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SHOW NO MERCY - Book No. 1 - "Black Ops Inc. "

Gabe Jones assessed his surroundings through closed eyes, heavy and gritty with sleep.  Drug induced, he concluded, and breathed deep to clear his head. 

Clean, he realized, attempting to ID the scent.  Not sterile.  Lavender, maybe.  He shifted a shoulder, turned his head and sank into luxury.  Down pillows.  Expensive linens.

Finally, he opened his eyes to soft, slanting sunlight that shone through tall narrow windows, then glanced off gleaming hardwood floors in flickering prisms of blue, yellow and green.

It was morning.  But of what day? 

He lifted his arm to check his watch.  Gone.  Then he slid his hand down beneath the sheet to discover that his clothes were also gone.

He might have been alarmed, maybe should have been, except he recognized the style and the opulence of his quarters.  

He was lying in a huge bed in the middle of an equally large bedroom.  Tall plastered walls had been painted a cool shade of blue.   Pricey artwork hung everywhere, adorned dressers, bookcases.  Ornate, expensive furniture – the woman loved her dead kings – filled the room.  Sheer panels billowed softly in an ocean-scented breeze that eased in through floor to ceiling windows.

An oasis.  Juliana’s oasis.  Yeah, he recognized her touch.  May have even slept in this bed once before.

The question was, why was he here now?

And the bigger question, why was there a long, leggy and very mouthy redhead sound asleep in a chair beside the bed?  And the mother of all questions: Why would a woman who had hated his guts on first sight and from all indications hadn’t changed her opinion in the nine months since she’d left Argentina be holding vigil at his side.

He stared at Jenna McMillan’s sleeping face.  At the generous, ripe mouth that could fool an unsuspecting man into thinking that only sweetness and light and uncensored sex could possibly slip between those lush, sensual lips.  At the thick turn of auburn lashes that brushed her cheeks and covered eyes the color of forest moss.  Eyes, he reminded himself, that could shoot daggers at a moment’s notice and slice a man’s ego to the quick.

The woman was a pest, a nuisance and the worst kind of trouble.  So why was he fighting to convince himself he wasn’t glad to see her?

Drugs, he concluded.  Juliana had doused him with some heavy-duty painkillers.

But that didn’t answer the most obvious question.  What was Jenna doing here in Argentina? 

He lay his head back down on the pillow, stared at the ceiling and tapped his memory for answers.

They flooded in like the sunlight deluging the room. 

The stake out. 

The machine gunner.

Jenna on the steps of the Congress building. 

The car bomb.

Slowly, the rest of the details filed together into a progressive line.  He’d come to in Doc’s make-shift ER in back of the cantina.  Juliana had been there.  Had told him he needed surgery on his leg.

His leg.  Shit.  Oh, shit.  His leg.

Panic boiled up in his gut with a roiling nausea.  He braced himself, then jerked the sheet aside.  Forced himself to look down.

It was still there. 

Sweet Jesus God, his leg was still there.  Wrapped from knee to ankle in thick, sterile dressing, but it was there.

Relief made him light-headed.

The soft rustle of fabric made him realize he had an audience.  And he was laying there bare-ass naked.

“I … um … you’re … oh, gosh … awake.”

He turned his head, said nothing.  Only watched as Jenna stiffly straightened in the chair and made several valiant attempts to keep her gaze above his lap level.

Tried and failed.

And damn, if his dick didn’t react to those huge, hungry eyes licking across his body and to the brilliant shade of red flooding her cheeks.

“So it would seem,” he said, his voice gravel rough with knee-jerk carnal need.

A need that pissed him off.  And apparently, left the woman with the most wicked mouth south of the equator, speechless.

More for his benefit than hers, he reached for the sheet and tugged it across his lap.  Then he watched her face as a breath she must have been holding for the better part of a minute, eased out.

“How long have I been out of it?”

She made a big production of stretching and yawning in a failed attempt to look casual.  “Since yesterday.”

A day.  He’d lost a day.  And Juliana had brought him to Bahia Blanca.

“How are you feeling?” Her voice lacked its usual bravado as she dragged a handful of long, unruly red hair away from her eyes and tucked it behind her ear.

Like I’ve been broad-sided by a two-by-four.  Both his head and his leg throbbed like a bitch.  But he wasn’t going there.  He had plenty of questions of his own.  And he wanted plenty of answers. 

