Deception

Overview

Sisters can share too much. . .

Acquitted of murder, Tamia Luke is on a mission to reclaim all she's lost, including her ex, Brandon, who saved her life. Brandon's about to get married, but Tamia's determined, even if it means resorting to deception—a family habit. Her sister, Fiona, betrayed Tamia to save her own skin. Now the two share a scandalous secret that may destroy both their plans to start over. . .

Fiona's hoping her glitzy new job ...

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Deception

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Overview

Sisters can share too much. . .

Acquitted of murder, Tamia Luke is on a mission to reclaim all she's lost, including her ex, Brandon, who saved her life. Brandon's about to get married, but Tamia's determined, even if it means resorting to deception—a family habit. Her sister, Fiona, betrayed Tamia to save her own skin. Now the two share a scandalous secret that may destroy both their plans to start over. . .

Fiona's hoping her glitzy new job will help her score a rich husband. It's looking good, until the night she's seduced by the one man who is truly unattainable—unless she can keep her past hidden. And both sisters will have to steer clear of someone who knows too much, and wants them to pay—with their lives. . .

Praise for Naomi Chase's Exposed

"An ultra-sexy page-turner." —De'nesha Diamond, author of Hustlin' Divas

"Sexy, scandalous, and suspenseful. I enjoyed the drama-filled ride and didn't want it to end." —Meesha Mink, author of Real Wifeys: On The Grind

"A writer with a gift for erotica, mystery, and intrigue." —Romance in Color

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758253231
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 3/31/2015
  • Series: Exposed Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320

Read an Excerpt

Deception


By NAOMI CHASE

DAFINA BOOKS

Copyright © 2012 Naomi Chase
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-5322-4


Chapter One

Tamia

Houston, Texas November 4, 2011

Tamia Luke's heart pounded violently as she watched the twelve jurors file into the jury box and reclaim their seats. She was so nervous, she wanted to throw up. These men and women held her fate in their hands. Their verdict would determine whether she spent the rest of her life in prison or walked out of this courtroom a free woman.

She searched their faces, hoping for something—anything—that would give her insight into the decision they had reached. But their expressions were unreadable, and none of them would make eye contact with her. Not even Juror Number Eight, an attractive, middleaged black man who'd hardly been able to keep his eyes off her throughout the trial.

But today he seemed to go out of his way not to look at her.

Like the other jurors.

With mounting anxiety, Tamia leaned over and whispered to her attorney, "They won't look at me. Why won't they look at me?"

"Relax," Brandon murmured soothingly. "It doesn't mean anything."

Tamia hoped to God he was right. She'd spent the past five months behind bars, serving time for a crime she hadn't committed. She didn't know what she would do if the jury found her guilty of Isabel Archer's murder. It was unthinkable.

When the judge emerged from his chambers, Tamia and Brandon rose from the defense table. Her insides were shivering, and her legs were so wobbly, she thought she'd collapse to the floor. Without thinking she grabbed Brandon's hand and held tight, comforted when he squeezed her back.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," said the judge, "have you reached a verdict?"

The jury forewoman stood. "We have, Your Honor."

As the judge read the folded note that contained the jury's verdict, the silence that had permeated the packed courtroom was now deafening. You could literally hear a pin drop.

The judge looked at the forewoman. "What is your verdict?"

Tamia closed her eyes, her heart slamming against her rib cage as she braced herself for the woman's next words.

"We, the jury, find the defendant—"

Tamia held her breath.

"—not guilty."

Pandemonium erupted in the courtroom, loud cheers from Tamia's supporters dueling with shouts of protest from Isabel Archer's outraged relatives. The judge banged his gavel, calling for order. But it was the sight of Brandon's beaming face that gave Tamia permission to believe the verdict she'd just heard.

"WE WON!" she screamed, throwing her arms around Brandon's neck as he laughingly lifted her off the floor. As he spun her around, she caught a glimpse of Dominic Archer, seated behind the plaintiff 's table across the aisle. He looked so stunned that Tamia might have felt sorry for him—if she didn't despise his motherfucking ass.

