CreateSpace Publishing / Lucy Monroe
Originally published: 01/01/09
Current publication: 01/04/18
Warning: May Be Too Hot To Handle
Elle Gray looks like a supermodel, thinks like a super agent, and can kill a man with her bare hands. But when she meets Dr. Beau Ruston, the brilliant scientist and ex-college football star in charge of the project she’s been sent to protect, she wants more of her bare self around him than just her hands. If his muscular grace and quick wit hadn’t turned her on, there would still be those big brown eyes. . .watching her suspiciously. With a man this smart and sexy questioning her cover, the bad guys are the least of her problems.
Beau Ruston knows Elle is a government spy, and he doesn’t like to be spied on—or lied to, no matter how charming the liar happens to be. Wait, did he say “charming”? Damn hot is more like it. He should know, chemistry is his business, whether it’s in the lab or in the bedroom, but the reaction Elle is setting off might be too much for even him to control. . .
Originally published January 2009 in trade paperback and reissued October 2011 in mass market paperback and eBook by Kensington Brava.
“Lucy Monroe has penned a thrilling, entertaining read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Right from the start, it’s clear that Elle is a kickass type heroine that very few men would want to even bother try to mess with. But Beau is not afraid to challenge the beautiful black ops agent and does so whenever he gets the chance. As their relationship grows, he wants to protect her, even as she resists his actions. No one protects Elle except Elle! Elle tries to keep her emotions at bay ever since she lost her husband years ago and doesn’t want to feel the pain of losing the man she loves once again. It’s up to Beau to break through the barrier she’s erected.
Beau made his choices early on to pursue his career with ETRD, despite it causing him to lose a fiancée and his parents to disown him. But he’s very proud of his work and has forged a very nice life. Elle’s entrance into his life throws him for a loop because she is so different from other women. Her mysterious job and life has him wanting to know her better, despite her refusal to let him. Will he win their battle of wills? Can the bad guys be stopped?
As the suspense in THE SPY WHO WANTS ME builds, so does the relationship between Elle and Beau. There is no doubt that whoever is behind the security leak will stop at nothing to get what they want — top secret plans that could change the world. It’s soon a race to prevent the bad guys from getting the plans. The third book in The Goddard Project series, Lucy Monroe has once again proven herself to readers with an electrifying winner in THE SPY WHO WANTS ME.” —Patti Fischer, Romance Reviews Today
“Lucy Monroe’s writes sexy agents like no other and it really shines in her latest novel, The Spy Who Wants Me. They really know how to protect their clients with everything they have.” ~Judy, amazon.com reviewer
“I love this book read it in paper back than bought it on my kindle! I love the entire series! Read all of the intermix books!”~amazon.com reader review
Spinning on her three inch spiked heel, Elle Gray lifted her leg and kicked her perp solidly in the gut.
The stocky, overly tattooed man, who looked more like a thug than the mastermind in one of the biggest acts of technological piracy to hit the east coast in a decade, flew backward. Elle dropped into a fighting stance as Harley hit the wall with a thud, but he just kept sliding until he was nothing but an unconscious heap of cheap leather and ratty blue jeans.
Man, you’d think with all the money he had made on his nefarious dealings, the man could afford a few nice additions to his wardrobe.
And hadn’t that been easier than she’d thought it would be? Apparently, dressing like a biker didn’t mean a man had the fighting skills to last fifteen minutes in a seedy bar much less in a physical confrontation against her.
With a cynical twist of her lips, she dusted her hands off, and then smoothed down the fabric of her short black Vera Wang. The perfect designer for a woman in Elle’s profession. If only Madame Wang knew. Elle had been happy to discover that several items in the sexy line had been designed in a way to give a girl maximum movement. In her opinion, being a federal agent didn’t mean she had to run around looking like a female version of the men in black.
Besides, she’d learned early that a heightened fashion sense coupled with the looks she’d gotten from her mother encouraged others to underestimate both her intelligence and her lethalness. Just as Harley had done.
Looking at the ungainly mound the insensate man made, satisfaction coursed through her. Sometimes, it was nice to be underestimated.
Flipping open her phone, she called in the clean-up crew. If she hurried on the paperwork, she’d have a full week to relax before starting her new assignment in California.
As she shut the phone, her gaze snagged on the hand holding the cell – more specifically on the middle finger of that hand. Amusement turned to irritation and she glared at Harley.
As if he could feel her ire, he groaned and tried to move.
