Read Hard Target Online

Authors: Marquita Valentine

Tags: #Assassin, #Russia, #espionage, #romantic thriller, #action and adventure, #terrorists, #London

Hard Target (5 page)

“Trust me.” Letting go of her arm, I hold out my hand. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Once more she takes my hand and we dart up the flight of stairs that leads to the roof. The air is blistering cold and a heavy wind is coming in from the north. It won’t be the most rash decision I’ve ever made, but it comes pretty damn close. Unfortunately, I have no choice.

“Please tell me you know how to fly a helicopter,” she says, eying PharmGen’s sleek, silver model.

“I don’t, actually, and my cousin who does wouldn’t get here in time to help us.” I pull her to the west side of the roof, where I’ve hidden a bag for such emergencies as this in an underused air vent. “So plan B it is.”

An assassin is always prepared.

My brother’s teachings are always with me. Having learned from the best, I have an emergency bag stashed at the top of every building I’ve ever spent a length of time in, including the one I live in.

Releasing Morgan, I yank the outer grate off and reach inside. My bag is still there, hanging from a metal hook that I installed on my first day of work, under the guise of installing security cameras.

“What’s in there?”

I pull out the tandem BASE jumping equipment from the backpack and shake it out. “Our exit strategy.”

“We have to jump?” Stark fear widens her eyes. “I don’t know if I can do that.”

I shrug into the harness, double-checking it for safety before I make her turn around and secure her to me. “I know, but please be a brave girl for me, yes?”

She gazes up at me. “I don’t have any other choice, do I?”

The door bursts open, men spilling out.


We run for the side of the roof, and as we get closer, I worry about Morgan freezing up. “You can do this,” I assure her.

She trips.

We stumble.

The men see us.

“I’m sorry,” Morgan cries, pushing against me. “I’m so sorry.”

I don’t answer her. In tandem BASE jumping, one would step off the side of a building or bridge, but I don’t have time.

I launch us into the open air.

Chapter Five


e’re free falling.
I can’t see a thing and the air is whipping in my ears as we race toward the ground.

Then again, I have my eyes squeezed shut so tight that I’m liable to burst a blood vessel or three, which will happen anyway when we hit the ground.

I hear a whistling sound, followed by a grunt from Ben.

“Are you okay?” I scream.

“For now.”

He moves his arms, then we’re tugged upward so abruptly that it feels like someone’s kicked my chest and sent me shooting backwards.

My eyes fly open.

I gasp against the pain, trying to suck in air, then scream again as a building looms in front of us. Forget the street, we’re going to make out with glass like a bug on a windshield during rush hour.

Whether it was a change in the wind direction or Ben controlling the chute, we somehow manage to avoid it. We miss the next building as well, and I allow myself to relax, to trust that he will keep me safe. I glance over my shoulder at him. His face is hard, gaze locked on the London skyline. His hands are fisted around two black pulls, and I realize that is how we’ve escaped smashing into buildings. He’s flying us.

I feel something hot and wet on the back of my leg. I want to touch what’s there, but I’m too scared to let go of the harness strapping me to him.

The ground is rushing up to meet us, but it’s not made of pavement and cars. Instead I see green patches and large trees.

“Bushy Park,” he shouts.

I nod, unsure that he even needs me to, but I want to do something other than just dangle.

“Pick up your legs,” he orders.

I lift them so high that I’m sure everyone below can see not just the color of my panties but the kind of waxing I get done each month.

We land, and I want to kiss the ground until all I can taste is dirt.

Benjamin stumbles and I lower my legs to help catch him, almost toppling over. Finally, everything comes to a stop.

The parachute falls behind us, a great, big billowy pile of black and white material. He unhooks it from his harness, gathers it up and shrugs off a backpack, only to shove the material inside.

There are grooves around his mouth and his eyes keep scanning the distant tree line. He looks hard, dangerous. Far too dangerous for me, but what choice do I have?

Besides, he landed us between rows of trees. I’m doubtful that many experts could have performed so well, especially under pressure.

“No one noticed us,” he says, his gaze flicking to me. “This is a common sight for landings.”

“Oh.” I wring my hands then stop, because it’s stupid. “Where to next? The police?”

“No.” He slips his backpack on and grabs my hand. “Safe house.”


Our walk to
Benjamin’s safe house is uneventful.

Praise Jesus.

Strangely enough the house is in a ritzy neighborhood, like the kind in the movie
Notting Hill
. Does Benjamin have celebrities for neighbors? Do they invite each other over for tea? I can only imagine him there, pinky finger extended as he oh-so-politely chats about the weather, and all the while his very dangerous gun is sitting in the middle of the tea car, as if it was ready for a game of Russian Roulette.

A nervous giggle leaves me.

“What’s so funny?”

“Russian Roulette.”

He eyes me. “You’ve played?”

“Aren’t we playing now?”

“This is not a game to me,” he says in all seriousness.

I look up and down the street again, at the row of houses that are neat and trim with luxury cars in the drive. “Why would you pick this place?” I ask as he opens door.

“Because it’s unexpected.” A ghost of a grin appears on his mouth. “And I won it fair and square in a virtual poker game.”

As soon as we walk inside, he leads me to a living room and I collapse on the sofa. Butterflies are still fluttering in my stomach. All I want to do is sleep and wake up eleven million hours later so I can discover that this has all been a bad dream.

Ben limps across the room, dragging one foot a little.

I sit up. “Did you get hurt?”

“Bullet grazed me, I think.” He begins to strip out of his work suit, right down to a pair of boxer briefs that show more than they conceal. I can’t help but ogle his butt while he bends over to take off his socks.

“Yeah, no entry or exit.” Straightening, he walks to me and pulls me up. “Let’s check you.”

