I spy a wicked sin, p.1
I Spy a Wicked Sin, page 1
I Spy a Wicked Sin
The author of When Alex Was Bad and The Firefighters of Station Five series provides another titillating two-pronged mission: seduce…and eliminate.
Jude St. Laurent is a former assassin for SHADO, a covert homeland security agency. After a mysterious accident, he's lost all memory of his former life, and embraces his new identity as a hedonistic artist. But when he's haunted by visions of the past, he turns to his new personal assistant for help-and she knows just how to make him forget.
Jude doesn't know that Lily Vale is a secret agent who uses sex to manipulate her targets-and always gets her man. But her mission takes a turn when Lily realizes that there's more to this case, and Jude, than meets the eye. If she's going to save them both, she'll have to find out who's pulling the strings…
I Spy a Wicked Sin
The first book in the Shado Agency series, 2010
To Debra Stevens,
my dearest friend of thirty-seven years. My chosen sister, anchor, and
coconspirator. We’ve had many good times, weathered our share of challenges,
had fun chasing the bad boys, and come through it all unscathed.
Jude’s story is for you.
My heartfelt thanks to:
My husband and children for putting up with my craziness during deadline.
My awesome agent, Roberta Brown.
My editor, Tracy Bernstein; my publicist, Elizabeth Tobin; the art department and all the wonderful folks at NAL.
I couldn’t survive without you.
Elbows on the ratty desk, John Sandborn dropped his face into his hands. In the wake of this terrible exercise of connect the dots, he’d be goddamned lucky if he didn’t wind up at the bottom of the Atlantic. In five different oil drums.
Because a traitorous, murdering bastard was coming for him. No doubt about it.
If he had a whisper of a prayer of avoiding a grisly fate, he had to work fast.
Clicking the X in the top right corner of the laptop’s screen, he closed the classified file and opened another. Fingers flying, he activated a program he’d hoped never to use, but was damned glad he’d put into place. Next he composed a simple coded message-a ten-year-old couldn’t decipher it, but a trusted operative could.
“Okay… got it.” He blew out a deep breath. It wasn’t perfect, but it would have to do.
Last, he opened his e-mail and hit Send. He waited, every muscle tense, while the new files, along with the classified one, shot to six different destinations and burrowed into six different hard drives. A high- tech worm that would make any hacker cream in his shorts-and just might save his ass.
“Thank fuck.” Sandborn attacked the keyboard again, clicking rapidly. His instincts screamed Get out, but he didn’t dare leave the last two tasks undone.
Precious seconds were whittled away, scraping his nerves raw, as he accessed the script file he’d written to initiate the virus that would destroy his hard drive. The final box popped onto the screen, and he executed his CTRL+F+U command.
Sandborn gave a grim chuckle at the double entendre in his chosen three-finger salute and wiped the sweat from his brow. Time to make like a ghost.
The door to his motel room burst open, hitting the inside wall like a gunshot. Sandborn spun, the SIG from the desktop already in hand, arm leveling at the leader of the traitor’s cleanup crew.
Too late. A pop split the air, and pain blossomed in his chest. He stumbled backward, managing to get off a shot, the explosion deafening in the tiny space. The leader went down with a grunt as Sandborn trained his gun on the second man, tried to squeeze the trigger-and couldn’t. His arm fell limp and useless to his side.
The second man crossed the room, a smirk on his ugly pockmarked face. Cold overtook the pain, spreading from Sandborn’s chest to his limbs. Numbing every muscle. Looking down, he stared in fascinated horror at the dart embedded in his left pectoral.
He swayed, speaking quickly. His life depended on it. “Tell your boss I know everything. I put safeguards in place, and he’ll never find them without me,” he rasped, the drug freezing his vocal cords quickly. “If I die… the whole world will know… what he’s done.”
Sandborn’s legs buckled and he slumped to the floor, completely nerveless. Aware but paralyzed, along for the ride and at their mercy. A nightmare.
A pair of heavy- soled leather boots appeared in his line of vision as the second man paused, obviously peering at the laptop. “You smart-ass sonofabitch,” Crater Face hissed.
Sandborn pictured the cartoon gopher dancing across the screen, shooting the finger at the henchman, and a hoarse laugh barked from his dry throat. The boots backed up a couple of steps.
John Sandborn’s last image was a snapshot of the man’s right shitkicker rocketing toward his face.
From the dossier saved on her laptop, Lily Vale knew without a doubt-if she’d had any to begin with-that her new target was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen.
The bastard wouldn’t be quite as pretty after she sent him to hell.
Striding down the hallway of the vast mansion, she clutched her purse, comforted by the heavy weight of the weapon secreted inside. If only she could use it to take him out, clean and simple.
For his crimes against innocent Americans, men like Jude St. Laurent deserved to die. Monsters like him had murdered her father, the most brilliant, gentle soul who ever lived. Perhaps quick and easy wasn’t always the best form of justice. Not that a swift end was a choice on this assignment anyway-locating the information would take time.
And while Lily worked her way into St. Laurent ’s confidence, he’d have no idea he was already a dead man. A bullet might be easier, but slow and painful was her specialty, reserved for the most vile of men. That alone fortified her resolve as nothing else could have.