He lifted his hand to his itchy jaw.  When he connected, he realized why.  Thick stubble.  He hated stubble.

“I … um … my Dad.  He broke his leg once.”

He turned his head, stared into uncertainty.

Where was she going with this?

“He had to spend some time in … bed.”

Jesus, was she blushing? 

“His beard … well.  I remember how it drove him crazy,” she went on, looking at the wall, looking out the window, at the floor, anywhere but at him.  “I … used to give him shaves.  I … guess I could … give you one.  If you’d want me to, that is.”

If he hadn’t already been flat on his back, her offer would have slammed him there even though she sounded about as anxious to perform the personal task as she would be to walk into a pool of quicksand.

And yet she had offered. 


Because she’d felt obligated?  Wanted to make him feel obligated?  Or was it the old inherent nurturing gene kicking in?  He hadn’t thought she had one. 

Or maybe she’s just being nice, Jones.

      Yeah, that was going to happen.

He was about to say no thank you, don’t bother, but something stopped him.  Maybe it was the obvious reluctance on her face.  Maybe it was the fact that he hated living with stubble.

Maybe he just felt mean and nasty and pissed that he was so weak and he wanted to make her squirm a little more.

“Yeah.  Sure.  Knock yourself out,” he said finally then watched her face as surprise registered followed by suspicion followed by determination to soldier on.

When she stood, he closed his eyes, drifted on the aftermath of sedation and gnawing pain to the sound of water running in the adjoining bathroom.

He didn’t have it in him to flinch when a hot, wet cloth caressed his face and roused him.  Without opening his eyes, he let a breath of tension ease out.  Damn.  It felt good.  And as she eased a hip onto the edge of the mattress then pulled a bedside stand close, he realized she smelled good.  Musky and sweet.  Like a woman.  Like sex.

He measured his breaths.   

Forced himself not to open his eyes, knew that the combo of tactile and visual sensations would shoot him toward terrain studded with landmines.

Deep breaths, dumb ass.

You’re in control here.

Damn right he was.  For all of a nanosecond. 

When she removed the cloth and carefully spread shaving gel over his lower face and throat, all of his erogenous zones stood up and took note.

Her hands were surprisingly steady.  Her touch acutely soft and sensual. 

It’s a shave, he told himself.  Just a damn shave.

But when she leaned over him to gain better access and touched the razor to his jaw, her breast brushed his bare chest and his traitorous dick stirred to life beneath the sheet.

He fought to swallow a groan.

Fought and failed.

She pulled back like she'd been stung.  "What?  Did I nick you?"

If only. Nothing like a little blood loss to bring a man to his senses.

He made a major tactical error then.  He opened his eyes.  Met hers.  Reacted with his he-man gene when distress furrowed her brow, darkening her irises to sea green as her gaze flicked from his eyes to his face and back again.

“No.” His voice was thick with arousal.  He cleared his throat.  “No.  I’m fine.  It’s all … fine.”

Just fuckin’ fine.

Even more than the dull throbbing pain in his calf and the pounding in his head, he felt a keen, pulsing awareness of her hip pressing against him, of her woman’s heat melding with his.   Felt a raw, urgent need to pull all that soft, yielding warmth against him and satisfy the ache in his groin.

He folded his hands over his lap to hide the tenting action going on underneath the sheets.

Sonofabitch.  He did not want to react to this woman on any level other than indifference.  Yet here he was.  Raised to full mast, ready to set sail in a sea of wet, steamy sex. 

It was all wrong.  He didn’t want to react to anyone or anything.  It was how he ran his life.  It was how he stayed alive.  Yet somehow from the first moment he’d seen Jenna McMillan, she’d managed to test every self-defense mechanism he’d ever erected.

Suddenly he was tired.  So tired, he let down his guard.  When she paused to rinse the razor, he met her eyes again.  And in them, he saw the last thing he needed to see. 

A responding physical pull. 

An answering chemical heat. 

The same combustible attraction that he damn well didn’t want to acknowledge let alone give in to. 

And, damn it, that wasn’t all.  Underlying all the animal magnetism, he sensed something that thickened this messy stew of sensations.  

She cared about him.  At least she thought she did. 

When in the hell had that happened? 

And when had what she cared started to matter to him?

