Bridal Armor (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1443)

Bridal Armor (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1443)

by Debra Webb

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Two agents' forgotten love is rekindled in USA TODAY bestselling author Debra Webb's Colby Agency: The Specialists series. 

Someone was out to get Thomas Casey. His profession had taught him to trust no one. So when Johara di Rossi abducted him on his way to his beloved niece's wedding, Thomas assumed the worst—despite their intimate history.  

Though attachments made him vulnerable, Thomas was haunted by regret for walking away from Jo years ago. No other woman had stirred such intense desire in him. Now, snowbound in an isolated cabin, with a determined enemy from his past closing in, suspicion begins to melt away as the embers of their passion reignite.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460318751
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/01/2013
Series: Colby Agency: The Specialists Series
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 312,317
File size: 258 KB

About the Author

DEBRA WEBB, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain—and a five-year stint with NASA—that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned more than 100 novels including her internationally bestselling Colby Agency series.

Read an Excerpt

Denver International Airport, Thursday, October 16, 3:21 p.m.

"I don't know how the pilot managed, but we landed safely." Thomas Casey relaxed his grip on his cell phone and drew in his first deep breath since the pilot had announced a sudden winter storm had hit Denver only minutes before their scheduled landing. The storm had descended rapidly and with the same ferocity as the Bronco Blizzard from another mid-October day a few decades ago.

According to the weather update Thomas had caught on a local newscast since his flight arrived, the forecast called for at least a foot of snow in the coming twenty-four hours. The temperature had dropped dramatically in the past hour, icing the streets of the city and threatening to shut down every form of transportation.

"Any chance you're getting out of there this afternoon?" Lucas Camp, Thomas's longtime friend and colleague, asked, hope in his tone.

As soon as he'd gotten off that damned plane, Thomas had put through a call to Lucas. His old friend and his wife, Victoria Colby-Camp, were already ensconced in the small village resort where the wedding would take place.

Despite being a twenty-year veteran of black ops, Thomas felt his knees weaken just a little. He'd never been married nor had children of his own. Casey Manning, his niece, was like a daughter to him. When she'd asked him to give her away at her wedding, he'd choked up so damned bad he could scarcely cough out an answer. Casey was his sister, Cecelia's, only child. Cecelia's husband had passed away suddenly just a year ago. Standing in was the least Thomas could do.

If he could get out of this damned airport.

"It'll take a hell of a lot more than a little snow to keep me away from that wedding," Thomas promised. "You tell my niece I'll be there."

The village was only two hours from Denver, half the distance from here to Aspen. He'd crawled across deserts in the Middle East and scaled mountains in the dead of winter in Eastern Europe. How hard could it be to manage a hundred or so snow-covered miles in Colorado?

"The rehearsal dinner isn't until tomorrow night," Lucas reminded him. "Tonight's reception is just a casual affair. Stay in the city until morning if the roads are too hazardous for safe travel."

Thomas grinned. "I think you're getting soft, Lucas." The next thing he'd be telling Thomas was to be sure to wear his seat belt—which he did anyway. "Ordinarily you'd be suggesting I find myself a pair of cross-country skis and hoof it on over to your location."

A belly laugh boomed across the connection. "I can see you've never been a member of a wedding party, old friend. Once wedding plans are in place, God help the unfortunate soul who throws a wrench in the works. The sweetest young woman will become bridezilla in a heartbeat. I'm not worried about you, Thomas. It's those of us already here with the bride-to-be who have to worry."

"I'll be there, Lucas." Thomas ended the call and tucked his cell into his pocket. He picked up his carry-on and followed the signs to the lower level and ground transportation.

Johara DeRossi's heart was still lodged in her throat. The way the storm had dropped on the city, she'd been convinced Thomas Casey's plane would ice up and tumble to the runway like a radio-controlled toy with no battery life. While that might have put a convenient end to her task here, it wasn't at all how Thomas Casey should leave this world.

The enigmatic director of Mission Recovery owed his country an explanation—her, too, if she was being honest. But her questions were not the priority.

Having disguised herself as one of the many flight attendants from a nearby airline milling about deciding how and where to wait out the storm, she'd cloned his cell phone. Now, listening in on her target's phone call, she silently thanked Lucas Camp for helping her cause. If the wedding party wasn't expecting him to arrive until tomorrow, she had a head start.

