Evening Storm

Evening Storm

by Anne Calhoun

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Overview

The national bestselling author of The List continues her sinfully addictive Irresistible series...
 
When it comes to the wolves of Wall Street, Ryan Hamilton is the leader of the pack. But his bravado is all bluff. The bank he works for is up to its assets in fraud and shady deals. And thanks to pressure from the NYPD and FBI, Ryan is working as both a trader and a whistleblower. His only respite from the tension is when he parades his latest arm candy at a fancy lingerie shop.
 
Simone Demarchelier owns Irresistible, crafting custom high-end lingerie. So she’s more than happy that Ryan is spending a fortune on his women. But she senses that behind the hotshot facade there is something more. Something tortured and sad. And when he flies her out to the Hamptons in the shadow of a summer thunderstorm in order to fix one of her designs, she instead finds herself stuck in the opulent home with a distraught Ryan.
 
Is Simone the one person who can mend Ryan’s heart and soul?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698170766
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/18/2015
Series: An Irresistible Novel
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 166
Sales rank: 691,841
File size: 585 KB

About the Author

Anne Calhoun is the author of many novels including The List, Jaded, Unforgiven, and Uncommon Pleasure. When she’s not writing her hobbies include reading, knitting, and yoga.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“We have a situation in the Silver Room.”

Simone Demarchelier’s assistant, Lorrie, murmured the words as she paused at Simone’s side on her way across the showroom. A padded brown satin hanger draped with the Woodland Nymph bra dangled from Lorrie’s left hand, and similar hangers carefully arranged with matching silk charmeuse robes hung from her raised right hand. A customer waited patiently, for now, by the big front windows.

Simone looked over Lorrie’s shoulder to the fitting rooms at the back of the showroom space. The door to the Silver Room had been closed for nearly thirty minutes, which wasn’t unusual, or even a problem. At Irresistible a woman was free to take as many items into a dressing room as she liked, and was even encouraged to do so. She would be assisted by Simone, Lorrie, or one of the other lingerie fitting experts to ensure the perfect selection with the perfect fit. Buying lingerie was an intensely personal experience, seeking to showcase the truth and beauty of each woman’s skin. So the length of time wasn’t the issue. The problem was that the woman, who Simone recognized as “Just Jade” from the spring Fashion Week runways, had been in the room for thirty minutes with a man.

Simone was French, and far too experienced to be naive, but the situation called for a certain level of tact, and that authority came from the designer and owner, not a salesperson. “I’ll handle it,” she said just as quietly. “See to the woman by the windows.”

A smile firmly fixed to her face, Lorrie moved off, distributing the bras on a rack to one side of the elaborate four-post bed in the middle of the showroom, then the robes on a display on the other side. Hands suitably free, she made contact with the customer. Satisfied, Simone crossed to the fitting rooms and rapped smartly on the door.

“Madame? May I assist you?”

From behind the locked door came a rustle of fabric (the sound of silk and chiffon against wool, if her ears didn’t deceive her), a throat clearing (male), and then a woman’s haughty voice. “As a matter of fact, you may.”

The handle turned and the lock clicked open. Simone automatically registered the dark gray raw silk that draped the ceiling, anchored by a sparkling chandelier. Plush pewter carpet blanketed the floor, and mirrors covered three walls from floor to ceiling. Silver hooks hung at regular intervals on the remaining wall, painted a dusky blue that softened to robin’s egg near the ceiling. The beautiful room looked like a petulant toddler had torn through a toy box full of the highest quality fabric on the market and hundreds of hours of work, much of it by hand. The petulant toddler in question was a supermodel of international fame known by a single name, Jade, describing the unique color of her eyes. Bras, panties, corsets, slips, and nightdresses were strewn from hooks, on the chaise, and the floor.

Despite Simone’s worst fears, Jade was fully dressed, or as dressed as she could be in the Nightwing ensemble, a robe of dramatic thundercloud-gray satin shot through with red, the paler gray panels shifting like racing clouds to expose, then hide, the breasts and thighs. Her caramel and blond hair (definitely extensions) tumbled around her shoulders, framing her dramatic cheekbones and full mouth (either Botox or recently thoroughly kissed).

Simone’s gaze flicked past the woman to the man seated on the moss-green, silk-covered chaise lounge, knees spread, hands laced behind his head, staring fixedly at the ceiling. He wore a charcoal- gray suit her practiced eye immediately recognized as bespoke, and a purple silk tie so luscious her fingers itched to touch it. The tie was loosened, exposing a tab-front collar, and his hair was rumpled, but whether from her fingers or artful styling, Simone couldn’t tell. A telltale heat stained his cheekbones, matching the slightly swollen look of his mouth.