Examining the damage with annoyance, she ignored him. She’d broken a nail. Well, fudge. She’d just gotten a manicure too. This case had been one irritation after another, but this really irked her. It belied the simplicity of the collar.
She hadn’t even broken a sweat taking the guy down, but she had chipped her nail and that was almost as bad as getting a substandard haircut. Elle might be a federal agent with a bad attitude and more than one black belt – not of the accessory variety, but she had her little vanities like anyone else.
Worse, the broken nail meant she had misjudged a hit. And that really pissed her off. It wreaked havoc with her perfectionist tendencies, making her question if she was off her game.
Harley chose that moment to try to crawl away. She growled.
He froze and then looked up at her with eyes still unfocused from his blackout.
“Going somewhere?” she asked.
He told her to do something anatomically impossible, if slightly intriguing. But she wasn’t in the mood to be intrigued. Or pushed.
Without another word, she stalked over to him, crouched down and flipped him on his stomach with one smooth move. To the accompaniment of another not even remotely sexy male groan, she brought his wrists together and secured them with a zip-tie.
“Bitch,” he said with venom.
She frowned, considered and then shook her head. “I’ve always considered myself more of a cat person.”
He turned his head and spat at her. Spat. At. Her.
And he’d barely missed the perfectly shined black patent leather boots that added such lovely height to her five feet, ten inches. She reined in the urge to smack his head into the floor. She? Was not an animal. And he was a lucky SOB, no doubt about it.
But at this rate? She was going to be in a bad mood until next month, which was really going to mess up that week of relaxation she had planned.
Maybe she should go ahead and spend it with her family.
Dr. Beau Ruston looked down at the pictures in the dossier open on his mentor’s desk. “She looks like a Russian supermodel.”
Man, did she. Attractive was too tame a word for the beauty with chin length straight black hair and eyes such a clear grey they could be silver in the photos. Stunning might work. Captivating. Sexy as hell.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so caught by a woman’s appearance. But full lips set in a perfectly shaped face looked both kissable and ideal for giving a man’s cock the ultimate pleasure. His own was hardening at the mental image. And wouldn’t his granny have had his guts for garters for thinking like that?
Thoughts of how his deceased grandmother would have reacted helped to dispel his growing arousal, but nothing would diminish his sense of awe at Elle’s appeal. Almond shaped grey eyes looked flat and deadly in one picture and full of mischief in another. He wanted to know what they would look like in the heat of passion.
Goodnight! Did he have a one-track mind, or what? He’d been accused a time or two, but not about sex – about being able to think of nothing but his projects. He’d had two serious relationships in his life and a handful of girlfriends. Every single one of them had complained about how he got caught up in his work, even the ones he’d dated from the company.
He’d never fantasized the kinds of things rolling through his mind right now about any of them during work hours. Yet this woman had him by the balls and wasn’t letting go and these were mere pictures.
How the hell would he handle her in person? Maybe she would disappoint his libido and be no more exciting than one of his female lab techs. He had this really bad suspicion it would be the full-damn opposite though.
“She’s not Russian,” his mentor and boss Frank Ingram said. “She’s Ukranian. Or rather her family hails from there. She was born a U.S. Citizen.”
“Whatever. She looks way too beautiful to be a secret agent under cover as a security consultant.” On top of her classic beauty, she was tall and willowy, with an innate sensuality that impacted his desire even through pictures not intended for that purpose.
“And you look like a pro football player, but you are one of the finest minds of this century.”
“I was a football player. The two are not mutually exclusive.”
“Nor are beauty and deadliness. As history has shown time and time again.”
Deadly was right. The dossier said Elle Gray was not only trained in mortal hand-to-hand combat, but that she was also a weapons specialist and could throw a knife with centimetric accuracy at an impressive distance. On top of that, she had a difficult university degree.
“She’s not all brawn, she’s got brains too,” Beau mused.
And that made her all the more dangerous as far as he was concerned.
“Yes,” the older man said with obvious approval. “A degree in chemical engineering is no small feat for the most dedicated student.”
“Which will make it that much easier for her to accurately identify our projects.” Was he the only one who saw a problem with that?
“No doubt that is why she was assigned to this particular endeavor.”
“So, why are we letting her come?”
“Mr. Smith believes it is the best course of action,” Frank answered as if that was all that needed saying.
“Obviously, but why?” Was it a case of keeping their friends close and enemies even closer?
“Our security was compromised.”
“I’m aware of that.” After all, it had been on his project.
