Tempting Betrayal by Tanny Cie

CHAPTER 1

 

 

Michelle

 

 

I couldn’t tear my gaze away from the water shimmering underneath the moonlight. The soft, gentle motion of small ripples was visible, slowly hitting the stones next to the lake’s designed exterior, with the greenery that seemed almost black in the absence of light.

Tranquility like this sometimes made me want to forget about everything: the mission, the spying.

The deceit and danger.

And just think about how delightful it is to just forget about everything, every deceptive thought, every single step to be taken for the plan in action—just going down to the lake and disappearing for a little while.

“Miss, security is locking up. Do you think you could move back inside?” And just like that, reality set in. I was snapped out of my musings of being no one but a woman standing in the dark, admiring nature.

It’s funny how it only takes a second to be reminded of where you are and who you are.

“I’m really sorry,” the officer continued in a regretful tone. I only waved my hand around before pulling the much larger coat around my shoulders and taking a deep breath. I walked past the man and up to the gravel pavement leading to the back door of James’s house.

Yes, I had been in his house.

It felt stupid to call it a house when it was as grand as a mansion. Yet, the place had felt empty, reminding me of an old, abandoned castle.

James had managed to get his house surrounded by police patrol cars and hired a well-trained private security team.

I almost forgot he was a millionaire.

My plan for tonight up until a few hours ago had been easy. All I had to do was get dinner with the man, get him to bring me to his place, let him fuck me until he became too exhausted to give a fuck about anything else, and then search everywhere. I’m sure he keeps stuff hidden around somewhere in his house. He’s a smart man; he wouldn’t let any secrets just lying around in his office, knowing how unsafe the firm has become.

I would’ve skipped the formalities and just broke in, which I’m sure no one would have noticed if it weren’t for all the security patrolling his residence now. He has made my job much more difficult.

There was no other way for me to walk into his house without being by his side.

And to my surprise, until that moment in the elevator, I was sure that I could get everything done quickly just because of how smoothly things were going. Still, it was right when we were on our way to the restaurant thatJames received an unexpected call from home, which made him rush us both down here. He insisted on dropping me off back at the apartment and reminded me how sorry he was that the date had to be interrupted the way it did. Under any other circumstances, I wouldn’t even care about the man’s stupid daughter, and I would’ve let him drop me back home, but this seemed like the best opportunity, and I couldn’t miss it. I could show him that I cared for him rather than bailing on him, and I could have the chance of searching his place for something useful at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone.

However,a part of me was very curious about what had to be so important for there to be such a sudden change in James’s demeanor. He had gone quickly from being flirtatious, enjoying some time with his date, to someone who didn’t even spare me another glance once he had received that call. His eyes had been fixed on the road, fists gripping the steering wheel. I hoped it wasn’t anything serious.

I wouldn’t want a child to get hurt.

But when I questioned him about it, he responded that his daughter, Arielle, was scared of the several security guards she had been witnessing around the house since morning. James had confessed that he had felt guilty for not spending much time with her in the past few days.

I could not relate to his level of love or concern for her. I mean, sure, it was his daughter, but I’d grown up with a mostly absent father.

I could hardly recall any moment like this spent with my own father.

James explained how his wife's early demise had not only affected him but had also greatly affected his daughter. I would hate to admit that I sympathized with him and genuinely felt sorry for him and everything he had gone through.

Without even realizing it, I was breaking all the rules I had established for myself over the years doing what I do.

Learning the backstory of how the man was fucked up the way he was would only make me feel conflicted when I ended up bringing their entire world crashing down on them. It was just another rule I had broken tonight.

There was an ongoing conflict within me, an inner voice that would probe at me to feel something for him. Feeling anything at all since the day I had first met him. At first, it had only been my body that had wanted him. There was nothing beyond the thought of having sex with this man, which made him more appealing to me.

But I feared how things had been running their course.

The job that had been given to me wasn’t exactly exceeding my expectations. Being close to James Archer was being hard on me, considering that there was not a single thing yet about the man that had disgusted me, made me feel nauseated at the thought of his touch or being close to him.

My dealings with predatory and vile men had made me forget that some of them aren’t as bad as the others. Even though they all fuck you up eventually, just in different ways.

“There you are, come inside. You’re going to freeze.” I snapped out of my thoughts when a hand pulled on mine just as I entered the house. Looking up to smile at James, I shrugged my shoulders.

“I hope you don’t mind me admiring your house. It’s beautiful.” That was the only thing I had said tonight that was completely honest. He put his arms around my shoulders, taking the coat off as he set it aside before offering me his hand. I took it gladly and let him lead the way.

“What use is beauty if you can’t call it home?” he asked, pulling me closer towards him and placing a soft kiss against my lips. As we pulled away, he took my hand once again and turned to look at me. His eyes seemed a lot darker than their usual color—maybe it was due to the hollow light from the fireplace and from the lamps all around. Despite all the light, there was something about the house that seemed dark.

Almost ghostly.

“How’s Arielle doing?” I asked as he led me through the living room and towards the hallway that turned left.

“You have a beautiful friend.” I was almost startled at the tiny voice that I was sure didn’t belong to either James or me.

I instantly turned around at the sound, seeing the small child for whom all this fuss had been about.

“I thought you were sleeping. Did you fake it?” James asked, walking past me and towards Arielle. He lowered himself down on one knee to make up for the height difference.

“That story was boring,” she mused while standing in her pajamas and clutching onto a stuffed penguin.

“I’m Hillary,” I introduced myself, stepping closer. I noticed how she did not look anything like James. Her hair wasn’t dark, but instead a shade of honey blonde. But her eyes were big and green, like James. They were so bright.

Being around a child is something I had never been trained to do. Neither did I have any prior knowledge of how to take care of one. I had no idea what to say and what not to say in front of one.

I’d never had one myself and never associated with people who had one. It was a whole new territory for me.

And to make it look as if I was actually delighted to meet this little girl who had crashed my plan midway through, it was a much tougher job than killing men.

You must be Arielle. It’s lovely to meet you,” I mimicked the same position that James had adopted, and I couldn’t help but notice the way he looked at me when I did so. The warm look he gave me.

“I saw you and daddy kiss on the lips.”

Oh, isn’t that fucking great.