Decision made, Kayla crossed to the hallway closet, pulled open the gigantic golden oak doors, and took out a raincoat. She also grabbed her gun and checked it before tucking it into her waistband. She snatched up a pair of compact binoculars and a compass and was shoving her arms in the sleeves of the yellow slicker as she walked through to the kitchen.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"Exactly what you said."
"I'm saving my breath. I decided not to argue with you," she said.
"Stop right there."
He spoke softly, but his voice snapped with whiplash force. Despite herself, she froze. She'd faced untold danger, but this man, unarmed, unnerved her. A funny little knot formed in the pit of her stomach.
Kindling crackled as fire gnawed its edges.
"I asked you a question."
"I'm going for a walk," she said.
"Turn around," he instructed, his voice all the more terrifying for its quietness. "And look at me."
Slowly, she did.
He stood and faced her. "Let's try that again," he said quietly. "And let's be very clear, Ms. Fagan, that you're here at my pleasure." He took a single step toward her. "I don't like being disobeyed."
That word was loaded with meaning and threat.
Wildly she thought of the room in the basement, the one with crops and paddles hanging from the walls. The one she'd been forbidden to enter, and the first door she'd opened when he'd left the house.
She locked her knees so she didn't waver. "I've never been much for being obedient." Which might be a teeny little white lie. She wasn't experienced at dominance and submission, but she'd always wanted to experiment.
"Nathaniel Davidson is far from helpless."
"He's a fellow member of Hawkeye. I'm not allowed to leave him out there. And I won't." She met his eyes. "Really, Mr. Stone, I don't really care if it gets me fired." Or worse. She pivoted and walked away.
The wind whipped at the door, nearly snatching it from her hand.
She turned up the collar of her ineffective raincoat. There was never anything friendly about a Rocky Mountain storm.
She'd grown up in Tucson where torrential rains were common during the monsoon season. They cooled the weather to bearable seventy-degree temperatures, but this ... it was freaking like winter.
Fortunately, she didn't have far to trudge. From her conversations with headquarters, she had a pretty good idea of where the insertion was supposed to happen. And in less than fifteen minutes, the ground beneath her sizzling with electrical ferociousness, she saw a streak of orange.
Members of her team were smart. Nate had donned a reflective safety vest. That would, at least, stop friendly fire.
"Davidson!" When she got no response, she called out a second time.
He started toward her. "Come to rescue me, have you?" he shouted above the roar of the wind. "Bet Stone told you to come."
"He sends his regards and invites you to sit next to the fire while he pours you a cognac."
Nate laughed. "How much trouble are you in for coming after me?"
"He said he doesn't like to be disobeyed, but he didn't threaten to flay the skin from my hide."
"Doesn't mean he won't."
"Thanks. That's a comforting thought."
"He doesn't know?"
"Who I am? No." She shook her head. "He thinks Hawkeye sent him a physical therapist."
Nate grinned. "Do you know enough about that to do no harm, doc?"
"Uh ... I watched a special on PBS."
"Can anyone join this party?"
Wolf. Her breath threatened to choke her. How much had he overheard? It shouldn't have surprised her that he'd followed, that he'd effortlessly covered the same ground she had in far less time. The man was in shape, and he kept himself sharp, the same way he had when he led American troops in the Middle East.
Over the lash of the summer storm, his voice laden with command, he said, "Both of you, back to the house."
The wind snatched a few strands of hair and whipped them against his high cheekbones. His features were roughly hewn, and, out here, in the elements that suited him, he appeared even more formidable than he had in the house.
"Fabulous," Nate said. "Thanks. Maybe I will get a cognac, after all."
"Don't count on it," Stone fired back.
Cheerfully, as if he couldn't have been happier, Nate grinned and gamely started down the mountainside. Freak. No one should be happy about this kind of reception.
"Move it, Fagan." Stone instructed, leaning forward so he could issue his command directly into her ear.
"Yes, sir," she said quietly.
"Did you say something?"
