Uncut (Siren Publishing Classic), page 1
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
Copyright © 2010 by Betty Womack
E-book ISBN: 1-60601-374-2
First E-book Publication: August 2010
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2010 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright © 2010
What the hell?
Lana Pearly sat at the bar, sipping watered down iced tea, while her darkest secret walked back into her life. Sam Horn, the one-night affair that hovered relentlessly in her thoughts.
Every woman in the bar craned her neck to get a better look at him. She understood why.—He was a solid six feet of wet dreams in a three thousand dollar suit, the fine, dark material doing a poor job cloaking the virile sexuality of the man wearing it.
She knew this wasn’t coincidence or fate. Dressed like a high roller looking for a good time, Sam must be on duty. She eyed him over the rim of her glass. Why the hell didn’t he just get it over with? Of course he’d seen her. He sat at the far end of the cherry wood bar and ordered fancy beer in a green bottle instead of acknowledging her presence. He deliberately sat there to make her squirm.
He casually flipped a large bill onto the bar and smiled at the pretty bartender in a too-tight white shirt. That smile hinted of a myriad of sins, all of which she’d been privy to. She’d met Sam two years ago while dodging her date after he’d revealed a penchant for chugging with the boys. Horn’s dark good looks and unholy smile had burned away all the resistance and sanity she’d possessed.
Oh, she had fought the urges that began as a soft trickle while he sat next to her on a barstool. She let the memory of his nonthreatening brush to her back, and then her shoulder, and finally that little kiss to her neck run through her mind. All the while, his voice had played with her ears, and his mouth became all she could see. After their erotic tryst, she’d run like a scared rabbit. But not before she’d gone through his wallet, plus his suitcase. That’s where she found the leather folder holding his shield and identification photo. Of all the men at that party, she’d lifted her skirts for an FBI agent.
Lana knew the feeling of being on a skewer. What would she say to him if he did approach her? She forced her heartbeat into a safer rhythm, silently praying her partner, Sanchez, showed up before she had to speak to the man she most wanted to avoid.
What had happened to Sanchez?
She glanced around to check the lobby doorway, her gaze sweeping the glittering crowd. Saturday night and people with money filled the fancy hotel bar with laughter and expensive perfume.
Lana shifted on her seat. Sanchez never ran late, and she became uneasy. He may have run into trouble and here she sat, watching Horn charm the bartender.
Lana slid her cell phone from her purse, snapping it shut when a shadow fell over her hand.
“Ms. Pearly.” His voice stroked her ears and kindled a familiar fire in her blood. “Been waiting long?”
She had become distracted and tried for cool indifference. “Excuse me. Waiting for what?”
“Me.” With the ease of a gigolo, he took her purse and opened it, glancing inside. Pushing it back toward her, he smiled, sizing her up in one cool glance. “Just as I expected. You came heavy.”
She pulled her purse out of his reach. “You could be arrested for that, mister.”
He didn’t leave, but leaned closer to her. “Lighten up, Pearly.” He held two fingers up when the bartender leaned against the bar to smile at him before moving off to get him another beer. He focused his dark gaze back on her. “You were a lot friendlier two years ago.”
“And you were so persuasive.” Lana glanced back at the lobby doorway.
“He’s not coming.” Sam sipped the beer the bartender set in front of him. “Sanchez is in Mexico, cleaning up a mess.” His smile spoke volumes for his enjoyment of blindsiding her with the news. “I’m here on special assignment, taking Sanchez’s place. I’m also case agent in charge.”
Concealing her shock took maximum control. “You have to do better than that.” Her lips parted slightly, and the remembered sweet madness of his kisses stormed in to distract her. “I haven’t had word of any changes in the program.”
He revealed no surprise by her less than subtle way of checking on his credibility. Instead, he straightened his tie and held her prisoner with his smooth voice. “You know who I am.”
Lana thought fast, afraid of revealing information to a man she knew only as a lover. The situation called for sanity and keeping her panties on. “I know you’re a fast-talking rogue who goes against rules whenever the mood hits.”
He leaned closer, his arm resting against hers. “You have the most exotic eyes I’ve ever seen.”
He took full control, slick and well-groomed, slowly removing her clothes with his sultry gaze and self-assured way of talking.
