Authors: Mia Downing
Tags: #erotic romance
Book 3 of the Spy Games Series
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Mia Downing
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewilderroses.com
First Scarlet Rose Edition, August 2013
Print ISBN 978-1-62830-027-7
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-028-4
Published in the United States of America
For my number one stalker fan, Kim,
for being there with hugs and cheers.
For Shelisa, Mary, Betty and Becca,
my beta readers and buddies extraordinaire.
And as always, for Diana,
for believing in me and the series.
PRAISE FOR AUTHOR
AND HER BOOKS
THE SPY GAMES SERIES
“I have found a new series to love and it’s Spy Games! Mia Downing has created a wonderful series that keeps me enthralled from the first sentence. I’m so hooked on these characters that I can’t wait for the next one!”
~Lee Anne, My Secret Romance Book Reviews
“This series just keeps getting better and better.”
~Rhayne, Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
SPY GAMES: TRAINED FOR SEDUCTION
Nominated for RomCon’s Reader’s Crown Award!
“I have read some amazing books lately, but this is the first one in a long time that has so completely blown me away. And the thing is, it was an immediate thing…10% into this book, I knew it was going to be an incredible read..”
~Christi Snow, Smitten With Reading Reviews
SPY GAMES: LETHAL LIMITS
“If you are looking for some smut-suspense with a great story, then you should definitely read LETHAL LIMITS—it will fulfill your need for the sexy spy world you crave.”
~Bookie, I Love Bookie Nookie Reviews
Five years ago…
Chase Sanders walked through the door of the dingy hotel room and chucked his keys on the counter. He always chucked his keys. Jake Anderson, his partner, always pocketed them. So even curled in the far bed, with her back to the door, Charlotte Smith knew right away who had come in.
She’d rather it be Chase, though they were both gentlemen and neither expected anything sexual. Jake was a pain in the ass, trying to channel her anger, to make her submit. She hated him, but that wasn’t why. Chase would climb into bed and just hold her as she cried. He was the good cop to Jake’s bad cop, but she had no opinion of Chase other than she didn’t hate him.
The two American secret agents had the same end goal—saving her—but different approaches, and they squabbled more than two men should over a woman they weren’t screwing. Chase wanted her to have therapy, and Jake wanted her to submit. Both wanted her to live, to be happy. She wanted them to not care and just let her die.
Submission was supposed to work. Jake’s idea won over Chase’s because they were spies, in Brussels on an undercover assignment. A therapist wasn’t an option. Charlotte’s husband had died, burned to a crisp in the explosion, and all she wanted was to die, too. Jake felt because he was gone Charlotte needed someone to step in to keep her in line.
So Charlotte went from being raging angry to submissive and quiet, sometimes on her knees in a corner until the numbness returned and she could cry. The submission helped in some ways, since it was the only time they could break through her depression to get her to eat or bathe. But she still didn’t appreciate Jake’s dominance.
What they didn’t understand was her life was crap, with no purpose or path. Everything she cherished had been annihilated, her life a chess game gone bad only she couldn’t quit. They thought she had pieces on the chessboard—middlegame. She thought she was at least in the endgame only no one would move the pieces. She was just sitting there, staring at the board, waiting. Angry as hell as she waited.
“I’ve brought food,” Chase told her, rustling in the bag.
She didn’t answer, because she was done being angry for now. She only felt two things—angry or sad. Sad Charlotte didn’t speak or eat and felt like her insides were full of painless clear jelly. Angry Charlotte didn’t eat, either but spoke volumes. She felt like someone had slammed a freight train through her gut as she screamed at them—
fuck Jake, fuck Chase, fuck life, fuck you, I won’t eat
Now, she just wanted to sleep and dream of how things could have been different.
“Charlotte? You hungry? Come eat. Cheeseburgers, your favorite.”
She hated her new name, chosen because the old her—Abigail Rothschild—had died. Both guys had picked out a name but squabbled over which was better. So they flipped a coin and Jake had won. It made her feel like she was owned by two college roomies and she was their new, suicidal pet to watch over. They did a good job, too, despite the challenges. She hadn’t found a way to kill herself. Yet.
Chase sighed. He did that a lot when he looked at her. She sensed that if she wanted to die, he’d be the one to unhook the leash and let the submissive, suicidal pet go. She wanted to join her family. She knew they were waiting. She was tired of waiting.
Chase sat on Jake’s bed, and it squeaked and groaned. One boot hit the floor, then the other. He stood, the bed protesting even though he was six-one and carried not a milligram extra of fat. All hard, dark, and dangerous man with a mushy inner core.
He came to the edge of her bed, lifted the covers, and climbed in behind her. One arm slid under her head, the other wrapped around her middle. He smelled of winter, just a hint of citrusy cologne, and french fries, so much more soothing than Jake’s clean scent. He picked up her hand with his left—no wedding ring on despite his marriage—and laced his fingers in hers.
