“I think your mother had an affair with my business partner.”
Suddenly, Lacey’s life is turned upside down. Everything she thought she knew is suddenly in question, and she isn’t sure who she can trust. Jon is the only one who seems to be on the level, but she knows that he’s really only looking out for one thing: his business. That knowledge doesn’t stop her from developing feelings for him, though.
After a devastating betrayal by his wife, Jon has sworn off love. He’ll commit to fun and sex, but he makes sure that women understand he won’t commit to anything beyond that. But with Lacey, it’s different. He can’t treat her the way he treats other women. But he made a promise to his business partner, and that has to be his priority.
His feelings for Lacey grow, and he soon realizes that his feelings for her and his promise to his partner are in conflict with each other. Torn between keeping his word and a growing sense of loyalty to Lacey, Jon tries to find a balance.
As their search for the truth goes deeper, so does their relationship. The question is, will it survive when all the truth has been revealed?
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was a stay at home mom with a young child, and I had a lot of free time when he was napping, so I just sat down one day and started writing. The idea was sparked by something I saw on a talk show (What can I say? Daytime TV tends to be strange.)
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
These characters were just sort of there. There wasn’t really anything I did to come up with them.
“I think your mother had an affair with my business
Lacey stopped entering information into the computer, her
hands poised in midair over the keyboard.
“Excuse me?” she asked, her voice very quiet.
She was a beautiful woman. Long, dark blond hair was
restrained in a braid down her back. Her chocolate brown eyes
looked at him in confusion, her slender eyebrows perfectly
arched above them. There was something about her that struck
him as sweet, maybe even innocent.
“I think my business partner once had an affair…actually, a
relationship with your mother.” he repeated.
“You don’t know who my mother is.”
“Renee Rider. And you’re Lacey Rider.” Now that he was here,
he realized his opening statement might not have been the
“How do you know that and who are you?” He saw wariness
enter her eyes, and she pushed her chair away from her desk,
her body tensing as though she was preparing to run.
“I’m Jon Holland. I own Holland Construction. I know who you
are because my company built this building and did the
interior work. We knew who it was for. I know who your mother
is because everyone knows who your mother is. How could anyone
in this county, or in Florida for that matter, not know who
the Reeds and the Riders are? She came from a rich family and
married into an even richer one.” His recitation was rapid
fire, shooting off the facts as quickly and tonelessly as
possible. He wanted to get down to the real reason he was
“All right, so explain to me why you’re here?” Her voice was
tense, and he wondered if it was the mention of her family’s
wealth or just his mere presence that bothered her.
“My business partner. I think he once had an affair with
your mother,” he repeated slowly. “He’s looking for her now.”
“I’m sorry? You think he had an affair with my mother?”
Lacey was gracious enough not to laugh, but he could tell she
found the idea outrageous. “You must be mistaken.”
She sat back down, intending it to be a dismissal.
“I could very well be. However, he says that she’s the
reason he left Lake View, and went to New York. He claims to
have been in love with her and that she used him.”
“Impossible. My mother would never use anyone She’s a very
loving, generous woman.”
Lacey’s loyalty was admirable. He hoped it wasn’t misplaced.
“I’m sure she is. I just want to find out if it’s true that
they were involved and see if I can arrange for him to see her
“Why do you care? He’s just your business partner.”
“Because he’s not just my business partner. He’s a very good
friend. Really, my best friend. He is miserable and depressed
and it’s not only dragging me down, it’s affecting our
business. He hasn’t made much of an effort lately to bring in
new business. While I’m pretty good at it myself, I prefer to
be on the labor end of our operation.”
“So, this is really to help you, not him.”
“Helping him helps me. Helping him is my priority. Are you
willing to help me or not?” He tried to keep his frustration
out of his tone, but it wasn’t easy.
“What am I supposed to help you do exactly?” It was clear
she didn’t know what he wanted, and was rapidly getting
exasperated with him.
“Well, do you know if she had an affair with him?” Jon asked
jokingly, raising an eyebrow. The question was blunt, and he
knew it had to shock her. He also knew she probably didn’t
know the answer. Though he meant it as a joke, he also figured
it didn’t hurt to just put it out there. Sometimes people
surprised you with what they knew.
“Well, first you have to tell me his name,” she drawled,
raising an eyebrow at him. He smiled sheepishly. He should
have thought this through more carefully.
