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Hot Intent
Cindy Dees

He plunged into her without warning, hard and deep, his capitulation not quite painful as her body stretched to accommodate him. It had been a year for her, too, and he was not a small man. Oh, how he wanted to hurt her. It was right there in his eyes. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to do it, and she trusted him not to.

He might hate the fact that he had feelings for another human being, but he did have them for her. Dawn and her—his Achilles’ heels and greatest weaknesses. The two of them had snuck past his guard and forced him to join the human race, like it or not. Most of the time, he did not like.

Tonight, he definitely did not like. Rage and self-loathing flashed across his face. Someone who knew him less well might not have seen them. But she’d greedily memorized every nuance of him in their brief time together last year. And she hadn’t forgotten anything. Sadness washed over her for the lonely child who had grown into this isolated, injured man.

He withdrew most of the way from her body. She braced herself, and sure enough, he slammed into her again. But this time, a faint shudder passed through him. Thank God. He was starting to crack. She opened her body and soul completely to him, allowing him to take whatever he needed. Offering herself up on the altar of his hatred and love.

He groaned his surrender and the terrible tension left his body. She exhaled in relief. One of these times, his walls would not break down. What then? She didn’t want to be around when that happened. She suspected his capacity for love would be exceeded only by his capacity for cruelty.

She wrapped her arms and heart around him, drawing him into her as his arms collapsed. His weight crushed her the way she’d wished for, and he pounded into her with all the desperation she could have hoped for. She locked her legs around his hips and rode the storm, meeting it with abandon, glorying in the power of it as the two of them flung themselves into the maelstrom and were swept away.

The sex was hot and slippery, with heavy breathing and hair stuck in the sweat on her face, and bite marks on her neck and scratches on his back, bodies straining urgently toward each other until where she stopped and he began blurred and disappeared. And through it all, he poured his soul into her and she refilled the empty places in his heart with her unconditional love.

Gradually, gradually, the sex changed. Grew more languid. Sensual. Personal. He propped himself on his elbows and pushed her hair back from her face. He found a slow, gliding stroke that her body matched with easy undulations born of exhaustion and relief. It was sultry and sexy and made her breath catch in her throat. He wasn’t entirely gone, after all, her Alex. The killer hadn’t quite won out. Not yet.

Finally, at long last, the massive, emotional orgasm that had been clawing for escape inside her broke free, ripping her apart with its power as she lurched up against Alex and cried out wordlessly. With a drawn-out groan of his own, he found his release, and she fell back to the bed panting.

His forehead rested on hers, and she lazily counted his heartbeats pulsing against her breast. He might win when it came to sneaking up on her in the dark, but she always won this battle of wills.

So far.

Normally she slept like a baby after making love with Alex. He demanded everything she had to give physically and emotionally, usually leaving her drained, but peaceful. Tonight, though, she found herself lying awake, staring at the flickering shadows on the ceiling from the swimming pool outside, worrying about him. About them.

He was fundamentally different than before. Changed.

What had they done to him? Was she an idiot to trust him? She knew in the depths of her soul that he would never do anything intentionally to hurt Dawn. But at the end of the day, could she say the same thing about herself? There’d been a moment there when she thought he’d slipped away from her into a very dark and violent place.

It was all well and good for him to insist that she and Dawn stay here with him and play house. But she didn’t kid herself that he was in an emotional place to let go of his past. If anything, the past year of training had driven him deeper into that locked-down part of himself. Sex with him—heck, life with him—had the potential to be very scary if she ever failed to break through his rage.

If only there was a way to exorcise the demons from his past. The biggest one of all being the one he never spoke of.

His mother. The woman who’d left when he was an infant, never to be seen or heard from again. She’d abandoned him with his father—a Russian spy who used Alex as a cover to infiltrate the United States and who brutally trained his son to be a spy just like him. Alex didn’t even know his mother’s name. No doubt, her abandonment was the source of his rage toward all women. If only she could find his mother for him—

Uncle Charlie, a deputy director of Plans at the CIA, did owe her a huge favor for getting Alex to agree to work for the agency. Oh, technically, he’d gone to work for Doctors Unlimited, but they all knew it was a CIA front.

With all the CIA resources her uncle could bring to bear on the problem, could Alex’s mother be found? Could she lay his demons to rest for him once and for all?

It was worth a shot. She had nothing to lose by trying, right?

Excited at the prospect of how surprised—and potentially healed—Alex would be if she could present his mother to him, she rolled over and went to sleep, eager for morning to come.

* * *

IT WAS NEARLY NOON, though, before showers, breakfast and playtime with Dawn wound down. Katie watched Alex like a hawk with the baby, but he showed no violent tendencies with the toddler. In fact, she thought she glimpsed moments of genuine pleasure on his face as he flew Dawn around the living room to the accompaniment of baby squeals of laughter.

Alex offered to take the baby out for a walk so Katie could run the errands she’d mentioned over breakfast. As Alex and Dawn headed for the local park, she went the other direction down the sidewalk toward a shopping area bound to have cabs loitering nearby.

