I spy a dark obsession, p.1

I Spy a Dark Obsession, page 1

 

I Spy a Dark Obsession
 


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I Spy a Dark Obsession


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Dedication

  Acknowledgements

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  About the Author

  Praise for the Novels of Jo Davis

  I Spy a Naughty Game

  “A masterpiece about danger, action, lost love, and new beginnings with a bit of bondage on the side.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “It’s as if your favorite government agent antiterrorist TV show was X-rated. Each page features either pulse-pounding action or supercharged sex—you don’t get a chance to catch your breath.”

  —Romantic Times

  I Spy a Wicked Sin

  “An edgy and intriguing start to Jo Davis’s new series about the mysterious SHADO agency. I Spy a Wicked Sin has a fast-paced story line as well as enough suspense and spy games to thrill any mystery lover, but at its core the story centers on the very hot and sensual relationship between assassin Lily Vale and her target, Jude St. Laurent . . . a sexy, riveting story.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “A top pick. I loved it and can’t wait for more of this new series.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “Scintillates with one naughty erotic encounter after the next. The passion is underscored by the mystery.... While the wicked games Lily, Jude, and others play ratchet up the heat level, what captured me about I Spy a Wicked Sin was the likability of the characters.”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  When Alex Was Bad

  “Davis has done it again . . . a passionate, exhilarating book that will definitely keep a reader’s attention. Five hearts!”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “Davis knows her stuff, and she is a brilliant writer when it comes to romantic suspense. When Alex Was Bad had me on the edge of my seat.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “From the first paragraph until the last page, Ms. Davis kept me captivated with her erotic wording and sensual play between the characters. The sex is spicy-hot and the suspense will keep you guessing until the very end. Five cups!”

  —Coffee Time Romance

  “Jo Davis sizzles with her debut erotic novel.”

  —Fallen Angel Reviews

  “For fans of erotic suspense, Davis serves it up smokin’-hot. . . . Tension builds right to the very end, in and out of the bedroom.”

  —Reader to Reader Reviews

  “Wickedly wonton. . . . Take a walk on the wild side and experience an erotic suspense novel not to be missed.”

  —TwoLips Reviews

  Trial by Fire

  “Romantic suspense that has it all: a sizzling firefighter hero, a heroine you’ll love, and a story that crackles and pops with sensuality and action. All I can say is keep the fire extinguisher handy or risk spontaneous combustion!”

  —Linda Castillo, New York Times bestselling author of Sworn to Silence

  “Sizzling romantic suspense . . . so hot it singes the pages!”

  —JoAnn Ross, New York Times bestselling author of Breakpoint

  “A five-alarm read . . . riveting, sensual.”

  —Barbara Vey, Publishers Weekly

  “For a poignant and steamy romance with a great dose of suspense, be sure to pick up a copy of Trial by Fire . . . as soon as it hits the bookstores! Five bookmarks!”

  —Wild on Books

  “Jo Davis set the trap, baited the hook, and completely reeled me in with Trial by Fire. Heady sexual tension, heartwarming romance, and combustible love scenes just added fuel to the fire.... Joyfully recommended!”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  HEAT Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Heat, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, March

  Copyright © Jo Davis, 2011 All rights reserved

  HEAT is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

  Davis, Jo.

  I spy a dark obsession/Jo Davis.

  p. cm.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-47874-5

  1. National security—Fiction. 2. Intelligence service—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3604.A963132 2011

  813’.6—dc22 2010039978

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved 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 the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or thirdparty Web sites or their content.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  http://us.penguingroup.com

  In loving memory of Hannah Montgomery, my dear friend and second mom for almost forty years. Losing you is proof that there is never quite enough time to let people know what they truly mean to you. So I hope you somehow know all of the things I ran out of precious time to say.

  The world just isn’t right without you in it. I miss your sweet Southern drawl and your wicked sense of humor. I hope the angels realize how lucky they are to have you among them. I love you.

  Acknowledgments

  Special thanks to:

  My family for supporting me as they always do, with little complaint that I’m frequently here in body while my spirit is running through the woods taking out the bad guys.

  My agent and friend Roberta Brown for always being there for me. You are a special lady.

  My editor Tracy Bernstein for all her support and confidence.

