Authors: Skye Warren
Tags: #Fiction, #Erotica
His head bent, and his lips captured mine. The kiss was sudden and shocking—the culmination of every taut moment between us. Inevitable. His mouth moved over mine, his tongue moved inside me, speaking more eloquently than his words could.
they said. And mine answered,
I already do. I can’t help it, I do.
Give yourself to me,
they said. And mine answered,
I’m already yours. Can’t you feel it too?
A startled sound came from his throat, and I drank it down, pleased to have caused it.
He pulled back finally, panting slightly. “I think you’re more dangerous than you let on, rookie.”
My chest grew tight. He was right.
Dangerous. What a tripwire word. After all, how many people had caught a serial killer at age ten? A truly innocent child wouldn’t even have known what all that blood meant. Wouldn’t have known what he was doing to the children before he killed them. So how had I been so sure? No one had ever hurt me.
With my stomach in a knot, I pushed out of the dark room and sucked in a deep breath of stale office air. I crossed the hallway quickly, not looking back. The soft sound of his footfalls followed me.
“Samantha?” He stood behind me, his breath warm where it ruffled the hair at my temple.
I said nothing.
“Are you upset that I kissed you?”
Still nothing. I couldn’t have spoken. Upset? Yes, I was upset. And I wanted him to kiss me again.
Finally he sighed and asked, “What do you see?”
Only then did I realize where I’d stopped. At the whiteboard with all the core case information pinned up. Maps and lists and one black-and-white grainy photograph.
The man in the photograph looked directly at the camera. He knew where the cameras were located. He also knew the footage quality was poor enough to make it irrelevant. What was he feeling in that moment? Defiance? Or incipient curiosity to know who was hunting him, a restless desire to meet their mechanical gaze?
It felt strange to humanize him, a man who had committed such atrocities, but despite what Hennessey had said about the scope of our jobs, it felt strange to think of him as just another criminal. He wasn’t just another criminal. He was scarier than the rest of them, more powerful. Smarter, too. Yes, I had a healthy dose of respect for this man I reviled.
“He’s always cold,” I answered without turning.
“How do you know?” A question he had asked before and asked again. People would think I was crazy if I kept pushing this point, and maybe that was why I did it.
“He’s wearing a thick jacket. A hat. I think that’s a scarf tucked into his collar. And look at those heavy boots.”
“Well, maybe it’s cold outside.”
“No. Look at the other people. Jeans and a T-shirt. That girl is wearing flip-flops.” Innocent people with no idea who stood in their midst. “And it was sixty-five degrees at that location on the date and time this still frame was taken. Brisk, but not enough for all those layers.”
Hennessey was silent a moment. Conceding my point, I thought. “Why does it matter?” he asked finally.
I shook my head, finally turning to face him. I had no answer for that. It shouldn’t matter, but it did. Laguardia was one of the most powerful men in existence. He could build empires and topple governments. He was a fucking machine. But he had a flaw, and that made him human. It made him catchable. And I was going to catch him.
By the end of the week, my neck was sore, my back was stiff, and my body hummed with a kind of expectant energy. I filled the bathtub with steaming water and threw in a ball of moisturizing bath fizz. The scent of lavender filled the small room, riding on the steam. A thin film of condensation formed on the bathroom mirror, turning my naked body hazy and blurred. I was prettier this way, I thought. Surface only, out of focus. Drunk college guys had certainly thought so, but then they probably said that to any girl.
I stepped into the bath and let the hot water wash away all my tension. I’d never understood the appeal of hooking up, but I’d done it. Anything to be normal, to
to be normal. So I’d hit the clubs with some friends and find a random guy to disappoint me twice before morning. Get dressed. Walk away. Forget his name. Had I even asked for it? Whatever. Typical college student. Things were a little trickier as an adult. Now guys wanted to date. They were thinking about commitment, about starting a family.
No, thank you.
Now it was the older guys who wanted a quick fuck. Men like Hennessey. Most likely divorced and career-focused, they didn’t want a goddamned commitment. They wanted a screw in the supply closet. Except he hadn’t wanted to fuck. He’d wanted to talk, so what did that mean?
Men were confusing.
I spread my legs in the warm bath. Closing my eyes, I let my head fall back against the porcelain. My sex was already slippery from the soap. Cold gunmetal eyes. A sardonic smile. The word
used like an endearment. I rubbed myself quickly, roughly, being as hard on my body as I wished he would be.
I want him to hurt me.
With that strange thought, I came in tight pulses that sent ripples through the bath water.
I breathed the hot, humid air in the aftermath. What did it mean? Nothing. I laughed under my breath. It meant I was horny. Nothing more.
After drying myself, I pulled on a tank top from a music festival and loose sultan pants, and I settled down to paint my nails. It was a luxury, a brief nod to my femininity in a career path dominated by men.
My style was eclectic and excessively feminine—frilly and glittered when plain would have sufficed. I tried to tone it back for the office for obvious reasons. Partly because any extra accessories, like earrings, could be used against me by a perp in the unlikely event of a foot chase. The other reason was because I tried my hardest to paint the picture of a driven professional. Of a severe law enforcement officer.
Even my nails were filed short and painted with a clear coat for strength. The only exception were my toenails, which I shaped and painted in a full self-service pedicure every week. Sometimes I used a deep red, others a girlish pink. Today I chose a light blue, drawing from some deep desire for open sky. It was as if I bundled all my vanity into my feet, which I’d stuff away into sensible low-heeled shoes for work each day.
I was waiting for my toenails to finish drying when the doorbell rang. I glanced at the clock. Ten on a Friday night. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but despite being a woman, alone, I wasn’t afraid. I could kick the asses of most perps. More importantly, I’d learned long ago that criminals didn’t knock at the front door. They lured you into white vans. They lived in your own home.
The image through the peephole made me smile. I schooled my expression and opened the door.
Hennessey stood on the step, looking casual and right at home. The faded black fabric of his T-shirt matched his eyes. It molded to the lean muscles on his chest, revealing what the suits had left hidden. Strength. Power. Sexiness. Faded jeans and a well-worn T-shirt was practically a wardrobe of seduction on a man like this, the masculine equivalent of showing up in nothing but a trench coat and high heels.
If you want me, take me.
My body responded like a live wire, primed from spending the whole week working with him and having lost its professional inhibitions through exhaustion. I could spin these fantasies in my head, and no one would ever know.
I may have crushed on older men, I may have fucked them, but I resented them too. I resented their allure and their dominance even as I craved them. Part and parcel of the daddy issues, I supposed.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, a little brusquely.
“We found the warehouse. It’s owned by a subsidiary of Laguardia.” He held up a stack of stuffed file folders. “I’ve got shipment routes going to and from that dock. We can narrow down which one it is based on pay loads and time of day.”
“Okay, let me rephrase. How did you find
He raised an eyebrow. “FBI Agent.”
He lifted the case of beer he held in his other hand. “I come bearing gifts.”
I sighed and stood back to let him in. “Forgiven.”
He passed me by, his gaze roving down my body. The tank top barely concealed my breasts or my nipples, which had hardened in the night air. A sliver of my belly and the upper curves of my hips were revealed by the low-slung pants. And at my feet, the sky blue stood out like some sort of testament to my youth, a sharp contrast to the hardened, experienced, jaded man in front of me.
He froze when he looked down. Something ran through his body, a subtle tension I could barely discern and couldn’t define. He shook his head briefly, as if to clear it. Then he continued inside, and I might have imagined it, except for the sensual awareness awakened in my own body.
He had seen me as a woman and wanted me. That wasn’t the surprising part. A moderately pretty girl, young and friendly, I could find interested men by walking into the nearest bar. They wanted to fuck me and leave me, though I never gave them the chance. Even if I did consent to fuck them, just to see if this time,
, it would be different, I was always the one who left first.
No, it wasn’t surprising that he wanted me. The truly surprising part was that I wanted him right back. Wanted his body, his attention.
And strangely, wanted him to stay.
I led him to the table in the kitchen, a piece made of reclaimed wood I’d found on a weekend trip to the coast. The top was a slab of thick slats that used to be a fence. The legs were connected with old brass door hinges. The man at the farmer’s market expected me to haggle, but the table was worth far more than I paid for it. It gave me a kind of contentedness every time I saw it.
We spent the night combing the files, drinking his beer and ordering a pizza to help us through. Sometimes when he looked at me, it seemed like…well, but he never acted on it. There was no touching or anything too inappropriate at all, just two agents working a case together.
Friends, maybe. Friends who kissed.
But lovers? The official Bureau regulations would bar such a thing. I couldn’t let personal feelings get in the way of catching Laguardia, and I doubted Hennessey made such allowances either. He hadn’t gotten to be a renowned agent by getting distracted by prettily painted toes.
Although, he had shown up at my place, instead of calling me into the office. Instead of waiting until morning. So maybe he was a little interested. And judging from the way he kept glancing at my body, a little distracted too.
Hours passed going through pages and pretending not to notice how close he was to me. The hour hand crossed the midnight Rubicon and continued into the early hours of morning. My eyelids drooped, blurring the words in front of me. Both of us were moving slower and talking less. We were falling asleep, neither of us willing to end this tenuous peace.
A ringing sound startled me, and I dropped the pen I was holding. His cell phone.
He sent me an apologetic glance. “I’ve got to take this.”
“You can use the living room,” I offered, for privacy.
I could still hear him when he answered brusquely and spoke in low tones, but I couldn’t make out his words. Just as well, because my mind was mush at this point. Maybe I’d rest my eyes so I could be alert and ready to work when he was done with his call.
The steady murmur of his voice was my lullaby, a gentle shove from the shores of consciousness. I drifted away, barely aware of the papers pinned under my cheek. Barely aware of the gentle caress of my temple, brushing my hair from my face. Barely aware of the strong arms lifting me.
He shushed my mumbled protest, carrying me to my bedroom. The sheets were cool along my body. Too cold. I wanted him to join me, but by the time I reached for him, by the time I opened my eyes, he was already gone.
* * *
On Saturday morning, we met in the office. He shared a secret sleepy smile with me before speaking to the group of agents he’d called in to work the weekend. We knew which warehouse Carlos would be using, and we had three possible dates for the shipment.
The first window was only four days away. We already had surveillance on the location so we could watch guard activity and learn their security protocols. With painstaking timing and coordination, we established a plan to bypass the outer perimeter and then confront each inner level until all opposing forces were subdued. That was the hard part.
We’d find out then if Laguardia was among them. Only after would we know if we’d caught our prey. We didn’t have anything as precise as a harpoon. We had a net that would scoop out fish and debris and a hundred other things—and hopefully the shark as well.
Hennessey headed joint task force meetings with the DEA and the local police. Together, we planned the operation with cunning and expertise, and the entire time, I waited for Brody to tell me there’d been a mistake. I wasn’t meant to be part of something this big, this important. I waited for Hennessey to ask Brody for another partner, and for real this time. He’d be better off with someone more experienced than me, wouldn’t he?
But neither of those things happened. Someone else served up the cold reminder of how poorly suited I was for the job. Lance.
“You seem tense,” he mumbled when I’d fallen back in my chair on a rare break in my cubicle. Hennessey had disappeared for some meeting with the bigwigs, so for the umpteenth time, I was left to go over the plans by myself.
I shrugged. “It’s a big deal.”
“For the Bureau or for your career?”
The venom in Lance’s voice shocked me. I sat forward slowly, focusing on him. “For both. Is that a problem?”
He shook his head and disappeared behind the cloth divider, but I wouldn’t be that easily put off. For months, he had been my only friend here. And now, was he turning his back on me? Or had I turned my back on him?
I hadn’t meant to abandon him when I got this assignment. I’d been busy as hell, and Lance had been working in the same conference room for most of the time. But we didn’t have the private talks over the cubicle walls anymore. And if Lance were a little jealous of me getting to do fieldwork, it would only be natural. After all, he’d started here before me.
So why had I gotten the assignment?
I shook the thought away and focused on the problem at hand. Namely, Lance, resolutely staring at his desk as if it held the answers to the universe instead of his timesheet.
“Hey,” I said softly. “I need your help with something, if you’re up for it.”
He tilted his head without looking at me. “Help with what?”
“It’s for the case. But Hennessey wouldn’t approve.” That got his attention. “He might be mad, actually. So you can’t tell him. It’s okay if you don’t want to do it.”
When he turned, he had a faint smile. “Let’s go. You can fill me in on the way.”
“You sure you aren’t worried about Hennessey?”
A snort. “He can kiss my ass.”
Though it occurred to me for the first time that maybe he wasn’t only jealous of my assignment. The quiet talks, the lunches spent together, the casual invitations to a weekend movie if I didn’t have anything else to do. If I wasn’t mistaken, Lance had a crush on me.
Shit. I hadn’t realized it, because I never thought of him that way. It was fine, I supposed, as long as he knew nothing would come of it. Not on this field trip, certainly. Not ever. I suspected he’d come along to piss off Hennessey more than anything. That was fine too. A little professional competition never hurt anybody.
The raid was tomorrow night. We had planned it down to the minute. Since tomorrow would be a long, exhausting day, we’d all been dismissed early.
Go home, get some sleep.
Officially the goal was to make sure the agents were well-rested for a raid, not edging toward exhaustion. Unofficially, a grim undertone reminded us that everyone might not make it through.
We maintained every safety protocol from full shields to tight formations on entry, but these situations were always chaotic. Or so I had heard. This would be my first raid.
And hopefully not my last.