First Temptation(4)

By: Joan Swan


Ah, shit.

God, this was so her standard luck with guys.

Zoe pushed to her feet, wincing at the aches. She turned on a polite smile as she extended her hand and met the man’s gaze. “Nice to—”

His looks derailed her mind like a runaway train. Mr. Yum was more like Mr. Scrumptious. Black hair, brows, and lashes. Liquid brown eyes, a warm mix of medium and lighter shades, that made her crave one of her mother’s chocolate-dipped caramel apples. And his face… His face was just…

Yeah.

The irritation in his gaze registered, and Zoe realized she hadn’t finished her sentence and he hadn’t taken her hand. Her gaze darted to Rio, whose brows were pulled in curiosity.

“Sorry,” she said. “It’s been a long night. Nice to meet you.”

Scrumptious didn’t respond. But he did take her hand in a firm, dry shake. The annoyance in his eyes made Zoe want to feel nothing when he touched her, but no. His hand fit nicely around hers, the slide of his palm heating places on her body completely unrelated to her hand.

“This is Agent Walker,” Rio said. “He’s with the counterterrorism unit of the Department of Homeland Security.”

Peachy. DHS and CBP had never been best buddies.

Zoe gave a brittle smile and pulled her hand out of the shake first. He was probably used to women drooling over him, and she’d always hated being just another salivation gland to a hot guy.

“Let’s sit down,” Rio said. “Walker, you want some breakfast?”

Walker lowered his muscular body into a chair.

Zoe looked at Rio and turned up her palms in cop sign language for what the fuck?

Rio grinned and scraped his fingers through the hair at his temple. His expression said he found her amusing. Which was when Zoe realized who she was scolding—not one of her guys—and slumped into her seat, sure she’d already blown her chance at this assignment.

And it was all Mr. Scrumptious’s fault.

The waitress showed up with plates, and Walker eyed Zoe’s food.

“Wanna order?” the waitress asked him in a cougher’s huff.

“No, thanks.” He pointed to Zoe’s plate. “I’ll just eat what she doesn’t. That’s way too much food for a girl.”

Oh, good. He was an ass. So much easier to disregard looks when a guy was an ass. She’d seen him take notice of the rank on her uniform as soon as his dark gaze turned on her. Watched those liquid eyes take her in, sum her up, and dismiss her all within seconds. Typical of men who’d never worked with her before. But it still burned.

Zoe lifted one side of her mouth in a dry smile and salted her eggs. “Touch my food and I’ll stab you with my fork.”

He just gazed at her with that maddening expression, part irritation, part inquiry. Finally, he turned his gaze on Rio and spoke in an undertone. “Look, buddy, I really want to get moving. Maybe Agent Brooks can move to another table and eat so we can—”

“I can hear you,” she said, overly loud. ”Your mother didn’t teach you to take turns when you were a kid, did she?”

Zoe speared chunks of scrambled eggs onto her fork and paused before putting them in her mouth, even though her stomach was suddenly ravenous at the scent of food. She made sure to meet Walker’s sexy warm gaze when she said, “This is how it works, Walker. I was here first. First come, first served. You’ll get a turn when mine’s finished. Simple, right? Something even DHS can follow.”

Rio snickered and tried to cover by drinking his juice.

Zoe made a mental note not to schedule morning appointments. She was not at her best when she hadn’t slept in nearly a day and a half.

“And since you were the one who interrupted our important conversation,” she continued, “feel free, Walker, to find yourself another table until we’re finished.”





Three

THIS CHICK WAS...curious.

But Taft didn’t have time for curious. He looked at Rio, who was grinning and shaking his head.

A bad feeling crept over him. “What’s up with her?”

Rio cut into his omelet with the side of his fork, then pointed at Brooks and Taft with the prongs in turn. “Agent Brooks is your partner on this case.”

A loud clank made Taft flinch and glare at Brooks. Her fork rested against the plate where she’d dropped it after, apparently, stuffing her mouth like a squirrel. Her eyes were round in shock. Eyes a bright, almost startling shade of green.

“What?” she asked, then lowered her gaze, chewed, and swallowed before trying again. “I’m sorry. What?”

Taft took another look at the woman’s uniform, his gaze sweeping the double silver bar of a supervisory agent and the single bronze oak leaf of a special operations supervisor on her collar. The insignia of both the Border Patrol Tactical Unit and the Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit on her chest. The mud dirtying her uniform and the scratches on her temple and jaw spoke of very recent hand-to-hand.