“Oh. Sorry. His name is James Murphy. Everyone calls him
“The name means nothing to me. If she ever was involved with
him, she apparently never thought it important enough to say
anything to anyone about it. But, I doubt very much that she
was ever involved with him. She married my father at
seventeen. She never cheated on my dad, at least not that I’m
“Well, most mothers don’t tell their little girls they’re
cheating on Daddy,” he commented wryly. She blushed, which
added to the already pink tinge on her pale skin. It was a
cute look on her. It also added to that innocent air he
“I simply meant that she never acted suspiciously,” Lacey
told him haughtily, looking down her nose at him.
“Okay,” he said, laughing. “Would you be willing to talk to
her about it? Ask her if she remembers him, at least?”
“Look, my mother’s past isn’t my business. I don’t think she’d
like me asking about it,” she responded. “Besides, most
children don’t ask their mother who they dated before they got
“You aren’t the slightest bit curious?” he inquired, his
eyebrows raised. “Just a tiny little bit?” He held up his
thumb and forefinger, barely separated.
“No,” she answered, but he knew she lied.
“Okay. So, you don’t care if a fellow businessman loses
everything over a hidden affair that may or may not have
happened. That’s fine.” He sighed dramatically, pretending the
whole world was ending. She rolled her eyes.
“I don’t really think you’re going to lose everything just
because your business partner is pining over a woman he claims
to have had a relationship with several years ago, if not a
few decades ago.”
“Look, Lacey, I’m asking for a little help. If you don’t
want to give it, that’s fine. But, don’t be a bitch about it.
I just thought that you might be willing to smooth the way a
bit. But it won’t stop me if you don’t.” His voice was harsh,
his eyes were hard. He’d hoped to use her to get to her
mother, but he would just approach Renee Rider himself, if
need be. Lacey was just a means to an end, and if she wouldn’t
help him, he’d find another way to get what he wanted.
Lacey stared at him for a moment, anger glimmering deep in
her own eyes. He knew that anger would be a force to be
reckoned with if he inspired her to unleash it on him. He was
beginning not to care.
“Are you threatening my mother? Or me?” she asked quietly.
He sighed. He knew the wrong word would unleash the storm in
“No, Lacey, I am not threatening your mother or you. I am
simply informing you that like it or not, I plan to approach
your mother and ask her about Jim. I came to you, hoping you
might want to help, or at least facilitate a meeting between
her and I. It doesn’t really matter to me if you get involved
or not. I’m going to talk to her. Your presence is optional,
and your approval is not required.”
“Fine. Since you insist on harassing my mother, I will be
there to protect her from you,” Lacey finally said. He rolled
his eyes this time.
“I’m not going to harass her. I’m just going to talk to her.
That’s all, just talk.”
“Fine. Call it what you want. I say it’s harassment, but
I’ll call my mother and arrange a meeting. Leave me your phone
number and I’ll call you after I talk to her.”
“Couldn’t you call her now?” Jon pressed. She looked at him
with her eyes narrowed. That fierce anger glinted again in the
depths of those chocolate eyes. It made her even more
“I said I would call her, and I will. But not right now.
Leave me your phone number and I will call you. You don’t need
to worry that I’m going to try to pull a fast one on you. I
stick to my word,” she replied, and he knew she was implying
that he wouldn’t.
“Fine.” He pulled out a business card that contained his
business office and cell phone numbers, and scrawled his home
phone number on the back of it. He tossed it on her desk,
where it skidded on the slick surface to come to rest in front
“Fine. You’ll probably hear from me tomorrow.” She looked
directly at him, ignoring the creamy white rectangle in front
He was going to leave, but he stopped. She was gorgeous. He
found himself wanting her, in spite of her haughty attitude.
Or maybe because of it, he reflected. She was very different
from the women he usually dated, yet he found himself wanting
to get to know her anyway. He decided to follow his impulse,
even if this was horrible timing.
“Would you like to go out sometime?”
“Excuse me? You come in, inform me that you think my mother
and your business partner once had a torrid affair and you
want me to help you harass my mother into thinking of her
possible past indiscretions and then you ask me out to dinner?
I think that’s a little… odd, don’t you?” Her words said she
did, but her eyes said something different. So, he pushed it a
“No. I think you’re attractive. I want to get to know you.
Is that so horrible? Besides, I like an argumentative woman,”
he said. He winked to soften the statement.
“I’m not argumentative!” she cried. He smiled and looked at
her. “I’m not!”
“Okay,” he said, laughing. “Would you like to have dinner
She didn’t answer right away, staring at him through
narrowed brown eyes. Her lips pursed, and he felt the urge to
kiss those lips until they melted under his.
