The Prosecutor's Paramour [The Wives Tales Prequel]
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by Lara Santiago
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: In the year 2075, undercover enforcer Evie Marsh is dispatched to spy on the ambitious prosecutor, Zachary Valetta, only to fall in love and is betrayed by him as the radical Tiberius Group takes control of the U.S. and turns women into virtual properties in marriage auctions. A prequel to The Wives Tales. [Erotic Futuristic Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren Classic, 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
32 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [153 KB]
Reading time: 91-128 min.
"4 Stars: The Prosecutor's Paramour is another great book in The Wives Tales series. Ms. Santiago finally gave the readers a detailed look at Zachary Valetta and his role in Tiberius Security. I loved Zachary and was very happy to finally read his story. Evie Marsh was a mystery, her feisty character is perfect for this story. The sexual heat between Zachary and Evie was awesome and when they finally come together, turn on the air conditioner. The story line was fast paced and left the reader wanting more. There were plenty of secondary characters some that we read about in previous stories. This story is the perfect beginning to a great series. I recommend The Prosecutor's Paramour to all of the readers of The Wives Tales."--LT Blue, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"4 Blue Ribbons: Readers will be treated to the back story behind Lara Santiago's popular series, The Wives Tales. Lara Santiago captured my attention with this series from book one, The Miner's Wife. Anxious to see where the plot and premise of The Prosecutor's Paramour would lead, I happily settled down for a nice read. Zachary Valetta was dreamy with a capital 'D' and believe it or not, loyal. That is, he was loyal to the people he cared about. His desire for Evie threatened his control and once that happened there was no going back; he had to have her at any cost. And without giving spoilers, the cost could have been great. A sincerely excellent prequel to her series, The Prosecutor's Paramour gives readers the back story as to how the Tiberius Group came into power. I found questions answered and enjoyed seeing some familiar characters as well. Lara Santiago just keeps whetting my appetite for more!"--Romance Junkies
Eastlake City, October 2075
Evie Marsh paused and looked over one shoulder. She tamped down the pervasive dread tickling her spine. Nothing in the shadowy street behind her demanded immediate attention. Shaking off her foolish fear, she checked her wristwatch once more, satisfied she'd be on time for the gala event sponsored by the Family First League.
FFL's enduring mission was to ensure single people over the age of consent didn't stay that way. Two or three of these indulgent events were celebrated each year in the hopes of vanquishing the city's singles population.
The most eligible bachelor in the city would be in attendance, and Evie was tasked with getting his attention.
Evie had been deliberately chosen for the operation she was poised to initiate tonight. She had a plan, not only making contact with Zachary Valetta, but also proving herself valuable to those who'd sent her.
The dangerous goals assigned to this plum job required talent. She possessed the skills. Unfortunately, she wasn't allowed to make use of her expert marksmanship ability or carry her gun along to prove it.
Leaving the crisp fall evening behind, she entered Eastlake City's most posh hotel with a determined spring in her step on a mission to do whatever was needed to succeed.
* * * *
Zachary Valetta strode through the opulent lobby of the posh Obelisk Hotel towards the double door entry to a function touted as 'one of the most festive parties of the year.' This advertisement didn't sway him. Before he took a single step inside, a waiter with a tray of champagne flutes blocked his entry.
"Welcome, sir!" he bubbled a greeting, a large smile plastered on his face. "Champagne?" He nodded, indicating Zachary should take a glass.
Glancing past the waiter's shoulder and failing to find an open bar for tonight's festivities, he selected a glass. The waiter allowed him to pass the threshold into the already crowded party. Music from a live band filtered through the din of voices.
Zachary stood motionless near the door, so far unnoticed by the meddling hosts of this event whose primary and enduring goal was to marry off every single person in the country.
Romantic fairytale weddings hadn't gone by the wayside altogether in this latter part of the twenty-first century, but the primary purpose of a marriage had shifted to include political matches. Marriages were arranged for political reasons or to increase the wealth and power of those already wealthy and powerful. Compared to the Machiavellian arrangements of today, the English aristocracy of the nineteenth century were romantic love-stricken fools.
