John Vincent has always led a life of danger, and now he has every reason to want to remain as dead as the obituary in the Australian papers had proclaimed him to be. He'd left nothing behind in the life he had once ledexcept for one woman, and one night of unforgettable passion. Now, both will return to haunt him…
Bailey Serborne is still tormented by a past she can't change and a man she hasn't been able to forget. A man who was supposed to dead.. But now, a stroke of fate has revealed that sometimes, a woman is given a second chance to heal her heartand exact the sweetest revenge…
Heat Seeker is an Elite Ops novel from Lora Leigh.
About the Author
#1 New York Times bestseller, LORA LEIGH is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.
Read an Excerpt
By Lora Leigh
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Lora Leigh
All rights reserved.
One years Later
IT WAS A WORLD BAILEY HADN'T expected to ever enter again. She had left home fifteen years before, vowing she would never return. After her parents' deaths seven years ago, there had never been a reason to return.
She stood beneath expensive crystal chandeliers, outfitted in a brilliant emerald designer dress and high heels, with emeralds and diamonds at her throat and ears. Diamond pins held her hair in place and a single emerald ring graced her hand as she lifted a champagne flute to her lips to sip.
Not cheap champagne here. This was some of the best she had sipped in her life. Perhaps better than her own coming-out ball when she had turned sixteen and her father had definitely splurged on that.
She stared around the ballroom, let the orchestra's music drift around her and pretended it was just another assignment. That she was still with the CIA, that the op she was on was blessed by its director, and that backup would be waiting if the shit hit the fan.
She knew better. In this world there was no backup. There was just Bailey Serborne, the Serborne heiress. The prodigal daughter without a family to welcome her back into the fold. Only the enemies surrounded her here.
"Bailey, how good to see you again." She lifted her cheek and allowed yet another vapid smile to cross her lips as a kiss was brushed against her cheek.
Janice Waterstone. She was in her sixties and still looked forty. Plastic surgery and cosmetics could accomplish miracles.
Janice was one in a long line of welcoming elite in attendance at the Serborne mansion, which Bailey had reopened a year ago.
She'd returned home, supposedly with her tail tucked between her legs, her pride smarting from her dismissal from the agency. And the dismissal was nothing more than the truth; she could still hear her director screaming at her in his office. Milburn Rushmore's face had been neon red, flushed and perspiring, he'd been so pissed at her.
"It's good to see you again, Janice." The smile was as patently false as the other woman's.
Janice was no more happy to see her here than Bailey was to be here. It was the social lie that mattered, though, the persona, the facade presented to the world.
The Serborne fortune was one of the twelve largest in the world. In more than three hundred years it had never dwindled, only grown. And her family had always remained in the top tier of the social elite. The cream of the crop so to speak. American royalty.
She stared around the ballroom, remembering her mother's balls here. The exquisite parties, the months of planning that had gone into them. Angelina Serborne had been an exacting hostess. Her parties were always enjoyed, and invitations were always envied.
"You have quite a crowd here." Janice looked around with a smug smile. "I believe I even saw Sheik AbdulRhamadin and his bodyguard. Not to mention several of this year's hottest actors."
"Every invitation was accepted." Bailey shrugged her bare shoulders.
"Of course they were." Janice blinked back at her. "A Serborne invitation hasn't been issued in seven years. No one was going to miss this party, even if it was such short notice."
In other words, it hadn't been planned a year in advance.
"I'm home. I wanted to remember the good times," she stated simply. "Mother loved the parties."
Janice paused at the mention of Angelina, then finally nodded as though her thoughts were pleasant for a change.
"Angelina and I used to plan her parties together." Janice sighed. "I've missed her."
Bailey finished her champagne. It was instantly snagged by a waiter and replaced with another. Reminiscing about the past wasn't on her list of priorities tonight.
"Pardon me, Janice, I see someone I need to talk to." Bailey excused herself before making her way across to the room to her nemesis.
Some men were so power-hungry that they would do anything to achieve the position they sought. One of those men was Raymond Greer, a former CIA overseas operative.
