Throwing all the glamorous eye candy out of her mind, she slowed down to give David the flirtatious glance she'd practiced all morning in front of the mirror. She allowed the shirt to fall off her shoulder and paused to pull it back up, watching him out of the corner of her eye, praying to the erotic Gods she didn't look as dumb as she felt.
Goosebumps washed across her flesh when she eyed him watching her. Judging by his reaction, the stunned look on his face, she really started to believe she had his full attention.
This felt good. Liberating, actually. Her skin prickled from the thrill of stepping outside of her comfort zone. Outside? Ha! Her comfort zone was in another time zone.
A sexy tourist? She could do that. She'd heard about the way agencies like NASSD treated their rookie agents. But she hadn't worn the title of rookie for seven years, and she sure as spit would never want to be considered a NASSD agent.
Never wanted it, never will.
Still, NASSD prided themselves on finding the new recruit's one weakness and playing on it, testing their will to extremes, pushing them to the edge of their sanity. Glancing at David, she thought this mission fit the bill. Her will to do extreme things to him drove her to the edge of her sanity.
Charis Marie McKoy! Behave yourself! Her lip curled as her mind disobeyed and did the exact opposite. Thoughts of him jogging over to her and sweeping her in his arms as he planted the hottest, wettest kiss she'd ever experienced made her purr. He'd then trace the inside of her mouth with his tongue, tasting her, and in turn, allowing her to taste him. She imagined his hands gliding across her flesh. They'd roll around on the sand, in the surf, just like in the movies.
She removed the sunglasses from her face and placed them on top of her head, pulling the front of her annoying curls off her face.
To her chagrin, he stood in place and stared right back at her, capturing her eyes with his. Good thing he couldn't read minds. The way he cocked his brow at her, his lips pulling into a sly grin, forcing a shudder from her, made her wonder.
He didn't wear sunglasses, and she noticed the way his dark eyes danced as he continued to watch her. God how she loved those deep brown eyes. Hooded, endless, mixed with powerful emotions. Kind eyes, despite the hurtful things he'd said about her beloved ICE agency.
Now as she stood here gawking at a man as big as life and incredibly mouth-watering, her heart jumped around in her chest like a little kid on a trampoline. He looked even more chiseled to perfection than she'd remembered. But then again, he'd had a year on the beaches of Maui to help condition him into the vision of the beautiful man before her.
His beachcomber shorts stopped mid-thigh. The Maui sun had done his body good, she had to admit. No shirt, no tan lines, just a hard body and sun kissed to perfection. He was a true work of art.
And like any work of art worth a hoot, Agent David Snyder was a hot commodity. Hot, indeed.
Three days. It took her a whopping three days to track him down. NASSD took longer planning the op than it did for her to find him. Why they asked her to find him instead of using their own agents still bothered her. NASSD rarely asked for ICE's help. At least not on something like this.
They treated ICE like barrel-scrapings. Well, until they wanted something. Then NASSD would be their best friend. She knew what they wanted.
David Snyder. She licked her lips, not blaming them in the least. Deep down, in the crux of her thighs, she wanted him, too.
NASSD and ICE had an unwritten agreement. ICE would take their discards, and in return, they got ... What? Exactly what NASSD intended--their discards. It was high time they reversed the trade and took in an agent from ICE.
She'd just as soon tell them all to go to hell, and in binary. That would take the all-bronze-no-brains agency a while to decipher. If ever.
Instead of dwelling on her bitter diatribe toward NASSD, she decided to make the best of it. She'd pave the way for other ICE agents. Lord only knew how many other ICE agents felt the same way. The want for change. The need for something more than sitting behind a desk for the rest of their lives.
