Authors: Lynn Raye Harris
“Oh, Kev, you adorable man. Do you really think I’m so dazzled by your charms that I would forget something so vital?”
“I didn’t give you a chance to say no.”
She kissed him quickly. “Of course you did. And you always will, because you don’t force women to have sex with you. My mouth works, and I could have said no. Plus I’m on the pill, so there’s nothing to worry about there.”
She put her hand over his mouth. “I told you to take what you needed, and I knew precisely what that meant.”
He processed that for a moment. “But I used you. I overpowered you. Why aren’t you pissed?”
She sat up, straddling him, and his mouth went dry at the sight of her beautiful breasts thrusting outward, her curves teasing him, tantalizing him. If he hadn’t just come so hard, he’d be ready to go again in a few seconds.
“You didn’t overpower me. You wouldn’t. How many times do I have to tell you? If I’d screamed, you would have stopped. If I’d cried or fought, you’d have stopped.”
He let out a shaky sigh and put his hands on her thighs. “You’re amazing.”
She shook her head. “No, not really. But I’m learning to be me again. You’ve given me back something I thought I’d lost. Until you, until this… I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to be with a man again. But I can… and I like it.”
He didn’t know if her doubt was because of Al Ahmad or Marco and he didn’t want to know. He swallowed hard and willed his pounding heart to slow down. Willed his brain to engage.
She lowered herself toward him in slow motion. “I just want to spend the rest of the night with you. In your arms…”
Her lips touched his—until a sudden rap on the door made them spring apart like teenagers caught making out.
Kev found his voice first. “Who is it?”
“Billy. Open up.”
Lucky rolled away as Kev swore softly. She was already on her way to the bathroom as he shot out of bed. She turned around and grabbed clothes out of a drawer before hurrying into the bathroom and locking the door behind her. Her heart pounded hard and her hands shook from the adrenaline coursing through her.
Her body—oh, her body—felt hot and melty and on edge all at the same time. She looked at herself in the mirror and blinked. She looked like a woman who’d been thoroughly bedded. Her hair had dried into a mass of curls and stuck up on one side. Her mouth was swollen from kissing, and she had beard burn on her cheek where he’d pressed his face against hers while pounding into her.
Her body ached, but in a good way. She was a bit sore between her legs, but that was to be expected after such ardent, ahem, exercise. Her heart simply turned over when she thought of how it felt to have Kev inside her, moving so powerfully and yet taking care of her needs too. Making sure she came before he did, even though he didn’t have to.
That last time—God, that last time, he’d been so hurt and alone, and she’d wanted to soothe him. She’d known he was on the edge of control, and she’d known she was the only one in that moment who could help him. He’d needed her.
She could hear the rapping on the door again, and Billy’s voice, sounding urgent. Shit, they’d really screwed up this time. And it was her fault. Kev told her he’d been ordered not to sleep with her on this mission, and she’d all but begged him.
She ran a brush through her hair, yanked on her bra, fresh panties, and a pair of jeans and a plain T-shirt. She thought about putting on a little mascara and some lipgloss, but how obvious would that be? Fresh makeup was more obvious than no makeup, so she left the cosmetics alone and waited until she heard voices.
She counted to one hundred and came out of the bathroom. Billy and Kev looked up at the same time. Kev, she noted, had managed to get on his clothes—except his T-shirt was inside out. She bit her lip to keep from groaning and pasted on a smile.
“Hey, Billy, what’s up?”
“You tell me.”
She shrugged. “I had a shower and a nap. I have no idea what Captain America was doing while I slept.” She shot Kev a smile. “But thanks for letting me sleep. I needed it.”
Billy gazed at them both for a long minute. Then he shook his head. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you two, but I’d like for all of us to get out of this fuckhole with our lives. This isn’t the time to forget what we’re here for.”
Kev growled. “No one’s forgetting anything.”
For the first time since she’d come back to HOT, Billy looked pissed. “You sure about that?”
Kev took a step toward him and Billy rocked back as if he expected a fight. She didn’t know if they would fight or not, but Lucky rushed between them and put her hands out. “Stop, both of you. Kev, he’s got a right to say it. And Billy, considering what you’ve just been through with Olivia, I understand why you’re concerned.”
She knew he was worried about her ability to see this mission through, and she understood why. Hell, she’d wondered it herself. But she was determined. She wasn’t going to let any of them down.
“I don’t care what you say about me,” Kev said, “but lay off of Lucky. I think she understands better than any of us what’s at stake here.”
Billy shoved a hand through his hair and took a step back. “Yeah, you’re right. Lucky, I’m sorry.” He pointed at Kev. “Your shirt’s inside out.”
Kev blinked. Then he swore. “So fucking what? Since Lucky was asleep, I slept too. You woke us both up, asshole. I grabbed my fucking shirt and put it on inside out. So what?”
“Kev,” Lucky said evenly, and he looked at her, eyes blazing. “Calm down. It’s no big deal.”
Billy’s jaw tightened. “Look, I came over here because Richie wants a meeting. He’s had intel from HQ. Twenty minutes. Everyone’s coming.”
Kev still looked pissed as he moved away. “We haven’t eaten. Can you stay here with Lucky while I go downstairs and get something?”
Billy shoved his hands in his pockets. “Sure.”
Kev grabbed his ankle holster and wrapped it around his leg. Then he sheathed his knife at his belt and, at the last minute, whipped his T-shirt off and turned it right side out. Lucky looked away, afraid there would be something on his skin, some dead giveaway, though she knew she hadn’t bitten or scratched him.