And her tears fell, quiet tears, but he always knew. Sometimes, he’d kiss her hair, her nape. He’d stoke the loose strands of hair at her shoulders, her cheek. His touch would ripple the numbness, like fingers disturbing the glassy surface of a pond. Tears would drip, and she’d name them—fear, loneliness, overwhelming sadness. Despair.
He sighed again, his breath hot on her cheek. “You can’t be angry all the time, Charlotte. It’s not working, and I’m not letting you die. So if you can’t be angry…what do you want to be?”
Charlotte blinked, shocked. Chase never spoke when he held her. No one had ever asked her who or what she wanted to be, not even in her old life. Definitely not now. Jake didn’t ask anything, he demanded. Chase demanded, too, but now he was asking.
Something inside her woke up. Not anger, not sadness. Something else. A sense of purpose. Path.
If she wanted the pieces to move, then who did she want to be?
had taken everything from her.
had left her a useless shell of woman. Suddenly, a burning need to channel the anger boiled upward, to turn the freight train in her gut outward, off the rails, into someone else. Isn’t that what Jake wanted her to do? Channel it?
But the game she played was stalled, going nowhere. No one asked her if she wanted to move her chess pieces. They moved them for her or told her where to put them. But Chase was asking her who she wanted to be, where she wanted the pieces to go.
“I want to be the woman who kills those motherfuckers. I want my endgame.”
“Jesus, Charlotte.” Chase stiffened behind her and sucked in a breath. Probably shocked that she’d spoken, never mind what she had said. “You realize what the endgame will be? We’re talking true checkmate. You go after them, you’re dead.”
“Yes.” She knew the odds. She’d been an informant, one who found out way, way too late about the real game in progress. “I don’t care. I don’t have anything left to live for.”
“You need training. These men are killers, cold, hard, and mean. They eat girls like you for breakfast and then sell them on the black market. I can’t even tell you that training will save your ass in the end. Fuck, I know it won’t.”
“You said I need anger management. Training would focus my anger.”
“Jake isn’t going to go for this.”
“Fuck Jake.” She held his hand tighter, squeezing it. Desperate. She wanted the pieces to move, and Chase could move mountains when he wanted to. “They took everything, Chase.”
He kissed her hair and held her tighter. “Yes, they did, sweetheart.”
“You guys saved me. You owe me an end to the game. I want to die anyway, so why not let me go out swinging? Train me to be a real spy. Give me the tools to fight. I want those motherfuckers dead.”
Chase sighed. Stroked her hair. Kissed her nape. He held her hand tighter, squeezing it, as if the act would make her change her mind, make her wake up. Too bad. She was awake. Clear, for the first time since she had woken in an American hospital and discovered her life was gone.
If he said no, then she’d do it herself, because she was done playing suicidal pet to two secret agents. She was now Charlotte, not submissive, weak Abigail. She would become cold, hard, and mean, and she would train to be the woman who killed the motherfuckers.
And then she would die.
“Please,” she begged.
The clock on the wall clicked the long seconds. Finally, Chase cleared his throat and whispered, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Five years later…
Aaron James opened his eyes to complete darkness. Disoriented, he sucked in a breath and realized something was against his nostrils, covering his head. Fuck, why? He went to brush it aside and panicked when his hands met rope, wrapped tightly around his wrists behind his back. His feet were tied, too. A cloth in his mouth tasted of laundry soap, the knot digging into the back of his head.
Shit. He waited for the director to call cut to end the scene. Waited for long moments that seemed to drag into hours, the room completely silent, which was weird. Why didn’t they stop this? Fuck it, he was awake. He didn’t recall getting here, but perhaps he’d had too many drinks at lunch. Double fuck.
His heart pounded harder as every nerve ending became alive with the drive to survive. This wasn’t a movie. This was real, and though he was paid handsomely for his acting skills, he’d never been put into a position to really fear for his life before. And though he considered himself brave enough, being gagged and bound, at someone’s mercy, left him quaking in his boots. Sneakers. He had on sneakers.
Then he smelled something, someone. A note of floral and citrus, so delicious, so womanly, so familiar…
He groaned, his fear dissipating some. The scent was gone, just a hint lingering on the back of his tongue. He heard nothing, just a whisper of fabric now and then, and maybe someone shouting outside?
He creased his brow, and the floral scent returned, tantalizing his senses, waking his dick, which was wrong, so wrong. Where had he smelled her before? How he could be turned on when he was obviously someone’s hostage, he had no clue. He swallowed—but had nothing to swallow—as his cock stirred in his pants. Yes, he was wearing pants, because the material tented a little off his growing hard-on.