Hugging the wall next to the elaborate buffet as he sipped the expensive drink, Zachary watched the door for anyone he knew, preferably a member of the city's dwindling bachelorhood he could commiserate with to pass the time until he could leave. Given the crowd, he was probably the last to arrive.
Zachary had timed his arrival to suit himself. He was fashionably very late, on purpose. Circulating around the ostentatious party, he resisted the urge to roll his eyes in frustration. He didn't want to be here.
As lead Assistant District Attorney for Eastlake City, he was a busy man. Parties that didn't serve his political aspirations were a waste of his time.
The primary function of tonight's party was to pair up as many troublesome single people as possible and induce them into marriage. The Family First League's agenda power brokers had infiltrated many facets of today's society. The sponsors of tonight's festivities, Tiberius Security, were affiliated with the people hosting the event.
Founded many years ago, the Family First League had become a strong voice in politics, working hand in hand with Tiberius Security. Zachary hadn't realized there were so many single people. Being crowned Eastlake City's most eligible bachelor in a recent society column made him an easy target. He was required to attend since he was single and worked for the government, a stipulation worked out with the DA's office and the Family First League representative assigned to the building. He pretended to be interested in taking a wife, but he wasn't.
It was not because he didn't want someone he cared about to share his life but because he was perpetually career focused. He juggled lots of secrets and marriage would only complicate his already complex life.
"Another champagne, sir," chirped a voice to his right.
A waiter with another full tray of bubbly-filled wineglasses slipped in front of him. He traded his mostly empty glass for a full one and surveyed the room.
Tables with big crystal candle and flower centerpieces hugged the outer part of the ballroom sized meeting room. A string quartette played upbeat yet unrecognizable music from the small elevated stage for couples brave enough to be tripping the light fantastic tonight. The boring music gave him a headache.
No expense had been spared according to the memo he'd been given to entice him here. Out of the corner of his eye, he heard two of the event planners whispering over the details, worrying if enough smoked salmon had been ordered and if only serving champagne and not an open bar had been a good idea. Elaborately carved ice statues of soaring eagles framed the coup de gras of an impressive scale replica of the Eastlake City Justice Center building. It decorated the buffet table surrounded by the most expensive food taxpayer money could buy.
Zachary's gaze drifted back to the entrance where gloved waiters still flanked the double doors and waited to accost the late-coming guests.
He was about to turn away when a beautiful woman stepped into view at the double doors. The waiter stationed just inside the door thrust the tray of expensive beverages at her. She looked startled a moment but gained her composure quickly and took a glass.
Zachary paused to study her. Unlike nearly every other woman in the room dressed in bright flowery dresses, she wore a simple black cocktail dress. Sexy. She moved to the right with champagne glass in hand searching the room as if looking for a familiar face.
Zachary smiled, waiting for her to look his direction. He'd never seen her. She was very distinct from the blonde plastic women he'd already observed at every other function like this one.
There had to be a document somewhere chronicling what the Family First hosts and others attending tonight's party had decreed was the perfect look for a single woman.
The gorgeous girl he watched either hadn't gotten the memo or she rebelled against the current standard of fashion and beauty. He applauded her either way.
Studying her so intently, he noticed a blond man enter the party behind her. Zachary watched as the man took great interest in her ass. It was ridiculous to be jealous and territorial over a woman he hadn't even introduced himself to, but he didn't like the way the man leered at her hungrily.
Zachary watched her walk slowly in his direction. She deposited her full glass of champagne on a table without having taken a sip and turned towards him. He waited to catch her eye, but suddenly a large form blocked his vision.
"Zachary. Glad you finally made it." Alfred Reynolds, the current DA, filled his view instead.
"Alfred." He lifted his glass in a light salute, ignoring Reynolds's comment. "It's a mandatory function. You knew I wouldn't miss it." Zachary glanced over the DA's shoulder to keep track of his dark-haired beauty. She had paused to speak with one of the Family First hosts. As soon as he ditched Reynolds, he'd seek her out and ask her to dance.
"Now that you're here, you need to make a concerted effort to find a wife." Reynolds took a sip of his champagne as calmly as if he'd just commented on the weather.
