Sins that Haunt
Women of Vegas, Book 4
September 2016
Lyrical Press Books

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The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas hide a multitude of sins. And in Lucy Farago’s show-stopping series, a lawyer and an FBI agent take a walk on the seedy side, where greed breeds a deadly desperation...

Civil attorney Shannon Joyce walks the line of law and order, but she learned from day one how to put up a good front—thanks to her con man father. Thirteen years ago, she left the east coast and her life of crime behind. Her high school sweetheart, Noah, was collateral damage, but some things can’t be helped. But now there’s no escape when her past comes roaring down the Strip—in the oh-so-tempting form of the man she left behind...

Special Agent Noah Monroe has Shannon exactly where he wants her—in the back of his car in handcuffs. Her grifter father has been murdered, and the FBI needs Shannon to keep one of his scams in play to bag the big bad guy who was financing him. Once again a pawn in someone’s else game, Shannon will have to trust her instincts to survive both the peril threatening her—and the passion Noah reignites… 

Excerpt from Sins that Haunt


If Shannon Joyce had learned anything in life, it was never to argue with the guy who’d just slapped handcuffs on your wrists. But this wasn’t just any guy and these weren’t those kinds of handcuffs.

“Are you crazy?” she hissed. “I haven’t seen you in thirteen years and the first thing you say to me is ‘you’re under arrest’?”

The asshole said nothing.

She kicked the back of his car seat. “Noah Monroe, don’t ignore me.”

“Stop that,” he tossed her over his shoulder. “Or I’ll add damaging federal property to the list.”

He was toying with her. “I’m so scared,” she said with a snort. “Even if I did kill JJ, which I didn’t, what do the feds have to do with it?” How could this be happening to her? The career she’d worked her butt off to have—the clients who needed her—would go down the toilet with this bogus charge.

After she’d gotten over the initial shock of Noah calling her this morning, she’d had to deal with him telling her that her father was dead. Was she supposed to mourn his loss? JJ Lewis was scum. Lower than scum. Her father swindled people. Good, honest people, and he’d dragged her sorry ass into his schemes one too many times. She’d considered killing him herself, would even shake the hand of whoever had done it, but it wasn’t her. She’d left that degenerate be- hind when she was sixteen, and only recently had she discovered he wasn’t in jail, where he belonged. She wasn’t sorry to hear someone had finally given him what he deserved—a one-way ticket to a wicked bonfire.

“Evidence says different,” Noah said, not bothering to answer her question.

If stares could kill, he’d have a hundred daggers sticking out of his head. “What evidence?” When he didn’t answer again, she went on the defensive. Later she’d panic. “I know my rights.”

“You should also know to wait for an attorney.”

“I am an attorney.” One who was going to sue someone’s ass off if word of this got out. He was lucky she’d decided to work late or she wouldn’t have been alone when the dumbass had taken out his handcuffs. She’d worked too hard to have her reputation ruined by the death of a man whose one good deed in life was leaving her alone for thirteen years. Not that he’d done it voluntarily. She’d made damn sure that bastard couldn’t find her. At least not until three months ago.

“You’re a civil attorney. Murder is a crime, and if you didn’t already know, it’s not wise to defend yourself.”

To think, she’d once loved this guy. “And you have no authority to arrest me, and I have nothing to defend myself against,” she argued, squirming while trying to get comfortable with her hands behind her back. “Plus, you know very well I didn’t kill him.”

“I don’t know any such thing.”

Now he was just taunting her and she didn’t care for it. “How? How do you not know?” What did they have on her? “And why the hell didn’t you tell me that over the phone this morning, instead of going on about JJ getting involved in yet another con.”

“If you hadn’t blown me off, Ms. Joyce, I’d have explained things to you.”

Either he was mad that she’d hung up on him or he didn’t like that she was going by Joyce instead of Lewis. Which didn’t make any sense. Why would he care? He’d have to be a complete idiot not to figure that one out. Why would she keep the name of the man who’d caused her so much grief?

“The last thing I wanted to hear about was another of JJ’s get-rich schemes. What that asshole does . . . did, is none of my business.” Not anymore. Even back then she hadn’t much cared.

The light turned yellow. He made no attempt to stop. She hated when people did that. Was he in that much of a rush to put her behind bars? Was this as simple as a thirteen-year grudge? He didn’t have to share probable cause for the arrest; still, they had dated for two years. They’d been kids. But you weren’t supposed to forget the first person you made love to, the first person you’d given your soul to. At least she hadn’t.

