Charade

Charade

by J.S. Cooper

NOOK Book(eBook)

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author J.S. Cooper comes an e-novella prequel to the Swept Away series, best read after Illusion. Bianca is determined to avenge her father’s death, but to do that, she must get in bed with his enemies…

When Bianca’s father died, she was left with nothing but her memories—and a box full of secrets. Had her father really been squeezed out of the company he founded? And could his betrayers have something to do with the death of Bianca’s mother years before?

Bianca will do anything to find out—even pursue the heir to Bradley, Inc. But the road she’s on is a dangerous one, and if David Bradley sees through her charade, it could be deadly…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476791012
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication date: 02/16/2015
Series: Swept Away Series
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 100
Sales rank: 228,526
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

J.S. Cooper is the New York Times bestselling author of multiple indie-published books, including the Ex Games series, the Private Club series, and the Martelli Brothers series. Born in London, she now lives in the US, where she is currently working on the next book in the Swept Away series.

Read an Excerpt

Charade

one

I’m not sure anything can prepare you for the loss of a loved one, even if you know it’s coming. My father was bedridden with pancreatic cancer for the last six months of his life and still I was devastated when he passed away. He died in the middle of the night, and I still regret the fact that I hadn’t been able to say goodbye to him.

“This is for you.” Larry, my father’s lawyer, handed me two boxes and frowned. Larry Renee had been a godsend to me, dealing with the hospital administration and taking care of my father’s funeral arrangements. “Are you going to be okay, Bianca?”

“I’ll be fine.” I nodded, taking the boxes.

“Your dad wanted to leave you something, but the medical expenses . . .” His voice trailed off and he shrugged.

“It’s okay. I’ve got two hands and two legs. I can work. Professors don’t make a lot of money, but I’ll survive. Even if I have to take a tenure-track job in Missouri.”

“Have you been offered one there?” he asked hopefully.

“No, but I’m not looking yet. I still have to get my PhD to be considered for a faculty position at a university. I could go the community college route, I suppose. Or I could pretend I have one. I wouldn’t be the first. Did you ever see that movie Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead?”

“Sorry, what?” He frowned.

“Oh, it’s a movie about a girl who pretends she has a college degree and—”

“Bianca, you know that you can always stay with my wife and me if you’re feeling stressed. Your father and I knew each other for a long time and I want you to know you can count on me.” I could see from the expression on his face that my little aside had him seriously confused.

“I’ll be fine. Thank you, Uncle Larry.”

“Your father was upset he couldn’t leave you any money,” he said, bringing up the awkward subject of money. “I just don’t understand it. He had so many inventions.” He made a face and looked me in the eyes, searching for something that I knew nothing about.

“I guess he just wasn’t good with money.”

“I suppose.” He sighed. “He stopped coming to me after your mother died. He never got over her car accident.” He paused and looked up at me with a worried expression. “He was so upset. He had all kinds of crazy theories.”

“No, he never got over her accident, but at least he’s with her in heaven.” I offered him a weak smile, hoping he would just leave. I wanted to be alone now with my grief and the boxes.

“He blamed himself, you know,” he continued and shook his head. “I told him he couldn’t have known your mother would lose control of the car.” His eyes peered into mine and there was an odd light in them I hadn’t seen before. I shivered slightly at his intensity, not understanding why he was starting to look like a rookie CIA agent.

“Yeah, it wasn’t his fault.”

“He was supposed to meet her and drive her home.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.” Why was he going on about my mother’s death? This was not the time for him to be rubbing salt into my wounds. Yes, both my parents were now dead. Yes, I was alone.

“That’s why he carried so much guilt. He thought she’d still be alive if he had just left work earlier and met her like he was supposed to.”

“He never told me that.” I sighed, beginning to understand why my father had always walked around with a slight air of regret.

“There was much he kept to himself. Way too much,” Larry said, and took a deep breath, his eyebrows furrowed as he stared ahead of him. “But I should go. I have a conference call in thirty minutes. Call me if you need anything.”

