Cruel Promimse

A swoony billionaire contemporary romance prequel to USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s Cruel Truth.

I’m not prepared to meet someone as sexy as Sam Rutherford on the first day of my new job.

Then I find out we’re sharing an office…for the next year.

I can’t deny that I’m intrigued by his charming Southern drawl and rugged good looks. Normally I would have jumped at the chance.

But there’s only one problem.

He has no idea who I am. I’m not just Lark, the cute girl at work.

I’m a multibillion-dollar heiress. And I made a deal with my parents: one year away from the city and then I take over the family business.

Despite everything, I want to risk it.

I don’t care if I break my cruel promise.

Note: Originally titled His for a Season.

Chapter One

“Breathe. You can do this.”

I bit my dark pink–painted lips, pushed open the door, and stepped into the chaos that was the Wisconsin state headquarters for Governor Woodhouse’s presidential bid. It was everything I’d expected. Staff seated at cubicles, half-finished signs littered a table, an array of volunteers lined up in front of a row of computers, and the permeating smell of coffee.

I couldn’t stop the excited smile from creeping onto my face. I was really here. I’d made it to Madison, and I was officially working for Governor Woodhouse—at a state office, no less. It was as if all of my dreams were finally coming true.

“You look lost,” a guy said, stepping up with the biggest, most heart-stopping brown eyes I’d ever seen.

“A little,” I admitted. “I’m Lark. I’m supposed to start working here today, I think.”

His eyes brightened even further. “The new girl. Right. Toby said you’d be coming in today. He said that I’d be mentoring you.” He stuck his hand out. “I’m Sam.”


I shook his hand, lingering a second at the firm grasp and long musician’s fingers. I drew back shyly. Something I was pretty sure I’d never been in my entire life. But the look on Sam’s face was enough to make me forget who I was. That I was actually Larkin St. Vincent, heiress to St. Vincent’s Enterprise, a multibillion-dollar company headquartered in New York City. Not that I wanted anyone to know that here.

“Well, welcome to Madison. It’s not New York—that’s where you’re from, right?” he asked, continuing without waiting for my answer, “But I think you’ll like it.”

I smiled, taking in everything about him in one sweeping glance. One thing was for sure; he was hardly the typical Upper East Side prep guy I was used to. There was something more to him. Something intensely masculine and unpolished in all the right ways.

“Yes, New York,” I said. “Are you from here?”

“God, no,” he said, gesturing for me to follow him into an office. “I don’t even know how I survived the winter. I’m from North Carolina. Tar Heel born and bred.”

I laughed and tugged off my scarf. I stuffed it into my purse, which I dropped onto a brown cushioned chair.

“I wouldn’t get too comfortable,” another voice said from the door.

I turned around and came face-to-face with a gorgeous woman with brown skin and long black hair that she wore in loose, voluminous waves.

“Moira,” the woman said, holding out a hand covered in henna. “You’re Lark, I presume? Toby gave me your email.”

“Yes, that’s me,” I said, shaking Moira’s hand. “Nice to meet you. Is Toby around?”

Toby was the regional campaign director for the Madison area and their boss. I’d interviewed with him twice and found him to be an eccentric, energetic man. The kind of man whose great passion would sustain us through a hard-fought campaign season. Or at least, I hoped so.

“Toby is tied up in meetings with the state team. Sam here is going to take you under his wing. He’s been here nearly as long as Toby, so you’re in safe hands.”

“Great. I’m ready to get started.”

“That’s what we like to hear. At this point, you, Sam, and I are divvying up most of Madison on the ground for Governor Woodhouse. So, welcome to the team.”

“It’s great to finally be here.”

“Thanks, Moira. I was getting to that part,” Sam said with a shake of his head.

“Anytime.” She turned back to me. “Are you okay with sharing this office with Sam? We’re already short on space, but Josh is working on getting us the building next door.”

“Yeah, that’s fine by me.” I snuck another glance at Sam. I caught him staring at me, and he hastily looked away when our eyes met. “Who is Josh?”

“He’s Toby’s immediate boss. As the state field manager, he runs the campaign for everyone in the field for the entire state of Wisconsin,” Moira said. “Think of this as one big hierarchy. We work for Toby, who works for Josh, who works for the head of the Midwest organization, who works for the field campaign manager, who works for the overall campaign manager, who works for Governor Woodhouse. Our job is to add to the hierarchy and get people to work underneath us. Preferably for free.” She turned to the desk, grabbed two clipboards from Sam’s stuff, and passed them to each of us. “Now, go bring me back seven voter registrations by five, and then we’ll make a hundred phone calls.”

Moira smiled cheerily and then jaunted out of the room.

I turned to Sam with wide eyes. “Is she serious?”

Sam laughed. “That’s Moira for you. Come on. I’ll show you the ropes.”

“Just like that? I mean…I don’t even get to see the office or drop my stuff at my apartment or anything?”

“Welcome to the campaign,” Sam said with a wink.

I looked down at my high heels and shook my head. “At least let me find some sneakers.”

His eyes traveled to my shoes, and unbidden, his laughter boomed out of him. I couldn’t help it. Suddenly, I was laughing with him.

“Not my smartest move,” I admitted.

“Definitely not in the snow.”

I tucked the clipboard under my arm, grabbed my bag, and then headed out to the car my parents had insisted on for my time in Madison. I’d managed to keep them from buying a flashy Mercedes. They’d been appalled that I wanted a low-key Subaru but finally relented.

Of course, I hadn’t told them it was because for the first time in my life, I wasn’t going to be Larkin St. Vincent, but just Lark. Not an heir to an empire. Just a girl.

“Drive all the way here from New York?” Sam asked as I dug through my suitcase in the trunk.

“Oh god, no.” I shot him a skeptical look. “I’m not a great driver. I didn’t even get a license until I went to college.”

“That’s insane to me. I grew up driving all the back roads long before I had a license.”

I pulled out my sneakers and snapped the trunk shut. I tossed Sam the keys. “By all means, Country Boy.”

He laughed. “I’ll show you how it’s done, City Girl.”

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