Trust is a four-letter word . . .
Command Force Alpha, Book 2
Captain Laurence Madigan is an anomaly–a levelheaded risk taker who learned the dark side of life in Manchester’s slums. He needed those skills to survive fourteen months as a prisoner of Firebird, a shadowy Russian cartel.
When rescued, he receives less than a hero’swelcome. He’s considered a wild card–or even a double agent. After enduring agony and degradation for Command Force Alpha, he’s determined to clear his name and bring Firebird down…even if it means escaping CFA’s London facility with a very personal hostage.
Oxford-educated psychologist Gemma Calloway should fight her abductor tooth and claw, but loyalty to her old friend wins out. Isolated in a rustic hideaway, she tends his wounds and can’t help staring at his scars and prison tattoos.
Warning: This book contains a sexy British spy whose year-long imprisonment has left him a little…pent-up. And scarred. And possibly untrustworthy. Watch out for fast-and-furious sexuality, dares that cement a friendship against all odds, and oh-so-wrong but oh-so-sexy tattoos.
“I think you gave me both truth and manipulation,” Gemma said at last. She aligned her hip with Laurie’s, while her ribs curved over his chest.
“You always were a clever girl, Gem.”
Darkness twisted deep inside him, so fiercely that he looked away. The substantially irrational part of him believed not even the dim light in the cabin would conceal his damaged soul from her insightful gaze. He wouldn’t expose his darkness to anyone except his enemies.
Stop thinking. Stop feeling.
That had been his mantra for a year. Now he had the chance to feel caring and softness, and he yearned for it more urgently than air.
He buried his hands in Gemma’s curls. Strands twined around his fingers. He closed the skimpy inch between their mouths. Injured and lying flat on his back, he still knew how to astound a woman with a kiss. And this was Gemma. She was the friend he’d done more with than share a simple beer and meet for coffee. He’d wondered about her. Thought about her. On occasion, when he let his mental guard down, he had fantasized about her–especially when imprisoned, when he needed light in utter blackness. In the months before he went undercover in Minsk with the Bokun family, he and Gemma had walked a fine, tantalizing line.
What had he been waiting for? After so much misery, and the deadly plans he would not abandon, waiting was pointless.
Laurie would have her now. He could imagine them as lovers in so many ways it made his head spin and his cock thicken with anticipation.
She tasted sweeter than he expected. They were deep in the woods, in this half-rustic cabin, and yet she tasted of honey. She was so sweet that a prickle gathered at the back of his eyes. He ignored it, forced the emotion away. Just feel, since feeling was finally a blessing.
His left hand fisted in the sheet at his side in order to keep still. Tension rode up his arm until his wound throbbed. He ignored that too. His other hand, however…he locked it in Gemma’s hair, unrelenting now. She made a surprised noise. She spread her hand around the front of his neck as her tongue slicked his bottom lip.
Explosive. Incendiary. There were a thousand words for how quickly their kiss blasted free, but they slipped away. He’d wanted to counter the pain of his injury, something to prove Gemma wasn’t nursing him or pitying him, and he’d wanted an edge to put him on top figuratively, if not literally.
This wasn’t being in control. If there had ever been a kiss that meant losing control, this was it.
Gemma’s mouth felt made for his. Full and soft. Welcoming. He delved deeper, stroking her tongue with his. Taking more. Striving for more. Because she let him and because he could. Because he was still coming alive, when he’d been convinced of his imminent death too many times.
She wedged her free hand at the corner of the pillow, edging her hip until they were flush. Her weight pushed on his shoulder. Laurie grunted as white-hot agony shocked behind his eyes.
“Oh!” She pulled her mouth away, tried to pull her body away, but he tightened his hand across the back of her head.
The tendons outlining her mouth dipped into stark relief. “I shouldn’t. God, Laurie, you know I shouldn’t.”
“When’s the last time you did something you weren’t supposed to?”
She laughed with surprising bitterness. “In order to feel good? Have a fun time? I can’t remember.”
“Fucking me will get you in a whole lot of trouble.”
“So crude. I don’t fuck. I am seduced, or I’m ravished, or I’m taken when I want to be overwhelmed.”
Laurie smiled unexpectedly. “Noted. I’ll only fuck you to take you by surprise.”
She made an exasperated sound, but she shared his smile. She looked like it had taken her by surprise too.
“But I understand,” she said. “It’ll be difficult enough to explain why I left with you. If we sleep together too…” She wasn’t pulling away. “Is that what you mean?”
“It would be inexplicable.”
“Not true. I’m psychoanalyzing you at your most vulnerable. I’m parsing your brain.”
“I hope that’s not true when we’re fu–ravishing each other.” His unexpected smile deepened. He didn’t know what to do with that.
“I hope you’re good enough that I won’t be able to think about a bloody thing.”
“Give me a handicap because of my arm?”
“No way. I don’t intend to shag a man in an abandoned cabin if I’m willing to settle.” She petted his chest, this time carefully avoiding his trio of scars.
She twisted on the bed and swung a leg across his lower body, straddling his hips. He would’ve been fine with nothing else, simply feeling and watching her, but she slipped up along the mattress. She nestled up to him on her side, with her pelvis against his hip and her torso propped on her elbow. She returned her hand to the center of his chest.
The weight of her palm was glorious. She spread her fingers wide.
“You don’t intend to back down.” He shouldn’t be nudging at her, shouldn’t be pointing out things to change her mind. But this was akin to flexing an arm that had fallen asleep. The lancing prickles might be worth regaining feeling, if he unclenched long enough for it to happen.
She shook her head, looking at the tattoos drawn across his torso. Her fingers followed the blue-inked lines. She used her nails in a light scrape that sent shivers across his flesh–so similar to the sensation of blades over his skin. Except knives could dig.
“Don’t ask again,” she said. “I don’t want to know.”
“That’s a good doctor for you. You’re self-aware enough to realize you don’t want to know your motives, but you’re doing it anyway.” He cupped the back of her neck. “And stubborn to leave it at that.”
Only after kissing her again did he realize that he had expected their explosiveness to fade, to be reduced upon a second try. Was he so fatalistic now? Was that the man he’d become? But there it was again. Sweeter. Hotter. Sexier. He didn’t have to force a damn thing. He didn’t need to calm his thoughts. The gorgeous numbness was as seductive as Gemma.
Her body strained toward his. “We don’t have any condoms,” she said against his lips.
“So fast, Miss Calloway.” He cupped her breast. She was a warm weight in his palm. Perfect, just as he’d imagined. He was so hard and aching that he feared embarrassing himself beneath the sheets. He hadn’t been with a woman in longer than he cared to calculate. It had felt like a life sentence.
“Not fast.” She drew up, then lifted herself on a locked arm so her breasts were level with his mouth. She unbuttoned her shirt but didn’t draw it all the way open. Obviously she knew what she liked. He appreciated it more than he could explain. “This will go quick. I know it. I want it fast. Something…” She grinned again. “Overwhelming.”