She blinked innocently.
His arched brow told her he hadn't bought it.
Steps short but sure, she followed Nate, leaving Stone to bring up the rear.
Minutes later, the mean-looking sky unleashed a torrent. Earth became mud. Rocks became as slick as ice.
She lost her balance, and Stone was there, wrapping his good arm around her waist, pulling her up and back, flush against the solidness of his body.
The sensation zinging through her was from him, not the crack of lightning. "I'm good," she told him. "Fine."
He held her for a couple of seconds.
His warm breath fanned across her ear. What would it be like to lean back, she wondered, for just a bit longer? Maybe to be protected in his strong arms? To feel his cock against the small of her back? To surrender to the fantasies that kept her awake at night and her pussy moist, even now?
And what fantasies they were.
Last night's sight of his semierect dick had driven her mad.
After he returned to his own room, she'd thought of the crops and paddles in his downstairs room. She'd pictured him using them on her while she gasped and strained, and ultimately surrendered to the inevitable. Turned on and needy, she'd pulled up her sleep shirt and parted her labia to find her clit already hardened.
She'd come with a quiet little mew and wanted nothing more than to scream the house down as his cock pounded her.
She shook her head. She couldn't afford thoughts like this with any man, particularly one she was sent to protect.
Oh, man, that would go over so well when he found out.
"I'm fine," she repeated. "And you need to be careful. Otherwise we'll be spending the next week undoing the damage."
"So speaks my physical therapist." Before she had a chance to reply, he added, "I want you out of the storm."
She started down the mountainside, being more careful this time.
The trip up had taken maybe about fifteen minutes. Down took half an hour. And by the time they reached the home's wraparound porch, the sky spit out pieces of ice, in the form of hail.
Very polite country, this.
Minding her manners, she took off her shoes and left them on a rubber mat, then hung the slicker on a peg.
Kayla told herself two lies. First, that she wasn't stalling. Second, that her fingers were shaking only because of the cold weather.
Stone unlocked the back door and indicated she should precede both men into the kitchen.
Nate followed her, and then Stone relocked the door behind them.
"You," he demanded, pointing a finger at Nate. "I want to know what the fuck you were thinking."
Nate took a step back for self-preservation.
Both men dripped water and tracked mud. Neither seemed to care. And neither seemed to notice she was even there.
"Hawkeye didn't assign you," Stone surmised.
"No," Nate said.
"Then you volunteered." The storm hadn't remained outside ... It had gathered force around Wolf and threatened to consume all of them with white-hot heat.
Nate's retreat was brought up short when he backed into the countertop. "Yeah," he said. "What of it?"
"You knew I wouldn't want you here."
Nate shrugged. "I knew you wouldn't want anyone. Because you're stubborn. And a fool."
"For thinking you can always do it all, all alone. No man is an island, friend. And you'd damn well do the same for me."
The men were a study in contrast. The planes of Wolf's Navajo features to Nate's boyish all-American good looks. Fair to dark. Alpha to beta.
"Fuck your ego, Wolf. You know there's no place I'd rather be," Nate said, as if that explained everything.
Kayla sucked in a breath when Wolf devoured the remaining distance with a few strides, pinning Nate totally against the counter. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.
"Wolf," she said, licking her lower lip.
"You,'" he said, barely sparing Kayla a glance, "will be dealt with directly."
Her stomach plummeted to her toes.
She was watching two magnificent warriors spar, and, if she wasn't careful, she'd be collateral damage.
Wolf returned his attention to Nate, capturing the man's head between his palms and holding him prisoner.
What the hell...
Wolf kissed Nate. Thoroughly. Punishingly. Brutally.
Her breath hissed out in stunned surprise.
Nate Davidson and Wolf Stone were gay?
Well, turn her prim and proper world upside down and inside out. Her gaydar hadn't gone off, not even once.
How could two virile, handsome, masculine men--men that she wanted to fuck--possibly be gay? And just how bad did it suck to be her?