By Emmy Curtis
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 1, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
But when her wedding erupts in gunfire, Sadie Walker realizes this is not the life she wants-her fiance’s work with Delta Force will always cast a shadow over their relationship. After leaving the hard-muscled hero at the altar, she thinks she’ll never see him again . . . until a chance encounter reveals that he still has a strong grip on her heart.
On a covert assignment overseas, Simon Tennant is shocked when he spots Sadie with another man. Jealousy flares, as does an irresistible urge to keep her protected. Amid a dangerous game of international espionage, he’ll have to convince Sadie just how perfect they’ve always been together. This time, nothing will take precedence over winning her back, no matter the cost to his cover-or his life . . .
One year ago.
You got laid last night, didn’t you?” Simon Tennant asked as he recognized the look on his friend’s face. He’d seen it many times before. A cross between “holy hell, I’m lucky” and “what the fuck did I just do?” “I don’t know how you do it, man.”
Matt Stanning grinned as he fastened his seat belt. “Gotta love weddings,” he said. “They make chicks crazy.”
“But mine? You couldn’t keep it in your pants until I was safely on my honeymoon? You better not have hit and quit one of Sadie’s friends, or I’ll never hear the end of it!” He was lying. His fiancée had a soft spot for Matt. In truth, Sadie had a soft spot for a lot of people; it was one of the things he loved about her.
Simon took a deep breath, barely believing still that she was about to become his wife. A sense of peace was blooming in his body, almost as if he were dying and being drawn to the light. No wait—way wrong analogy. He came up empty for anything better. He checked his watch. In four hours, Sadie Walker would become Mrs. Simon Tennant, and his life would finally be complete.
She was his anchor in the crazy world he worked in. The calm in the storm that raged through his professional life. After every mission, his only focus was getting home to her. Home. Sadie. He needed her in his life like a fire needs oxygen. He’d always thought that having a significant other would dull his desire to take the fight to the enemy, but that never happened. If anything, knowing he had her to come home to made him a better operative. Simply, his life was exponentially better with her in it. And he was about to make that permanent.
“So who was it?” He flashed a look at Matt, whose smile faltered just a little.
“You know, I’m not even sure she gave me her right name. Harry? Henrietta? Something like that.” Matt was frowning now.
“She’s Sadie’s maid of honor. Her friends call her Harry,” Simon said as he shifted down to turn on the road to Sadie’s parents’ house. He was a little intimidated to be in the home of the director of the CIA. As if getting married wasn’t nerve-racking enough.
“Funny, she told me I should call her Henrietta.”
Matt looked so perturbed Simon couldn’t help but laugh. He was about to explain a little about her history, when he noticed the security barriers in the middle of Sadie’s driveway were up, rendering it impassable.
“What’s going on?” Matt asked as Simon pulled on the hand brake and got out of his car.
“No idea.” Behind him he could hear Matt getting out of the car too.
“Excuse me,” he called to a patrolling security man in black.
The man did a double take and looked around him as if seeking assistance. Then he placed his hand on his sidearm and approached the gate.
“Something’s not right,” Simon said in a low voice to Matt.
Matt stayed silent.
“Can I help you?” the security man said in a careful voice.
“Hi there. Can we come in?”
“No one is allowed. Private. Come back later.” The security man was sweating.
Simon could sense that Matt was about to explain that Simon was the groom, so he cut in. “Okay, no problem. We’ll come back this afternoon.”
They got back into the car and Simon threw it into reverse and slowly backed down the driveway. He rolled down his window and put the radio on loudly. As soon as he did that, the security man turned and walked away. There was nothing like music to divert attention and suspicion.
“Ukrainian?” Matt asked.
“I’d say southern Russian. He’s not a member of the director’s security team or the family’s. Something’s wrong.”
Simon’s Delta Force training immediately took over. He turned to Matt. “I’m going in.”
Matt didn’t hesitate. He shrugged out of his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “How do you want to play this?”
“Not quite sure yet, but at least I’ve brought some toys to the party.” Simon flashed a wolfish grin.