  My dear friend and critique partner Suzanne Ferrell for coming up with the title of this book! Great one, and so perfect for our heroes’ final showdown with Dietz.

  The Foxes for making what has been a really tough year immeasurably better. I love you all.

  Prologue

 
Bastian Chevalier gazed down at the sleeping form of Michael Ross, his boss at SHADO—the Secret Homeland Defense Organization. His oldest friend. In years past, his closest confidant. Fellow football fan and beer-drinking buddy.

  The only person—man or woman—he’d ever loved.

  And you had to go and ruin your friendship by telling him, didn’t you? Sent him straight into Maggie’s arms. God rest her soul.

  Bastian had thought that nothing on earth could equal the pain of watching from the sidelines, heartbroken, as Michael married her. As he spoke excitedly of trying to start a family, while Bastian’s dreams crumbled around him.

  Elbows on his knees, he put his face in his hands and gave a soft, bitter laugh, thinking how very wrong he’d been. Because nothing could possibly be worse than a world without Michael in it.

  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t shut out the horrible memory of the gunshots. Of Michael’s eyes widening with shock, his body jerking, crumpling to the dirty asphalt outside the restaurant. Gunned down by Robert Dietz’s assassin and left to die.

  And he nearly had. Michael had fought hard for days, struggled back from the brink of death as Bastian went quietly out of his mind. Bargained with God, the devil, whomever would listen and heed his plea for Michael to live. His promise that if Michael pulled through, he’d never again ask for more.

  In hindsight, keeping that promise would be the most difficult thing he’d ever done.

  “Bastian?”

  At the sound of Michael’s scratchy voice, his head snapped up and he scooted closer to the bed, fixing a smile on his face that he hoped appeared relaxed and reassuring.

  “Hey, man. How are you feeling?”

  Michael blinked slowly, processing the question, long, dark lashes feathered against pale cheeks. “Like a building fell on me. How . . .” He licked his chapped lips and took a pained breath. “How long was I out this time?”

  Bastian resisted the urge to touch his hair. Just barely. “A few hours. Water?”

  “Please.”

  After raising the bed a little, he grabbed the plastic cup and pitcher and poured some fresh water. He held the cup close to Michael, angling the straw to place it between his lips. “Easy. Just a few sips.”

  Michael took a few draws before Bastian gently pulled away the straw and helped him settle onto the pillows. Setting the cup on the nightstand, he busied himself checking the IV line, smoothing the covers—anything to keep from getting caught in the brown eyes now studying him. Watching his every move.

  Next he rearranged the plants and flowers sent by Michael’s friends and agents, all bearing get-well wishes. Tidied the magazines he’d brought for when Michael felt up to reading. Threw away some take-out wrappers from the previous night. Which reminded him that he needed to go home and shower, change clothes—

  Michael cleared his throat. “What are you doing?”

  “Straightening things up before I go. What does it look like?” He knew he hadn’t been able to hide the tension in his voice or his movements. Not from his best friend.

  “Bastian. Talk to me.”

  He froze, fists clenched at his sides. An awful knot was lodged in his throat. It was more than a product of fear, of agonizing days waiting to learn whether Michael would survive. It burned and ached like nothing he’d felt before, throbbed in a pulsing wave that spread to his churning stomach and to every limb. And he recognized it for what it was.

  Hatred. Vile, toxic, eating his insides.

  Michael waited. Finally, Bastian’s resolve shattered and he gave his friend the truth.

  “I’m going to kill him,” he said quietly, “if it’s the last thing I do.”

  Michael didn’t have to ask whom. The seconds ticked in heavy silence before the answer came, sure and steady. “We’ll take him together. Promise you’ll wait for me.”

  Don’t you know I’d wait for you forever?

  But that wasn’t what Michael meant, and the reminder tore at his heart all over again. Still, what was one more promise? He nodded. “I’ll wait for you to get well, and then we’ll take down that son of a whore. You have my word.”

  Michael heaved a sigh, his expression relieved, and seemed to sink into the pillows. “Thank you.”

  Their gazes locked, and Bastian’s pulse stuttered as for one unguarded moment something more than gratitude shone in those liquid eyes. An emotion more than warmth, deeper than friendship. Then the connection was broken as his friend’s eyes closed, leaving Bastian shaken.