As Thomas left the gate area for the lower levels, she trailed at a respectable distance, but kept him in sight. He couldn't be crazy enough to try to pick up his rental car in this weather. She had to presume he'd call a hotel for availability and then pick up a ride on a courtesy shuttle.

It really didn't matter. He wasn't going to make it that far anyway.

What did matter was that her window of opportunity was closing fast, the already tight schedule accelerated by the storm. Good thing she thrived on pressure or she'd need serious medication about now.

As a member of the Initiative committee, the small group charged with the oversight of ultra-covert teams like Casey's Mission Recovery Specialists, her life was rarely dull.

When his name had crossed her desk, along with the report listing the privileged information that had roused the suspicions against him, she had immediate and mixed reactions.

She didn't want to believe it. Men weren't built any more dedicated or patriotic than Thomas Casey. The idea that he may be guilty of treason—or worse—made her stomach churn. As an investigator, she knew better than to prejudge an operative or a situation, but Thomas was different. She didn't want to go digging into his past, but more important, she didn't want anyone else digging into it.

On some level she recognized just how screwed up that was.

Be that as it may, having served with him on a mission near the time period in question, she was eminently qualified. With that in mind, she'd checked his schedule and counted it good fortune that she would be able to deal with this away from the prying eyes in Washington, D.C.

She walked by him as Thomas paused near the rental car lines and pulled out his phone. Listening in again, she was pleased by his predictable behavior as he made his first call to a nearby hotel. Smart man, she thought, as he booked the room without blinking at the storm-inflated price. The hotel clerk promised the next shuttle would be at the appropriately marked stand within ten minutes.

Adjusting her timetable for the shuttle and the road conditions, Jo started for the parking garage. It took all her control not to skid to a stop when she spotted another familiar face among so many strangers.

Specialist Jason Grant, one of Thomas Casey's rising stars, was coming down the escalator. Though his eyes were shadowed by dark glasses, she knew his gaze was sweeping the crowd.

Damn it. She'd checked the itineraries for all of Thomas's team over the next week. Grant wasn't slated to attend the wedding. According to her information, he should have been working recon on a new case in Vegas. With one conversation, he could ruin her plans for a clean capture. She had only seconds to head him off.

Well, that's what plan B was for, she mused. Jo popped open one more button on her blouse and rushed back toward Thomas. "Excuse me, sir? Seat A2, right?"

His brow puckered and she knew he was trying to place her from the airplane. "I worked coach," she explained. "But I spotted this in your seat on my way out."

She flashed an overly bright smile and handed him a passport. "That's you, right?"

He opened it and, startled, gazed up at her. "Who are you?"

"You know me," she murmured, leaning closer. "Thomas." His eyes went wide as he recognized her voice under the disguise.

"I need you." The words were out, full of more truth than she cared to admit regarding their past, present and quite possibly their immediate future.

He nodded once, all business, and fell in beside her as she headed toward an employee access. She refused to look back, though she could feel Grant closing in as the door locked behind them.

"This way."

"Tell me what's going on, Jo."

She ignored the ripple of awareness that followed his using her given name. It wasn't the reaction she'd expected. Thomas always treated everyone with efficient professionalism. Except for that one notable, extremely personal, incident years ago.

"I'll tell you everything just as soon as we're out of here." She checked her watch. They had less than five minutes before the cabbie she'd paid to wait left in search of another fare. In this weather they'd never find another taxi. "Keep up. We have to get out of the area before the roads are closed." She'd taken precautions, given herself options, but no one could prepare for a freak blizzard.

"Are you in trouble?"

"Yes." On one too many levels, she realized. But it was too late to back out now. If she didn't follow through, someone more objective would take over the investigation. Based on what she'd seen, she didn't think that was a good idea.

Moving forward, she hoped some deep-seated instinct kicked in, making him curious enough to cooperate with her. Grant wasn't just one of his Specialists, he was the best of the current crop. He'd been tagged to replace Deputy Director Holt, the man who held the position in which Lucas Camp had once served, when the deputy eventually moved up to replace Thomas.

The Initiative committee had approved the plan. Right now, she wondered what the hell they'd been thinking.

