Fatal Truth: Shadow Force International (28 page)

She’d given him a piece of his soul back.

Birds began to chatter. The trees stood blanketed in snow. She shivered against him.

“You’re still cold.” He wrapped an arm around her. “We should get you in the shower.”

Taking the mug from his hand and setting both cocoas on the table, she climbed into his lap. The towel fell to the floor. “I have a better idea.”

She was solid and warm, her cheeks crimson from the hours in the cold air. With no makeup and her damp hair raked back from her face, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Dark blue eyes watched him with expectant awareness.

Setting his hands on her hips, he knew this wasn’t real, lasting. Her interest in him wasn’t actually about him. She’d been scared shitless and he’d been the one to step in and protect her. In a world of threats, he represented safety. He was a lifeline, nothing more.

Fine with him. He could be a lifeline, her protector for now. Later, well… She wouldn’t need him anymore and he’d have this one moment in time to remember when he was back in Witcher or wherever the hell he ended up.

Because, really, no one, not even Beatrice, Emit, or Cal could keep him safe from the president.

He’d have to do that all on his own.

“You’re thinking too much,” Savanna said, teasing his lips with hers. “You’ve given me the perfect morning. Let me give you something.”

She traced a delicate finger across his jawline, down his neck to his collarbone. Her lips followed that line and Trace let his head fall back, his hands gripping her hips a little tighter.

“You don’t have to do this,” he said.

Her tongue ran over his skin. “I
to do this.”

She lifted the edge of his shirt, those teasing fingers of hers making him suck in his breath as she touched his abs, his ribs. His cock throbbed, his mouth went dry. He needed to touch her, to get inside her. To kiss her mindless and then fuck her the same way.

The two halves of her sexy ass fit perfectly in his hands. He pulled her close, bringing her mouth back up to his. Her lips were soft and giving as he slipped his tongue inside.

Grasping the nape of her neck, he held her immobile while he explored. She sucked his tongue hard and he nearly came right there imagining how it would feel to have her mouth on him doing the same thing.

Opening her legs wider, she moved against his erection, her own tongue meeting his in a sensuous dance. She rocked against him, building a rhythm, and even though they both were fully clothed, it made fire break out in his veins.

His control broke. He wanted Savanna more than any woman he’d ever been with. He wanted to shred her clothes and take her right there on the floor in the morning light. Fuck her until she screamed his name and thanked him all over again.

She tugged at his shirt, stretching it up over his chest. He sat straighter and lifted his arms, letting her pull it off. His own hands went to her shirt, thumbed her breasts through the thin cotton. Her breath caught and she gripped his bare shoulders, digging in her nails. The bedroom was two floors up. They’d never make it in time.

She drew back, looking down at his chest.

The tattoos. The scars. Her fingers traced the scar that ran down the center of his chest, her big eyes coming up to meet his. “What happened to you?”

Too much
. He could never explain it all, didn’t want to rehash it in his own mind. “I’ve been broken a few times, Savanna. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I’ve survived, and come back stronger than ever. You don’t need to worry about me.”

Her smile held irony. “Post-traumatic growth. I should have you on my show.”
If I still had a show.
The unsaid words hung between them. Her eyes filled with sadness.

Unable to stand it, Trace kissed her, long and deep. Kissed the sadness away. The truth that was eating at him inside.

Her hands went around his neck, did a sensual slide into his hair. He pressed her closer, feeling her taut nipples tease his bare chest. Oblivious to anything other than getting her naked, he started to flip her on her back onto the love seat when his comm crackled to life.

“Shift change, Coldplay,” Poison said. “Creed and Crossfade coming in and we…are…out of here.”

Savanna straightened, her body going stiff as she broke the kiss and looked at him.

. The team’s timing couldn’t have been worse. Reluctantly, he tapped the comm. “Roger that.”

She slid off his lap, got busy with her cocoa mug. In his ear, his new team checked in and asked for instructions.

He kept his directions simple, his gaze zeroing in on the laptop as he muted his comm.

Nothing new there. He needed to check in with Rory, see if the man would send him any video he could of the areas surrounding the accident and the spot Parker had ditched the limo.

He also needed to do something with Savanna.

Except the only thing he wanted to do was resume where they’d left off.

Her body language was stiff, her eyes locked on the snowy landscape. “I’m going to grab that shower,” she said, rising and not meeting his eyes.

Taking her mug of hot chocolate, she started to flee, and he mentally let go of a stream of curses. So in tune with her, he sensed her pause behind him. “You’re welcome to join me. In the shower, that is.”

Her presence, that amazing energy of hers, waited for a moment and then dissipated.

Gone. An open invitation to get naked with her hanging in the air.

There was nothing he’d like better than to take her up on that offer. But he had work to do. As a SEAL, he’d always held himself to the highest of standards. That mentality had bled over into every area of his life. Even in Witcher, he’d kept himself physically and mentally at the top of his game. His survival depended on it.

Now Savanna’s did too.

He had to keep his head. Both of them. He could not—would not—screw this up.

a ticking bomb about to explode. Twice in one morning she’d gotten her hormones raging and both times been rudely interrupted.

As she undressed in the master suite, it was hard to ignore the fact her body felt like it had a cyclone swirling inside. So much had happened in the past two days, it was as if she’d been sucked up by a force of nature and could no longer find solid ground.