“Music to my ears.”
Simon parked the car far enough up the road that it was out of sight from the house. They jumped out as Simon popped the trunk with his fob and pulled aside the floor to reveal an array of small weapons.
“Dude, you shouldn’t have,” Matt said as if he’d been presented with the best gift ever.
Simon wanted to laugh, but in truth, he had only one thing on his mind and he was deadly serious about it: Get to Sadie. “Take extra ammo and the silencers. We have no idea how many of them there are.”
They took their weapons of choice. “Are you absolutely sure we’re not going to scale the wall and jump down in the middle of your mother-in-law-to-be’s garden party?” Matt said.
It was possible. But his gut told him different. “You haven’t met Sadie’s mom. This would also be an entirely appropriate reaction to her.” He chambered a round and held Matt’s eyes. “You sure you’re okay with this?”
Matt looked away, unconcerned. “Hey, this is what we do. Let’s go get our girls.”
Simon nodded once and the two approached the wall around the property, smoothly scaled it, and started scoping out the grounds as they made their way to the house. Sadie was in there.
His Sadie. If anything happened to her…
Simon slid around the side of the wedding tent in the backyard. As he rounded the front, he found two men, guns holstered and smoking. He showed himself, just on the slim chance that they were the director’s guards. They went for their guns immediately, and he shot both of them in the forehead, barely registering the hits. He swung around instinctively to cover his back, but no one was there. He dragged the two men into the tent and closed the front flaps.
“Delta Lima, check in,” a voice said over the walkie-talkie fastened to one of the men’s belts. Answer or not answer?
Simon took a breath. “Da.”
There was a long pause, and then the person at the other end clicked his SPEAK button in acknowledgment.
The tent flap moved, and he nearly took a shot. It was Matt. He needed to get a fucking grip on his emotions is what he needed to do right now.
“There are two on the right side of the house. One has a tablet or something that he seems to be monitoring. He’s our mark, the one we need to question,” Matt said, casting his eyes over the dead men on the ground.
“Copy that. It’ll be my pleasure,” Simon replied. The faster they got this done, the faster he could get to her. Damn it—why didn’t we elope?
He exited the tent first. The lawn area was still empty. He ran for the house, so they could take the two men without the exposure of a direct approach. The guards were so focused on their tablet that Simon felt they could have just ambled up and asked them the time. Still, where was the fun in that?
He rounded the corner. “Hi there,” he said.
About eight minutes later, they were inside the house, Simon taking the final kill-shot to end the immediate danger. “Where’s Sadie?” he asked her brother, James. James pointed to the corridor behind him and Simon didn’t hesitate. He needed eyes on her. As he approached her bedroom, she emerged, fear etched on her face.
“Oh my God, Simon. Thank God. I didn’t know…” She dissolved into sobs that she stifled against his neck. His arms went around her. He was never letting her go. Never letting her out of his sight.
“Simon, we need you,” James said. “My father is still in his study with two of the gunmen.”
He looked up; Matt, James, and James’s fiancée were all locked and loaded, waiting at the top of the stairs for him. “I have to go.”
“No—don’t leave me. Please don’t leave—” she begged, and his heart just about cracked open. But Simon had no choice. It was his duty.
“I’ll be right back. I promise.”
She pulled away from him, makeup running down her face. “I can’t, Simon. This…” she gestured at the dead man. “I can’t…”
“Look at me. I’ll be right back.” He kissed her on the forehead and stalked down the corridor toward the others. He looked back as they took the stairs. She was hugging her younger sister, eyes squeezed shut, sobbing. A part of his heart fell away into darkness. Who would leave anyone suffering like that, let alone the woman he loved? But he had a duty. A duty to protect the United States from enemies, foreign and domestic. And country came first. Always.
Ten minutes later, all the bad guys had been disposed of, but Sadie’s brother had been shot. Simon ran from the scene to Sadie, but she was already outside staring at the dead bodies in the exact place they would have said their vows. One look in her eyes told him that they weren’t going to get married that day.
“Sadie, please—just listen,” he said, preempting anything that was going to come out of her mouth.