"Tonight? Why? Have you been talking to my mother?" At the DA's stern expression, Zachary sighed deeply. "We talk about this every time there's a singles party. And again, I'm still not looking for a wife. My career is more important. Why do we need to keep addressing this over and over?"
"With your undefeated record, you're the primary choice for DA in the next election. The endorsement letter from the mayor recommending you for the office sits on my desk as we speak." He paused and sipped his drink.
"And it will never grace your fingertips unless you make an effort to find a wife."
Zachary snorted. "I don't understand why my work record can't stand alone."
"Your work record is important. However, Tiberius Security has a mission for this country. As more marriages take place and more families are created, crime diminishes significantly and there are statistics to back them up. You need to set an example."
"I'm not getting married to maintain the statistical integrity of Tiberius Security's mission."
"No, you'll get married because if you don't, you will remain an ADA and Everett Wilder will become DA next year."
"I'm ten times the prosecutor he is and you know it."
Reynolds shrugged. "He also has a wife connected to a senator and three children to show he supports the Family First League's agenda."
"Just because I'm not married and shooting out progeny doesn't mean I don't support the FFL's agenda."
"Be that as it may, I've been instructed to inform you that it would behoove you to find a woman to marry, and the sooner the better. Acceptance of submissions for nomination will open in a month. If you don't at least have a fiancée by then, don't bother putting in your application."
"What if I don't find the love of my life by then?"
Reynolds shrugged. "Then you don't want to be DA as bad as I thought you did. Love is not a requirement. Any politically connected woman will do. Besides," he winked, "all cats are gray in the dark."
Zachary frowned at the nasty insinuation. He didn't agree. He didn't want to marry just anyone. He sought more in a mate.
"Once I'm the DA, my work load will increase. I don't have time for a wife."
"Make time. As a matter of fact," Reynolds reached in his pocket and pulled out a tri-fold syntho-page, "here's a list to help you in your quest."
"A list of what?"
"Possible contenders for the future position of Mrs. Zachary Valetta."
He took the list from Reynolds and scanned it quickly. Every female listed was from a political family and every one of them had gotten the memo on how to look like a plastic blonde Barbie doll. He'd seen three of them tonight. None of them did anything to entice him.
Zachary wasn't interested in a plastic wife. He wanted someone to talk to, someone who understood the law and why he loved it.
Thinking about the beautiful siren he'd seen enter the party tonight, he crumpled the list and handed it back to Reynolds. "I can find my own wife, thanks all the same."
Reynolds grabbed his arm. "Find one quickly or kiss the DA position good-bye."
Zachary nodded and stepped away before he told Reynolds to shove the list up his ass. He searched the immediate area for his dark-haired beauty and nearly knocked her to the ground in his zeal to locate her.
"I'm so sorry." Her sexy voice caressed him. She took a wobbly step, not completely finding her balance, and almost fell into his arms.
"It was completely my fault." Zachary grabbed her elbow to steady her.
She was an absolutely gorgeous brunette, from the curly locks gracing her lovely shoulders to her sultry gaze giving him the once over. He stared at her, unblinking. Her smoky, seductive eyes trapped him for a moment. Glancing up and down her body once, he noted her curvy shape and long legs that ended in four-inch stiletto heels.
Her tanned skin was flawless, not a single freckle or beauty mark on her face. He paused too long on her lips. Her lush mouth had been crafted for long, lazy, sensuous kissing. Zachary had a sudden urge to lick her mouth and quelled it by lifting his ardent gaze to her eyes. He'd never experienced such a strong pull to a female before.
She shifted those exotically dark eyes to his and he was mesmerized. Her focus dropped to his chest and then to the meager floor space between them. "Thanks." She gripped his arm tighter and lifted a foot. "I'm not used to walking in these heels."
Zachary glanced down. She wiggled one ankle sporting the sexy black high-heeled pump.
"Impractical perhaps, but very attractive."
She grinned. "Thank you."
"Would you like to dance? I promise to keep you from falling."
