Chapter 1


At twenty-eight, Kate Jones was leaving the legal profession to be an artist. She questioned her pending decision as the chisel scraped across the limestone one more time. The stone whispered to her telling her how to move the chisel. The form slowly coming to the surface was not what she had envisioned, but rather what the stone was deciding.

The front door of the house opened with a boom as Kate jumped along with Hunter, her black lab. It had to be her brother Keaton as she listened to the footsteps become louder and louder. Hunter whimpered with excitement. Keaton was Kate’s older brother and best friend since she could remember. In her mind, it had always been the two of them against the big bad world. He was a well-known investment banker who constantly traveled for business. He had a place in New York but spent more time in Houston to be near Kate and their friends.

The fact that Keaton showed up left Kate speechless as he stood there in front of her. He knew that she needed him to be here tonight and had found a way to get to Houston by five o’clock on a Friday, after traveling for the past two weeks. Kate felt all the stress leave her body instantly.


“Surprise.”

“Oh, my God you did it!” Kate jumped up and hugged her brother.

“You doubted that I would make it? Put down the chisel and go get ready because Nick is going to be here in ten minutes with the car.”

“I need a Patron.” She jumped up, running out of the art studio.

“You had to ask, Kitty Kat?”

Kate glanced at the assembly line that had been put out for her by Jill Saints, her assistant. She had showered an hour ago and had her hair done earlier. She ran to the bathroom to wash her face; then she began with the black lace thong and kept going right down to her lipstick liner and sparkle lip gloss.

Five minutes later she appeared in a vintage black Chanel dress that fit her perfectly as she walked out to the living room to find Keat sitting with a bottle of Patron and a bowl of limes. Her favorite drink was a shot of Patron and soda water over ice with three limes. She sat down next to her brother on the couch and took a sip out of the glass.

“You are beautiful,” Keaton told her. “I think you need to wear these.” Keat pulled out a small velvet black box from the inside of his tux jacket. “I know you don’t like me buying you expensive gifts. One day you’re going to marry some guy who will spoil you like you deserve. I figure I better not let this opportunity pass me by.”

“Keaton,” she whispered as she opened the box to find a beautiful pair of dangling diamond earrings. “Thank you. I don’t know what else to say except that I love you, and I don’t know if I deserve to have you for a brother.”

“Ditto.” He smiled and gave her a long hug. “Well, between the crappy art critique and leaving your job, I thought you needed them to make you feel special tonight. Plus, some day you are going to get married.”


“I did. And for the record, you know that I’m never getting married. How did you get here?”

“Grayden happened to be in New York and offered to fly Nick and me home with him.”

“I’m giving my notice on Monday or Tuesday. Do you think I’m throwing in the towel?”

“No. You’re a highly respected in corporate and securities law, Kateland. You need to try your sculpting and painting or you’ll never know. It’s not like you couldn’t get a job anywhere you want if the art doesn’t work out. Plus, we have the investments we have worked hard on for the last seven years. Thank God you insisted on going to cash for the last nine months.”

“If I don’t believe in myself, I’ll never know what I can do. I’m sick of law firm politics.”

“I have complete faith in you, Kate. Look, we go with the plan like we agreed to two years ago. I’m going to work until I get my bonus, then I’m gone as well. We work on our own hedge fund, you do your art, and we travel.” She nodded in agreement.

“Who is coming tonight to the gala?” Kate asked as she went into the powder room off the kitchen to check out the earrings.

“Grayden and Meg will be there in person for you, of course. Dad is coming without Mother, thank God, because no amount of alcohol could get me through the evening.”

“Who else? What about Whitney?” Kate asked, turning out the lights and letting the dog out. Kate smiled as Nick Black came waltzing in the house with his thick blond hair, big blue eyes and soccer player body. Kate considered Nick a family member, which entitled him to a key to their place and a bed whenever he was in town.

“Did you know Harlynn Barrett is coming tonight?” Nick asked, picking up the tequila that was waiting for him. “We all know Henry Grayden is coming because he adores you both, but Harlynn Barrett?”

“Where are my note cards?” Kate sounded panicked as she


opened her handbag. “Damn, I told Jill to put them in my purse.” “Try your desk in the office in the left hand drawer,” Nick suggested, finishing his tequila. Kate darted to the office and

returned with a smile on her face.

