Undercover with the hott.., p.1

Undercover with the Hottie (Investigating the Hottie), page 1

 

Undercover with the Hottie (Investigating the Hottie)
 


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Undercover with the Hottie (Investigating the Hottie)


  Undercover with the Hottie

  by

  Juli Alexander

  © 2014 Juli Alexander

  All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights reserved under copyright above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without proper written permission of the copyright owner and publisher of this book.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, media, brands, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication of these trademarks is associated with or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  Chapter One

  All I wanted for Christmas was a hug from my secret boyfriend. Will and I hadn’t seen each other since October. We’d texted, instant messaged, and used the Agency's video-calling app. He lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and I was way too many miles away in Atlanta, Georgia.

  Will wasn’t some creepy internet perv I was hiding from my parents. He was a good guy, like, literally. He and I were spies for Aunt Christie’s agency. Will wasn’t the only thing I was hiding from my parents. They had no idea that I was working for the Agency. Christie promised we’d tell them before she sent me back into the field.

  Will didn’t have to hide his involvement. His mother already knew. She’d been read in back in October when we arrested Will’s grandmother for hacking.

  GASI had called me in to investigate Will, the sixteen-year-old hottie they thought was their target hacker. Despite my absolute lack of social skills, Will and I had become friends and even shared a kiss. You’d think GASI would fire me for falling for the suspect, but they gained two operatives from that mission, Will and his grandma. GASI stands for the Global Agency for Shared Intelligence. And yeah, GASI is pronounced like the word for flatulence.

  Christie had planned to fly down to Atlanta last week to talk to my parents. She’d canceled. I was hoping she’d come soon because I didn’t want have the “spy talk” with my mother after school started back. With the new semester, I’d be far too busy to keep my mother from doing too much thinking about the danger. Mom would have to be carefully managed. My best weapon would be logic. Since my mother was a psychiatrist, and my dad was a law professor, they’d give it serious thought instead of automatically saying no. Regardless, odds were that the answer would be no. My last mission hadn’t been life threatening. In fact, at times, it was almost comical. The truth serum case my aunt and Nic had been working had been more dangerous, and with Grandma's help, we'd taken down the bad guys.

  “Amanda! Are you up yet?” Mom called from downstairs.

  Technically I was up. Mom had plans for us today, so I'd gotten dressed and brushed my hair. Maybe I had stopped halfway through making my bed and crawled back under the covers. It was Christmas break, and I deserved to laze around a little. I summoned enough energy to yell back at her, “I’m up!”

  “We leave in an hour.”

  “Okay!”

  Five minutes to inhale a bowl of cereal. Two minutes for another swipe with the hairbrush. I had fifty-three minutes to snooze. I’d happily give it up to talk to Will, but his family was celebrating Christmas today since his mother had to work tomorrow. Nurses didn’t get many holidays.

  After setting the alarm for 10:23, I pulled my comforter over my head to block out the sunlight and snuggled into my pillow, my hand still clutching my phone. Minutes later I was in that fuzzy world right before falling asleep when the phone vibrated three times in my hand.

  I jolted back to full alert. An Agency communication! Christie must be coming like she’d promised. I kicked my way out of the covers and punched my code into the phone and let it scan my thumbprint. The message appeared on the screen.

  Instead of a text from my aunt, my phone showed a series of images. A hand pulling a fire alarm, a Christmas tree with 24 hours written over it, a cityscape, and a line of flags. New York, maybe? Was it the United Nations? The day after Christmas? They couldn’t be serious. I couldn’t leave for New York in forty-eight hours for a mission. I hadn’t talked to my parents yet.

  My adrenaline had kicked in with the first image, and I paced my room, staring at my phone and willing it to provide more information.

  “Amanda,” Mom called. “Is there something you forgot to tell me?”

  Yes. A whole lot. My phone refused to answer my questions, so I shoved it in the pocket of my jeans and headed downstairs to see what was up with my mother.

  She was just hanging up the phone when I got to the kitchen. A clean bowl and spoon were waiting on the kitchen island next to a box of healthy cereal. I pulled out a stool and Mom grabbed the milk from the fridge and plopped it down on the counter next to me.

  “What’s up?” I asked, hurrying to pour the cereal and start eating in case I needed time to think before answering her questions.

  “Did you forget to mention that you were selected for the Mock UN?”

  Mock UN? “Uh, yes?”

  “Mrs. Kelley just called from the school. She said you were an alternate? For the conference scheduled in early October.”

  “Sounds about right,” I mumbled.

  “It’s horrible that the conference was postponed due to the government shutdown, Amanda. Really, it is. But to reschedule it during Christmas week? That’s insane. It’s no wonder they’re begging you to go.” She picked up the milk and went to put it in the fridge. “Mrs. Kelley said they should send four representatives from your school, but if you go, they will only have two. It sounds like they need you.”

  Mom had already caved. I could see it. And my father would be thrilled to see me participate in anything law-related. GASI had played this well.

  I nodded as I crunched on the cereal.

  Walking back to the counter, she asked, “I guess the question is, Amanda, do you want to go?”