Raymond had managed to slide into the elite by the way of marriage to one Mary Grace Altman, a widow he'd met on a European cruise while undercover. Bailey wondered if Mary was aware that at one time, she was the former agent's mark.
Raymond stood an easy six four, but he lacked the breadth and muscle that would have made his height attractive. His face was shaped rather like a weasel's, and she could honestly say she had never seen a real smile cross his lips.
"Hello, Raymond, I'm glad you could make it." She stepped up to the former agent and continued softly, "You've done very well for yourself."
"Not all of us are born into wealth." His smile was tight, almost angry, as he spoke back just as softly. "Some of us definitely have to work for our retirement."
Bailey's brows arched as she glanced several feet from where they stood from Raymond's delicate wife.
Mary was one of the sweetest people Bailey knew and one of the few who understood the word sincerity. She was a sister to one of the men Bailey hated most in the world and the aunt to the girl who had once been Bailey's dearest friend.
"Some things should never be considered work," she stated softly as she turned back to him.
He glared back at her.
"Really, Raymond, I'm your hostess, don't you know you're supposed to kiss my ass." She brought her glass to her lips to hide her own gloating smile. "You're letting your roots show, my friend. That's considered impolite."
"What do you want?" He ran a hand over his thinning brown hair, and his hazel eyes flickered back to her in suspicion.
Bailey shrugged at his question. "We should be friends. We've come from the same world in some ways. The same dangers. We could trade war stories."
Not in this lifetime and she knew it. Raymond despised her for her birth, just as she despised him for his arrogance. But that arrogance had been an inborn trait of his. He was finally where he had felt he had belonged all along. It didn't matter how he'd had to lie, cheat and perhaps even kill to get here.
Raymond's gaze narrowed on her at her suggestion. "Funny, you were never interested in discussing anything with me before."
She smiled at that. "We never had anything in common before. We're both a part of this society; we see each other often. We should make the best of it."
"You're not interested in returning to the agency then?" he asked her, a hint of calculation in his voice and in his gaze. "After a year I'd assume you've missed it."
It was a question she had been asked several times over the past months since returning home.
"You don't have to insult me," she informed him coldly. "I think we're both aware that's never going to happen."
Let him get his strikes in. She could handle them as she had never been able to before.
"Because you were fired." He smiled in gloating satisfaction.
Bailey gave a low, light laugh. "I quit. Rushmore just felt he should fire me in retaliation. Haven't you heard? He didn't like having someone on his team who didn't believe he had a direct line to God."
Raymond's brow arched curiously at that. She was repeating his own insults concerning Rushmore.
"Figured that out, did you?" he asked smugly. "I did warn you, Bailey. Rushmore believes he's above the rest of us. One of these days someone should put him in his place."
"Six feet under," she muttered before directing another tight smile in his direction. "If you'll excuse me now, Raymond, I need to mingle. We should talk again later, though."
She moved away from him but glanced back, giving him the impression that she was considering more than a bullet through his head. She was considering much more.
Bailey had worked a year to incorporate herself back into the society she had run from so long ago. For twelve months she had lied, schemed and worked herself to the point that she knew Orion's employer, Warbucks, would contact her soon. He would have to. Only Bailey could supply information he needed now. Information that would lead him to a prize she knew he had all intentions of selling.
As she greeted her guests and sipped at her champagne, the image of her parents flashed through her mind. Ben and Angelina Serborne had been gracious, enduring. Her mother had smiled with genuine amusement or fondness; her father had had a deep belly laugh that never failed to make others laugh in turn.
Her father had been a patriot. A man dedicated to his country and its freedoms. It was a dedication she knew had ended in his and her mother's deaths.
She should have returned sooner, she thought as she stared around the ballroom, took in the bright colors of the evening dresses, the dark tuxedos. This was Aspen's winter finest, and mixed with them were six families who were part of a very elite group of powerful men. The richest of the rich. The most powerful. The most corrupt. She should have returned years ago and learned the secrets she was only now beginning to realize. Secrets that would avenge her parents' deaths.