Recently kissed, then.

He turned to look at Simone. When their gazes met, Simone’s heart kicked hard against her breastbone. His hazel eyes widened ever so slightly. She’d never seen this man before in her life, but she knew this type. Her family’s house had been a mainstay in the fashion world for nearly two hundred years. Her father told stories of businessmen in the seventies bringing in their mistresses to be fitted for smart suits perfect for lunching at La Tour d’ Argent. Her grandfather told stories of aristocrats in the thirties bringing in their mistresses to be fitted for ball gowns and day dresses. They both told stories passed down from her grandfather’s grandfather, stories of royalty ordering a king’s ransom in silk corsets, pantaloons, fur-trimmed robes, and sheer nightdresses. Men with money used it to get houses and planes and cars and tables at exclusive restaurants. They also used it to get mistresses, and used it to dress their mistresses for their pleasure. They expected personalized service, immediate delivery, and privacy while the woman du jour modeled for them. They were smart and powerful, and felt at home in a world where politics, entertainment, business, and sex came together in a combustible mix. But because the last thing she needed was a reputation as someone who poached from her clientele, they were off-limits.

Off-limits never looked so irresistible.

For a moment everything and everyone in the room disappeared while the earth turned under them. As she watched him, he reached up and removed a Bluetooth earpiece from his ear, and tucked it in the breast pocket of his suit.

“Now you take that thing out?” Jade sniped. She threw the man a look Simone knew would mean trouble for him later, quite possibly until jewelry appeared in a box of suitable color (pale blue, red, pale green).

She cleared her throat, and reached for her most palliative voice. “How may I help, Madame?”

“Look at this,” Jade said. She gestured at her body, clearly visible through the shifting panels of fabric. “It’s too loose.”

The woman was six foot tall without her heels. She towered over Simone as she made a noncommittal little noise in her throat and gestured for the woman to turn. She did so, spinning on her heel and stalking across the room, then back. Simone used the movement to step into the room and close the door behind her, the better to muffle any forthcoming tantrums. The man on the chaise hadn’t moved an inch. Simone caught his expression in the mirror as they both watched Jade do her runway strut. A grin quirked the corner of his mouth, and his eyes took on an amused cast.

“May I?” she asked when Jade reached her.

“By all means.”

Her companion’s gaze transformed a simple act of dressing into something heated, sensual. To counter the languid currents in the room, Simone briskly loosened the heavy silk bow tied at the woman’s abdomen, situated the fabric’s folds again, and retied the bow. The woman watched her hands move but didn’t fidget or attempt to help Simone.

“The next size down better suits your figure but will simply be too short,” Simone said as she tucked in folds. “I can adjust the fit here, here, and here,” she said, lightly touching her shoulder, waist, and hip.

“Will it hang right?”

“Oui, Madame,” Simone said. She wasn’t above playing up her French accent and speech patterns, especially when it came to soothing the fractious supermodel in her natural environment. “If you’ll come through to the workroom, where the light is better, I’ll make the adjustments myself.”

“Great,” Jade said, and hauled open the door. “I also want the red pieces. I’m going to have another look through the racks,” she said, as if bestowing a favor.

“Of course,” Simone said.

The man on the chaise hadn’t moved a muscle, but now he turned his head again to watch Jade sail into the retail space. She was all but naked, wearing only the kimono, the matching pair of cheeky panties, and her heels, oblivious to the stares as she flicked through the only racks not containing something currently lying on the floor of the fitting room.

Simone moved swiftly, plucking Jade’s requested items from the floor, a hook, and the chaise beside the man. “Une telle princesse,” she murmured. He sat forward as she searched for the size tags to make sure she brought the right ones to the workroom, automatically straightening the items so they draped from her fingertips.

“Sorry,” he said under his breath. His voice was low, rumbling from a deep part of his chest. “She’s in a mood.”

Simone blinked. In her experience, this type never apologized. They didn’t have to. “It’s nothing, sir,” she said. The last thing she needed was for Jade to think she was siding with her meal ticket.

“Obviously I’ll buy the panties, regardless of what else she decides on.”

Simone couldn’t help but smile at that, but she didn’t comment.

“Ryan!” The call bordered on petulant, but didn’t quite make it. “What do you think of this?”