"Thank you, Brandon," she said earnestly as he set her back down on her feet. "Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for saving my life!"

"You're welcome," he told her. "I never doubted your innocence."

"I know. And that meant everything to me."

His expression softened. "You know I—"

"Congratulations," a new voice interrupted.

Tamia and Brandon turned to encounter a pretty, brown-skinned woman dressed in a navy Dolce & Gabbana skirt suit that hugged her slender figure. Her dark, lustrous hair flowed past her shoulders in a way that made Tamia more desperate than ever to get into her stylist's chair. Sporting months of nappy new growth and wearing a pantsuit that did nothing for her shape, she felt raggedy next to Cynthia Yarbrough—the scheming hussy who'd stolen Brandon from her.

She forced a smile. "Hey, Cynthia. You're looking well."

"Thank you, Tamia." Cynthia didn't insult her intelligence by returning the compliment. "Congratulations on your acquittal."

"Thanks." Tamia smiled gratefully at Brandon. "I couldn't have done it without this man's amazing legal prowess. I don't know if I can ever repay him, but I'm determined to try."

Brandon chuckled. "You might feel differently after you receive my final bill."

Tamia laughed, then leaned up and kissed his smooth, cleans-haven cheek. She didn't miss the way Cynthia's eyes narrowed with displeasure.

Don't get it twisted, heffa, Tamia mused. He was my man first!

Soon she was surrounded by a group of supporters who'd been there for her throughout the trial. Lou Saldaña scooped her up and swung her around, while her best friend, Shanell Jasper, took one look at her attire and promised to take her shopping ASAP. Distant cousins Tamia hadn't seen in ages had shown up, along with a few of her neighbors.

Everyone who mattered was there.

Except Fiona.

And she doesn't matter anymore, Tamia thought darkly.

"YOU BITCH!"

The enraged outburst came from the other side of the courtroom, where a sobbing woman was being restrained by several members of Isabel Archer's family. As Tamia watched, the woman pointed at her and screamed, "You're gonna burn in hell for what you did to Isabel!"

Before Tamia could open her mouth to defend herself, Brandon silenced her with a warning look. "Don't say anything. The jury has spoken for you, and that's all that matters."

Nodding grimly, she watched as the hysterical woman was led out of the courtroom. Although Tamia knew she was innocent, it bothered her that there were people who would always believe the worst of her, that she'd killed her lover's wife in a jealous rage. The worst part was that she knew who the real killer was—and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. She'd sworn not to tell anyone, and no matter how horribly she'd been used and betrayed, a promise was a promise.

After accepting more congratulatory hugs and kisses, Tamia followed her small entourage out of the courthouse and into the bright November afternoon. She and Brandon were met by a buzzing swarm of reporters who shouted questions at them.

"Miss Luke, do you feel vindicated by today's verdict?"

"Mr. Chambers, do you stand by your strategy to portray Dominic Archer as the real killer?"

"Do either of you believe he really murdered his wife?"

"Miss Luke, do you regret having an affair with a married man?"

Taken aback by the barrage of questions, Tamia looked askance at Brandon. He gave her a reassuring smile, then stepped to the cluster of microphones. Calmly he surveyed the crowd, waiting for the noise to die down before he spoke.

"Miss Luke and I are pleased that justice was served today. I commend the men and women of the jury for weighing all the evidence and coming back with the only verdict they could have: not guilty."

The reporters fired more questions at him.

"With all due respect, Brandon," one voice rang out above the rest, "how difficult was it for you to defend the woman who cheated on you? Throughout the trial, you were forced to hear the lurid details of Miss Luke's affair with Dominic Archer. How in the world did you remain objective?"

Tamia's face heated with shame, while Brandon didn't so much as flinch. "My prior relationship with Miss Luke wasn't on trial," he answered evenly. "If I didn't think I could handle hearing the 'lurid details' of her affair, as you put it, I wouldn't have taken her case. But I did, because I believed in her innocence. Clearly the jury did, too."

Tamia beamed at him.

"Is there any chance that you and Miss Luke might reconcile?"

