Stranded with a Spy [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Merline Lovelace
eBook Category: Romance/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Escape from hell? To hell was more like it! When Mallory Dawes, suddenly infamous in the States, decided to take that vacation to France, her problems were just beginning: a lost passport. A car swept out to sea. Missing travelers' checks. And a mysterious, if intriguing, man who always seemed to turn up just when she was in trouble.... Cutter Smith--code name: Slash--was told to keep the beautiful blonde in his sights. But as his interest in her veered from the professional to the intensely personal, Cutter knew the cost of falling in love would be high indeed. And he would have to pay the price...
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Romantic Suspense, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2007
8 Reader Ratings:
A crisp September breeze rustled the leaves of the chestnut trees lining a quiet side street just off Massachusetts Avenue, in the heart of Washington, D.C.'s embassy district. When a taxi pulled up at an elegant townhouse halfway down the block, the driver frowned and shot a quick look in the rearview mirror.
"You sure you got the right address?"
"I'm sure." His passenger peeled off two bills. "Keep the change."
Despite the hefty tip, the driver's frown stayed in place as his fare hauled his beat-up leather carryall out of the cab.
No big surprise there, Cutter Smith thought sardonically. He hadn't slept in going on forty-eight hours and he hadn't shaved in twice that long. And not even four days' worth of raspy whiskers could disguise the scars on the right side of his chin and neck. When most people noticed the puckered skin, they quickly turned away. Others, like the cabbie, looked long and hard, as if memorizing the face that went with the scars in case they later had to pick him out of a police lineup.
As Cutter hefted his carryall and mounted the front steps, his gaze went to the discreet bronze plaque beside the door. The carefully polished lettering identified the townhouse as home to the offices of the Special Envoy to the President of the United States. Most Washingtonians familiar with the political spoils system knew the position of Special Envoy was one of those meaningless jobs handed out to wealthy campaign contributors with a yen for a fancy title and a Washington office. Only a very small, very select circle knew the Special Envoy also served as head of OMEGA, an agency so secret that its operatives were activated only in extreme situations.
Or, as in Cutter's case, reactivated. He'd returned from a month-long undercover operation in Central America only this morning, had conducted an exhaustive debrief and was headed home when a call from OMEGA control had turned him around.
Wondering what the hell was so urgent, he reached for the brass latch on the red-lacquered door. He knew it had to be something big for his boss to direct him to enter via the townhouse's front door instead of going through the labyrinthine maze that led from the secret entrance in an underground parking lot a half block away.
The receptionist who buzzed him in knew him by sight but still carefully checked his ID before passing him into the area ruled by the Special Envoy's executive assistant. The ornate Louis XV desk was normally occupied by Elizabeth Wells, a serene, silver-haired grandmother who regularly qualified at the expert level on the 9mm Sig Sauer nestled in a handy compartment in her desk.
But Elizabeth had fallen while doing a foxtrot with her latest beau on a Big Band Potomac Cruise. While she recovered from hip replacement surgery, a temp was handling her duties. An extremely well-qualified temp, with the necessary top-level security clearances, background and smarts to handle Elizabeth's extraordinarily sensitive duties.
Gillian Ridgeway was the daughter of two of OMEGA's most legendary operatives. She was also goddaughter to the man she referred to as Uncle Nick, OMEGA's current director. As luck would have it, she happened to be home on leave from her job at the American Embassy in Beijing when Elizabeth hit the deck. Nick Jensen had jumped on Gillian's offer to fill in for his temporarily disabled assistant.
Tall and slender, Gillian had inherited her mother's ready smile and her father's black hair and startlingly blue eyes. The twenty-six-year-old already had half the male operatives seriously in lust. That she'd also won the friendship and respect of OMEGA's female agents was testimony to her bright, engaging personality.
"Hi, Jilly." Depositing his carryall beside a leafy palm, Cutter crossed the parquet floor. "What's up?"
"Uncle Nick will explain all, Slash."
Gillian had assumed Cutter's code designation was a play on his first name. He hadn't disabused her.
"Go on in. He's waiting for you."
Nick Jensen, code name Lightning, didn't look like anyone's uncle, honorary or otherwise, when Cutter entered his office. Nor did he look like the owner of a string of outrageously expensive watering holes that catered to the rich and famous. He looked, Cutter thought with a lift of one brow, ready to chew nails and spit them out like shrapnel.
"Sorry, Slash." His jaw tight, Nick yanked at his Italian silk tie and popped the top button of his white shirt. "I know you haven't even changed your watch from jungle time yet, but I need to send you back into the field."
"No problem. What's the op?"
"I think we might finally have a lead on the Russian."
Cutter's pulse kicked up a half dozen notches. OMEGA had been trying to nail the shadowy figure known only as the Russian for more than a year.
"Mike Callahan will act as your controller." Nick shot back his cuff to check the sleek Swiss job on his wrist. "He's choppering up from Quantico. Should be about fifteen minutes out."
Cutter nodded, considerably reassured by the information. Whatever this mission entailed, it would go down a hell of a lot smoother with Mike Callahan, code name Hawkeye, handling things on this end. A former military cop, Hawk was a cool head and a dead shot.
"In the meantime," Nick said grimly, "we've got two hundred and thirty passengers cooling their heels at Dulles while maintenance works a small 'mechanical' problem on their aircraft. We suspect one of those passengers is on her way to connect with the Russian."
He slapped a file down on a mahogany conference table the size of a soccer field. Pinned to the front of the folder was a color photo of a tight-lipped blonde with most of her face hidden behind oversized sunglasses.
Copyright © 2007 by Merline Lovelace.