Hearing voices, a low moan, Lily slowed her steps. Using caution, she approached the room the housekeeper had directed her to and peered inside.
Neither the photos in his extensive file nor her brief glimpses of him in the past had done the rogue justice. But the current tantalizing view certainly brought his many physical assets into complete focus.
Jude St. Laurent was sprawled on his back in a pile of pillows, eyes closed, chin-length auburn hair fanned around his head, gloriously naked. His long, athletic legs were spread to accommodate the equally naked brunette crouched between them, sucking his thick, erect cock in long, slow pulls.
“God, yes.” After a few more bobs over his lap, he moaned and gently pulled her head back. “Wait. Come here, darlin’.”
The woman crawled between his legs as he sat up, and brushed a kiss against his lips. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Giving his lover a warm half smile, he reached out, skimmed a hand up her arm, to her shoulder. He combed his fingers through her hair and then brought his other hand up as well, his palm finding her breast.
His touch was tentative, careful, as his fingers searched. Probed her feminine curves, traveled to her cheeks and lips. Her forehead. His tender exploration made the woman giggle.
“You’ve seen me a dozen times,” she said.
“That was for the sake of art.” He grinned, dropping his hands. “This is for fun. Lie down on my left and spread out for me.”
Lily remained quiet, trying to make sense of the puzzling exchange-and of the way his dazzling smile snatched the breath from her lungs. His smooth voice, laced with a hint of the Deep South, the New Orleans variety, was the cherry atop the sundae. She could almost forget th
The brunette did as he asked, stretching out on the pillows like a cat, eyes glittering in anticipation. Despite everything, Lily couldn’t blame her.
He laid one big palm on her thigh and moved his hand up, as though mapping new territory. Moving carefully, he straddled her torso and positioned himself on his knees, thighs spread wide. “Slide down and guide me to your mouth, sweetheart. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Lily’s curiosity grew. How could he hurt her?
The woman scooted down and guided the broad head of St. Laurent ’s cock to her lips. She took him down her throat and he moaned, lean body shuddering. As he bent to her sex, Lily had the fleeting thought that a nice, decent person would excuse herself until the couple was finished.
Nobody had ever accused Lily of being either.
She had a perfect view as St. Laurent parted the woman’s nether folds and lowered his head. His tongue darted out, lapped at the tender pink flesh, and his sensual, satisfied groan of male appreciation set Lily’s pussy afire. She gripped the doorframe, forcing herself to remain in place no matter how badly she wanted to join them. The need to slide her hand into her panties, to relieve the ache, was barely tolerable.
St. Laurent laved and suckled his lover’s little clit like a starving man feasting on his last dessert. The brunette writhed under his attentions, muffled whimpers sounding around his cock.
Thrusting his hips, he fucked the woman’s mouth faster, with more fervor. The muscles of his biceps and chest, his flat stomach, bunched, playing under all that lovely, sun-kissed skin like a symphony. Graceful movement and desire, flowing rapidly toward a forceful climax.
Lily stood in the doorway to St. Laurent ’s studio, riveted by the scene. And yes, God help her, aroused as she hadn’t been in months, years. Possibly ever, and on the worst possible assignment. In her job, to allow passion into the act of sex was to invite disaster-she merely did what must be done.
The tight fist in her gut-as well as the dampness between her thighs-hinted she was doomed from the start. Sex with this man would be anything but passionless.
Remain detached. Neutralize the threat, however necessary. Nothing you haven’t done before.
Yet at the moment, she found it difficult to believe the fate of thousands depended upon her ability to deceive this unusual specimen of physical perfection, maneuver her way into his heart and bed, and then… She shuddered, the chilly ripple snaking all the way to her toes. A rare shard of regret lanced her breast at the reality of the situation, of her sworn duty.
St. Laurent ’s exultant shout jerked Lily into the present. The brunette manipulated his balls, eagerly swallowing every drop as he drove her over the edge in kind.
The woman bucked, arching her hips. Rode the waves of pleasure until she lay limp and sated on the pillows. She released his softening penis, lips curving in satisfaction. “Mmm. You taste every bit as divine as I knew you would.”
Smiling, he crawled off her and lay at her side, propping himself on an elbow. “I’ll bet you say that to every lusty artist who struggles in vain to capture your essence,” he quipped, his tone light.
“My God, Jude. If you’re that good with your tongue, I can only imagine how talented you are with your cock-in other ways, I mean.”
So they hadn’t yet slept together. Lily filed away the in formation.
Sitting up, he laughed, obviously pleased by the compliment. “Well, I’m probably not the best judge of my own prowess. Nonbiased opinions are always welcome.”
“Hmm. Is that an offer?” Giving him a hungry look, the woman stood and began to gather her clothing.
“Pardon me for being vague.” Still seated on the pillows, he tilted his head toward her, burnished hair falling over his eyes. “Tamara, come back tonight. I’ll have Liam make us something spectacular for dinner.”
“Wine? Soft music?”
“Whatever you want.”