“Mr. Smith believes we need to take measures to be certain that does not happen again.”
“By bringing a spook in to spy on the company?” Beau was really starting to feel like he was operating on a whole different plain from his boss and the mysterious man who had started and continued to fund Environmental Technologies Research and Design.
“Cover for her real job as a TGP agent, or not, Ms. Gray is in the top of her field.”
“Security was compromised by a dirty guard. How can she prevent that from happening again?” It was a question that haunted Beau ever since plans for the antigravity project had made it into the wrong hands.
“I have no idea. Security is not my area of expertise. However, Mr. Smith believes she will be able to do that and more. Whatever measures she deems appropriate will no doubt be an improvement on what we have now.”
Beau’s gaze flicked to the pictures spread out on the desk again. Was she really that good? “We had our security set up by one of the best companies in California,” he felt compelled to point out, even if it made him sound a tad defensive.
“Ms. Gray is considered the top of her field both nationally and internationally. We are lucky to get her.”
“She’s a federal agent.”
“She is also the best of the best at security design and consultation.”
Something about what Frank said before niggled at Beau until he asked, “Her agency has international jurisdiction?”
Frank steepled his fingers in a familiar gesture. “Let’s just say the CIA isn’t the only federal agency with their fingers in extra-national pies.”
Beau shook his head. “Amazing.”
He wasn’t surprised that the government had black ops that the average, or even not so average citizen didn’t know about. What stunned Beau was how calmly Frank and Mr. Smith apparently accepted not only their existence but their interference at ETRD.
“Mr. Smith is quite pleased we’ve managed to procure Ms. Gray’s services.”
“So, you have said, but I find that hard to believe. She’s coming in to spy on us on behalf of the government.” Didn’t that bother Mr. Smith and/or Frank even a little?
“It’s not as if she works for the FBI or the military,” Frank said with a small shudder. “She’s under the aegis of The Goddard Project. Truthfully, Mr. Smith was surprised it took them this long to show a material interest in what we’re doing here at ETRD.”
“The Goddard Project?” What the heck was that? “I’ve never heard of them.”
“Very few have. I’m not convinced that even every president has known of their existence.”
“But Mr. Smith does?”
“He knows a great deal the rest of the world is ignorant of.”
Frank shrugged. “I make it a practice not to ask that particular question and suggest you do the same.”
Beau couldn’t help his curiosity about the enigmatic benefactor who had started ETRD. Frank was the only employee of ETRD who ever met with the man in person. Though Beau had spoken to Mr. Smith on the phone on occasion, even that kind of interaction was kept at a minimum.
“But you do know what The Goddard Project is?”
“It’s a black ops agency with a dual directive of protecting technology from falling into the wrong hands and making sure our own government does not overlook potentially beneficial scientific breakthroughs as well. It was started after Robert Goddard’s rocketry technology was stolen by the Germans during WWII. Technology our own government had not only ignored, but had dismissed as unimportant. It wasn’t just the egg on our faces when we interrogated a German prisoner of war only to discover that the scientific discovery had been made initially on our own soil, but the very real threat of them utilizing it against us that convinced the powers that be at the time that we needed to take measures to make sure that kind of thing never happened again.”
“As much as I may dislike it, I can understand that. But I still don’t get why you and Mr. Smith see being spied on by this highly secret organization as an improvement over falling under the scrutiny of any other federal agency.”
Frank straightened the papers and photos into a neat pile and closed the file. Beau had to stifle the urge to protest his loss of the sight of the supermodel gorgeous agent.
Something must have shown on his face because Frank looked at him strangely.
“You were saying?” Beau prompted.
“TGP only steps in if it’s absolutely necessary. According to Mr. Smith, they’ve done a lot for research and technological development over the decades since the war.”
“If he’s so enamored of them, why not just make a report of our projects and turn it in to TGP?” Then they wouldn’t have to send a woman whose very picture knocked his libido right on its ass.
“If we did that, we wouldn’t be getting the services of Elle Gray.” Frank gave a faint smile. “And it’s the principle of the thing. If they want information, they can work for it. We’re not a government funded facility and on our side or not, we aren’t giving tacit approval to their oversight by providing a work manifesto.”
Beau’s lips twisted with distaste. “Politics.”
“Unfortunately, they are a part of life.”
“It’s a good thing we’ve got you to handle them around here then. Left up to me, we’d probably end up in World War III.”
Frank chuckled. “It wouldn’t be quite that bad, I’m sure.”
“Don’t bet on it.”