  He must’ve imagined it. Michael was doped on all kinds of meds, including strong painkillers. Whatever he’d seen in his friend’s gaze was drug induced and would be forgotten by the time he woke.

  Bastian took his seat again as Michael drifted off to sleep. Now that the man was out, he allowed every bit of the love and worry he felt to show once more. Even wrecked, Michael was beautiful. Mussed sable hair poked in every direction, glinting with natural red and gold tints. His full lips were parted in sleep, and Bastian wondered how they would taste, how the muscles of his chest and back would feel under his hands as he brought the man more pleasure than he’d ever known.

  “Stop it,” he whispered to himself.

  He’d wasted enough years longing for a man he could never have, and his feelings had driven a wedge between them. Michael’s brush with death seemed to have given them a second chance at friendship, and he wouldn’t ruin it this time. He’d take what he could get, for however long he had left in this world.

  A shiver trailed down his spine as he thought of Dietz out there somewhere, crouched in a dark corner like a deadly spider. Waiting to strike again.

  And when the bastard made his move on Michael this time, Bastian would step right between them.

  To hell with the cost.

  One

  “Dammit, Michael, what the fuck are you doing here? You shouldn’t be back at work this soon! SHADO can survive without you for a couple more weeks.” Michael Ross looked up from the file on his desk and at Bastian Chevalier’s anxious face. In spite of Michael’s CEO and closest friend driving him bat-shit crazy for the past few weeks of his convalescence, nagging him to rest and eat right, Michael’s mouth curved into a smile. He should’ve known better than to think he could hide in his office without being discovered.

  “SHADO will survive, but you, my friend, are about to collapse,” he pointed out reasonably. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed you’ve been running yourself ragged heading the organization and taking care of me at the same time.”

  Bastian was tired, no question. His thick golden blond hair was disheveled from being finger-combed so often, Michael was surprised the man hadn’t gone bald. Dark circles were smudged under bottle green eyes that hadn’t lit with laughter in more than a month. No, more like years, if he was honest, at least where Michael was concerned, and for reasons that had nothing to do with last month’s assassination attempt.

  Yeah, it seemed he’d made an art out of hurting Bastian. His smile dimmed as his friend continued to argue.

  “I’ve been managing just fine, thanks. And this isn’t about me,” his friend snapped. “I know the doctor hasn’t cleared you to come back at all, much less full-time. And are you forgetting his warning that before you were shot, you were flirting with a stress-induced heart attack? Get your ass out from behind that desk. I’m taking you home.”

  Michael opened his mouth to argue, but the thunderous expression on his friend’s handsome face changed his mind. “Fine. It’s not like I’ll get anything else done today with you hovering and glaring at me.” He locked away the file and powered off his computer while his friend waited. Standing, he grabbed his suit jacket off the back of his chair, wincing at the sudden tug on his healing wounds as he shrugged it on. Thankfully Bastian refrained from delivering the smug “I told you so” that obviously hovered on his lips.

  “How did you get here, anyway?” Bastian asked in exasperation.

  “Simon.” Michael paid the older gentlema
n handsomely to act as his butler, personal attendant, and driver, if needed. The man took his job seriously and did it exceptionally well.

  “Figured as much. You’re the most stubborn jackass who ever lived,” Bastian grumbled, leading his friend out of the offices and into the main hallway.

  “But you love me anyway,” he pointed out cheerfully. Then he stumbled mentally, wondering why he’d said that. Christ, the last thing he needed was to give Bastian the wrong idea. False hope. Worried, he shot a sideways glance at his friend, but Bastian only snorted, shaking his head.

  “I’ve spent the past month nursing an ungrateful horse’s rear end. Super.”

  “A jackass is a donkey, not a horse.”

  “Whatever.”

  “And I am grateful. More than you know.”

  “That’s because you’d go nuts rattling around in that McMansion of yours with nobody but an uptight British butler for company.” Bastian raised a brow. “Tell me I’m wrong.”

  “Okay, you’ve got me there. But that’s not the only reason I—Hey, are you fishing for a compliment?” With suspicion he eyed his friend, who managed an innocent expression.

 
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