getting in deep smallIn her years of working as a journalist, Catherine O’Malley knew one thing above all others: getting to the heart of the truth requires unfailing integrity. Shaun Stone’s embezzlement trial was the story of the decade and she’d been lucky enough to receive an exclusive interview with him. When the interview is done, will Catherine risk everything she’s worked for or will the temptation Shaun provides prove too much to handle?




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“Would it be fair to describe you as a phoenix rising from the ashes?” Without meaning to, Catherine O’Malley had spoken the question with a teasing lilt; she quickly covered her brief moment of unprofessionalism by straightening the grin just beginning to form at the corners of her mouth. She hadn’t been able to help herself. After almost two hours of firing questions at her subject, she knew Shaun Stone probably felt like he was on the witness stand again, facing his accusers and a scandal-greedy public.

She’d merely gone after his version of the truth behind the extortion charges, however persistent her questioning. If his periodic heavy sighs were any indication, Cat’s techniques hadn’t faded from the CIA-worthy interrogation skills that had gotten her a job at the Davis Report, one of New York’s top selling news magazines. If there was anyone who could handle the story of the year with more thoroughness and an impeccable professional demeanor, her editor would be hard-pressed to find him.

Yet, Catherine had found herself getting distracted throughout dinner. If it wasn’t the brief flash of frustration in the hazel eyes as they met hers, it was the dry wit that accompanied the man’s answers—his subtle way of balking at the unrelenting invasion of his treasured privacy—that captured her attention. Her thoughts kept drifting to the spark behind those eyes, reminiscent of the impassioned plea he’d given before a doubtful jury.

His reactions to her questions betrayed a passion behind the well-kept exterior that peaked her curiosity. This, she felt, was the reason she’d had to reinforce her efforts to maintain a professional distance. Coming off like an overeager assistant DA wasn’t endearing her to the handsome man across from her, but it was better than wiping the drool from her mouth the next time he licked his lips. The only thing she needed to come away with was an interview, however much the idea of something more was beginning to intrigue her.

As she’d come to expect, Shaun smirked at her across the candle-lit table. He took a sip from his wine as he contemplated his answer. After taking a bite from his nearly empty plate, he lowered his fork and captured her eyes with his for a long moment before answering. “I think, in order to be a phoenix, I would’ve had to have been dead. I never counted myself out, though I’m sure others did. The past two years of my life didn’t kill me, they made me eager to clear my name. If anything, fighting the accusations from my former partner fed my drive, helped me find my inner strength.”

Catherine toyed with her fork before pushing it into the center of the plate and dropping it. A half-smile touched her lips before she reached into the center of the table and turned off her digital voice recorder. “Your first post-trial interview.” She chuckled a bit under her breath; the intensity of his gaze sent a nervous shiver down her back. Cat’s shoulders dropped slightly, shaking off the sudden tension. “Off the record, it wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Shaun let out a deep breath and reached for his wine again. “Mrs. O’Malley, you don’t want me to lie to you, do you?” He punctuated this with a small smile before sipping his wine.

She laughed, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. His gaze drifted around the restaurant. Catherine noticed that several people had turned at her laugh, some of them no doubt recognizing the man across from her; he was beginning to look uncomfortable with the attention.

She could only imagine what it was like for him to venture out in public, especially with the dismissal of his embezzlement case a fresh memory. Innocent or not, accusations of that sort stayed within the collective consciousness. People judged. And, as Shaun had vehemently described during their interview, it was that judgment which would make it hard for him to move on with his life.