“I can’t. I’m sorry. I see now what you do every day that you’re not with me. This is what you do every time you leave me.” She pointed at the knocked-over flower arrangements and the bloodstained aisle carpet.
“Please, I just need to explain—” An ambulance’s sirens interrupted his plea.
Sadie’s eyes flashed with horror. “Who…?” She looked at the front door.
Simon cursed himself. “I’m sorry; James was shot. I think he’ll be fine, though.”
“What?” She took a deep breath and then swallowed. “I have to go see him.”
“I know.” He could feel the distance between them already. He’d been worried about this the whole time they’d been dating. He never told her exactly what he did on a day-to-day basis. And now he’d never have to. It was here, in her family home, the dead bodies and blood that she would never be able to unsee.
“We’ll talk. Later maybe,” she said softly.
He reached in to kiss her good-bye, but she flinched away, shattering his heart into a million dark pieces. Suddenly he was alone, ice cold, with blood on his hands. Literally.
In that second, he knew with absolute certainty. No matter how much they’d talk, it would end the same way.
* * *
Sadie watched the nurses and doctors flit about the ICU with a detachment that she fought against. She needed to be here for her brother. Mentally and emotionally here.
She knew that no matter what she and Simon said, whatever they would discuss, it was over. The blood, his ability to leave her when she begged him not to, the blood. She’d known that he was in the black ops field of the army since the day she’d received her beautiful engagement ring, but now she’d seen him kill someone. Without giving his victim a second look. And then she’d gone outside and seen the blood all over the floorboards, carpet, and chairs where they’d expected to take their vows—she looked at her watch—two hours ago. There couldn’t really be a clearer sign that this was not meant to be.
“Hey.” His voice made her jump.
She looked up at him for a long time, not knowing what to say, where to start. Just seeing him there bought tears to her eyes. She had loved him so much. Maybe she still did, but his job was so dangerous, and so brutal, how long would it be before he was killed or something would happen that would change things for them forever? And even if it didn’t, he would always be leaving her. He already treated his job as his wife and Sadie as his mistress, and now she knew for sure what he’d always left her for: death and destruction.
“Is he okay?” Simon asked as he sat next to her.
She nodded, looking straight ahead at the nurses’ station, not daring to meet his eyes in case she just threw herself into his arms.
“But we’re not, are we?” he said.
Sadie couldn’t bring herself to nod or shake her head. Any movement would take the conversation somewhere she didn’t want it to go, couldn’t bear it to go.
“What happened? Look at me, damn it,” he said, pain in his voice. “You can’t just cut and run on our wedding day.”
She took a deep breath, praying her voice wouldn’t break and her chin wouldn’t quiver, and turned toward him. “You cut and run all the time. When I had the flu, when we were just about to leave to go to Samantha and Jake’s wedding, when we were supposed to take that vacation to Santa Barbara…movie dates, dinner dates. Your cell phone would chime and I knew I’d be on my own again. And I didn’t mind too much. I knew you had an important job. But…” She swallowed, trying to keep her shit together. “Now I know what you do. Every time you leave me, it was to go kill someone, walk into danger…and I can’t compete with that—I don’t even want to.”
Simon was silent, his eyes searching hers.
She blinked slowly and turned back around to face the nurses’ station again. The nurse who had rushed James into the operating room appeared but didn’t look at Sadie. When the nurse disappeared again, she turned back to Simon.
He was gone.
For a second she couldn’t breathe, and then oxygen stuttered through her lungs and heaved out once, as sobs came from her stomach, her soul. He never once hesitated to fight for his country, but he refused to fight for her. She shook, and wept, and couldn’t stop.
Not for a long, long time.
Simon Tennant did a mental double take when he saw Sadie. He wasn’t unprofessional enough to actually physically look at her again, but he ducked into a neighboring tourist shop to buy a postcard so he could take a breath and walk out and reassure himself that his brain must have been playing tricks.
