Bound to Billionaires

By: Chloe Lang

Prologue




Sitting on the sofa, Megan Lunceford looked at the man being handcuffed by the FBI agents.

“Mrs. Lunceford, when did you first meet your husband?” The agent’s voice seemed far away and faint.

She was still getting used to being called “Mrs. Lunceford.” Kip had said he was thrilled when she agreed to take his name instead of keeping her maiden name. In truth, “Lunceford” was a slight improvement, if only slight, for her. She’d been so happy to say good-bye to “Ramsbottom,” which had been used against her by cruel classmates from elementary all the way up to high school. Right now, she would’ve loved to have it back.

“I met Kip thirty days ago,” she answered, hearing the flatness in her tone. “April first to be exact.”

The day of fools.

Appropriate. Really appropriate.

Kip’s eyes were wide, but he wore the same twisted grin on his face as the one on the day she’d married him.

“You were married in Vegas this past Saturday, correct?”

She nodded. Her entire body felt like lead. The agents had come into her home, the house her mother had left her. She needed her mother right now. Her mom would know what to do.

“How old are you, Mrs. Lunceford?”

“I turned twenty on February fourth, three months ago.” It had to have been the worst birthday in the history of mankind.

The image of her mother in the hospital bed, taking her last breath, floated to the front of her mind. Alone, she’d held her mom’s hand. Like her, her mother was an only child. No siblings. No husband. No one. They’d only had each other. Her mom had died just three months ago, and two months later, she’d met Kip, though it felt more like multiple eternities.

“Mrs. Lunceford?”

What would you think about your little girl now, Mom? I’ve really screwed up.

“Mrs. Lunceford?”

Kip had come to her at the lowest point in her life. Guys never noticed her, but he did. Her dull, grief-stricken days had been softened by his charisma. She’d fallen for his charm. What an idiot she’d been. Was he some kind of homicidal psycho?

“Mrs. Lunceford?”

Her head spun like a Texas tornado complete with every kind of mental debris imaginable. What did she really know about her husband? He claimed to be a software developer, but was that even true? Was anything he’d said to her true? Before tying the knot, he’d filled her ears with hundreds of compliments. Were they all lies, too? They must’ve been.

She looked down at her breasts and hips, which were too big for her frame. On their honeymoon, Kip had shown another side of himself to her—a side that didn’t see her as beautiful. His other side, the charming Kip, was a goddamn liar.

“Are you okay, Mrs. Lunceford? Do you need a glass of water?”

The insanity of what was going on around her, the gloved strangers rifling through her things—her mother’s things—filled her with panic. She watched Kip be led out the door by two agents. Where were they taking him? Away. That was one good thing about this entire mess.

With her husband gone, she turned her attention to the commotion in the house. The lawmen were loading up boxes and boxes with her belongings. Nothing was safe from them. Even the furniture was being removed to the front lawn. What would her mother’s longtime neighbors be thinking about all this?

“Are your men going to take everything I own, Agent Crow?” She looked the man directly in the eyes.

He didn’t answer.

A female agent, wearing navy slacks and blazer, walked through the door and took a seat in the chair opposite Megan. Her straight, dark hair was cut short at chin length. “Agent Crow, I’ve got this. Thank you.”

He nodded and headed to the kitchen where Megan could hear pots and pans being pulled out of the cabinets.

“The rest of you.” The woman’s voice was raised. “Give me the room.”

The men emptied into the other parts of the house. Megan’s trepidation muted ever so slightly. It was the first sliver of quiet she’d had since the front door had been busted open by the FBI. She thought about thanking the woman for the gesture but didn’t. The female agent looked grim and serious, so Megan kept her mouth shut.

“Let me introduce myself, Mrs. Lunceford.” Unsmiling, the woman held out her hand. Megan shook it. “I’m Special Agent Brown. I’m the field lead on this case.”

“Do I need an attorney, Agent?” She looked Brown directly in the eyes, fearing what her answer would be.

“Yes, but there’s plenty of time for you to call your lawyer after we take you downtown.” Brown took out a notepad and wrote something on its pages. “I’ll have Agent Crow take you, Mrs. Lunceford.”

“Give me the address. I can drive myself.”

The agent shook her head. “The cars are being seized by my men, too.”

Why were they taking her vehicle? “My car isn’t worth anything to anyone but me, Agent. It’s a 1978 model. Kip’s is new.”

