That distinctive, lethal voice...
It was the voice Major Larissa Petrovna had heard the night of the tragic fire that ravaged her life. Thus begins a race against time as Lara performs her duties as head of Russia's nuclear inspection team while trying desperately to discover the voice's source. All the while, she must battle her growing attraction to the irrepressible Air Force pilot assigned as her escort.
Omega Agent Dodge Hamilton finds the icy beauty fascinating but entirely resistible, and his assignment fairly routine. At first. But as a killer targets Lara once again, soon blazing passion melts their mutual suspicion and professional reserve, unearthing feelings Dodge has never known....
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May 31, 2011
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Excerpt from Strangers When We Meet by Merline Lovelace
"How would you like to get back into an air-force flight suit for a few weeks?"
Sloan Hamilton, code name Dodge, smiled wryly as he steered his rented Jeep 4x4 toward the front gate of Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, on the outskirts of Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had the windows open to the cool September air, shimmering with a crystalline clarity. Dodge's thoughts weren't on the purity of his native Wyoming atmosphere, however. Instead, he replayed conversation that had taken place in a windowless control center back in Washington, D.C., just four days ago.
That's all it had taken. One casual suggestion from Lightning and Dodge had jumped at the chance to get back in the cockpit again. Not that he didn't have plenty of opportunity to fly in his civilian job. The other civilian job. The one that didn't involve crashing headfirst through eighth-story windows or being inserted into a damned near impenetrable jungle in pursuit of some sleazoid drug runners. Conducting aerial surveys in his steady, sturdy Cessna wasn't anywhere near as much fun as piloting an air-force UH-1N, though. The helo was Vietnam-era vintage, but after several generations of modifications it was still the best and most reliable chopper in the air.
As it turned out, Dodge should have asked for a little more detail before accepting this assignment. Instead of driving a Huey, he was about to undertake what looked to be one of his tamest missions for OMEGA--riding herd on a three-person Russian team that would arrive in Cheyenne tomorrow to inspect U.S. Minuteman III missiles in accordance with the new START treaty.
True, the president had just signed the treaty after more than a decade of fierce negotiations between Russia and the U.S. Also true, recent tensions between the U.S. and Russia had made this first inspection under the new protocols a matter of intense interest at the highest national security levels. Still, Dodge would have much preferred a task that involved flying his old bird to babysitting a Russian major and her two teammates.
Even a Russian major who looked like this one.
He glanced at the file on the passenger seat. Clipped to its outside was a brief bio that included a head-and-shoulders shot of Larissa Katerina Pe-trovna. The fact that the photo was in black and white and a little grainy in no way detracted from the major's ice-maiden beauty. Her hair looked as pale as fine champagne. Her wide-spaced eyes stared back at Dodge from above a straight, aristocratic nose. Her mouth was full and ripe and downright sensual.
He knew from the detailed briefing he'd received at OMEGA headquarters, before departing for Cheyenne, that those eyes were electric-blue. He also knew the puckered skin on the left side of Petrovna's neck and jaw were the result of horrific burns she'd suffered in the apartment fire that had killed her husband and almost claimed her baby girl.
Dodge felt a flicker of sympathy, quickly doused. A female didn't make it to the rank of major in any air force, Russia's included, by being soft or welcoming expressions of sympathy. And judging by the jobs Larissa Petrovna held on her way up the ranks, the woman was tough as nails. More to the point, she was here to do a specific task.
So was Dodge, although he had to admit, being back in Wyoming was almost as much of a plus as being back in uniform. His gaze shifted to the snow-and-pine-covered mountains on the horizon. They looked close enough to reach out and touch, but he knew how deceptive the expanse of rolling plain between here and those jagged peaks could be. He should. He'd ridden fence lines on these wind- and snow-swept plains often enough.
He'd grown up just a little over...