Because there was absolutely no fucking way he’d just walked past his ex-fiancée, in fucking Athens, making out with another man. One who looked to be half Simon’s age. Okay, maybe not half his age, but quite a few years younger. His fists clenched at the thought.
He walked past them again, reading the blank back of the postcard he’d just bought. Sure, her hair was shorter and lighter, but yeah, that was Sadie. Was she on vacation? What the hell was she doing there?
His brain struggled to get itself around the clusterfuck this whole trip had become. His assignment was supposed to be watching the Russian finance minister—keeping notes on whom the man met with and where he went. But most of Simon’s intel so far was all about the guy’s love life. He was having multiple freaking affairs and was trying to move around the city for his little rendezvous without being spotted.
And now, complicating things even more, Sadie was here too?
Well, okay then. She’d obviously moved on, and why shouldn’t she have? He’d been a shit fiancé. Every time he’d needed her, she’d been there for him, and the times she’d needed him, his country had needed him more. Maybe he should have fought for her—he’d spent the best part of the past year wondering if he’d let go too easily—but he’d still have been in the same position: needing to defend his country. Calling off the wedding on the actual day had been a mutual agreement.
Okay, actually it had been her decision.
Then why haven’t you moved on? He was concentrating on his work—that’s what he’d been doing for the past year or so. He’d been promoted once and had been taking on more and more missions for CAG—what people usually thought of as the US Army’s Delta Force.
Normally the missions were in war zones. Maybe 80 percent of the time. But sometimes something needed to happen on foreign soil that had to be able to be disavowed if the shit hit the fan. This was one of those occasions.
While Simon was keeping tabs on the Russian finance minister and getting the lay of the land, the rest of his team was gearing up. A four-man unit, they were virtually invincible. With the shorthand they’d developed, they barely needed to speak at all when the mission was hot. They’d worked with each other for so long that no one had to guess how the others would react to anything. It was the most comfortable he’d ever been.
Except for when he’d been in Sadie’s bed. And heart. And…Fuck this shit. Nope. He wasn’t concerned at all what she was doing here or whom she was doing it with. She was out of his head. Out of his everything.
* * *
When he stopped kissing her, Platon touched the front of her T-shirt with a smile. He loved her in it, which was why she’d been wearing that particular T-shirt—the one her father had banned her from wearing when she was sixteen—when she’d picked him up. Frankly, she was just happy it still fit, albeit a little tighter than it had been on her adolescent body.
“What are you doing tonight?” she asked him after taking her first sip of cold beer.
His eyes slid away from her. “Just meeting my friends. I should be free later if you want to get together.”
Hmm. She smiled. “It depends how late it is…I have no idea what you do with your friends that takes so long.” She pouted gently. She knew exactly where he would be. He’d be attending a meeting at a house in the Exarcheia neighborhood. The area was widely known as a hotbed for Greek anarchists. And it was her job to keep him close.
But Platon wasn’t a regular anarchist—at least his group wasn’t. As soon as the details of the G20 meetings had been released, along with the hotel where the dignitaries would be staying, Platon had applied for a job. The United States had picked up copies of all the new applications and profiled them. She had been part of the profiling team, working from her desk at the fake construction company she told everyone she worked at, but something had stuck out about this young man. Something had been off. The subjects he studied at school, the fairly high-paying jobs he’d had before he applied to be a security guard. It had tingled her “Spidey-sense,” which is why she had made herself interesting to him.
She’d dug out her Hello Kitty T-shirt when Platon had spent half an hour in a Japanese manga store. She’d dyed her hair lighter when she’d seen him gravitate toward blondes. And donned glasses when she saw him do a double take at a girl in the street who wore a similar style. In short, she’d made herself perfect for him. Men were so easy.
“Tonight…might be difficult. I think it might be late by the time I finish. Too late for you, my hardworking girl.” He smiled. “Unless you want to stay up all night and play hooky tomorrow. Is that what you call it? Hooky?” He pulled her closer to him and nuzzled her cheek.
God, she hoped he was right and wasn’t confusing “hooky” with “hooker.” “I wish I could, but you know my boss would fire me.” She took a chance. “Stupid American.”
