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If sin had a proper name, it would be Jason Banks. He was what Samantha Winslow's mother would call sex-on-a-stick, and as much as she hated to admit it, Sam wouldn't mind taking a bite out of him.
In more ways than one.
But then she wasn't the only woman who felt like that. He was what her mother often referred to as a man-slut. Ever on the make, he went through women faster than Sam went through panty hose. And considering that she seldom put a pair on without running them, that said it all.
He had that boyish kind of charm that could get him out of most any fix with anything female. Incredible good looks that didn't belong on a mere mortal man, and enough intelligence to get him into all manner of trouble.
And at the moment, he was in the kind of trouble that none of the above could bail him out of. The kind of trouble that was always fatal.
Sighing, Sam stared at the picture of him in her hand, taken by their surveillance team last week as he left his flat in London for a rendezvous with a group of known European terrorists.
He wore a pair of dark designer sunglasses that hid his devilishly green, taunting eyes. His dark brown hair was tousled around his head, but then he always wore it a bit shaggy. She was one of the few people who knew that he paid a small fortune for that supposedly lackadaisical cut that fell perfectly around his sculpted face.
The black leather jacket and turtleneck he wore only added to the air of dangerousness that enveloped him. A dangerousness that was belied by his charming smile.
He was gorgeous. No doubt about it. What a waste that something so hot was about to beextinguished.
She jumped as her cell phone rang from the black leather car seat beside her.
Picking it up, Samantha flipped it open and answered it.
"Have you seen him yet?"
She let out a small growl at the sound of Retter's dispassionate voice as she scanned the empty dark street where she was parked. "I'm waiting for him to show now."
"C'mon, Sam. Don't get cold feet on me. If you can't finish this, tell me now so I can do it for you. We have to make sure, no matter what, that our target is neutralized."
"Don't worry. I know what my mission is, and I understand why I have to do it. The Road Runner is through this time. I told you I'd take care of it, and I will."
"Good." The line went dead.
Samantha sighed as she tucked her phone into her pocket and glanced wistfully at Jason's picture. He was about to become one seriously unhappy double agent.
But she had a job to do, and that was her top priority. Jason knew their code, and he knew the rules.
So did she.
Return with your shield or upon it. If you betrayed the Bureau, the Bureau would exact full retribution.
After all, they weren't called BAD without reason. Originally the acronym had stood solely for Bureau of American Defense, but since their inception, they had taken BAD to heart and it had become a way of life for all of them.
You screwed BAD, and BAD screwed you. The entire lot of them were renegades who lived solely for their missions. This wasn't a job to them; it was a way of life and a code of honor they held dearly.
And Jason had betrayed them.
Now it was time to make him pay.
After laying the picture aside, Samantha screwed the silencer onto her weapon and held it in her lap while she waited for Jason to enter the street. She was outside his favorite club in Berlin, a known terrorist hangout where all sorts of riffraff from all over the world liked to gather and sell their secrets.
It was here that Jason had given over the name of one of their BAD operatives: Hunter Wesley Thornton-Payne. A name that truly suited the self-centered, proselytizing prick. But prick or not, Hunter was one of them.
That had been the week before Jason had blown Hunter's car into pieces to show the terrorists that he was on their side.
It had been a stupid thing to do.
The door to the club opened.
Samantha froze as she saw Jason coming out. She curled her lip at the sight of him draped around two of the sleaziest-looking women she'd ever seen and given the fact she'd been raised among strippers, that said a lot.
She studied his lips as he talked to them so that she could understand what was going on.
"So we're going back to your place, huh?" he asked the artificial redhead on his right in German. "Are you sure your daddy won't come home and disturb us?"
"Oh, no, he's gone until Monday."
Jason smiled wickedly.
Just keep smiling, asshole. Samantha aimed the infrared at his chest.
Jason froze as he saw the red dot suddenly appear on his black sweater, then quickly shoved the women away from him. He reached for his weapon, which was concealed at the small of his back.
Samantha squeezed off two rounds before he could even draw it and watched as they hit him dead in his heart. She was, after all, the best shot in her class. It was why Joe had recruited her from the FBI to work for BAD.
That and the fact that she was a workaholic who didn't let anything like ethics, laws, or morals stand in the way of doing her job.
Jason staggered back as a dark red stain spread over his chest. His eyes large, he fell to the sidewalk. The women with him screamed and ran back toward the club.
Samantha whipped her car around and sped toward him. Parking it next to where he'd fallen, she hopped out and opened the passenger door.
She moved to stand over Jason.
"Sam?" he gasped in disbelief as he struggled to breathe.
She grabbed him by his sweater and hauled him to his feet. "Get in the car, Jason. Now!"
They were running out of time.
He staggered a few steps before she shoved him roughly into the seat, slammed the door shut, then ran to get in as a group of bouncers came running from the club.
Gunning the engine, she whipped her rented car through a back alleyway, far away from the scene. Sirens rent the air. Hopefully no one had caught a good look at her or her car before they notified the authorities.