Brandon paused, giving Tamia a sidelong glance.

She met his gaze, holding her breath as she waited for his response.

After several moments he turned back to the reporters, chuckling and shaking his head. "You guys are always looking for a romantic Hollywood ending. All I want to do is celebrate this victory, which reaffirms my belief that the justice system can and does work."

"Given your winning track record," someone retorted, "I'd say the system works just fine for you."

Brandon grinned as laughter swept over the crowd.

Tamia was also grinning, but not for the same reason as everyone else. For the first time in several months, she had reason to hope that all was not lost between her and Brandon. Because whether he realized it or not, by dodging the reporter's question, he'd left the door open for the possibility of him and Tamia getting back together.

Today's verdict had given her back her life. Now that she was a free woman again, nothing would stop her from trying to reclaim the only man she'd ever loved.

Nothing.

And no one.

Turning her head, she saw Cynthia standing off to the side by herself.

Their gazes met.

Tamia smiled.

Cynthia's eyes narrowed with suspicion.

That's right, bitch, Tamia thought. I'm taking back what you stole from me. And this time, I'm never letting him go!

Chapter Two

Tamia

The downtown nightclub was thumping by the time Tamia made her grand entrance that evening. The dance floor was packed with bodies grinding to the hypnotic rhythm of Nicki Minaj's "Moment 4 Life," and the flashing strobe lights suspended from the ceiling made the dancers appear electrified.

Tamia bobbed her head to the music as her senses came vibrantly alive. After spending the past five months trapped inside a prison, stepping into the noisy, crowded club made her feel as rejuvenated as if she'd just stumbled upon paradise. It didn't hurt that she looked positively fierce in a red Gucci halter dress that molded to her luscious curves and showed off her long, toned legs. On her feet were five-inch stilettos with ice-pick heels. Her hairstylist had tamed her nappy roots with a fresh relaxer that had her sleek, shoulder-length bob lying like silk against her scalp.

She didn't miss the appreciative stares she was receiving from several men, their lustful gazes undressing her from head to toe. Though she played it cool, she couldn't help but soak up all the attention. After the ordeal she'd been through, she needed to feel beautiful again. Desired.

"You looking good, mamacita. Real good."

Tamia turned her head and smiled at Lou, who'd generously footed the bill for her makeover as well as tonight's homecoming party. "Thank you, papi. For everything."

He smiled. "You know I got your back."

"I know. You're so good to me."

"That's what friends are for." He winked at her. "You ready to get this party started?"

Tamia grinned, tucking her arm through his. "Lead the way."

They navigated through the gyrating throng of bodies, making their way up to the second-floor VIP lounge Lou had reserved for the night. When they reached the entrance to the large suite, a chorus of voices yelled out, "Welcome home, Tamia!"

She beamed with pleasure as she surveyed the sea of smiling faces. She recognized only a handful of the guests, including Shanell and her husband, Mark. The rest were strangers, ranging from scantily clad females to tattooed ballers dipped in designer gear and platinum jewelry.

As Tamia moved through the crowd accepting congratulations on her acquittal, she couldn't help searching for Brandon. She'd invited him and Cynthia to the party, secretly hoping that he would show up alone. But so far there was no sign of either of them.

Swallowing her disappointment, Tamia followed Lou through the lavish lounge, which featured low lighting, plush sofas, a private bar, and a small dance floor near the back. There was a table laden with gourmet cheeses, caviar, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, buffalo wings, and exotic-looking meatballs. A plasma television mounted against one wall was showing BET music videos, but most of the guests had wandered over to the balcony, preferring to watch the dancers below.

As Tamia and Shanell sat down on a low sofa tucked into a private corner, Lou asked, "What's your poison, ladies?"

Tamia grinned. "I'll have a Blue Motherfucker."

"Oooh, that sounds good." Shanell winked at Lou. "Make that two."

"I got you."

"And I'll fix you both a plate," Mark offered.

"Thank you, fellas," cooed Tamia and Shanell.

After Lou and Mark departed, Shanell grinned broadly. "Men who believe in catering to their women. Now that's what I'm talking about."

