Stuck writing for the dull society pages, journalist Darcy Delacorte sets her sights on getting an interview with reclusive millionaire Micah Laine. While she expects the broody tycoon to be a challenge, she isn’t prepared for his dark charm or his price for the sordid details of his past—a price that begins with her spending a week alone with him.
Micah may be a loner, but he’s not a monk, and there’s something about Darcy... He decides that if Darcy wants him to reveal his secrets, she’s going to have to reveal a little of herself. The bigger the revelation he offers up, the bigger the cost he’ll demand from her—a secret of her own, her wildest fantasies, a kiss. And that’s only for starters...
But when Darcy reveals a vulnerability Micah never expected,he knows he should get away fast, or be in danger of losing his heart.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Jocelyn is a high school office grunt by day and creator of romance by night. Born a farmer’s daughter with a vivid imagination, she spent her childhood dreaming up stories.
With no formal training, she relied on the honest feedback of her writing group to take her from the first short story all the way to THE END of her first novel. She now has nine published novels, and her newest contemporary romance will be coming to Entangled Select in the near future.
When she isn’t slinging words, you can find her shooting her bow or enjoying the serenity of family life in her little house in the woods.
Read an Excerpt
Suddenly aware of pain in his arm, Micah Laine went to the window of his fourth-floor office in downtown Toronto, rubbing the ache that never left him since it had been broken in several places last year. If one more disaster rolled over his desk today, he was going to lose his shit.
His dark mood worsened when he recognized the hoodie-wearing asshole of a reporter who'd been stalking him for the particulars of his escape from Colombian kidnappers. It was a period of his life he wished he could forget. Not that anyone seemed inclined to let him, not even his own steel trap of a mind.
The photographer looked up at Micah, raising a camera. The guy had probably snapped a dozen pictures by the time Micah whirled away from the window. Boy, karma was kicking him hard in the nuts this week. Those photos would be on tomorrow's front page, without a doubt. Thanks to the tinting of his office windows, which would obscure all but a shadow of his silhouette, the public's imaginations would have to complete the picture of his ruin. Good thing, too. Wouldn't want to scare them with his new face.
His cheek and chest had healed on the outside as well as could be expected. After weeks of captivity at the hands of a sadistic drug lord, the scars on the inside would take longer to heal.
Distant screams filled his ears, ripping away his tentative grip on the present and thrusting him back to the jungle, to the burn of the blade, and a scream that threatened to shatter him. Run, Micah, run!
"I'm sorry," he rasped through a tight throat. "I'm so sorry."
A knock on his door sent him lurching sideways. The sound of breath rushing in and out filled his ears, and sweat had broken out across his forehead. He cleared his throat of knots and returned to his leather chair. "Not now, Maggie," he barked through the door.
It opened anyway, and white curls appeared through it, followed by the rest of her.
"I said not now. Get out." Could he be any more of a grouchy bastard? It was a miracle his administrative assistant hadn't told him to piss off by now. The proper English lady had the patience of a saint.
"Your grumbling doesn't scare me," she said in a gravelly voice that matched her age — sixty-eight as of last March.
He scowled at the kindly British ex-pat. "If it's bad news, I've hit my limit today. The venue for next week's gala burst a pipe last night, and the caterer broke her legs waterskiing." Thank hell his business partner, Cynthia, was already working on other options.
Maggie moved farther into the room, fussing with the buttons on her blue blazer — an odd move for a woman who had few nervous habits. "Now, I need your word you'll hear me out before saying no."
Groaning, he turned and gathered his fingers together on his desk. "You're not making a good case for yourself." Why was he acting like such an insufferable dick? It wasn't Mag's fault his life was taking the long road to hell. "Fine, I'm listening."
"There's a woman I want you to speak to." She tilted her head forward, peering at him over the top of her glasses in obvious challenge.
His lips twitched. "A woman. That doesn't sound so bad. Now, stop fidgeting and get to the part I'm going to say no to."
"She's an aspiring journalist, and don't point that glare at me, Micah Laine. You gave your word to hear me out, and I'll thank you to keep it."
He marched to the window and thrust his finger toward the reporter now sitting on one of the cars parked on the street below. "They pop up everywhere, flashing cameras in my face. It's like I'm in prison all over again. If they're not in person, they're emailing and calling, and that woman who came to 'volunteer' last week ended up naked on my desk, offering a night with her in exchange for the details of what happened in Colombia."
If the pretty vulture hadn't turned ashen at the sight of his facial scars when he'd pulled his hair back to scare her off, he might have considered a roll in the hay with her. He missed the soft press of a female body against his, the sexual ache growing worse by the day.
"Are you finished?" Her grandmotherly glower knocked him down a notch.
Nodding, he crossed his arms. "For now."
"This woman isn't like the ones down there, with no scruples. She's a blogger I've been following for some time, who has old-fashioned values. She wants to write a piece about the foundation for the Toronto Today newspaper, and I want you to let her."
Jesus, really? "If you believe that's what she really wants, someone's going to sell you a bridge one of these days."
