THE BILLIONAIRE'S DECEPTION, a contemporary romance novel by Shawna Delacorte, from The Wild Rose Press

Available from Amazon and other online vendors.

High-powered billionaire Beverly Hills attorney Trent Nichols takes a three month sabbatical to shake his feeling of career burnout and ends up in the San Juan Islands off Washington State. Right away, he encounters a beautiful, down-to-earth owner of a diner/bar and feels an immediate attraction to her. But when she expresses a hostile opinion of attorneys, he decides to keep his profession to himself, a little deception he believes won't matter. He's not there to stay.

As a transplanted Chicago banker with a contentious divorce from a lying, cheating attorney, Cassie Brockton loves her new life on the island where she inherited a diner/bar from her great aunt. A stranger in town grabs her full attention, and though he's not telling her everything, she senses she can trust him and lets down her guard.

But when the island draws him in -- just the change his life needs -- and his affection for Cassie grows, Trent's deception has him caught in its web that threatens both their futures.


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G-Excerpt #1

Cassie surveyed the shelves, then her gaze landed on the sought-after carton sitting on the top shelf in the storage room. Who put something in constant use way up there? She grabbed the rickety, old wooden stepladder and placed it below the shelf. Steadying herself with one hand against the wall, she climbed up four steps. I should have listened to Mike about buying a new ladder. As she cautiously reached for the carton, she heard the front door open and close.

"Is that you, Mike? I could sure use some help in here."

Cassie stood a petite five feet three inches, not quite tall enough to reach the carton. She tentatively climbed one more step to the top of the ladder. With both arms stretched above her head, she tried to coax the box off the shelf with her fingertips.

The unstable old ladder swayed and shook. Her heartbeat jumped into high gear. Panic shoved hard at her. She desperately tried to grab something, anything to keep from falling. Almost like a slow-motion scene in a movie, she felt the ladder give way and went tumbling backward out of control.

Shock jolted through her as a pair of strong arms caught her, followed by the sound of an unfamiliar voice -- a smooth, sexy male voice. "Mike doesn't seem to be here. Will I do?"


G-Excerpt #2

He seemed to be well-groomed in spite of his shaggy hair. His faded and worn jeans had a couple of holes in the knees, and his T-shirt looked old, but the garments were clean. "I've never seen you before. Are you new on the island?"

"Yes, I just arrived."

She glanced out the window and saw the Washington State Ferry pulling away from the dock. "So I see."

Trent Nichols found her statement confusing until he turned and followed her line of sight to the ferryboat. He started to correct her but caught himself and allowed her incorrect assumption to stand rather than admit he arrived on his yacht. Discretion became the word of the day until he had time to accurately assess the situation. The less said to the locals, the better. "This is the first restaurant I saw, so here I am."

Cassie jumped up and hurried behind the counter. She grabbed a menu and handed it to him. "You can look over the selections. We start our switch over to the lunch menu in about ten minutes if you'd like to wait, but breakfast items are still available."

He took the menu from her. "I was just next door at the motel--"

"I'm sorry, but Bob Hampton has misled you." Her clipped words had a sharp edge to them. Anger darted across her face as her green eyes darkened and narrowed. The sudden change in her demeanor caught him completely off guard. "This restaurant is a separate business from the motel. There are no provisions for his guests to charge meals to their room and pay for them at the motel when they check out. I hope this doesn't inconvenience you."

"Whoa!" He threw his hands up in a defensive posture as he registered surprise at Cassie's sudden and unexpected verbal attack. "I was going to say I had just been next door and was surprised to find the motel closed. Even if it's only a seasonal business, it seems that it should be open by now." The crimson flush of embarrassment spread across her cheeks as she glanced at the floor. "I'm sorry. It's just that...well, uh... I obviously made a wrong assumption. Please accept my apology." She offered a shy smile.

"No harm done." He extended a smile that said he had dismissed the matter from his mind, a reality far from the truth.


G-Excerpt #3

Jake was outside waiting as Trent removed the Closed sign and unlocked the front door at five o'clock. Trent gave him a friendly smile. "Good morning, Jake. How are you today?"

"Good morning." Jake looked around, his manner reserved, his expression one of caution. "Where's Cassie?"

"She's exhausted. Hopefully she's getting some much needed sleep."

