First Temptation(7)

By: Joan Swan


He caught her arm in his hand, gently. She froze. Her eyes snapped to his, and this close, he could see a smoky blue rim around the irises’ edge. “Those are some nasty bruises.” When she didn’t flinch or pull from his touch, he caressed a thumb over the cursive Z tattooed along her upper arm and continuing over her shoulder. A sweet, girly thing, with curlicues, ribbons, and flowers. “And this is awfully…feminine. Done by a fine artist.” He grinned up at her. “I’ve bet you’ve got some interesting…layers.”

A slow smile lifted her mouth, drawing his attention to her lips, to their shape, to the pretty teeth beneath, to the way her eyes lightened when she smiled. And he realized, he already had a really smokin’ hot partner. She just had all that heat tucked away, making her that much more intriguing.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she whispered, more of a tantalizing invitation than a snipe.

She straightened, and Taft let her arm slide through his fingers as she moved. Soft. Toned. She took her seat, pressed her forearms to the table, and leaned forward. He knew she was doing it to show off her cleavage, so he kept his gaze on her face.

Brooks picked up a piece of bacon, took a languid bite, then pressed the meat to Taft’s lips. “Want a bite, Agent?”

Taft took the rest of the piece up to her fingertips, making her gasp. Then smile. And, hell, those two things combined did wicked things to his body.

She tossed her hair to one side, rested her chin in her hand, set her lids to heavy, her voice to smoky, and said, “Still don’t think I can sex myself up enough for the job, Agent?”

Taft picked up Brooks’s orange juice and downed the small glass. She didn’t make a sound of protest. In fact, she smiled. A slow, hot smile…that did slow, hot things to his body.

“I have a whole new appreciation,” he said, drawing air, “for just how much of a woman a uniform can hide.”





Four

ZOE’S HEELS CLICKED ON THE STAMPED CEMENT of the Otay Mesa Premium Outlet mall. She turned down the row of shops housing Incognito and Fumar and paused in front of the adult shop.

She wasn’t sure what she’d expected but was relieved to discover a tasteful window display designed around poster-sized images of attractive couples engaged in pleasurable embraces, the centerpiece an oversized, glittering masquerade mask suspended from the ceiling.

“Okay,” she murmured. “This might not be so bad.”

Next door, Fumar’s interior hid behind flat gray blinds. A sign above the door handle read: MEMBERS ONLY.

Zoe took a deep breath and turned toward Incognito again. Nothing to do now but face…Walker. And…a store full of sex toys.

She grimaced. Then flashed back to Walker’s amazing face…body…voice…laugh.

After they’d stayed at the café another half hour going over the case, he hadn’t turned out to be as big an ass as she’d originally thought. Once he’d seen beneath her uniform and decided she was sexy enough to pull off that part of the cover, he’d dialed back the sarcasm and gotten down to business. Taft Walker had turned out to be knowledgeable, reasonable, confident.

Playful.

Funny.

Zoe bit her lip against a smile. After one short hour, he’d made her laugh as much as she laughed with the guys on her team whom she’d known for years. In fact, she’d grown to like him so quickly it sort of unnerved her. But all she had to do to cool her growing attraction was remember his lingering reservations over her abilities. Because while he thought she was sexy enough to be here, he wasn’t convinced she was talented enough to work undercover. And that irked her.

She replayed her fear from the night before and forced Taft’s strong body and all that black, wavy hair from her mind.

But not for long.

The first thing that hit her when she stepped into the store was his laugh. Deep, warm, and filled with a hot edge of innuendo.

Dammit. He shouldn’t be here yet. She’d come an hour early to get her bearings without him hovering or inspecting or ordering…

“There she is.” His smooth, deep voice cut across the small space and filled her belly with heat. “Hey, baby.”

He stepped out from behind a shelving unit in black jeans and a royal blue shirt, rolled up at the sleeves and open over a ribbed white tank, showing too much of his tanned chest and too many packed abs. His hair reminded Zoe of licorice and—kill me now—he’d powered his smile up to melt.

Walker’s dark eyes warmed and his gaze roamed her body with a familiarity he didn’t have. “Ah, hell,” he murmured with a hunger Zoe felt in her belly. “It’s gonna be hard to concentrate tonight.”