“I will.” I nodded and gave him a quick hug. “Thanks.” As he walked out of my apartment, I sat down on the couch and stared at the two boxes in front of me. They were fairly old and battered. I was scared that a cockroach would run out of one of the boxes when I opened it. My body trembled in restrained grief as I sat and tried to ignore the desire to cry. I was all by myself now. Not that there hadn’t been other times that I’d felt all alone. My father had been pretty distant when I was growing up, not because he didn’t love me but because he was consumed with grief over my mother’s death. He hadn’t been a bad father, but he hadn’t been everything I’d needed.

I think he realized in his last days that he hadn’t been the best father he could have been. I’d seen the regret and pain in his eyes as I desperately begged him not to leave me.

“Stop it, Bianca,” I muttered to myself and jumped up off of the couch. I was not going to let myself dwell on my father’s death. It wouldn’t help. Not at all. I stared at the boxes for a few more seconds and then went to my bedroom. I couldn’t deal with them now. I needed to think about something else for a few hours. I walked around my apartment, quickly checking to make sure all the windows were closed, and then made sure the front door was double-locked as I always did. I collapsed on my bed and closed my eyes and tried to think about something happy, but no thoughts would come. Thankfully, sleep found me within minutes and I was able to escape the numbness of my brain.

* * *

“You can do this, Bianca.” I shook my damp hair and toweled it dry as I walked into my living room the next morning. I felt refreshed after a solid ten hours of sleep and a cold shower. I could hear my phone beeping with messages. I knew that my best friend, Rosie, was worried about me. I’d rarely spoken to her since my father had gotten sick. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her and our friendship, but I was naturally more of a solitary person, especially when emotional events were happening. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up learning to fend for yourself.

The brown boxes beckoned to me from the coffee table. They didn’t seem so full of death and depression by the light of the day. I turned on the TV and listened to the arguing ladies of The View as I bravely lifted the closest box by its side. I stepped back quickly in case a cockroach or mouse came running out. My heart was beating rapidly and I could feel a sense of excitement in my bones. What could my father have left me? Did he have a secret stash of money that he’d never told anyone about? Or maybe he had hidden away lots of family photographs from when I was younger. My curiosity couldn’t wait any longer and I pulled the other side of the box open to reveal—a pile of papers. I stared into the box in disappointment. Picking up a yellow form at the top of the pile, I started to read aloud: “The Director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office has received an application for a patent for a new and useful invention. The title and description of the invention are enclosed. The requirements of law have been complied with, and it has been determined that a patent on the invention shall be granted under the law . . . blah, blah, blah.” I stopped reading and put the paper back in the box with a sigh. Boring. I quickly opened the other box and again took a step back to avoid any nasty little bugs that might have been waiting to escape. When the coast was clear, I peered inside, and this time my heart stopped. There was an envelope on top of a small box and some more papers, and this envelope was made out to me.

My dad had left me a letter! I grabbed it eagerly, opening it carefully so that the envelope and letter weren’t ripped. I sat down on the couch again to read.

My Dearest Bianca,

My darling daughter, as I lie here writing this letter, there are so many things I wish I could go back and change.

First, let me apologize to you. I spent too many years carrying around my grief at your mother’s death, and there were many times I didn’t fully appreciate how alive we both still were.

Your mother meant the world to me and I see her living on in you. She would be so proud of the historian you’ve become. Stay inquisitive and beautiful, my darling. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to leave you anything in my will. I wasted my life and there are many things I wish I had told you before today.

There’s one thing I think you should know, one thing I’ve agonized over telling you. I don’t think your mother’s car crash was an accident. As I’ve gone through my papers and recalled various conversations from the days before her death, it occurs to me that there may have been people who wanted to see me incapacitated. People who knew that your mother’s death would change everything.

My darling, I may not be able to leave you riches in the bank, but go through the papers in the box and you might find the truth. The truth will provide for you and your children and bring justice for your mother’s death. Writing this letter and knowing how strong you are is giving me great solace in the sadness of my last days. All I ask is that you be careful of who you trust. Friends can be foes and foes can be friends. Remember that I love you and I’m sorry.

