Scandal in Seattle (Great Exploitations)

By: Nicole Williams

LIFE IS CHANGE. Or is it, change is life?

For me, it’s the latter. Change has been the essence of my life. It is the origin of my present and the promise of my immediate future. One day, that’s going to change. One day, I’ll live a simple life where routine and normalcy are the agenda of my day. One day, change will by the exception, not the standard.

One day . . . isn’t today.

Last night I was in Miami. Tonight I’m in Seattle. Yesterday I was on the Silva Errand. Today I’m on the Callahan Errand. Twenty-four hours ago, my job was all business. Now, my job is all personal.

Because I’m in the business of Great Exploitations. And business is good.

“ARE YOU HERE for business or pleasure, ma’am?” the woman checking me in at the Four Seasons asked.

I clutched my briefcase a bit tighter and smiled. “Pleasure. All pleasure.”

She gave me that standard hospitality-industry smile. “Enjoy your stay.”

“Guaranteed,” I said as I headed for the elevators. There was nothing about my stay that I couldn’t enjoy. A five star hotel and a hefty dose of revenge? Nothing, not even the gray, constantly leaking skies, could tarnish that Errand.

Henry Callahan. Billionaire. IT business mogul. My Ten. My Errand.

My ex.

The man who’d upended my whole world.

The man I was going to repay in turn.

Of course, G could never know about Henry’s and my history. She would reassign an Errand if she knew the Eve had gone to preschool with the Target, let alone been engaged five years ago to the Target. So G would have to be left in the dark. Other than intermittent check-ins, I’d keep progress reports to a minimum. If the Errand was a normal Seven or Eight, check-ins would have been nothing more than a few one-lettered texts, but it was our Ten. That Errand was as much G’s baby as it was mine. She’d already warned me she’d expect regular status updates and would be less laissez-faire than she typically was.

I didn’t want to lie to G, but even more, I didn’t want to give up the Callahan Errand. I was good at keeping secrets. Obviously. That would translate into keeping some from G, I hoped.

After reading Mrs. Callahan’s file front to back, twice, on the plane, I’d started plotting how I’d go about the actual seduction and taking down of Henry Carter Callahan. As I made my way down the hall, I planned out how I’d orchestrate Henry’s and my happenstance meeting.

Other than being a hardcore workaholic, Henry’s file gave away nothing about vices. My personal experience with him knew better. The once a cheater, always a cheater proverb was true most of the time. Henry Callahan had been a cheater with me, so I could almost guarantee he was with his wife. That he had her fooled was a testimony to how sneaky he must have been.

That was okay. I was a pro at fleshing out a cheater.

I was still smiling when I stepped inside my room. After flipping on the lights, my smile stretched higher. G had gotten me a sprawling suite. Since I’d left Miami in such a rush, I didn’t have a suitcase to be carted up, so after dropping my purse and briefcase on the hall table, I wandered into the sitting area. From the corner of my eye, a flash of red caught my attention.

“Holy—” I hollered, freezing in my tracks.

“Why, yes. Yes, I am holy,” a familiar voice said. “Nice of you to finally recognize it.”

After restarting my heart, I shot the woman reclining in a chair in the corner a half-hearted glare. “Thanks for the mini-heart attack, G.”

She arched that sharp eyebrow of hers.

“Sorry . . . G the Holy,” I corrected, making a showy bow. She pursed her lips to keep from smiling. “How am I supposed to annihilate a Ten if I’m dead?”

“Your job isn’t to annihilate anything. Your job is to seduce.” G crossed her legs and gave me a look. “Annihilation is too personal. I thought I made that clear years ago.”

G had caught me by surprise, and I’d made a slip. It wouldn’t happen again. It couldn’t because G rarely missed a thing. If I didn’t act like the Errand was no more special than any other Errand, I would get pulled from it—best case. Worst case would be an immediate dismissal followed by rotting away in some nameless alley.

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