She refused to succumb to his charm and stayed on track. “When did this change come about? I spoke to Sanchez last night. He d
The way Horn handled himself, with ease and ignoring her questions drove her crazy. His lips curved into a hint of a smile as he brought up a subject Lana would love to forget.
“When you skipped out on me after our private party, I thought you’d probably robbed me.” His teeth were white, and his aftershave filled her senses with a well-remembered clean scent of tropical breezes and spice. “Imagine my surprise to find all my cash still there. Then, I figured you were married and didn’t want to chat about it.”
“I didn’t expect pillow talk.” Lana clamped her lips shut.
She had owned up to the indiscretion, the first time she’d let herself speak of it. Now he knew she hadn’t forgotten one moment of those scandalous hours spent in his bed.
“Lana, let’s stop the cat and mouse crap.” He moved his jacket aside to reveal the shield on his belt. “Talk to me, baby. I know all about you. The minute the brass told me I would be working with a chick, I ran down your record.” His smile played seductively over her. “That came as the second biggest surprise of my life to learn we would be joined at the hip. Again.”
She carefully evaded the subject. “Anyone can steal a badge.” She met his steady gaze for a moment and then slid off the barstool. He countered her phony stumble with a soft laugh, but not before she discovered he had a Glock under his coat.
He held her steady, nuzzling her neck while embarrassing her for being so obvious. “Oops. I think the gun you’re looking for is farther down.”
She relaxed and sat back down, determined to make coherent decisions even while her heart pounded furiously. “You can’t blame me for making a tiny little search. I don’t know who you are, not really.”
“Here.” He handed his cell phone. “Call the bureau.”
“Give me your wallet.” She held out her hand, palm up.
He dragged out a well-worn leather billfold and tossed it to her hand. “What are you looking for? I think we’d better have a nice long talk about the rules.”
“Rules?” She searched for anything suspicious among the bills, Visa, and his identification card. “What rules would those be?” Finding nothing out of the ordinary, she gave him back his property.
He touched her wrist and nodded. “Okay, you’re concerned about your partner.” His voice deepened, reminding her of warm honey. “Our target would recognize Sanchez. Antigua had been stirring up trouble here in the States, and Sanchez arrested him, ready to drag his carcass to the cooler, but his daddy carried too much weight and has too much money. Presto, Antigua escaped the net.” He laughed softly. “I heard your partner messed the guy up a little”
She knew Sanchez could be tough. “Okay. I buy all that. But I would have preferred to hear from him about the change of plans.”
“We can talk over dinner.” He spoke with such assurance, Lana wanted to jab him in the ribs. “Shall we dine in the hotel restaurant or have dinner sent to our room?”
“I know that had to be a joke. Right?” Lana could use a meal, having not eaten since early that morning. “We’ll have dinner in the hotel dining room where there’s lots of light and people.”
“That’s a wise decision.” He took her arm and walked too close to suit her. “So, what happened to that kid you were hiding from?”
“That’s personal, and a big mistake on both our parts.” She brushed at his hand locked on her elbow. “We only discuss the detail. That’s it.”
“Going to be pretty dull that way.” He led her to the cozy booth the waiter picked for them. “White becomes you, baby.” He straightened the collar of her linen suit. “Lends a virginal glow to your complexion. You don’t still have that little black number, do you?”
“I burned it.”
Sam laughed, helping her into the plush seat. He must have a bear trap memory.
Lana wondered how she would cope with this man whom she didn’t quite trust, yet was so damnably drawn to.
Call headquarters? Darn straight she would, the second she had some privacy.
While women cast alley cat glances their way, Lana held back a groan. On the outside, he had to be tempting as sin, tanned and all-desirable male. That had been her undoing back in that hotel room. Now, she had to treat him as if they’d never had blast furnace sex after a thirty minute flirtation.
She’d gone over his personnel file with a fine-toothed comb, looking for anything to discredit his ability to be an agent and found exactly nothing to mar his service record. The damn thing bulged with all of his accomplishments, along with the dozen reprimands for scrapes he’d been in. Horn had saved a boatload of children from the sex trade. She had read the passage and had been emotionally touched. Aside from his bold as brass attitude, he had displayed his human side on more than one occasion.
Under different circumstances, Lana couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting. The quintessential male beside her and the classic cream and gold décor blending with chamber music piped in from behind the scenes created the ultimate scene for seduction.