"Jo, wait."

Would the day ever come when his voice didn't create that shiver of anticipation? "No time."

"I need an explanation."

"And I'll give you one when we're away from the airport."

"Jo." He caught her arm, forced her to stop and really look at him.

Airport employees passed by, moving to and from their respective duties with various degrees of interest in their obviously strained interaction. She made mental notes, knew he was doing the same. Always an eye out for the next threat.

"A particular German mission file crossed my desk last week."

"I see."

She fingered the disk in her pocket. Loaded with enough sedative to guarantee his cooperation, she hesitated to use it. And she knew without reservation that she would get only one chance. "This was the only time we could talk safely." Or so she'd thought.

"I've booked a hotel room," he said. "We can talk there."

"Fine." Better if he believed she'd willingly compromise. "I have a cab waiting."

At last he fell into step beside her once more, giving her hope this would go well. It almost felt like old times. Almost.

Back then she thought they'd been on the same page, working together toward a common goal. After five years apart on diverging career paths, after reading through so many reports of success from his Specialists who routinely went above and beyond mission parameters, she wasn't sure they could ever be on the same page again.

She might be sure he wasn't a traitor, she just wasn't so sure anymore that she was in the same league as the man behind the stoic, black ops armor.

Chapter Two

Mission Recovery Specialist Jason Grant had successfully shadowed Agent DeRossi to Denver, Colorado. On her tail for several days, he knew the hotel she'd been staying in wasn't within government per diem limits and, thanks to the GPS tag he'd put on her rental, he'd learned she liked to shop in ritzy boutiques.

For as long as he'd been tracking her, he hadn't recognized any of her contacts. If Deputy Director Holt hadn't sent him out here personally, he might think this was a wild goose chase. As it was, he was starting to question the rumor claiming she was here on a Mission Recovery witch hunt. Didn't look that way to him.

Her return to the airport in a flight attendant uniform piqued his curiosity. He hoped whoever she was here to meet appreciated her effort. She looked pretty damned hot.

He'd followed her through the terminal, but if she'd made contact with anyone, it had been too subtle for him to catch. As a well-trained and experienced member of Mission Recovery, getting something by him was highly unlikely and the thought that she'd managed it made him nervous. And definitely ticked him off.

Beyond the windows of the airport, the storm rolled down from the mountains like an avalanche, blanketing the city with snow and ice. He didn't care for the idea of being stuck in an airport with thousands of stranded travelers, so it was a relief when DeRossi finally started to move. Until he lost her.

Her curly blond wig was gone. The bright red blazer of the airline she'd falsely represented was absent from the crowd of travelers milling about. He cursed his arrogance. His boss had warned him she was top of the game, but Jason hadn't been concerned. The woman had been riding a desk for more than three years. However sharp she had once been, she couldn't be on the top of her game these days.

His gaze continued to roam the crowd. She hadn't been that far ahead of him. He tucked himself into a place at the end of the escalators where he could keep an eye on the restrooms as well as the main path to baggage claim.

He gave it three long minutes before he admitted the truth. She'd gotten away. Because she'd spotted him or because she'd completed whatever she'd been sent to do here?

He dialed Deputy Director Holt but the call went straight to voice mail. Probably for the best. Reporting a screw-up like losing the target was way, way low on the list of his favorite activities.

Other than telling him to watch her and report her activities, no one had really briefed him on the real reason why DeRossi was in Colorado at the same time as Director Casey. Having her in the airport at the time of his arrival had to be more than coincidence, but so far as he'd been able to observe she hadn't made contact.

He'd never met a field agent who liked oversight divisions—whether it was the Internal Affairs divisions of police departments or the covert equivalent of the Initiative committee.

An airport security cart whizzed by and Jason decided it was time to get creative. If he could get into the security office, maybe he'd get lucky and spot her on one of the many video feeds they monitored.

He considered fabricating an elaborate story and settled on a lower-risk version of the truth. Following the cart to the nearest security team office, he walked in, credentials ready.

"Can I help you?"

Jason flipped open the wallet with a badge and ID card as he surveyed the entire space. The security office setup was familiar. One uniformed person at the desk, a couple of others in offices that overlooked the small reception area. He glanced at the one closed door and assumed that was where all the real information was hidden.

