A Tangled Web

A jet-setter tale in the tradition of Danielle Steele--Mariah figures turnabout is fair play. When her life is destroyed by her husband and his mistress, she enlists the aid of the mistress' ex to help her give her ex-husband a taste of his own medicine. She doesn't expect to find love in the ashes.



Published: 01/2015
Length: Mid Novel
Word Count75,940
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Thriller/Interracial Romance
Rating: spicy
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)



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Joan Early


© Copyright by Joan Early, January 2015
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, January 2015
ISBN 978-1-60394-873-9
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636


This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.


Downpours from tropical storm Gloria had cooled the Houston air, but inside the silver Mercedes, Mariah Munford’s anger burned hotter than the blazes of hell. Clenched fists with white knuckles firmly gripped the steering wheel. Her heart tumbled in sync with the rubber of her tires on the asphalt. Like everything else in her life, a carefully planned evening had been reduced to frenzied desperation. An evening she had thought would bring relief, or at least revenge to her shattered heart, was adding to her frustrations.

She glanced in the rearview mirror, yelled a string of expletives at another driver and swerved across three lanes of traffic to enter the freeway ramp. Horns honked around her. The right wheels of her car briefly left the pavement and sent her tuxedo-clad passenger in a sideways slide against the safety restraints. She caught a glimpse of fear in his eyes, but anger trumped her desire to apologize.

“Watch it!” He gave her an angry stare before he repositioned his body in the seat. “Getting a speeding ticket or killing us both is not going to help. I said I’m sorry. I’m sorry it happened. I’m sorry you’re so upset. I don’t know what else you want me to say or do.”

Hearing more arrogance than regret in his tone increased her anger. “You don’t give a damn, do you? You’re totally cavalier about something that means a lot to me—in more ways than one.” She sighed heavily. “This was supposed to be my big night, Reed. I’ve already spent a lot of money, including the twelve thousand dollars I’m wearing. We’re almost two hours late. Instead of making a grand entrance, I doubt anyone of importance will still be there. We have a deal. You agreed to—”

“I get the message!” His arrogance turned to anger. “I agreed to help you with your fundraiser and sleep with your ex-husband’s new wife. I’m doing my best to uphold my end of the deal, but long before I made that deal with you, I had a little girl. Right now she’s lying in Texas Children’s Hospital recovering from an emergency appendectomy.” His eyebrows lifted in an expressive frown.

“When my ex-wife called and I heard Brittany crying for her daddy, forgive me, but I just couldn’t find words to explain how my binding contract with you would keep me from rushing to her side.” He shook his head fiercely before straightening his tie and rolling his eyes in her direction.

“I’ve never been the kind of father I wanted to be to my two children. Basketball kept me on the road when they were younger. That was my career. I had to leave them to make it work. Just when I thought I would become a regular part of their days and nights, their mother wanted a divorce. I couldn’t convince her of my fidelity and got damn sick and tired of trying, so I did something I swore I would never do. I’m living apart from the two people who mean the world to me. Now it’s up to me to make sure I’m there when they need me. And even when they don’t. My time with them isn’t for sale, not to anyone and not at any price.”

“Good excuse.” Her moist eyes dimmed in the beam of headlights. She swallowed hard to rid her voice of the tears and disappointment. “Blame it on a child. It’s not original, but it does get sympathy—from most people.”

“It’s an explanation, not an excuse. I’m never late unless there’s a good reason. Right now, Brittany and R. J. are my top priorities. I know that’s not your concern, but things don’t always go as planned, Mariah, so chill. It’s not the end of the world.”

She stiffened under his stare. For someone she had known less than a year, he could annoy and delight her in amazing ways. Everything about him was intriguing. His clipped speech pattern that sounded just short of rudeness kept her guessing. His malignant stare was both intimidating and spellbinding. She had never seen skin—of any color—as smooth and perfectly even as his. His six-feet-seven-inch frame was perfectly proportioned and rock-solid. Even in heated interviews, his responses were always astoundingly sharp. More astounding was the way he stole her thoughts.

She had noticed him long before they were introduced. Jealous stares always followed the beautiful women on his arm and she was proud to join that select lineup. He had been alone the night they were formally introduced. His fleeting but piercing once-over had weakened her knees. Though romance was never in her plan, she found it hard to deny the things he did to her heart.

She felt his tender, hot touch on her arm and vaulted back to the present. Even in the throes of blinding anger, she was still enamored by his charm. Snap out of it. You’re using, not falling for him! He touched her cheek with his fingertips, gentle but warm. Her heartbeat quickened. Harmfully handsome was tops on his list of attributes. Their mutual attraction created sparks. Tonight, she needed the sparks and the tension more than she needed romance or sex. Even if she had wanted to love him, or have an intimate relationship, she would have been profoundly afraid to do so. Reed Buckner was everything she feared in a man, and more.