A trill of laughter escaped, displaying her even white teeth. "Well, as long as you keep me on my feet, then yes, I'd love to."
Zachary deposited his glass on a nearby table and escorted her through several couples to the center of the dance floor.
Taking her into his arms in a practiced hold, resisting the urge not to crush her to his chest and inhale the fragrance from her hair, he said, "I'm Zachary Valetta."
"Pleased to meet you." He swayed and stepped to the music, leading her effortlessly around the dance floor, completely enthralled by her exquisite dark eyes.
"Likewise. What do you do, Zachary?"
"I'm a prosecutor for Eastlake City."
"Oh." She nodded with interest. "That's wonderful. My father was a lawman. He had a lot of respect for the prosecutor's office. He taught me the sacrifices you must endure."
He tightened his grip on her waist. "What do you do, Miss Marsh?"
"Call me Evie." She moved a little closer. "I followed in my dad's footsteps. I'm a lawman. I work at the Justice Center."
Zachary grinned. "Is that so? I can't believe I haven't noticed you before. I'm in and out of the Justice Center almost every single day."
Her expression sobered slightly. "I just moved here recently. My father passed away in the line of duty..." she paused and took a deep breath, "...and I guess I needed a fresh start."
"I'm sorry for your loss." Zachary turned them towards a quieter corner of the dance floor.
"My dad was a good guy and a dedicated lawman. I miss him. It was hard to stay with my old department after he was gone. Too many memories. So I moved here."
Zachary nodded in understanding. "I'm glad you did."
"Actually," she said with a grin, "that's how I got invited to this party tonight. Single women in the workforce are thought of as a problem to be resolved, especially in the ranks of the lawmen."
"I'll let you in on a secret." He leaned closer. "Single men are regarded the same way no matter where they work."
She laughed, squeezed his hand and hugged him a little closer. They whirled around the dance floor in perfect step. His hand slipped further around her back.
"You're doing a marvelous job of dancing, by the way. Even with your high-heeled handicap, you move very well."
"It's only because I have you to hold on to. Let go of me and I'll land on my butt."
Catching her gaze, he said in a low tone, "Trust me, I won't let you go."
Her unique scent wafted past his nose almost with each step they took. Vanilla and lavender assaulted his senses. He was about to lean in a take a deep lungful, but a hand clamped down on his shoulder. Zachary turned. The tall blond man who'd followed Evie into the party attempted to step between them. Evie clasped him tighter and frowned at the intruder.
"May I cut in?" he asked and crowded closer, not waiting for an answer.
Zachary refused to let her go. "Sorry, friend. I never abandon my dance partners in the middle of a song."
He swept them away, leaving the perturbed blond man.
"He's been staring at me since I got here."
Zachary laughed. "I can't blame him. I'm guilty of the same offense. I wanted to dance with you the moment I laid eyes on you."
"I forgive your staring because the truth is, I wanted to dance with you the minute I collided with you." She slid her hand along his shoulder and cupped the back of his neck. The space between their bodies narrowed.
She tilted her head back to stare into his eyes. Her lips were so inviting and Zachary wanted a taste. Pausing mere millimeters from her mouth as her soft breath tickled his chin, Zachary dipped his head until their lips almost touched.
The music stopped all of a sudden and the lights came up, signaling the song was over. They both looked up at the abrupt intrusion of light. The moment was broken. She separated her body from his. Glancing into his eyes then down at the floor, she shook her head. Zachary took a deep breath to calm down.
Public displays of affection were frowned upon. He couldn't believe he'd forgotten where he was. He'd been desperate for a taste.
Evie lifted her eyes to his again and whispered, "Thanks for the dance."
"It was my pleasure." Zachary grabbed her hand in both of his, not wanting to let her slip away. "Would you like some more champagne or something to eat? Another dance?"
She looked over at the elaborate buffet table and nodded. "All of the above." She grinned. "Just let me go freshen up a bit and I'll meet you at the Justice Center ice statue in a few minutes."
"It's a date." He released her reluctantly.
Zachary made his way to the table of fancy food, snagging another drink on the way. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Evie disappeared into the hallway across the room where the facilities were located. She intrigued him.