“Oh, fine. I guess I have to eat, and I might as well let
you pay for it,” she finally said wearily. “Where should I
“How about your place?” he suggested. “I’ll bring some
sandwiches. Tonight. Before you can back out on me.” His eyes
glinted with humor. She narrowed hers.
“Not my place. No.”
“Okay. How about here then? After you close?” He supposed he
could seduce her just as easily in her office as in her home.
“Fine,” she replied.
“Subs from Bobby’s okay?” he asked, naming a popular pizza
place. She nodded.
“Knock when you get here. The door will be locked and I’ll
be in my office,” she told him, already refocusing on her
“All right,” he said. “See you at seven.
Lacey sat in her office, doing some calculations, and
getting frustrated with the results she kept getting, when she
heard the hard knock on the glass door. He knocked hard enough
to make the bells jingle. She shook her head as she stood to
let him in.
She’d spent most of the afternoon pondering Jon’s
accusations against her mother. She’d even found herself
wondering at one point if her grandmother might know
something, before reminding herself it was none of her
business. But knowing it was none of her business couldn’t
stop her curiosity. She was dying to know if there was any
truth to what Jon said. Her mother was a very loving, giving
woman, the chairperson of several committees devoted to
helping children, the homeless, and military veterans, among
others. Lacey simply couldn’t picture her mother using anyone
for her own selfish gains. Besides, what could her mother
possibly have gained from having an affair?
When she went to the front, she saw him through the door,
silhouetted by the setting Florida sun’s orange, pink and red
rays. He was wearing all black, right down to his black boots.
He had sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose, hiding
the deep green eyes that she had found so mesmerizing that
afternoon. He looked like he was still wet from a shower,
drops of water glistening in the sunlight that lit his dark
curly hair. He was smiling at her through the door, his lush
lips forming a nearly perfect horseshoe shape. She found
herself smiling back, even though she didn’t want to, as she
unlocked the front door to let him in. She locked it again
once he had entered.
“Hi,” he said. “Italian subs from Bobby’s, including chips,
pickles, and two root beers.” He held up the brown paper bag
and the drink carrier he was holding in his hands.
“Did you get Italian dressing?” she asked, hoping to find
fault with him. She wasn’t sure why she’d accepted this date
with him. Considering the situation, it seemed very weird to
be here like this with him. But something in his dark brown
eyes had seemed to beckon her and she hadn’t been able to say
“Sure did. And mayo and mustard. I wasn’t sure what you’d
want, so I got it all,” he said proudly. She couldn’t fault
him for that.
“Good,” she said. “Let’s sit at one of the desks.”
“Why not in your office?”
“Because I’d rather stay out here. My office is… my
sanctuary. Which you’ve already invaded once.”
“So, is it okay to ask you about yourself, or is that an
invasion?” he teased.
“What do you want to know about me?” she asked.
“Oh, just the basics: age, marital status, want to hook up?”
“Twenty-seven, never married, and most definitely not.”
There was barely a hint of humor in her answer as she
stared him down so seriously. She had the feeling he was the
type that never committed, and she had no interest in that. So
why was she here, she wondered.
“Oh, come on, Lacey. Will you lighten up? I’m teasing you
and you’re acting like you’re on trial for something.”
“Well, excuse me, but you come in here asking personal
questions about my mother and coercing me into helping you dig
into things that are none of my business or yours. You can’t
very well expect me to treat you like my best friend.”
“No, but you could stop treating me like I’m a cow patty
that you’ve swept up that just won’t stay in the trash. I’m a
decent guy, just trying to make a living and help out a
friend. You can’t tell me you’ve never done that? Tried to
help a friend with a difficult problem?” He stared at her, and
for a moment, she felt a little sympathy.
She quickly shoved it away. She had enough conflicting
emotions when it came to him, she didn’t need to add sympathy
to the mix.
“Yes. But not one involving someone else’s past.” She looked
“Oh, would you stop with the high and mighty crap?” he
demanded, his exasperation finally showing through. “You know
as well as I do that you’re curious. You’re dying to know if
your mother has some secret history. Some slutty past, maybe.
You want her to have that past, so you can identify with her.”
“Are you saying I’m slutty?” she asked. Was that what he
thought of her? Was that why he’d asked her out? Did he think
she was going to just fall into bed with him?
“I’ll have you know I don’t sleep around, and I don’t date
multiple men at a time. There’s nothing slutty about me.”
“No. I’m saying you’re a healthy, modern woman who I’m sure
has seen the inside of at least one man’s bedroom, and you
want to know that your mother was not a good little immaculate
virgin on her wedding night, so you can stop feeling guilty.