"I see." Jake stared out the window at the young man swaggering up the walkway toward the restaurant. "Damn! Here comes nothing but trouble."

Trent looked out the window, following Jake's gaze. "That guy walking this way? Who is he?"

"That's Bob Hampton. He owns the land under this restaurant and under Cassie's house. The kid's a real bad apple. He'll try to bully you into what he wants. Cassie stands up to him pretty good."

Trent allowed a slight frown as he clenched his jaw into a hard line. So, the elusive Bob Hampton has finally made an appearance.

Bob walked through the door and directly to the cash register as he looked around. "Where's Cassie?"

Trent made an immediate judgment concerning the arrogant young man standing on the other side of the counter. His tone, the expression on his face, his body language -- everything about him grated on Trent's nerves. He was in his early twenties and wore the smug expression of someone who thought he knew it all, someone who believed in his own entitlement. Trent had seen it many times before on the faces of the spoiled adult children of his wealthy Beverly Hills clients -- an arrogant attitude, a demeanor that thoroughly rankled him.

"She'll be in later. Is there something I can do for you?"

Bob Hampton looked Trent over, then dismissed him with a withering glance as someone inconsequential, not noticing the way Trent tightened his jaw and narrowed his eyes. "My business is with Cassie. Tell her to call me as soon as she gets here."

Trent maintained an expressionless mask, feigning ignorance of the situation. "Very well -- can I have your name? Do you have a business card I can pass on to her?" He was pleased by Bob's adverse reaction to the realization that someone didn't know his identity.

He spat out the angry words. "Tell her Bob Hampton wants to talk to her immediately."

Trent grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and made an elaborate show of jotting down the name. "That's Bob Hampton?" He looked up, taking pleasure in the irritation covering Bob's face. "And your phone number?"

"She knows where to find me." A hostile Bob Hampton turned and stormed out of the restaurant.

Without taking his eyes off Bob's retreating form, Trent crumpled the sheet of paper and tossed it in the waste basket beneath the counter. The sounds of barely concealed chuckles reached his ears. He turned toward Jake who tried his best to suppress his laughter.

He looked at Trent with new admiration. "That was a good one. There's nothing that riles that little punk more than to have someone not know who he is." He laughed out loud as he reached forward and extended his hand to Trent. The two men shook hands, the beginnings of a new friendship forming between them.


G-Excerpt #4

Cassie screwed up her courage and hesitantly voiced her concerns. "What do you do…for a living, I mean? Are you in real estate?"

His expression changed to one of surprise. "Real estate? What makes you ask that?"

"Well..." She swallowed, trying to chase away the tightness in her throat. "This afternoon in the bar, you marked several local businesses along with some other properties listed for sale in the newspaper. Is that why you're here? To…" Almost afraid to say the words out loud, she finally forced them into the open. "Uh, to buy some local business?"

She had not actually formulated her exact fears until that moment. What if he was on the island for the purpose of buying out Bob Hampton? Jake had said the two men obviously didn't know each other, but that didn't mean Trent had no interest in buying the property from him. Her voice quavered, and her body began to tremble. "Are you here to help Bob Hampton take my business away from me?"

Trent heard her words along with the fear and anxiety in her voice. How could he answer her question? He took a calming breath and closed his eyes for a moment, trying to compose his thoughts. "A friend of mine in Seattle was contacted by Bob Hampton. My friend, who had never heard of Bob Hampton before receiving his letter, thought the letter sounded vague and suspicious in addition to very confusing. He asked me if I would mind stopping here and checking into the situation for him. As a result of my report, my friend decided that he did not want to involve himself in whatever Bob Hampton had in mind."

"Oh..." Her expression brightened, as if a huge weight had just been lifted from her shoulders. "So that's the only reason you're here?"

"No. That's the reason I came here, not the reason I stayed. He cupped her face in his hands and searched the depths of her eyes. "I stayed because I found a delightful woman that I wanted to get to know much better. I would never purposely do anything to hurt you. You're very important to me."


G-Excerpt #5

The distinguished man in his late forties walked up the path to the motel. He introduced himself to Bob Hampton as Harold Brundage. "Mr. Hampton, I'll get right to the business at hand. I have a client who is interested in the purchase of this property." He withdrew a contract from his briefcase and handed it to Bob. "The price you are asking is, of course, totally absurd."