“I saw the brand-new Maserati in your driveway. It doesn’t fit this neighborhood, does it?”

Megan ignored the thinly veiled sarcasm in Brown’s timbre. She must save Granny Gremlin. Her mother had given her the car when she’d turned sixteen. That had been a great birthday. “Please, Agent Brown. Whatever Kip was involved in, I wasn’t. You’ve got to believe me.”

“We’ll sort all this out, Mrs. Lunceford. I think it would be best to get you out of here.” The woman stood. “Surely, you don’t want to see my guys strip your house clean.”

Defeated, she answered in a soft breath. “I don’t. What is my husband being arrested for?” By the way the FBI was operating, innocent-until-proven-guilty didn’t seem to apply here.

“Espionage and conspiracy against the United States government.”

Her heart skipped several beats. A spy? I married a spy? “Where are you taking him?”

“I can’t tell you that right now since he’s been classified at the highest threat level against the United States.”

“When can you tell me?” she asked.

“I don’t know the answer to that now, but I’m sure as soon as it’s determined to be safe, you’ll be told where he is.” Brown looked at her in a way that screamed pity. “Are you ready to go, Mrs. Lunceford?”

“I guess so.” God, how had this all happened?



* * * *



Eric Knight walked out of the FBI’s interrogation room with his brother, Scott.

“I can’t believe that it’s finally over,” Scott said as they walked to the bank of elevators. “We almost lost everything.”

“We’re not out of the woods yet.” He placed his Stetson on his head, trying to reclaim a sense of normalcy. It didn’t come. “Homeland Security is still going through all our files.” His hands balled up into fists. Kip Lunceford had betrayed them.

“Bro, we’re innocent of this. This is all on Kip. We’ve cooperated in every way the government has asked us to. Our company is fine.”

“Fine? We’ll be lucky if we can turn this debacle around.”

Scott pushed the button to call the elevator. “We’ve been cleared. We should celebrate.”

“Celebrate the fact that one of our most trusted employees duped us.” Guilt and rage twisted his gut into knots. “We may not have been the traitors, Scott, but we’re not innocent in this. We should’ve seen Lunceford for who he is.”

“There’s no blood on our hands. None.”

“You don’t buy that any more than I do. Our code will be used against our brothers on the battlefield, Scott. Our code. Every medal we earned in Afghanistan should be returned.”

Scott’s face darkened. “Let it go, Eric. It will eat you alive if you don’t.”

“Take your own advice, brother. You’re as tore up about this fucking disaster as I am.”

“True. It will take time but we will turn the company and ourselves around. Trust me.”

“You’re the only one I’ll ever trust again, Scott.”

“Same here.”

The elevator doors opened and Eric stepped inside. “I swear if he had any accomplices, Scott, I’ll crush them with my bare hands.”





Chapter One




Five years later



Lofty, snow-covered peaks, tall pines, and incredible wildlife had been in view for over an hour since Megan Lunceford had left Highway 230 and turned onto Holyroyd Road. Even though the natural beauty was quite stunning, she couldn’t truly appreciate the surroundings just outside Granny Gremlin’s windshield.

She glanced at herself in the rearview mirror and frowned before sending her attention back to the road. Her hair was disheveled and her makeup was in major need of a touch-up. But even with the best cosmetics money could buy, which she definitely didn’t have, the twinkle in her eye her mother had so loved was missing. It had been gone for a very long time. She looked more like a refugee than a woman about to appear in court.

Like a ghost from the past, she recalled her husband’s silky words on their wedding night. “You’re a porcelain doll, babe. Too pretty for words.”

Unfortunately the lying bastard never tired of words. Why had she been such an idiot? She would’ve never been swept off her feet by Kip if her mother had lived. Two months after her funeral and fifteen pounds heavier, she’d bumped into the Asshole at the coffee shop down the block from her mom’s place. His toothy grin and sugary-sweet compliments had come out of the blue when her grief had drained away her reserves of logic and will. The chance to fill her days and nights with something other than her loneliness had sealed the deal. Now, she prayed for a magic wand that could transport her back to that day he’d knelt in front of her and proposed. Instead of saying “yes” with tears streaming down her cheeks, she would kick him in the balls and run for the door. Too bad the world had no magic or miracles. She could really use some right now.

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