  I nodded. I had a whole lot of plans for the week, and if I were actually heading to some government leadership conference, I probably wouldn’t be all that excited. Instead, I was heading out on a mission. I squirmed on the stool, willing my heartbeat to slow down before my mother noticed. Play it cool, Amanda. “I guess I should. How long does it last? I don’t want to spend my whole break there. Where is it?”

  “New York,” Mom said. “I worry that you're spreading yourself too thin, honey. But I’ll call Mrs. Kelley back and tell her you can go. It does sound like they need you, and I’m sure your father will agree.”

  Once we had wrapped up all the Christmas Eve family stuff, I called up Lexi on my laptop. I filled her in on my trip.

  “Do you have to do the family thing all day tomorrow? Or can you hang out?” Lexi asked.

  Tomorrow was going to be hell. We were doing Christmas as a family even though my dad didn't live with us anymore. “I don't know. Normally they’d let me have some time, but now that I’m leaving the next day… I’m not sure.”

  Lexi wrinkled her nose as she moved closer to her webcam. “I don’t get why you’re going. You’re not even into politics and government.”

  “True, but it has more appeal on an international scale.” I wasn’t lying. I was getting interested in government lately, at least the espionage part.

  “Barf,” Lexi said, lifting her laptop and moving over to her desk. “I don’t get the appeal. Plus it’s Christmas break. Hello. We had some serious vegging to do.”

 
; I grabbed another pillow and propped myself higher on the bed as I balanced my laptop on my knees. “Look Lexi, I’m not choosing this UN workshop over you. I don’t have a choice. I promised I would be a backup.” Our school was over the top with committing to your extracurricular activities.

  “Yeah, but you didn’t know it would be now!” She snorted. “What kind of idiots have a conference between Christmas and New Year's Day?”

  “Yeah. It’s stupid.” It wasn’t easy pretending to be annoyed when really I was beyond excited. I sighed. Good practice for spying I guess.

  “You should just pretend you’re sick. Or break your leg. Then you could stay here.”

  “I’m not going to go to extremes just to stay home. I can’t hang out with you if I’m supposedly sick, and I am no way in Hades going to break a bone even if it means more Lexi time.” Jeez. The girl was nuts.

  “Well don’t turn your phone off like you did when you went to visit your aunt. That was horrible. And you better at least text me.”

  “Of course,” I said. How in the world was I going to manage that?

  By the time I got to the airport on the day after Christmas, I couldn't think of anything but seeing Will.

  “You’re meeting the school group, right?” Mom asked for the millionth time.

  “Yes, Mom,” I said.

  “I'd rather walk you to security, honey,” Mom glanced around as if something awful might befall me between here and my plane.

  If she only knew the risks I'd be taking this week.

  I had spent forty-five minutes convincing them to drop me at the curb. “It’s fine. I’ll meet up with the others.”

  Mom hugged me.

  As Dad pulled my bag from the trunk, he said, “Be careful. Don’t walk anywhere alone in the city.”

  “Yes, Dad.”

  Dad hugged me, and then I walked away with my purse and my rolling luggage. I turned back to see them both waving at me. Now they only had one kid to share between them for the holidays, my little brother. After a tense, awkward Christmas day with both parents, I was thankful for the rescue from GASI.

  The divorced parents thing was new to me. Thanksgiving hadn’t been too weird because of all the relatives and friends around. Add football and lots of food, and it seemed almost normal. Christmas didn’t work out so well. We did the whole presents, Church, the basic family holiday traditions, and then Dad went back to his apartment.

  When I got my boarding pass from the airline, it showed Newark as my destination. I knew from last time that Newark was the closest airport to Princeton. I hurried to security and then to my gate so I could focus on the fun ahead. Days with Will. Days and days. I couldn’t wait to see him again. And my aunt, Christie, and her partner from GASI, Nic. I was waiting for those two to finally crack and admit their feelings for each other. Maybe the Agency would send them to Las Vegas. Based on every movie ever made about Vegas, they’d be married by the time they boarded a plane out of there. I should get Will’s grandmother working on that one.

  I pulled out my phone to text Will, but I already had a text from Christie.

  Christie: Check out the new app on your phone.

  Okay. I flipped through the apps until I found one called, “About Us.”

  I almost missed it, assuming it was one of those annoying apps that nobody actually uses or notices. I tapped it and it opened to show pictures of me and my cover family. My name is Amanda Parker. Got it. My parents are Christie and Nic Parker. The screen showed pictures of my aunt and her partner looking a good ten years older than they had in October. Nice. Christie is my mother. Easy to play along. Now for the rest—”

  Oh. No.

  Staring up at me from my phone was Will, my super cute secret boyfriend. Only he wasn’t Amanda Parker’s boyfriend. Oh no. For our cover story Will was Will Parker, my fraternal twin brother. Oh crud.

  My phone beeped, and a text from Will came through.

  Will: Did you see the file? Are they serious?

  Yeah. Despite the name, I didn’t think GASI had much of a sense of humor.

  Me: Um. I guess so.

  Will: This stinks.

  I’d been picturing a week's worth of hugs, stolen kisses, and hand holding. Instead, I had to treat Will like a brother. I already had a brother, and he was nothing like Will Middleton.