If they had, she was screwed.
Jason lay in the seat beside her, panting in pain.
"Keep breathing, you lousy bastard," she said to him. "I want you to suffer before you die."
Jason was trying to make sense of words that seemed to come to him out of a hazy fog. He felt so strange. So weird. He'd been shot before, but it hadn't felt like this.
His body didn't respond to anything, and his breathing seemed to have a ten-second delay.
All he could focus on was Sam's angry face. Of course she would be angry. She didn't know the truth, and he couldn't afford to let her learn it.
"Shut up, asshole. I don't want to hear anything from you right now."
He licked his lips, which were suddenly chapped from dryness. Streetlights streaked across Sam's angry face as she whipped them through the Berlin streets.
There was an air of calmness to her that belied the anger in her tone and the tight grip she had on the steering wheel. She wasn't classically beautiful, but there had always been something about her that had appealed to him.
But not at the moment. At the moment, he wanted to kill her for this.
"Where are we going, Sam?" he tried again.
She cast a glare at him that was bone-chilling. "Just shut up and die."
Jason closed his eyes as a wave of nausea consumed him. Fine. They were enemies, then; it was her choice, not his.
Unable to fight the darkness that wanted to drag him under, he surrendered himself to it and let it take him.
Samantha breathed a sigh of relief as they reached the warehouse apartment she had rented under an unknown alias. They would be safe here, at least long enough for her to interrogate Mr. Banks and find out the truth about Hunter's "death."
She woke him up enough so that he could assist her in getting him into the building, but not so much that he could fight her. Jason was a large man who could snap her neck and leave her dead faster than she could say "Boo."
That was if she gave him the chance.
Samantha wasn't a fool.
They staggered toward the elevators that took her upstairs to her apartment. It wasn't easy directing him, since he kept trying to fall down, but after a few minutes she had him inside the small apartment.
She led him to the full-sized bed and allowed him to collapse onto it. He fell right back into his drug-induced sleep. Good. That would give her time to make a few preparations for when he came to.
Samantha wasted no time in removing his leather jacket, sweater, and T-shirt, then handcuffing his arms to the wrought-iron headboard. She used his shirt to mop up the red gel from his chest that had exploded when she'd shot him with the tranquilizers. It was designed to look like blood in case he was under surveillance by their enemies at the time she shot him. They had to make it look as real as possible.
The last thing either of them needed was for someone to know he wasn't dead...yet.
Sam hesitated as she reached for his fly. It was suddenly disconcerting to undress an unconscious man. Really, it should be easy, but it wasn't. It was like she was invading his privacy or something.
You've got no choice.
She had to strip him down for both their sakes. He could have a bug hidden in anything. All of his clothing had to be destroyed before the bad guys found them.
Biting her lip, she forced her hands to unbutton his jeans. It wasn't as if she were a virgin, or she hadn't done this with other guys.
Still, it felt odd. Bizarre.
Especially once she had his pants pulled off.
"Whoa." She breathed in awe as she ran her gaze over his long, lean, muscular body, covered with deep, tawny skin. His shoulders were wide and sculpted like a gymnast. Even while unconscious, he had a well-defined eight-pack of abs she could do laundry on.
She'd never really looked at a guy's legs before, but Jason's were remarkable. Well muscled and athletic and dappled with dark hairs, they were quite a pleasing sight.
Who was she fooling? They were more than pleasing, they damn near begged her to fondle him.
Honestly, she'd expected him to go commando. He seemed the type of guy who wouldn't wear any kind of underwear. But in total contradiction to his "rules and decency be damned" attitude, he wore a pair of white-and-blue-striped cotton boxers. There was something strangely old-fashioned about his choice, and that was completely at odds with what she knew about this man.
God, you are scrumptious, she thought as she took in the sight of him lying on the bed. His darkly tanned flesh was smooth and dimpled over the muscles she knew he worked hard to perfect.
There wasn't an ounce of extra fat anywhere on him. He was the perfect specimen of male flesh, and it was all she could do not to scale all six feet of him and lay herself over him like a blanket.
That image hovered in her mind, making her whole being burn. Every female hormone in her body begged her to rub herself against him. To taste those lips that were parted ever so slightly while he breathed.
To dip her hand through the small slit of his boxers, through his short, crisp hairs, to see if he really was as large as he appeared, and to stroke him until he was hard and begging her to take him.
What would he taste like?
Sam shook her head.
Get a grip! What the hell is wrong with you? Yes, he looked good, but she had a job to do, and if she didn't get it done, they could both die. Not to mention the small fact that he was a traitor who had come way too close to killing Hunter. But for Hunter's lazy habit of starting his car by remote, the agent would be dead now.
And Jason would have been the one who killed him.
Growling from her wayward lust, Samantha forced herself to strip those boxers off and cover him with a blanket. This wasn't the time to get personal with Jason.
It was time to get serious. And seriousness dictated that she keep herself calm and cool toward a man she fully intended to kill.
Copyright © 2005 by Sherrilyn Kenyon