Bob immediately jumped to his feet. "Hey--"

"I've taken the liberty of familiarizing myself with the contents of the lease agreement between your late mother, Bessie Hampton, and—" He opened a file folder and glanced at a document more for effect than a need to refresh his memory. "—and Sofie Daniels, the late owner and operator of the restaurant and bar located next door and owner of the house behind the restaurant, both of which are now owned by her heir, Cassandra Brockton. The terms of the agreement clearly state that upon your mother's death, Ms. Brockton has one year in which to exercise an option to purchase the land containing her business and house. The purchase price for the land is set at fair market value, not the inflated price you're asking. Again, I remind you that Ms. Brockton already owns the buildings and businesses and is leasing only the land.

"Now, Mr. Hampton, your asking price is certainly far and away above fair market value for the land attested to by the appraisal commissioned by my client. I have a contract here that offers you a fair price based on that appraisal. You surely must know that without the income from the lease and the actual real estate the restaurant and house occupies, what would be left to you is some land with value and a motel of virtually no market value without the expense of serious renovations and updating to make it competitive in the market place. And without the consent of Ms. Brockton, you aren't able to sell the parcel of land she leases."

Bob tried to recover his composure, his arrogance on full display. "Oh, yeah? Well, all I have to do is wait out a few months and the year will be up and she'll have to pay what I ask if she wants to buy the land."

Harold smiled solicitously, bordering on condescending. "Mr. Hampton, if you turn down my client's offer, it will be very foolish of you to assume that Ms. Brockton will remain in the dark about the full implications of her lease agreement. I wouldn't be surprised if my client decided to enter into a business arrangement that would provide her with the means to immediately exercise her option, which will leave you with nothing to sell but half the land to someone who would want to tear down the motel and build luxury waterfront condominiums. Of course, you could challenge the conditions in court, but that would leave everything tied up for possibly years and stick you with astronomical legal fees."

In a final attempt at bravado, Bob glared at the real estate broker. "Tell your client I'll think it over."

"That will be fine, Mr. Hampton. But don't take too long. My client is also looking at other properties in the San Juan Islands. You will note that this offer is only valid for one week. Here's my card. I'll leave the contract with you. Call me when you've reached a decision." With that, Harold Brundage rose from his chair, shook hands with Bob, and left.


G-Excerpt #6

The newspaper mess cluttered the floor next to the box that held the plaques. One by one Cassie smoothed out the crumpled pages, then folded them so she could add them to the recycle stack at the corner market.

She picked up the last section of newspaper, smoothed it out, then glanced casually at the contents. The Los Angeles Times from last April. She turned to the second page, then back again. It appears to be the entertainment section. These pictures look like some kind of movie premiere or big party.

A cold chill slowly spread through her body. One of the photographs, a candid picture of two people laughing and drinking champagne, leaped off the page and grabbed her attention. The man in the picture, the man dressed in a tuxedo with the sultry brunette dressed in the low cut gown who clung to his arm...

He looked just like Trent. A hard lump formed in her throat. Her mouth went dry.

She closed her eyes. Dread jittered through her veins, fear of what the caption under the picture might say. Slowly, she focused on the photograph, then on the words beneath it. Prominent Beverly Hills attorney Trent Nichols with his date, French actress Monique Devereux.

Cassie's eyes filled with tears. Her body trembled. There had to be some sort of logical explanation. Maybe one of those weird coincidences of someone having the same name and bearing a resemblance. After all, newspaper photos weren't really all that clear...

Try as she might, she could not convince herself that it was nothing more than some strange quirk of fate. The rapidly sinking feeling inside her body told her the truth. Trent was someone rich and important, someone from Beverly Hills, someone who dated French actresses, someone who moved in the high social set. A hard jolt shot through her. An attorney. Another deceitful, lying attorney. The truth enveloped her like a cold, wet fog with long tentacles of ice reaching out to strangle the life from her. Her entire body felt numb.

It must have been half an hour before she could force herself to leave the office, the newspaper still tightly clutched in her hand. She couldn't make any sense of it. Surely, there had to be some sort of logical explanation. When Trent returned she would ask him about it. It had to be a mistake of some kind. He would have an explanation. He would clear up the confusion.

Somehow everything would be okay.