The older man shook his head, but said nothing.
“So, what makes me so special that I get to know the true nature of Ms. Gray’s work and the other egg-heads around here don’t?” Beau asked.
Frank frowned, looking troubled. “We can’t be sure the dirty guard was working alone.”
Beau had been worried about that very thing. When he should have been sleeping. “The coincidental departure of Bigsley less than twenty-four hours after you announced a security consultant was being brought in implies he wasn’t,” he said, voicing a worry that had been growing.
“Perhaps.” Frank put the file away in the safe behind his desk and then locked it. “Gil Bigsley’s disappearance is suspect, of course, but was it voluntary? And was it related to the leak on your project, or something else?”
“Presumably, this TGP agent will figure that out.”
“I believe that is Mr. Smith’s hope, yes.”
“You still haven’t explained why you told me the truth, only why you haven’t told anyone else.”
Frank’s smile was warm, reflecting his role as both friend and mentor in Beau’s life. “You are not under suspicion.”
“But the others are?”
Frank didn’t answer, but he didn’t need to.
“Why aren’t I?”
“I could say because you are as close to me as a son.”
“Would that be the truth?”
“For me, yes.”
“But it wouldn’t be enough for Mr. Smith.”
“No. However, the fact that if you had been conspiring with Eddie, he would not have set his partners north up to sell plans that don’t work is quite compelling.”
“My honor saved by the incompetence of the criminal mind.”
“Your honor was never in question to me.”
“I appreciate that, Frank.”
“You’re a good man, Beau, and Mr. Smith knows that.”
“I would have said the same for my co-workers.”
“So would have I…before. Now, we can’t afford not to be cautious. Some of our projects are far too close to positive resolution for us to risk them falling into greedy hands.”
“It’s why we work here.”
“That’s definitely true for you…and hopefully the others as well, but we have no guarantees.”
“Right. So, I’m supposed to keep an eye on Elle Gray?”
“Nothing too cloak-and-dagger, but yes.”
“You do realize this is all just a little more James Bond than I ever thought I’d get?”
“We play the cards we are dealt.”
Beau relaxed back into the plush leather chair facing his mentor’s desk. “Why do I get the feeling that Mr. Smith is dealing from the bottom of the deck?”
“On occasion. Speaking of cloak-and-dagger, the man keeps himself well hidden.”
“And that worries you?”
“Believe me when I say that if Mr. Smith is dealing from the bottom of the deck, he is only doing it for our best interests.”
“Or so he says.”
“He doesn’t have to say it. I know it. And while you may not know Mr. Smith, you do know me. Do you trust me, Beau?”
Tension filled Beau. Trust wasn’t something he easily extended to others. He’d learned that just because circumstances dictated you should be able to trust someone did not mean that you could. In fact, it was the people closest to you most likely to betray you. They were the ones in a position to get away with it.
Yet Frank Ingram had proven himself worthy of both Beau’s respect and trust many times. The older man accepted Beau for who he was in a way his own family and other important people in his life had refused to do. Frank had never let Beau down in the close to a decade that he had known the other man. Not once. Not in any way.
There could only be one answer to his mentor’s question. “Yes.”
Beau shrugged, having no desire to even flirt with the edges of maudlin emotion. Now, or ever.
Elle opened the door of her Lamborghini Spider and swung her long legs out. She could feel someone watching her, which was nothing new and certainly not unexpected considering her choice in transportation. But something felt different. Whoever was watching her was doing so with a regard so intense, it was palpable.
She paused, knowing the metallic burgundy paintjob on the sports car did a fantastic job of framing her. That wasn’t why she’d taken her week off between assignments driving her baby across country rather than flying and renting a car for her assignment, but it didn’t hurt.
Standing in one fluid movement, she straightened the jacket of her Akri suit and let her gaze meet that of a man watching her. He wasn’t the only one doing so, but she sensed the dark haired Adonis was the source of concentrated scrutiny she had felt. Unmoving and apparently unconcerned with being caught staring, he stood in front of the huge shiny metal and glass building that housed Ecological Techonologies Research and Design. A backpack gripped in one hand and a leather jacket dangling over his shoulder off the finger of another, he looked more like a bad boy with attitude than second-in-command at one of the country’s top research companies.
According to her files, the tall, muscular scientist was Frank Ingram’s right hand man as well as the project manager on the antigravity experiment that had been compromised, leading to TGP’s interest in ETRD. Any other professional information regarding his role at ETRD was sketchy. TGP only knew what they did about his role on the antigravity project because his name had been on the intercepted plans. Frank had offered the information that Dr. Beau Ruston was his second-in-command when he hired Elle for the security consultation.
