An anti-terrorism agent with a warrior's body and a magnetic smile, Duncan Edge is working for T-FLAC's special paranormal unit on a mission to halt a lethal terrorist cell. Along the way, Duncan crosses paths with Serena Campbell, a woman of dazzling wizardry and astonishing beauty who Duncan suspects is being unwittingly used by terrorists for a vast murderous undertaking. But Serena will marshal every ounce of her energy, charms, and smarts to steer clear of Duncan, whose flirty yet disastrous childhood antics left her with a long-standing grudge.
Now Duncan and Serena, charged with an ever-growing burning desire, need to set aside their past and prejudices. In their paranormal world, a dangerous force gathers strength, and time is running out for two people who must enter the darkness together and hope there's light on the other side.
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A flash of orange lightning lit the room, followed by the sudden materialization of a man, dumped unceremoniously in the middle of the conference room table. He was soaking wet. Water runneled on the wood surface around him, then started to pour over the sides.
Duncan Edge merely raised a brow as he shifted his chair out of the way. The other five T-FLAC/psi operatives taking the meeting jumped to their feet at the unexpected interruption, grabbing up computers, paper, and assorted crap before everything was saturated.
“What the hell…?”
“Who the f—”
Shaking his head, Duncan prevented the water from cascading into his lap, or onto the floor, with a swift telekinetic thought. He knew the who and the why.
One of her strongest powers was her mastery over water. Clearly she hadn’t changed. She still had a bad temper, still couldn’t control it. And still had to have the last damned word.
The woman was a menace.
“This is personal,” he told the others. “Take five.”
“Hell, take ten. Color me intrigued,” Connor Jordan told him affably, closing his computer and setting it on the credenza nearby. There were general murmurs of agreement from the others.
Great. Duncan had never allowed his personal life, such as it was, to filter into his professional life. But of course he’d never tried to help Serena before. No good deed goes unpunished. Now he had five freaking witnesses to his folly. Crap.
“He waited patiently as his man gasped for air like a beached whale, trying to regain use of his lungs. Understandable, since the guy had hit the solid wood of the table hard and fast. While he waited, Duncan retrieved the note pinned to Chang’s crumpled shirt.
“‘I believe this belongs to you,’” he read the curlicue handwriting out loud. Oh, yeah. He knew the who. Absently he touched the scar bisecting his left eyebrow. Damn woman had lost her temper that time, too. He’d almost been blinded by a flying pencil. “You gonna make it, buddy?” he asked the young half-wizard.
“S-she made me,” Chang managed, gray-faced and still spread-eagle in the middle of the polished koa wood table. He’d had the air knocked out of him. His pride, too, if Duncan knew Serena.
“Yeah. Figured that one out for myself,” he said dryly. “Told you she was sharp.” Too damn sharp, Duncan thought with a stab of irritation. He’d sent Chang, Jensen, and Prost in to watch her back. Serena had been a stubborn pain in Duncan’s ass since wizard grade school. But for some annoying reason he always needed to know where she was and what the hell she was doing.
“Apparently time and maturity hadn’t improved her temper or her stubbornness one iota. He hadn’t seen her in what—five? Six years? Not since some charity fund-raiser for the Foundation he’d been dragged to by a date whose name he now couldn’t remember. Odd, since he remembered with photographic clarity the backless emerald gown Serena had worn that night.
The glittering material had clung to every curvaceous inch of her body, but had left the upper swell of her creamy breasts and one long, long leg exposed. The leg men attending the black-tie function that night had salivated when they’d looked at her, the breast men had their tongues hanging out, and every straight man with a pulse had wanted her.
That was Serena.
Help her echoed in his head like a stuck record. He recognized Henry Morgan’s voice, weak though it was. His old mentor was not only Head of the Wizard Council, he also worked in some scientific capacity for the Campbell Foundation that Serena now ran. He’d been “calling” Duncan for the past three days.
The only “her” he and Henry had in common was Serena.
“Serena was Henry Morgan’s goddaughter, and the old man loved and treated her as his own. Which had sometimes made his and Duncan’s friendship difficult.
“Help her. Stop her.”
