Title: A Shameless Little Con
Series: The Shameless Series #1
Author: Meli Raine
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: January 30, 2018
I didn’t do it.
I never betrayed my friend.
Last year, I was kidnapped along with presidential candidate’s daughter Lindsay Bosworth, forced to help her assailants, my mother implicated in one of the biggest political scandals in American history.
I’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing, but that doesn’t matter. Once you’re tried by the media, you’re guilty as sin. The truth doesn’t get the public’s attention.
But shame? Shame sells.
And everyone assumes you’re tainted.
Now I have my own personal security team, courtesy of the United States government. Not the one you learned about in civics class, though.
I’m being tracked by the deep state. The shadow government. They’ve assigned Silas Gentian to be with me twenty-four seven. He thinks he knows everything about me – all of it bad — and he does.
Like everyone else, he assumes I’m a traitor. A backstabber. A betrayer. Someone who helped a group of violent psychopaths, puppets of powerful men in Washington who made me into a tool.
Yet I see how he looks at me. True desire can’t be faked.
And that goes both ways.
He assumes I’m trying to fool him.
And he might be right.
But not for the reasons he thinks.
A Shameless Little Con is the first book in the Shameless trilogy by USA Today bestselling author Meli Raine.
A Shameless Little Lie (Book 2 ~ Coming March 27, 2018)
A Shameless Little Bet (Book 3 ~ Coming May 29, 2018)
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2A0fQkS
Life is about blending in now, an impossible task for someone who has more notoriety than Monica Lewinsky. Shame is a booming industry, one with capital and debt, profit and loss sheets, one that trades in the hard currency of humiliation and intrigue. My ringing phone would be a constant reminder of my ongoing debasement, so I turn it off. Pretend there is no sound.
Pretend in order to function, because if I let myself receive a notification every time someone mentioned me, I’d be buried in cacophony, shattered by so much noise I would dissipate, particles of Jane Borokov in the air everyone breathes, and we can’t have that.
If I did that, I wouldn’t exist, and right now my best defense is just existing.
No one believes me.
And as time passes, I see that what people actually believe doesn’t matter.
It’s what you can manipulate them into feeling that counts. Media reports about my so-called heinous actions last year are all about stoking the furious fire of public anger. Get them outraged. Get them frothing. Pitchforks and torches are so twentieth century.
Now you tar and feather people with a Share button and a Like. It’s so easy. Read the words, feel something, then tap. Click.
Move on to the next scandal.
It’s all part of your life, right?
Until you are the shame sacrifice of the day. Week. Month.
We’re trained to seek high rewards, but the internet lets us do it with low effort. Got to get that dopamine fix somewhere, right?
I start, spilling a bit of the crema from my latte on my hand. The perfect heart at the center of the foamy milk on the surface of my coffee turns into a mangled, jagged mess.
“Jesus! You scared me.” I keep my voice to a low hiss, mortified by all of the layers this interruption is breaching. I refuse to look at him, because if I look at Silas Gentian, my newly assigned bodyguard and babysitter, I’ll see disgust.
And while I’ve gotten used to it from everyone else, I still can’t stomach seeing it reflected back at me from him.
“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, if you thought it through, there might be a completely different angle on every part of this mess? That maybe I’m telling the truth?” I taunt him. That’s how this feels–like nothing but a nasty game. The push-pull of wanting him to treat me like a human being and wanting to lash out and hurt him is infuriating, but it is better than sitting here and taking his negativity like a passive little doormat.
“Of course I have.”
“And you’ve rejected that. Completely.”
“Then you’re really bad at your job, Silas,” I say, letting all the bitterness and contempt come through my voice.
“You’ve wounded me, Jane.” Turns out he can do contempt, too. Better than I can.
“I mean it. Anyone whose job is to protect people can’t be such an absolutist. It makes you weak. Gives other people an easy shot at you.”
“‘Other people’? Do you mean people like you?”
“No. I mean people like the ones who attacked Lindsay.”
“Right. People like you.”
I shake my head slowly, the waves of panic flowing through me, giving in to them. Letting them come because what choice do I have?
And guess what?
You can feel all of that panic, let the anxiety overwhelm you, nearly black out from the incongruity of being shamed, driving toward an unknown destination where you have no control–
–and still stand up for yourself.
“I have nothing left to lose, Silas. My mom is dead, my reputation’s beyond salvageable, I don’t have a job or a place to live, and everywhere I go someone’s trying to kill me. Even my online world is nothing but garbage and threats from shitlords. So, as a simple thought exercise, can you try? You’re protecting me. Someone assigned you to me. Give me the courtesy of doing your job completely. If I’m stuck with you–and I know I am–I, at least, want you to do your best.”
You cannot spend days on end around someone, endless hours bleeding into each other, and not get to know them on some level. Even the most stone-faced Secret Service agent gives off little clues, signals about who he is. We all do. It’s unavoidable. You would have to be a robot to be able to keep every nonverbal tip about yourself completely secured, safely compartmentalized, hidden from the world.
Silas doesn’t even come close.
His humanity radiates out from his pores, his face showing emotion even if it’s just in little flashes that give me insight. Some personal issue is distracting him. Not in the sense that he’s not protecting me, but more on an internal level.
People have lives that connect them to others. It’s one of the fundamental tenets of being human. We don’t necessarily define ourselves in terms of others–though some people do–but we are defined by connections of some type.
Which is why losing my links to other people, one by one, is so damaging.
We’re social animals by nature. All of us, even the most introverted person you know. On some level, we need to engage in circles of communication. We check in with others to see where the boundaries lie, to make sure we’re functioning and contributing, to be nurtured and to nurture right back.
I have none of that.
#2 A Shameless Little Lie – Releasing March 27, 2018
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2BmCYdz
#3 A Shameless Little Bet – Releasing May 29, 2018
Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them.
Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.