“I didn’t get hit.”

“You might not feel it yet.” He runs his hands over my butt and up the sides of my hips.

I’m certainly feeling that, but I’m not going to let him know. My nipples tighten just in time for him to skim his hands cross my breasts, but his forehead is scrunched in concentration and he keeps moving, so I don’t think he notices.

When he’s done feeling me up from head to shoe, he steps away and holds out his hand. In the center is a small black rectangle that used to be in my skirt pocket.

Outrage fills me. “Did you cop a feel in order to get that?”

“I did.” His jaw tightens. “Mind sharing what’s on this?”

“I have no idea.”

“You stole this from work. You have to know what’s on it.”

“I don’t even know what it is.” I shake my head. “I took it out of the package as soon as Mr. Pinter made that slip. The box it was in, was already torn on one side from when I was crawling all over the floor.”

find out. It’s best if you go ahead and tell me who you’re working for.”

“I work for PharmGen.” I scrunch my nose. “But not anymore. Pretty sure we’re both fired.”

He stares at me for a moment, then closes his hand and drops his arm by his side. “Seriously?”

“Wouldn’t you fire us?”

“Why couldn’t you have left the fucking flash drive in the lab, broke the rules like you did the day before?” I flinch at little at the accusation. “They’ll come after us now and I have no choice but to protect you.” He punches a nearby wall. Bits of plaster and dust fall. “I didn’t want this life again.”

“You used to jump off buildings and kill bad guys?” I say, only half joking.

His muscles tense as he stalks over to me. “There are so many things I used to do, so many things that would scare you.” He grabs my chin, forces my head up as he searches my face. “I have to get my family involved in this. There is no other way.”

“I’m glad you have family to help.” I attempt to smile. “I don’t have anyone.” Not even the grandmother who blamed me for everything bad that happened to our family.

His eyes close for a moment. “I know.” He breathes heavily. “I know.” Strong arms come around me, his hands molding me to him as he strokes my back. “We’re safe for now. No way anyone can find us here. I made sure of it.”

I allow him to comfort me, but I feel like it’s just as comforting to him to hold me like this. As I wrap my arms around his waist, I wonder when was the last time anyone tried to make him feel better.

“My blood is on you and there’s soot in your hair,” he says. “Let’s take a shower.”

I blink at his change in tone. “Together?”

“Yes.” His pale gaze turns hot.

I know where this will lead and I’m perfectly okay with that. Actually, I’m more than okay with it.

Once we’re in the bathroom, I slip out of my clothes, careful not to make their condition any worse since I don’t have anything to change into.

Benjamin watches me with hooded eyes. He’s already got the water running and his boxer briefs are long gone.

My gaze can’t help but roll over his magnificent body. I didn’t know they made men like that, at least not outside of magazines and photo shopped images. He’s as ripped as a professional athlete—maybe a hockey player, but without the worry of dentures—while his face would be the envy of any model or movie star. He should be a movie star, but the gun sitting on the counter by the sink reminds me that he’s so far beyond that realm it’s not funny.

“Do you need help?” he asks, pushing away from the counter to stand in front of me.

I tip my head back to look at him. While I’m not short, I’m not tall either. Like the size of my boobs, hips and butt, I’m average. I guess I could be conceited enough to admit that I have a nice enough figure and I know how to dress for it. Even my granny always said I had a dancer’s body.

Although I never was too sure if she meant exotic or ballerina.

“How tall are you?”

“Six three.”

“Good to know.”

He lifts me up on the counter, then bends over to check the bottom of my feet, something he neglected earlier when he was busy searching for the flash drive. “Why is that?”

“Shopping trips?”

“Feet are fine.” He moves between my legs. “Shall I remove your lingerie?”

“I can do it.” I undo the clasp of my favorite bra and my breasts spill out. Ben pushes the straps over my shoulders, then lowers his head to run his tongue over the indentations on each side. “Oh gosh that feels

He cups my breasts, massaging them gently while brushing his thumbs over the tips of my nipples. “You’re not nude.”

Heat spreads through me, starting at my core. My clit is pulsing, aching to be touched as I wriggle out of my underwear. He doesn’t stop his maddening caress, nor does he put his mouth on me. His large cock juts out, the head beading with moisture.

“There are condoms behind the glass door. Get a couple.”

He begins to kiss the side of my neck, and I struggle to concentrate on opening the medicine cabinet. I end up knocking everything off the first shelf in my haste until finally, I grab the familiar shapes and pull them out.

Letting go of my breasts, he takes the condoms from me and sets all but one on the counter, then rips it open. I watch as he rolls it down the impressive length of his erection. His fingers touch my bare skin, the tips skimming my clit.

I cry out, leaning forward and wanting more.

He grabs his cock at the base and rubs the tip against me. I’m not surprised at all when the latex becomes wet from the slickness between my thighs. With his free hand, he pulls me to the edge of the counter and uses my own weight against me. Slowly, I slide onto him, impaling myself.

In this position, my toes scrape the floor and the edge of the counter is biting into my butt, but I don’t care, because he’s moving inside of me.

My head falls back and his hand slams against the countertop. I wrap my arms around his neck and roll my hips, trying to take in more of him, all of him.

He stops moving altogether. “My pace, not yours.”

“But I want more,” I protest and he covers my mouth with his. I plunge my tongue inside, intent on proving to him that I don’t need a man in charge of me, that I am fully aware of—

The head of him hits my sweet spot and I moan into his mouth.

“That’s it, love,” he whispers against my lips.

Grabbing one of my hips, he starts to move faster, plunging his cock so deep inside of me that I can feel him all the way down to my toes. With a groan, he picks me up and walks us into the shower, leaning me against tiles warmed by the water.

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