He’s an undercover MI6 agent looking for a lost teammate.
She’s an American doctor who’s uncovered a potentially deadly secret.
Together, can they save the world from an enemy out to destroy both of their countries?
It was one night. A night of pure passion and desire. A night I will never forget. But she walked out, and I never stopped thinking about her. Now, she’s back. Within my reach. And again, she’s off-limits. She belongs to someone else. One of my men. Teaming up with her to take down those who threaten our freedoms seems like a perfect way to get close to her. But there’s more at stake than ever before.
I never forgot him. He was—is—unlike any other man I’d ever known. But the timing was off; I had more happening in my life than I could handle. Now, with him right here, I can feel how much I’ve missed: His touch, his scent, his taste. Except, there’s more on the line than a love affair. We have to keep it professional. But can I do that when I need so much more from this undercover agent?
There was something about a man with a British accent that melted my panties. That it was a hundred degrees with the same amount of humidity, melted the rest of me. The Englishman who said good morning and held the door open as I walked out of my air-conditioned building and he walked in, didn’t seem affected by the scorching temps in the slightest.
“Can I help you find something?” I asked when I saw the man stop at the bank of mailboxes. Maybe letting a stranger saunter into the building just because of his nothing-to-do-with-the-weather hotness hadn’t been the smartest thing to do.
“I’m a friend of Niven’s,” he said, not looking at me but peering through the tiny window of the jam-packed box instead.
“Oh, Tommy? Of course, that makes sense.”
He turned to me and cocked his head, but immediately focused his attention back on the mailbox.
“I haven’t seen him for several days.” Hence the overflowing mail. It wasn’t unusual, though. The man who lived at the opposite end of the hall from me was out of town more than he was in. The part that made sense was that Tommy, as I called him, was British too. “Was he expecting you?” I asked as if it were any of my business. Anything, though, to have a reason to keep staring at the man who reminded me of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond—the Golden Eye version.
My penchant for movies made the same year I was born or earlier, meant that most of the men who turned my head on screen were now in their sixties or seventies. The dark-haired hottie in front of me, the one I was admiring from head to foot—the same man who was speaking to me—was closer to my own age. The man who was speaking to me.
“I’m sorry, can you please repeat that?” I asked while, at the same time, trying to figure out why he looked so familiar—the sunglasses and baseball cap he wore didn’t make it easy.
“I said I wasn’t certain of my date of arrival.”
As much as I didn’t want to take my eyes off Mister 007, I glanced at my phone. “Oh! I need to go!” I exclaimed, dismayed to see that if I didn’t leave now, I wouldn’t have a prayer of arriving at work in time for my nine o’clock meeting. “Sorry. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
The man nodded, but didn’t appear to have heard me; James Bond would never have been so rude.
Hoisting one of the three canvas bags I was carrying onto my shoulder, I rushed out of the building just in time to see the number one bus pull away from my corner stop. “Dammit,” I muttered under my breath. What would’ve taken me twelve minutes would now be forty-two; the next bus wouldn’t come for a half hour.
I turned at the exact, right moment to see the man formerly—albeit momentarily—known as my own British superspy leave the building and walk in the opposite direction. I leaned against the lamppost, inwardly swooning at the way his steel-hard ass looked in his trousers, as Tommy would call them. His shoulders were ridiculously broad, and even though he wore a long-sleeve dress shirt, I could see his muscular arms as he moved. But that ass. I could barely bring myself to look away.
Tommy. When had I last seen him? It had to have been at least two weeks. I crossed my fingers that the other Brit’s arrival meant he was back in town. Things ended so awkwardly between us the last time I saw him, and before I had the chance to talk to him about it, he was gone again.
I touched my lips with my fingers, remembering the kiss he and I had shared that night. It had been so unexpected. We’d gone out for dinner several times, but until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that Tommy was interested in me. Maybe it was just that I was so out of practice, I missed the signs.
I sighed. My dating slump had lasted longer than I cared to acknowledge even to myself. I was a self-proclaimed nerd, burying myself in global-political grand strategy to the point of exclusion of everything else in my life. Dating—who had the time? Fashion—why bother when the only people who ever saw me were other analysts who also had their noses buried in foreign-policy documents?
My last long-term boyfriend had been a professor, also in the international program, but on the Russian side. We broke up the day I walked into his office to find his associate on her back on his desk, legs spread, skirt around her waist, and panties on the floor, beside him.
It had definitely put me off Eastern European men, but Brits? They were my weakness. Ever since the one night when I decided to act the role of someone far different than who I usually am—someone adventurous, worldly, passionate, and wanton.
I shook my head against the memory. Thinking about the best sex I’d ever had wouldn’t help the ache of not having any in so long get better.
I set my bags down on the sidewalk and rolled my shoulders. I had a long day ahead of me, and starting out thirty minutes late wasn’t going to make it any shorter.
