Book Excerpt: BEHIND THE MASK by Linda Joyce

Behind_The_Mask  jpegBEHIND THE MASK by Linda Joyce / Spicy Contemporary Romance / Released May 17 by Word Works Press

This part of the scene begins with Bill, Chaz’s business partner, trying to pry information from Chaz about a certain woman…Chalise Boudreau.

“So, we’ll invite the mayor to be the guest of honor at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the ship. Back to the woman. The New York model.”

“I told you.”

“She made plenty of money at one time. Why is she here?” Billy asked. “No offense, but Ascension has two classes of people—the wealthy and the help. Then, there are the transient tourists. I know she doesn’t fit into one of those pockets.”

“You’re a snob.”

Billy shrugged. “You’ve always known that about me.”

“Chalise has history here. Her family was once the richest in town. Her father built the mansion that’s now Boudreau B&B. But while Mrs. Boudreau has never said, I’m guessing he left a river of debt, which is why she went from socialite to businesswoman. Her mother has developed a soft spot for me, wanting to right an old wrong, she says. No idea what she means, but I’m going with it. We’re making headway with local society through Mrs. Boudreau’s connections as the Chamber President. And, as I said before, Chalise Boudreau is my ticket to respectability. Remember, I come from a family who wasn’t good enough to clean the shoes of those you label ‘the help.’ And you’re wrong about Ascension. There is a thriving middle class, and they’re our target market. They’re the heartbeat of this place. Not the society rich.”

“So what’s your plan, dude? She’s refused to take your calls. You sent a bouquet of flowers. She sent them back. How do you plan to get beyond the moat surrounding her? What the hell did you do to her in the past?”

Chaz rose. “Nothing.” He raised a warning eyebrow. “You work your plan. I’ll work mine. But just so we’re clear, she’s off limits to you.”

He turned and strode out of Billy’s office with the ring of his business partner’s laughter following him down the hall. “I’ll get to the bottom of this thing between the two of you,” he shouted. “I’m good at solving puzzles.”

Chaz was done playing nice with Chalise. His once bad-boy reputation had attracted her, drew her to him like a fish to bait when she was still in high school. The aloofness she showed to the world was a façade. Behind it beat the heart of a do-gooder, raising money for a variety of charities and even volunteering at the animal shelter. She’d let down her royal guard for the tough guy who skirted the law and thumbed his nose at rules. On to plan B. He could revive a bit of his bad-boy ways, throw in a bit of finesse—whatever it took to get Chalise’s undivided attention. Ten years ago, she’d taken his heart, cut him out of her life, and yet, it still only beat for her.

“Princess,” he said, reaching his office chair and settling into it. “I’ve got a deal for you. One you won’t be able to refuse.”

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