  Me: Did you make Nic mad or something?

  He’d spent a lot of time training with him.

  Will: No! He likes me.

  Christie: I know it isn’t ideal kids, but it works best for the mission.

  Will: Did you just get a text from Christie?

  Me: Yeah.

  Will: Is she spying on us?

  Me: Most likely.

  Will: Talk to you soon.

  Me: Yeah.

  Christie: See you in two hours, Amanda.

  My aunt used to be more discreet. Apparently she didn't bother with manners or privacy anymore. Her text had popped up in the same conversation thread with Will's, which meant she'd eavesdropped on our whole conversation.

  How in the world was I going to treat Will like a brother? There was no way I would fool anybody. This was going to be a disaster. I wasn’t sure who ticked off whom, but somebody had it out for me and Will.

  When I cleared security in Newark, I looked around for Christie. Instead, I saw Will, standing forty feet from me, hands in the pockets of his blue jeans and a smile on his gorgeous face.

  Once I saw him, the hustle and bustle of the airport fell away. It was just me and Will. Pure joy rose in my chest, danced around my heart, and nearly lifted me from the floor as I broke into an all-out run.

  Will took a few steps, and then I reached him, throwing my arms around his neck. He squeezed me tight against his hard chest.

  “Amanda,” he said, amusement in his voice.

  “I missed you,” I said, squeezing him tight once more and then releasing him. “I didn’t know you were picking me up.”

  He put his arm around me and leaned in to kiss me on the lips. “I missed you too.”

  I was about to ask him to kiss me again when I spotted Christie over his shoulder.

  “Hey, Girlie! You look great!”

  Will stepped back so Christie could hug me. Her hair was several inches longer and a lighter brown color. Her natural color was a darker brown than mine.

  “You look different,” I said.

  “Yeah, there are going to be some changes. We have time to talk about that later though. Let’s grab your luggage and get this show on the road.”

  Will took my hand as we followed her toward the escalator. With all the texting and Skyping and talking on the phone, we’d really gotten to know each other. I wasn’t sure which was harder to believe, that I was about to go on my second spy mission or that I was walking hand-in-hand through the airport with somebody I liked and who liked me back.

  I fought the urge to turn my head and stare at him as we walked. First, it would unmask me as a lovesick fool. And second, I’d probably trip over my feet and look like an idiot. So I squeezed his hand, and he squeezed mine back.

  “I can’t believe you’re here,” Will said.

  “I know. This is going to be amazing.” I wanted to ask what he knew about our mission, but I knew we shouldn’t talk about it here.

  We caught up to Christie who’d already secured my bag.

  “We have a lot to do today.”

  I was seriously hoping that Will had driven, but my luck didn’t hold. Christie’s driving had not improved. I had hoped the sports car had contributed to the bone-chilling high speeds and aggressive maneuvering in October. Unfortunately, the Nissan Murano, despite masquerading as a family car, responded to Christie’s aggressive commands. I had a white knuckled grip on the “assist” handle, you know, the safety bar that usually went by a less polite name. I risked a glance at Will in the back seat.

  The color had drained out of his face. His eyes held a plea and I suspected that like me, he was praying we’d survive my aunt
s crazy driving. How did the woman avoid getting her license revoked?

  “Nic’s driving to New York, right?” I asked hopefully. “You’ll be busy briefing us.”

  “We’ll see,” Christie said. Then she glanced at me. “I really have no idea why you and Nic make such a big deal about my driving.”

  “Because you are scary,” I accused as she rounded a corner without slowing down. “Tell her Will!”

  “Yeah, Amanda,” he said. “I’m not comfortable enough yet for brutal honesty.”

  “See, Amanda. Will doesn’t agree.”

  “Uh, yeah. That’s not what he said at all, Christie.”

  We pulled into the parking garage at a large hotel. I had expected to go to Will’s or to the condo.

  “This is us,” my aunt said.

  Will opened the door for me. Christie grabbed my suitcase.

  “Shouldn’t we leave that here?” I asked. “Aren’t we taking this car?”

  “Oh no. Plus we have to approve everything you pack.”

  “They already went through my stuff,” Will admitted. “And they switched out all of my clothes.”

  “Oh great.”

  He took my hand again, and I smiled up at him.

  “And cut that out,” Christie called from ahead of us. “No hand-holding.”

  Wow. You’d think we could get away with something that innocent.

  “Starting now, we’re a nice happy family,” she added. “Me and my adorable husband, and our two teens.”

  Will laughed. “Did she just choke on the word adorable?”

  I leaned in to whisper in his ear. “There’s no way they are going to pull off being married. Have you seen them together?”

  “Not really,” he admitted.

  “I guess we are about to see how good they are, or aren’t, at their jobs.”

  Chapter Two

  As the elevator doors slid closed, Christie said, “It would have been easier to pull off a troubled marriage, but we didn’t want to complicate the family dynamics any more than they already are.”

  Since Will and I both had divorced parents, I suspected they were trying to avoid stressing us out with issues from our real lives. They probably had a psychologist on staff at GASI.

 
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