There were reasons she had left home at eighteen, and turned her back on a fortune that would take four lifetimes to even put a dent in. She had walked away from her parents and everything she had ever known in her life because of the corruption and deceit she had seen here.
There were reasons why she was back now. One was to find the man responsible for the death of her parents. The man who had paid an international assassin known as Orion to kill them.
She couldn't ask Orion himself; he was dead. Taken out by an unknown group of soldiers or agents and killed in his bed. A shadowy force that didn't even have a name. The same group that had kidnapped her in Atlanta.
There were layers upon dark layers here, and she meant to uncover each of them. She would uncover them and learn Warbucks's identity. When she did, then she would have her revenge. As she hadn't had on Orion.
The thought sent a chill up her back as she forced it away from her. She'd walked away from Orion, knowing, even as she fought the knowledge, that she didn't have a chance of taking him on her own. She would never get the information she needed without returning here. She just hadn't expected exactly what she had found once she came home.
"John Vincent. What the hell are you doing in Aspen?"
Bailey swung around at the male exclamation. Ian Richards and his wife, Kira, were in Colorado for vacation. The ex–Navy SEAL had married one of the nation's most sought-after heiresses, Kira Porter, giving him entrée into some of the most exclusive parties.
And there, shaking hands with the burly ex-SEAL, was John Vincent. Every background check she had done on him had shown him as shady in his dealings as well as his business. He was a suspected hardware, information, and arms broker to terrorists and drug cartels. A middleman who ensured a smooth and honest transaction among thieves. With that cover, it was only fitting that he would know Richards, whose father had been one of the most notorious drug cartel rulers alive until he was killed several years before.
Ian was accepted here because he was a SEAL, because drugs were as prevalent as the champagne that flowed like water, and because his wife was one very rich heiress.
"It's been too long, John." Kira was accepting a kiss on her cheek from lips that Bailey dreamed about much too often. "Where have you been hiding?"
Bailey watched as John's head lifted, glimpsed his laughing gray eyes, and ate every detail with her senses. The strong slope of his brow, the bridge of his nose, those kissable lips and broad cheekbones. Sun-bronzed flesh stretched over the broad planes and angles of his face as a dark overnight growth of beard shadowed his jaw.
He looked like a pirate. Like a man who took what he wanted and laughed at the opposition. He looked like exactly what he was supposed to be. Dangerously charming.
"Bailey, there you are." Ian turned his head to her, a smile lighting his handsome features as she moved toward them. "Come meet a friend of mine."
Meet a friend of his. Ian had been part of the Atlanta operation, though Bailey had glimpsed him only once or twice in the operation itself. Kira had been there as well, but Bailey had always suspected that the other woman was much more than she had ever presented herself as being. So many layers, and they were all converging here.
"Ian." She accepted his hand as she drew closer. "I'm so glad you and Kira could make it tonight."
"We wouldn't miss it." He grinned as he turned back to John. "I'd like you'd to meet a friend of mine." The introduction was done smoothly, casually, but Bailey could feel the hairs on the back of her neck rising in alarm.
She was being watched, closely. Someone was much too interested in this meeting.
"Mr. Vincent." Her gaze was held by his as he took her hand and brought it smoothly to his lips.
A chill raced up her spine to explode at the back of her neck as electricity seemed to charge her entire body. She could feel her breasts swelling as his lips touched the sensitive flesh over her knuckles and brushed against them. Her nipples were hard, sensitive, and between her thighs she was growing heated and wet. Her reaction to this man was immediate, blazing and confusing.
"Miss Serborne," he murmured as he lowered her hand. "It's definitely a pleasure to meet you."
She bet it was.
A smile curled her lips as she felt adrenaline pierce the haze of dark emotionlessness that had held her in its grip for too many months now. Suddenly she felt alive, she felt dangerous, she felt a thrill racing through her body that she couldn't control.