This was the dark gray silk corset meant to be paired with the robe, and Jade clearly expected an opinion, right now, while Ryan stood beside her.

“Ryan,” he said to Simone as he stood. “Not sir. Ryan.”

“Of course, sir,” she said. She knew her place. It was here, in her own shop, keeping her eye on the goal of making Agent Provocateur, Myla, and Tallulah surrender a significant portion of their market share.

He huffed out a laugh as he brushed past her into the showroom. Even now, almost a year into the lease, she felt a rush of pride. The space, in a prime location in the Fashion District, was mixed use, the top floor of what used to be a manufacturing space and was now a showroom, a workroom, and a tiny apartment at the back. The original hardwood floors, polished to a fresh gleam, ran the length of the space. She’d painted the showroom walls a metallic silver to play up the light, and the workroom walls white to keep the light pure. The interior of the shop was warm from the sunlight spilling through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Mannequins modeled ready-to-wear ensembles. Columns of wooden cubes rose behind tables displaying folded items; strategically placed trunks held lightweight throws. The four-post bed, elaborate enough for Marie Antoinette, displayed robes and nightdresses draped over pulled back bedding, hinting at the point of lingerie like this.

Ryan had heeded Jade’s call and was now standing by a rack of silk nightdresses. Their heads were bent together, and as Simone crossed the floor to the door leading to her workroom, she couldn’t help but notice that almost every other woman in the shop covertly glanced at the pair of them. Which one drew their eyes? Even without makeup, Jade was stunningly beautiful in a way that women had been conditioned to not only accept, but to try to emulate. She was tall, rail thin, and putting on a very good show of being comfortable in her body, even though Simone had spent enough time around runway models to know better.

But Ryan, while not classically handsome, was more compelling. He was shorter than Jade, even when she wasn’t wearing the four-inch heels, but when they were standing side-by-side Simone wouldn’t have guessed that. He radiated a Wall Street wolf’s power, a confidence that came from wild success. Not much could drag a man like that away from the markets, but sex usually did the trick. But as she watched Ryan with Jade, she got the sense that he was on edge, a certain tightness around his eyes and jaw.

Simone opened the door leading to her workroom, and waited while Jade selected several additional items to try on. Ryan trailed in her wake as she stalked, head held high, through the door. He gave Simone a little wink when he crossed the threshold. Simone waited until she caught Lorrie’s eye, then tipped her head in the direction of the wrecked silver dressing room. Lorrie blinked resignedly, but she nodded.

Jade, who’d undoubtedly been in dozens of designers’ work spaces, headed straight for the three-way mirror but Ryan looked around the workroom with interest. Rows of sewing machines designed to handle any fabric from the sheerest of lace to leather were lined up near the window, taking advantage of as much natural light as they could get in Manhattan’s canyons. The fabrics she’d chosen for her current collection were stacked in huge bolts along one wall with notions and trim collected in drawers and on rolls next to the fabrics. The close proximity to wholesale fabrics and other accoutrements was the primary reason why she had located in the fashion district. “You make everything on-site?”

“Yes,” Simone said. By doing so, she retained complete control over the production process, and over quality. If her growth predictions proved accurate and with a bit of luck—the right magazine spread, social media buzz—she would need additional space in a year or so.

Without any direction Jade took up position in front of the three-way mirror. Comfortable chairs gathered around it, with low tables and outlets in the floor for laptops and other peripherals. Simone slipped the pincushion her grand-mère had entrusted to her when she was five years old onto her wrist, and began securing the shoulders, waist, and hip of the robe. Then she tucked her tailored black skirt under her bottom and went to her heels to pin the hem.

“Would you like me to hem the robe with or without the shoes?” Surely the woman didn’t plan to wear them all the time, but if Simone hemmed the robe with the shoes, then when she was barefoot, the silk hem would trail along the ground. When an answer didn’t come quickly, she looked up the considerable length of Jade’s body, only to find her looking in the mirror at Ryan.

“What would you like, baby?” Jade asked in a low, intimate tone.

Simone was used to this, used to being invisible, talked over, and around, and even through as she fitted garments to bodies. But the look Jade gave Ryan made something simmer low in Simone’s belly. It was envy, she realized, rasping against arousal like satin against chiffon. Frequently women like Jade faked their enthusiasm for men’s attentions. Women always saw through that act, while men rarely seemed to, but Jade wasn’t faking it. Whatever had happened in that dressing room before Simone knocked on the door wasn’t something Jade tolerated in order to get a shopping trip or a bauble from Van Cleef and Arpels.

