Read an Excerpt
By Julie Miller
Harlequin Enterprise Ltd.
Chapter One"I want you to teach Miss Lockhart about working undercover. I'm reassigning you to the organized crime division to work as her partner. We intend to take down Harris Mitchell."
"What?" Logan Pierce glared at the silver-haired FBI chief, Commander Sam Carmody. "Harris Mitchell?"
Thief. Money launderer. Murderer. Logan had never worked a case against Mitchell, but when the crimes you committed were big enough and bad enough, every agent knew your name.
Stunned disbelief carried his gaze across the room to the stone-faced young woman sitting on the couch writing down in her stenographer's notebook every word being said. She'd dressed herself to appear older than she was, pulling her hair back into a tight bun, donning an unflattering pair of seriously thick glasses and wearing no makeup.
Grace Lockhart looked all of twenty-three - twenty-five, tops. She needed to work a few kiddie assignments before tackling something as dangerous and unpredictable as a major undercover case.
Logan shook his head and turned back to Carmody. "I work solo - you know that."
He hadn't had a partner for two years, two months and eleven days. Roy Silverton had been fresh out of the academy on that first mission, too. Quick to learn, eager to please.
Too young to die. Logan could watch his own back. He'd learned to do that long before the FBI had recruited him. It had been a matter of survival back in downtownChicago with no mother and a father steeped in terminal grief.
Larry Pierce had been devastated when his wife had been held hostage and then murdered during a botched robbery at the bank where she'd worked. He'd found his solace in a bottle. But six-year-old Logan had been devastated, too. And without a father's guidance, he'd raised himself. He hadn't always made the best choices, but he'd found a way to survive, a way to stay on top of the game.
Eventually he'd straightened out enough to become a cop, and was discovered by the Bureau on a joint undercover investigation. Discovered by Carmody himself, who sent him to college and recommended him for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's training academy here in Quantico, Virginia.
Logan had taken a vow from the moment he'd earned that first badge. He'd sworn to protect innocents like his mother.
Like Roy Silverton. To be responsible for another life ... for another rookie ...
He didn't need that kind of grief. An age-old pain tightened in Logan's chest, threatening to squeeze the breath right out of him. He covered the vulnerability with a cocky smile and took a shot at reasoning with his boss. "I'm good at this job."
"That goes without saying."
"You recruited me personally because I knew how life on the streets worked."
"Your skills have proved most invaluable."
"The Bureau has been my home for thirteen years."
Carmody sat back in his chair and narrowed his gaze the way a wise old father would. "Get to the point, Logan."
Logan hooked his leg over the corner of the desk and sat, leaning in toward the commander. "Commander - Sam," he began, using the gentlest, most rational voice he possessed. "I don't deserve to be saddled with a newbie. I've earned the right to pick and choose my assignments."
"She has experience."
"Experience?" Doing what? Typing memos? Logan glanced over his shoulder. The instant Grace Lockhart realized she was the focus of his attention, her fingers moved to her face and adjusted her glasses. Then she busied herself writing something in her notebook while her cheeks flooded with color.
Interesting, he thought. So quick to blush. He wondered if anything else about her reacted as quickly.
Logan blinked and mentally shook off the speculation. She radiated virginal innocence in a way that piqued his jaded, world-weary curiosity. Nothing more.
He stared at the shapeless bag of femininity and absently wondered if Grace Lockhart had ever been laid. If she even knew what the words meant. If she had any idea what he was thinking right now. She looked so clueless. Full of theory and stratagems learned in a classroom, without a day of real-world experience, much less experience working undercover with real criminals.
Had she ever ventured out of her shell? Let her hair down? Smiled? Why would an obviously mature woman in her twenties get up in the morning and deliberately put on a bulky suit that made her figure look like a sack of potatoes?
Didn't she know that a man liked to see a woman's curves? That she could look professional without resorting to the two-sizes-too-big routine? Whether she was skinny or chunky or somewhere in between, there were tricks to dressing that most women knew.
But obviously not Grace Lockhart. As the color in her cheeks crept down to her neck, she cleared her throat and looked up at him, finally responding to his scrutiny. "Is there something I can help you with, Agent Pierce?"
The tone of her voice pulled him up short, dashed water on his original assessment of her sexual experience.
Her voice was deep, husky. Sultry as sin. With that voice, she could call men on the phone, read something as unerotic as a grocery list, and still make all their fantasies come true.
"How much field experience do you have?" he asked her.
"None. I've been working in research. This is my first assignment."
Logan swore. He got up off the desk, jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and stalked to the far end of the room before turning back to her. She was serious!
How could she stand up to a notorious crime lord if she didn't even know how to dress?
"Oh, this just gets better and better." Her fingers flew up to adjust her glasses, a nervous gesture brought on by his rich sarcasm, no doubt.
Maybe he could teach her a thing or two about making herself attractive to a man. That would be the place to start with Grace Lockhart. Yeah. Teach her a few of the basics about her sexuality before she tackled anything like threats and guns and people dying.
Logan swept his gaze from the top of her bun to the soles of her sensible black shoes and was surprised to discover that the idea actually intrigued him. Maybe he had seen too much of the world's darker side. Why else would he be contemplating the notion of investigating whether she might be hiding any more delightful secrets like her voice beneath her dowdy appearance?
How long had it been since he'd made love to an inexperienced woman? Had he ever?
"Agent Pierce." Her soft voice trickled down his spine like a lover's caress, commanding his attention. "Why do you keep staring at me? Is it that my appearance has something to do with whether or not you plan to accept this assignment?"
"Hell no." He turned his anger on Carmody. "You have no business putting her in the line of fire."
The commander refused to budge. "She's been studying Harris Mitchell for almost a year. She came up with the plan herself. I think it's brilliant."
"Book smarts and street smarts are two different things. I won't be her partner."
He could almost visualize her body, lying battered and bleeding on the docks of New York. He could see the life draining out of her before she ever really had a chance to live it.
Just like Roy. Logan squeezed his eyes shut as imagination turned into memory. He should have saved him. He should have saved the kid.
No, he wasn't about to partner up with any neophyte agent who wanted to mix it up with the big boys and get herself killed.
Excerpted from Intimate Knowledge by Julie Miller
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.