No Stranger to Scandal - By Rachel Bailey


Hayden Black flicked through the documents and photos scattered across his D.C. hotel suite desk until he found the one he needed. Hauntingly beautiful hazel eyes; shoulder-length blond hair that shone as if polished; designer-red lips. Lucy Royall. The key to his investigation for Congress that would bring down her stepfather, Graham Boyle.

After his preliminary research from his New York base, he’d decided the twenty-two-year-old heiress who’d been handed life on a silver platter was the weak link he’d target to gather all the information on Graham Boyle’s criminal activities. His first appointment this morning had been to get a colleague’s take on Ms. Royall so he would be prepped when he met her.

He flicked the photo to the side and picked up another—this one her publicity shot from Boyle’s news network, American News Service, where Lucy worked as a junior reporter. Even with the professional tone and her eyes heavily made up with expertly applied gray smudges and mascara, she looked far too young, too innocent, to be mixed up in the dirty business of ANS illegally hacking into the phones of the president’s friends and family. But looks could be deceiving, especially when it came to pampered princesses. No one knew that better than he did.

Lucy Royall had been billionaire Graham Boyle’s stepdaughter since she was twelve, and her own deceased father had left her a vast fortune. She hadn’t been born with a plain old silver spoon in her mouth—hers had been pure platinum and diamond-encrusted.

He dropped the photo and picked up one of another blonde journalist—ANS senior reporter Angelica Pierce. Only ten minutes ago he’d completed an interview with Ms. Pierce, so he could vouch for both the perfectly white, straight teeth in her plastic broadcast news journalist smile and her aqua eyes. There was something strange about that shade of blue—it looked more like colored contacts than natural. But she spent half her life in front of a TV camera. Angelica Pierce wouldn’t be alone in the industry if she was trying to make the most of what she had to look good for the viewers.

Angelica had been eager to help, saying the phone hacking scandal tainted all journalists. And she’d been especially eager to help on the subject of Lucy Royall. Apparently, when Lucy had graduated from college, Boyle had handed her the job of junior reporter over many more qualified applicants, and now, according to Angelica, Lucy could be found “swanning around the office like she’s on a movie set, refusing assignments she doesn’t like and expecting privileges.”

Hayden glanced back at Lucy’s photo, with her silk shirt and modest diamond earrings—all tastefully understated yet subtly conveying wealth and class. He could believe she had a sense of entitlement.

But during the interview, Angelica had done something particularly interesting. She’d lied to him about Lucy threatening her. The signs in her body language had been almost imperceptible, but he’d interviewed countless people over the years and was used to picking up what other people missed.

Of course, there were reasons she might lie—a star reporter watching a young, pretty journalist who happened to be related to the network’s owner coming up through the ranks would be nervous. People lied for less every day.

But something told him there was more to the story. Admittedly, his first instinct was always to distrust journalists—they were too used to manipulating facts to make a good story. But this whole investigation centered around journalists, so for objectivity’s sake, he’d have to put that aside and take them as they came for now.

He shuffled the photos till he found one of Graham Boyle. Hayden’s background research for the congressional committee’s investigation into phone hacking and other illegal activities kept leading him back to Boyle.

And his stepdaughter.

Angelica Pierce might have lied about Lucy Royall threatening her, perhaps to protect her job. But he had no trouble believing that Ms. Royall was a spoiled princess playing at being a journalist. Which suited him just fine. Coaxing an admission from her about Boyle’s dirty dealings would be a piece of cake—he’d had enough experience with pampered heiresses to know exactly how to handle them.

Lucy Royall was going down, and taking her stepfather with her.

* * *

Lucy wedged the phone between her shoulder and ear and kept typing up the questions for Mitch Davis, the anchor of one of ANS’s nightly news shows. He was interviewing a Florida senator in four hours and wanted the list by midday to give himself a chance to familiarize himself with