She’d left small-town Tweedsmuir under the protection of night, but she’d known exactly what she was leaving behind. She wasn’t only running away from an abusive father and her part in a man’s death, she was forgoing the love of her life—him. She’d had no choice. They were so young. She assumed she’d get over him. And she had. She gave his seat another kick, hating that he’d called her. Hating that he’d brought up feelings she’d forced herself to forget. Talking to him had been bad enough; seeing him had torn her in two. She’d nearly been dumb enough to throw her arms around him—then he’d arrested her.

“Ms. Joyce, failing to cooperate with a federal agent won’t do you any good.”

“Ms. Joyce? Ms. Joyce.” He really was asking for it. She leaned forward as far as her seat belt would allow, as close to his arrogant face as possible. “Okay, Stick-up-the-ass Agent Monroe—”

“That’s Special Agent Monroe.”

He’d failed to mention that when he’d called. “Special at what? Being a dickhead?” She’d shared her darkest secrets with him, things she’d never even told Maggie. Why was he treating her this way?

“No,” he said smugly. “Financial fraud task force.”

Shannon stopped breathing, and for a few seconds she swore her heart didn’t beat. Could it get much worse? Numbly, she slid back onto the seat. Was that what this was about? She swallowed and forced her mouth to work. “Fraud?” she asked, grateful her voice hadn’t broken.

“Yes, Ms. Joyce. You know, the kind where innocent people lose their money . . . or worse.”

The bastard; how could he be so cruel? She’d been a stupid kid. Her father had conned her the way he’d conned those people.

She could tell herself that all she wanted. Reality was, she hadn’t been that dumb. She’d known what she and JJ were doing. Her blame lay in not doing something about it sooner, or realizing the consequences could prove deadly. It was only money. Or so she’d naïvely thought. Until it was too late.

“Nothing to say, Ms. Joyce?” The light turned red and this time he stopped.

The asshole was enjoying this. “Stop calling me Ms. Joyce. I know how big your dick is. So put it away and start talking to me.” Enough was enough.

While he said nothing, white knuckles on his steering wheel said she’d hit a nerve. Whether because he didn’t like being reminded they’d been naked together or something else was anyone’s guess. Either way, she decided to try a new tactic. “Did I hurt you so badly this is your way of getting even?”

“Hurt?” he said, feigning ignorance. “If you’re referring to our childhood . . . thing, I got over that the day after you left.”

Sure he did. And she was Mother Teresa. This was getting her nowhere. But like hell was he getting the last word. “Keep telling yourself that,” she muttered. She decided to bite her tongue for the rest of the drive until, glancing out the window, she realized she’d been too busy being a hellcat to notice they were on the wrong road. “Are you lost? Doesn’t the government give you GPS?”

“I know exactly where I’m going.” He took a right turn, going in the opposite direction from the police station.

What the hell? “Care to share?”

“This could have been avoided if you hadn’t hung up on me, so no.”

No? “Noah.” She’d stay calm if it killed her...or she’d get charged for murdering someone for real. “Where are you taking me?”

“In due time. Now, I suggest you sit back and stay quiet, before I add driving a federal agent to the brink of murder to your list of offenses.”

Part of her told herself to relax. That was his dumb attempt at humor. So how serious could this be? The other part said he was seriously pissed at her, and maybe she should be worried. Noah might be holding a grudge, but he’d never hurt her. No one could change that much. Then again, she wasn’t exactly the same kid who’d run away from home. There wouldn’t be a person in Tweedsmuir who’d expect her to amount to anything, let alone an attorney. For now, she’d keep her mouth shut, see how this all played out.

They eventually stopped at the last place she’d expected. The airport. Noah got out of the car and got in the backseat with her.

“What’s going on?” She should be sitting in an interrogation room, not visitors’ parking at the airport. “Is my father really dead?” May God have mercy on her soul, but she hoped so.

Noah nodded once.

“How did he die?”

He lifted a dark eyebrow.

“Cut it out. You know damn well I didn’t kill him.” She didn’t lie, not anymore. “Am I glad he’s gone to a far worse place?” She shrugged. He’d not only screwed up her life but countless others’. His victims were in the thousands, if not more. “But when I left him, he was alive.” Not very happy but alive.

“When would that be?” he asked.

She considered telling him to go take a swim in shark-infested waters, then thought better of it. She had nothing to hide. “Two days ago.”

“What did the two of you discuss?”

“The weather,” she said. Jerk. No way would she admit to her father extorting money from her. Thirteen years ago she’d have told Noah everything. Thirteen years ago he hadn’t been a special agent assigned to a task force that could put her behind bars.

