“You really think that you’re going to do this on your own?”
Her eyes narrowed. Her heart was drumming too fast in her chest. “I’ve got an EOD agent standing right in front of me. I kind of figured you could do something a little more useful than just being my human shield.”
A muscle jerked along the square line of his jaw.
“I mean, what are you?” As Cassidy continued, she let her own anger out. He would help her. “The EOD is always ex-military, right? You barely make any sound when you move—your reflexes are the best of any agent I’ve seen.” She could still remember how quickly he’d pulled his gun in that ballroom. “I’m thinking you’re—”
“Army ranger. Ex-ranger.”
Cassidy nodded. She’d figured as much. “Well, since I conveniently have a former army ranger right here with me, I thought I might use your services to stop this killer before he takes any more lives.”
Using Cale would sure make things easier on her.
“And what if I hadn’t been here?” Cale took a step toward her. “If Mercer hadn’t sent me down here to watch over you—what would you have done then?”
She licked her lips. His gaze fell. Heated. Oh, boy. “Come up with a plan B,” she whispered. Actually, she already had her plan B. It was the plan she’d been using before she realized who Cale truly was. But plan B involved a whole lot more risk.
His gaze was still on her mouth, and there was a sensual awareness kindling in his stare. Her heartbeat kicked up even more, and when had all the air left the room? Sucking in oxygen suddenly became a lot harder.
Her gaze slid over him. Had his shoulders gotten bigger?
“You’re in over your head,” Cale told her.
He took another step toward her.
That big body of his had been on top of hers when they’d sought cover on the street. Adrenaline had spiked her blood, then, and she’d been thinking mainly about survival, but now…
Now she was thinking far too much about him. “Will you help me?”
His hands had fisted. Why? So he wouldn’t touch her? She rather liked the feel of his warm, calloused fingertips on her skin.
“My job is to follow Mercer’s orders.”
Like a good soldier. Always following orders. “Sometimes, you have to break orders.”
His pupils had widened, the darkness swallowing the blue of his eyes. His gaze was back on her mouth.
He definitely felt the same awareness that she did.
Only he wasn’t coming any closer to her.
Fine. She’d get closer to him.
She sucked in another deep gulp of that precious oxygen, and then she was sliding closer to Cale. Her fingers rose and pressed against his chest. He’d ditched the tux and wore a dark T-shirt and jeans. Beneath the thin cotton of the T-shirt, she could easily feel the hard strength of his muscles.
Someone liked to work out. A lot.
“Help me,” she said, glancing up at him. “Please, Cale.” Then, because it was what she wanted, and she hadn’t taken what she wanted in so very long, Cassidy pushed up onto her toes and put her mouth against his.
At first, he didn’t move. Not even an inch.
His lips were firm and cool beneath hers, and his body was rock hard. Her mouth moved lightly against his. Please, don’t let this be a mistake. Don’t let it be—
His hands lifted, locked around her and hauled her against him. Their bodies pressed tightly together and his mouth took hers.
His lips parted. So did hers. His tongue thrust into her mouth, and, oh, wow, but the agent could sure kiss. Her knees did a little jiggle as she pressed even closer to him.
Heat uncurled in her stomach, a long-denied need that had been buried for too long. But this man, with his strength and the aura of danger that clung to him like a second skin, he made her feel. He made her burn.
He made her want.
Her arm wasn’t hurting anymore. Or, if it was, she sure didn’t feel the pain. All she could feel was him, surrounding her, making the desire that she felt for him grow ever stronger.
This wasn’t about the mission that she’d made her life. This wasn’t about avenging a friend.
It was about a man. A woman. Desire.
His mouth lifted from hers. His fingers bit into her waist. “Did you think it would work?”
Things had seemed to be working just fine here. Her ragged breath indicated things were more than fine.
“You aren’t going to use your body to make me forget my mission.”
Oh, he had not just said that to her. Heat burned in her cheeks, and Cassidy knew she had to be flushing a dark red. “That wasn’t—”
But his jaw was locked. Desire blazed in his eyes, yet when he spoke, his voice was ice-cold. “I never forget my mission, and I won’t be distracted by someone like you.”
Someone like you.
The brittle words froze the heat in her cheeks. She’d kissed Cale because she wanted him, but he—he might physically want her, but he sure didn’t like that desire.
No. What he didn’t like was her.
To him, she was—what had he called her?—a party girl.
In that same emotionless voice, he told her, “Whatever help you thought you’d seduce me into giving you—”
“I didn’t!” Cassidy denied the charge, the urge to scream incredibly strong.
“It’s not going to happen.” There was a definite arctic chill in his voice.
She straightened her shoulders, grabbing for her pride. “I didn’t kiss you because I was trying to manipulate you.”
His one raised eyebrow called the words a lie.
“I kissed you because I stupidly wanted you. Don’t worry. I won’t be making that mistake again.”
The door opened behind them. No knock, it just shoved open. Cassidy spun around and saw two big, rather scary-looking men filling the doorway.
The man in front, the guy with the dark hair and the piercing eyes, inclined his head toward her. “Ms. Sherridan.”
Of course he knew her, and since Cale wasn’t grabbing for a weapon, she figured these two had to be the good guys.
Semi-good, anyway. As good as EOD agents could be.
She realized, too late, that she’d instinctively backed up when her shoulders brushed against Cale. She jerked at the contact, and the man with the eyes that she swore could see right through her—he noted that move.
The other fellow behind him—talk about intimidating. And she’d thought Cale was dangerous looking? This guy took dangerous to a whole new level. His face wasn’t handsome; it was just hard edges, rough lines. His skin was a dark gold, his hair black and his eyes a shining green. He kicked the door shut, secured the lock, then announced, “We’ve got a problem.”