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    Vendetta
    Barbara Arent
    One day twenty-one year old Katie Wallace was running the family auditing firm and the next she was married to influential business mogul, Cyrus Randal, so she could help him keep his empire together. To her surprise, she was not only fighting a takeover bid but her attraction for the very man who

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    book excerpt

    CHAPTER 1
    Peter Burk drummed his fingers against his leg in a
    steady tattoo. He was angry—very angry. Angry because he
    had read about this in the society column just like everybody
    else. Angry because he hadn’t been here to stop Cyrus
    from making the biggest mistake of his life. Angry at being
    summoned to the ‘big house’ to wait in the hall like some
    servant. Angry because it was a ‘done deal’ and would take
    more than a few choice words in the right person’s ear to fix
    it.

    Now was not the time to have to deal with this
    ‘marriage’. Things were topsy-turvy enough as it was.
    Jamie had gone to Bogota, Colombia two months ago and
    seemingly fell off the face of the earth. Then Jim had rushed
    to Colombia—against his express advice—to look for Jamie
    and now Jim was missing.

    Peter jumped up and began pacing. He had been in
    Bogota looking for them but an emergency at Burk Security
    he had forced him to return two days ago. He had planned
    on returning to Bogota tomorrow to continue the search.
    Now those plans would have to be revised.
    Arriving home to find out that Cyrus had married a
    little golddigger and was turning his company over to her
    lock, stock and barrel was a shock to say the least. Cyrus
    had loved Rachel and never given the slightest hint that he
    was interested in another woman much less ready to marry
    again.

    She must be good, Peter thought. He had only been
    in South America two weeks. In that time, she had managed
    to come in under Cyrus’ radar and sink her greedy claws into
    Cy-Rac. Tonight was a mere formality. He was here to meet
    the new CEO so it would ‘look like’ he approved. Tomorrow
    she would walk into Cy-Rac and officially take over.
    Peter raked his hands through his hair. Cyrus was
    a savvy old man. He could read people at a glance. That
    was what had made him one of the top business moguls in
    America; or for that matter, the world. He always placed
    people where their talents would do them and the company
    the most good. He could spot winners and didn’t mind
    paying for their services. He was patient with what he called
    ‘raw material’ but he never put up with slackers or people
    looking for a free ride. That is why this little turn of events
    was such a shock.

    The lawyers had been called in, the papers drawn up
    and signed before anyone else knew what was happening.
    He couldn’t believe that Cyrus had turned a multi-billion
    dollar company over to a twenty-one year old girl.
    Peter frowned. Something didn’t add up here. Cyrus
    didn’t do things on the spur of the moment. This had to have
    been brewing for some time. And, if this had been going on
    long enough to result in marriage, how had it gotten past
    him? Or Jim? Jim hadn’t mentioned that Cyrus was seeing
    anyone the last time they talked.

    Peter tried to remember the last time he had seen
    Cyrus. Counting back, he realized it had been nine months.
    Nine months! It hadn’t seemed that long. True, setting up
    his own training grounds had taken up a lot of his time.
    These last couple of months had been spent going between
    Columbia and home. But still—nine months?
    Cyrus had sent all pertinent details pertaining to Jim
    and Jamie’s disappearance by email. They had talked over
    the phone but never face to face. In all that time, the old
    man hadn’t even hinted that anything was going on. Never
    even came close to mentioning he was getting married.
    What irked Peter the most was that Cyrus knew that
    if he needed something—anything—he just had to say so.
    After everything the old man had done for him…it just went
    without saying.

    Sure, he had been chasing leads in Columbia. That
    was his business and he was good at it. But, his men were
    good at it too. Good enough to continue searching for Jim
    and Jamie while he helped Cyrus.

    Peter went into the living room and walked to the big
    picture window that looked out over the pool and onto the
    formal gardens. The scene had always soothed him—but not
    tonight. The longer he had to wait, the angrier he got. What
    was going on? And, where was everyone? Although it was
    true that Cyrus didn’t hold with keeping his staff up after
    hours to wait on guest, he had expected to see Johnson.
    He walked over to the bar and opened the whiskey
    cabinet. It was empty. He opened every door. All the
    cabinets were empty. Peter sighed. Cyrus used to keep some
    of the finest Kentucky whiskey made. He looked in the little
    refrigerator and saw one lone pitcher. He picked up and
    smelled it. Lemonade?

    The faint sound of tapping pushed past his swirling
    thoughts. Someone was coming but it was slowly: very
    slowly. He turned to find the source. Since it seemed to be
    coming from the back of the house, Peter went back into the
    hall.

    He schooled his features. He knew he had done
    nothing but frown since he had heard the ‘news’. It wouldn’t
    do to start off on the wrong foot with the old man. He was a
    tartar when it came to his family and his business. He didn’t
    tolerate trouble with either. Like it or not, until he could do
    something about it, this little tart was ‘family’.
    Peter turned as he heard his name called. A shrunken
    old man that barely resembled Cyrus Randal stood in the
    doorway. Shock ripped through him. There was no way
    Cyrus could have changed so much in the last nine months
    unless something was terribly wrong. This was why the old
    man had been duped by a golddigger.
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