A Question of Trust

By: Emma Hillman

Chapter One

A Night to Remember

Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide… The song kept repeating in Maxine’s head as she stared at the handsome stranger over her Kindle.

He’d been staring moodily into the distance for the past few hours, his fingers squeezed tight around his glass as if he was afraid to let go. He wore a black suit that accentuated his wide shoulders and lean hips. He had short dark hair and clear eyes, green or gray, she couldn’t say for sure. He was seriously handsome, even with that perma-frown on his face.

He was the man she’d been looking for, the one she was supposed to steal from. Of course, he needed to notice her first.

She kept on watching as he sighed and brought the tumbler to his lips, taking one long gulp before slamming it back down onto the marble-covered tabletop. She winced at the sound and too late realized he’d seen her grimace. He shook his head, the gesture resembling an apology, and yet, he went straight back to staring at nothing.

It was her turn to sigh. She knew she wasn’t really the type of woman men hit on at bars, but surely tonight should be different.

She had instructions, after all. How on earth could they have considered her perfect for this job? She didn’t even look the part, she thought as she stared at her surroundings. But they’d been adamant he’d take the bait and lead her to that box. What was inside was worth a lot more than what she supposedly owed them. One night, and she’d be free of them.

Maybe she should have thought this through a little more and come up with a plan that consisted of more than just her acting as if she was entirely focused on her book. Because right now her plan sounded as bad as she was feeling.

She put her e-reader down and felt her neck twitch. That’d teach her to sit here unmoving for hours. She brought her hands up and kneaded the back of her neck, running her fingers up into her hair. She took the ponytail holder off and shook her hair down her back. Now that felt better already.

Looking up with a contented smile, she froze when she noticed his eyes on her. Their gazes locked. She watched, her eyes widening, as he stood up and stopped by her table. His voice just above a whisper, he said, “I’m in Room 1001,” and strode off.

She blinked and turned around, watching his back as he left the bar. Wow. She sure hadn’t been expecting that one. That had been almost too easy. Hoping her karma wouldn’t change, she grabbed her purse, dropped her Kindle in it and quickly stood up.

I did it!

The buoyant feeling lasted until she stood in front of the hotel room he’d indicated. It was located on the penthouse level and just one look around her reminded her know how badly she fit her surroundings.

They’d given her money to spend the night in the hotel, but she had the cheapest room available. Still, she hadn’t been in a hotel in so long it was quite a novelty. If she closed her eyes and forgot about everything else, she could almost believe she was on vacation somewhere fun. If only…

I should just go, she thought as she hooked her bag higher on her shoulder. Her gaze drilling a hole into the door only inches from her face, she remained immobile as she pondered her options. Not that she had any, really. She had no choice but to play nice with Dylan…Stevens.

Yes, that was his name. She remembered it from the fact sheet they’d handed her that afternoon. He’d just turned forty, was a lawyer of some kind in California and was only in town for the weekend. That meant she had to succeed from the get go. Lucky her.

She sighed. He might be a handsome man, but it still didn’t mean she wanted to do this. She wasn’t a whore, damn it! How was she going to act if he tied her up?

The file had also mentioned he was a bondage master, and she’d had to Google it just to make sure she wasn’t going crazy. The man was into BDSM. She’d even watched videos and, oh my God, she really shouldn’t have.

She didn’t like pain. Really, she didn’t. She’d never really been adventurous in bed, even with her ex-husband. Maybe this was payback. Maybe she should have tried all this naughty stuff before. Maybe tonight would have been easier then.

No! She had to do this. She had to. She would say yes to everything he proposed and hope he went to sleep soon after. At least he was handsome. That was something, right? And the file said he was rich, both from his chosen profession and from inheriting his family’s estate.

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