Read Rulers of Deception Online

Authors: Katie Jennings

Tags: #Gone With the Wind, #nora roberts, #Dallas, #scarlett o'hara, #epic drama, #dynasty, #Drama, #soap opera, #dramatic stories, #hotel magnate, #family drama, #Danielle Steel

Rulers of Deception (4 page)

“I am pretty great, aren’t I?” He leaned in to kiss her again, though this time his mouth found the smooth skin of her neck.

“Then there’s that ego. God, why do I love that ego?” Lynette gave in to the fresh wash of need that coursed through her at his touch. Her hands grasped at his hair, bringing his mouth to hers.

“My heart damn near burst the second I saw you walking down that aisle,” he murmured, recalling the sight of her layered in frothy lace that made her hair stand out like a red-hot flame on a pure white candle.

Her heart did one long, slow tumble as she caressed his bare back. “I thought I was going to die from nerves.”

“Good thing you didn’t. Your father would’ve killed me.”

She laughed, pulling away to meet his eyes. “He loves you. In fact, I think he likes you more than me these days.”

“Well, I am a lot more fun than you.”

“No, you’re just the son he never had so he’s enjoying the boy time.” She brushed strands of his chestnut hair away from his forehead fondly. “I just wish our mothers would stop fighting.”

Linc’s eyebrows rose. “Good luck on that one. Old grudges die hard.”

She sighed. “I suppose as long as your mother likes

“She loves you because I love you.”

“If you say so.” Her stomach rumbled, reminding her that they hadn’t eaten all day. “Are you hungry? I can go make a sandwich or something.”

“See, I knew I married you for a reason.”

She shook her head as she pushed him aside and slid from the bed. Tying her robe around her slender body, she turned to face him. “Watch it or I might slip something unpleasant in your sandwich.”

A look of mock horror crossed his face. “You wouldn’t dare.”

She smiled teasingly and disappeared from the room, leaving him alone. With a long sigh, he collapsed against the sheets and stretched out, content. It pleased him that Lynette agreed to honeymoon at his home in New Orleans versus going overseas to Tuscany or France as their mothers had suggested. The rambling old plantation home was his sanctuary. There was no place else he’d rather be.

And having Lynette by his side made everything better, brighter. Happier. For once, everything seemed to be moving in a positive direction. No drama, no infighting, no headaches.

It was moments like this that he couldn’t help the small voice in the back of his mind that cautioned impending crisis. Something had to go wrong; everything was too damn good.

He’d never been prone to pessimism, but the worry plagued him all the same. The only thing that erased it was sleeping beside Lynette and knowing she was his. Or joking with his brother and sister and realizing for the first time in their entire lives they were on the same page, completely at peace. Maybe the worry was just his mind’s way of keeping him humble. Keeping him grateful for all that he had. God knows it could be gone in an instant.

They’d almost lost the hotels before. Scandal, suicide, murder…they were words synonymous with the Vasser name. It wasn’t until exactly one year earlier that the tide began to shift in their favor, thanks to both Madison’s efforts and the merger with McAllister Hotels. Both offered a fresh start for the family and the company, despite the scandals. They’d risen above it and triumphed even though everyone had wished their downfall.

Jack Morgan, Senator Warren Shaw’s former challenger in the upcoming election, was safely tucked away in a prison somewhere in South Carolina. Just as Linc predicted, the jury didn’t buy Morgan’s bullshit about being set up by the Vasser family, and instead saw him for the virulent, scheming jackass he was. He wouldn’t be snipping brake lines on cars or bribing his way into winning an election anytime soon.

His cousin Duke was also in prison for kidnapping Kennedy and the assassination attempt on Madison, meaning there was no one to stand in the way of Cyrus’ infamous list.

While Madison was busy implementing Cyrus’ wishes, Linc had been busy throwing together the new marketing plan to advertise to a fresh customer base. At last he was able to utilize the plans and ideas he’d always dreamed of for the company. And having his siblings’ full support inspired him to do everything he could to succeed.

Linc smiled with relief, feeling the worry slide to the back of his mind. In his heart, he knew everything would be fine. It had to be.

The Vasser legacy depended on it.



“Get outta here!
I don’t believe that for one hot second, Leo.” Quinn Vasser grinned ear to ear at the butcher across the counter at the hole-in-the-wall Italian market tucked into downtown SoHo. She tossed back dark curls from her forehead and rested her hands on her hips.

Leo Donatelli, a balding second-generation Sicilian known for his big laugh and even bigger love of the city, continued to wrap up the sweet Italian sausage she’d picked out moments earlier. He had the confident, no-nonsense accent of a New Yorker and the gusto to match it. “I’m tellin’ ya, sweetie. I’m one year shy of sixty.”

Quinn waved off his comment. “You don’t look a day over forty. Where’s your wife? I’ll get the truth out of her.”

His warm brown eyes met hers good-humoredly. “You think I like the truth? Hell, to be forty again. What’re you, sixteen?”

She snorted. “Uh huh. You do know I’m a married woman now. That makes me
at least
eighteen to be legal.”

“Hey, my ma got married at sixteen.”

“Well, yeah. That was in the old country. Nine-year-olds get married there.”

Leo let out a bark of a laugh, his large frame shaking with it. “Careful what you say. I’ll call her over here so she can defend herself.”

“That’s the last thing I need, the wrath of a Sicilian woman.” Quinn smiled. “I get enough of that at home.”

“How’s your ma doin’ these days?” Leo asked, slipping the wrapped sausage into a paper bag. He handed it over the counter to her.

