Two special agents are about to prove that true passion knows no fear . . .
As veteran agents in the FBI's special corruption unit, Beatrice McCoy and Michael Spates face major changes in a post 9-11 world. Michael is in danger of losing his job and the career he has poured his blood, sweat, and tears into--and Bea is determined to go to any length to protect him. She can't force her heart to stop longing for him . . . yet she has already made a promise that she would never love again.
After the death of her husband and her two children, Beatrice vowed that if she was able to overcome the pain of her loss she would never love another. But after she and Michael attend a weekend retreat together, she realizes that their partnership has grown into much more. Suddenly faced with an unspeakable danger, Bea and Michael must struggle to untangle the secrets and lies that surround their most perilous case . . . or risk losing their love--and their lives . . .
Katherine D. Jones sold her first contemporary romance to BET Books in 2003. Born in Leonardtown, Maryland, she spent her early years traveling around the world as a daughter of a Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State. Jones obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. She currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. She has been married for over eighteen years to her husband, an army officer, and they have two handsome boys. Jones believes in strong characters that are firmly grounded in real-world issues and problems. Her writing credits include two novels published by BET, Love Worth Fighting For and Worth the Wait, as well as magazine articles for Black Romance and several short stories. She is co-winner of the 2005 Shades of Romance Magazine Reader's Choice Favorite New Author award and a 2005 Emma Award Nominee for the Favorite New Author category.
|Sold by:||Penguin Random House Publisher Services|
|File size:||1 MB|
Read an Excerpt
By KATHERINE D. JONES
Kensington Publishing Corp.Copyright © 2006 Katherine D. Jones
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFBI Director Michael Spates was on the phone with his direct supervisor, Executive Director Bea McCoy. It was their usual custom to debrief after a mission, but this time she had more to discuss than just the details of their last completed case. Beatrice had also called to confirm the rumor that there would be a major shake-up in the organization's structure.
Michael had heard that there were plans that could adversely affect the unit, but he wanted to wait to hear it from Beatrice personally before he rushed to judgement. He talked about the case first, and then he would deal with rumor-mill gossip. Besides, he preferred to deal with good news over bad. "The San Antonio case wasn't too bad, was it? The budget was a little high, but if you think about it, without our mission setup those guys wouldn't have been caught, at least not without the body count being higher. We can chalk up another successful assignment to the SCU," he said, hoping that he'd managed to keep the tension out of his voice while he spoke with her.
Michael paused before he continued. "The wedding was nice, too. So that makes four of our best agents engaged or married. It makes you wonder who's next."
Michael heard Bea's tender sigh, the softness of which seemed to gently nuzzle his ears. Shehad caused him no small distraction while they talked, especially since she had absolutely no idea the effect she had on him.
Beatrice avoided the first part of his statement when she answered. "Yes, I'm pleased about the case-even though, I will admit I was starting to become a little worried. Maupin and Radford seemed to take their sweet time about putting away the Wilkens boys, but I must say in the end, the SCU acquitted itself nicely. Now all we have to do is make sure that the right people know about our successes during these reorganization talks and hearings. I've got budget meetings all week and then the congressional hearing. The Department of Homeland Security is really itching to take over the unit. They see it as a real coup to be able to set up missions the way that you are able to, but I'm not comfortable with the proposed change. It would mean that you would have to give up your leadership position and I know the unit is successful because of all the time and hard work that you put into it."
Another soft sigh. "As for your last question, about who's next-I don't really know, but I've heard through interoffice gossip that Max Wilson and Chantal McCorkle are making eyes at each other. Zola seems to know everybody's business. If she wasn't such a great administrative assistant, I might wonder about her."
Michael could hear the smile in her voice. Bea presented herself as a serious, no-nonsense supervisor, but he knew she had a fun side, too. Aside from being beautiful, she had a wonderful sense of humor that she showed way too infrequently.
Bea said, "And I agree with you, we need to do what we can to make sure our agents stick around. I don't want to lose any more great talent."
Michael's tone turned serious again. "I'm very pleased with the way our agents have performed in the face of the toughest situations. There are several things that have come across my desk lately that I think we should take a look into as time and agents permit." He exhaled. "There's also something going on with the Jamaicans, but I'm still waiting on the DEA to get back to me on what they want us to do."
"I looked at the Moroccan file before it was sent over to you. Despite all that's going on go ahead and make the arrangements for the Radfords. Just let me know how it goes in the morning. As far as the Jamaican posses, we've got too much going on-have the DEA put in writing what they'd like us to do and I'll take a look at it later."
Beatrice exhaled. "I think I'm going to head home, it's late and we've been going at this restructuring plan nonstop for the last couple of weeks." She lowered her voice, concern evident as she spoke. "You should get some rest as well. Don't work too much longer or you're going to wear yourself out."