Micah had begun the Coming Home Foundation shortly after his return from Colombia. There were too many families that had nowhere to go for help recovering loved ones from foreign kidnapping and wrongful imprisonment cases. They'd had several successes, but he doubted the blogger gave a royal red shit about any of them.
Maggie sighed and gripped the hips of her skirt suit. "Cooperation for a brighter future. It takes not a village, but an entire nation to right the wrongs of those who commit crimes against humanity, to save those who cannot save themselves. You said that. I came to Canada to thank you for bringing my grandson home to me last year. I stayed because I believe in you and what you're doing.
"This journalist is a relative unknown, but she's genuine, fighting for a cause that's not so different from yours. You know this would be good publicity and possibly add a few much-needed coins to the coffers, not to mention it might break open the mystery of how you freed everyone from that camp, a point of fascination the public loves to chatter on about."
If this woman had swayed Maggie, she must have been a pro. "Who is she?"
"Darcy Delacorte, as pretty as she is unusual, and I trust her interest in the foundation."
"Pretty, huh?" His smile grew into mischief, his left cheek pulling strangely around the scar that zigzagged from his left temple, nearly missing his eye, and passing over the corner of his mouth, ending halfway down his neck.
"I don't like that devilish look about you," Mags said. "Don't slam this door before you know what's behind it. I think the two of you can help each other for the betterment of everyone. You have a lovely philosophy, but it doesn't mean much if you don't practice it."
Damn, it was a bitch to have a voice of conscience barging into his moods. "How do you expect me to trust a journalist?"
"You don't have to trust her, only me." Returning to the door, her skirt swishing around her knees, she said, "You've become a good man, and it's time everyone saw him. My grandson survived because of you, and so did five others. Remember that."
Micah's lip curled up along with his fists. "Did he survive, Mags? Did any of us?" At her gasp, his gaze fell over her hand covering her mouth, the sight twisting his stomach. Her grandson had tried to kill himself twice since they'd survived.
He rose and rushed to her, bending down to kiss her wrinkled forehead. "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry."
A sad smile graced her lips as she straightened the collar of his shirt, the kind of mothering he'd missed since losing his parents at the tender age of fourteen. "You don't have to tell her everything," she said. "David told me about the terrible choice you had to make that day. It's a choice nobody should have to face, not even God himself."
In the grips of a shudder, Micah said, "Don't."
"Just be civil, listen to what she has to say, and have an open mind." Mags patted his chest, handed him a business card, and smiled up at him before heading out the door. "Her blog address is on there if you're interested. She'll be here in half an hour."
"Wait, here? I don't like anyone in my space, Mags, and certainly not a reporter."
"You won't see a therapist, and you don't trust the media with your secrets. So tell Darcy enough of your story to free you from the hounding of the press without crucifying you in the process. Plus, Cynthia's getting worn out, which you've obviously noticed, because you sent her to your cottage for the weekend. She's good at fundraising, but she's not you, and you've been out of commission since those camera-wielding twits showed up at the museum gala months ago. We need you back out there. All of the prisoners of conscience and kidnapping victims we could help need you out there."
Goddammit. Maggie had found her mark with precision, and his gut filled with nails. As much as he wanted to shrug her off, Micah had no good arguments. The foundation needed him as much as he needed the foundation. He had money, but not enough to keep the foundation doing the kind of good work it needed to be doing long term, all around the world at a moment's notice. He needed donors. And donors didn't like scandals. Not to mention that families in need might question his motives and effectiveness in bringing their loved ones home. Failure wasn't an option, which meant he needed to find his way back to the public eye.
Maggie smiled at the surrender that must have shown on his face. "Did I tell you she has a wonderful huskiness to her voice, like Kathleen Turner? She has energy to spare, that one. If only we were all so lucky."
After Maggie left, he stood there, staring at his closed door. There'd be no saving him from what he'd done. No going back to the life he had, as depraved as it had been. The Micah Laine he'd been had died in that stinking jungle camp, and he'd been reduced to a miserable soul stuck in purgatory, left with all of the unfinished business he should have been concerned with when life had been easy. When all his energy had gone into padding his bank account instead of putting his considerable resources toward helping others. Now, post-Colombia, there could be nothing else.
God, why did Mags have to invite the reporter here? Even if Mags insisted Darcy was a new breed of journalist, she'd look into him deeper than he wanted anyone seeing. Maybe it would be a good idea to dig up some dirt on the woman.
Back at his desk, he called up the blog address on the business card Mags had given him. A picture of a young woman graced the top right-hand column amidst a tasteful color scheme of blue and white, and below that, links to charitable causes, including his own.
The layers of her medium brown hair curled out at the ends in a modern, sassy style. She had fair skin, with a hint of healthy pink on her cheeks, long lashes laid across them. An angel's face on a new kind of devil.
She was a natural beauty instead of the plastic women he used to date. Striking powder blue eyes that needed no makeup stared at something over the photographer's shoulder. They'd caught her mid-laugh, her glossed lips parted, the force of it causing the corner of those beautiful eyes to crinkle. She probably used her cuteness to win people over, but he was immune to feminine wiles.