No more. The fact she found David Snyder and now stood here gawking at him had to prove to NASSD an ICE agent had the ability to do just as good a job as one of their own agents, maybe even better.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Snyder's modus operandi. He'd used the cover of a bartender on many of his ops, usually at a beach resort or tourist town. Lahaina, Maui fit both descriptions. It was what he knew, and humans were creatures of habit. When threatened or out of their elements, they reverted back to what they knew. He couldn't leave the country. NASSD had a trace on all the airports at all times as a normal course of business. And with the metal in his system, he'd set off all the detectors. After 9/11 every airport had ridiculously tight security.
But they weren't tracking cruise ships.
Some of the white beach sand clung to him as he jogged his way to the beachside pool. Every step toward her made her heart spasm in crazy time. He approached her in record time. Oh God. OhGodOhGod. What should she do? Pretend to not see him? Continue to gawk? Run?
The way the sun glistened off the sugary sand made her spike her brow. Oh, mama. She didn't have the power to look away. Her body tensed with every step he took, drawing him closer, and drawing her deeper into lust. She wanted so badly to ask him if he'd rub some oil on her back. He'd agree, and she'd make up some excuse to stay by his side until death do they part.
Earth to Charis. He was nothing more to her than a mark. She couldn't afford to let personal feelings get in the way of her objective. Damn it. She would have loved to get to know him on a more personal level.
Maybe someday. But not today. Today she needed to focus on bringing the target home. Once she delivered him to HQ, maybe he'd ask her to dinner. They'd share their appetizer, and then share dessert horizontal. Her nipples puckered in agreement.
She lowered herself onto a nearby lounge chair so she now faced him and dropped her bag on the ground next to her. The sun felt good against her skin and she sighed as she lifted her chin to bask in the rays. She loved to bake in the sun. If her family would loosen its grip on her and how close all the kids needed to live, she'd move to Maui and never look back. David didn't have it so bad here.
She shook out of her shirt and leaned back. Her nerves felt raw as she drew in several breaths to remain calm. She could do this.
Closing her eyes, she sighed again and tried to relax, allowing the warmth of the rays to soothe her, to regenerate her. Now this was much better than her stuffy office at ICE. She imagined herself succeeding in this mission, bringing David back to Seattle with her. A smile bubbled up and planted itself firmly across her face. Ah, no more endless reference checks. No more sitting in a van on never-ending surveillance ops. Success meant not only would her brother's transfer from ICE to NASSD be permanent, Charis would press for that promotion her director had been teasing her with.
Her smile widened.
A thought popped into her head, causing her smile to falter. As soon as she worked up her nerve, she'd have to find a way to make small talk with him. And then, once she had his full attention, she'd have to figure out how to slip in the fact that NASSD had sent her to bring him back to Seattle.
Would he get on the plane with her? Would the elusive ex-agent concede to her and go peacefully? A slight whimper of impatience escaped her lips. She knew exactly how he'd respond.
Of course he wouldn't go without a fight. He'd probably throw her into the pool and tell her where to go once she got out. He would then disappear.
And in turn, she would be screwed.
Maybe she should just go and get it over with. Special Director Weber had been calling her every day this week wanting a status on her progress. She wasn't on vacation, he reminded her three times already. Charis took in the sun and its warming rays. She may not be on vacation, but nothing in the rulebook said she couldn't enjoy an extra minute or two while on an op in Maui. She should know.
Okay, a couple more minutes and she'd go talk to him. She'd given herself that little pep talk every night this week while she sat in a corner booth and watched him behind the bar as he laughed and joked with the tourists. It almost made her second-guess bringing him back. He looked happy in his new life.
Could she be any more pathetic with her excuses?
A shadow the size of a mountain blocked out her sun, took over her thoughts. "You look..."
She opened her eyes and looked up as David Snyder stood in her sun. Her entire world jumped the axis. She gaped up at him, completely captivated by his presence. Her breath hitched.
His jaw tensed and relaxed as he glanced down at her. He hadn't shaved in at least a day, and she had to admit, the dusting of whiskers across his jaw made him seem even more dangerous, and more dangerously appealing. Her knees wobbled. Thank God she'd already taken a seat.