Other than that, she knew that the young PhD had begun working for the company as an intern while pursuing his doctorate. He’d been hired on in a full time capacity even before he’d successfully defended his doctoral thesis. Other than the antigravity experiment and the projects that had gone public, TGP had no information regarding what the man did at the ETRD.
The company was better at keeping secrets than the Pentagon. Much better. Hence the need for an agent on sight to determine the lay of the land.
She wasn’t here to investigate Beau Ruston per se, but he was certainly someone she was interested in finding out more about.
She turned and leaned back into the car to grab her briefcase, giving the staring man a view of her toned backside in the tailored slacks. Being a good agent meant using all assets at her disposal to do her job. If that included flustering a man by exposing a little thigh, then she did it. If it meant bending over to offer a glimpse of a body she used as a tool for her job, she did it.
And her instincts told her that she wanted this particular man as off-kilter as she could get him.
She locked the car and headed toward him, noticing that he had not moved from his spot in front of the building. So, he knew who she was too and he was waiting for her.
As personal greeters went, she’d take him.
His expression neutral, he put his hand out when she was within reaching distance. “Ms. Gray? I’m Beau Ruston.”
Her hand was engulfed in the warmth and strength of his. For a split second she saw something in his Hershey brown eyes and tension filled square jaw that found a corresponding response right in her core.
Desire. Hot. Urgent. Primal.
And wholly unexpected.
Oh, she was used to being admired. Even wanted. But that flash of sexual heat went beyond the surface physical reaction of a man and a woman meeting for the first time. And the fact that it mirrored her own response was as close to frightening as facing down the wrong end of her own favorite Ruger P95 semi-automatic.
He blinked and just like that, the brief blaze of desire was banked. She didn’t doubt it had been there, anymore than she could deny the involuntary tightening of her inner thigh muscles or the way her nipples were still peaked behind her designer suit jacket.
Grateful for the thickness and opacity of the fabric, she pulled her hand from his. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Dr. Ruston.”
“Beau, please.” The subtle twang in his voice reminded her of his origins.
His file said he’d gone to USC on a football scholarship and made his home here afterward, rather than return to his native Texas. Right then, she felt an absurd gratitude that he had done so.
She dipped her head in acknowledgement of his request. “Elle.”
“Good. We don’t stand on ceremony much around here.”
Standing this close, it was easy to believe this man had once played college football and that he’d had a reputation for breaking hearts…until he’d gotten engaged. His file said he’d been faithful to his fiancée right up until the woman dumped him his senior year.
She’d gone on to marry one of his teammates who had gone into the NFL. A favorite for the draft himself, Beau had opted to continue his education and had gotten a doctorate in quantum physics. He’d chosen brain over brawn and while he might be highly compensated as a lead scientist at ETRD, it was nothing compared to what he could have made catching footballs in the NFL.
His choices fascinated Elle. She’d spent a good portion of her week off going over his file. The information on his life before and outside his job was not nearly as sketchy as that of his hours spent at ETRD.
Elle had to tilt her head back to meet his eyes. “That’s good to know.”
He’d moved closer and she hadn’t even noticed. This was so not good. A giant like him shouldn’t be able to move an inch without her taking note, much less right into her personal space.
She’d known he was tall. The file said six feet, six inches, but standing so close made him seem even taller. Bigger. Okay, so maybe that was due to the numerous well-developed muscles filling out his tight blue t-shirt and snug fitting jeans. Not that six and a half feet was average height by any stretch, but her brothers were all within one to three inches of it. She was only two inches shy of six feet herself.
She’d never felt so flippin’ small next to a man. She didn’t like it. He was messing with her equilibrium in ways no one else ever did and they hadn’t even said more than twenty words to each other.
She distinctly remembered The Old Man telling her that this assignment was going to be a cake walk. And she’d agreed. After seeing Beau Ruston’s file. More the fool her.
She took a hasty step back.
A single dark brow rose in question, but Beau didn’t comment. “Come with me and I’ll introduce you to the boss.”
Did his drawl have to be so damn low and sexy? Wasn’t it enough that in person, he was unstable C-4 where her feminine desires were concerned? Did his voice have to be more effective than a state of the art weaponry display at gaining her attention? And holding it. Sheesh.
The Old Man was going to owe her big time for this assignment.