Fight on like your beloved Mary, Queen of Scots.

All my love,

Papa

I read the letter three times in a row and then dropped it onto my lap in shock. I could barely understand what my father had written. He thought Mom been murdered? How could that be? Who would want my father incapacitated, and who was ruthless enough to kill an innocent woman to do it? And why had he mentioned Mary, Queen of Scots? True, I was a historian, but my real passion was old movies, not Elizabethan England.

I knew that Queen Mary had been executed by Queen Elizabeth because Mary had claimed she was the legitimate sovereign and of England and Elizabeth had seen her as a threat to the throne. Had someone seen my mother as a threat or—if the name was my father’s way of issuing a cryptic warning—did someone see me as a threat? I closed my eyes and tried to calm my thoughts. Oh, how I wished that I was able to talk to my father now! I was angry at him for not giving me more information. I looked into the boxes again and sighed. There was so much paperwork to go through. It was a daunting task, especially because I didn’t know what I was looking for. However, I was a historian—I knew how to research and I knew how to look for clues. My studies required me to make assumptions and draw conclusions from facts and patterns that I saw in my research. This would be no different.

I thought back to the lateral thinking games my father and I would play when I was younger. He always wanted me to be aware that word choices were clues, even if they didn’t appear so at first. There were many reasons why people couldn’t say what they wanted to say and you had to look beyond the words, he always told me. Many people talk in code and he often liked to test me in that way. I knew that the last sentence of his letter had to be a clue. “Fight on like your beloved Mary, Queen of Scots” meant something deeper. I just had to figure out what.

In fact, I needed to figure out what was going on with everything. What did his whole letter mean? Who would have had my mother killed? Once I came up with some answers, I could decide what to do next. I stared at the papers in the box and sighed again. It was going to be a long day.

