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Playing in SECRET

By: Crystal Perkins

Book #9 of Corrigan & Co.




For people who believe in second chances





Prologue


Audrey

Maybe I should’ve asked Faith to shoot me so I could’ve avoided this. Then again, I didn’t have to come back here to San Diego. Not everyone attends their 20th high school reunion    . I could’ve just ignored the invitation my mom forwarded to me. But the need for revenge was just too strong.

“You okay, Aud?” Ares asks me. Yes, I brought one of my best friends, the famous playboy NASCAR driver Ares Dixon, with me. Take that, bitches.

“No. Remind me why I came here again?”

“To show these idiots how sexy and accomplished you are.”

Yep. That’s exactly why I came. I had just started with the Society when my ten year came around, so I missed it. I wasn’t ready then, anyway. I was still getting past being the nerdy girl who hid behind her glasses for most of her life.

The Society offered me the chance to break out of my cocoon, and emerge as a sexy, and strong woman. In addition to being smart, of course. My brain is why I was recruited by Maggie Griffin, but to say that I embraced everything else I was taught would be an understatement. The stylist at the time got me into clothes that actually fit, and showed me how to work the body God gave me to its full advantage.

I’d already taken communications classes in college, because I wanted to try something other than science, but it did nothing to prepare me for the work I’ve been doing for the past ten years. I’m thankful to the mentors for putting us through the rigorous training they did, and for believing in me when I struggled. This butterfly came out flying, and I’ve never looked back. Well, at least not much.

It’s hard to ignore the boy who broke your heart when he’s on every movie screen in America. And if I’m honest with myself, I haven’t wanted to ignore him. Despite what he and his friends did to me, a little part of me still loves him, and probably always will.

“Isn’t that Blake Armstrong?” Ares asks me, gesturing to where he’s sitting with his many admirers.

“Yep,” I say with a quick glance, before looking away again.

“Who’s the girl sitting near him?”

I look over and see her. The girl with the glasses and a book open on her lap. She looks to be around twelve, and my heart breaks as I see that everyone around her is ignoring her. My feet are moving before I can make them stop.

“Hi,” I say, sitting on the ground next to her. “What are you reading?”

“Powerless. It’s a book about superheroes and villains. Lame, right?”

“Superheroes are definitely not lame. I love superheroes.”

“Really? But you’re so pretty.”

“Thank you. You’re very pretty too. And yes, I love them. So do most of my friends.”

“I love superheroes, too,” Ares says, sitting down with us.

“I’ve seen you on the internet,” She tells him.

“Sometimes people like to take pictures of me because I drive fast cars,” he says with a shrug.

I could hug him right now. He has a tendency to be an egotistical ass on occasion, but he’s holding it back for this little girl. “Thank you” I mouth to him. He just nods back at me.

“People take pictures of my dad, too.”

“Your dad?” I ask.

“Yeah. Blake Armstrong.”

Well, isn’t this ironic. The man who broke my heart because I was a nerd, now has a daughter who could’ve been me all those years ago. I don’t have time to ponder this any longer, because the man in question is now standing over us.

“You okay, Jeanne?”

“Yeah. I’m fine, Dad. Just talking about superheroes.”

“Do I know you?” Blake asks us.

“We met at one of my races last year,” Ares tell him.

“I was talking to her.”

I stand up and motion for us to walk away from Ares and Jeanne. “Know me? No, you don’t know me. I’m just the nerdy girl you invited to prom and then stood up because it was a joke to you and your friends.”

“Audrey?”

“Hello, Blake.”

“You look great.”

“I know.” I tip my chin to his daughter. “She seems like a pretty awesome kid. Make sure you treat her that way.”

“I do. I’m sorry for what I did to you.”

“Are you?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you.”

There’s a commotion, and I see four men in masks surrounding Jeanne and Ares. They’re not here for him. I know that in my bones. Blake starts to move towards them, but I stop him. “Stay here.”

I activate my distress signal, and grab the gun from my purse. I see the weakest link and move in on him, taking him out easily. Ares grabs Jeanne and runs her over to Blake. I’m shocked to see Reina approach them—how did she get here so fast? I don’t have time to contemplate her appearance, or Ainsley’s, as we both hold off the masked men until they start a fire and run.

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