He smiled and considered the night to come was shaping up to be much better than when he'd entered the party. A few more dances, a little more small talk, then he'd ask her to dinner some night next week.
He glanced at the hallway with anticipation for her to emerge and caught sight of the blond man ducking into the bathroom hallway. Zachary's sixth sense kicked his apprehension up a notch. He watched the hallway and did a fast count to ten. No one else entered or exited. He gravitated toward the bathrooms, ignoring the people who tried to chat with him along the way.
When he got to within ten feet of the hallway, he heard Evie's voice. "No, thank you. I don't want to dance with you."
"I won't take no for an answer, honey."
"Stop it. Get off of me."
Zachary rounded the corner in time to see the blond man lean in to kiss Evie. He had her pinned against the wall, arms behind her back. His lips landed on her cheek as she turned her head away to avoid his kiss on her mouth. She caught Zachary's eye and her panicked gaze turned into one of relief when she recognized him.
"Haven't you ever heard that no means no?" Zachary strode towards them.
Startled, the man turned his bleary-eyed attention on Zachary. "Mind your own bish-ness. The lady and I are having a conver-sha-shun." His slurred speech indicated to Zachary that he'd been to the champagne tray one too many times. The drunk would-be lothario turned back to Evie and aimed the tip of his tongue toward Evie's jaw. Zachary jerked him away and stepped between Evie and the now very hostile man.
"Hey!" The blond man staggered back, bounced off the opposite wall, and shot his arm out in wobbly roundhouse swing lacking aim. Zachary deftly avoided the sloppy punch and landed his own solid hit in the man's midsection with a satisfying thud. The blond grunted and stumbled back against the opposite wall again with a wheeze, this time holding his stomach.
"Leave the lady alone. She's with me. Do not approach her or speak to her again. Do I make myself clear?" Zachary felt Evie's hands smooth the back of his shirt from shoulder to waist.
The blond man didn't respond, but the frown didn't leave his face. Zachary wrapped an arm around Evie's shoulders and quickly escorted her out of the hallway and into the din of the loud party. The music had started up again as couples littered the dance floor, rocking and swaying to an upbeat tune.
He hugged her close, noticing she trembled slightly. He whispered in her ear, "Are you okay?"
She nodded. "I'm good. Thanks to you."
He smiled and led her to the buffet table. He grabbed another glass of champagne and pressed it into her hand. She was shaking. "Why don't I take you home?"
She sipped the drink and shook her head. "I'm fine, really."
"I know, but I'd feel better seeing you make it home safe. The party's almost over anyway."
"Thank you." Her sultry gaze washed through him. She put a hand on his arm and squeezed. "I'm ready to leave whenever you are."
"Let's go." Zachary slid a hand to her waist and led her to the exit. He passed Alfred Reynolds who sported a frown of disapproval. Evie wasn't on the list he'd been handed, but Reynolds could kiss his ass. Zachary could pick his own women and Evie's pinky finger intrigued him more than all five women on Reynolds's list combined.
If he had to get married, Evie was already his top choice.
He hailed a cab and they drove to the address she provided located in a very respectable neighborhood. Evie lived in one of many singles boarding houses supported by Tiberius Security in the heart of the city. It was a choice place to live, but strict rules were set in place to deter crime. At a minimum, no booze, no smoking, and no members of the opposite sex invited inside the apartments.
Zachary asked the taxi to wait and escorted Evie through the iron gate surrounding a large mansion. She clutched his arm as they negotiated the steep stairs leading to the porch. Evie walked a few steps to a beautiful stained glass double door entry and inserted a key card to unlock the door.
Once inside the foyer, Zachary noticed two sizeable common rooms on either side of a carpeted central staircase.
Zachary decided it afforded a more homey feeling for apartment dwellers and a safer, more upscale environment.
He noticed a sign on the entryway wall listing the hours for guests to be out of the building or locked in for the night. If he didn't leave in time, lawmen would be called to escort him out. It would be an embarrassing slap on the wrist. If he spent the night in her apartment, he'd be trapped inside until morning. If he got caught leaving her apartment the next day, it would be more than a slap on the wrist. There would be hell to pay starting with Evie's certain eviction.
