Ultimate Sins

By: Lora Leigh



To the Wicked Readers on Sinful Saturdays.

Thank you for your friendship and for the hours

of laughter for the past three years.

Your insights and your opinions have been greatly appreciated.



And in loving memory of Dorothy Alta Marie (Few) Lucas

December 9, 1949–March 21, 2013

Thank you for the laughter, the love, and the memories.

And for being not just a generous loving aunt, but a true and wonderful friend.

You will never be forgotten.





PROLOGUE



Amelia at eighteen

The file was far more than he had expected.

Crowe Callahan knew he shouldn’t have been surprised. After more than fourteen years of harassment, nothing about Corbin County should have surprised him in the least. But this one did.

Wayne Sorenson, Corbin County’s attorney, had actually managed to convince him as well as his two cousins over the years that he was a friend. Information had come to light in the past year, though, that indicated he wasn’t as loyal to the Callahans as he wanted them to think. Only in the past weeks since Crowe had begun secretly seeing Wayne’s daughter, Amelia, had Crowe learned his suspicions were more than true.

This file, though.

This file detailed Wayne’s deception even further. That, added to the information Crowe and Amelia had uncovered, hinted at the hatred the county attorney harbored for the Callahan family.

It was information Crowe would have never learned without Amelia’s help.

But what had begun as a mere flirtation, a game to learn the truth behind his suspicions, had turned into something far more emotionally serious.

Something far more physically dangerous than even the information found in the file she had provided.

Reading each page thoroughly, his gaze narrowed against the dim light spilling through the partially opened shades of the office, Crowe restrained the urge to curse.

It was nearly too dark to read, but using the penlight he brought with him could be far too risky. And not just for him. If the young woman who had slipped him into her father’s office was revealed as having aided and abedded—abetted, he corrected himself—a Callahan, then her punishment could be far more than her father’s wrath.

It could mean her death.

But had she not warned him of the file, had she not slipped him into her father’s office, then he would have never known the threat that the Corbin County attorney represented to him and his younger cousins.

The repercussions could have destroyed them all without this forewarning.

Each page listed and described years’ worth of circumstantial evidence that didn’t prove a damned thing. But together, tied sequentially and argued effectively, that evidence could fry not just him, but also his cousins, Logan and Rafer.

It showed him, once and for all, that when they returned to Corbin County permanently, a certain power base would have to be established before anyone learned of it. They would have to return with the upper hand and enough support to ensure that it took more than a few dirty county politicians to destroy them.

“He’s been building that file for over five years,” Amelia whispered as she stood next to him. “When I found it, I couldn’t believe it.”

Because her father played a damned fine game of pretending friendship and loyalty to the three cousins.

“Believe it,” he murmured, slowly closing the file before directing his attention to Amelia Sorenson once again.

Wayne Sorenson’s daughter.

Crowe Callahan’s carefully hidden lover and his greatest secret.

God help him, she was fucking pretty.

Long, burnished gold-and-brown hair that fell between her shoulder blades. Soft, mesmerizing, thickly lashed turquoise eyes. Innocent. Fiery. Stubborn as hell she was, and filled with so much life.

“Can he trace the disappearance of the information back to you?” he asked carefully, hiding his concern.

There were whispers—not really rumors or gossip, but lifted brows, warning looks, and a shadow of sympathy—that certain citizens close to the Sorenson family were prone to give her. Those slight reactions indicated Amelia’s father wasn’t the doting, devoted dad he played in public.

“Everything’s already been moved to the new offices.” She looked around slowly, her gaze lingering on the worn couch then the wide, walnut desk they’d made use of more than once since the move had begun several weeks before. “It won’t be surprising that the file has come up missing. And it won’t be the only one to have disappeared.”

She was slick, this one. But hell, that was something he had always known. Only in the past weeks had he begun to see just how controlled and ruthless she could be, though.

Weeks.

Six weeks. It wasn’t near enough time, he thought regretfully. Not nearly long enough to have amassed the memories he’d begun to realize he wanted with her.

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