She liked the sex. She wanted more of it. She was deploying all of her rather considerable feminine wiles to get it.

Simone turned her head to look directly at Ryan. Rather than sitting in one of the chairs close to Jade, he was braced against one of the worktables, arms folded across his chest and legs crossed at the ankle. Outside the action. Watching it. Stripped of the clothes and shoes that emphasized the power he exuded, he might be rather unremarkable. Dishwater blond hair, a square face dominated by interesting eyes that started out green and turned to gray around the pupil, the body of a man who worked at a desk with a Bluetooth headset in one ear studying spreadsheets and predictions and charts, analyzing trends, searching for the best way to make billions. And yet, looking at them, she had no doubt that this man drew people to him, not just women but other men, too, because there was just something about him.

Charisma. The fashion and design worlds were full of charismatic people, individuals with brilliant ideas and the drive to see them become a reality on the runway, in fashion magazines, and worn by stars and socialites and political figures. Simone should be inured to it. But now, with Ryan in her workroom, studying the body of his current lover with a detachment Simone found both perplexing and hot as hell, she realized that she was far less inured to it than she thought.

“What I would like,” he said, still detached, still hot, “is to see how the whole ensemble looks with the corset.”

The temperature in the room shot up a couple degrees, or at least in the portion of the room the three of them currently occupied. Simone straightened, rolling from her knees to the balls of her feet, then rising. The delicate gauze of the robe brushed against the sensitive skin of her forearm, raising goose bumps, but it was the way Ryan watched the two of them together that sent a delicate shiver across the nape of her neck.

“Of course, sir,” she said quietly.

“It’s Ryan.”

She gave him a flustered nod and hurried from the workroom back to the showroom, where she selected the matching corset in two sizes, then trotted back into the workroom. Jade and Ryan hadn’t moved. When Simone reached her side, Jade fixed her gaze on Ryan’s reflection in the mirror, then reached for the kimono-style tie at her waist, languidly pulled the trailing end free so that the robe gaped open, then shrugged once. The fabric whispered from her shoulders to pool at her feet, leaving her in nothing but the satin panties and her heels.

They made for an erotic triptych in the mirror: Simone in her black pencil skirt and black heels, a silk Pucci tank top in wild shades of red and blue and orange, with her red hair coiled to lay over one shoulder; Jade, statuesque and nearly naked, her nipples peaking in the cool air; Ryan behind them, out of reach but in total control of the situation. The slow nod he gave Simone to indicate she should secure the corset around Jade’s torso once again reminded Simone of the absolute power possessed by men with money.

Simone had fitted clothes to hundreds and hundreds of women at fashion shows and private fittings, the design process by which a new collection was created. She was comfortable with bodies in all shapes, sizes, and colors. It simply wasn’t erotic. It was work.

And yet, with Ryan watching, it was unbelievably erotic.

The corset fastened in the back with a series of hooks and eyes. Simone stretched it around the front of Jade’s torso; Jade’s hands held the corset to her abdomen while Simone fastened each hook and eye running from between her shoulder blades to the base of her spine. Her hair whispered over her shoulder as she bent her head, but Simone didn’t miss the glance she flicked the mirror. The corset didn’t cover her breasts. It didn’t even provide support. It was intended only to emphasize the curve of a woman’s waist, and to draw attention to what was left uncovered both above and below.

Ryan hadn’t moved, but the hints of a flush stood high in his cheekbones as he studied his mistress, his gaze moving slowly from her lips to her throat to her bare breasts, the corset, the expanse of skin between the end of the corset and the top edge of the silk panties, then down the length of her legs to her feet in heels. Jade’s breath came in short, quick inhales and exhales, although Simone couldn’t tell whether this was from Ryan’s gaze on her body, or the constricted breathing from the corset.

“What do you think?”

The question was directed at her, not Jade. Her mouth had gone dry, so Simone swallowed, then said, “The corset fits perfectly, sir.”

“That’s not what I’m asking.” Flat. A tone that said Don’t play games with me.

Simone stretched out her finger and ran the tip down the line of hooks and eyes mirroring Jade’s spine until her finger came to rest between the dimples on either side of Jade’s tailbone. “She’s exquisite.”

“She certainly is.” A small smile danced around Ryan’s mouth as he spoke, and Simone couldn’t help feeling that, against her will, she had been drawn into something she’d intended to avoid.