Michael stifled a chuckle. There was only one way he could think of to wear himself out and it was definitely not considered work. He had to force those thoughts away so that he could put his attention toward the conversation. He couldn't afford to leave just yet, though he wanted nothing better. The files on his desk were a good indication that he couldn't go home anytime soon. He said, "You know I never get out of here before ten P.M., but thanks for your concern. I'll talk to you in the morning. Be safe heading home."
He placed the phone back in the cradle. The watch list seemed to grow longer with each day, and with the joint assignments that his agents had with other agencies, the unit was stretched thin. Having Beatrice confirm his suspicions sent a chill up his spine.
If his unit were absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security he would lose oversight of all the current missions and assignments. He didn't even want to think about leaving his agents out there for someone else to oversee. He cared about them too much-they were all the family he had aside from his mentor, Peter.
Early retirement had crossed his mind on several occasions, but the bottom line was that Michael wanted to finish what he'd started. His desk might hold mission requests from Jamaica, West Indies to Jamaica, New York, but he owed it to his cadre of agents to try to stick it out.
Michael was prepared to fight for his job, but he wasn't prepared to beg. He had to have faith that at the right time Congress would make the right decisions.
Michael stifled a sigh. There were several more files that he should read before going home, but with his concentration shot, he knew it wouldn't be a very productive night.
He'd just hung up with the person responsible for his feelings. Beatrice McCoy seemed to occupy his thoughts morning through night. Many nights he went to bed with erotic thoughts of Bea on his mind. Thoughts that rocked his equilibrium and made it difficult for him to stick to his plan to keep his emotional distance from her until she was ready to pursue a relationship with him. It was a time that he'd been waiting for-for far too long.
As a man who was always in control, it unnerved him that he seemed to be so wrapped up in what was going to happen with his position as well as his love life, that he could barely make it through the day. An involuntary shudder passed through him. How did we get to this?
The next day brought more of the same for him. His day consisted of dreaming up ways to outsmart either Congress or criminals ... sometimes he thought that they were one and the same.
He signed papers, read documents and reports, and made assignments. Michael raked his hands through his hair for the fiftieth time, disgusted that there seemed to be less of it each day. Yet another reminder that time stood still for no one.
He took solace in the thought that perhaps during his upcoming trip to the mountains for their business trip he would find the answers he sought. Maybe the peace and tranquillity of the setting would help.
Later on in the day, Michael looked down at his calendar to organize his week. Damn! I didn't call Beatrice. He was so caught up in his own problems that he'd forgotten that the next day would mark one of the worst days of her life. Bea never asked for anything, least of all special treatment, but he had to do what felt right.
Beatrice had come into the office as usual. She hoped the duties and details of the day would take her mind off what she knew she must eventually face. It had worked for awhile, but now in the still of the day with no one making demands of her and the phone quiet, reality came crashing down to meet her. Bea looked at the date on the calendar at a day that she didn't need any help to remember. This anniversary was permanently etched in her memory; she would never forget the day that her life began to unravel.
Beatrice sucked in big gulps of air. She tried to think of pleasant things to be thankful for: the good times and the many blessings in her life. And it worked until the lump in her throat served notice that she was engaged in a losing battle. It hadn't worked last year, either.
The bureau psychiatrist, Dr. Wendy Rose, had told her during their last few sessions to just go with the feelings. Her sorrow was a part of the healing process. Besides, trying to push the tears away didn't do any good. Crying wouldn't bring them back, but it was good for the soul. Today marked the anniversary of her children's memorial service. The attack on their bus had left little for her to bury. Her shoulders shook with the force of her emotion.
As hot tears rolled down her cheeks, she wanted to call Michael. Tell him that she needed him, but she wouldn't ... she couldn't. She wasn't ready to deal with the consequences of taking such a big risk. It would be so easy to let go and let you love me, she thought, but at what cost? She wouldn't be responsible for something bad happening to him, too.
Bea had been putting off his advances with a dual heart. On the one hand, she wanted him to continue to love her, on the other, she wanted him to move on. But she'd made a pact with herself after she buried the three people she loved most in the world that she wouldn't ever make herself vulnerable to love again. She felt as if her heart had been ripped out twice-and that was enough. Because of her past, Bea decided that she would deal with the anguish on her own. What she wouldn't give to have Michael's strong arms wrapped around her in comfort. Many a night she considered giving in to temptation. She wanted to be with him so much that sometimes it hurt.
After several minutes the tidal wave of emotion passed and she was able to function a little better. When she felt she could go on, she lifted her head. Beatrice would learn to get over Michael, just as she was learning to get through the other losses in her life. Problem was, Bea was confronted with her feelings for him every time she looked into the deep brown depths of his eyes or listened, mesmerized by the deep bass of his voice, when he spoke.
It seemed that he didn't intend to make it any easier for her, either. More times than she cared to remember he reminded her that he was just a call away if she ever needed anything. Bea knew that if she were honest, the answer that would escape her lips would be only you. She needed him to be more than just a good friend. She needed him to be her friend, confidant, and lover. But she would never ask for that, even though she knew he would do it all freely.
