CreateSpace / Lucy Monroe
Originally published: 12/01/05
Current publication: 12/23/17
It’s another high-stakes game of love, attraction, and desire, but the players have a past and the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s not just their hearts on the line, but secrets and the family neither ever thought to have with the other. Marcus Danvers is a man with a plan and that plan is to win, whatever it takes.
The last woman security business consultant Marcus Danvers expects to find at Kline Electronics is Veronica Richards. He’s supposed to be rooting out a corporate spy, not rehashing an old love affair—with the woman who sold out the company they both used to work for and then took off without so much as a kiss goodbye. All the clues point to Ronnie as the firm’s newest mole, which means he’ll have to spend time with the stubbornly reticent—and mouthwateringly sexy—woman he hasn’t been able to forget, and uncover every last thing she has to hide…
FANCY SEEING YOU HERE
It’s just Ronnie’s luck. The one man she’d hoped never to see again is suddenly everywhere she looks—and taking up a starring role in her daydreams, too. Remembering the passion she and Marcus once shared certainly isn’t going to help, though, not when she has so many secrets, and no explanation for the way she left him eighteen months ago&8212;or at least not one he’ll want to hear. The problem is, when Marcus is around all her good intentions go up in smoke…
“Emotionally intense and with love scenes that go off the thermometer with their heat, readers will definitely want GOODNESS HAD NOTHIONG TO DO WITH IT to help them through a cold winter’s night. Highly recommended!” 4 Stars – The Romance Reader’s Connection
“With each story Lucy Monroe writes, I swear she’s getting better. She can write them hot, and she creates strong, compelling characters. If you love a story filled with passion, revenge, and riveting characters, then you need to pick up GOODNESS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT”. – Romance Reviews Today
“The steamy, sizzling chemistry between Marcus and Ronnie and the mystery of the corporate spy kept me turning pages long into the night. It was worth every second of lost sleep”! – Blue Ribbon Reviews
“Lucy Monroe dazzles once more with her newest releaseGoodness Had Nothing to Do with It. The characters shine amidst the smooth dialogue and vivid scenes.” 4 Star – A Romance Review
“Deception, lies, betrayal and secrets are all staples of this book and readers won’t be able to put it down until the very last page.” – The Romance Studio
“Ms. Monroe creates a world where you actually LIVE for the duration of the book, and then you want to revisit time and again in a re-read.” – Barnes & Noble Reader Reviews..
“Once again Lucy Monroe has woven together an engaging tapestry of complex characters, emotional relationships, and simmering sensuality.” ~ JoAnn Ross, NYT Bestselling Author of BLAZE.
“I just finished Goodness had Nothing to do With it, too. Loved it! It drew me right in and the characters were so well drawn.” ~ Janet
“Last night (I stayed up all night…but it was worth it) I read Goodness has Nothing To Do With It. I couldn’t put it down, it was very intense.” ~ Cora
“The book had it all… angst, good plot, hot sexy couple, and the much needed HEA. I’m sorry to see you leave this world.” ~ Ann
Marcus Danvers hadn’t had sex in eighteen months, two weeks and three days.
And a mere fifteen feet away, stood the reason. Primal recognition roared through him as his nostrils widened as if to catch her scent while his body went taut and hard in places that had plagued him since her disappearance a year and a half ago.
Her slight body bent toward the marketing director of Kline Technology, she leaned against the front of man’s desk talking to him in a low voice. A voice that had haunted Marcus’s dreams. The voice of the only woman he had ever considered making a permanent commitment to.
She bent forward to pick up a stack of papers and silky brown strands swayed against her averted cheek. The blunt cut that ended just below her chin surprised him. A year and a half ago her hair had hit the middle of her back when it was down, although he hadn’t discovered that fact until the first time they’d kissed.
She had kept a scrupulously buttoned-up appearance in CIS’s office, which included wearing her hair in a severe twist on the back of her head. Her black framed glasses that somehow enhanced her soft gray eyes had added to the picture.