When he was finished, he gave them both a hard look and then went out the door and shut it behind him. Lucky gave Billy a wan smile and went over to the bed to smooth the covers. She felt self-conscious, and she knew she shouldn’t let it show.
Finally, she turned and sank down on the bed, pulling her legs up cross-legged. “How’s Olivia doing?” she asked.
Billy flopped into a chair. “Good. All hell’s breaking loose at Titan Technology now, but she’ll find another job.”
“Things moved kind of fast between you two, huh?”
Billy smiled. “Unfinished business, I guess. But yeah, it moved fast. She walked back into my life two days before Christmas. Now I’m thinking of picket fences and his-and-hers towels. It’s crazy.”
Lucky laughed. “That’s great.”
His smile faded a bit then. “I miss her and we’ve only been gone a couple of days. I know she’s back home, scared and lonely, and I hate it.”
Lucky threaded her fingers together. “She’ll be all right. You get used to it.” And numb, in a way, but she wasn’t telling him that. Maybe it was just her, but numbness had been a big part of her routine when HOT went out on a mission.
“Yeah, I guess you do.”
He didn’t say anything else, and she knew he was thinking about what it had to be like when the Army came calling with bad news. She’d come home that day to find an unfamiliar car in the driveway. Two Army officers got out. When she’d seen their dress uniforms—and the chaplain’s cross—she’d known. She hoped Olivia never had to go through that.
The door opened then and Kev came back in with a bag that smelled delicious. Lucky’s stomach rumbled and she realized she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
“Chicken and rice,” he said, setting it on a table. “And some other things. I didn’t ask. If it looked good, I bought it.”
She came over to the table and dished out some food on the paper plate he gave her. They ate quickly while Billy sat and talked to them about different things. The tension in the room eased somewhat as they talked normally. The other guys arrived soon after. Everyone looked grim.
Matt leaned against the desk and fixed them all with a look. “No one has claimed responsibility, but the bombings are coming from the Freedom Force. We’ve intercepted one of their communication channels, though we don’t know how long that will last. Al Ahmad sent out the order the day we arrived. We know he’s getting reports about new arrivals in country, but we don’t think he knows who we are or why we’re here. If he did, we think he’d have hit closer to the hotel.”
“Maybe he’s trying to confuse us,” Kev pointed out.
“Yeah, but that bomb today was awfully fucking close,” Hawk said. “It almost turned you and Lucky into jelly.”
Lucky shivered. She’d been trying not to think of how close they’d come to being blown apart, and it had worked so long as she’d been focused on Kev. She didn’t think that going over and sitting in his lap to distract herself would be a good idea right now though.
“If he’d wanted us specifically,” she interrupted, “we’d be dead. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The guys were all looking at her now and her heart thumped. She hoped the beard burn wasn’t obvious as they studied her. But no one said anything about that. They just looked at her like she’d said something important to the conversation. Even Billy. It made her feel warm inside.
“I think you’re right,” Matt said. “And that’s why we’re moving.”
Everyone looked at each other. And then a certain acceptance settled over their features as they processed what he’d said.
“Where to?” Kev asked. “A group of us moving out will be noticeable. What if we’re followed?”
“There are more new arrivals every day with the situation escalating, and there’s a lot of confusion right now. Our CIA contact has found a safe house for us. Besides, there
Americans living and working in Baq, so we won’t stick out as badly as we might otherwise. Right now, the mission’s success hinges on us going about our business, and that’ll be easier to do if we aren’t worried about the safety of this hotel.”
No one argued. They just continued to look grim.
“This hotel is compromised,” Matt said. “We’re moving tonight. Pack your gear.”
They didn’t leave the hotel together. Matt had the team split into three groups, and then they used three different rendezvous points where they were met by a van that took them and their gear to the safe house. It was on a quiet street in a section of town that seemed to be a mixture of middle-class and poor dwellings. Their house was a solid white building that fronted the street as part of a row of houses and apartments. The front was stone, with three windows high up and a large double wooden door that opened to reveal a courtyard, which meant the house was actually at the rear of the structure and not the front.
The van drove through the doors, and Kev breathed a sigh of relief as they passed into a courtyard and the doors swung shut behind them. A much safer and more defensible option than a house on the street.
The back doors of the van opened, and Matt and Hawk were standing there, ready to help with the gear. Kev stepped out and purposely ignored Lucky, though he wanted to offer her a hand and then tug her close. Hawk did it instead—the hand, not tugging her close—and Kev pretended not to notice.
He shouldered his pack and camera gear and then grabbed one of her suitcases. Matt led the way into the house where the other guys were already ranging around the living area and setting up computer equipment and surveillance gear.
“Maybe we should have done this to start with,” Kev said to Matt’s back. Matt tossed a look over his shoulder.
“Not disagreeing with you, but the powers that be thought we’d be less conspicuous in the hotel.”
Kev frowned. “Maybe we would have been, but this certainly feels more like a proper mission.”
Matt started up the stairs and led them to a small room that had two twin beds set up in it. Kev nearly sighed in relief. He’d thought when they moved that he and Lucky would be separated, but nine men and one woman in a house still necessitated bunking up. And since he was the designated bodyguard, he was bunking with Lucky.
Though it might not last long if Billy went to Matt with his concerns.
Not that Kev was going to have sex with Lucky in this room. He set the gear down and turned around. The room was small, and while the walls were stone, he didn’t want to test their soundproofing qualities.
Lucky walked in behind Hawk and set down the small case she was carrying. Their eyes met across the room and he felt a jolt down to his toes. It was hell being with her and not being
her. He wanted to hold her close for the rest of the night, but that clearly wasn’t happening.