DEEP IN RURAL IDAHO, A BRIGADE OF MILITANT
WHITE SUPREMACISTS CALLING THEMSELVES
THE SOLDIERS OF JORDAN IS PREPARING TO LAUNCH
A DESPERATE STRUGGLE THAT THREATENS TO
FOREVER ALTER THE NATION'S BALANCE OF POWER.
When the country's ultrasecret Unit One goes on high
alert, operative Melody Beecham is ordered to infiltrate the
Soldiers of Jordan. Her instructions: to exploit their leader's
penchant for attractive Aryan-featured blondes.
Fellow operative Nikolai Anwar is working from another
angle: he must win the trust of a high-powered senator's
wife in order to uncover a trail of corruption tied to the
governmentthrough whatever means necessary. But
Nikolai's dedication to Unit One is in direct opposition to his
growing feelings for Melody.
Working undercover, Nikolai and Melody are both ordered
to pursue relationships with other people for the sake of the
mission. But can they survive in a world of hidden agendas,
where one false move could be their last?
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Read an Excerpt
By Jasmine Creswell
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWednesday, May 5th
The home of Judge George Lawson, Greenwich, Connecticut
It took Melody Beecham less than ten seconds to jimmy the lock on Judge Lawson's study door and slip inside the book-lined room. Not quite a record, but satisfyingly close to her personal best. After six months of field experience with Unit One, she was getting pretty damn good at this breaking and entering stuff, even if she said so herself. Home invasion, burglary, wire tapping and computer hacking weren't exactly the skills she'd expected to develop into a career when she graduated from the University of Florence with an honors degree in fine arts, but she had to admit that carrying out missions for Unit One had a certain seductive appeal. Sometimes - often enough to be worrisome - she forgot that she was still working under duress and not because she was committed to their goals.
Relocking the study door behind her, Melody tucked the electronic pick down the cleavage of her black cocktail dress and switched on the microlight she wore disguised as a jeweled wristwatch. She directed the narrow beam around the room, checking for anything that didn't conform to the information she'd been given during her briefing early that morning. Everything looked exactly as she'danticipated.
"I'm in," she murmured into her mike, crossing to the desk, the sound of her footsteps swallowed by the thick Persian rug. "No surprises. The judge's laptop is on the desk. I'm ready to start the download."
Nikolai Anwar responded. "The judge is talking to the governor's wife and the PR crew is still with them. They're taking photos. Lots and lots of photos." Nick's voice sounded clearly in her ear mike, even though he was at the other end of the house, on the ground floor, where the party to celebrate Judge Lawson's nomination to the Supreme Court of Connecticut was in full swing. "Go for it, Melody. I estimate you have at least fifteen minutes."
Fifteen minutes was more than she needed. Still, Melody's heart was racing as she opened the laptop and waited for the operating system to load. Since Judge Lawson was in the midst of a PR binge, the chances of him walking in on her were slim to none, but there was always an adrenaline rush at this crucial stage of a mission. She drew in a long slow breath, imposing calm. She knew from experience that an adrenaline high could spiral out of control with dangerous swiftness.
The moment the judge's computer was functional, Melody began to download the contents of his hard drive using a high-speed device developed by Unit One's own technical division. Unit One had accumulated significant intelligence to the effect that Judge Lawson's verdicts could be bought, despite his golden reputation for integrity. However, his recent appointment to the state supreme court was widely popular and Unit One needed rock-solid evidence before approaching the FBI with their accusations. The fact that Judge Lawson's verdicts were almost never overturned on appeal made it extra difficult to convince law enforcement authorities that those judgments were often bought and paid for. A wire tap, in operation for the past two weeks, had suggested that concrete proof of his corruption would be obtained if Unit One could get hold of the contents of the judge's hard drive. Hence tonight's mission.
The laptop buzzed and whirred its way through the download. The screen flashed Melody a message that one more minute was required to complete the transfer of information. She barely had time to heave a sigh of relief before Nick spoke again.
"Senator Lewis Cranford is coming upstairs. Judge Lawson just gave him a key, and he's coming directly to the study." Nick delivered the bad news with the sort of calm that warned Melody this was a major crisis. During an operation, Nick sounded more tightly controlled the more serious the threat.
"Abort the mission, Melody." His order was low and uninflected, but she could feel his urgency. "Get out of the study - now."
"Get out how?" She saw that only twenty seconds remained on the download and left the computer humming its way through the last vital moments. "If Senator Cranford's in the hallway, he's blocking the only possible exit."