A delivery of white flowers on her porch awaited her arrival. She blew out a long breath and shook her head. Michael. Yeah, he planned to make it difficult for her to stick to her resolve about not entering into a relationship with him and to maintain a professional distance.
He always found a way to express his concern for her. He would send a bouquet of flowers, or a plant, or a sweet card-always with a handwritten sentiment to let her know that he cared and hadn't forgotten.
Beatrice took the arrangement of white carnations, mums, baby's breath, and Asiatic lilies to her kitchen, where she fixed a soothing mug of hot chamomile tea.
As it cooled, she sipped gingerly. As the years went by it was harder and harder to stay true to her husband's memory. They had been in love, shared a wonderful life with their children, but she had to go on. The way she felt about Michael was a clear indication of that fact. She didn't want to betray what she had had with them, but as the years passed, she didn't want to be alone anymore. If Bea were truly honest with herself, she would admit to the world that she longed for love and fulfillment like anyone else. It was her sense of control, her desire to be in control that prevented her from showing that side of herself to Michael or anyone else, for that matter. Therapy and group sessions had helped when it came to grieving the loss of her loved ones, but it hadn't stopped her from putting a barrier around her heart that she was reluctant to let down. If any man could break through, it was Michael. And that made him a very dangerous man for her to be around.
And even despite her raw emotions, the very notion of spending time alone with him sent a shiver of anticipation through her. Much as she tried to think of their impending trip to Harpers Ferry as just a business trip, her body and thoughts betrayed her true feelings. She had two days to convince herself that throwing herself into Michael's arms would not be the best way to keep business and pleasure separate. And was certainly not the way that she should behave with a subordinate agent. Trouble was, her heart wasn't paying much attention to her sound logic.
Chapter TwoThe breathtaking drive to the Hilltop House Hotel through the snow-capped mountains was enough to put them both in a relaxed, lighthearted mood. Maybe it was just the picturesque setting, but suddenly the weight of the world they seemed to carry on their shoulders was lifted. The roads were clear, but temperatures were cool and everything around them seemed dressed in its prettiest winter white.
Hilltop was beautifully situated in the hills of West Virginia, boasting a location on a hill two hundred and fifty feet above the river. And with sixty-two rooms it was the perfect locale for the interagency meeting. They could take over the entire facility and not have to worry about internal security issues.
Senior agents met every few years to keep pace with the division leaders from other agencies such as the State Department Intelligence and Research, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, to name a few. Each participant was responsible for a portion of a group exercise, but it was more typically known as a three-day event where networking was the actual business conducted. And that was the whole purpose. Too much time in the office without some sort of release wasn't good for anyone. These meetings afforded the senior-level operatives a chance to sharpen their skills through the joint workshops and group exercises, while still giving them much-deserved downtime.
The atmosphere also provided a refreshing getaway where they could all complain about how bad they had it and then go back to their rooms with a smile on their faces because they didn't have it as bad as the next guy.
It was an event that was well attended and highly anticipated by the senior-level agents, directors, and investigators.
Michael had important reports to review, assignments to make, and his usual slew of meetings. But sitting next to Beatrice on the way to Harpers Ferry proved to be more challenging than his hectic workweek. He found himself confronted with the feelings he'd worked so hard to avoid while he was alone with Bea during the drive.
Michael looked at Bea out of the corner of his eye. The scent of her Juniper Breeze gently wafted through his senses, and tempted his libido. He knew exactly which fragrance she wore, because he had enjoyed the sweet smell on her for a number of years. She had somehow made it her own, bringing the mild floral scent to a sexy new heat. Many a night he wondered how it would feel to kiss every inch of it on her voluptuous curves. He shifted in the seat. The increased snugness of his pants told him that he needed to change the direction of his thoughts before he embarrassed himself.
"So tell me, Bea. How come you have four bags for a three-day trip? Is this something women learn in a secret class for females only?"
Bea turned to him, her brow furrowed until she saw his wide grin. "Oh, I see, you've got jokes, as the younger generation would say. I'll have you know that I have all the supplies that a well-organized woman would bring with her on a trip, including my 'never leave home without it' emergency kit, and other incidentals."
Michael covered a smirk. "Well, in that case, please forgive my ignorance. I guess us not-so-well-organized men should take a few lessons. I just have one bag; next time I guess I should let you pack for both of us."
Bea held his gaze. Would there be a next time?
They watched each other uncomfortably for a few seconds. The comment sparked a heated connection that neither was prepared to handle.
Michael's breathing rate increased. Beatrice had been a major part of why he continued to work for the bureau. Her strength and support had been immeasurable to him. He found Bea McCoy to be a very good reason to get up in the mornings-it was just too bad she didn't feel the same way about him. Yet.
Excerpted from Deep Down by KATHERINE D. JONES Copyright © 2006 by Katherine D. Jones. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.