“Help her put the robe back on.”

Simone crouched, gathered the fabric in her hands, and slid it over Jade’s waiting arms. Without being told, she stood between Jade and the mirror and fastened the robe at her waist. Whether from long experience as a fashion model or the submissive undertones simmering in the room, Jade made no move to help her. When the belt was arranged to suit her, Simone stepped aside to give Ryan a clear view.

“Definitely keep the heels.”

To Simone’s experienced eye, there never really had been any question of whether or not to keep the heels. Even without the corset the outfit simply wasn’t one to be worn barefoot. Bare feet were for the soft cottons of her sleep T line, for wrapping up in a fluffy chenille robe and sitting in a chaise on the deck of a house in the Hamptons, sipping coffee and watching the sunrise.

The image bloomed in her mind the way the sun would burnish the ocean in a dozen different shades of orange and pink and yellow. She could smell the coffee, feel the chenille against her naked skin, a hard chest at her back and strong arms wrapped around her.

Ryan’s arms.

She looked at him. He looked at her, and while she didn’t know what he was thinking about, she would bet her LLC that he wasn’t imagining a romantic interlude with her at a beach house. An unfamiliar sensation bloomed alongside the slow, heated arousal she was fighting to keep hidden. The sensation was regret, but not the regret of decisions made, but the longing for something she’d denied herself. The odds of Ryan marrying or making a life with Jade were slim to none, but they were better than the odds of her having even a single weekend with him.

Ryan stood, and with two slow steps stood next to Simone. He tugged free the robe’s intricate knot, revealing Jade’s peaked nipples and flat belly. “Show me how to tie it.”

Simone couldn’t breathe. Working from muscle memory she demonstrated the folds and knots. Ryan opened the robe one last time, then tied it perfectly on the first try. He looked at her, ostensibly for confirmation, but the heat in his eyes turned a simple check-in for understanding into something she wasn’t supposed to share with him.

She took a step back, then nodded. She would provide Ryan a service, and keep him firmly in the client category. Ryan’s real business, the thing he took seriously, wasn’t standing in front of him. It was in the spreadsheets and the analyst calls and derivatives and loopholes and margins. Her business was merely his pleasure and she would do well to remember that.

“I believe the showroom manager has your clothes collected for you, Madame,” she said.

“Go get dressed,” Ryan said to Jade.

“We’re going to lunch, right?” Jade threw over her shoulder as she sailed toward the door.

Ryan’s expression didn’t change, but Simone saw the muscle leap in his jaw. “Yes, we’re going to lunch.” The door closed behind Jade, and he turned his heavy-lidded gaze on Simone. “When can you have the alterations finished?”

“That depends on how quickly you need them, sir.”

“I’d like to have them by close of business tomorrow. I will, of course, pay for the rush order.”

Simone mentally reviewed her production schedule. If she pulled Estelle off the collection she was putting together to pitch to Barney’s, the alterations would be done perfectly the first time. “Of course, sir. I’ll put my best seamstress to work on it first thing in the morning.”

He shook his head “No. I want you to do it.”

Simone felt her eyebrows lift at the imperious command. “It is impossible—” she began.

He cut her off. “It’s you, or I cancel the order.”

Her hackles lifted all along her shoulders as she straightened them. One of Ryan’s blond eyebrows lifted ever so slightly. Simone drew in a breath, battened down her redheaded temper, and said, “Of course, sir.”

“Bill me whatever,” he said carelessly as he reached into his breast pocket and withdrew the Bluetooth earpiece.

“I will bill you what is customary and appropriate for rush alterations,” she said, drawing her not-inconsiderable dignity around her.

That wry smile lifted one corner of his mouth again. “Then I’ll just have to tip you something outrageous and inappropriate,” he said, low and smooth.

She shook her head, but he was already moving, the earpiece firmly embedded in his ear, his phone at his hand as he scrolled through texts and emails. Jade emerged from the dressing room in heels, a pair of skinny jeans, and a loose sweater over a tank top. A six-thousand dollar handbag dangled from the crook of her elbow. She ran a dismissive eye over Simone, then looped her arm through Ryan’s.

After the door closed behind them, the entire room seemed to settle its ruffled feathers. Simone collected the outfit from the Silver Room, where it was draped neatly over the back of the chaise. If nothing else, Jade took care of the things that belonged to her. At the counter, Lorrie began to sort through the tangled mass of lingerie left in Jade’s wake, hanging bras on silk hangers, sorting the panties by size and style before folding them neatly. “Did you recognize her?” she asked.

