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No woman gets under his skin the way Piper does, but company policy forbids fraternizationand life in the navy taught Riggs to follow the rules. When the agency loses contact with Piper, Riggs insists on leading the rescue mission to the Colombian rain forest, and it's clear that months apart have only fanned the flames between them.
But things aren't just heating up between agent and boss. It turns out Riggs wasn't the only one searching for Piper. Someone wants her deadand they're resolved to find out who. When Piper's accused of turning traitor, everything is on the linetheir jobs, their reputations, and their lives.
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Colombia, South America
Undercover operative Piper Jordan, currently known as Isabel Fuentes, dropped her backpack and kicked off her huaraches the second she hit the door. The rough-hewn floor chafed at the soles of her feet as she made her way across the room to light a kerosene lamp. She struck a match and held it to the charred wick, her gaze moving through the flickering light as it caught and flared.
The isolated cabin looked far less cozy and romantic than when she'd first found the place months earlier. Not much could be done about it now, she mused, her attention shifting to where she'd tossed her bag near the door. Retrieving it, she tugged hard on the strained zipper, and lightened the bulging load by one bottle of Enrique Tequila La Reserva, the best she could find on short notice.
Her thumb rubbed the webbed fabric of the backpack's worn strap like a cherished worry stone. Not much to show for this particular lifetime, she reflected, at the same time realizing there wasn't one thing in that bag she couldn't leave behind or live without. That she thought she could get out at all was already presumptuous. Whether or not she took the backpack and its contents was totally irrelevant. Tossing the bag aside along with her troubled thoughts, she carried the tequila into the bedroom.
When she returned to the front room, she drew aside the sun-bleached curtain from the window and peered through the dirty glass. There wasn't much to see in the clearing or the dense rainforest beyond. Night was descending, and the only illumination in the deepening cloud-strewn sky was a waning half moon. Inner turmoil elevated by a hefty dose of adrenaline dampened any possibility of her appreciating the stark beauty surrounding the cabin. All she saw in the settling cloak of darkness and thick cloud cover were additional tactics to aid in a successful escape.
A sad smile played at the corners of her mouth as she fiddled with the heavy hammered links of her gold bracelet. The memories rushed toward her swifter than she could stop them, and it took an even greater effort than usual to keep them from overwhelming her. She hardened herself against the onslaught and focused on the moment, not the memories, and the moment told her not to wait any longer.
Not surprised by the turn of events, she murmured, "He's not coming. I might as well leave."
Her words were no sooner spoken than the door banged open and in he strode, sturdy and swarthy and all hers for one last time. Without a word, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her with a rough, restless passion she found both frightening and compelling, and oh, so irresistible.
"I thought you'd changed your mind," she said between hasty kisses.
"I'm here now," was all he said, without a word of explanation for his tardiness, and she didn't care. Words were never his forte or what had attracted her to him in the first place.
He tugged at the slender ribbon gathering the neckline of her peasant blouse. Rough knuckles grazed her collarbone as he slid the embroidered fabric off her shoulder. She frantically tore away his shirt, kissing each exposed inch of flesh in the process. The tangy saltiness of his warm skin filled her mouth as her tongue flicked across the detailed black scorpion tattooed around his left nipple. The virile mixture of unadulterated maleness and clean, healthy sweat, the kind a man exudes by simply existing in a hot climate, further heightened her arousal.