Authors: Nicola Claire
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Private Investigators, #Romance, #Romantic Comedy, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
Sweet Seduction Surrender
The Fourth Book in the Sweet Seduction Series
By Nicola Claire
Copyright © 2013, Nicola Claire
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organisations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Cover Art by Nicola Claire
Image credit: 123RF Stock Photo
More books by Nicola Claire:
Mixed Blessing Mystery Series
Sweet Seduction Series
Sweet Seduction Surrender
Sweet Seduction Shield (Early 2014)
Elemental Awakening Series
The Soothing Scent Of Earth (Early 2014)
For: Those readers who wanted desperately to hear
Katie & Jason's story and hounded me through Facebook.
This one's for you and keep those requests coming!
The insistent buzz of my cellphone interrupted my concentration. It rattled its way across my desk, making an amusing combination of whirs and chirps, interspersed with one long beep. A text message. I ignored it. If I didn't get this particular proposal finished, my client was likely to throw a hissy-fit.
The one downside to being the interior designer
, was only those customers with deep pockets could afford me. And as we all know, deep pockets often led to demanding people. It didn't make any sense to me. Manners were not something that should fall by the wayside in the presence of a large bank account. Papa would never behave like that and he's one of the wealthiest men in Auckland.
But the newly titled Mrs Montgomery-Smith was not cut from the same cloth as Jacob Anscombe. New money. Ugh! Not that I let Mrs, or Mr for that fact, Montgomery-Smith know that I was on to them. They strove to meet all the requirements of today's
über rich, including the attitude. But, Anscombe Interiors did not concern itself with how people obtained their money, we - or at least me, I'm a one-woman show - aimed to please.
Which meant here I was slaving away on the final presentation of Mrs Montgomery-Smith's sitting room, in order to email the details to her by five. She'd only given me the outline for this particular room five days ago. That didn't stop her from insisting I have the design completed by end of business today though, did it?
It wasn't an unusual request, most people expected miracles to occur in minutes and wanted to pay peanuts for the final product in the end. Not that my final drawings today would be that -
. No, I expected, at a minimum, half a dozen revisions before Mrs Montgomery-Smith was appeased. Still, I'm a professional, I take pride in my work. So, I'd been up since four working on this diligently. Even if my first design was shot down by the woman, it would be a design I was proud of all the same. I never gave less than one hundred percent. Papa taught me that.
My cellphone chirped and whirred and buzzed a few more inches across the polished surface of my desk, this time accompanied by ASI's ringtone; Avril Lavigne's
"Here's To Never Growing Up."
I sighed, hit 'save' on my laptop and picked the phone up, swiping the screen with my thumb to activate the call.
"Darlings," I answered when the line connected, putting as much Katie Anscombe cheer into my voice as I could muster. Considering the early wake-up call and the pressure to get this particular design completed, it was a wonder I could do chirpy at all. "To what do I owe this delightful pleasure?"
"Katie, sweetheart. You didn't answer my text." A genuine smile graced my lips. Somehow Eric's continued flirtations and ridiculous term of endearment for me always made me smile.
"Eric, you know if I had been aware the text was from you I would have replied instantly."
aware a text had been sent to your phone?" he asked, tapping away on a keyboard in the background. Eric, the IT control-room guy at my brother's security and investigations firm, could carry out a conversation, trace a GPS signal and hack into government computers all at the same time.
"I was busy," I admitted. "If someone really wanted me, they'd phone. Evidence of this is in the conversation we're currently having."
"Oh, Katie. If only you knew how much I want you."
I stifled a chuckle. It would only encourage the man.
"What's up, darling?" I asked, getting us back on more stable ground.
Eric sighed. It sounded weighty. "We're on lock-down, sweetheart."
A chill raced down my spine. I could count on one hand how many times my brother Nick has placed ASI and those who fall under its indefinite protection under a lock-down. He'd told me that to do so cost his firm in the region of tens of thousands of dollars each day. Not something he contemplated unless absolutely necessary. And the type of work my brother does, means that to be absolutely necessary, is to be life threatening.
