Authors: Leah Braemel
To N and J, who shared their fears and grief with me to help bring Chad and Lauren’s story alive. To my husband and sons for making dinner too many nights to count, and for learning how to corral the dust bunnies by themselves (even though they may not realize they’ve now set a precedent).
Life couldn’t get any better. Chad Miller soaked in the sight of his baby daughter in her mother’s arms. Even from where he stood in the doorway, he could see Emily’s lips drawn into a bow, moving as if she was still suckling. The light from the bedside lamp limned Lauren, gilding her hair that spilled over her shoulder. Had any man ever been so lucky?
“Hey, babe,” he said softly so he wouldn’t disturb Emily.
Lauren turned her head and gave him a smile worthy of a Madonna. “I didn’t hear you come in. Everything go okay?”
“It went down perfect. We got the guy.” Pride swelled in him as she carefully placed Emily in her cradle beside their bed. “Got some other good news too. You’re looking at the Bureau’s newest Supervisory Special Agent.”
With a squeak of joy, Lauren ran toward him, heedless of the way the light turned her nightgown transparent. His cock hardened as he watched the V of her legs open and close with each step she took. No, not a Madonna. A siren. With a body to tempt any man. Except he was the only man who got to explore her sensuality.
He wrapped his arms about her and held her tight. God, he was so lucky to have them both. “I love you, baby.”
She pulled back and gave him a cocky grin. “That’s just because you hope to get lucky tonight.”
“I’m lucky every night. Ever since you came into my life.”
“I love you too. And I’m so proud of you.” She kissed him, her lips soft on his, her tongue demanding entrance. He drew a deep breath, reveling in the lingering scent of Lauren’s shampoo mixed with a hint of the baby powder she’d used on Emily. Her pelvis ground against his erection until he broke off the kiss with a groan.
Okay, so life could get better in one way. He glanced at the cradle as he stroked Lauren’s behind, trailing one finger down the cleft in the center. “Em down for the night?”
“Mmm-hmm.” The edges of Lauren’s eyes crinkled with her smile. She pulled back to look at him, the warm brown irises glowing like a twenty-year-old scotch
in the dim light. Then he noticed the dark circles beneath them.
With a frown, he rubbed a thumb over her jaw, loving how she rested her cheek in his palm. “You’re tired, babe. Why don’t we arrange a babysitter for tomorrow night? Go out, indulge in some grown-up games for a change.”
His balls ached at the thought that he’d not be able to celebrate right damned then. He’d been half-hard ever since the take-down. The adrenaline hadn’t eased since he’d received news of his promotion and he’d been looking forward to this all night.
She cast a glance of her own at the cradle. “I’m all right, as long as we can be where I can keep an eye on her.” Her hand drifted down his abdomen to smooth the fabric straining over his erection. The tiny dimple that only appeared on the right side of her smile deepened. “Besides, I think we need to take care of this bad boy soon or you’re not going to sleep tonight.”
“Not without a hand job in the shower.” He released a slow breath when she unzipped his fly and stroked his cock. His fingers threaded through her hair, loving the feel of the silken strands against his skin. “Hell, you keep that up, I’m going to come right here.”
With another hmm, Lauren sank to her knees. Two seconds later, his pants were around his ankles, his cock bobbing inches away from her face.
Warm breath was quickly followed by the moist heat of her mouth as she licked his crown. Her lips closed around his shaft in one swallow, wrenching a groan from him. They’d been together long enough they didn’t need words; she knew instinctively what he liked. He tightened his grip on her hair when she cupped his balls, causing a familiar tingle at the base of his spine.
An animal-like growl rose in his throat as his seed pulsed into the warmth of her mouth. The sensation of her swallowing it around his spasming cock nearly had his knees buckling. Her tongue swiped around the head, licking the last drops of his come as delicately as a cat licking the last of a bowl of cream. She sat back on her heels with a look of satisfaction.