Alex’s insurance company had delivered a new BMW to replace his wrecked one, but Katie was leery of driving the German sports car. She hadn’t gotten around to buying a car of her own yet. Alex had sent word to her to feel free to use his checking account for anything at all in his absence, but she’d felt hinky about buying something as expensive as a car with his money. Yes, the account had enough money to buy ten cars in it, but still. She was a McCloud, and McClouds had their pride.

Besides, Washington, D.C., had great public transportation, and a train ran daily from D.C. to her hometown in Pennsylvania.

She’d been home often in the past year to visit her folks. Dawn officially had all five of her uncles and both grandparents wrapped around her tiny pinkie finger. Katie shook her head. She hated to see how bad they were all going to spoil her as she got older.

After seeing the emotional condition Alex was in last night, she probably ought to consider making a quick trip with Dawn to Pennsylvania to let him decompress a little more by himself. But memory of the pain on his face as he fought his demons made Katie long to stay and comfort him. Grr. No one had warned her that the demands of being a parent and a lover could conflict so badly.

Her thoughts jerked back to the present as the taxi stopped at the guard shack in front of CIA headquarters. She climbed out and the vehicle pulled away quickly. She could relate to the driver’s nervousness. A sinister vibe did radiate off the sprawling building. After showing proper ID to the guard, she walked across the visitors’ parking lot and through the main entrance.

It was ballsy to show up unannounced at Charlie’s work like this, but she figured the man could stand a reminder of just how much he owed her.

She was duly checked out in the agency’s computers at the reception desk and given a visitor’s badge. An escort, a perky coed girl no older than Katie, took her up to see Charlie. Her uncle was a deputy director of Plans and had a plush office with a nice view of the woods outside.

“Katie! What brings you here today? Is everything okay?”

Which she supposed was spy-speak for Alex hasn’t gone off the reservation already, has he? “Yup. Everything’s great. Thanks again for sending in the cavalry to rescue us from that hit squad and for arranging Alex’s training.”

He leaned back in his chair and pursed his lips. When he spoke, his low-country Southern drawl was a little thicker than usual. “Oh, I don’t know that my crew did that much to help last year. You and Alex had things well under control by the time we arrived.”

It was a lie, but she wasn’t interested in arguing about it today. “I have a favor to ask of you, Uncle Charlie.” She cursed herself silently for using that little-girl tone of voice with him. She was done acting like the baby of the whole damned family. She’d grown up a lot in the past year, and her clan could just get used to it. Although she probably was the first person who had to get used to it.

“Do tell.” His expression went bland and unreadable, his blue eyes oddly opaque all of a sudden. He’d dropped into master spy mode. Alex did the exact same thing.

“You said you’d owe me one if I brought Alex to you. And I did. He’s completed his training, and he has agreed to work for Doctors Unlimited.”

“He’s been out of training for one day. And you’re already calling your chit in? So soon?”

“Yes,” she replied firmly. “I’ve had a year to think about it, and seeing Alex last night only confirmed my decision. I need to find out who Alex’s mother is. The circumstances of his conception, birth and her leaving. Not knowing anything tortures him. I figure it’s the least we all can do for him after what we’ve put him through.”

“Did he talk to you about his training?” Charlie asked quickly.

She frowned. “No. He didn’t.” But why did Charlie react that way after she used the phrase after what we’ve put him through? What on earth did they do to him during his year of training with them?

Charlie leaned back in his leather desk chair. “And what makes you think we know anything about his mother?” Obviously, he didn’t want her to ask any more questions about Alex’s training. She went along with the change of subject.

She shrugged. “You’re the CIA. You can find out anything.”

He steepled his fingers together thoughtfully but didn’t deny the truth of her words. “And then we’ll be even?” he asked.

“Correct. Give me Alex’s mother, and we’re good.”

He didn’t say yes or no exactly, but she got the impression that he was going to look into it. She supposed that was the most she could hope for out of a spy like him. She’d learned that much around Alex. Spies were hesitant to answer questions directly or commit themselves to anything.

As another intern walked her out of the CIA building, it belatedly occurred to Katie that her uncle hadn’t put up much of a fight at the notion of being able to find Alex’s mother. What did he know that he wasn’t telling? Had the CIA already found the woman? It would make sense that in vetting Alex to become an asset for them they’d looked into his mysterious, missing parent. Why, then, hadn’t they shared what they’d found with him out of general principles?

Suspicion blossomed in her gut that there was more to the story of Alex’s mother than Charlie was letting on. Why did it feel like she’d just cracked open the lid of Pandora’s box? Maybe she should slam the thing back shut and put a big, fat lock on it.

Memory of the rage and desperation in Alex’s eyes last night as he fought off his impulse to kill her flashed into her mind. Nope. Whatever evils hid in Pandora’s stupid box, it was high time to let them out and deal with them.

CHAPTER TWO (#ulink_afb5e150-802d-5b78-84cf-3f13a17b8a11)
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