“She wishes she was closer, but with the business and everything else they can’t just up and move.” Quinn stuffed the package into the tote bag she carried, already filled to the brim with fresh basil, mozzarella, sourdough bread, and a bottle of Chianti.

“We can never have enough pizza joints here in the city.” Leo quickly wrapped up a few chicken breasts and handed them over to her.

“Dad hates the city though.” When Leo gasped, she laughed again. “I know, I know. Hard to believe, huh? I love it here.”

“And the city loves you.” He beamed. “You’re New York’s Cinderella.”

One of her eyebrows rose skeptically. “I wouldn’t go that far. I wasn’t mopping floors with evil stepsisters lurking over my shoulder.”

“No, but you did marry one of our princes.” Leo chuckled, enjoying the comparison. “Think about it. Small town girl comes to the city, gets a job, living paycheck to paycheck, and then bam! The unexpected happens. One of the richest guys in all of New York falls in love with her. And then they live happily ever after. It’s a goddamn bona fide fairytale.”

Quinn rolled her eyes in amusement. “You sure tell a great story, Leo. But c’mon, you know it’s not as grand as all that.”

He winked. “Of course it is, sweetie. I’ll catch ya later, ‘kay?”

Other customers were waiting behind her, so Quinn waved goodbye and left the quaint market for the breezy, bustling city street outside. The wind tossed up her hair and brought a smile to her face as she met the sun.

Around her, shaved ice and hot dog vendors peddled their goods, and children chased each other on the sidewalk, laughter carrying on the breeze. Her steps were light as she walked, considering Leo’s words as she kept an eye out for a taxi. She could have taken Grant’s town car, but she preferred not to bother Sam just for a little shopping trip.

When she saw one approach, she tossed out her arm. She climbed inside and smiled at the driver, giving him the address of Grant’s townhouse in the Upper East Side. Her home, now.

Biting her lower lip, she toyed with the elegant gold band on her left hand, admiring the rose-colored stone and intricate leaf patterns. It had been Grant’s great-grandmother’s ring. Then he had given it to her.

Her heart filled at the thought of him. Despite it being a Saturday, he was busy working overtime at the hotel. She knew better than to ask when he’d be home. It takes as long as it takes, he’d simply say. His company—his family—needed him.

It wasn’t the fairytale Leo seemed to think it was, though she was oddly charmed by the idea. She’d noticed the media referring to her as something of a Cinderella when the wedding announcement had been made a year earlier. And come the wedding last December, the media coverage had been extensive and intrusive.

Unlike Madison, Quinn detested the limelight, made worse by paparazzi and flashing cameras. She was relieved the second they decided she was no longer worth following day and night.

Though the wedding itself had been extraordinary. A wistful smile brightened her eyes as she recalled the miles of lace and red roses and freshwater pearls. The stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral where they’d exchanged vows, bound together by God. The draping canopies and candlelit centerpieces and the hundreds of elegantly dressed guests. It had been picturesque; a wedding dream come true.

Though, if she were being honest, she would’ve been happy with a simple wedding in her parents’ church back home with only their families present. But Grant had insisted on the best. He wanted the world to know she was his and that he would spare no expense in giving her perfection.

Quinn stared out the window of the taxi, admiring the other cars crammed on the streets and the hoards of people crowding the sidewalks. It didn’t take much to make her happy. She’d take a studio apartment with a great view of the city a block away from good food and live music any day of the week.

Becoming a part of the Vasser family essentially assured she would never have those things, but she knew better than to be ungrateful. She had a husband who loved her, a beautiful place to live, and at last a job as a chef. Even if it wasn’t perfection, it was damn close.

Working alongside Raoul in
as a fellow chef was difficult at first. Eventually she got over what he did to Madison and he got over his habit of criticizing every little thing she did. After a full year of working together, they’d actually become quite close. He wasn’t nearly as cruel as she once thought. In fact, he was a complete and utter sap. One conversation about romantic comedies from the eighties proved just how much they had in common.

She was pleased to see him actually smile these days. It looked good on him and made her realize why Madison had been drawn to him as a friend in the first place.

When the cab pulled up to the townhouse, Quinn dug into her purse for cash and tip to pay the driver. She thanked him as she climbed out of the car, spotting Kennedy sitting on her front steps.

“Hey, sweetie! I didn’t know you were coming by,” Quinn greeted, juggling her groceries with one arm so she could embrace her sister-in-law.

Kennedy beamed as she pulled out of the hug. “I had the afternoon free so I thought I’d come say hi. I hope that’s okay?”

“Of course it is.” Quinn started up the steps, Kennedy in tow. “I’m surprised a busy college girl like yourself has any free time. You’re not slacking off on homework, are you?”

Kennedy laughed as Quinn dug into her purse for her keys. “No, it’s all done. I just wanted to see you. It’s hard living at school, even if it’s only an hour away.”

Quinn met her eyes, sensing anxiety in Kennedy’s tone. “Is everything okay?”

“Yep. Well, actually, it’s more than okay.” Kennedy bit her lower lip, grasping her hands tightly together. “I met this guy a couple months ago. He’s amazing. Like, brilliant and hot and amazing. And we’ve sort of been seeing each other, but it’s getting serious. Like, really serious.”

“Brilliant, hot,
amazing, wow.” Quinn winked, unable to hide her excitement. “Well, you’ll just have to come in and tell me all about it. I’ll make cookies.”

“He’s a computer science major. That’s like, really hard. And he writes for the school paper and plays on the basketball team, and…”

Quinn nodded, listening with humor and excitement as they headed inside. Distracted, she missed the stranger across the street snapping off dozens of photos. Quick shots of her hugging Kennedy, searching for her keys, laughing.

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