Masquerade

Part of Swept Away

About The Book

We first met Bianca and Jakob in Illusion, stranded on a desert island and thrown into one another’s arms. But each of them has dark secrets yet to be uncovered… In this new e-novella tied to the Swept Away series, New York Times bestselling author J.S. Cooper reveals even more surprises about the dangerous Bradley family…

Jakob knows Bianca’s appearance at the Bradley, Inc. stockholders meeting was no accident. He knows her family ruined his mother’s life. And he knows that he can’t keep his hands off her. But it’s what he doesn’t know that might put both of them in deadly danger.

Excerpt

Masquerade

one

“Do you like this?” The blonde grinned up at me as she kissed my chest and abdomen, making her way to my hardness. I didn’t hold in my groan as she grabbed my balls and took me in her mouth and sucked, bobbing her head up and down as she tried to swallow all of me. I grabbed her hair and leaned back against the headboard as she got to work.

Closing my eyes, I focused on the pleasure coursing through my body as her lips circled my hardness and her tongue ran up and down the length of my shaft. I’d have to give it to her; she knew how to suck cock. Better than most women. I appreciated the lengths she went to to make it pleasurable for me, though I hadn’t needed the chocolate syrup she squirted on my balls before licking it up eagerly. I could still feel the stickiness coating my hairs and I desperately wanted a shower, but I’d wait until I got home.

“Hold on,” she moaned as she sat up quickly, her breasts bouncing as she jumped off the bed.

“What’s going on?” I groaned as I watched her walk over to the vanity, where the bottle of champagne sat in a sterling silver ice bucket. I wasn’t sure why she’d gotten champagne for the night and I wasn’t going to ask. I didn’t want to know anything more about her than I already did. If she was celebrating something, good for her, but I didn’t care to find out what.

“Ready, Jakob?” She giggled as she grabbed some ice cubes and walked toward me.

“I’m ready to blow,” I muttered as she stopped in front of me, pushing her breasts out and licking her lips coyly. I grabbed my hardness and moved my hands back and forth. I didn’t care whether she was the one to get me off right now.

“Hold on.” She pouted as she looked at my hand. She held up the two ice cubes and ran them around her already hard nipples. “Ooh,” she moaned as her nipples became even more erect.

“What are you doing?” I looked at her impatiently, wondering if she’d recently learned some new moves from a porno or something. I glanced at the clock behind her. I’d already been here for thirty minutes and I didn’t want to stay much longer. I didn’t want her to think that this was going to be an all-night thing. Or that this was about more than getting laid.

“You’ll see.” She got up onto the bed and brushed her breasts across my face, her cold nipples running across my lips. I sucked on them lazily and she groaned and shifted on my lap. My cock was between her legs now and I moved her over to the side. I didn’t want to fuck her tonight. I just wanted to come.

She placed the ice cubes in her mouth and sucked on them for a few seconds before shifting down my body and taking me into her mouth again.

“Oh, shit,” I groaned as the extreme coldness of her mouth sucked on my cock. Her eyes flickered up at me with a happy expression, and this time she didn’t stop as she bobbed up and down on me. It didn’t take long for me to explode in her mouth; I lay back as she swallowed my sperm eagerly and licked up every trace from my skin.

“How is it that you taste so delicious?” She moaned as she kissed my stomach, working her way up my body, and lay next to me in the bed, pressing her body against mine and running her fingers across my chest.

“I don’t know.” I played with her breasts idly as she lay there, looking at me with an emotion akin to love. My stomach turned as her hand made its way back down to my now soft cock.

“How long before you get hard again and I can ride you?” she whispered as her fingers moved up and down.

“I have to go.” I made an apologetic face and jumped off the bed quickly, grabbing my shirt from the floor.

“You’re not going to stay?” The cute blonde looked dolefully at me as she flicked her hair back.

“I have work to do.” My voice was abrupt, uncaring, letting her know exactly how I felt. I didn’t want her to think this was anything more than sex. And the look in her eyes had told me that this was already about more than just the physical.

“You always have work to do.” She pouted her full, bright red lips and let the sheet drop down so that her naked breasts were exposed. “I thought you’d stay over tonight.” She batted her eyelashes but couldn’t hide the annoyance in her blue eyes. I grabbed my pants from the floor and pulled them on quickly.

“You thought wrong.” I zipped my pants up. “Have a good night.” I nodded at her with a quick smile, not wanting to appear too callous.

“That’s it, Jakob?” She frowned and shook her head. “You’re really just going to leave?”

“I didn’t realize that casual sex required me to stay over.” I shrugged and did my belt up. “We had fun, but now I have work to do.” I held in an annoyed sigh. I was getting fed up with this conversation with women.

“We didn’t even have sex yet, I didn’t even get to come,” she whined as her fingers worked down her body. “I want you to pleasure me as well.”