Glancing at his watch, he realized the house curfew was in a few minutes.
"Are you sure you're all right?"
She smiled. "Yes. You saved me from showing him what my father taught me."
"Ah." Zachary nodded. "As a lawman, he probably taught you plenty of good moves for situations like that one. You likely didn't need me to save you at all."
Evie placed a hand on his chest and ran it to his shoulder. "That's not true. He caught me off guard. I'll admit I was glad to see you come round the corner when you did." She leaned up and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. The spot tingled. She pressed one more kiss on his face. This time the corner of her mouth sizzled his bottom lip and sent a zing to his cock.
She drew back, but her hands rested on his chest. Zachary tucked a lock of her gorgeous hair behind one ear. Running a hand from her shoulder to her elbow, he leaned closer to kiss her lips in return.
A door down the hallway opened abruptly and an older woman in a robe stepped through, spotting them immediately. "It's almost house curfew time," she announced, pursing her lips into a tight circle of condemnation.
Evie winked at Zachary and turned to look at the woman. "We still have five minutes, Mrs. Rhoades."
"If he's still here in five minutes, I'm calling the lawmen to register a complaint."
"That won't be necessary." Zachary flipped his badge open. "I'm the assistant district attorney for the city, ma'am."
"I don't care who you are! Five minutes," she barked. Slamming her door, she disappeared from the hall, leaving them alone again.
"My landlady is a stickler for the curfew rules in the house." Evie shrugged and twisted to face him with a pursed-lip smile. "She doesn't even care that I'm a lawman. Rules are rules."
"I don't mean to get you in trouble." He slid his hand around her fingertips still resting on his chest and brought it to his lips.
"I don't mind. I'm a rebel at heart."
He turned her hand over and kissed the palm. "I have to admit my rebellious nature, as well."
She glanced over her shoulder. "Rules may be rules and I don't agree with all of them, but I voluntarily signed papers to live here so I could reside in a safe neighborhood." She shrugged.
Zachary leaned close enough to feel her breath on his lips and murmured, "Then I'd better hurry."
Her sudden grin punched him in the heart. "Hurry?"
He leaned forward. His lips were poised only a breath in distance from hers to capture her mouth in a kiss. He paused.
Evie closed the meager distance between them and brushed his mouth lightly, rubbing her soft lips against his. It was the permission he sought. Twisting his mouth over hers, he cupped a hand behind her head and licked his way inside of her mouth. Thrusting and swirling, tangling and dancing, he kissed her until they were both breathless.
Zachary broke away first. "When can I see you again?" He nibbled her bottom lip.
"I don't know. I work ... tomorrow and..."
He pressed another kiss to the corner of her mouth, lingering there only a moment to taste her before he kissed a trail along her jaw.
"Have dinner with me tomorrow. We'll go wherever you want."
She moaned when he nibbled her earlobe and followed with a kiss directly beneath her ear.
"Tomorrow? I don't know..." she murmured.
"I must see you again, Evie. Name the day."
Her only response was another moan, the sound of which sent a frantic pulse of desire straight to his cock.
Zachary glanced at his watch and stifled a curse. His time was up. With a gargantuan amount of restraint, he pulled away from her, distancing himself by an arms length. He retrieved a business card from his jacket pocket and handed it to her.
"Call me at my office tomorrow, then I can talk you into going out with me. Otherwise, I'll be forced to wander the halls of the Justice Center soulfully calling out your name, searching for you. It would be embarrassing for a tough prosecutor like me. You won't make me suffer like that, will you?"
She looked a little shell-shocked but reached out and took the proffered card and nodded as an infectious smile shaped her lips.
"Okay. I'll call you."
"I'd better go before a battalion of lawmen are dispatched to remove me." He ran a finger down her cheek and along her lovely jaw line, tapping her chin once before he forced his hand away from her delicate skin. "Good night, Evie. Sweet dreams."
Opening her door, she stepped across the threshold and said, "Good night, Zachary."
The sultry smile she offered him would live in his sweet dreams tonight.