I checked the time on my phone again, and given it hadn’t stood still for me, I contemplated whether it would be better to call a car service and be on time, or my assistant, Paxon Warrick, to tell him I’d be late for the third time this week. Since it was only Wednesday, the car service was probably the best bet, especially considering we had an important meeting scheduled in forty-five minutes.
“Everything okay?” said an English-accented voice from behind me. When I spun around and looked into my friend’s friend’s green eyes, he was elevated right back to superspy status.
Oh my God—those green eyes. I’d never forget them. It had been three years since I last saw them and the man standing in front of me. I wanted to look him up and down, but I wasn’t wearing sunglasses to hide my once-over. Keep your eyes up here, I told myself, focusing on his face.
“I missed my bus. Do you wear contacts?”
He shook his head, cocking it to the side like he had when I mentioned Tommy. “What an odd question.”
“Your eyes. They’re the color of sage after it rains. Not grayish like Dusty Miller.”
Now he looked perplexed. “Who is Dusty Miller?”
“Not who. What. It’s a plant.”
If anything, my explanation left him looking more puzzled. The fact that we were in the midst of our second conversation and he showed no sign of recognizing me, didn’t come as a surprise. I looked nothing like I had that night.
Gone were the sophisticated clothes I’d purchased for my first-ever international policy conference in London and then never wore again. In their place, I had on a sensible, wrinkle-resistant black pantsuit, a short-sleeve white blouse, and comfortable black pumps with a one-inch heel. Instead of the contacts I’d had in when I last saw this man, I was wearing my round, tortoise-shell glasses that caused less eyestrain when I spent hours upon hours reading. And, like most days, my hair was bone straight instead of falling down my back in soft waves as it had that night.
The other thing—while the man in front of me had been my sole indiscretion, the only one-night stand I’d had in my life, there was no doubt that I was one of countless for him.
A car pulled up at the curb beside us. “Can I give you a lift somewhere?”
Could I sit in such close proximity to him when he had no recollection of how he’d rocked my world one night three years ago? “No, I’ll just wait for the next bus, but thank you.”
He studied me as though that response confused him as much as my referring to his eyes as the color of a plant. “Where are you going?”
“MIT.” I pointed down Mass Ave. “You know, in Cambridge.”
“I do know. I’m going there myself.”
“I’d hardly lie about it.”
I looked at the time on my phone again. It was speeding by, and I was going to be late if I didn’t accept his offer of a ride, and that would be even if I called for my own car service.
“If you’re sure it wouldn’t be an imposition.”
His voice, the one that had played over and over again in my head in the months that followed our sexcapades, didn’t sound anything like what I remembered. Instead of being suave and sexy, he was clipped and curt. I remembered him being cocky, not rude.
He opened the door and picked up all three of my bags, motioning for me to get in. Before I could scoot to the far side of the back-passenger seat, he closed the door and walked around to the other side.
“Sir,” the man behind the wheel said when my Mister One-Nighter got in. Before my backseat companion could tell him where we were going, the driver sped off.
On the best of days, like Sundays at four in the morning, it took me seven minutes to get from my apartment to my office. Today I’d be there in under five at the rate the man otherwise employed as a Nascar driver was going. The last time I’d felt this carsick was on Mister Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland.
“You can drop me at this corner,” I said when the driver pulled up at the intersection of Memorial and Wadsworth. “Thank you for the ride.” I realized then that he hadn’t introduced himself, and neither had I. However, I had been preoccupied with me remembering him and him not remembering me—along with not hurling my breakfast on the floor of the car.
I turned to shake his hand and thank him properly, but he’d already climbed out the other side of the car and was holding my three bags.
“I’m Emme,” I said when he opened my door and I got out of the car.
“Lennox,” he answered.
Hmm. Lennox? Not Lynx as he’d introduced himself that night? Interesting.
“Shall we?” he asked so abruptly that it pushed my annoyance over the edge.
“It was nice to meet you, although you look very familiar to me. Like maybe we’ve met before.” I gave him time to acknowledge having the same recollection I had. When he didn’t, I prompted him further. “Do I look at all familiar to you?”
Still no response. Wait. What was he doing? When I turned around, I caught him looking at himself in the window of my building. How could he possibly remember me when he was so busy admiring his own reflection?
God, what did I expect? Hadn’t I just reminded myself that I was probably only one on a miles-and-miles-long list of one-night conquests for the man I’d met in a hotel bar? I should be happy he didn’t recognize me.
When I walked away, he followed, reminding me he still had my bags. “This is my building.” I held out my hands, which he ignored.
“Mine as well.”
“International Policy. I have a meeting with Dr. Charles.”
I stopped walking and groaned inwardly. “You’re kidding.”
His perplexed expression reappeared. “I’m not,” he said with a furrowed brow.
“I’m Dr. Charles.”