"Good afternoon." He smiled, throwing in a little charm since the uniform was female. "I'm Agent Grant. I was tailing a suspect and she managed to ditch me at baggage claim," he said with just the right blend of irritation and embarrassment. It was a skill he'd picked up during his time in law enforcement.

"I need a look at your cameras, see if I can spot her. Consider it a professional courtesy," he added. "I really don't want to have to hear about this mistake for the rest of my life, if I can avoid it."

She smiled just a little and made a call to her immediate superior. Feeling the eyes on him, he let his shoulders slump as he tucked his badge away, playing the part of the guy who was having a bad day.

It worked. She hung up the phone and walked him over to the closed door.

Two men in airport security uniforms watched the cycling views of the area from the escalators to the exit doors on the wide bank of monitors. Reading the labels under each, he soon had a feel for each area covered by the closed-circuit cameras.

Public areas, employee-only access and the walkways and streets just outside the terminal. Where was she? She wasn't loitering in baggage claim. Not in the rental car line either.

"Who are you looking for?"

"Flight attendant. Female. Blonde. In a red blazer." And with less than a minute a good operative could have changed any one of those distinguishing features. He'd given her three minutes plus the time it had taken him to get in here.

DeRossi was an oversight agent. Hadn't pushed anything more dangerous than paper in a couple of years. He wanted to bang his head against the wall for underestimating her. No one working any aspect of covert ops got hired or moved up the food chain by accident.

Still. She'd shown no sign of spotting him tailing her and it wasn't entirely unreasonable to believe her field skills would be rusty.

"Hot?" one of the guards asked.

"Aren't they all?" Grant mused.

"Sure," the guard admitted with a smirk. "But a few stand out. Let me cue this for you."

Jason waited the few seconds, let the guard zoom in. "Yeah, that's her," he said, stopping just shy of a fist pump. DeRossi strolled down an employee access hall with a businessman at her side. There was a brief conversation, then they moved again, out of the camera's view. "Where did she go?"

"Got her," the other guard said. "She went into a cab with the dude."