She went back to work with the razor – and damn if the answer wasn’t painfully obvious:  He’d started to care the moment he’d first set eyes on her, embattled from her abduction, scared out of her mind, poised to defend herself with a damn iron frying pan. 

Jesus, she’d been something.

She was something.  Something special.  Too special for the likes of him.  Which is why he’d intended to quit caring the day he’d let her walk out of his life at the Ezeiza airport nine months ago. 

Yeah, he’d let her go when he’d known he could have made her stay.  That should have been his first clue.  The woman meant more to him than a quick lay and a quicker good-bye. 

And now she was here.  It pissed him off to react so strongly to her.  Made him mean because mean was the only way he knew how to react to all this need.

“What are you doing here?” he growled, weary of wrestling with feelings he was never going to act on anyway.

His gruff question startled her.  Her cheeks turned that amazing shade of red again.  And though he was certain she wasn’t aware of it, she’d bitten her lower lip between her teeth.  Nervous.  He was making her nervous.  Good.

Join the club, sweetheart.

Very slowly, she let her lip slide out, all plump and perfect and pink.

And poison, he reminded himself.  She had a mouth on her as lethal as belladonna.  And a helluva lot of nerve to show up down here again and fuck with his head.

“Here?  As in here, here?  I’m giving you a shave.”

He shot her a stone cold glare to tell her just how cute he thought she wasn’t.  “That’s not what I asked you.”

Again, that lush lower lip disappeared between her teeth. 

Her eyes – green like jungle ferns now – were wide and evasive.  “You mean, what am I doing in Argentina?”

“That would be the money question, yeah.”

She seemed to consider as she rinsed the razor again then slid it expertly from cheek to jaw.  “I’m on vacation.”

And he was the queen of England. 

She was not only sucking that amazing lip through her teeth as she concentrated, he got the feeling she might also be lying through her teeth. 

She was hiding something.  Big surprise.  The question was what and why?

“On vacation.  Is that a fact?”

“It is, yeah.”  

Her body language gave her away.  And he wasn’t letting up on her. 

“So … your vacation just happened to land you at the Congress building at the very same time a bomb went off.”

She looked away as she rinsed the razor.  “Some coincidence, huh?”

He gave her his best hard ass look.  “Just so you know, I don’t believe in the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny or coincidence.”  God he was tired.  “Wanna try again?”

That brought on a world class scowl.  “You know what, I don’t think I like your tone.”

He barked out a laugh, wished he hadn’t when pain lashed through his head.  He reached up, touched his temple and discovered a knot the size of a hen’s egg.  “And I don’t think I give a shit.  Now what were you really doing there?”

“That would fall into the ‘none of your business’ category.” Belligerence times ten. 

He snagged the towel from her hand when she started to pat his jaw dry.

“I’ve got a hole in my calf the size of your explanation.” He dragged the towel over his face.  “You’ll understand if I think that makes it my business.”

“Tell you what.” She busied herself gathering the shaving paraphernalia.  “Why don’t you tell me what you were doing there?”

 He glared at her.

“Yeah.  That’s what I thought.”  She rose and headed for the bathroom.  “What’s good for the goose doesn’t cut it for the gander.”

Swearing, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, dragging the sheet across his lap as he did – and the room went red, white and blue stars when he sat up straight. 

Warm hands gripped his shoulders and eased him back down on the pillow before he took a header onto the white cypress floor. 

“You’ve also got a concussion, so just settle down and try to lie still.”


He closed his eyes.  Breathed deep and swallowed back slick, rolling nausea.

“Need a bowl?”

He sucked in two more breaths.  “No.  I’m okay.”

“Yeah and I’m that tooth fairy you don’t believe in.”

She made to move away again.  He latched onto her wrist, held tight with all the puny strength left in him.  “We’re not … finished,” he mumbled and knew he was about to slip under again.

“Yeah, I figured that.” A softness in her voice almost sounded like affection.  “But for now, you need to sleep, okay?  Just sleep.”

She didn’t have to tell him twice.  The soothing sound of her voice, the softness of her fingers gently prying his off her wrist and the residual pain medication sluicing around in his blood stream all took a toll.

He drifted off to the caress of her hand across his forehead, the feel of cool sheets beneath him and a reverently whispered, “Holy, holy cow,” as the top sheet abruptly lifted then settled back down over his lower body.


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