Book Title: The Undercover Playboy
He cannot let love get in the way of work.
Undercover detective Carter Garrett is required to play the role of a cash-strapped playboy to solve an important case. When Cassie Stephens, his sister's beautiful friend, starts working in the art gallery owned by a suspect, his growing feelings for her threaten to blow his cover. He mustn't let Cassie in on the secret. It could ruin his team's best chance at catching a group of criminals whose leader could very well be Cassie's new boss. But when Cassie gets embroiled in the case, his heart joins in on the action--a dangerous situation he cannot allow to persist.
Her work places her in his way.
Cassie Stephens is ecstatic to land a high-paying job with perks anyone would envy. To her further delight, her new boss has business dealings with the charming Carter Garrett, her flatmate's hunky brother. Things between her and Carter heat up with surprising speed. But being aware of Carter's playboy ways, she orders herself not to dream of a future with him... until her new boss shares a secret about Carter she wasn't at all expecting. What was more, her incredibly kind boss insists on helping her win Carter however way she can...
© Miranda P. Charles
Carter smiled wryly as he watched the other guests cheer and laugh as Rick and Lucas kissed their fiancées. Here was a group of friends and family who enjoyed each other’s company, letting their hair down and revelling in the celebrations.
It had been a long time since he’d been to a real, fun party like this where he’d felt free to relax and be himself—well, up to a certain extent. With his job as an undercover detective, it wasn’t always possible to fully open up just because he wanted to.
Melancholy hit him. He missed times like this. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been to a gathering where people knew who he really was. In the last couple of years, most of the parties he’d attended had involved him rubbing shoulders with characters he’d only pretended to be friends with so he could get what he needed in order to catch criminals.
Fortunately, he had the time to attend Lexie’s birthday party tonight. He usually didn’t accept invitations like this when he was in the middle of a case, but he’d become good friends with Rick. The two of them had bonded after he’d saved Rick from a gun-wielding perp. Then their friendship grew from Rick providing information that eventually helped catch a whole gang of criminals.
And then there was Cassie, his sister’s flatmate.
He glanced at the brown-haired, brown-eyed woman who, incredibly, had no idea how beautiful she was. Tonight, she was shining. She had on a new red dress that she’d said Jade had helped her pick. And she had matching high heels on, which made her shapely legs look even sexier.
He knew, though, that she’d prefer to be wearing flats. And from the way she constantly blinked, she’d also be hoping she had on her comfortable black-rimmed eyeglasses rather than her contacts. She was pretty without her glasses, but frankly, he preferred her with them on. They made her look attractively studious. He had a thing for brainy women.
He chuckled mirthlessly. If he could, he’d ask Cassie out. Unfortunately, that was out of the question. All he could allow at this point in time was the light flirtation they exchanged regularly—the kind that wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.
Marilyn turned to him and the other three guys and he pulled himself out of his musing.
“See? I bet that one of you would soon end up like those two,” Marilyn said, gesturing to Lucas and Rick.
“Can I ask one of the bachelors a question?” Katrina, one of the single ladies, called out.
“Sure,” Marilyn answered.
“Carter, I’m so glad that you’re here with us tonight,” Katrina said with a sultry smile. “I’m curious… how old are you, and what do you do for a living?”
“Ooh, Katrina’s taking a special interest in Carter,” Marilyn said in a teasing voice, then handed the mic to Carter.
He took it, hiding a sigh. “I’m thirty, Katrina, and I’m an electrician. Currently, I also do part-time work as a personal trainer for a friend’s fitness company,” he answered, flashing a smile. He hoped it covered up his unease with his answer.
Out of everyone in this party, only his sister and Rick knew that he was an undercover detective. And there were several people in this group that he hated lying to, including Cassie. They’d considered him a friend and welcomed him with open arms. Unfortunately, the cases he worked on called for discretion and secrecy. And lies.
He usually stayed undercover for a lengthy period of time. Twice already, his life and those of others had been jeopardised because he’d bumped into acquaintances who’d recognised him and inadvertently blown his cover. Similar situations had to be avoided as much as possible.
But expecting each and every single person who knew him to immediately pick up that he was undercover and play along with it was near impossible. The best way was to tell people that what he did for a living was his undercover role. Only family and close friends knew the truth.
His “part-time” work changed whenever he worked on a different case. But being an electrician was the constant answer he gave. Fortunately, he really was qualified as one. His parents owned one of the most successful electrical services company in Australia.
“So do you see clients in a gym? And do you work with them one-on-one?” Katrina pressed.
“Yes. And sometimes I see clients at their homes,” he answered. “The personal trainer gig is only temporary until the guy I’m filling in for comes back from an overseas holiday.”
Katrina smiled cutely at him, but didn’t have any more questions to ask.
He breathed a sigh of relief as Marilyn gave the okay for the four of them to return to their tables. He saw Natasha return to her original seat next to Erin, giving him back the place beside Cassie.
He hid a snicker, knowing what his sister was up to. His mum and Natasha had been conspiring for a while now to find him a date. They believed that a steady girlfriend was one more person of influence who could convince him to take extra care while working on his cases. From Natasha’s recent actions, it was obvious that Cassie was her selected candidate.
“Mum would be happy to know that you’re one of four men racing to be the first to fall into a relationship,” Natasha said as he sat back down.
“Sure,” he said sarcastically.
“Watch out for Katrina,” Rick said, leaning across the table. “She’ll be beating a path to your door in no time.”
“Yeah. She can be pretty intense,” Lucas said conspiratorially. “And I think Vicky’s also eyeing you.”
Carter sighed as he turned to Cassie. “Your fault for telling me to go up there.”
“Why is it my fault? You’re the hot one,” Cassie replied, before her eyes widened. “I mean… you know… ’cause you’re the… uh… personal trainer,” she said weakly, blushing furiously.
He smothered his grin. It hadn’t escaped his attention that even though Cassie flirted with him in private, she was shy about it in public. She wasn’t the type to openly go after a man.
It was a shame that Cassie seemed intent on not dating while she focused on her career and studies. Not that it mattered to him, because he couldn’t date her anyway. In fact, he couldn’t date anyone. He was supposed to be a loser playboy so he could catch that heartless bitch who’d shot his best friend Gavin Redford, and had Gavin fighting for his life.
Miranda P. Charles is the author of more than a dozen steamy and stirring contemporary romance novels.She prefers to spend her time in front of her laptop, putting into words the love stories that play in her head. Don't get her started with reading a great book, though, because she has the tendency to not put it down until she gets to the last page.
She does have a life outside of books. Mostly, that consists of bonding with family and friends or going on romantic trips with her awesome husband (who, thankfully, puts up with her hermit-like daily routine). Oh, yeah, there's also the housework. But she really wishes someone else could do that for her so she could get back to her books!
She lives in one of the suburbs in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia.
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