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Bridal Armor 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
I don't usually read Military/Spy book genres. I sure do a  lot the authors who do the research to do right for their characters. I know it will work out for the best at the end but it's like s  life on spikes until I finish the book. Debra had just the right amount of danger with enough love and laughter to see me through. Good Job!Don't be afraid to try this book. It's good!
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
What could unnerve a “real life” version of James Bond? Someone who has faced down the most vile of villains, run covert spy missions, and lived to tell about it? How about having to walk his niece down the aisle on her wedding day and have to say a total of four words? Thomas Casey is now the head of the CIA and a blizzard is thwarting his chances to make it to his niece’s wedding on time. Well, a blizzard and an attempt to besmirch his legendary name and kill him in an act of revenge. When a beautiful agent from his past “kidnaps” him and saves his life, Thomas is still in danger, still far from the wedding, and unsure if he should even show up and possibly endanger the lives of those he loves. It doesn’t help that the one woman he ever loved is his savior, or that they walked away from each other so long ago. Can they rekindle their romance? Can he clear his name? Can he survive? Will he get to the wedding on time, if he survives? Bridal Armor by Debra Webb is part intrigue, part thriller part “run for your life” and part romance, but a completely fun read. The pace is fast, the tension runs high and bless Thomas for being so worried about his niece’s wedding! I thoroughly enjoyed this light and easy read. This ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Harlequin Intrigue in exchange for my honest review!
gmfuhlman More than 1 year ago
Johara DE Rossi, she is a member of the Initiative Committee who knew Thomas Casey who is the Director of Mission Recovery .When Johara, saw a reports that Thomas Casey was being reported as a traitor to his country, she felted that this information wasn't implausible. So Johara decided that she must immediately take on this investigation herself. Johara had taken steps to throw off anyone who might be on their tails In the meantime; Thomas is set to give way his niece at her wedding in Colorado. After his arrival a snow storm blows in to Denver that makes it impossible to get to the rehearsal on time. But, the shocker is meeting up with Johara at the airport, and a car explosion that gets his full attention and he and Johara on the run. This book has lots of thrills and suspense, and Debra Webb does it every time. So if you enjoy this type of book, then this one is for you.
peanut01 More than 1 year ago
The Colby Series has been one of my favorite series since I started reading Debra Webb’s books many years ago (over 10 years ago). I started reading her books and realized it was a series and I always love to read series in order. I went to many used bookstores and searched online for the books that were out of print. I finally collected them up to the one I’d started reading and I’ve bought every one of them since including every book Debra has written. I’m hooked! This is a series that I will reread because of such great storylines and I bet you’ll feel the same way. Victoria Colby started the Colby Agency of the best private investigators and over the years it has expanded and opened another office in Texas. Victoria and her husband Lucas have planned to retire and leave the Colby Agency in great hands. Victoria’s son Jim opened the Equalizers and now they work together. I don’t want to ruin the storyline by going into great detail of the story. I wonder if Victoria and Lucas will be ever to fully retire. Thomas Casey just wants to make it in time for his niece’s wedding. He is going to have the honor of giving her away since her father died the year before. The weather turns bad unexpectedly and then several people are trying to save or kill Thomas. Someone from his past knows Thomas is being set up and will do anything to help him. But, with so many people after Thomas can they make it to the wedding in time and prevent the people after him from hurting his family by showing up at the wedding. Are those old feelings they both tried to ignore going to arise and distract them. They need to be in top form to stay safe and alive. Thomas’ CIA Specialists have the greatest respect for Thomas Casey and want to help him. Hopefully none of them have turned against him. I know you will love this book and the entire series if you choose to read all the books. Don’t miss her Faces of Evil series or any of her books. Debra has a writing style that draws you into the story and you don’t want to put the book down until you have finished it. I’ve stayed up way past my bedtime many nights. Enjoy the book and happy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gender: &female. Looks: Light Brown/Red hair and Golden/Brown eyes. Age :12. Armor: Iron. Things: 1 round dimond, 1 quartz block, 1 butter stick, & 1 Iron Swo.rd. Animals: Baby Chicken & Jungle Cat. Lives: Very Small House (res 14).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skin: An ender princess with a creeper crown on. She wears a green tee and jeans. Ally: Creeper. Enemy: ENDERMAN! Themes: TNT, This is my Biome, and Like an Enderman. Block: Soda, dah epic diamond. Mod: DOCTOR WHO! and MINE LITTLE PONY! Duh!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks: Has a Legolas skin. Other: Prefers mining to anything else. Theme Song(s): Diggy Diggy Hole and I am a Miner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Appearance: has a liru the werewolf skin. Age: 16. Personnality: meet me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skin:palace guard skin.------powers:shapeshift and flight.-----has unlimited inventory and if i like you ill give you supplies for free.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
I liked it but felt like the ending was rushed. I think it needed to be longer or something. It had a lot of different familar characters and some I had not read about. Lots of drama, action. romance and snow. Their is also a bomber on the loose and a Russian attack helicopter in Colorado. For most of the book you are not totally sure who to trust. Who is setting up who? In fact I still am wondering parts of it. Thomas Casey niece is getting married. He is giving the bride away. Most of the guests are working for CIA, Specialists or for the Colby Agency. So security is tight and everything should be okay for the wedding. They have rented out the whole hotel for it. When Thomas lands in Denver just beating a big snow storm that no one saw coming. He is met by Johara di Rossi a agent he worked with and got close years ago. She asks him to come with her. When they get to the car Thomas had rented it blew up. His quick reaction saved them. They got in Jo's car and away they thought from the enemy. Every time you think they were safe something else happened. Jo saw one agent follow her and thought he might be responsible for it. Thomas trusts that agent that she saw at the airport. Grant assignment was to follow Jo around and see what she is up too and report to the assistant director who was in charge while Thomas was on vacation. He thought it would be easy since she has been on a desk for the past 4 years. He lost her. He did find out that the car that was bombed was his director. Now he was missing too. Everyone is worried when Thomas does not show up on time first because of snow. Then all calls go direct to voice mail. He has missed checks in. That is not normal. Their are a few love scenes that I skipped over. If you have read most of the Colby Agency: Specialists than you would be glad to see all the characters from previous books. I have read some and know some of the back stories but their are a lot of them that I have missed. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of it by Netgalley and Harlequin. publication: August 20th 2013 by Harlequin Intrigue 224 pages ISBN:0373697104