Coldplay had been her rock, her touchstone. After the past few hours, however, even his presence was messing with her. He made her feel young and happy again, yet, he continued to hold himself back. While he might find her attractive and he’d agreed they were friends, he wasn’t committed to crossing the line of no return. She’d told him a casual hookup was all she wanted just to get him in bed. It wasn’t true—she wanted more, much more—but even that hadn’t been enough to get him into bed.

As the shower ran, the water heating up, she considered traipsing back downstairs with nothing on and draping herself in front of that damn laptop. That would get his attention.

Hurt feelings had no place in this scenario, yet a small emptiness filled her chest at having him dismiss her so easily. For a little bit, she’d seen the man underneath the armor. They’d had a break from reality for a few hours. He’d made her forget it was Parker’s birthday, and made her remember what it was like to laugh and have fun.

She hadn’t done that in a long time.

She hadn’t jumped a man’s bones in a long time either. And it was as much her fault as his that she’d jumped off him and acted all uncomfortable when they’d gotten caught making out.

A grin tugged at the corners of her mouth. Poor Coldplay. She had to quit attacking him.

Of course,
kissed her over pancakes.

Not that she’d minded.

She touched her slightly swollen lips. The flush in her cheeks matched their color. Man, the guy could kiss. The way his lips had worked hers over, the way his tongue had swept her mouth, teasing her until she’d thought she’d die…

A shiver snaked down her spine and heated the spot between her legs. He was hot and cold, but when he was hot…

Well, when he was hot, he was the best damn kisser she’d ever encountered.

Imagine what he’d be like in bed

Her nipples pebbled at the nagging thought. The pulse at the base of her throat tapped faster. Stripping off her clothes, she stepped into the shower and started scrubbing. Damn him for not ignoring his job and taking her right there on the sunroom couch.

The memory of his hands on her sent her already aroused body into overdrive. Her skin felt too sensitive under the spray of water, her thoughts conjuring plenty of fantasies.

And then the guilt hit.

Here she was in a beautiful house with a sexy man, building snowmen and drinking hot cocoa like she was on vacation. Meanwhile, her sister was who-knows-where, fighting for her life on her birthday. Would it be her last?

No. I won’t let it. I will find Parker and put an end to this awful situation.

The shampoo was a designer brand; not hers but nice. The body scrub was fruity and made her smell like a pina colada. She wondered if Coldplay liked coconut.

Damn it
. She had to stop this—fantasizing about him. That only led to thoughts about the future and they had no future. Her life was complicated, and from what little he’d said, his was even more so.

Hell, her life wasn’t just complicated, it was beyond fucked up.

The time out in the snow with him, the moments in the sunroom watching the sunrise, had all rebooted her brain. Whatever Parker had left on that USB was big. Something she wanted Savanna to take to the news outlets, otherwise, why leave it with her? If Parker was an agent—and she seemed to be a damn fine one—she could’ve given plenty of people in the government that info to blackmail Linc Norman. But she’d left it in Savanna’s apartment and led her to it.

What was it? What was on that USB that Parker had encrypted so thoroughly?

Savanna dried off and wrapped a plush ivory towel around her body. Could she trust Coldplay and the Rock Star team with that level of top-secret information? She sure hoped so, because whatever it was, Savanna planned to use it to her advantage.

She found a comb in one of the drawers and started pulling it through her hair. She had no choice anyway. She couldn’t decrypt anything. Parker knew that.

And Savanna certainly didn’t know how to protect herself from assassins.

But Coldplay did.

The comb snagged on a knot. She hadn’t felt this type of connection to anyone before. Not male, anyway. All these years, she’d been holding herself back, afraid to get too close to any man, even Brady. She might share her body, but always held back the rest. Her mind, her true emotions. Afraid of what a man could do to her heart as well as her body.

She was a grown adult, not the fourteen-year-old girl she’d been, but that girl still existed inside her. That fear was still tucked deep down inside her very core.

Coldplay had listened to her story and not judged her. She’d never told anyone else what had happened, the guilt she carried over Nora’s death.

It wasn’t just his physical presence. It was his emotional presence that reassured her. She’d seen it in his eyes; he’d wanted to kill Coach Watson for hurting her. And wasn’t that ironic? At first, she’d been sure he didn’t have emotions.

A wave of relief swept over her, so intense, it bent her at the waist and she had to cover her mouth to hold in her whimper. He hadn’t judged her for not telling someone what had happened. He hadn’t defended her mother or changed the subject because it was an uncomfortable one.

Moisture seeped out under her eyelashes and Savanna wiped it away, straightened, and went back to work on the knot in her hair. She’d told her awful secret and he hadn’t ran. He’d done the opposite.

The burden was gone. She felt freer, lighter. She wouldn’t let Parker down. Whatever was on that USB needed to be told to the world, Savanna was sure of it.

No more secrets. No more keeping her mouth shut. She might have lost her platform, but she hadn’t lost her voice.

In fact, I may have just found it.

Chapter Nineteen



, Savanna was on a rug on the second floor where Coldplay had brought her to show her the deer, stretching her stiff muscles and wishing she could rewind to the previous day. DC had received another four inches of snow, the snowmen army she and Coldplay had built was now half-buried in the backyard.

Her nerves were half-buried too. She and Coldplay had moved around each other, ate together, worked out in the downstairs gym, and he’d even sat in the library reading books and playing chess with her, but very little meaningful conversation had flowed between them. No more scorching hot kisses, either.

Savanna had dozens of questions she wanted to ask him, but he was cool, aloof, focused. He would sneak off and make phone calls, and spend hours on the house’s computer searching the internet. Was he searching for Parker or something else?

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