“Not tonight, I’m afraid. I have to go.”

“You’re an asshole, Jakob Bradley.” She tossed her hair and lay back down. “You’re going to regret treating me like this. One day, you’re going to wish you’d treated me better. I’m not going to just wait around for you.”

“Okay.” I headed to her bedroom door as fast as I could. I hated this moment the most. I didn’t know why women took a couple of hookups as a sign of something serious. We’d had sex three times and she was acting like she was my long-suffering girlfriend.

“Don’t call me!” she shouted after me. “I don’t know who screwed you up so badly, but I don’t want anything to do with you again.” Her voice was shrill and I hurried out of her apartment, shaking my head. I wasn’t sure how I always seemed to find the psychos. It wasn’t like I didn’t have it together myself. I was a successful businessman. I was a king in New York. I was handsome as sin, as many women had called me. And I was smart—admittedly, modesty wasn’t one of my virtues.

I opened the front door and hurried down the stairs of her fourth-floor walk-up. I wouldn’t miss it or her. I had bigger fish to fry. Other women to meet, to seduce, to have my wicked way with. Brittney or Maggie or whatever her name was had no reason to worry, I wasn’t going to see her again. I didn’t have time for women who wanted more than I could give.

* * *

I drove to my apartment in silence, not wanting music or talk radio to distract me from my thoughts. My ringing phone interrupted me momentarily and I sighed as I saw the name flash on the screen.

“Brittney, not Maggie,” I chided myself as I turned the radio on. Not that it mattered now, of course. I wouldn’t be answering and I wouldn’t be calling back. The fact that she had called at all told me how desperate she was to be with me, and that was a turnoff. I hated it when women barely knew me, yet wanted to be with me right away. I knew then that they had an ulterior motive. My mom had taught me well. I could still remember her words clearly:

“Concentrate on your studies, Jakob.” My mother looked at me seriously as she ate some salad.

“I am, Momma.” I took a bite of lasagna and swallowed eagerly. I loved lasagna and garlic bread. It was one of my favorite meals and I knew that my mother cooked it when she wanted me to be happy.

“Don’t let girls fill your head and distract you.” She placed another piece of garlic bread on my plate.

“I don’t like girls.” I made a face and bit into the garlic bread and chewed happily. “They’re annoying.”

“Good.” She smiled at me and sipped her water. “Love is for fools, and you’re not a fool.”

“I love you, though, Momma.”

“And I love you, too.” She gazed at me with rays of happiness and love. “You will always be my number-one love.”

“And you will always be mine, Momma.” I grinned at her. I was ten years old and the words slipped out of my mouth easily.

That conversation had been repeated several times during my childhood and teenage years. There were different variations, but the meaning was always the same. When I was five or seven or ten, I hadn’t really comprehended what she was saying to me, and by the time I was sixteen and old enough to understand, I was already hardened toward love. Women and relationships weren’t to be trusted. Love existed, but it was hard to find, and the only person I could rely on was my mother.

That didn’t stop me from having relationships, of course. And it hadn’t stopped me from believing in love. Maybe it was because my mother loved me so much. And maybe it was because she herself had also loved. I hadn’t become jaded from believing in love, but I had become jaded in trusting myself to fall in love and find the right person. She had ingrained in me a love of work before relationships, and I lived my life trying to honor her existence as best as I could. I sighed as I turned onto the freeway. Sometimes I wondered what my life would have been like if my mother hadn’t had her heart broken. What would she have told me about love if it had all worked for her? I didn’t think about it often. Maybe because I was a guy, or just that I had other, more important matters to worry about. Though I’d let my guard down once. I’d let love carry me away to a land far away for three solid months as a teenager.

I broke my mother’s heart when I was sixteen. That was the year I got a girlfriend and fell in love. Josie was her name, and she was a free spirit of seventeen. She loved art and classical music and wanted to live her life traveling the globe. I was dazzled by her beauty and impressed by her knowledge of the world. I loved that her thoughts were big and bountiful, and she made me feel like I could do anything I wanted. A part of me felt that she was my soul mate. I’d never met someone as into Bach and Wagner as I was. We would talk for hours on end about movies, artists, books, and love, and at the end of each phone call, I felt that we were closer and closer.

My mother noticed the change in me right away, though to her credit, she didn’t say anything. She waited for my relationship to take its course, because she knew, as most adults do, that teenage love rarely lasts. Josie and I dated for three months. I lost my virginity to her, I spent all my weekends with her traipsing through museums and stores, and it was only when she asked whether my father could pay for our first trip around the world that I realized all that glitters is not gold.

“But your dad is Jeremiah Bradley, right?” She flipped her long blond hair and looked at me quizzically. “That won’t cost him anything.”