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Charade 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Babsygirl More than 1 year ago
A fantastic prequel novella to Illusion, by JS Cooper. When Bianca's father died, he left her a box full of clues to his past and her mother's death. Determined to find out if the Bradley family of Bradley Inc. had anything to do with it, she plans a clever charade. She gets access to their share holder's meeting, in hopes of meeting Mattias Bradley the CEO and eldest son. She instead meets David, the younger playboy brother. She then starts dating him, in hopes of finding out any information and to gain access to Mattias. Yet will her charade lead to where she wants or to more danger. If you have read Illusion, you will enjoy this prequel novel, which answers more questions about David and Bianca. A must read for Illusion fans and JS Cooper fans! You won't be able to put it down
RayeRC More than 1 year ago
This is a prequel to Disillusioned. I discovered it quite essential to the series. Provides an insight on how and why it all began and discerning some of the charade. David’s and Bianca’s relationship; betrayals with more unsolved mysteries and riddles to solve. It also provides more information into what may have happened to Bianca’s parents,  the relationship with the Bradley brothers, and the force behind the kidnapping. Some questions are answered while others lead to new ones. Bianca is attempting to attain the fall out of Bradley, London, & Maxwell and how it became only Bradley INC. Will she sleep with the enemy to accomplish it? Why does Matties Bradley need her out of the picture? When Bianca began her quest to unravel the truth to her parents past it may be conducive into changing her life in a manner she never expected.   “You always meet someone when you least expect it.” "Shock affects different people in different ways. It can set you back or it can spur you forward.” “I’d been playing a game of cat and mouse and all of a sudden it struck me— I was the mouse." “Let the games begin.” This series is only getting better and continues leaving the reader demanding for more. J.S. Cooper is creative and imaginative with the composition of her storylines, which only entices the reader. Perfect character development throughout the story. A passion filled, tragic, enthralling and suspenseful mystery.  Behind the scenes novella. A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
HeatherWish1 More than 1 year ago
I love a good romance with a bit of mystery mixed in and yet again the author does a fabulous job of teasing of what is to come by giving us a bit more of the back story for the first book Illusion. Charade is a prequel to Illusion and gives insight on how Bianca came to be with her boyfriend David and why. His family (the Bradley's) are a mystery in them selves and hold the key to what Bianca is going through. It also helps you understand how her and Jacob come to be on the island.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arc received for honest review.......Loved this little back story of David and Bianca's relationship and how everything came to fruition.... Loving the mystery that surrounds Bianca and the Bradley family!!! Not sure which brother is bad or good but very excited for Disillusioned.
LaurenLesczynski2828 More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book so I was lucky enough to get to read it early. I really thought I had this figured out but reading it I learned more plot twists were awaiting for me around every corner lol. I love the mystery behind Mattias and this gives you a better look at how Bianca gets where she is going (she is nosy) and I just love that. I can't wait for Disillusioned!!!!!! I need to know ASAP what's going on and how Bianca will react when she finds out the truth. Ps I think her friend Rosie is suspicious, but I guess I will have to wait and find out. I hope you all read Illusion and any book by J.S. Cooper/Helen Cooper, you will not be disappointed
Shanrock19 More than 1 year ago
This short story was good because I like to get all the perspectives in a story. I didn't like how far Bianca was willing to go to find out answers, and she seems really naïve to me in this story. Since this is part of a series, and shows us more of the origins of the story from Bianca's point of view, I think it's a good thing to read for fans of the series so far. Excited for more of this story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not fun or enjoyable reading this series
psee More than 1 year ago
5 "Perfect Bridge" Stars This is the second book in Cooper's Swept Away Series. Illusion was an amazing full length novel that ended with a huge cliffhanger. This book is a novella and prequel to the first book. You really should read them in order to best enjoy the books. It is great because we get more of the back story between Bianca and David. We also see how Mattias was getting suspicious about Bianca. This book was a great bridge to tide us over until this Spring when Disillusioned comes out. With knowing more of the back story I think we will better understand what may take place in the next book. I was a little shocked that we didn't get any information on Bridgette in this book as I thought she had been dating David and Bianca had interacted with her. On a totally different topic, Rosie was really acting weird in this book. It was almost as if she knew what was going on and I can't help but think she had something to do with what happened in Illusion. I am sure I am just making something out of nothing, but Cooper has me wondering. I just can't wait til we get the rest of this story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. Cant wait for the next one to come out.
LisaMiller More than 1 year ago
This gives us more information on David and Bianca' s relationship. I hope Bianca can find out the truth about what happened to her mother, was it an accident or was it murder? I guess we'll find out in the next book, hopefully. I really enjoyed it and can't wait for more. J.S. has done it again, she has left us wanting more. I would recommend that if you are reading these reviews, then you should go purchase it and find out what we are talking about.
Sandy-thereadingcafe More than 1 year ago
3.75 stars--CHARADE is the prequel novella to J.S Cooper’s Swept Away series focusing on Bianca London and her personal investigation into Bradley Inc. Upon her father’s death, Bianca discovered that there may have been more to her mother’s death than purely an accident. What ensues is Bianca’s attempt to get closer to the Bradley heirs in order to uncover the truth about her father’s claims; betrayal at the hands of a friend; and years of lies and fraud. J.S. Cooper’s CHARADE reveals some of the background information leading to Bianca and David’s relationship; their eventual break up; and hints at a struggling friendship, betrayal and manipulation. There are hidden clues and forewarnings regarding the people in Bianca’s life. No one can be trusted-even a best friend named Judas turned to save his own life. We are introduced to Bianca, David Bradley, and Bianca’s best friend Rosie. We learn a little more about what motivates Bianca, her friendship with Rosie and her attempts to seduce a member of the Bradley family. CHARADE is a quick and revealing read with a hint of betrayal and control; deception, dishonesty and duplicity. The storyline is a build up of deceit, lies, evasion and disbelief.  While Bianca is desperate to uncover the truth, she is incapable of taking her plans through to the next level.