"Go out of the window. You need to climb out onto the ledge, Melody. I'll be waiting to let you into the room next door." If possible, Nick's voice became cooler, quieter and even more calm - a sure sign to Melody that full-blown hysterics on her part were distressingly appropriate.
He wanted her to climb out onto a window ledge? In Melody's opinion, being caught by the senator was a significantly preferable alternative to crawling out onto a narrow slab of concrete, thirty or more feet above ground level. She had many skills useful to an undercover agent, but making like Spider-Man on the side of a building was definitely not one of them.
"Melody, get out of there." Nick's voice became clipped and she could tell that he was moving fast. "You're not just compromising yourself. You're compromising the entire mission."
"I'm leaving now." The computer burped to a halt. Melody ejected the super-capacity disk, clicked the mouse to shut down the laptop and banged the lid closed. It seemed that the habit of obedience died hard because she ran to the window and pushed it up.
Holy God. The ledge couldn't be more than six inches wide, and it was drizzling with rain, which meant that it was too narrow and slippery to support a cat, let alone a human being wearing a skimpy satin cocktail dress and evening sandals with two inch heels.
"Jesus, Nick, if I'd wanted to commit suicide I could think of more enjoyable ways than climbing onto this damn ledge."
"Get out, Melody, and that's an order."
The sound of footsteps approaching down the hallway finally jolted her courage - or her fear - to the point where she could obey Nick's instructions. Stepping behind the drapes, Melody drew them tightly closed behind her. Then she swung around and sat backward on the windowsill, pulling herself out until she could tuck her feet underneath her body, rest them on the outer ledge and push herself upright. Once vertical, she stretched her arms wide and clung to the ornamental shutters, her body pressed flat against the upper half of the window. Rain splattered on her head and naked shoulders, but as long as she had the minor comfort of solid surface against a portion of her body, she didn't give a damn about getting wet. There was no need to remind herself not to look down, since she was incapable of movement.
She'd escaped just in time, Melody realized as she heard the sounds of a key turning in the lock, followed by footsteps moving around the judge's study and a dim glow of light seeping out into the darkness. Given that she could see the lights Senator Cranford had switched on, she wondered if the silhouette of her body might be visible to him through the thickly lined drapes. Fortunately she was already so terrified that the prospect of being discovered on the ledge added barely a quiver to the overall level of her fear.
Nick's voice spoke into her ear mike. "Melody, don't answer me because the senator might hear your voice."
Excerpted from Full Pursuit by Jasmine Creswell Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd. . 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unit One, the highly classified group of operatives who defend the US from things the more public agencies can't combat, may have finally asked too much of Melody Beecham. Her latest assignment involves going undercover at a religious cult and seducing a man she does not know. Moreover, she is involved with Nikolai Anwar, and his assignment involves seducing a powerful senator's wife whose daughter belongs to the same cult Melody has infiltrated. While Nik is quite matter of fact about the necessities, Melody can't believe they are expected to do this. Nonetheless, they go their separate ways into the tinderbox of race, religion, and fanaticism. *** Tension runs at warp speed from beginning to end. This is a book that may well be a cross over novel, bringing in readers who are more suspense fans than romance fans. ***
Though she enjoys her assignments working for the top secret Unit One, Melody Beecham has not forgotten that she is a ¿blackmailed¿ participant. Her latest project reminds her of the negative side of her work. She is to join the Soldiers of Jordan and, if necessary, seduce the leader Zachary Wharton, in order to spy on their activities; this white supremacist group has plans that will shake the nation if they succeed.--- Melody travels to White Falls, Idaho to the campus of the church of the Soldiers of Jordan and gets inside, but her relationship with fellow Unit One operative Nikolai Anwar implodes. Still he remains her solo hope to stay alive in this dangerous undertaking. She knows that a reporter for the Idaho Chronicle died while investigating this sect and two FBI agents were identified and tossed off campus. Someone inside the Feds is feeding Zachary in his ¿Onward Christian Soldier¿ war of hate against Islam and Christian moderates; no telling what he would do if he learns Melody¿s identity.--- FULL PURSUIT is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that emphasizes the action and tension over the romance though readers will understand how the undercover work has damaged the under cover relationship between the heroic duo. Once the story line resets the key players and moves to Idaho, the pace goes into hyperspeed and never slows down until the final confrontation. The return of Nick and Melody, stars of DECOY, will please fans, but the tale belongs to the villain; a charismatic, brilliant individual who can see beyond the adulation of his followers to know when ¿serpents¿ are in his Eden.--- Harriet Klausner