Sunday Snippet: The Lady Vanishes by Nicole Camden

I’ve never read this author, but the premise for this series and this book intrigue me and I’ve add them all to my TBR pile. After reading today’s snippet I moved this book to the top of the list.

WHEN MILTON SHAW ARRIVED HOME at his brownstone on Beacon Hill that evening, he immediately walked past the curving staircase that led up to the second _oor and down a long hallway to a door on the end—his office. Formerly the library of the stately brownstone, it had an enormous stone _replace, large leather reading chairs, and walls lined with bookshelves, a good many of which had been in the library when he’d purchased the house. The rest he’d added in the ten years he’d lived there. Roland said the place looked like Edgar Allan Poe’s grandfather could have lived there. Milton didn’t care. He loved this big moody house with its high ceilings and ornate fixtures.

His desk, a beast of a thing with carved wooden legs as big around as those of a baby elephant, had three enormous monitors that came on as he sat down—motion-activated, hell yeah, he never grew tired of it. He’d already googled Dr. Regina Burke on his phone during the limo ride back home. He’d read her short bio on the hospital website—she’d been hired several months earlier—and several of her publications about the treatment of specific types of cancer in children, and found about thirty articles about her father, Carter Burke, who’d been indicted for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, in the multi-screened luxury of his office, he pulled up everything he’d found earlier and more. Carter Burke had been indicted, but he’d fled the country, leaving behind his wife and two daughters, sixteen-year-old Regina and ten-year old Celeste. There was a photograph of the girls—Regina looking grimly serious even then—holding hands at their mother’s side on the steps of what looked like the courthouse. He found a small article about her mother checking into rehab several times before the woman finally died of an overdose, and how all her family’s assets were seized and sold at auction. He read through the list, which was extensive. Her father had owned a yacht, sixteen cars, an office building, two warehouses, and several homes, but once the liquidation was complete, the girls were penniless and had moved into their grandmother’s house until she passed away a year later. Damn, he’d thought his childhood was difficult.

He kept reading, scanning the articles while his nimble fingers flew over the keyboard as if he and the machine were one, which was close enough to the truth. Other than magic, computers were his world. He, Nick, and Roland had made their first several million for their company, Accendo, by inventing an encryption software for the masses, one that disguised protected content as banal emails with nothing more than recipes for banana pudding. Unlike most encryption tools, theirs hadn’t been vulnerable to the security hacks that every good developer figured out early on. They’d made a fortune, and so had the many people who had used their tool to hide illegal activities. Including, it seemed, Regina’s father. In one article, the Feds speculated that Carlton Burke had used Accendo’s encryption tool to hide the transfer of millions of dollars to the Caribbean.

Perfect. Well, maybe she wouldn’t make that connection.

He stood up from his chair and paced, absently picking up a deck of cards from a nearby shelf and shuffling them rapidly.

Shit. She was a serious person. She wasn’t someone a man took out for a good time and nothing else.

He performed one trick, shooting the cards in the air and making them disappear, and then another, thinking the whole time, turning the problem over and over in his brain. He liked her—she’d totally stepped up and taken care of her family.

She was obviously intelligent. He was attracted to her, really attracted, like toss-her-over-his-shoulder-and-stuff-her-inthe-back-of-his-limo attracted. He couldn’t do that, though.

People frowned on that.

He made the top card appear to float in midair, hovering just above the deck.

I’ll just talk to her, he thought. I’m going to the hospital on Monday, anyway. I’ll go, and I’ll just introduce myself as myself.

She’d seemed attracted to Shaw the Magician—maybe he could get her attention that way.

His phone rang, and he frowned, depositing the cards on his desk and pulling it out of his pocket. “Hello?”

“Milton?”

It was a woman’s voice, sounding just a little uncertain, and he remembered with horror that he had a date tonight with a lovely woman named Michelle, whom he’d met at a fundraiser for literacy.

“Michelle,” he said, wincing, putting a hand to his head. He was an idiot, a complete idiot. “I’m sorry. I got tied up with something.” True enough, he supposed.

“That’s okay. Did you need to reschedule?”

Milton wanted to. He most definitely wanted to, but in the background he could hear the clink of glasses and the sound of voices, and knew she was probably already at the restaurant.

“No, I’ll be there in”—he glanced at his watch—“fifteen minutes. I’m so sorry to keep you waiting.”

She didn’t hesitate to assure him that it was _ne. Her voice was even teasing as she ended the conversation by saying, “I bet you’re worth waiting for.”

He made a face—he couldn’t help it. He knew he was good-looking, but no woman had ever said that crap to him until he became stupidly wealthy. “A beautiful woman should never be kept waiting,” he quipped back, and wanted to smack the phone against his forehead. He sounded like a douchecanoe.

He was a douche-canoe. He’d completely forgotten about one woman while fantasizing about another.

She laughed and said, “I’ll see you soon,” and hung up the phone.

“God,” he groaned and punched the number of his driver, Shane.

“Shane,” he said as soon as the man picked up the phone. “I forgot I have a date. Can you turn around and come back for me?”

Shane didn’t answer right away, but then his South Boston accent came through the line: “Sure, boss. I’m on my way back now.”

“Great.” Milton hung up the phone again.

Glancing down at himself, he realized that he was still in the suit he’d been wearing at the hospital. He could wear it, he supposed, but it was a little too formal for a date, even at one of his favorite restaurants, a four-star French restaurant in the lobby of the Hotel Commonwealth.

He wondered if Dr. Burke liked French food. An image of her tasting their famous fondant au chocolate floated through his mind; he could see those luscious lips parting, her eyes closing in ecstasy as the melted bittersweet chocolate slid over her tongue. His dick stirred, and he groaned. He needed to get a grip.

Lady Vanishes --- coverBillionaire tech genius and inventor Milton Shaw never had life easy. Losing his brother at an early age, his only escape was into the world of magic, studying Houdini and perfecting the art of sleight of hand. Too smart to fit in, and isolated from his peers, he vowed that one day he would be so powerful that no one could touch him.

Stern doctor Regina Burke hates nothing more than attention and trickery. In fact, she went into science to feel in control of her world. Yet when her work brings her into contact with the sexy tech superstar Milton Shaw, she finds her body warring with her idealism…and her desires shifting from unlocking the magician’s secrets to unlocking his heart.

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