“I already know she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night,”
she interrupted him. She spoke quietly and refused to look at
him. A faint blush colored her checks and she toyed with her
“She told me. She was pregnant with me when they got
married. They lost control of themselves one night about two
months before they got married.”
“If she lost control with your father, then how can you be so
sure she wasn’t seeing another man at some point and having an
affair with him, too?” he inquired. His voice was quiet, his
tone soft, but it wasn’t a gentle question no matter how hard
he tried to make it sound like one.
“I just am.” She spoke stubbornly, as if she could make it
true by being determined. She knew he was right, she couldn’t
know that. But she didn’t want to see her mother in the light
that she’d be cast in if she had had an affair.
“Are you sure this is about helping your friend? Or is this
about satisfying your own curiosity? My mother did not have an
affair, or any kind of relationship with Jim Murphy.”
“What if you’re wrong? What if she did?” His insistence
irritated her. His determination that she might be wrong made
her want to prove to him that she was right.
“So what if she did? It has nothing to do with me.”
He smiled slowly. There was a twinkle in his eye that
unnerved her, but in a good way.
“Would you be willing to make a bet with me? Say, if I’m
right and she did, you have to…oh, I don’t know, you have to
go out to dinner with me, and to a movie.”
“You want me to bet on my mother’s past? Are you nuts?”
His grin widened. “Nope. Just not nearly as uptight as you.”
“I’m not uptight!”
“So then bet me,” he challenged, his brown eyes daring her
to take him up on it.
Those eyes. Something about them drew her. There was
something in his eyes, something she’d never seen in anyone
else’s. She just couldn’t put a finger on it.
“What do I get if I’m right and she didn’t?” Lacey asked
thoughtfully. She couldn’t believe she was considering betting
on her mother’s past. It was wrong, she knew, but she just
couldn’t resist. This man was bringing out the worst in her.
“What do you want?” he asked, a seductive tone in his voice
sending shivers up her spine. She told herself to stop it,
that she was not that interested in him. She’d just met him.
He drove her nuts. She couldn’t be interested in someone who
drove her nuts. Could she?
“Hm. I don’t know. Let me think about it?” she asked, a
little teasing note finally entering her voice.
“All right,” he agreed. “Take all the time you need. Since
I’ll win, anyway.”
He smiled, confidence shining in his face.
“Oh, I’ll win,” she assured him, her voice giving away her
own confidence. “I know my mother.”
“We’ll see. So, seriously, tell me about yourself, Lacey.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Well, what inspired you to become a wedding planner?”
She shrugged. “I like weddings. I like planning things. This
seemed like a good way to do both, without getting married and
divorced repeatedly myself.”
He laughed. “Have you planned your own dream wedding?”
“I’ve fantasized. Don’t most little girls?”
“True. Do you still fantasize about a wedding?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Sometimes. I mean, I want to
get married and have kids.”
“Doesn’t every woman?”
She gave him a sidelong glance. “I suppose. Don’t you?”
His answer was emphatic and quick, and she wondered at his
“How long have you been open? I remember this project was
around two years ago.”
She frowned, a bit confused at the sudden change in subject.
A strange expression had come across his face, as well. He
looked uncomfortable and maybe a little angry. She wondered
what she’d said to inspire that.
She went along with the change of subject, deciding it was
probably better not to ask.
“I opened as soon as it was ready, about eighteen months
ago. I have an assistant, and the business is really
She looked at her watch as she began picking up discarded
paper and empty condiment packages, shoving them into the
brown paper bag the food had come in.
“I hope you won’t think I’m rude, but I have to go,” she
said. “I have a date. If I don’t leave now, I’ll be late.”
“That’s cool,” he said, his expression clearing and his tone
His parting question left her speechless.
“I’m just curious. If you’re dating someone, why did you
accept this date with me?”
Wendy Miller is the author of romance and romantic suspense novels. She began writing as a child, and with the encouragement of her grandmother, as well as other family and friends, she eventually independently published her first novel, Tangled Deceit. She is often working on more than one project at a time, because her brain refuses to focus on only one. Wendy is also a single mother of two sons, both of whom have ADHD. She homeschools both of them, as it allows them to be educated without being medicated. When she isn’t teaching her sons, researching or writing on her latest project(s), she enjoys reading, watching television and movies, listening to a huge variety of music, swimming, camping, and even fishing now and then (though she does not bait her own hook or remove her catch from the hook. Why do you think she had sons?). You can learn more about Wendy on her website, http://www.wendy-miller.com. She also loves to hear from her readers, and you can email her through her website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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