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Spending Christmas Eve with her handsome boss in a cabin while a stalker threatens is not the way Holly Vance had planned to celebrate this year-she'd been counting on dinner with her extended family. But being trapped with Jake Montgomery, the FBI's local computer expert, isn't a hardship-she's secretly loved him from the day they met. Still, Jake's overwhelming quest to uncover the connection between tycoon Alistair Barclay, the Diablo crime syndicate and drug cartel La Mano Oscura is overshadowing the joy of ...
Spending Christmas Eve with her handsome boss in a cabin while a stalker threatens is not the way Holly Vance had planned to celebrate this year-she'd been counting on dinner with her extended family. But being trapped with Jake Montgomery, the FBI's local computer expert, isn't a hardship-she's secretly loved him from the day they met. Still, Jake's overwhelming quest to uncover the connection between tycoon Alistair Barclay, the Diablo crime syndicate and drug cartel La Mano Oscura is overshadowing the joy of the season. Can the most miraculous time of the year turn the cynical crime fighter into a caring Christian man?
Holly Vance waved a hand in her friend's direction. She couldn't imagine what Sara said being true. "That has to be an exaggeration, Sara. For one thing, 'everybody' in this office would only mean about three other people. And why would they want my job, anyway? I do the same things the rest of the assistants here do."
When Holly told friends she worked for the FBI, they all thought her job must be terribly fascinating. She had to burst their bubble fairly frequently on that little fantasy. For the most part, working for the resident agency of the FBI in Colorado Springs was a lot like working for any other government office. The idea of the work might sound interesting to an outsider, but the day-to-day routine was just that most of the time ... routine.
Holly knew that she went to work in a regular office building like most of the population. She spent hours on the computer and a lot of time just like this, queuing up for one of the printers or copiers in the suite of offices, processing a document for her boss, Jake Montgomery. The khakis and sweater she wore on her slender frameweren't any different from the work outfits of any of her friends. Television, she decided, had overplayed the image of working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Of course there was the fact that Jake could easily have played one of those TV FBI agents. His dark-blond good looks would make him a casting director's dream. But Holly knew that personally, she'd never make the cut on a television casting call, and neither would most of the people working in the Colorado Springs office.
Sara leaned on the side of the copier and sighed. Holly thought she looked much younger than twenty-five some days, with her spiky hair and clothing choices that always skated to the limit of what the bureau would allow its support personnel to wear. Today her slacks were gray pinstripe, but tailored in such a way that one wrong move would have exposed the tattoo that Holly knew covered the small of her friend's back. Watching Sara made her feel even older than the twenty-nine she was, and like a much more seasoned veteran of the bureau.
"Maybe you do the same things," Sara said, waggling deep burgundy polished nails. "But consider how you do them, and who you get to do them for. If either of the special agents I worked with were half as cool as Jake Montgomery, I'd be so happy."
Holly picked her own documents out of the print tray. She hardly knew what to say to Sara. Jake probably did seem like the coolest guy in the Colorado Springs office. With his specialization in computers, he didn't have some of the same restrictions or duties as the other special agents, so he was a little more fascinating than the rest of the professionals on staff. On top of that, he was a Colorado Springs native with plenty of history behind him. Most of the other agents were transplants from somewhere else, some still serving their first assignment probationary period with the bureau.
Still, it was hard to believe that working for Jake could be perceived as that big a plum. Colorado Springs wasn't even that big an FBI office to begin with. There were only eleven people in the FBI offices in the brick building tucked away on a downtown side street, and six of those people were support staff like her, or other non-agent personnel.
"So you think working for Mr. Montgomery would be a cool thing, huh?" He might look handsome and glamorous, but Holly wondered how Sara would handle Jake's constant flights into programming language. Most of it didn't begin to resemble English when he started discussing the complex computer work that he did. Of course, most of it made sense to her, because she'd been assisting him for two years now. And the lingo wasn't even the most challenging part of working with Jake.
Sara wrinkled her nose. "Well, usually. Not right now, though. I have a life already."
Holly didn't even have to ask what that reference was about. "I know. And thanks so much for reminding me that I don't have one."
Sara's cheeks colored. "Hey, Holly, I didn't say that."
Holly smiled. "It probably wasn't even what you meant. But if Jake really has to find all that information on the computers they took in the drug raid, and find it before the trial starts later this month, neither of us is going to have a life until it's finished. And we all know that's going to be harder on my boss than it is on me."
Any casual reader of the Colorado Springs Sentinel's society pages could tell you that normally, Jake Montgomery had a life. He had, in fact, one of the most glamorous and best documented lives in Colorado Springs. As the mayor's son and one of the most eligible bachelors in the city, there always seemed to be pictures of Jake's handsome face in the paper, getting out of his bright-red Viper for a charity event, or partying in a well-tailored tuxedo somewhere.
Holly wondered how much of that would go by the wayside between now and Alistair Barclay's trial. The shady hotel tycoon was accused of everything from racketeering to running the biggest drug ring the city had seen in over a decade.
Excerpted from Protecting Holly by Lynn Bulock Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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