Kat Culhane hasn't seen Mike D'Antoni for two years until they run into each other in Texas. Time has passed but the heat between them hasn't diminished. Hello leads to lunch, lunch leads to dinner, and dinner leads to bed . . . and the most erotic sex they've ever had.
When Kat's sister disappears, along with her boss and his family, Mike and the Phoenix Agency roll into action, with Kat's remote viewing abilities playing a key role in the search. At night she loses herself in Mike's arms as his hands and mouth soothe and seduce her. In addition to finding her sister, it's obvious to Kat and Mike that this time around, they also have to find a way to hang on to each other.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from F-Stop by Desiree Holt
Kat insisted on driving Mari to the airport, to the private terminal where the Wright International aircraft were kept. A sleek-looking Gulfstream G-5 stood on the tarmac waiting for its passengers to board while the pilot did his preflight check and took care of other last-minute business. Eli and Sydney Wright and their teenage daughter, Lissa, were already inside the small terminal building and greeted Mari warmly.
Kat had seen pictures of them and always commented on what an extremely good-looking family they were--the tall, muscular man with the wavy black hair and a dimple in his chin, the slim redhead looking up at him with affection and a younger female version with the same lustrous hair and slender build. She bet they looked good in magazine shots and newspaper publicity.
"I'm so glad you're coming with us." Sydney enveloped Mari in a quick hug. "I told the slave driver we need some girl time while we're there."
"Mom's right," Lissa added. "And where you guys go, so do I."
Kat hung back a little, pleased to see how the Wrights treated Mari as a person, not just an employee. It was obvious they considered her almost a part of the family. At forty-two Eli was a self-made billionaire who conducted business in every corner of the world. It would be so easy for him to be arrogant and superficial, for Sydney to be a bitch and for Lissa to be a spoiled brat. But as Mari had told her many times, the man was well-grounded in good values and worked to keep his family the same way.
Now Mari reached out an arm and pulled Kat into the circle.
"I don't think you've met my sister, Katherine. Kat, these are the Wrights. The best boss and the best family in the world."
Eli's handshake was strong and warm, Sydney and Lissa hugging her in what was obviously a natural gesture for them.
"It's nice meeting you," she smiled at them. "Mari can't stop raving about either her job or the Wright family. It's nice to see her in such a good position."
"Your sister's a real treasure," Eli said. "This trip is a semi-reward for all her hard work." He studied Kat. "Mari hasn't said much about what you do. Are you in an office situation too?"
"Oh," Mari broke in, "Kat is--"
"A consultant." Kat cut her off smoothly. "I consult on various special projects."
"Oh?" Eli raised an eyebrow. "What type? I'm always looking for consultants."
"Maybe we can talk next time I'm in town," she said smoothly. "Isn't that your pilot beckoning to you?"
He glanced out the window. "Sure is. Well, nice meeting you, Katherine. Ladies? Our chariot awaits."
Kat followed them outside, waiting while they boarded the plane and watching the smooth taxi and takeoff. Even though she knew they couldn't see her any longer, she continued to wave until the plane was just a speck in the sky.
"Well," a deep male voice said behind her. "This is probably the last place I expected to run into you."
Kat turned and came face-to-face with Mike D'Antoni, her stomach doing a flip-flop at the sight of the tall, dark aviator with the bedroom eyes. For a long moment, shock paralyzed her.
At first Mike thought he was seeing things. Surely there were dozens of petite, blondes with sun-streaked hair in the world. Who also had the same habit of tilting their head to one side. It couldn't be her, right here in the private hangar section of the airport. What would she be doing here anyway? He stared through the glass of the door, his brain bouncing in his head.
Then she turned around and every nerve and muscle in his body froze.
If anything, Katherine Culhane was sexier, more appealing, than the last time he'd seen her two years ago. Of course the last time he'd seen her she'd been a raging maniac, throwing everything she could get her hands on at him and screaming curse words that would make a sailor blush. The fact that she'd been absolutely right to react the way she did hadn't made the episode any easier to take.
Back then the Phoenix Agency had been just the four of them--Dan Romeo whose idea it was, Troy Arsenault, Rick Latrobe and himself. They hadn't even had an office, just a phone number with an answering machine. They flew low under the radar, taking missions that no one else would touch and excelling at it. Phoenix was a high-risk international security company, for all intents and purposes. They didn't advertise. They had no website. Contracts were by referral only.
Then Rick's little brother Joey had been shot in a blown mission assignment, Joey's team leader Mark Halloran had been captured by a terrorist group and Faith Wilding, now wed to Mark, was at her wits' end trying to find someone to rescue him.
The rescue mission was exactly the kind of thing Phoenix was originally created for--an assignment that politics blocked government agencies from attempting. He'd been with Kat the night he'd gotten the call to plan the mission. He'd been unable to give her an explanation, just...left. After the harrowing rescue in Peru something else had come up, then something else again.
He'd made one stupid attempt to see her, giving no thought to what her reaction might be, and didn't realize until she'd shut the door on him what a mess he'd made of things. How important she really was to him.
Now, two years later, Phoenix had offices, a woman who juggled everything without a drop of sweat, an international reputation and more contracts than they could handle.
But three of the partners were also now married, a signal that as they'd expanded the agency and taken on more agents, each of them could find a way to have a private life. Maybe it was time for him to think of the same thing. The thought didn't scare him the way it used to. His problem would be convincing the woman he was sure was the one that he was different, that he could be trusted.
He still got the same punch to the gut when he looked at Kat. The breeze lifted the strands of hair, fanning them around her face. He knew the green of her short sleeve sweater would match exactly the color of her eyes and when she smiled--if she smiled--her entire face would light up. Black slacks clung to rounded hips that his hands still itched to touch, the memory of her silken skin still imprinted on his brain.
For a moment he was tempted to walk through the other door, climb into the SUV waiting for him and forget he'd even see her. Not a day had passed since the last time he'd seen her that he hadn't wished he could take everything back. That he'd made the time to see her between assignments, explain to her as best he could. Dan and Mark had both managed to handle it and now so had Rick. But he'd been scared of commitment. He'd run from what she represented--giving up his footloose life for one woman--so he'd done what he had to. Stayed away from her.
And cursed himself every day for what he'd thrown away.
He'd probably be smart to get the hell away from her now but his feet seemed to have a mind of their own as they carried him to the runway-side door and his hands automatically pushed it open. And then he was talking to her, the last thing he'd ever expected to do again.
From her reaction, she hadn't planned on it either. Her face paled under its Florida tan, her eyes widened and although her mouth moved, no words came out.
"Yeah," he managed. "Shocked me too. How are you, Kat?"
She swallowed twice and finally managed a response. "I'm fine." Her voice, though trembling slightly, could have chipped ice. "I trust you're the same?"
"Taking a plane somewhere?"
"Just seeing off my sister, her boss and his family."
"She lives here in San Antonio and works for Eli Wright."
That was interesting. "CEO of Wright International?"
Kat nodded. "Executive secretary. He's taking her with his family on a combined business-vacation trip to Hawaii."
"Very nice. So...you were visiting her?"
"Yes. So what are you doing here?"
"Business meeting with two of my partners. I just got in."
More silence. Then they both spoke at the same time.
"Mike, I'm not--"
He smiled. "Ladies first."
"No, you go ahead." Now her eyes were flashing. She'd gotten her equilibrium back, hidden behind an invisible wall. "I'd really be interested in what you have to say."
He studied her carefully, seeing the same fiery woman who nearly set him ablaze in bed. A woman he'd treated very, very badly. A woman he still wanted more than his next breath.