"The pleasure is all mine," she assured him, and it was. He was here for a reason, an operation. He was here, and she was laying money on the fact, to interfere in what she had begun just as he and his team had interfered in Atlanta. She was beginning to grow sick of all the noses continually poking into her business.
She was playing on her home ground now. No one was taking this from her, least of all a man who had already stolen the pleasure of Orion's death.
"Ian, you didn't tell me the scenery here was this exceptional," John murmured aside to his friend as he kept his gaze on hers. "I would have visited sooner."
"The scenery only acquired certain additions recently," Ian assured him.
Bailey kept her smile pleasant as she glanced at Ian and his wife. "Ian's being overly kind," she stated lightly. "So tell me, Mr. Vincent, are you here for business or pleasure?"
"Well, I'm a businessman." He grinned. "I like to combine the two whenever possible, but at the moment it's definitely pleasure."
It was definitely an operation. For a second, regret shimmered inside her before she pushed it back, ignoring it. She was nothing to him, and he was nothing to her, evidently. She had to remember that; to remember anything else only threatened her control.
Her suspicions couldn't be proved, no matter the time and effort she had put into that investigation. It was wishful thinking, she continued to assure herself. She'd lost the man she loved and now she wanted nothing more than to find a way to bring him back when she needed him the most. There was no bringing back the dead.
"Would you like to dance?" Still retaining her hand, he stepped back from Ian and Kira.
Bailey allowed him to draw her onto the dance floor, holding her silence until she was in his arms, their bodies moving together to the slow, easy strains of the orchestra.
"What are you doing here?" She kept her lips against his shoulder to hide the words, her voice low enough that only he could hear her.
"We need to talk." He didn't answer her question, but she hadn't really expected him to.
"Too bad," she drawled. She luxuriated in the feel of his body against hers, even with the clothing that separated them. There was something about him that she couldn't ignore, couldn't forget. Something that drew her like a moth to a flame. It was a very dangerous position to be in.
"Come on, Bailey." His lips brushed against her ear. "Just a few minutes of your time. I promise, you won't regret it." His hand stroked from her hip up, along her back, then back again.
"I regret meeting you to begin with," she told him softly, noting the tension that tightened his body. "Why would tonight be any different?"
His hand tightened at her hip. "You never know, I could surprise you."
She almost laughed at that statement. There was no surprise in store for her. The best he could do was manage to amaze her with the delivery of whatever he wanted from her. She had no doubt why he was here.
Excerpted from Heat Seeker by Lora Leigh. Copyright © 2009 Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"Leigh’s pages explode with a hot mixture of erotic pleasures.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews
"Lora Leigh brings the heat and plenty of intrigue. HEAT SEEKER is aptly named because you'll hear and feel the sizzle every time you turn these pages. Filled with adventure, suspense, action and lots of hot loving, this one's a definite keeper!" Night Owl Romance (Reviewer Top Pick!)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Basically in Heat Seeker you have billionairess ex-CIA operative pretending to be disenchanted with government Bailey Serborne hooking up with John Vincent, who is really her old partner and lover of one night former Australian Secret Intelligent Agent Trent Daylen, who like the other elite ops under Jordan Malone was "killed" and returned to life under another identity. Vincent like the rest owes Malone ten years of his life in return. If this long run on sentence has you confused, well the book was somewhat confusing with all of the ins and outs about who knew what, when, and where. Serborne and Vincent are hot on the trail of one shadowy figure known as Warbucks who has stolen a top secret weapon, Crossfire, from one of Bailey's plants. Warbucks has been a shadowy arms and terrorist for years. Everything starts to converge in Aspen, CO. Yes there are the steamy romance scenes Leigh is known for, but there were so many of them that they began to feel forced. In fact, at one point I thought perhaps the author wrote these first and then fashioned a convoluted, unbelievable plot around them. Both Serborne and Vincent seemed more like cardboard characters than real people. And the main reason I gave the book two stars is due to the unbelievably sloppy editing in the book. There were grammatical issues. Dialogue without quotes which had you going back a bit to see if someone was saying the sentence or if it was actually description. There is some math that Leigh appeared to incorrectly add with regards to Trent/John being dead--like one plus five equals five instead of six. There is at least one place where Bailey's last name goes from Serborne to Serbourne. And then the main gaffe which almost every reader most likely caught is towards the end of the book when Warbucks has Mary. Right in the middle of the scene the book starts referring to her as Jules. And I believe if I remember correctly both names occurred in either one sentence or two sentences next to each other. Like many others I'm sure, I was paging backwards to figure out if I had somehow in my boredom missed a key character. And for a minute I thought I really spaced and was in the middle of a Suzanne Brockmann novel featuring Jules Cassidy! It is just genuinely hard to believe NO ONE caught this one error at least! Not Leigh herself, whoever read the book for editing mistakes, nor the printer/publisher with the final read through. Unbelievably sloppy on everyone's part. I'll continue reading the series, but this one really fell flat in my estimation.