A running litany with growing telepathic urgency but no clear explanation. Why didn’t the guy just pick up the damned phone? Henry was one of the few people who had Duncan’s private cell number. He knew he was impossible to reach, but Henry could have left a voice mail. He would have returned the call as soon as he was able.
God only knew, he’d tried to call Henry after the first mental SOS. Henry must be off doing Council business and unavailable. Telepathic communication, however iffy it may be, must’ve been Henry’s only way of getting through to him.
While Duncan waited to hear directly from his friend, he’d gone ahead and sent a few guys to see what Serena was up to.
Henry’s insistence that he help her, and Chang’s untimely return, were indicative of something. What, he had no idea. Now he realized it was time to pay both Henry and Serena a visit. If nothing else, it would be amusing to see if he could get a civil answer out of her. Probably not.
He’d contact both of them later this evening when he returned to London, he decided. See what was what. Helping Chang off the table, he noticed that the guy’s stick-straight black hair was covered with sand, as if he’d rolled around on a beach. Interesting.
Albert Chang ran a shaky hand over his jaw, his eyes still a little glassy, his breathing ragged. His triangular face flushed with embarrassment as he saw the other wizards in the room. “I can t-try again.”
“Don’t sweat it.” Duncan crumpled Serena’s note and lobbed it into the trash can in the corner. He could almost feel her animosity radiating off the light orange-colored, flowery-scented paper. “The others will keep tabs on her.”
“Man, I’m sorry, Edg—”
Duncan sent the kid home.
The men picked up their scattered papers and resumed their seats. “That was interesting,” Jordan said mildly, reaching for his pen. “Are you using Halves as minions these days?”
“Half” was the term for someone with muted wizard powers. Their claim to fame was that they couldn’t be detected by full-blooded wizards, which was why Duncan had sent the three to watch over Serena. They had a few powers of their own, but nothing major. They were neither fish nor fowl. Not fully integrated in the wizard world, but not part of the non-wizard world either.
“Just a little side job,” Duncan told them. Prost and Jensen had more experience working side jobs for him than Chang. Serena wasn’t going to know they were around.
Satisfied that he still had the Serena problem covered, Duncan glanced around. “Where were we?”
“Zzzft. Orange lightning fizzled and blinked. “Ah, shit,” he muttered, shimmering all the shit off the table before it got soaked.
A saturated Eric Prost, swearing a blue streak, crashed into the spot in the middle of the table that Chang had just vacated. The coral Post-it note protruding from the top of his shirt pocket was dry, and read: And this!
Duncan got rid of the puddles and crushed the note in his fist. This was just bullshit, not to mention a serious waste of his time. “Get anything?”
“Other than she’s drop-dead gorgeous with a temper to match that red hair?” Gingerly, Prost swung himself off the table. “No.”
Duncan rubbed a hand over his jaw. “See anything suspicious? Dangerous? Out of place?”
“Not in the forty-eight hours I was tailing her. Just so you know, Mongolia is having an unseasonably hot January, and it’s one hundred and nine in the Gobi desert right now.”
Duncan was feeling a lot hotter. “Miss Brightman returned Chang as well,” he said through gritted teeth.
“You mean Mrs. Campbell? Yeah,” Prost said with a grimace. “She let me know in no uncertain terms that my presence was far from welcome. That woman can yell without raising her voice. Scary, that. Want me to go back in?”
Campbell. Right. As if he could damn well forget. She’d married. And buried Ian Campbell last year. “No. Jensen’s still th—”
“God damn it!”
It was the weakest of the three lightning flashes; Serena sucked at creating fire. Tom Jensen landed on all fours, just shy of the table, tucked and rolled, then sprayed water in all directions like a dog after a swim. He staggered to his feet and handed Duncan his note. It had been attached to his shirt with what looked like a diaper pin.
“I’m trying to help her,” Duncan said more to himself than the others. He glanced at the note: And this one as well! “What the hell is she doing sending you guys back?”
“Says, and I quote—she doesn’t need your freaking watchdogs following her around, and not to send any more. She’ll send all of us back to you, and she won’t be nice about it.” Prost caught Jensen’s eye before both men turned back to Duncan. “Think she pretty much means it, boss.”