Conscience by Cecelia London
They’d start out nice and then devolve if they didn’t get what they wanted. She knew better than to think that they’d abide by the policies and procedures that were in place when she was working for the DOJ. Not if they weren’t Mirandizing prisoners. It was an entirely new ballgame. And she wasn’t going to play.
Howard frowned at her. “We’ve seen the classified information you obtained.”
Stay focused. Give them basic identifying information. Talk about the furthest topic from what they want to hear.
“My legal name is Caroline Joan Gerard,” she said quietly.
His eyes narrowed. “What?”
“I was born at Highland Park Hospital in Highland Park, Illinois on September 4.”
The two agents exchanged glances.
“Who were you working with?” Bradbury asked.
More people than you think, asshole. “I graduated from St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.”
Bradbury glared at her. “How did you get on a government server?”
Very subtle. They thought she’d turned into a hacker in order to obtain classified information. Interesting. Were they bluffing, or did they know?
“I am an alumnus of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois,” she said.
“Who were you working with?”
Time to have a little fun. “Adlai Stevenson was the governor of Illinois from 1949 to 1953,” Caroline said blankly.
“Excuse me?” Howard laid some papers out on the table in front of her. He was getting angry. “Where did you get these?”
She knew better than to look at the documents. She stared down at a different part of the table. “He ran for president twice on the Democratic ticket.”
Bradbury reached across the table, pulling her chin up so she was facing him. “Tell us what you know.” He turned to Howard. “This bitch is messing with us.”
Of course she was. She’d written her senior thesis on Adlai Stevenson. She could carry on for hours if she had to. She’d barely covered enough for a lame Wikipedia entry.
“He unofficially ran again in 1960 but was defeated by JFK,” Caroline said.
Bradbury punched her in the nose and tears sprang to her eyes.
“Move on,” he told Howard. “She’s fucking around.”
“Where are your children?” Howard asked.
An interesting segue. They weren’t going to play nice. At all. They probably thought they could somehow trick her into talking if they threatened her family. Caroline closed her eyes, trying to remain focused. She would never betray the ones she loved. Howard and Bradbury would figure that out quickly if they were worth their salt.
“Adlai Stevenson is widely regarded as leading the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the 1950s,” she said.
Bradbury punched her again and the blood started to flow. Fantastic. He plopped down on the table next to her, presumably to seem more intimidating.
“Where’s Senator Sullivan?” he asked. “We know she has your children.”
Caroline’s nose was bleeding profusely. She tried to wipe at it with the back of her hand and spat out some blood. “Stevenson served as ambassador to the United Nations before his death in 1965.”
Bradbury pulled her up from the chair by her hair, dragging her across the room. “Stop talking about fucking Adlai Stevenson,” he growled, shoving her up against the wall.
His threat came across as comical, for reasons she couldn’t quite understand. She again failed to hold her tongue. “Why would I want to fuck Adlai Stevenson? He’s dead. That’s gross.”
Caroline knew that laughing at her own joke would mean she’d get an even bigger ass kicking but she didn’t care. They weren’t going to start being gentle with her. Howard was sitting back in his chair quietly observing their entire exchange. Bradbury shoved her up against the wall again.
“Do you think this is funny?” he asked.
Another giggle escaped her lips. “Kinda.”
He reared back and punched her in the jaw. Her head thumped back against the concrete. She saw stars.
“Do you still want to laugh?” He kneed her in the stomach and she doubled over and fell to the floor. “Make another bullshit comment. Try it.”
She’d proven her point. He’d unfortunately done the same. “I’m finished,” she gasped.
He knelt down near her head, drawing his gun. How the hell had she missed that they were armed? Was everyone in this place packing heat?
“Where’s Governor McIntyre?” he asked. “And if you say one more fucking word about fucking Adlai Stevenson you’re getting a bullet to the brain.”
Caroline decided to test that theory. “Who’s Adlai Stevenson?” she said automatically.
