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By Beverly Jenkins
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Beverly Jenkins
All right reserved.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Manhattan, New York
Jan Kruger hated Manhattan. The traffic, noise, and the melting pot population were all symbols of a political system he found abhorrent. Given a choice, he'd rather be sitting at home on his veranda enjoying the company of his wife and watching the South Africa sunset, but instead he was stuck in New York traffic with a hired limo driver who smelled of curry.
As a member of a South African trade group, Jan had been forced to come to the U.S. more times than he'd wished, but his many visits gave him a keen sense of how America worked, and that knowledge had come in handy when a junior position in the South African embassy opened up and he was hired. Now, five years later, he held the title of Assistant to the Ambassador, a woman descended from the Zulu king Cetshwayo, whose forces had defeated Jan's ancestors and the British army at Isandhlwana in 1879.
He hated the ambassador as well. She represented the new South Africa, a country determined to eschew its glorious past in favor of a future built upon the deluded visions of ANC terrorists like Mandela and Walter Sisulu. Jan championed the old South Africa--its eliteness, its pride, its apartheid--and he was not alone. For the past few months he and a small cadre of like-minded Afrikaners had been meeting to formulate a plan that would restore thatglory in a new country they would call their own.
There'd been a setback, though. This morning he'd gotten a call from his people in Madrid. The kidnapping of Dr. Adam Gary had been botched. The two operatives sent to his hotel were in a hospital and Gary was on his way back to the States. No one had expected the scientist to put up a fight, so now Jan knew that he and the others had to come up with another way.
Traffic was still stopped. Jan glanced at the heavy gold Rolex on his wrist. If it didn't clear soon he was going to be late for his meeting, and military men--especially the United States variety--were sticklers for punctuality, at least on the surface. In reality, in return for the money he'd promised them, the generals would wait until hell froze over if necessary. He knew how America worked.
The driver finally got the car moving again. The tie-up, caused by the collision of an airport shuttle van and a cab, had drawn the police and a crowd of curious New Yorkers. As his black limo crept by the wreckage, a grim Jan sat back against the plush seat. He had to figure out a way to get his hands on Dr. Adam Gary and that prototype, because the prototype was one of the necessary keys to their plan.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Mykal Chandler slid the file across the desk to Max Blake. She opened it and looked at the color photo. The head shot was of a good-looking, brown-skinned brother. Beard, moustache. Hair graying slightly at the temples in a distinguished sort of way. Grown and sexy, as Babyface would say.
"Name's Dr. Adam Gary," Mykal explained.
"Doctor of what?" Max studied the face for a few moments longer. Nice mouth.
"Astrophysics, for one."
Max was impressed. "Really?"
"Supposedly, the brother's invented something that's going to revoulutionize everything from heating homes to space travel."
Max stuck the pic back into the file. "What is it?"
"Some kind of device that produces its own energy."
"I'll bet the gas and oil companies aren't happy about that. So what's going on that we're involved?" Mykal headed up a secret crime-fighting group called NIA, and Max often moonlighted as one of its operatives.
"Somebody tried to kidnap him a few days ago at a conference in Madrid."
She glanced up.
"He thinks they were after his prototype."
"Where is he now?"
"At a government-owned house on the western side of the state."
"You want me to go up and evaluate the security?"
"No, I want you to be the security. He doesn't even have a chicken on the place."
She was confused. "If this is such big-time stuff how come there's no security?"
"He doesn't want any. Says having a lot of people around will interfere with the flow of his work."
Max drawled, "You know I don't do crazy real well, Mykal. That's why I have two ex-husbands."
He grinned. "He's not crazy. 'Eccentric' is the word everyone is using."
"Educated crazy, then."
She sighed. "Okay, so how do we work this?"
"I'm sending you in as his new housekeeper. The old one quit about a month ago."
"Husband retired and they moved to Florida."
"Okay. I haven't exercised my pots and pans in a while. Might be fun. Does he know I'm coming?"
"Yes, but all he knows is that the person is named Max Blake."
"In other words, he doesn't know I'm female."
"Correct. I didn't want to waste time arguing with him about it. If he throws a fit, I know you'll handle it."
Myk had no doubts about Max's abilities. She was a former Marine and had cut her intelligence teeth in the rebel-infested jungles of Colombia. She was tough, efficient, and smart. Today she was wearing a pair of cowboy boots; black jeans; a black halter top with a red cami underneath; and a black Stetson. Her attire spoke to her free spirit. When the Department of Defense had called him to send an agent up to take care of Dr. Gary, Max immediately came to mind.
"You're the best person for the job, Max," he told her now, "so don't worry about Gary trying to get you replaced. Ain't gonna happen."
"Thanks." Max yawned and then stretched her arms and shoulders. The plane ride to Detroit had been a long one. Sometime in the near future she'd need a real night's sleep.
Excerpted from Sexy/Dangerous by Beverly Jenkins Copyright © 2006 by Beverly Jenkins. Excerpted by permission.
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