He wouldn't forget who she was and what she wanted — his raw and angry demons.
Beneath her name on the blog, she'd printed her mission statement. Facts without prejudice, truth without spectacle, and delivered with compassion.
"Give me a fucking break." He closed his laptop and shoved at his hair again. She'd be here in half an hour, and those blue eyes would see everything, because she was a consumer of people. Not like he used to be, for pleasure and business, but to manipulate them into spilling their guts.
He pulled his latest case file from the rack on the corner of his desk and opened it. A small girl with large brown eyes stared up at him from the picture her grandmother had provided, begging Micah to save her from the asshole who'd abducted her. Her own father. Intel suggested he'd taken her to Sierra Leone. Maneuvering around the corruption in West Africa wasn't going to come cheap.
Micah slumped back in his chair. Of course Mags was right. Wasn't she always? He hated it, but he had to talk to the reporter, even if it meant reopening his wounds. His temper would be a problem. He'd have to keep a cool head and give Miss Delacorte nothing she'd twist and use against him.
And she would.
They always did.
Although the hour Maggie asked for during their phone conversation hadn't passed yet, Darcy couldn't keep herself from crossing the street when camera flashes reflected off Micah's building.
One man stood on the sidewalk in a blue hoodie. The last time she'd seen Malcolm Franks, he'd been shoving his camera in the face of a four-year-old girl whose mother had just been hit by a bus right in front of her.
As far as scum-spewing freelance dirtbags were concerned, Malcolm was the king. Figures he'd have taken up residence outside the office of the juiciest untold story of the decade. News outlets around the world offered big bucks for pictures of Micah and facts about how he'd escaped Colombia with six other hostages. Public interest in the story was quickly turning him into a legend — some casting him as the hero, and others, the villain. Darcy had her theories about the former millionaire playboy, and she hoped they were right.
His story was the price Sol, her boss, demanded in exchange for what she'd been fighting for all along: a chance to investigate and report on the international drug trade's exploitation of children in Toronto. She had sources willing to talk; now she needed Sol to give her the nod to go after news that could make a difference.
She marched up to Malcolm, resisting an urge to yell in his smug face. "Why am I not surprised to see you here?" she asked, meeting his icy stare. "Stalking Micah Laine isn't going to get you anywhere." Hypocritical, considering she'd covertly stalked his assistant through the elderly woman's blog comments and befriended her, but Malcolm didn't need to know that.
He grinned and held up his camera. "The shot I took this morning will probably pay my rent for three months. And I'm not doing anything illegal. This is a public street. The more interesting question is why are you here? If you're really thinking about going after Laine, you are way out of your league. This guy's high class, and you always look like you just crawled out of a donation hamper at the Goodwill."
She thought about telling him about her potential meeting with Micah, but she was a girl on a mission and wouldn't risk any interference. "You'd better get along home. I'm sure your mom has your grilled cheese ready for you by now." Paparazzi tactics had always irked her, and she refused to adopt them despite Sol's insistence that they were the only way to succeed in this business.
"Nobody cares about bleeding heart human-interest stories anymore, Delacorte. You'll have to get nasty if you want to play with the big boys. Oh, and have fun in your basement cubicle. I hear you have to wear rubber boots every time it rains."
She shrugged. "Yeah, so what? I'd rather have wet feet than no soul." Fuming, she turned her back on his laughter and went through glass doors into the lobby of the building done up in white marble tile. Fancy, like the guy upstairs. No kidding she didn't belong here, not that she wanted to. She just had to endure the hoity-toity Laine long enough to open a few professional doors.
The playboy had once been a poster boy for everything that was wrong with modern society, prior to his kidnapping. He'd pretty much disappeared from the public eye since his return from South America last year, aside from the initial fundraising galas for the foundation where he hosted from a dim corner of a ballroom. The public wanted to know why, and she intended to find out. Along with why he'd started the foundation in the first place.
A short ride in a mirrored elevator took her to the fourth floor, where Maggie stood at a filing cabinet beside a corner desk unit. The only other items in the room were a large fern and a picture on the wall of the Toronto skyline at night. What had she expected, armed guards? Crystal chandeliers, or, given the man behind the door, a brass pole and dancing girls? It seemed simpler than Micah Laine would keep his territory, and too easily accessed.
"You're a bit early." Maggie extended her hand, and they shook. "It's such a pleasure to finally meet you in person." Maggie's lids lowered, and she raised fingers to Darcy's cheek as if they were family. "You're flushed. Is everything all right?"
"It will be. I need to talk to Mr. Laine about your paparazzi problem before I go back down there and knock a man's thick head in."
"By all means." Maggie gestured toward the only door that didn't have a picture of stairs on it, a mischievous smile curling her lips. "I'm glad I'm not the only one pissed off with that wanker of a photographer."
Excerpted from "Nightingale"
Copyright © 2017 Joanne Galbraith.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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