She never had the chance to see him vertical before. Holy cow, the man was a giant. She'd guess him to be between six two and six four. Hmmm. Six feet plus of towering muscle, undeniable power, and overwhelming sexiness. Her five foot nine inch frame didn't stand a chance against him. That didn't bother her in the least.
"If you don't mind, you're casting a shadow." Thank God her voice didn't shake, giving up how she really felt. He had her senses in turmoil. She motioned for him to move to the side. He didn't.
David slowly raked his gaze over her frame. He hesitated at the scars on her leg, the same scars he stared at so intently back at the hospital. She fought the urge to throw the shirt over her legs to cover them. Continuing to scrape his heated gaze across her flesh, he paused at her breasts. They pinched in response. Finally, he rested his gaze on her face. "Let me buy you a drink."
Charis peered up at him, debating whether to accept. Her heart palpitated. Oh boy. Was she ready for this? Yes. No. Yes. Um...
Maybe. Definitely maybe.
Okay, so now was as good a time as any. Those crisp brown eyes assessed her and she had to take a moment to regroup. Finally, after finding her voice, she responded. "As long as you get out of my sun."
"What would you like?"
She almost told him, the dewiness penetrating her suit completely. Thank God she had sense enough to stop herself. "How about a Mai Tai?"
He eyed her up and down, not bothering to hide his obvious approval at what he saw. He didn't pause to stare at her scars again, and the motion made her heart skip. No one had ever not stared at them before. They either blatantly stared as he did before, or made a ridiculous attempt to be nonchalant.
"The drink of the tourist. Why doesn't that surprise me?"
"That's what I am," she agreed quickly.
His faced hardened. "Right. And I'm the goddamn Pope." He suddenly found his smile, and if she hadn't been watching him the entire week, would have believed it to be genuine. "Let me get that drink." He turned and walked off. She watched him walk away, enjoying every minute of his toned backside.
Her heart rate jumped from zero to sixty. Stay cool, McKoy. He couldn't know her identity. He'd only met her once, briefly in the hospital. There she'd hid behind her glasses and a long white doctor's coat. Here she was practically naked and had her contacts in. Even if he did recognize her, he had no idea why she'd come.
He made his way over to the tiki bar. A blonde bimbo with a bra size larger than her IQ bounced over to him. Charis zeroed in as she watched them, her teeth clenching down until her jaw hurt. Calm down, McKoy. You don't know her. And he doesn't belong to you. Her heart pinched.
He turned and glanced at the woman, said a few words, and then turned from her to accept the drinks. As he left the bar, his eyes rested back on Charis. He didn't give that woman more than a glance, a few polite responses. She had never wanted to show a man more gratitude than she did at that moment. Her skin warmed at the thought as the dampness between her thighs grew.
He returned with two Mai Tai's. "This should hit the spot." He handed her a drink in a coconut shell with a little umbrella imbedded in the side.
"Thanks." She accepted and took in a long, cool sip. Ah, heaven. She felt it travel all the way down to her belly and loved every second of it. The alcohol wasn't strong at all. Typical for these touristy spots. She sat back and sipped on it without worrying about the affects. She had enough to think about without alcohol numbing her brain.
"You know," he continued and casually took a seat on the lounge chair next to hers. "If it's sun you're here for, I know a much better place to sunbathe."
"Yep. Very remote. A little cove, actually. No one even knows about it. You just say the right word and I'll take you," he stated and curled his lip into a coy grin, "there."
Her heart skipped. Did he just threaten her? "Mmmm. Sounds very enticing, but no thanks." NASSD Rule #107: Never get into a situation leaving you alone with your target.
"Why not? Afraid to take the risk?"
Her insides lurched. He'd lost it in the hospital when the director had called him a risk. She closed her eyes and lifted her chin to the sun, ignoring the churning inside her stomach, signaling imminent danger. Run now, you idiot! He's on to you. "I barely know you."