“Shannon, even if you and I didn’t know you hated the guy, the only time he ever talked to you was to coerce you into one of his schemes. So what was it this time?”

She nodded pensively, taking a close look at the ass sitting beside her. “Now it’s Shannon? A few minutes ago it was Ms. Joyce.” On the phone he’d called her Shannon, as if he’d phoned to catch up instead of wanting to discuss her scumbag father. “What? Are you playing good cop/bad cop with yourself?”

He grinned. “Always the smart mouth.”

She’d had to survive an abusive father and an apathetic mother. A smart mouth had kept her sane. “Too bad you didn’t have a few more smarts. Or that I’m still not that pathetic kid who did what she was told. And, more importantly, do you honestly think I would risk my career? I’m one of the best civil attorneys in Vegas; hell, the state. There isn’t anything he could have said or done that would have gotten me to go along with one of his schemes. No one pushes me around. No one,” she said, giving him a pointed stare. “So if you thought you had cause to arrest me, you’re wrong. I wasn’t involved in any federal crime with dear old dad.”

“And yet you flew home to see him.”

“No, I flew to Tweedsmuir to see him. My home is here.” Something flashed in his eyes. Anger maybe, then it was gone.

“Fine,” he gritted out. “Why did you fly to Tweedsmuir?”

“I didn’t. I flew to Boston, then took a car to a bar in Hanover, just outside that sad, small-minded town.” Noah blew out a breath. She was annoying him. She had to say it was amazingly satisfying. Not only had he been a total ass, but by handcuffing her as she was leaving her office, he’d risked her reputation; hell, her firm.

“Why?” he repeated.

She didn’t want to interfere in a police investigation, nor did she trust him. “I missed him.”

“Damn, Shannon. I can’t help you if you don’t tell me the truth.”

“Help me? Help me? You call hauling me off in handcuffs helping me? You’re lucky none of my staff saw what you did. I have two partners to think about. And you still haven’t told me what evidence you have. What the hell links me to his murder? And why,” she nodded toward the window, “are we at the airport?”

“If I’m honest with you, will you return the favor?”

Favor? She glanced outside. Under the bright bulbs of the Vegas airport, a man dressed in a gray suit opened a car trunk and removed black luggage. A woman stood on the curb waiting. Noah hadn’t taken her to the police station. And neither had he read her Miranda. She considered her next move. “Are you going to uncuff me and tell me why we’re at the airport?”

He stared at her a long moment and said nothing. But she read it on his face. Some things never changed. He was trying to figure the best way to say something that wouldn’t lead to a violent outburst— hers. What he didn’t know was that she no longer did that kind of thing. She wouldn’t have gotten as far as she had, or as quickly, if she hadn’t learned to control her temper and emotions, outwardly at least. In your head you could call a judge every name in the book. Say it out loud and you’d not only lose a client but your freedom.

After unbuckling her seat belt, he motioned with a finger for her to turn around. She did as asked. He uncuffed her. With her hands free, she faced him.

“You shouldn’t have hung up on me.”

“So what, this is payback for not wanting to talk to you about JJ?” She hadn’t believed her ears. The love she’d sacrificed for his sake even more than hers called and he wanted to talk about her miserable father. She’d been mad . . . and scared. The moment criminal investigation had come out of Noah’s mouth she’d gone on alert.

“Okay, what if I tell you I know why you went to see your father?”

“Do tell.” Shannon licked her lips and waited. She looked down at her cuticles while counting to ten slowly in her head, calming her breath. When she was done she forced herself to meet his gaze head on. No way he knew. Intimidation was a civil attorney’s best tactic. And that went hand in hand with bluffing. She wasn’t going to allow sinfully golden eyes to throw her off her game. And this was a game. She didn’t deal with many police in her practice, but she’d learned enough over the years to know they liked games. Federal agents were no different.

“The miserable excuse for a father was extorting money from you.”

She blinked, hoping like hell she wasn’t giving herself away.

“Am I right?”

“Why don’t you tell me why you think that?” Then maybe she’d tell him he’d hit the nail on the head. Or not.

“For the last three months someone was depositing large sums of money into his bank account. Ten grand every two weeks. We traced the deposit to a Vegas bank. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to get a search warrant for your financial records, but I don’t want to put you through that. You may not believe this, but I’m here to help.”

“Help?” she repeated. “You think handcuffing me, tossing me into the back of your car, and dragging me to the airport is helping?”

His smile was surprisingly sheepish. “Extortion is a motive for murder. My colleagues will eventually get that warrant. Your father was involved in criminal activity and whoever was depositing that money could have been bankrolling him.”