She hadn’t been buttoned-up when he touched her, though. She’d been full of shy passion and innocent ardor.
He’d worked with her for three years, assuming the ruthlessly efficient secretary had coolant rather than blood running through her veins. It had shocked him to discover otherwise…almost as much as learning that she had sold out his company’s corporate secrets before skipping town.
His hand curled into a fist at his side. He wanted to stride across the distance separating them, grab her by the shoulders and spin her around to face him before demanding an explanation for the inexplicable.
She hadn’t just betrayed her company, she’d betrayed her lover and he wanted to know why.
The one word question had played in the back of his mind for the past eighteen months. Why after three years of being the perfect secretary, loyal in every way, had she sold information that soured a deal for CIS? Why, after being his lover for two months, had she left without so much as a goodbye?
Instead of acting on his almost overwhelming impulse to demand some answers, he forced himself to turn to his client. George Kline, the president and owner of Kline Technology, had hired Marcus to find an in-house mole. “You wanted to introduce me to the marketing director?”
“Yes.” Kline nodded his gray head, the movement decisive. “His team and the project lead teams are the only ones with the kind of advance knowledge the person we’re looking for has been leaking.”
Ronnie turned slightly and he saw that she still wore the black-framed glasses. Typically, her white shirt had been buttoned up to her neck and tucked into a neat gray skirt. She looked prim and cool, not at all like the sort of woman that would sell out her boss and lover.
With a churning in his gut, he realized his investigation had probably been just made very simple.
“You said there are five people on the marketing team with access to the information that has been leaking.”
“Yes,” Kline replied, his green eyes lit with keen intelligence. “The department is a little over twice that size, but only my top people have open access to all our product information, including design team stats.”
Marcus fixed his gaze on Ronnie’s profile and asked, “Did you include admins in that number?”
Kline frowned and swore. “No. I didn’t even think about our departmental administrative assistants. They’ve got access to everything.”
“How many are there?”
Kline was briefly silent. “Marketing has three, the project design team has one and the sustaining team has two, but only one would be working with the engineers assigned to each product’s launch.”
“Is she one of them?” He pointed to Ronnie who had turned toward them, giving him his first full view of her face.
Kline gave him a speculative look. “That’s Veronica Richards, one of the marketing admins. Came to work for us about six months ago. She has unhindered access to pretty much everything.”
Kline’s voice faded in his mind as Marcus’s gaze clashed with Ronnie’s.
He tried to maintain a detached air as he watched her react to his presence. He waited for first the recognition and then the shock to register. His company, CIS, had its headquarters in Portland and she’d left before he and his partner, Alex, branched out into corporate investigations. She probably thought she was safe in the anonymity of the larger city of Seattle , a good four hours north of Portland and across a state border.
As her gaze settled on him, recognition widened her eyes instantly. Soft lips that he had once kissed with incredible hunger parted as all color drained from the patrician features of her face. She swayed slightly, her mouth forming one word. He thought it was his name. She looked ready to faint. He cursed silently even as his feet pulled him forward against his will to come to her aid.
Kline reached her first. “Good afternoon, Veronica. I’d like you to meet Marcus Danvers. I’ve hired his firm to do some consulting for Kline Tech.”
As Marcus listened to Kline give the cover story they had agreed upon to explain his presence, he couldn’t help wondering how the older man could be oblivious to Ronnie’s distress. Didn’t he see the way her body had tensed? Didn’t he notice the short little breaths that indicated Ronnie’s anxiety? Was he so blind that he saw only her face, schooled into an emotionless mask?
“We’re looking at expansion?” Ronnie asked, her usually well-modulated tones tight with stress.
“Maybe,” his client responded noncommittally.
Marcus turned his attention from her to Kline. “I think there’s something you should know.”
“Marcus…” His name came out like a plea.
