A Reputation For Revenge

By: Jennie Lucas

CHAPTER ONE

TWO     DAYS AFTER     Christmas, in the soft pink Honolulu dawn, Josie Dalton stood alone on a     deserted sidewalk and tilted her head to look up, up, up to the top of the     skyscraper across the street, all the way to his penthouse in the clouds.

She exhaled. She couldn’t do this. Couldn’t. Marry him? Impossible.

Except she had to.

I’m not scared, Josie repeated to     herself, hitching her tattered backpack higher on her shoulder. I’d marry the devil himself to save my sister.

But the truth was she’d never really thought it would come to     this. She’d assumed the police would ride in and save the day. Instead, the     police in Seattle, then Honolulu, had laughed in her face.

“Your older sister wagered her virginity in a poker game?” the     first said incredulously. “In some kind of lovers’ game?”

“Let me get this straight. Your sister’s billionaire     ex-boyfriend won her?” The second scowled. “I have     real crimes to deal with, Miss Dalton. Get out of here before I decide to arrest         you for illegal gambling.”

Now, Josie shivered in the cool, wet dawn. No one was coming to     save Bree. Just her.

She narrowed her eyes. Fine. She should take responsibility.     She was the one who’d gotten Bree into trouble in the first place. If Josie     hadn’t stupidly accepted her boss’s invitation to the poker game, her sister     wouldn’t have had to step in and save her.

Clever Bree, six years older, had been a childhood card prodigy     and a con artist in her teens. But after a decade away from that dangerous life,     working instead as an honest, impoverished housekeeper, her sister’s card skills     had become rusty. How else to explain the fact that, instead of winning, Bree     had lost everything to her hated ex-boyfriend with the turn of a single     card?

Vladimir Xendzov had separated the sisters, forcibly sending     Josie back to the mainland on his private jet. She’d spent her last paycheck to     fly back, desperate to get Bree out of his clutches. For forty-four hours now,     since the dreadful night of the game, Josie had only managed to hold it together     because she knew that, should everything else fail, she had one guaranteed     fallback plan.

But now she actually had to fall back on the plan, it felt like     falling on a sword.

Josie looked up again at the top of the skyscraper. The windows     of the penthouse gleamed red, like fire, above the low-hanging clouds of     Honolulu.

She’d caused her sister to lose her freedom. She would save     her—by selling herself in marriage to

Vladimir Xendzov’s greatest     enemy.

His younger brother.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend,     she repeated to herself. And, considering the way the Xendzov brothers had tried     to destroy each other for the past ten years, Kasimir Xendzov must be her new     best friend. Right?

A lump rose in her throat.

I would marry the devil     himself...

Slowly, Josie forced her feet off the sidewalk. Her legs     wobbled as she crossed the street. She dodged a passing tour bus, flinching as     it honked angrily.

There was no backing out now.

“Can I help you?” the doorman said inside the lobby, eyeing her     messy ponytail, wrinkled T-shirt and cheap flip-flops.

Josie licked her dry lips. “I’m here to get married. To one of     your residents.”

He didn’t bother to conceal his incredulity. “You? Are going to marry someone who lives here?”

She nodded. “Kasimir Xendzov.”

His jaw dropped. “You mean His Highness? The prince?” he spluttered,     gesticulating wildly. “Get out of here before I call the police!”