“Come here, babe. Let me take care of you now.” He pulled her to her feet and caressed her mound. His fingers parted her soft folds, sliding through the moisture. He’d never understood why a woman would get off giving head, but Lauren had always been aroused whenever she’d sucked him off.
She buried her face in the crook of his neck, her hips undulating her clit against his fingers. “It’s all right, don’t worry about me.”
The hell with that. He walked her backward until the back of her knees hit the bed. Her head turned, seeking the cradle, but he captured her lips with his. “She’s fine.”
Once Lauren was horizontal, he banded her wrists and hauled them above her head. “Don’t move.”
She started to argue but he kissed her again, cutting off whatever she was about to say. They were both breathless by the time he pulled away. “Don’t. Move.”
He left her there while he opened the bedside table and chose a set of leather wrist restraints. It had been almost a year since he’d let himself take her the way he liked, the way she liked. Since Lauren had first told him she suspected she might be pregnant. He’d been gentle each time they’d made love, ensuring nothing he did would harm her or their baby. But tonight. Tonight there were no excuses not to indulge themselves.
Without being asked, she held up her hands. He kissed the tender skin on the inside of her wrists before he fastened the cuffs around them, then attached the restraints to the headboard. Free to explore at his leisure, he traced a finger around one areola. They were darker, bigger than they’d been before her pregnancy. God, he found it so amazing that she could give life to their child, and such pleasure to him.
Straddling her, he leaned down and kissed her mouth, pouring all the love she’d given him back to her. Beneath him, she shuddered, her hips undulating. His hand drifted over her belly, goose bumps raising wherever he touched. He slid his fingers between her creamy lips and plunged into her pussy. Lauren moaned into his mouth while grinding her clit against his palm.
He broke off the kiss. “Easy, babe. You’ll get what you want in a minute.”
His head dropped to her neck and he feathered kisses down her shoulder. He took his time, paying attention to her breasts, to her belly, to the silvery lines she’d worried made her look ugly. Would she ever believe him when he told her that he loved her stretch marks? That to him they were proof of the love they’d shared? Of their daughter.
He settled between her thighs. Her whole body trembled when his tongue touched her clit. His cock hardened, and his balls ached at the taste of her honey. He drove her up to the brink, backed off, then drove her up again until her juices coated his chin and she was begging him to let her come. His fingers working deep inside her, he lifted his head. Her cheek rested on the pillow, her shoulder-length hair a golden halo in the light. “Look at me, babe.”
Her head turned as if it were a struggle to move. He watched her eyes unfocus as he sucked her clit. Her lips parted as she panted in short, hard bursts. He flicked his tongue against the nerve endings once, twice, with the strength he knew would tip her over the edge. The long expanse of her neck arched cutting off his view as her pussy spasmed around his fingers.
Before her muscles stopped their fluttering, he surged into her. Although they both tried to be quiet, he couldn’t stop his groan. Damn, her pussy was still taut, clutching his cock with a welcoming warmth, the lingering remains of her orgasm driving him insane.
Lauren wrapped her legs around his waist and nailed his ass with her heels, pulling him even deeper. “Please,” she whispered.
He closed his eyes and stopped moving, summoning his control over his need to plunge into her over and over, to use her hard and fast. He slid his hands beneath her silky, firm globes, adjusting the angle before withdrawing, inch by slow inch. Just as slowly as he’d withdrawn, he pressed back in, until she was whimpering, her body shaking with need.
No matter how rigid his control, soon he was flexing his hips until the bed frame bounced against the wall, burying every inch of himself into the most sublime place on earth. The sensation of her heated channel rippling tight around his cock shattered his restraint. His balls tight to his body, he buried his face between her breasts and let his need for Lauren, his pride and his love, pour into her.
His body sagged on her until he gathered the strength to roll over. He reached up and undid the restraints. As soon as she was free, Lauren curled inside his embrace. A breath, maybe two, and she was asleep, her lips parted, her eyelashes long on her cheeks.
