Wed By Deception(2)

By: Emilie Rose



Shame burned her face. Okay, so she’d asked for help a few times. Big freakin’ deal.

“You will have no maid, no cook and no chauffeur.”

Her lungs constricted and her head started to spin. Forget the fact that she’d probably starve, she hadn’t had a driver’s license before the accident, and she’d had no reason to get one after it. She sprang from the chair before the memories could seize her brain and paced a circuit around the room.

“A car and driving lessons will be provided for you. In addition, you will learn to survive on a monthly stipend of two thousand dollars.”

“He’s giving me an allowance?” she all but shrieked. She spent more on a single outfit.

“Because you’re living rent free, that amount should be more than sufficient to cover your basic needs, pay your utilities, et cetera. A budget should help you understand KCL’s employees and client base better.”

He didn’t think she could live on a budget? Okay, so, no, she’d never had a personal one, but how hard could it be? She was a trained accountant, for pity’s sake, and she handled the multimillion-dollar KCL budget on a daily basis.

“This is crazy. Was Daddy out of his mind? Can he do this?”

Richards’s bushy eyebrows hiked like thatched cabana roofs above his half-glasses. “One can do whatever one wishes with his or her assets. Your father is not asking you to do anything illegal or immoral. Need I repeat that if you fail, you and your brothers will forfeit your shares of Everett’s estate and all of your father’s holdings? Kincaid Cruise Lines, Kincaid Manor, each of the properties Everett owned around the globe, as well as his substantial investment portfolio will be sold to Mardi Gras Cruising, KCL’s strongest competitor, for one dollar. And you will be left with only your personal funds.”

Of which she had none. Thanks to her frenetic attempts to keep her mind and body occupied until she crashed into bed each night from sheer exhaustion, she lived pretty much from paycheck to paycheck.

“No. You don’t need to repeat yourself. Dad has made it very clear that if any of us fails, we all lose. Everything. But why Mardi Gras? Dad hated that company with a passion. So do I. Their devious, underhanded, cutthroat tactics have cost us a substantial market share.”

Richards shrugged. “Everett didn’t share his reasoning on that issue with me.”

Rand’s fingers drummed the table. “Nadia, as much as I love the idea of Dad rolling over in his grave when Mardi Gras paints its logo on each of KCL’s ships, I don’t want the bastard to win this time.”

Beside her Mitch nodded. “Agreed. We have to fight. It’s too big a prize to hand off by default.”

She knew very well there were billions at stake. She studied her brothers. Rand might have moved on and made a life for himself elsewhere, but Mitch lived and breathed KCL. Like her, he’d never worked a day for any other company. KCL was his universe, and she couldn’t be responsible for taking that from him.

She could see by the resignation on their faces that Rand and Mitch expected her to botch this. That stung. But then what had she ever done for her brothers? They were always doing for her with nothing in return.

She knew what her father was up to. This was another test. Everett Kincaid excelled at testing his children—especially her because she reminded him of his dead wife. He’d always believed Nadia would crack eventually—like her mother had. Why else would he have forced her to endure more than a decade of therapy and now a year of solitary confinement?

But she’d prove him wrong. She’d prove them all wrong.

She would survive a year without her job, her friends and the safety net of her family. What choice did she have? Her brothers had been there for her when her life went so terribly wrong eleven years ago. She owed it to Rand and Mitch to come through for them now.

Her father obviously expected her to be the weakest link. But he’d be disappointed. She wasn’t going to fail. She’d show Everett Kincaid his only daughter was made of sterner stuff. Because she hadn’t just inherited her daddy’s head for business, she’d also inherited his stubborn streak.

She could do this.

No. She would do this.

She would simply have to find a way other than submersing herself in work and partying to keep the haunting memories at bay.

Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her chin and locked her quaking knees. “When do I leave?”

One

A s silent as a tomb. And after eight weeks of playing Suzy Homemaker, Nadia Kincaid felt as if she’d been buried alive in the luxurious penthouse.

Nice crypt, but still…a crypt.

She didn’t even have neighbors as a distraction. The only other apartment in the downtown high-rise had been unoccupied since she’d moved in and the floors below were filled with businesses that didn’t appreciate her popping in to visit. Not even when she brought the results of the new cookie recipes she’d tried.

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