Desiree Holt | USA Today & Award-Winning Author

Double Deception

Corporate Heat, Book 2

No one could tell who was telling the truth…

For Liam Benedict, the merging of Software By Design into the Arroyo mega-conglomerate is a dream come true—until someone on his staff screws with critical software and put the company and its future in grave jeopardy.

Suddenly life is not so euphoric for Liam. His contract with a defence contractor is in jeopardy, he doesn’t know who to trust on his staff and there is a distinct possibility a foreign power is behind the whole thing.

When forensic data analyst Eric Braun discovers who it is and how they did it, he is killed before he can tell Liam he’s discovered the mole. Framed by the killer, Liam is arrested for the murder.

It will take the combined resources of beautiful criminal defence attorney Sydney Alfiore, the woman he loves, and the huge Arroyo Corporation to solve the riddle, but can they do it in time?

Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of on-page murder.

Other Books in the Corporate Heat series

Corporate Heat Box Set

Box Set 1 (Books 1-3)
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Read an Excerpt (Click to show / hide)

Liam took a grateful sip of the hot liquid. It seemed to do more for him than the two drinks he’d had.

“Okay, give,” she told him.

“I keep thinking I’m paranoid,” he began and took another swallow. “Three times in the last couple of days I’ve been nearly sideswiped by a car when I was walking. Or running, like when I was heading for the garage elevator.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t just some crazy drivers being careless? I know, I know.” She held up a hand and again the hot-pink bracelet caught his eye. “I don’t think you have an overactive imagination, but I have to ask. And what else? What happened tonight?”

“I had another near miss in the garage. I could swear a car tried to run me down, but I got out of the way fast enough. Then I wondered if I was just being paranoid. But ever since I came out of the meeting tonight, I’ve had the weirdest feeling someone is watching me.”

“In the bar? In the lobby?” He gave her credit. She kept her eyes on him and didn’t swivel around to look at everyone the way he might have expected. Instead she looked directly across the table at him, leaning in slightly, as if they were lovers having a hot drink before…before doing whatever came next.

And damn it! He wished at that moment they were lovers. Then he realized she was staring at him and he hadn’t answered her question.

“Yes. To both places. I tried not to be obvious checking out the bar, and I kind of skimmed a glance over the lobby when we entered it.” He took another hit of the coffee. “The thing is, Syd, I can’t think who would want to hurt me.”

“What about any of your projects? Would they be adversely affecting anyone?”

He chuffed a laugh. “Only if they wanted to steal information and our programs prevented that.” He shook his head. “Our primary purpose is creating client-specific security software. In other words, rather than writing a program that can be mass marketed, we design one for each individual client. That way there is no duplication of programs.”

“And that means?”

“That even if, god forbid, someone found a way to hack into the software at company A, they couldn’t use the same Internet tools to hack into company B.”

He saw the moment the realization of it clicked for her.

“So, some hacker couldn’t, for example, find a way into the software and use it to hack a bunch of different businesses.”

Liam nodded. “Right. They’d have to be able to diagnose the codes for each program and find a back door.”

“You must charge the earth for them. Not that they aren’t worth it, by any means.”

“We charge fairly,” he told her. “But a lot of work goes into each one. We have to analyze the company’s needs and decide what type of code to write that will do the best job.”

She frowned. “Do you think you could have a disgruntled client? Or a business you turned away?”

He shook his head. “I hand carry my clients like they’re God in person. I spend a long time in meetings with them before we write the first line of code, so we know exactly what we need to protect against. We have defense contractors, international banks, you name it. So, we can’t use a one size fits all. That’s how we made our name.”

“And why Arroyo wanted you in their fold,” she pointed out. “Do you think whatever is happening has anything to do with the Arroyo deal?”

He shrugged. “Who knows? But I’d have to say no. There’s no one who’d profit by killing this deal.”

“Maybe by getting rid of you, another computer engineer could step in and steal your clients. Or grab your Arroyo deal.”

He wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it.

“I don’t think so. If someone is that good, they could just go in and pitch their own firm. Sydney, computer engineering isn’t usually a violent profession.”

“Then there’s something going on you don’t realize and you’d better figure out what it is. Best-case scenario? It will turn out to be your overactive imagination. But I’ve been doing what I do for a long time, Liam, and I’ve learned to never discount someone’s intuition over imagination.”