He ignored it. No doubt she was afraid he would tell Kline about her betrayal at CIS. She didn’t need to worry. Not yet. He wasn’t ready to do that. If she was not guilty of the espionage he’d been hired to investigate, he didn’t want Kline jumping to the conclusion she was and dropping the investigation, leaving himself vulnerable to the real culprit.
Besides, Marcus didn’t think it would take him very long to find out if Ronnie were up to her old tricks.
“Veronica and I already know each other. She worked for CIS for a few years. She’s very familiar with our information services to investment clients.” He hoped Kline would pick up on his hint that Ronnie didn’t know about CIS’s corporate investigation activities.
Intelligent enough to build a garage business into a multi-million dollar company, Kline got the message and the slightly panicked expression in his eyes faded. “I see. Then she’ll be the ideal contact for you here at Kline Tech.”
Turning with a swift movement, Marcus caught Ronnie’s reaction to Kline’s suggestion. If she’d looked pale before, she looked green now.
She shook her head frantically, her almost abnormal control no where in evidence. “No.”
Kline’s gray brows drew together and his green eyes narrowed dangerously. “No?”
Ronnie’s mouth opened and then closed without anything coming out. Her gaze skittered to Marcus and then away again.
“Do you have a problem working with Marcus?” Kline asked, his expression still grim.
Marcus could almost pity Ronnie, having to stand under that intimidating scrutiny. Almost. If a corporate spy deserved pity.
She made a visible effort to pull herself together. “It’s just that I’m so busy right now with the new product marketing research for Cougar. I’m sure there’s someone more appropriate to work with Mr. Danvers regarding investment strategies.”
“On the contrary, I prefer having someone I know answer questions and point me to the right people. Besides, you already know how I work. That makes you a valuable resource.” He waited to see if she could wriggle out of that.
Her gaze flew to his and for a second he read hope in her eyes before it faded to wariness. “If that is what you wish.”
He smiled, knowing the expression did not reach his eyes. “It is. It definitely is.”
“It’s settled then. Veronica, you can begin by introducing Marcus around the marketing department. I’ve got some urgent things needing attention on my desk.” Kline once again sounded like someone’s jovial grandfather, all steely determination gone from his expression now that he had gotten his employee’s compliance.
Kline walked away and Ronnie stood staring after him in complete silence for a full minute before Marcus spoke.
“It’s been a long time, Ronnie.”
Her head whipped up. “Don’t…” She took a deep breath and expelled it slowly. “Don’t call me that. Please.”
“Why not?” he asked with mockery, wondering at the pleading in her voice. If he didn’t know better, he would think she was vulnerable to him. But she’d proven she wasn’t when she disappeared without a backward glance. “It’s your name.”
Or at least the name he’d given her when their relationship had turned intimate.
“My name is Veronica. No one but you has ever called me Ronnie. I don’t… I don’t like it.”
He wondered at her hesitation, but chose to ignore it. “I do like it. It suits you, or at least it suits the woman I know you to be.” Actually Benedict, as in Benedict Arnold, suited the woman he really knew.
She turned pale again and he almost felt guilty for baiting her.
Then her eyes narrowed and she said, “You don’t know me, not the real me and you never did.”
He couldn’t argue with her. Obviously he hadn’t known her, or he would have realized what kind of betrayal she was capable of. “You’re supposed to be introducing me around. We can save rehashing old times for later.”
Her hand fluttered to her throat and she couldn’t hide the panic his words caused her. Every second he spent in her company convinced him more firmly of her guilt. She acted like a woman terrified of being caught doing something wrong. Then again, maybe she was just afraid her past had caught up with her. Maybe.
And maybe she had found a pretty lucrative deal here at Kline Technology, selling secrets to Kline’s competitors. Was she afraid the gravy train was about to end?
Marcus didn’t know, but that’s what he’d been hired to find out and he was damn good at his job.