The smiling waiter chatted with them as if they were regular customers, suggesting his favorites on the lengthy menu with appallingly expensive prices. Lana chose quickly, hoping to get the meal over with as soon as possible. She had questions about what he knew and if he had come up with changes to the original plan. The man seemed to think she intended to sit still for his evasive act.
She ordered a seafood salad while he ate lobster and steak. He ignored her most of the time until their plates had been removed and he enjoyed a glass of merlot. He gazed at her as if she were a puzzle, obviously lining up his questions.
“Tell me, Ms. Pearly.” His steady gaze sent a red warning light skittering up her spine. “You won’t be twenty-seven for two more months. How did you break into the bureau at such a tender age?”
“Break in?” She’d forgotten how easy it had been to check out his files. Of course, he’d done the same thing with her. “I took the same tests you did.” She waited for some reaction to her comment. His pleasant expression didn’t alter. “Then again, maybe we didn’t. It has been a while.”
Their dessert arrived, and she ate the ice cream and berries to avoid looking into his dark eyes. He seemed never to be without something clever to hit her with.
“Don’t tell me you went off and married that peach fuzz kid.” To her surprise, he touched his spoon to her lips. “Go on. It’s not poison.”
She chose to go along with him and let the dessertspoon slide into her mouth. Despite the heavenly chocolate sauce, she didn’t comment on the quality of the food.
She licked her lips. “Like you said, let’s drop the games.”
He placed his napkin on the table and clasped her hand under the tablecloth. “Ms. Pearly, I think you’re right.” His teasing expression vanished. “Pick your topic.”
“I know you have a nose for trouble.” Lana remembered reading about the firestorm situations he’d been in and consequently slithered out of.
“And I know your daddy was big in the bureau.” He tapped his spoon on the desert dish. “That explains your ease of getting in while men with real experience stand outside waiting.”
He had hit her in a vulnerable spot.
“Would I be wrong to wonder if a man pushing thirty-eight is up to this job?”
* * * *
Sam arched his brows, gazing at the woman who had sneaked around in his memory for two years.
“Good one, Ms. Pearly. You’re wondering if I’m married. No.” Hell, she knew that already. “I spent ten years in the military and jumped ship when I got a better offer.” He ended his list of qualifications with a smile. “You’re just a baby. Can you handle the job?”
Her expression hadn’t altered from total indifference while he questioned her abilities. He didn’t give a damn, just enjoyed looking at her. She hadn’t changed any. Except maybe her breasts had gotten bigger. No, her breasts were still high and a handful. She’d worn more makeup that night, but there wasn’t
“Let’s talk about how you happened to be here.” Glancing around, she took up an aggravating, serious tone. “How are we going to handle the dope?”
He wanted to laugh, but he liked her devious side. “Are you calling Carlos Antigua a dope?” Giving her the correct name of their target had been a good decision. “Code name, Cold Stones. And if we get into a hot spot, we use Icebreaker.”
She relaxed against the booth’s padded leather. “Very good, Horn. Will you be so talkative when we find our man in Warsaw?”
“Aw, for Pete’s sake, woman.” He hadn’t won her over completely, or she was horsing with him. “Are you sure you’re supposed to be in Miami?” He signaled the waiter to bring the check. “I’m going to Argentina. You can fly back to Daddy if you’re mixed up on your instructions.”
From the corner of his eye, he watched Lana grab her handbag and slide out of the booth. She didn’t stomp off as he expected but waited until he’d slapped a couple large bills into the inconspicuous folder. She inhaled before speaking. Probably working up a new assault.
“Let’s go compare notes and pinpoint where we need to be.” He didn’t notice any softening in her body language while she completed her little spiel. “I have more questions for you.” Her eyes insinuated he might be water boarded.
The walk to the elevator brought back memories of doing the same thing once before. He chanced her anger. “We’ll go to my suite, if you have no problem with that.”
“None at all.” She stepped inside the elevator, and he ogled the way her firm behind moved under the short skirt of her proper suit. “If you don’t have all the specks, I’ll get them from my suite.”
“My specks are all in order, Pearly.” And so are yours.
The glassed in elevator raced to the eighth floor, where they got out. Sam held his tongue about how they’d kissed and drove each other wild in a similar hotel, a similar hallway a long time ago.