"That's not good news, Eric," I said softly.
"Don't worry about a thing, Katie," he replied instantly. With false bravado I might add. "We're all good here, Adam's at Sweet Seduction with Dom, your parents are out of the country sunning it up as you know in Fiji, so that just leaves you."
"Me," I said uneasily. Just who would they send to protect me?
Eric sighed again. This one wasn't so much weighty as downright ponderous.
"Katie, the closest operative I have to your address is Jason Cain."
I didn't say anything for a moment. I couldn't. My mind had blanked and my heart had faltered. I cursed my ridiculously romantic and utterly misguided heart, but still couldn't find the wherewithal to make a sound in reply to Eric's statement.
"Katie?" Eric asked, his voice breaking through the mild panic attack I was having. "Listen, I know he can be a pain in the butt, but he's very good at what he does," he added.
"I know," I replied. My voice didn't sound like mine.
"Sweetheart," Eric cajoled. "Nick wouldn't think to send someone he didn't absolutely trust."
"It doesn't sound like he had much of a choice, now does it?" I managed to say, in a somewhat recognisable voice. "Being as Jason was the closest operative and all."
"Katie," Eric chastised gently. "
wouldn't send Jason if I didn't believe he could protect you. You've got to know that."
It's not that I didn't think Jason Cain, former Captain in the New Zealand Army's SAS, was capable of protecting me. That wasn't the problem at all. No, Jason was more than capable of taking on a plethora of terrorists with stealth, zeal and a dedication to the task only the elite soldiers of the country's premier military special forces unit could have.
No, my sudden desire to run and hide had nothing to do with Jason Cain's professional abilities, but everything instead to do with the man himself. Not that I would admit that aloud to anyone.
"Of course, darling. Where is he now?"
"Um," Eric stalled. "He's actually on your porch waiting for you to open the front door."
My head swivelled to look out into the hallway off my office, as though I could see the front door from my seat at my desk - which I couldn't. Then to my mortification, my hand went to my hair, to ensure it was suitably presentable and my eyes quickly scanned down the front of my top, seeing if everything was still in place. I closed my lids slowly and shook my head from side to side.
Well fudge. This was not how I had expected today to go at all.
"OK, darling," I said with false cheer. "I had best let him in then."
"Katie," Eric said softly. "As soon as the lock-down's lifted I'll let you know." It was the only solace he could offer and we both knew it.
"You just take care of business there, Eric. I'll entertain the Captain for as long as it takes."
Eric chuckled. "God, now you've got me considering becoming an operative again. If only my heightened level of intelligence wasn't needed in the brains of the organisation, I could have been the one being entertained by you today."
I laughed, my smile returning to my face at last.
"We go where we are needed, Mr Shaw."
"Would you hold it against me if I said I need you, Ms Anscombe?"
"You are incorrigible, darling." A banging started up at the front of the house, my heart skipped several beats and I completely missed Eric's next comeback line.
"Ah, Eric, I better get that."
"OK, sweetheart. I guess there's only so long we can leave him out in the cold." Had Eric been purposely distracting me at Jason's expense? My lips tipped up further.
We both rang off and I carefully put my cellphone back down on the desk. I stared blankly at my laptop screen, which had switched to the screen saver at some time during my conversation with Eric. I watched the cosmic pattern of brightly lit stars for several seconds, then jumped at the sound of further banging on my front door.
Taking a deep breath, I stood up whilst opening my desk drawer and pulling out the sheathed knife I kept hidden there. Nick had taught me to fire a gun, as he had my older brother Dominic. But whereas he allowed Dominic to carry a pistol when needed, he resolutely refused to let me obtain a firearms licence. I understood his reticence, but I also understood the world he now traversed in. I loved my brothers, I knew the reason for their over protectiveness was because they loved me. But I am not one to leave my protection up to others. I like my independence too much. So for the past three years I've been studying Eskrima, or more particularly Arnis and the modern version of knife wielding, Kombatan. A mixture of Filipino and Japanese martial arts.