Holy crap. She hadn’t thought of it that way. What had her old man gotten her into now? “I would never do that.” Not intentionally anyway.

“You should have gone to the police. Told them what was going on.”

“You’re so certain he was blackmailing me?”

“If my handcuffing you risked your career, imagine what he could do.”

She’d done just that, a hundred times over. And he was right. The feds would eventually trace the money back to her. “Tell me why we’re here. I’m entitled to answers too.”

“Fair enough. I want you to come home with me . . . to Tweedsmuir,” he corrected.

She’d never thought of Noah as unstable, but she guessed thirteen years could really change a man. “On what planet do you think I’d ever set foot in that two-bit town again?”

“Hear me out.”

“Unless you plan on reading me my rights, return me to my office.” She not only wouldn’t go back with him, she couldn’t go back. She and JJ had met outside of town and even that had been too close for comfort. She’d never told Noah the details of why she’d left, never had the balls to admit she couldn’t look at Mr. Polanski’s family ever again. Not after what she’d done. JJ may have been the puppeteer pulling her strings, but she should’ve cut herself free long before poor Mr. Polanski had felt he’d had no choice but to take his life. Dear old Dad was the mastermind behind the scheme, but Shannon’s hands were no less bloody.

“Like I said, your father was under federal investigation and under surveillance. We know you met with him. Shannon, we think you were the last person to see him alive.”

She guessed it shouldn’t totally surprise her that the feds had finally caught up to the son of a bitch. What the hell had taken them so long? “It doesn’t mean I killed him.”

“Maybe, but it won’t take me long to find out who was putting the money into his account.”

If she admitted to the blackmail, she’d give him a motive for her killing JJ. If she didn’t and, not if but when, they found out, she’d be in deep shit. Either way, screwed if she did, screwed if she didn’t.

“Shannon, anything you did, you did as a minor—”

“It doesn’t matter.” She knew what he was going to say. “Besides the statute of limitations, it’s not about whether I could be arrested or not. I played a part in his scheme. My firm’s reputation is at stake. I have partners to think about it. You think the press will care that I was an unwilling minor? And now he’s gotten himself murdered. There couldn’t be a worse time to be associated with that scumbag.”

She hated that man with every fiber of her being. And at the same time, she should thank him. Her father had forced her to become a survivor. She was tenacious and a pit bull in court. Her clients hired her because she won. And win she did. She’d only lost one case. And the whole thing had been bogus. She’d warned her client he didn’t have a hope in hell of winning. He should have taken the deal; instead it had cost him millions. From the moment she’d met Eric Brody, she’d been reminded of JJ. She should have listened to her instinct and refused his case.

“I can’t help you if you’re not honest with me.”

What the hell did she need his help for? She hadn’t killed the man. “What do you want from me?”

“I want you to tell me the truth.”

For once in your life. The unspoken words offended her more than they should because she’d given up lying the day she left Tweedsmuir. Why should she care what Noah thought of her? Whatever they’d had was long dead. He wanted honesty? She might as well give it to him. Debate it all she wanted, the feds would find out. “He asked me for money. I gave it to him. Simple.”

“Why would you do that? You hated him.”

“I didn’t hate him.” She shook her head. “I loathed him. Whoever killed him should be applauded. JJ was slime. Lower than slime. He not only used my mother against me but he tried to turn me into a whore.” She got nauseous thinking about it. Maybe if she was a better human being she’d feel an ounce of . . . something, anything, for the man who’d spawned her and was now dead. But she didn’t. He couldn’t hurt her anymore. And if she was lucky, all her dirty secrets died with him.

“What are you talking about?”

She’d said too much. “Nothing. But I’m glad he’s dead.”

“What do you mean, nothing?”

She’d never told him and wouldn’t now. “Leave it alone.”

“Fine,” he said, clearly not happy with her. “Why would you give money to a man you hate?”

“Easy. He threatened to come to Vegas. At the time I looked at it more like insurance. I wasn’t thinking clearly.”He’d found her after her name was leaked to the press. A madman who’d wanted to kill her best friend had held Shannon hostage. Maggie, sweet, react-first, think-later Maggie, had come to her rescue. As the daughter of a famous TV evangelist, Maggie’s name and the serial killer stalking her and her dancers, had been in the papers for weeks. Eventually, someone had found out Shannon had been the bait. And as she’d feared, it had drawn the attention of the man she’d hoped to never see again. The whole ordeal had left her shell-shocked. And feeling vulnerable. The perfect pigeon.