“She walked for Dolce and Gabbana and Calvin Klein at Fashion Week. Did you recognize him?”

“Oh yes,” Lorrie said. “From the New York Times style section, Page Six of the Post, a few celebrity blogs. He’s a high-up at MacCarren.”

Simone thanked her lucky stars that she kept her temper under control. MacCarren was one of the oldest, most respected names in financial services, an exclusive, tightly held wealth management firm. While her family’s powerful corporation, Demarchelier House, had loyal clients, that connection was no guarantee of success. She had ten months in business, a reputation for her impetuous temper, and she’d worked what connections she could already. A man like Ryan Hamilton had connections to people who could not only afford her designs, but also valued the quality and the craftsmanship. He dated the kind of women who worshipped fashion, and better yet, endlessly crowed over their finds on social media. He would bring the right women to her showroom, clients who could make or break her season. Therefore, despite his heated looks and his charisma, nothing would come of the connection. She would make the necessary alterations. He would send someone to pick them up. She wouldn’t see him again until Jade or another woman like her decided it was time for something new.

Twisting her hair into a coil, she tucked it over one shoulder, collected the items to be altered, then went to claim a station in the workroom. She ripped the seams of the robe, detached the lace, pinned everything to Jade’s measurements, then took her needle and thread to a stool by the floor to ceiling windows to make the alterations. The summer sunlight was a hot, physical touch on her nape and shoulder, and not even the pleasure she took in her work could stave off the combination of regret and desire simmering low in her belly.

Chapter Two

Ryan Hamilton looked around the conference table populated by men and women in suits, badges pinned to their lapels or belts. Laptops were open and connected to the secure Wi-Fi network. Legal pads sat next to the laptops, and people made notes as the meeting progressed. At the front of the room a man stood in front of a projection screen, giving a presentation about high value targets.

It looked like a typical business meeting. It could be happening at any one of thousands of companies or multinational corporations around the five boroughs. It could even be happening at MacCarren, the firm Ryan had called home since he graduated from the Wharton School of Business a decade earlier. Not even the late hour, after eight in the evening, disqualified this meeting from the realm of normal.

What launched it into the realm of unbelievable was the fact that every individual in the room except for Ryan wore a badge that identified them as agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But not Ryan. Ryan wore a temporary badge labeled VISITOR, which was being polite. His correct title was “whistleblower.” Which was also being polite.

He was a rat, pure and simple. No matter how often he told himself he was doing the right thing, he knew he was a rat. There were laws governing the running of investment houses and banks: federal laws, state laws, local laws. MacCarren hired lawyers, well-paid, well-educated lawyers, to navigate those laws. Then there were the unwritten laws governing the conduct of employees within those corporations. Rule number one: make as much money as you can, as fast as you can. If the SEC catches you doing something wrong, take the fine and deal with moral and ethical questions not at all.

There was no rule number two.

If you did decide you couldn’t stomach the world of hedge funds, derivatives, and investment banks, the right thing to do was to quit and take a job somewhere else. There was the right thing to do, and then there was the rat thing to do. Ryan had chosen the rat thing.

A few weeks ago, when he’d accidentally stumbled upon rarely used accounts and followed the money into offshore accounts and the sure knowledge that Don and Charles, the father and son team leading MacCarren, were running a massive Ponzi scheme behind the scenes, he’d taken an early lunch, hailed a cab, and gone to the federal building in downtown Manhattan where he’d asked to see an agent working on white-collar crime. Daniel Logan, the agent he’d sat down with that day, now sat directly to his right, with another agent Daniel worked with seated to Ryan’s left. Ryan had labeled him the Jock; based on the way the Jock looked at him, he’d classified Ryan as the kind of skinny math geek he used to torment in the hallways. Ryan was pretty sure they were both dead-on.

Technically speaking, Daniel was his handler, checking in with Ryan every twenty-four to thirty-six hours, arranging meetings, and generally making sure that Ryan didn’t bolt for a country with no extradition treaty. Ryan had no intention of bolting, and anyway, he turned over his passport at the beginning of this process. Besides, when he started something, he finished it, even if finishing this would end him.

The agent at the front of the room was droning on about time lines, indictments, subpoenas. Ryan zoned out, thinking about something that he’d started at Irresistible. Not with Jade. That was over before it began, although she didn’t know it. No, he was thinking about Simone.

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