"Oh, I don't know about that."
Another dig. Opening her eyes to squints, she turned and looked at him, but he didn't push the issue. His eyes danced in silent mirth, sending her insides into the spins. She loved that smile. Hated that smile.
"Can't you feel it?" He grabbed her hand and sandwiched it between his. Had she not wanted him to do that very thing at that very moment, she would have pulled back. But to have this man touch her in any way made her skin wash with delicious chills. Her heart rate jumped.
"Between us?" She barely breathed. He felt it, too? She thought only women felt things like that.
"Oh yeah. I feel like I've known you for at least a year. Like we've met before."
Her smile faltered. She withdrew her hand. "I like the sun from here just fine, thanks anyway."
That charming smile could make the most dedicated agent ponder breaking the rules. He arched his brow. "Are you sure?"
"Why are you here then?"
Her heart smacked up against the roof of her mouth.
"If not for the sun, I mean."
"Oh." She thought about her answer. If she lied, told him she had a long lost sister in Maui she'd come to visit, he'd never buy it. She'd always been a terrible liar. She could tell the truth and have him throw his drink in her face. Knowing she'd never convince him of the sister story, she decided to come clean. Sort of.
"I've never been to Maui. I came--" to take you back. "To enjoy the scenery." Not entirely a lie, she told herself, as she eyed him, definitely enjoying the view.
He gave her a lazy smile. "See anything you like?"
"Maybe." Lowering her eyes to her drink, she felt her cheeks burn.
"Hmm?" She pulled her gaze up and realized what he said a second too late. His expression hardened. Oh crap. Charis sat up and almost spilled her drink down the front of her. "How did you--"
David reached down and snagged her drink from her. "Careful with that. These babies are twelve bucks a pop. I'm on a fixed income now. The pittance NASSD paid me to get lost is a joke." He took a long pull off his after setting hers down next to her. "I spotted you at the beginning of the week and wondered when you'd finally approach me. When I saw you in your ... Uh..." he drawled and slowly traced her skin with his gaze, leaving a searing trail of humming electricity across her flesh, "uniform, I knew today had to be my lucky day. I've got to say, I like this look on you even better than the doctor outfit." He sat up and swung his legs around to face her. "And I really liked the doctor outfit."
"Let me guess," he continued. "You aren't here to check up on me, right? You know, the whole doctor/patient thing?"
"I'm a PhD, not an MD. That was just a cover."
Stay uberly-cool. Stick with the plan. NASSD Rule #72: Don't let the target see you get worked up. Uberly-cool. Uberly-cool. Her mind refused to focus. Was uberly even a word? "I have a PhD in computer science. I wrote my dissertation on how computers have revolutionized our ability to gather information."
"Fascinating. Computers, eh? Don't tell me you came all the way to Maui to check out my hard drive."
She felt the heat hit her cheeks. That dig quickened her breathing and made her feel a little flush. Oh man, how she'd love to take a look at his hard drive. She'd even spend some time working on his RAM.
The flash of excitement from that thought brought a giggle to her lips.
"What's so funny?"
Oh Lord. Don't pull a typical Charis and tell him exactly what you're thinking. Before her command reached her mouth, her tongue engaged. "I'd love to--" Oh smooth one. Quick, she had to think of something else. By the look he threw her, he waited for her to finish her thought as well. "Rub some oil on me?" She ended her ridiculous request with a quick smile to cover her embarrassment.
Grabbing the coconut oil out of her bag and handing it to him, she quickly turned to expose her back, breaking rule number sixty-two. NASSD Rule #62: Never turn your back on your target. She listened intently as he popped open the top of the bottle, as he squirted oil into his hand. Barely breathing, she waited for his touch.
She jumped when his hand gently brushed her shoulder, the contact sending goose bumps washing across her flesh, causing her clit to ache with a need she knew only he'd be able to fill. "Sorry, it's cold." She tried to laugh to cover up her reaction. Glancing down at the way her nipples poked at the fabric of her suit, she closed her eyes in an attempt to gain some sort of control over her body.
