Home > Twisted Lies (Twisted #4)

Twisted Lies (Twisted #4)
Author: Ana Huang









My heart rate sped up. Nothing triggered my fight or flight like the sound of Meredith’s voice.

“Yes?” I hid my trepidation behind a neutral expression.

“I trust you can bring all the items back to the office yourself.” She slipped on her coat and tossed her handbag over her shoulder. “I have a dinner reservation I simply can’t miss.”


She disappeared out the door.

“Course I can,” I finished.

The photographer shot me a sympathetic look, which I answered with a tired shrug. I wasn’t the first magazine assistant who’d suffered under a tyrannical boss, and I wouldn’t be the last.

Once upon a time, working at a fashion magazine would’ve been a dream. Now, after four years at D.C. Style, the reality of the job had dulled any shine the position once held.

By the time I packed up the photoshoot, dropped the items off at the office, and started my walk home, my forehead was slick with sweat and my muscles were well on their way to becoming Jell-O.

The sun had set half an hour ago, and the streetlights cast a hazy orange glow over the snow-packed sidewalks.

The city was under a blizzard warning, but the bad weather wouldn’t kick in until later in the evening. It was also faster for me to walk home than take the Metro, which freaked out whenever there was so much as an inch of snow.

One would think the city would be better prepared considering it snowed every year, but nope. Not D.C.

I shouldn’t have been looking at my phone while walking, especially given the weather, but I couldn’t help myself.

I pulled up the email I’d received that afternoon and stared at it, waiting for the words to rearrange themselves into something less upsetting, but they never did.

Effective April 1, the cost for a private room at Greenfield Senior Living will increase to $6,500 per month. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, but we are confident the changes will result in even higher-quality care for our residents…

The green smoothie I’d downed during lunch sloshed in my stomach.

Inconvenience, they said. Like they weren’t hiking the prices of an assisted living facility by more than twenty percent. Like living, breathing, vulnerable human beings wouldn’t suffer as a result of the new management’s greed.

In, one, two, three. Out, one, two, three.

I tried to let the deep breaths wash away my rising anxiety.

Maura had practically raised me. She was the one person who’d always been there for me, even if she didn’t know who I was now. I couldn’t move her to another assisted living facility. Greenfield was the best in the area, and it’d become her home.

None of my friends and family knew I’d been paying for her care. I didn’t want the inevitable questions telling them would raise.

I would just have to find a way to cover the higher costs. Maybe I could take on more partnerships or negotiate higher rates for my blog and Instagram. I had an upcoming dinner with Delamonte in New York, which my manager said was an audition for their brand ambassador position. If I—

“Ms. Alonso.”

The deep, rich voice brushed my skin like black velvet and stopped me in my tracks. A shiver chased its wake, born of equal parts pleasure and warning.

I recognized that voice.

I’d heard it only three times in my life, but that was enough. Like the man who owned it, it was unforgettable.

Wariness flickered in my chest before I doused it. I turned my head, my gaze traveling over powerful winter tires and the sleek, distinctive lines of the black McLaren pulled up beside me before it reached the rolled-down passenger window and the owner in question.

My heart slowed a fraction of a beat.

Dark hair. Whiskey eyes. A face so exquisitely chiseled it could’ve been sculpted by Michelangelo himself.

Christian Harper.

CEO of an elite security company, owner of the Mirage, the building where I lived, and quite possibly the most beautiful, most dangerous man I’d ever met.

I had nothing except instinct to back up the dangerous part of my assessment, but my gut had never steered me wrong.

I inhaled a small breath. Released. And smiled.

“Mr. Harper.” My polite reply was met with dry amusement.

Apparently, only he was allowed to address people by their last names like we all lived in a giant, stuffy boardroom.

Christian’s eyes grazed the snowflakes drifting onto my shoulder before they met mine again.

My heart slowed another fraction of a beat.

Tiny crackles of electricity hummed to life beneath the weight of his gaze, and it took every ounce of willpower not to step back and shake off the strange sensation.

“Gorgeous weather for a walk.” His observation was even drier than his stare.

Heat rushed over the back of my neck. “It’s not that bad.”

It was only then that I noticed the alarming rate at which the snow was thickening. Perhaps the blizzard forecast had been a little off on its estimate.

“My apartment is only twenty minutes away,” I added to…I didn’t know. Prove that I wasn’t stupid by trekking through the city in a snowstorm, I guess.

In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve taken the Metro.

“The blizzard’s already rolling in, and there are ice patches all over the sidewalks.” Christian rested his forearm on the steering wheel—an action that had no right being as attractive as it was. “I’ll give you a ride.”

He also lived at the Mirage, so it made sense. In fact, his apartment was only a floor above mine.

Still, I shook my head.

The thought of sitting in a confined space with Christian, even for a few minutes, filled me with a strange sense of panic.

“I’m okay. I’m sure you have better things to do than chauffeur me around, and walking clears my head.” The words spilled out in a rush. I didn’t ramble often, but when I did, nothing short of a nuclear blast could stop me. “It’s good exercise, and I need to test out my new snow boots anyway. This is the first time I’ve worn them all season.” Stop talking. “So, as much as I appreciate your offer, I have to politely decline.”

I finished my near incoherent mini speech on a note of breathlessness.

I was getting better at saying no, but I still over-explained myself every time.

“Does that make sense?” I added when Christian remained silent.

An icy gust of wind chose that moment to whip past. It tossed the hood of my coat off my head and burrowed past my layers into my bones, sparking a burst of involuntary shivers.

I’d been sweating bullets in the studio, but now, I was so cold even the memory of warmth was frosted with blue.

“It does.” Christian finally spoke, his tone and expression unreadable.

“Good.” The word shook through my chattering teeth. “Then I’ll let you—”

The soft click of a door unlocking interrupted me.

“Get in the car, Stella.”

I got in the car.

I told myself it was because the temperature had somehow dropped twenty degrees in the space of five minutes, but I knew that was a lie.

It was the sound of my name, in that voice, delivered with such calm authority my body obeyed before I could protest.

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