I could handle a knife as well as Nick could handle a gun. So far I hadn't had cause to use my chosen form of weaponry outside of training. But with ASI on lock-down, and Jason Cain at my front door, there was no time like the present to be prepared.
I walked out of my office and strode with purpose towards the front door and the now insistent banging coming from outside. The glass rattled in the frame with the effort Jason was putting into pounding on it. I rolled my eyes, flicked the blade of my knife up along the sleeve of my shirt to conceal it, and checked the peep hole to make sure the baboon on the other side was who I suspected it was.
"Open up the god-dammed door, Kate."
Yes, Jason Cain, the only person to call me Kate. Not Katie. Not sweetheart. Not even Catherine. But Kate. Short, abrasive and abrupt. That was Jason.
"Don't get your fatigues in a knot, Captain," I muttered under my breath, flicking the lock on the door and taking a hurried step back as Jason barrelled through the opening.
He stood over me with fury in his eyes. I half expected to see steam coming out in puffs from each ear. My lips edged up at the vision.
"You think a lock-down is humorous?" he growled.
I tried not show my amusement. It didn't work.
He took a menacing step towards me, while kicking the door closed with his booted foot. Big thick soled booted foot. The type of boot only military personnel wear. Jason hadn't quite let go of the Army, even though the Army had definitely let go of him.
All levity left me. I flicked a steady gaze up to his face, allowing myself to see what I'm sure he thinks he hides from everyone else. Sadness hid in the corner of his rich chestnut coloured eyes. Sometimes you'd see a deeper chocolate colour, but most of the time the hardness he wears across his façade hides the melted tone and you're stuck with unforgiving chestnut instead.
His lips were pressed in a thin frowning line, creases marred his forehead. Jason wasn't always angry, I'd seen him laughing once or twice with his sister Gen, but around me he can't seem to control his temper, as though I'm the catalyst to his rage, the spark that ignites the fire. Something arced between Jason and me, something electric and dangerous and exciting. It fascinated me and, I think, it scared him. Neither of us willing to test that connection further.
His hair had grown out slightly, I noticed, not quite the buzz cut blond of before. He may still dress like a soldier, but at least he'd embraced a more relaxed look with his hairstyle. Small curls had started to grow at his neck, brushing curved tendrils across unblemished tanned skin. I felt my fingers twitch with a desire to do the same.
I sucked in a shaky breath, tried to ignore my overpowering hormonal response to this man and crossed my arms over my chest in an effort to give as much attitude as I could manage. I'm not known for my attitude, so I was sure the move was lost on him.
Until he spotted the knife.
"What the fuck?" Jason exclaimed suddenly, reaching out in lightning quick moves to capture my hand, thereby immobilising my arm, so he could turn my wrist up and display the long six inch blade clearly.
His fierce eyes came up to mine and stared at me intently. I swallowed thickly under a magnetic trance.
"Planning on gutting me with that, Kate? Careful," he taunted. "You might break a nail."
I don't know why I retaliated. Jason had been pushing my buttons for months now, this current barb was nothing new. Maybe it was the fact that I held my knife, my weapon of choice, while he mocked me that did it. When my fingers wrap around the hilt of a blade I become someone else.
I ran my free hand up his arm, the arm attached to the hand immobilising me. Watched as his nostrils flared at the intimate action, then he released his grasp preparing to pull back. I'd counted on that. You think Kombatan is all about wielding a knife? It's not. The knife is only part of the equation. My instructor took great means to ensure we used
of our skills to overcome an enemy. I wasn't above using my feminine wiles to achieve that goal.
I took advantage of the gap and freedom Jason had created, and flicked the knife out and up under his chin. The tip of the shiny blade dug in infinitesimally. I hadn't drawn blood, but you wouldn't know that by the colourless look to his cheeks.
We both stilled. Neither of us breathing. Then he smirked. A condescending smile meant to unnerve me. I gave as good a glare as I could muster, but the smirk just spread further.