Cale’s hold on her hardened even more as he gritted out her name. His hips pushed down, he thrust deeper and she knew that he’d found his own release.
Their panting breath filled the air. She didn’t move. Didn’t want to. Cassidy wanted to go on holding Cale and feeling the pleasure pulse through her body in sweet aftershocks of release.
Killers. Dangers. She wasn’t ready to face the threats around her.
So she just wrapped her arms around Cale. She closed her eyes, and she let everything else vanish.
* * *
SYDNEY SLOAN—no, now Sydney Sloan-Ortez—knew the minute when her husband entered her office. She just felt him. The air shifted, and every nerve in her body went on high alert. That was generally her body’s instinctive response to Gunner.
Sydney looked up, her breath catching. And, sure enough, Gunner stood in the doorway.
Some people were afraid when they saw Gunner. He appeared hard and dangerous, and he’d sure gazed into hell more than his fair share of times.
But when Sydney looked at him, she never felt fear.
Happiness bloomed inside her as she leaped to her feet. Three seconds later, she was in his arms—her favorite spot in the world.
Gunner held her in a grip of steel, his body trembling lightly against hers. “I missed you,” he whispered. For Gunner, those words were the same as a declaration of love. As far as she knew, Gunner didn’t miss anyone but her.
He eased back, and his hand rose to gently caress the curve of her stomach.
Her and the twins.
“How are my sweethearts?” His normally hard-as-nails voice had dropped to a croon.
Sydney couldn’t help but smile. Gunner was convinced they were having girls. While he’d been on the last mission, she’d found out that the he was right. She was just waiting for the perfect moment to reveal that news to him.
“We’re all just fine,” she told him, unable to stop her smile. Now that you’re home. In the past, she would have gone on the mission with him, working easily in the field.
Dodging bullets was almost as natural to her as breathing.
But with babies on board and her doctor emphasizing the risks of a twin pregnancy, she hadn’t been about to jeopardize the safety of her children.
And Mercer had also recently offered her a promotion. Director of Information Retrieval. With a substantial pay raise like the one he’d been tossing around, she couldn’t refuse. With the new job, she’d still do some occasional fieldwork, but she’d also have a lot more time to spend at home.
With her sweethearts.
She pulled Gunner fully into her office and shut the door. She’d missed him so badly, ached for him every night. His eyes were sliding over her now, and she could all but feel the caress on her skin.
To think…she’d almost lost Gunner. Almost let her own past take him away from her.
No one will ever take him away now.
Because she’d do anything necessary to protect him.
Just as he would her. She knew Gunner would lie for her, fight for her, even kill for her if necessary.
A man like Gunner didn’t love easily, but when he did love, it was consuming.
“I heard that your team took out the Executioner,” Sydney said as her gaze drifted quickly over him, making sure there weren’t any new injuries on her man. Taking out the international killer sure hadn’t been his original mission, but word had leaked quickly through the EOD once the Executioner had been eliminated.
Instead of answering, Gunner brushed his lips against hers, stealing her breath. Giving her his.
She kissed him back, and finally—finally—some of the fear she’d felt since he’d left for the mission to Rio vanished.
Gunner was used to putting his life on the line. She was used to risking her own life. But now…
Everything was different. And they both had to adjust to their new world.
His fingers tunneled lightly through her hair. His right hand was still over her stomach, and when one of the twins kicked, Gunner jerked in a startled reaction.
Then he laughed.
Most folks didn’t even think Gunner knew how to laugh.
They were wrong.
His laugh was rusty, rough, but perfect to her ears.
“Tell me what happened,” Sydney whispered. She’d heard about the attack outside of the EOD, too. Because of that shooting, the whole building was on lockdown. She had her tech team scanning the traffic videos of a ten-mile radius, hoping to catch sight of the shooter.
So far, they were turning up empty.
She wasn’t about to give up. She’d expand the search parameters and she wouldn’t stop looking until she found a clue that the EOD could use.
“He’s dead.” Gunner’s head tilted to the right. “The Executioner is gone.”
“Ian Gagnon.” He’d been the man given the deadly moniker of the Executioner, and she’d been the one to determine his real identity. The Executioner had once been a young boy, tossed onto the streets of Paris. No family, no one to ever step forward and claim him, the five-year-old had eventually been adopted…and given the name Ian by his new parents.
When he’d turned eighteen, Ian had vanished from his adoptive parents’ home. They’d never seen him again.
Now that he was dead, they never would.
“His men—the few that survived—were taken into custody by the authorities in Rio,” Gunner continued. “The hostage he’d taken…Genevieve Chevalier… We got her out in time.”
They’d gotten Genevieve to safety, and they’d gotten Cassidy Sherridan back to the U.S. Cassidy Sherridan interested Sydney. Cassidy’s file was classified, but not by any normal standards. As far as Sydney could tell, only Mercer had clearance to view Cassidy’s records.
It would seem that the woman was a very important asset.
“The hit tonight…” She exhaled slowly. “Was it on Cassidy or Cale?” It wouldn’t be the first time that an EOD agent had been targeted.
Not the first time.
Not the last.
“The bullet was meant for her.” Gunner sounded absolutely certain. He should be. No one knew bullets and sniper attacks quite like her Gunner. “The trajectory, the angle…if Cale hadn’t gotten her out of the way, Cassidy Sherridan would be dead.”
But Cale had saved her, and, based on the video footage she’d seen, the man had been enraged as he’d turned back to search for the killer.
Not such a cool, calm response for an agent.
“We need to find out who’s after her,” Gunner said. “That woman has secrets, and I don’t want those secrets causing an agent to get killed.”