He started to rouse her, wanting to take her again, but the circles beneath her eyes stopped him. Emily hadn’t been waking for the two-o’clock feeding for a month now, but Lauren still seemed exhausted even though she usually managed at least six hours uninterrupted sleep most nights. He stroked her breast, thumbing the heavy nipple that beaded beneath his touch. Hell, he chastised himself, she was feeding a child, that would be enough to make anyone tired.
He glanced over Lauren’s shoulder and saw the gentle rise and fall of Emily’s chest as she slept. She’d flipped over onto her stomach, a trick that left him inordinately proud. Why he should be so proud of something every child had to learn to do, he couldn’t say. Soon she’d be sitting up by herself, then standing, then walking. Talking. Calling him Daddy.
God, he couldn’t wait for that day.
Lauren shifted in her sleep with a quiet murmur and he lay down again, holding her in his arms. Life really was good, he thought as he drifted off to sleep.
And awoke to Lauren screaming.
Lauren stepped from the Brigade’s jet onto the tarmac, glad to be standing on firm earth after being in the air for almost ten hours. The smog-shrouded Washington Monument across the Potomac drew her attention, a calming beacon saluting her return. Would its people be as welcoming?
A sleek, black stretch Humvee limo sat with its engine running less than thirty feet away. The driver got out, his windbreaker unbuttoned to allow easy access to the weapon he always wore. After a quick check of the area, he opened the back door, allowing the devil himself to step out.
Cooper Davis straightened his French cuffs and smoothed his perfectly pressed Armani suit before nodding to his driver. Anyone meeting him for the first time might buy his cover as an unassuming businessman, intent only on making a killing on Wall Street; she knew better. He strolled across the pavement with confidence and nonchalance, as if he were about to greet an old lover. Something he’d once suggested. To this day she hadn’t decided if it had been a test or a sincere proposition.
She turned her face when he bent down to kiss her so his lips brushed her cheek. One dark eyebrow quirked up at her evasion. “Welcome back, Lauren.”
“I’m done, Cooper. I want out.” Saying the words both soothed the jumbled thoughts in her brain while setting free the butterflies in her stomach.
“I figured you’d say that.” He gestured toward the Humvee. “Let’s sit inside while we discuss your future, shall we?”
She followed him to the Humvee, taking a seat facing him so she could read his facial expressions. As soon as the door closed behind them, sealing them into Cooper’s bulletproof, soundproof world, he leaned forward. “There’s a problem you should know about before you start planning on retiring.”
to Cooper could mean anything from a paperwork snafu to the start of the next world war. From the way every cell in her body went on alert, it was probably more the latter than the former. “I was right, wasn’t I? Someone in the Brigade was behind those attacks.”
“Yes.” He stared out the window, his eyes narrowed. “Frank Harris.”
She sucked in her breath. Of all the Brigade’s operatives, Harris was both their best marksman and their best tracker. He was also currently the most unstable.
“From what we can gather, he discovered it was you who filed the complaint. He’s declared war on you, Lauren.”
“I need to leave then. Find a bolt hole. New York. L.A. San Francisco. Somewhere I can get lost in a crowd.”
Cooper nodded slowly. “It might work. But it’s also possible that Harris will try to get at you through people you care about, Lauren. What’ll you do then?”
People she cared about? She’d long been estranged from her only sister and her mother had died a decade ago. Which left… “Chad?”
“It’s a distinct possibility.”
No. It couldn’t be. Hadn’t she screwed up Chad’s life enough without making him the target of a vengeful ex-CIA operative? “But we’re divorced. We’ve been divorced for almost seven years now.”
“Harris was there when you and Thalia had that blow-up a couple months ago. He knows you didn’t want the divorce, and he knows you still love Chad. It’s possible he’ll use Chad as a way to control you or hurt you.”