True Deceptions (True Lies)(4)

By: Veronica Forand



“You want to be my chum? Are you daft?”

She swallowed hard. “The service won’t let me return to my old job until I complete whatever assignment they placed me here to do.”

She was right. In his world, you succeeded and moved to the next assignment or you died.

“You’re American.”

“No. I’m British. My father and mother divorced when I was five. Mom moved me to Southern California soon after. The service said sounding American would be better, because you wouldn’t want an English woman after your last partner died.”

He overlooked her comment about Nicola. It was in the past—a past he wanted to forget.

He phoned a contact at MI6 to confirm her identity, and that she had, indeed, been assigned as his new partner on a job the service wasn’t ready to reveal. She remained on the couch, drinking wine and trembling. It was like they were now recruiting Sunday school teachers to be spooks. She spoke too softly, acted too timid, and drank her wine as though it was soda. She had nothing on Nicola, who was focused, smart, and sexy as hell. There was only way out of this situation—murder Tucker. He must be laughing his ass off. If Simon didn’t accept this Cassie person, they’d eliminate her and send over some other annoying recruit.

He stood up and stretched to his full six feet, five inches. In two steps he stood over her. Her earrings sparkled the same color as her eyes. Aquamarines. He leaned forward and rested his hands on the back of the couch, one on each side of her shoulders. She tried to pull back, but the couch kept her blocked in. His nose stopped an inch from hers.

“If you insist on staying here, you are under my control at all times. You do as I say, go where I tell you to go, and never talk to headquarters without my permission. Screw with me once, and I’ll throw you and all your pretty things onto the sidewalk, embedded or not.” Obedience and perseverance were the two most useful skills a new agent could possess, especially when lacking competence.

She nodded and held her glass almost steady. “I understand. I’ve trained for months for this. I’m ready.”

Her gaze focused on his chin. Neophyte. She’d never convince anyone they were lovers. Her training must have consisted of watching James Bond movies and playing Risk, the game of world domination.

“How many assignments have you worked on?”

“Including this one?”

“Sure.”

“One.”

“You have a lot of catching up to do.” He could smell merlot on her breath. So damn tempting, but thoughts of Anna Marie and her final kiss stopped him cold.

“I learn fast.” She lifted her glass to take another sip, forcing him to pull his face away from hers. “Do you have our assignment?”

Even if he knew, he wouldn’t tell her until she’d earned his trust. “I have no idea. I’ll be told within the week. Can you stay out of my way until I learn why you’re here?”

“Absolutely.” She placed her hand on his chest to push him back. “I guess I’ll be going to bed now.”

He didn’t move. He hadn’t thought this far. “There’s only one bed, and I don’t sleep on the couch. Ever.”

“Fine. I’ll sleep on the couch.” Her eyes became shiny, and she swallowed hard, making him feel like a callous idiot.

But he couldn’t back down. She’d think he cared. He didn’t.

“Fine.” Pushing away from her, he stormed out of the room.

Oh. My. God.

Cassie exhaled all the stress she’d hidden from her new superior. Or maybe not actually hidden. If he was as good as everyone had told her, he’d have seen how scared she was. After three years as a technology specialist, she received an order to do field work. They insisted her skills were necessary for the success of the assignment. Although she didn’t want to leave her post, the request came with an ultimatum. Take it or find a new job. She couldn’t blow it, no matter how hostile Simon had turned out to be. The sooner she finished, the faster she could return to the work she loved. She hoped.

Retrieving her weapon from under the coffee table, she placed it on the couch and stared at the black finish. The gun still had the safety on, to prevent her from accidentally shooting someone. Guns killed. They shouldn’t be issued to people who refused, for ethical reasons, to eat animal products.

She rubbed behind her ears, trying to ease the sore spots. Simon had pulled her hair hard, but what choice did he have with someone threatening his life? If only headquarters had told her he’d be arriving so soon. On the other hand, he could have simply turned around and seen she wasn’t a real threat.

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