"Really? Feels pretty hot from my end."
A breath escaped past her lips in a whimper. She tried to relax, to slow her breathing. Not only was she nervous as hell, she had the hottest man in existence rubbing oil on her back, rubbing his callused hands across her skin. "H-How long have you been here?"
He brought another palm full of the oil to her back, slowly caressing her, her body responding to his touch. His other hand joined the first. They explored the hollows of her back, massaging in tiny circles before slowly gliding toward either hip. Moving his hands until he hit the suit, just the tips of his fingers found their way under the fabric. Charis shuddered and tried to ignore how every slight movement of his hands made her entire body tense.
He traced the hem of her suit, drawing his hands up until they stopped just under her arms. She didn't move, she didn't even breathe. Just another inch on either side and he'd be able to touch her breasts. A little further and he'd brush against her aching nipples.
She jumped when he let out a breath. Oh dear God. He had to have had his mouth less than an inch from her neck. She felt the moist warmth of his breath tickle her, and swore his lips whispered a kiss on the sensitive spot behind her ear. Her folds softened and swelled in anticipation of him rubbing her aching clit with the same caress he used on her back.
Pulling his hands back, he used his thumbs to rub at the muscles on her back and neck. The roughness of his hands felt so good against her skin. The way he touched her seduced her flesh, rendering her incapable of muttering a protest. He had her so wet the moisture pooled between her legs.
He continued to rub her as he spoke, his breath tickling her neck. "Do you want me to do your front?"
"More than anything," she breathed, her voice thick with lust. Her eyes flew open when she realized what she'd said. "I mean--I--" She stopped babbling and hung her head in mortification. Oh please let her have imagined she'd just said that out loud. His touch, firm and persuasive, yet gentle and in perfect control, invited more. Having those hands on her, touching her, caressing her, had turned her brain into mush. Her thoughts were now preoccupied with her taking him back to her room to, indeed, do her front.
He pulled his hands back and the damp channel of her pussy clenched in protest. By the time she turned to him, she wondered if he felt the same electricity, the same sexual charge she did.
His dark brows arched mischievously as he waited for her to finish. The smile in his eyes held a sensuous flame, and caused the slick heat of her inner core to burn with want. The beginning of a smile tipped the corners of his mouth. "I can see my comment embarrassed you. I was only kidding."
She pulled her gaze away and touched her blazing cheeks with the back of her hand. Embarrassed didn't even begin to describe the feeling rushing her senses. Desire. Hunger. Anticipation. "Right. I knew that."
"So tell me," he started and eased himself back on the lounge chair. She mirrored his moves. Another trick in the NASSD rulebook, though she couldn't recall the number. He picked up his drink and again she did the same. As he drank, she played with her straw, trying to bring her senses back under control. They danced in a stimulated frenzy after he had her almost near orgasm just from rubbing her back. "How'd they find me?"
They didn't. I did. "I followed a hunch."
"Interesting. And after what I told you back at that hospital, you still think you have a chance at me?"
God, she hoped so. Her clit perked in obvious approval of her train of thought. "I have a request. A favor, of sorts."
"Hah," he mocked, his expression changing. His face hardened, his eyes no longer danced. "Why should I do you any favors?"
Ignoring the slap across the face at his comment, she swallowed down what she really wanted to say. Who sat by his bed day in and day out until he regained consciousness? Who warded off the demons threatening to take his last breath? Who diligently changed his dressings to keep her cover as his personal physician, and to give her an excuse to touch him? Who, for the brief moments she did leave his bedside, spent every waking moment reading everything she could find on Ricin and how to counteract its affects?
She swallowed again, trying to steady her voice. Despite his harsh comments, her libido refused to back down, instead keeping her at a constant state of arousal, at a constant, aching need. "I'm here to bring you back."
He laughed. "Really? You and who else?"