Bradbury stood up and kicked Caroline in the side of the head. “If you don’t want to talk, it’s your funeral,” he said, right before she blacked out.
Jack stood up and took her hand. “Are you going to dance with me, or what?”
Caroline got to her feet. “Of course.”
He led her toward the center of the room. It was a giant suite with a decent amount of furniture, but had a clear space suitable for dancing.
“Close your eyes,” he said. “That’s an order from your husband.”
She laughed and shut her eyes. “Yes, sir.”
“I like the sound of that,” Jack whispered, his demeanor changing. He leaned in to nip at her neck. “I want you to say it more often. But I’m not ready to capitalize on it just yet.”
Filthy, dirty man. But he was right. It wasn’t time to be naughty. Not with serious dancing business to be had.
He broke their connection for the briefest of moments, and the room soon filled with music. Caroline recognized it immediately. One of her guilty pleasures. She had many: Jack Jones’ “Wives and Lovers,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music, “Hello” by Lionel Richie (her favorite stalker song), and the selection currently playing, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” She smiled as Jack came over to take her in his arms.
“I know you prefer Ella Fitzgerald’s version of this song the best.” He started to guide her across the floor. “You can open your eyes now.”
She was quite content to keep them shut and lean in, but opened them anyway to find him smiling at her.
“Do you know how happy you make me?” he asked.
Caroline kissed him lightly. “I have a vague idea. How does it feel being married?”
“The first few hours have gone exceedingly well,” Jack said. “I love you, Mrs. McIntyre.”
“And I love you.” She kissed him again. “This lost lamb is completely yours.” She rested her chin on his shoulder as their dancing slowed. “Did you reapply your cologne?”
“I put the bottle next to the iPod. I know it’s one of the fastest ways to get into your pants.”
“You don’t need cologne for that. Although it helps.”
Jack let go of her hand and stopped moving, gently stroking her face. “I will always take care of you,” he said. “Always. Even when you don’t want me to.”
Caroline had done a good job of avoiding too many tears during the day, but she was exhausted. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could control her emotions. “I know.” She swallowed hard. “You saved me, Jack. Me and the girls. I don’t know where we’d be without you.”
“You saved me too.” He kissed her forehead. “Let’s call it a draw.”
She swayed back into him, listening to the song. “I know you’ll watch over me. My shepherd.”
Jack wrapped his arms around her again. “You’re a sucker for these old standards, aren’t you?”
Caroline laughed through her now unavoidable tears. “Don’t tell anyone.”
He brushed the tears away. “Every day I thank God he brought you to me. Every. Day.”
“I’ll always be good,” she whispered. “Just for you.”
Jack chuckled. “You take these lyrics too seriously, sweetheart. You’re getting all sappy on me.”
“I can’t help it.”
“I know you’ll be good,” he said quietly. “Because it’s who you are. I know how precious a gift that is. And I will always protect you, because I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“You saved all the good lines for tonight, I see.” Caroline kissed his fingers, just above his wedding ring. “My romantic husband.”
“I like the sound of that. Caroline Gerard’s husband.”
“Now who’s being the sap?”
“I’ve got plenty more where that came from,” he said, kissing her neck.
The song was almost over. “Is this the only dance I get?” Caroline asked.
Jack pulled her toward the bedroom. “More later, I promise. Right now, let’s engage in some traditional wedding night revelry.”
“Opening our gifts and passing out in exhaustion?”
He picked her up and set her down on the bed. “Try again.”
They were walking down the empty hall to the ballroom when Jack spun her up against the wall. “When we get back to our room I’m going to fuck you so hard you’re going to feel me with every move you make tomorrow,” he whispered into her hair.
She laughed lightly. “Perverted old man. Saying something like that right before I’m going to give a speech.”
“Just giving you something to think about,” he said. “If I wasn’t concerned about hidden cameras in the elevators I’d stop between floors and fuck you there too.”