She hadn’t specifically told him she wasn’t American, but she had a Canadian flag on her backpack. “He’s American?” Platon perked up a little, interest percolating in his eyes. “That explains why he works you so hard. Americans, they rely on slave labor, right? All over the world.”
Ah. A typical anarchist talking point. She didn’t answer him but leaned in to kiss him on his mouth. He groaned lightly and held her head to him as he slowly rubbed his semi-open mouth over hers. Teasing her, she supposed. She smiled against his mouth and let him kiss her again.
All Sadie’s attention was on Platon. “Why don’t we get together after your meeting?” She nuzzled his neck, feeling his pulse quicken beneath his skin. “Or maybe you can take me there? I want to share things with you, Platon. Don’t you want to share things with me too?” The tip of her tongue flicked his earlobe.
His voice cracked under the suggestion. “Maybe. Maybe next time? I’ll ask.”
“You can tell them all about me…I don’t mind,” she said. She really wanted him to tell his friends that she was in the construction industry. No industry except arms dealing had more access to explosives than the construction industry. She thought that might make them interested in her.
“Maybe you can meet me outside this time?” His hand strayed to her thigh as he shouted something to their waiter.
The aproned man arrived with a piece of paper and a small pencil. Platon dashed down an address, different from the one she’d followed him to before. “Meet me here at ten tonight. I’ll take you dancing after.” His voice got husky, and she wondered if he was planning regular dancing or horizontal dancing.
She looked at her watch. “Okay, sweetie. I’ll see you in a few hours. For dancing.” She grabbed her bag, planted a kiss on the top of his head, and giggled a little as she squeezed out of their table. Her butt brushed against his arm as she slipped by him and she felt him lean into it.
As she walked away, turning and waving like a good girlfriend would do, she wondered how long and how far she could lead him on. She had to wait until she’d been at a meeting before she could turn him into an asset. He had to have something to lose. And that would be vouching for an undercover CIA officer at a meeting—her. From what she understood, the anarchist group he was into was less like a true political group and more like a motorbike gang—lawless and for hire. She was sure Platon had been placed inside the G20 hotel to wreak some damage to the meetings and the dignitaries attending them.
She needed to see her station chief.
Look, sweetheart, every CIA field officer rookie thinks they have a lead on some terrorist. Every single one. You’re all fresh off The Farm, eager to make a difference, but ninety-nine percent of the time, you’re just plain reaching.” Director Lassiter bit down on the end of an unlit cigar, then made a face and pulled some tobacco from his mouth and grunted. “If these are Cubans, I’m fucking Fidel Castro.”
Sadie Walker took a breath and wished she wasn’t still wearing her Hello Kitty T-shirt. Nothing like a tiny pink T to confer gravitas and trustworthiness. “Sir, I’m not reaching. I’ve been talking to a man who is part of the security team at the hotel where the president will be staying, and—”
“Ms. Walker. You’re here as a favor to your father. Don’t make me regret that. By the way, is he coming over to visit? I have a few things I want to show him.” For the first time that day he looked positively alert and eager.
Damn him. Damn her father, and damn the CIA. “Of course, sir. I’ll be sure to ask.” Sadie quietly turned on the plush carpet and exited her boss’s office. There was no point even trying to get through to him. And half of her wondered if her father, the director of the CIA, had asked her boss to keep her in an office somewhere out of the way. She wouldn’t put it past him. He seemed supportive of her career change, but who really ever knew what he was thinking? He didn’t become the director of the CIA by being easy to read.
Well too bad, Daddy. She’d just have to figure it out herself. Amass enough information that someone would listen to her, even if it wasn’t Director Lassiter.
Until the previous October, she’d been an analyst at Langley, spending her days poring over documents, intercepts, and emails—trying to make links that would give field operatives around the world vital leads. But after her wedding had been rudely aborted by a gunfight at her father’s house, she’d wanted to make a big change. Bigger than a new haircut, which she opted for when she realized she and Simon were over.
- On Sale
- Mar 1, 2016
- Page Count
- 240 pages
- Forever Yours