“Why were you meeting him?”

“Because when I grew a pair . . .” Once she was herself again. “I realized I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me. I flew out to meet him and read him the riot act.”

“And?”

“And I returned to the airport. Waited four hours for my next plane. Got stuck sitting beside this really odd woman, who kept annoying the flight attendant by wanting to change seats, even though the flight was full, and I flew back.”

“How did JJ take it?”

“He realized that revealing himself as my father wasn’t such a good idea.”

“After you told him about the file I assume you still have on him?”

She wasn’t going to lie. Noah had helped knit that security blanket. “Is that why you’re here?” If that was the case, she sure as hell wasn’t letting on she still had it, not if he’d use it against her. “You think I have something on him?” She wasn’t sure why that stung, but it did. He meant nothing to her. Their relationship had been a childhood fantasy, puppy love. But she didn’t have very many fond memories of that town, and Noah had been one of them.

“You do.”

And it implicated her in countless cons. Would he force her hand? Could he?

“Shannon, this is a murder investigation and you’re the prime suspect.”

“I don’t want to be linked to anything JJ did, including his murder.” She’d done far too many things she wasn’t proud of. “You’re not in homicide. So how does his death relate to you?”

“Let’s just say this is bigger than the cons he pulled when you were a kid.”

Seeing Noah pained her. It had taken years to stop thinking about the boy she’d left behind. Now in front of her was the man, one who believed she’d killed JJ. How little he thought of her.

She’d assumed he’d changed. Everyone did. But it was hard to deny he was still, if not more, handsome. It had taken everything she’d had to keep her cool when the teacher had told her Noah Mon- roe would be tutoring her. From a distance drooling over the star athlete had been easy. Up close and sitting next to him had required a skill dear old Dad would have been proud of. She feigned looking out the window.

“Shannon, they recovered a Glock nineteen from the scene.”

Her attention snapped back to Noah. She remembered buying the gun, how uncomfortable she’d felt holding it. “Plenty of people have Glocks. And I left that gun behind when . . .” When she’d broken his heart. “I haven’t seen it since I left Tweedsmuir.”

“This one had your print on it.”

“Then my dad found it and kept it. I’m telling you the truth. I didn’t shoot him.”

“They determined the print was more than two weeks old, from before JJ was shot. The technology isn’t admissible in court yet, but it goes to show the gun was yours.”

Shannon laughed at the absurdity. “To think how many times I’d played out shooting him; and the gun I bought to do it actually might have killed him. Did the gun match the bullet?”

“Nothing was recovered. But your gun had been fired.”

She wondered if she was a coldhearted bitch for not caring how he’d died. Then she remembered the night he’d tried to use her in ways a true father, a human being worth mourning, would never have considered doing to his daughter. “Someone picked up the bullets?”

“All we know is they weren’t in him. He was killed by the side of Miller’s Road, approximately an hour and a half after you were seen with him.”

A plane flew overhead, forcing her to raise her voice. “All right. But you know the print on the gun was old. My gun might have shot him. I assume it tested positive for residue?”

He nodded.

“Doesn’t prove I pulled the trigger.”

“No, but it’s enough to arrest you. And I’m guessing that would be enough for the press to do some digging. Who knows what they could turn up?”

Shannon’s swallowed, her mouth suddenly going dry. “I’ll sue whatever department thinks to falsely arrest me.”

“But by then the damage is done.”

“What the hell, Noah.” Controlling her temper in court was one thing, but here, in this stupid car, parked at the airport, it sounded a lot like the FBI was blackmailing her. What, did everyone want a piece of her? First some lunatic holds her hostage so he could kill her best friend. Then another piece of garbage holds her hostage by threatening to expose what she’d done as a kid. And now the feds wanted in on that action?

“Hear me out.” He held up his hands. “Everyone agrees—”

“Everyone?”

“Hanover PD and my team.”

“Oh. Wow, there are a whole slew of you? Don’t I feel loved?” “We want your help. In exchange we’ll see about getting you off their suspect list. No one will know you were ever on it.”

She shook her head in disgust. “You’re blackmailing me.”

“Think of it as you do the agency a favor and we do you one.”

“I can’t possibly imagine what it is you all think I can do for you.” She was a lawyer. None of her skills would help them unless they were planning to sue someone.

“What is it? You want the file. Fine, I’ll give it you.” At this point, anything to avoid this mess.

“My team would like to see it, but no, that’s not it.”

“Then what, for heaven’s sake? Spit it out,” she said, ready to pull her hair out—or his.

“We need you to continue in his place.”

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