Agent Nick Tarasov had been tasked with mentoring and protecting newly recruited Carly Jones. Past assignments had proven he was up to the challenge...but Carly was more than he'd bargained for. The beautiful blonde with the secretive past had agreed to this mission with nothing left to lose: track down an international criminal before more people died. But partnering up and spending long nights together was turning their professional relationship much too personal. And when Carly's life was threatened, Nick knew keeping the two separate was vital--for more reasons than he was willing to admit....
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April 09, 2007
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Excerpt from Secret Contract by Dana Marton
Burge, happy whenever he got to order her around, pushed her through the green metal door at the far end of the cell block but didn't follow. What did they want with her now? She was on her guard, scanning the people ahead with suspicion--a good basic stance for the incarcerated.
The sharp scent of bleach hit her nose. The room had gotten a scrub down that morning. Thank God, she hadn't been pulled for that job.
"Miss Jones." The greeting came from one of three men, outsiders, who stood at the head of the room. "Why don't you take a seat?"
One of the dozen or so harsh fluorescent lights above flickered as she went straight to the back, picking her way among white plastic chairs and folding tables that were set up classroom style for the elderly volunteer who came in twice a week to give GED classes. Three women waited there already, wearing the same orange jumpsuit that hung on Carly's figure. Clothes that marked them, set them apart. She would never wear orange again once she got out of here. Like most people in the place, she had a whole list of "never-agains."
She nodded to Anita and took in the unfamiliar girl next to her. The third woman she knew only by sight and fame. Gina Torno was in for murder and not particularly popular in cell block 3C. Rumor had it, before she'd gone bad, she'd been a cop.
"My name is Brant Law. I work for the FBI," said the man who'd greeted Carly by name earlier.
Her defenses, already up, threw a few extra dead bolts. The last time she had mingled with the FBI, they'd been storming her apartment. And this guy could have been the agency's poster boy--black suit, crisp white shirt, a face carved into cold professionalism.
She glanced again at the other women as she squirmed in her seat. Why were they here? Anita flashed a nervous smile. Carly acknowledged it with a small nod. She hadn't as a rule sought to make friends on the inside--she didn't belong with these people--but she didn't mind Anita Caballo. They had shared kitchen duty a couple of times. Anita had entertained the crew with some pretty funny Latina jokes.
"This is David Moretti, who will be providing legal assistance for you." The FBI guy, Law, introduced the tall dark-haired man on his right.
Moretti allowed a professional smile, his stance relaxed. He wore a suit, but it wasn't like the FBI agent's. This one was sharp and expensive, the kind fashion models wore in the magazines people donated to the prison. He was the hottest guy she'd seen in six years, not that he had much competition considering the male guards.
The ruling feeling when she looked at him was mistrust. He was a lawyer. Her own loser lawyer had let her down big time.
"Nick Tarasov will be responsible for your training and safety," Law said, introducing the most intimidating of the three.
Training for what? She narrowed her eyes as she watched Tarasov. He stood with his legs apart, hands behind his back, commando style. He wore a black T-shirt, black cargo pants, combat boots and an expression that made her want to leave the room before things got unpleasant. His stance, the hard look on his face and his unblinking eyes transmitted but one message--this one could be scary if he wanted to be.
None of the men said, " My pleasure," or "Good to meet you," as they were introduced. Jerks. Government men. To her, the two meant one and the same.
They hadn't broken her yet. They sure weren't going to do so now. She straightened her back and her chin came up a notch.
Law picked up a yellow folder from the desk and opened it. "Anita Caballo, embezzlement. Samantha Hanley, grand theft auto. Carly Jones, hacker. Gina Maria Torno, manslaughter." He looked up and at each of them in turn. "This is your lucky day."