Lazlo Group agent Witt von Kreus had spent his life battling injustice. But his purpose was suddenly lost in the heated caress of a woman he'd just met--Marina Bond. She was an SIS agent, involved in a dangerous undercover op that seemed to lead back to the Lazlo Group. Once their kiss ended and the bullets started to fly, Witt knew the only way to protect Marina and her mission was to keep her close...bound to him...with a ring.
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Top-Secret Bride by Nina Bruhns
Paris, France September
Being here is insane.
SIS agent Marina Bond turned the key to one of the two rooms she'd hired for the afternoon in a seedy hotel in the Montmartre district of Paris, and carefully opened the door. You never knew what you'd find in these disgusting fleabag joints. But it was cheap, and the receptionist wouldn't remember her five minutes from now, even if she hadn't worn a black wig over her strawberry-blond hair.
After giving the small, threadbare room a swift visual inspection she went across the hall to the second room. "At least it's clean," Marina muttered.
And there was no way it could be bugged. She hadn't decided on the place until ten minutes ago. Two rooms might be overkill but, again, you never know.
She checked her watch. She must get this meeting over quickly, since she only had an hour lunch break. She'd gone awol in the middle of her current undercover operation, but she owed Corbett Lazlo. He'd saved her life once. The least she could do was return the favor.
There was a knock on the door. Rap, pause, raprap-rap.
The right pattern. Still, you couldn't be too careful. Marina drew her Glock 23 from her designer handbag, checked the door and grimaced. Why was there never a peephole when you needed one?
"Who is it?" she called.
"Corbett Lazlo sent me."
The muffled voice was male. British colonial--New Zealand? South Africa? Sounded distrustful. And not Corbett.
Her heartbeat kicked up. "Why didn't he come himself?"
"He's abroad at the moment. Sends his regrets. But you said this meeting was urgent, so here I am."
She scowled. "I just spoke to him on the phone last night. He was here, in Paris."
"Things happen fast in our business."
Did they ever. Marina worked for the Secret Intelligence Service--also widely known as MI6--the British equivalent of the American CIA. Corbett Lazlo was the owner and director of the Lazlo Group, one of the most elite private investigation agencies in the world. SIS used the group occasionally on ops. But could she trust that the disembodied male voice on the other side of the door was who he said he was?
"He also sends his regards to Moon Doggie," the voice said.
The shoulders of Marina's posh Givenchy trench notched down and a smile tugged at her lips. Moon Doggie, her father's code name in the U.S. Secret Service. She had met Corbett Lazlo years ago when she was a kid still living in the States before her parents' divorce, during one of her dad's protection gigs gone bad. Dad hated his Secret Service code name; only a select few were privy to it, including the man who'd saved his daughter from an uncertain fate. This guy was legit.
She lowered her weapon and eased open the door, motioning for the Lazlo agent to come in while she checked the hall. Empty.
Not that she expected to be followed. She'd been careful. She assumed he had, too, especially if he worked for Corbett Lazlo. But, yeah, you never knew.
Closing the door, she returned the Glock to her purse and turned to size up Corbett's stand-in. For a second she just stared, jolted by surprise.
The man was gorgeous. Upper thirties, tall--very tall--muscular, tanned with longish sun-streaked blond hair and a rakish mustache that accented an angled, character-filled face.
Eyes the color of the morning sky stared back at her. Assessingly.
"Agent Bond, I presume?" he asked, to his credit without a hint of amusement.
She nodded, keeping her own amusement to herself. Could she help it if Dad had gifted her with such a wildly inappropriate--or maybe wildly appropriate--last name? It had always been an open invitation for her colleagues to come up with all sorts of droll monikers and comical comments.Yeah, well, she'd never really minded. She could hold her own with ol' James.
The Lazlo agent grunted. "I'm--"
She cut him off before he could say his name. "Doesn't matter who you are."
"I'm von Kreus. DeWitt von Kreus," he completed firmly, tossing the leather jacket slung over one shoulder onto the bed. "Company policy to identify oneself."
His pronunciation was telling. Definitely South African. With a hint of Afrikaans. Her current undercover op was to infiltrate an African conflict diamond cartel. Coincidence? Her pulse jacked up again and she made a quick decision.
"Whatever. Take off your clothes," she ordered briskly.
His brows shot up. "Excuse me?" "I'm invoking Denmark protocol," she said. "You've got a problem with that?"
"You think I'm wired?" Von Kreus's annoyance seemed genuine.
Denmark protocol was an old-school safety measure only invoked these days as a last resort. In the field, when circumstances prevented electronic counterchecks, usually between potential enemies or rivals, stripping to the skin and changing venues eliminated your enemy's buddies listening in or taping the conversation.