“I never said that.” I frowned and leaned back, her touch making me feel more uncomfortable than happy at this point.

“I know you didn’t say that, but it’s true, right? That’s the rumor going around school.”

“There’s a rumor about me?”

“You know rich kids always gossip.” She shrugged. “That’s why we’re different. We’re there because of our brains, not our money.” And she was partially right. Josie was a scholarship kid and her immigrant family lived in Queens. However, I hadn’t gotten in due to my grades; I was attending the prestigious Harrow Meade Academy because of my father. Just like my younger half brother, David, was. Even though he and I had nothing to do with each other. We knew we both existed, but there was no relationship or bond between us.

“You want me to ask my father to pay to send us abroad?”

“Yeah.” She looked happy, not noticing the withdrawn expression on my face. “Twenty grand should cover it.”

“Okay.” I nodded and jumped up. “Let me see what I can do.” I kissed her on the cheek and went home early for the first time in months. My mother knew as soon as I walked through the door that we’d broken up, but she didn’t say a word. Not for two months, and then she sat me down and told me that there are wolves all over the place, people who will fake excitement and happiness to be with you, for a price. That I should never let my guard down. I just sat there and nodded. She was correct, of course. Josie hadn’t really cared about me. She’d only been after a way to get some money to start the adventures she’d always been talking about. This later proved to be true when she started dating a female cousin of the Vanderbilts and went on a family ski trip. Josie and Sarah were the talk of the school, as there had never been a public lesbian couple gracing our hallways before. A couple of kids who knew I’d dated her teased me and told me I’d turned her gay, but I didn’t respond. I knew the truth. Josie was the kind of girl who would be into anything and anyone for a price, and that had nothing to do with me.

* * *

Ring ring. I pulled into my parking spot as my phone rang. I looked at the screen and picked up the phone.

“Jakob speaking,” I answered in a clipped tone.

“I know that.” David’s voice held a hint of amusement as it always seemed to.

“How can I help you, David?” I stifled a sigh. He was my brother, but there was no brotherly love between us. To be fair, our relationship might have been different if our father had treated us both equally. However, he hadn’t, and David had a superiority complex that infuriated me. I couldn’t stand him.

“What are you doing this weekend?”

“Not sure. I’m thinking of going boating.”

“Where?” David sounded interested.

“The Caribbean.”

“Oh, yeah, you just bought that hotel, didn’t you? Where is it again? St. Croix?”

“Yes, I bought a hotel, but it’s not on St. Croix. It’s located on a private island near the British Virgin Islands.” I felt a smug smile on my face as I spoke.

“Oh, yeah, you have two, right?”

“Two what?”

“Islands.”

“Yes, the hotel is on the developed land. The other island is smaller and undeveloped.” I paused, my brain ticking over. “What’s the purpose of your call, David?”

“Can’t I see how my brother is doing?”

“What do you want?” David was like a little child, transparent when he wanted to get something.

“We’ve got a problem.”

“What problem could we possibly have?”

“There’s a woman trying to shake us down.”

“Shake us down?” My voice was dry. “What does that mean? Did you get someone pregnant?”

“She’s been asking about the company and Dad. Her dad used to work for Bradley, Inc.,” He paused. “She’s been trying to get her hands on some shares so she can get into the shareholders’ meeting next week.”

“Okay?” I stepped out of my car and stared at the sleek lines of my black GranTurismo Maserati. It was worth every one of the hundred and fifty thousand dollars I’d spent on the car. Though next time I was going to have to make sure I didn’t drive the car when I felt like I might be around a crazy woman. I didn’t want any scratches on my baby.

“We think she’s coming for shares in the company.”

“Okay?” Once again, I didn’t know why he thought I cared.

“And she could cause trouble for us if she digs too deep.”

“What do you mean?” I sighed as I ran my fingers along the side of the car and then walked into my building.

“She might find out about the background of all the products . . .” His voice trailed off. “She seems to want to talk to Mattias.”

“Well, then she can’t be in that deep, can she?” My voice was wry. “If she wants to speak to Mattias, then she can’t know much.”

“What happens when she realizes there is no Mattias?”

“You need to distract her before that happens.” I was bored. How many times was David going to call me in a panic because someone wanted to meet our fictional brother?

“Her father was the inventor—”

“Wait, what’s her name?” I stopped outside of the elevator, my mind suddenly very focused on the conversation.

“Bianca . . . Bianca London.”

“Bianca London,” I repeated, my heart racing as I said her name. The first name meant nothing to me, but the last name—the last name conjured up images of my mom sitting on the couch, drinking a glass of wine and telling me stories through her tears. London was a name that I wasn’t going to forget anytime soon. London was the name of the couple who had ruined my mother’s life. If it hadn’t been for their interference, she might have been happy. She might have been married to the man she loved. She might still be alive today.

