenly…”
“You aren’t going to screw me out of my inheritance,”
Cadence interrupted her.
Sybil and Cyrus snorted in unison.
Victoria was remarkably calm. “You’ll find there’s little
you can do.”
Cadence kept her face a plain mask but her head buzzed like
a chain saw. Too much was happening all at once. Part of her screamed to grab
her purse and hightail it out of there, never to look at these people again.
But another part, the little slice of gumption she had, begged for her to take
a stand and not let Victoria beat her at a vicious injustice.
“I would like to see the new will,” she said.
“Of course.” Victoria sighed. “I’d anticipated your objections
and concerns.” She rose from her seat and took a manila envelope from a heavily
gilded desk. “I have a copy for you to look over. You’ll notice the date. The
will is the most recent and supersedes all others. The mayor signed everything
over to me.”