Born to live a life of intrigue and adventure, beautiful Secret Service agent Lia Charles has never met a challenge she can't overcome. That is, until she receives her latest assignment--rescue the brilliant, boldly charismatic and bona fide hottie Armand Magliore, a revolutionary leader of a war-ravaged Caribbean republic. Lia will need all of her special-ops training and all of her professional objectivity to get Armand to safety, and to keep their relationship from heating up. Even so, it isn't long before Lia discovers that extracting the handsome revolutionary from the dark, treacherous jungles will be the easy part. Guarding her heart from a darkly handsome rebel will test her to her limits.
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August 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Secret Agent Seduction by Maureen Smith
Friday, September 5, 2008
West of the Dominican Republic
Secret Service Agent Lia Charles lay in a thicket of mangrove trees surrounding a ramshackle cabin thirty miles off the coast. The cabin had a palm thatch roof that sloped low over the porch, so at night it blended with the surrounding jungle. The building served as the base of operations for a small cadre of rebel soldiers led by political revolutionary Armand Magliore.
Though night had fallen, the oppressive heat and humidity had not. Lia inhaled; the air was hot, heavy and thick, pushing its way down her throat and into her lungs. Sweat ran down her sides, back and arms, causing her camouflage BDUs to stick to her skin. She briefly fantasized about an air-conditioned hotel room with a shower, a clean bed and a mini-fridge stocked with ice-cold beers.
First things first, she reminded herself.
From the deep cover of jungle, she observed the cabin through her military-issue night-vision goggles. The base camp had been under surveillance by her special ops team for the past six days. During that time, they had observed approximately nineteen soldiers armed with enough AK-47s and Uzis and RPG-2 grenade launchers to fortify a small army. From sunup to sundown, the men had arrived in dusty, open-topped jeeps and departed in what appeared to be four-hour shifts.
But on this particular night, the camp was deserted.
"Damn it," Lia swore softly under her breath.
There was a faint rustling in the bushes behind her. She tensed, then relaxed as she was joined by Matt "Dutch" Connelly, one of the six members of her team, returning from his reconnaissance of the lowland area of the jungle.
Dutch, a Navy SEAL, was built like an NFL linebacker-- big, burly, but surprisingly quick and agile. He and Lia had worked together for five years. Dutch, unlike many of his ex-military comrades, didn't subscribe to the mind-set that women don't belong on the front lines of battle. He'd always treated Lia as an equal. If he had any reservations about her role as team leader, he hid them well.
Lia began her Secret Service career as an anti-counterfeiting grunt in Financial Crimes. After distinguishing herself in there, she had been transferred to the protection detail, where she became responsible for protecting foreign heads of state and other visiting dignitaries. Her fluency in six foreign languages--Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Italian and Spanish-- made her a natural choice for these assignments. It hadn't hurt that she also possessed a black belt in aikido and had graduated at the top of her class from an elite military academy for girls.
At twenty-eight, Lia was already considered one of the best agents ever to be recruited by the Secret Service. Her superior fighting skills combined with a razor-sharp mind and the innate ability to remain cool under pressure had earned her the respect of agents twice her age.
But what her colleagues didn't know about her was that she could also read minds.
Lia had spent most of her life trying to avoid physical contact with others to keep from invading their private thoughts--which meant her love life was virtually nonexistent. But she had to admit that the gift had its perks. For example, she didn't have to speculate about whether or not the grinning auto mechanic was trying to rip her off. All she had to do was shake his hand and intercept his thoughts. She didn't have to wonder if a rude waitress had spit in her food to get even with her for sending it back as unsatisfactory; she'd know the moment she "accidentally" brushed against the waitress's bare arm as she set the plate on the table. And nowhere had Lia's psychic ability proved more useful than in her line of work. In some cases, being able to read a suspect's mind during an interrogation had made the difference between setting a guilty man free or detaining an innocent one.
Lia's military training gave her the clearance to participate in clandestine assignments that took her beyond the scope of the protection detail. One week ago, she had been summoned to the office of Bill McManus, assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations. She was briefed on her latest assignment, which was to lead a covert special operations unit into the jungles of Muwaiti, a war-ravaged Afro-French province in the Caribbean. Her mission was to extract revolutionary leader Armand Magliore from Muwaiti and escort him safely to the U.S., where, in ten days, he was scheduled to testify before the United Nations about a high-level assassination plot devised by his government.
Magliore had been a fearless, loyal soldier in the Muwaitian army until the assassination of the much-beloved president ushered in a new regime. President Alexandre Biassou had wasted no time establishing himself as a corrupt, ruthless dictator who disposed of anyone who dared to defy him.