Persuasion (Temptation, #2) by T.K. Leigh




Prologue





The End of Temptation





Julia


“Have you been following that?” the stylist asked as she cleaned her brushes.

“Sorry… What’s that?”

She nodded at the screen I’d been staring at, even though I wasn’t really watching. “About Lachlan Hale’s sister.”

I shook my head, squinting. “Who?”

“The pitcher for Atlanta,” she responded, sounding shocked, as if the name were as recognizable as George Washington. “Since you’re from there, I figured you’d have heard of him.”

“I don’t follow baseball,” I offered with a smile.

“Either did I until I saw him in a uniform.” She winked. “They say female attendance at games skyrockets when he’s scheduled to pitch.”

Curious, I stole a glance at the screen, expecting to be met with yet another tall, muscular, bearded man who did nothing for me.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

My heart plummeted to the pit of my stomach when a pair of blue eyes stared back at me.

The same blue eyes that peered into mine as my body experienced immense pleasure all night long.

“Jules…,” Naomi breathed, clutching my hand as we both gaped at the familiar man on the screen.

“They’ve been covering this, like, nonstop,” Margo-Mary continued, completely oblivious to the utter shock rendering me mute, erasing my thoughts, stealing my breath. “Lachlan is a bit of a local legend here on the island.”

I should have told her I didn’t care. That I had absolutely zero interest in some young, attractive baseball player. But I couldn’t find the words.

I did want to know more about him. About the man I knew as Chris. About the truth behind the person who’d made me smile and laugh for the first time in years. About the past we’d agreed to leave outside of our bubble.

“He went to high school here,” she continued. “Was supposed to play for UCLA before the Hawks organization snatched him up. He started in the minors, yet quickly advanced to the majors. I’m shocked you’ve never heard of him. I was just in Atlanta on a film shoot. His face is all over billboards, bus stops. He’s everywhere.”

“We’re not…,” Naomi began when I simply remained mute. “We’re not really into sports.”

“Anyway…,” Margo-Marry rattled on, lowering her voice, as if about to share a juicy piece of gossip. “A few days ago, his sister was found unresponsive in the bathtub, her wrists slit. He was the only family she had left, so he was called to identify the body. Apparently, even though she’d been diagnosed with depression, he refused to believe she’d kill herself. Punched a detective. Sent him to the hospital with a broken nose and jaw. I think there’s more to the story. There had to be a reason he flew off the handle and assaulted a police officer, right?”

My breaths came quicker, heart squeezing. “Right.”

He did say his sister had died. I’d simply assumed it was some tragic occurrence. Cancer or a car accident. But suicide? I couldn’t imagine.

A flash on the screen caught my attention. My eyes involuntarily went to it. A photo of Chris…Lachlan appeared, this one of him wearing casual clothing, more closely resembling the man I’d gotten to know.

But that wasn’t what caused my stomach to knot, the world spinning around me.

It was the woman at his side. His sister. The only family he had left…

And the same woman who, just last week, had confronted me, asking questions about my ex-husband.

My serial stalker, rapist, and murderer ex-husband.

My serial stalker, rapist, and murderer ex-husband she was convinced was somehow connected to more recent deaths.

It was probably nothing.

After all, Nick was in prison. Unable to hurt or manipulate anyone ever again.

Unable to stalk, rape, or kill another woman.

It was all just a coincidence that this woman who’d been looking into my ex-husband was now dead of an apparent suicide, a method he’d used on his previous victims.

A strange, unusual, unintentional coincidence.

An unbelievable, ridiculous, one-in-a-million coincidence.

Being married to a narcissistic sociopath had forced me to be observant.

To pick up on his moods before it was too late.

To learn every single detail about what made him tick, for no other reason than my own survival.