I would recommend this book to everyone, it is a great book and has a great story inside. It is thrilling and steaming and romantic.
I love every book Lora Leigh has ever written, except this one! It is such a disappointment. I usually read her books in two or three days, but this one is still unfinished and I started it two weeks ago. The main characters are not developed, the story drones on and on about terrorist groups and weapons instead of concentrating on the characters. I have to say this is the worst book she has ever published. I feel like she may be running out of dialog with this series.
First of all, whoever edited this book should be fired. Secondly, the plot, if you can call it that, was convoluted and unbelievable. An heiress became a cia agent at 18 - really, in who's world? The leaps of logic we were asked to make was not possible. This book was so boring and unbelievable that I skipped whole pages. Recently, all of Ms. Leigh's books are the same book over and over with only name changes. I believe that I have read the last one from this author.
I'm a huge fan of Lora Leigh and everything she writes. I love the Elite Ops Series, but I have to say that this one didn't do it for me. It was pretty much a repeat of two books shes written in the past combined together to get a new book. It was even a bit boring. Maybe I'm being to hard, but I've waited a very long time for this book and I feel like she just was trying to reach a deadline or something. Such a disappointment. Sorry but I hope she gets back on track.
I have read all the Elit Ops book and Loved every one of them! I totally recommend the series. All the books blend in with the next and am looking forward to reading more of Lora Leigh's books!
Another great book from Lora, just love this series!
Lora Leigh delivers again. If you like romance with a story, the elite ops series is for you. The story is full of suspense. The twist and turns will leave you breathless. The characters are realistic and full of life. John is a man any woman would desire. Bailey would be an example for any woman to aspire to.
So hot. Loved this book.
She is one of the best. I can't get enought of her books.
Bailey is continuing her crusade to find the men/man responsible for her parents death. She has quit the CIA to focus on her own investigation and has gotten close enough that she will catch the killer. In comes the elite ops. John is sent in since he has had a relationship with Bailey in the past before his "death". He must work with her to bring the killer to justice. Whats different in this novel from Maverick and Wild Card is that the hero doesnt have as much baggage as Micah and Noah. He has managed to maintain his happy persona and readers are not given the emotional and traumatic issues from the prior heroes. I was more caught in the mystery and suspense aspect of this story than the romance between the heroine and hero. Not due to any fault of Leigh, the story was just that compelling because it continues the trail of Orion from Maverick. I really enjoyed Bailey's character and she had a lot more strength than Risa(obviously) and Bella, who could barely function after her husbands "death". This story was more upbeat and it didnt take long for Bailey to learn who John vincent really was although I think she fought the knowledge to avoid accepting that he walked away from her in the past. Worth the read, continues the story line and Leigh fans will enjoy. There are still a couple other "dead" agents to cover and I'm very curious to find out who Tehya was in her "past life". ...Reese
Anxiety inducing from the beginning. Worth the read.
I have read over and over again all of the Seal series and Elite Op series.... Absolutely the best, well written. Such passion in all the pages, you get lost in all the books. Bailey's and John story is full of suspense, pain, and love. The trusts and love these too share is so awesome you will wish to be her.....
Great read...and series!!