“I know her name rings a bell,” David said lightly, though I knew he was gloating inside. He knew how badly I wanted to find out what had happened to the Londons. I’d only asked him once if he knew anything about her, but even once was enough. David knew me well enough to know that if I was asking, it was for a reason.

“What do you want, David?” I wasn’t interested in playing his mind games; psyching people out with words and vague clues was a tactic he’d picked up from our father, and I for one didn’t have time for all the back-and-forth. I liked to be straight and direct. I didn’t have time for mind-fuckery. I’d never seen the point, but I supposed that I never knew how I might react in certain situations.

“I think we need to figure out exactly what Ms. London knows.”

“So do that, then.” I walked into my apartment and locked the door behind me. I stared out the windows at the New York skyline and smiled at the sight. This apartment had the best view of Manhattan and it never ceased to amaze me.

“I’m going to get to know her, but I think we might need a more exhaustive plan.”

“What does that mean? A more exhaustive plan?”

“Larry Renee suggested it.”

“Oh?” I froze at the sound of Larry’s name. He was on my hit list, too, though he wasn’t at the top. It seemed to me that Larry had had a large role in everything that had gone on during the first years of my parents’ dating.

“He’s worried she might know things that we don’t want to come out. Things that could hurt us.”

“Where would she have found out these things?”

“Her father might have told her.”

“You think he told her everything?”

“I don’t know. That’s what we have to find out.”

“You think she wants a piece of the company?”

“She probably thinks she deserves a cut.”

“She most probably does.”

“She doesn’t deserve anything, Jakob.”

“Why don’t you tell her that, then?”

“You know it’s more complicated than that.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I was thinking about that island . . .” His voice trailed off.

“What island?” I shook my head in frustration, not following along with him.

“The island you just bought. Maybe she could have a nice trip.”

“At my resort?”

“No . . . the deserted one.” His voice was stiff.

“You want me to fly her to a deserted island? You think she’s going to agree to that?”

“I’m not suggesting anything right now. I just want us to consider all of our options.”

“This is your problem, David, not mine. I really don’t care what happens to Bradley, Incorporated.”

“It’s not my fault I wasn’t born the bastard.” Superiority rang out in his tone and I clutched the phone. I hated David with a passion. This weak-willed, smug, spineless asshole really thought he was better than me just because he’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. How badly I wanted to tell him that he was running his beloved company into the ground. He didn’t see it yet, and neither did the investors, but I knew exactly what was going on. I followed every move they made and every company they purchased. David had made some foolhardy investments and, unbeknownst to him, I was the one keeping him afloat right now. I was the owner of almost every company that he had major stocks in. I held his livelihood in my hands. And I could crush him whenever I wanted. But now wasn’t the time.

“It wasn’t my mother’s fault that your dad was a bastard, either,” I said softly, wishing I could see his face.

“I’m sorry that you hated our father. He was a good man.”

“I have to go, David.” I walked over to the couch and sat down, my head starting to pound.

“Before you go, I wanted to invite you to the annual company ball. It’s this weekend.”

“I don’t know.” I made a face. I had no interest in going to the ball.

“Steve will be there, and I want you to meet my girlfriend, Roma.”

“How is Steve?” I thought about the awkward young man who had worked for Bradley, Inc. since he was a teenager. Our father had taken him under his wing and Steve had almost become like a third brother—though neither David nor I really liked him and I was pretty sure the feeling was mutual. Guess that’s what passed for brotherhood in the Bradley family.

“He’s fine.” David’s voice was low. “Though if Bianca goes digging, she could upset the balance between us all. Steve especially.”

“Well, you know, the sins of men.” I looked through the window.

“No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The sins of men always come back to haunt them.”

“So you’re not going to help me with Bianca?” He sounded angry now and I knew that I had wound him up too much. David was like a delicate flower. You had to be extremely careful when handling him or he would break.

“Oh, I’ll help you. We can talk this weekend, at the ball.”

“Great.” David sounded satisfied. “Oh, and Jakob?”

“Yes?”

“Bring a date.” And with that David hung up the phone. I sat back on the couch and looked around the opulent living room for a few seconds before smiling. Everything was coming into place; a little ahead of schedule, but I didn’t mind. I would finally get the revenge I’d been thinking about for what seemed like half my life. I’d take down London, Larry, and then David. I was saving David for last. The takedown of my brother would be the victory I’d savor the most.

About The Author

J.S. Cooper

J.S. Cooper is the New York Times bestselling author of multiple indie-published books, including the Ex Games series, the Private Club series, and the Martelli Brothers series. Born in London, she now lives in the US, where she is currently working on the next book in the Swept Away series.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Pocket Star (June 8, 2015)
  • Length: 100 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476791029

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