Title: ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series
Author: Marsha R. West
Genre: Second Chance Romantic Suspense/Seasoned Romance
A self-employed cosmetics company owner in Dallas, Devon Moore, wants to save her company from bankruptcy, but her ex-husband’s embezzlement puts her, her daughter, and her parents in danger. Will investigator Brett Townsend keep them safe when he’s not sure how much the red-headed beauty knows about the schemes? A wife has to know, doesn’t she?
“I’m sorry, ma’am. Your card has been declined.” The waiter’s words stung Devon Moore. Her stomach did the dropping thing like when a police car’s flashing lights showed up in your rear-view mirror.
She glanced at the two people sitting with her then back to the waiter. “There must be some mistake, Ricky. My business card should have plenty of space on it. Will you try the card again, please?” She shot him her brilliant smile, the one guaranteed to get whoever to do whatever she wanted.
“If you’ve got a problem, Devon, I can pay for our lunch,” offered Sam Jenning, a middle-aged, gray-haired man with a slight paunch, the CFO of the cosmetics company Devon hoped to buy.
Not what she wanted at all. They’d come to the ultra-posh Dallas restaurant to sway the opinion of the CFO and the president, Millie Swanson, about the wisdom of selling out to Devon. Having them pay threw a wrench in her plans.
“Not necessary, Sam. My card should be accepted. I’m sure it must be some problem with the computer.” Devon took another sip of her wine, barely registering the nutty taste. This would be fine, wouldn’t it? But, twice before, she’d had this situation with her card arise. Drawing in deep breaths to ward off a sweating nerves attack, her fingers tapped the wine glass waiting for the waiter to return. He approached the table with a troubled expression on his face.
“Ms. Moore, I re-ran your card, and it was declined again. I’m sorry.” The young blond waiter with a blush spiking his cheeks looked more embarrassed than Devon, which said something. She swallowed twice before she forced down the lovely salmon salad threatening to come up into her throat. The subdued chatter of other patrons and an occasional clink of silver or crystal filled the silence at the table.
With a flip of her hair over her shoulder, Devon reached for her purse and pulled out her card case. “I can’t imagine what the problem is but use this one.” She held out a personal credit card, which she hated using for business lunches because she preferred to keep her personal and business accounts separate. Couldn’t be helped this time. She couldn’t let Sam pay for their meal.
Devon forced a chuckle while fighting her gag reflex. “I’m sorry about the confusion, Sam, Millie. Must be a glitch somewhere. I do have the resources to buy your company. I think we’d all be pleased with the results of merging our two small firms.”
“I must confess, Devon, at first, your proposition didn’t interest me much. However, as you’ve talked, I’ve envisioned having more time to travel and hang with my grandkids, and I’m seriously considering this move.” Millie Swanson, in her late 60s and an early entrant into the makeup business in Dallas, had lost only a bit of her edge.
Sounded like she’d appreciate the extra freedom and being out from under the daily grind. Devon looked forward to the day she’d have more time to travel. She’d always had the money to travel and been on some memorable trips in the past, but now taking off when she had the full weight of responsibility for the business resting on her shoulders, didn’t make sense. She chose to stay close.
“Here you go, Ms. Moore. No problem with that card.” The waiter beamed as he handed Devon the black folder with her card and the bill in it. She signed, the scratch of the pen on the paper irritating, but she ignored the sound and smiled at him when she handed him the container and the pen. “Thanks, Ricky. Lovely service as always.” He nodded and backed away.
Devon leaned forward and with effort dug deep for her 100-watt smile. “Millie, I’ll get my attorney to draw up a proposed contract. You and Sam go over the document with your lawyers, and let’s see if we can’t work out something mutually beneficial.” Devon’s voice sounded firm and unwavering despite the jumping jacks going on in her stomach. What had happened to her business credit card? She could hardly keep from leaping from her chair and running out of the restaurant to demand an explanation from her head accountant. Hardly the best way to continue to sell this deal to Millie and Sam. She needed to appear cool, calm, and in control.
Millie rose and extended her hand, her voice deep and commanding. “I’ll expect to see the papers then, Devon. Maybe something can come of our meeting.”
Devon stood, shook the woman’s hand, clasping her left one on top. “I’m optimistic, Millie.”
“Sam, I’m heading back to the office? Are you?” Millie slipped her purse strap over her shoulder.
“No. I’ve got a dentist appointment. I’ll see you in the morning.” He shook hands with both women and made his way from the restaurant. His expression expressed his lack of desire to hurry off to the dentist.
“Thanks for lunch, Devon. I expect to hear from your lawyer.” Millie left the same way Sam had.
Devon dropped back into her chair, the stiffening running out of her legs like sand through a sieve. After a few sips of water, she patted her mouth with the crisp white napkin and then made a quick stop in the ladies’ room. With a deft touch, she reapplied lip liner and lipstick. With the additions to her mask, Devon walked briskly to the exit. Talking to Karen Johnson, her accountant, topped her list of to-dos when she got back to her office. Something was very wrong.
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A retired elementary school principal, a former school board member, and theatre arts teacher, Marsha R. West writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. She lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband and Charley, a deaf, Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren all who live nearby.
The theme of Marsha’s nine books is always second chances, and she even has a four-part series titled The Second Chances Series. She believes in Happily Ever Afters. Her husband picked up a plaque for her on one of their several trips to Maine that states her philosophy exactly. Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end. The Heroines and Heroes in her books are in their 40s and 50s with their parents and children often playing supporting roles.
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the North Texas local chapter, NTRWA, Authors Marketing Guild LLC, & the WORD BY WORD Blog. She has her own weekly blog and monthly newsletter. Marsha loves making presentations to groups and has twice taught a Silver Frogs class on Indie Publishing for Texas Christian University. Her books can be found on AMAZON, B & N, KOBO, and iTunes and other sites. Print books are also at Draft 2 Digital, Indie Lector Stores, and Amazon. Blurbs for each of her books with links can be found on her website.
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