“I’d do it if I didn’t think it would give those damn pundits and misogynistic male bloggers something else to leer over. And it may not be very gubernatorial,” she said. “I’m trying to be more of a lady. It doesn’t seem very ladylike to let you rip off my panties and have your way with me inside an elevator car.”
Jack laughed. “Says you.”
He pressed his hands against her backside, rubbing his palms against the soft material of her dress. Caroline knew what kind of mood he was in.
“Naughty girls get spanked,” he said in a low voice.
She smiled seductively and tugged on his tie. “Don’t make promises you won’t keep.”
“You know I’m good for it,” he breathed, squeezing her ass.
He wasn’t lying. He always followed through on what he promised in bed, as long as they both consented to it. If he was true to his word, Caroline would have a very uncomfortable flight back to Philadelphia the next day. But it would be worth it. She got excited thinking about what the rest of the evening might bring.
She brought her lips close to his. “If the public only knew, Mr. McIntyre. The dirty, nasty things you do to your wife when you know for certain that no one else is around.”
“They’re almost always at Mrs. McIntyre’s request,” Jack said, kissing her softly. “Even if they’re borderline illegal in some states. I live to make her happy.”
“I know you do,” Caroline whispered.
She wrapped one of her legs around him subtly so that no one else could see. One of her more effective tricks. She pressed up against his hip and kissed him, feeling him start to get hard.
“You’re not playing fair,” Jack said against her mouth.
“That’s what you get for distracting me,” she said silkily. “Now you’ve got something to focus on for the rest of the night. I’m going to be very, very bad. Be ready.”
He reluctantly slid his hands off her ass. “I’m always ready.”
Caroline heard voices nearby and practically jumped away from him. “I’ll see you in the ballroom, Jack,” she said in a loud singsong voice. She turned around and winked at him before striding down the hall, leaving him with a dazed grin on his face.
Click here to enter the Giveaway.
An escape plan foiled….
A determined woman….
One last tiny sliver of hope….
Jack will find me.
The Fed wants answers. And Caroline is determined not to provide them. They pull out all the stops, testing her sanity, testing her strength, testing her humanity.
Jack will find me.
Subject to cruel and merciless treatment at the hands of a government she once trusted, Caroline clings to her sole lifeline, her only chance at maintaining her tenuous hold on reality: her memories of her husband, Jack, her children, Marguerite and Sophie, and the friends who mean the world to her.
Jack will find me.
But what happens when hope starts to fade? How long until her interrogators cross over into the unspeakable sadism she fears ? How long before she finally breaks apart?
Part Two of a Six Part Saga. Conscience (approximately 115,000 words) is not a standalone and must be read after the first book in the Bellator Saga, Dissident. All books in the series end in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This book contains adult situations including graphic violence, explicit (consensual) sex and light BDSM, psychological and physical trauma, and an oftentimes raw, dark, and gritty plot.
She once was important. Now she’s considered dangerous.
In a new America where almost no one can be trusted, Caroline lies unconscious in a government hospital as others decide her fate. She is a political dissident, wanted for questioning by a brutal regime that has come to power in a shockingly easy way. As she recovers from her injuries, all she has are her memories. And once she wakes up, they may not matter anymore.
Dissident is a blend of romantic suspense, contemporary romance, political thriller, and speculative fiction. Told mostly in flashback, it details the budding romantic relationship between our heroine, Caroline, and Jack, the silver fox playboy who tries to win her heart.
Part One of a Six Part Series. Each part is a full length novel between 60,000-120,000 words and ends in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This saga contains adult situations, including non-gratuitous violence, explicit (consensual) sex, psychological and physical trauma, and an oftentimes dark and gritty plot (particularly in part two).
About Cecilia London
Cecilia is my pen name. I may or may not live in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve been known to apply quotes from ‘The Simpsons’ to everyday life. I live for baseball season.Website • Blog • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads