Authors: Marquita Valentine
Tags: #Assassin, #Russia, #espionage, #romantic thriller, #action and adventure, #terrorists, #London
The Target Series
Copyright © 2016 by Marquita Valentine
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted downloaded, distributed, stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or any events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Special Thanks to Autumn, Andrea and Amanda—The Triple A-Team. I don’t know if they know I think of them like that, but I do. You guys are awesome and amazing and out of sight (wait, that didn’t start with an a, but you have to know what I’m talking about, right?!)
Big Breakout the Handcuffs Thanks to Andris Bear and her husband for schooling me on police procedures. Also, Andris is the best crit partner a girl could ever have in life.
Like Whoa Thanks to Carly Phillips for her uncanny ability to nail characterization every flipppin’ time. You are inspiring!
Grateful Thanks to Liliana Hart and Scott Silverii as well as the entire SilverHart team. Thanks for taking a chance on this series and brining it back to life.
Thanks to my readers for being the best readers in the history of readers. I couldn’t do this without you.
Last, but never least, I have to thank my family for putting up with me and supporting me. I love you guys! xo
Ten years ago, Benjamin Romanov left behind a world of violence and intrigue. Now he’s living the dream as the chief technology officer at PharmGen, the world’s largest provider of vaccinations. The perks are amazing—a luxury penthouse, fast car, and his pick of women. The only downside to his job is reporting employees for less than scrupulous e-mail practices, but when he is forced to confront an employee in the lab, he ends up preventing a security guard from killing an innocent woman.
Receptionist Morgan Tanner never meant to get caught in the crosshairs of a deal gone wrong. All she wanted was one night of excitement with the sexy and elusive Benjamin Romanov. But now they’re on the run, and Benjamin thinks she has something to do with why everyone wants to kill them. Only she has no idea what’s going on at all—she was only in the lab to deliver a time-sensitive package.
With time running out, Benjamin must find a way to protect an innocent woman while keeping his distance… and expose PharmGen to the world before the deadly virus is unleashed.
PharmGen, London Headquarters
t wasn’t me.”
If I had a quid for every time I heard that, I would…well, I’d only have thirty-five quid, but that’s not the bloody point. The point is that in my line of work, I hear it all the blasted time and it’s become annoying as hell.
Sure, one could say that I bring it upon myself, but honestly, to ferret out rats and moles is in my job description at PharmGen. It’s a far-sight better than what I used to do as one of the grandsons of the head of the
Murder. Espionage. Global banking.
Yeah, I’ve gone all straight and narrow. With my employer’s blessing and dictate, I legally spy.
Admittedly, it’s not my favorite part of my job, but I console myself with the fact that the people I report on are disloyal, a character trait I loathe. They are the ones sending company secrets to our competitors, or looking for ways to cheat our employer out of millions.
“You’ve got the wrong guy, Romanov,” Clark insists.
Slowly, I shake my head. “Afraid I don’t.” I push the packet of emails across the desk to him. In this digital world, there is something so satisfying about the physical. “This was downloaded directly from your computer’s hard drive, then personally printed out by me.”
Leveling him with a look, I say, “You do realize that everything you do on your laptop here, or at home, is tracked?”
He starts to argue again. “It’s not—”
“Check the fucking packet, Clark.” That’s another quid.
Fingers shaking, he pulls it to him and begins to read. His face pales. “But I used the private browser,” he says more to himself than to me.
“We monitor keystrokes.”
That seems to take the fight out of him. “What happens now?”
“But I’ll lose my retirement,” he protests.
“Better than being sued.”
He nods, then visibly swallows. “Anything else?”
“A deposit in the amount of last year’s salary will be deposited into your account by the close of business.”
He swipes his hand over his face. “My wife is going to kill me.”
“Again, better than the alternative.” I’m not threatening him with harm. I’m reminding him that PharmGen’s pockets are deep and to sue him wouldn’t cause anyone to lose sleep.
“You’re a bloody prat, Romanov.” Clark stands, plowing his hand through his white-blonde hair and making it stand on in. He looks like a mad scientist, which isn’t far from the truth. He
the lead lab specialist.
Looks like Dr. Bhamra is getting a promotion tomorrow.
“Actually, I’m doing my job.”
He starts for the door and I alert security. He’s their problem now. “One day you’ll be on the receiving end.”
As soon as he’s gone, I grab my jacket and head down to the local pub. While employees at PharmGen are firmly an international mix, the Crown and Pegasus is most decidedly English.
I walk into the semi-crowded lobby, scanning my ID card and tipping up my chin to the security guards before risking a peek to the right.
There she sits—one of the most beautiful women in existence. She’s also one of the most forbidden. Right up there with married women and mistresses of dangerous men.
Naturally, I want her more than life itself.
Morgan Tanner smiles, lighting up the entire foyer, as she answers the phone.
In her smart, yellow twinset and navy pencil skirt, she is the stuff office fantasies are made of. Honestly, I wonder if the secretarial side of the company was made to watch
in order to emulate the style. Have to say that I whole-heartedly approve.
“Welcome to PharmGen. This is Morgan. How can I help you?” Her slow southern drawl reminds me of my second home in Asheville, North Carolina. Through a series of very
events, my brother and I were able to leave the
relatively unscathed. While he has had the love of a good woman for the past decade to help him transition into a new life, I’ve only had this company.
Women aren’t hard to come by in London, or any of my other favorite holiday spots, but they are not Morgan Tanner. For over a year, I’ve endured her nearness, endured the light scent of her perfume whenever I had the pleasure to be in an elevator with her.
Basically, I’ve been torturing myself, much like my brother did before he finally allowed Everly to be a part of his life. Only that had almost gotten her killed.
While I know my past is firmly in the past, I can’t seem to shake it, can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m being watched. And judged.
My decision was made a long time ago. In the light is where I belong, not back in the shadows and living a half-life.
I turn, my body going hard the closer Morgan gets. She waves at me, her breasts bouncing as she practically jogs over to me in her sexy heels, her purse swinging wildly on her arm as she goes. A most impressive feat considering how slick the marble floors are.
“Ms. Tanner. How can I help you?” I ask, keeping my tone light. Smooth.
“I was hoping you could have drinks with me at the Crown and Pegasus this afternoon.”
I nearly swallow my tongue. “Drinks?”
She blushes, her blue eyes crinkling at the corners. “Yes. Drinks.”
“Like a date?” I can’t help but ask.
She nods, her blonde hair sliding forward. It’s cut along her chin, giving me plenty of access to her graceful neck. If I were of a mind to kiss her there. Most assuredly, I want to kiss her there.
“Mr. Pinter’s assistant sent out an email blast last night. Company policy has changed. Basically, as long as you’re not directly my boss, then fraternization is okay.”
I’d love to fraternize the hell out of her. “Out of all the people here, you want to go have drinks with me.” This is too good to be true, has to be… Or a great cosmic joke.
“You can check first if you want.” Suddenly her eyes widen and her hand briefly covers her mouth. “Oh, I get it. Never mind. Sorry.” She attempts to spin around, but her heels slip on the floor and she starts to wobble. I grab her before she can fall. The palm of my hand connects with her warm skin.
A jolt of lust hits me so hard that I’m shocked I’m not the one with wobbly legs.
“I’m actually pleased you’ve invited me to drinks,” I manage to say, but I don’t let go of her arm. This is the first time I’ve ever touched her and I want to savor it.
She bites her on bottom lip for a moment, then she gives me one of her glorious smiles. “Okay, then.”
“Shall we be off?” Finally, I let go of her arm and offer my elbow. I can be a proper gentleman when the occasion calls for it.
“Let’s go.” She slips her arm around mine and we walk outside.
Carrying on small talk along the way, it takes no time at all to get to the pub and even less time to be seated.
I order two beers and some chips from the bar and then join Morgan at a table near the rear of the pub, keeping my back to the wall. An old habit, I’ll never be rid of, no matter what.
“So, we’ve worked together—”
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve worked together.”
“Touché,” I reply with a grin. “How about we’ve worked in the same building for over a year and I barely know you.”
She tilts her head to one side. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Yup. You’re the Chief Tech officer. I assume you know everything about everyone.”
“Just the important bits, but I don’t do background checks on employees.” No my purpose here is far more nefarious.
“What are my important bits?”
Despite my best efforts, my gaze drops to her lips, then further down to her breasts before coming back to rest on her face. “You’re from Roswell, Georgia. Majored in communications at University, but as a study-abroad student, you decided to permanently move to London. Excellent student, by the way. No arrest record, no parking tickets… no tickets at all, actually.”
She blinks at me. “Wow. You’ve just summed up the last six years of my life… and I’m the most boring person in the world.”
Our beers and chips are delivered to our table, and I wait for Morgan to tuck into the chips before responding.
“I don’t know. Sometimes boring can be an exceptionally good thing.”
She rolls her eyes. “Only someone with an exceptionally exciting life can say that.”
I take a drink of my beer. “You’ve got me there. Spying on employees, even legally, is the highlight of my days.”
She snorts. “You are so full of it.”
“All right then. You tell me your most important bits.” God, I enjoy talking to her. Way more than I should. No email has been sent. I’m sure of it. “Promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“Fine. I like knitting, hiking, meeting new people, and reading romance novels.” She wrinkles her nose. “Oh geez. That was actually my profile on MakeMeaMatch.com.”
Amused, I ask, “Did you make a match?”
She sucks in air through her teeth, wincing. “Yeah—nope.”
Throwing my head back, I laugh.
“Not funny.” She punches me in the shoulder, but the pain barely registers. One, her hit isn’t that hard, nor is it meant to be. Two, I’ve taken much worse. “Seriously, Mr. uh… Benjamin?”