“Thank you Nicky. Darling, you look lovely in your Dior tux. See, I was right in telling you to get it. You look like James Bond.” Kate winked at him as he laughed at her. “Grayden sent me a text that you have a surprise for me.”

“Give it to her in the car.” Keaton stood up. “We have to go or we are going to be late.”


* * *


Kate stared at the beautiful necklace in the back of the limo as the two men watched her. It was a diamond pendant necklace that matched the earrings. In a flash, everything came back to Kate as she held the necklace and leaned back in her seat, staring out the window and trying to forget the ugliness of her past that haunted her.

Henry Grayden was one of her father’s closest friends and business partner. Grayden’s success as a very famous investor greatly affected both Keat and Kate’s lives since he was their Godfather. He had been at every significant and insignificant event in their lives. Like tonight, Henry would be there because it was important to Kate.

“Wow.” Keat smiled as he put the necklace on her. “Nobody is going to say anything about what you have on this year in Paper City.”

“Who reads that crap anyway?” Nick offered. “I heard a story that a few months back you had a run-in with Harlynn Barrett and that you two are buddies now.”

“Buddies?” Kate asked, confused.

“Buddies?” Keat asked, even more confused.

“Harlynn doesn’t go to galas anymore, so there must be a


reason he is going tonight. I heard he is lead on the Shepherd deal and getting a piece of it. He can basically name his price, and I’m thinking he’ll be starting his own holding company pretty soon.” Nick opened the mini bar because they were in the middle of rush hour traffic and not moving.

“You never told me you knew Harlynn Barrett that well.” Keat watched his sister.

“Harlynn and I have worked on a few deals over the last year. I would say we are friends, not buddies. I invited him tonight and you better be cool about it, guys. You’re acting like he is some rock star.”

“Barrett is the ‘go-to guy’ on the street, Kateland. The man never forgets a conversation or a date. Plus, he isn’t just some Ivy League asshole. He is a machine that never stops, and the man has ethics like no one except maybe Grayden.”

“Nick, it sounds like you have a thing for Mr. Barrett,” Kate offered, smiling.

“Please, the only person I have a thing for is you.” Keat immediately punched him as hard as he could in the shoulder.

“Shit.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Keaton told his buddy as Kate laughed at them both.


* * *


Kate was sitting at the bar hiding because for the last two hours she had been making small talk and needed a break. As she turned her head, Henry Grayden appeared, stunning as always. Kate always thought he could read her mind with his steel gray eyes. They sat there not speaking and just watching the people around them.

“You look lovely tonight, Kateland,” Henry finally said. “Thank you, Mr. Grayden. I was thinking you look pretty

good yourself. You age well, Henry.” At six-two, and the age of


fifty-two, Henry Grayden had a youthful appearance when he entered a room. Kate gave complete credit to his wife, Meg, who took excellent care of him.

“You always know how to make my day better.”

“I try. Grayden, you hate these charity functions as much as I do, don’t you?”

“They are a necessary evil, I suppose.”

“Thank you for the beautiful necklace, Mr. Grayden.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Kateland. I know that you appreciate anything I do for you. I heard you’re making a change in your career.”

“True. I need to get out of that firm. It’s not the place for me.” “Will you think about coming to work for me at Grayden Holding? I’m not talking about your input, because I know I always have it. I’m talking as in an office with your name on the

door.”

“I will consider it. You know that if you ever want my input on anything with the holding company I’m here for you.” She paused. “You and Meg must have had a disagreement since you weren’t holding her hand when you walked in tonight. Why are you sitting with me instead of Meg?”

“We’ll be fine, Kateland. You may not believe it, but at times I can be a thoughtless bastard.” Kate couldn’t help laughing at him. “See, you always understand me.”

“We screwed-up ones should stay together. I’ve got to go give my tear-jerker speech. It’s even better than last year.”

“I taught you well, didn’t I?”

“You did.” She kissed him on the cheek then proceeded to the stage.

Kate wondered what all these individuals would think if they knew she would give anything to be back in her art studio right at this moment working on one of her sculptures. The art critic’s comment from last week’s paper came back to her word-for- word, “a failed attempt at originality.”