Tamia grinned, crossing her legs. "It is nice, isn't it?"

"Hell, yeah." Shanell gave her an approving once-over. "Girl, you are wearing the hell outta that dress."

"Thanks, girl. You're working your outfit, too," Tamia said, admiring the silk shorts jumper that showcased Shanell's ample cleavage and thick thighs. "Thanks again for taking me to the Galleria this afternoon."

Shanell waved off her gratitude. "You know how much I love shopping, especially with someone who has a platinum card. Speaking of which, I thought you told me that Lou's film studio went bankrupt."

"It did."

"Sure as hell coulda fooled me." Shanell gestured around the luxurious suite. "Only a serious baller could afford all this."

Tamia shrugged, tapping her foot to the music of Keri Hilson. "He told me he's doing well with a new business venture."

"What kind of business venture?" Shanell asked suspiciously.

"I don't know. He didn't elaborate."

Shanell frowned. "I hope it's nothing illegal. The last thing we need is for your homecoming party to be interrupted by a police raid."

"Believe me," Tamia said grimly, "I have no desire to go back to prison."

Although Lou had been evasive about his new line of work, he'd assured Tamia that everything was legit. Earlier that year, he'd learned that the FBI was secretly investigating him in order to get to some of his Mexican mafia associates. His house and phone had been bugged, and two agents had been assigned to follow him everywhere he went. They'd even brought him in for questioning, hoping to intimidate him into cooperating with their investigation. But Lou was smarter than that. He knew the feds had nothing concrete on him, so he'd retained Brandon to get the motherfuckers off his back—which Brandon had done, earning Lou's gratitude and the nickname "the rainmaker."

"I can't believe she's not here."

Pulled out of her reverie, Tamia gave Shanell a blank look. "Who?"

"Your sister. I can't believe she's not here to celebrate with you. As if it weren't bad enough that she missed your big day in court this morning."

Tamia's mood darkened at once. "Fiona's not here," she said tightly, "because she wasn't invited. And I told her not to show up at the courthouse today."

Shanell frowned. "Why would you do something like that?"

Tamia said nothing.

"I know you told me that you and Fiona had a big falling out," Shanell continued,"but I didn't think either of you would carry it this far. I mean—damn, Tamia. You're sisters. What if the jury had found you guilty? Don't you think Fiona should have been there for that?"

Tamia was spared from answering when Mark returned with two plates filled with food. After Tamia and Shanell thanked him, he told his wife, "I'm going downstairs to say hello to a friend. I haven't seen him since we graduated from basic, so I'll be back in a little while."

"Okay, baby," Shanell said distractedly, using her fork to cut into a crab cake. "Have fun catching up."

As Mark walked away, Tamia eyed her friend incredulously. "Wow."

Shanell glanced up from her plate. "What?"

"You and Mark have such a trusting relationship. You didn't even ask him the name of the friend he was going to see."

"So?"

Tamia hesitated. "Mark's an attractive guy. Some women might think twice about letting their husbands out of their sight in a club filled with half-naked hoochies."

Shanell chuckled dryly. "Girl, please. Mark just returned from Iraq. If he wanted to cheat on me, he had a whole year to do so. And I don't think he did."

After another hesitation, Tamia couldn't resist asking, "How do you know for sure?"

"Because I trust my man." A wicked gleam entered Shanell's cognac-colored eyes. "And because ever since he got back, he's been fucking me like he ain't sniffed pussy since the dawn of the millennium."

Tamia shrieked with laughter. "T-M-I!"

Shanell grinned unabashedly, forking up another bite of crab cake and chewing for a few moments. "Look, I'm not naive. I know that military men have a reputation for being dogs. But I can honestly tell you that my boo's not like that. We've been married for five years, and he's never given me any reason to even suspect that he's cheating. And while he was deployed, we made damn good use of our computer webcams and cell phones. You'd better believe I gave that brotha plenty to look forward to when he came home."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Deception by NAOMI CHASE Copyright © 2012 by Naomi Chase. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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