Lily couldn’t tear her gaze from him as he rose and turned a half step, groping a nearby stuffed chair for his discarded jeans.
A delectable treat worthy of making a woman forget her diet. Tonight, this woman, Tamara, would not be the only one to indulge. Lily would know every word, every deed, spoken or performed in this house.
Doing her job, of course. Nothing more.
Ducking back into the hallway, Lily paused, giving the pair a few seconds to make themselves halfway presentable and focusing on her current role. Okay, lovebirds, time’s up. She rapped on the door and stepped inside.
“Hello, Mr. St. Laurent, I’m-” Breaking off, she pretended surprise at finding them in disarray. The woman closed her blouse over bare breasts. He was shirtless, wearing nothing but faded jeans, the fly unzipped.
Lily let her gaze drift over both of them, her tone and body language making it clear she was not the least bit averse to what she saw. St. Laurent was no longer the only one in this house skilled in seduction.
“I’m so sorry,” Lily continued, sounding anything but. “A housekeeper greeted me at the front door and said I should come on back.”
“Miss… Vale. Is that right?” He shrugged on his shirt and began to button it, casual as anything. He didn’t quite meet her gaze, which she found odd. Tamara, however, had no such compunction, giving Lily an assessing look as she put her clothing to rights.
“Yes, I’m Lily Vale,” she answered honestly. No point in using a second alias in this case. He wouldn’t remember her name from the agency, and if that ever changed, it still would make no difference in the outcome.
“I’m on time. Always.”
His full lips curved upward. “I stand corrected. When will I learn that women are always right?”
Tamara patted his chest. “The sooner the better, if you’re a smart guy. Your new personal assistant doesn’t appear the type to take crap off of anybody, even from a master bullshit artist like you,” she said, gathering her purse.
St. Laurent looked relaxed, not offended at all. “I beg to differ-I use oil and watercolor on my canvases, not manure. And I don’t know whether she’ll agree to be my PA until after she and I meet in person.”
Lily suppressed a scowl. She wasn’t used to people speaking around her. “I’m ready to talk whenever you are.”
“Seven o’clock?” Tamara said, and gave him a lingering kiss.
“I’ll send the car for you.”
“Sounds good. Nice to meet you, Lily.”
“Same here.” Lily watched as Tamara disappeared from the studio, and wondered whether the two knew she’d seen them playing. She turned her attention to St. Laurent again, to find he hadn’t moved.
He stood in the center of the room facing her, sunlight streaming in from the glass windows and catching his long hair, setting it ablaze. The muscles of his chest and arms filled out his shirt wonderfully, and she grew wet thinking of what those muscles had been doing a short while ago. His thumbs were hooked in the waistband of his jeans and he sort of stared past her, his eyes a sparkling, beautiful green. And strangely blank.
Lily had never felt quite so… ignored? No, that wasn’t quite right. “Where would you like to meet?”
“In my study. Hand me that, if you don’t mind.” Squelching the urge to deliver a sharp retort that would jeopardize her mission, she turned to see what item he was gesturing for. A PA’s job entailed seeing to her boss’s every need, and she had to play the part. For now.
Glancing toward his padded stool, she hesitated, her jaw dropping in shock. The earlier interaction between the couple clicked into place. To be taken completely unaware by this sort of revelation wasn’t a familiar-or comfortable-feeling. There, propped against the stool, was a cane. A white one.
“Legally blind, yes.” The warmth bled from his voice like blood from an open wound. “You have a problem with working for a boss who can’t see?”
“No. Only one with an attitude or a chip on his shoulder
Slowly, his smile returned. “Fair enough. I’m still learning to cope, but I’m far from helpless. Should you accept the position, I won’t expect you to wipe my ass. I’m a grown man, not an infant.”
Oh, yes, sweetie pie. That’s apparent.
“Good to know.” Walking to the stool, she retrieved the cane and went to him, taking his hand. She guided the handle to his palm, and he grasped it. “Here. Lead the way.”
“Thank you. Point me toward the door, and I’ll be glad to.”
She did, letting him exit the studio first, and then walked beside him down the long, tiled corridor.
“Lily of the valley,” he said suddenly.
A shiver trailed down her spine. “Excuse me?”
“Your name, and the perfume you’re wearing.” He grinned.
“They say, whoever they are, when one of the senses is lost, the others make up tenfold for its absence.”
His acute perception shook her to the core, and she was damned thankful he couldn’t read her expression. “So I’ve heard. Is there any real truth to the claim?”
“I think so, though it’s a bit too soon for me to be certain. It’s only been twelve weeks since my accident, and with the migraines-no, never mind. We have more important things to discuss.”
His “accident.” God, if you only knew. And he was in pain? Guilt speared her, fierce and intense, regardless of the fact that she hadn’t been a part of the number done on his brain. Dammit to hell, she empathized with him.
Despite his being a killer.
Free to scrutinize his face, she noted the two-inch scar above his left eyebrow. She could well imagine how he’d gotten it, and the unaccountable anger it inspired filled her with confusion. Especially since, according to Robert’s intelligence and the fat file in her possession, he deserved much, much worse.
by Jo Davis have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes