The instant Chelsea’s lips touched his, Dagan realized she was the reason he had a mouth. So that he could kiss her. Taste her. Take her sweet, earthy essence inside himself.
“Aw, look at you two.”
Ace’s voice broke the intimacy of the kiss.
Ace’s voice broke the intimacy of the kiss.
“You’re making my ding dong and my ping pongs all tingly. But as the inimitable Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom would say, ‘No time for love, Dr. Jones!’ We need to get out of here before these dickheads wake up. So unlock those lips, untie Chelsea, and let’s get on the stick.”
Those two words were hammer strikes at Dagan’s head. Jesus H.
What was he doing?
Nausea swirled low in his belly. With a snarl of disgust, he broke the kiss. “Check their pockets,” he instructed the others, rubbing a hand over his mouth to massage what remained of Chelsea’s sweet kiss into his lips. “Find the drive.”
“Aye-aye, Captain.” Ace snapped him a sarcastic salute, then bent toward the sprawled-out Morrison…or Spider…or whatever the hell the man was called.
Turning back to Chelsea, Dagan didn’t dare meet her eyes. Instead, he went to work on the knot in the electrical cord tying her to the chair.
He was such an ass. Worse than an ass. He was a cad, a fiend, a low-life shit-for-brains who had taken advantage of a woman who couldn’t give him a well-deserved swift kick to the dick.
“Sonofabitch.” He cursed the knot when it refused to budge. He was working directly beneath her breasts. And given how he’d just mouth-raped her, he was doing his best not to come anywhere near either one of her amazing, soft, oh-so-round boobs.
Finally, he managed to grab a loop of electrical cord and pull it free. As he worked, Chelsea’s words to Morrison’s goon screamed through Dagan’s overheated brain. She had been so brave, so selfless. And standing outside that door, listening to her willingly sacrifice herself, had made all his feeling for her, feelings he had been refusing to name for years, rise to the surface where they could no longer be ignored. Then, when she had gotten all up in his grill, using his name? Not Z, but Dagan? Well, something had broken apart inside him.
The only thing he had wanted to do was claim all that was her—the incomparable wonder of her—for himself.
The knot finally came free, and he helped her stand by palming her shoulders. Chelsea was so infinitely soft. Her softness made him hard.
“Z, I…” she began huskily, then stopped and licked her lips.
For the first time since the Kiss—yes, it deserved to be capitalized—he allowed himself to look into her eyes. Shock and confusion and something more registered on her face.
He could handle anger. He could even handle disgust. But not pity. Never pity.
“Z,” she said again, and he noted with no small measure of disappointment that she was back to using his nickname. “I—”
“Save it for later, Chels.” He skirted around to her back, pulling his tanto folding knife from the case attached to his belt. With a flick, the razor-sharp blade sprang free, and he easily sliced through the duct tape binding her wrists.
She turned to him then. She obviously had more she wanted to say, but she simply frowned, gnawing her plump lower lip.
That sensually innocent move sent a shock wave of lust down his spine. Chelsea had absolutely no idea what she did to him, what she’d been doing to him for years now. “Besides the thumb drive, this is all the wanker had on him,” Christian said, nudging Morrison’s unconscious head of security with the toe of his boot and holding out a black Android and Chelsea’s iPhone.
Dagan knew the latter was Chelsea’s phone by the purple waterproof case. The woman was enamored with the color. Half her clothes were some shade of it.
“Am I the only one tempted to hoist this motherfucker over my shoulder, take him with us, and tie him up in some dark, damp place?” Ace asked, looking down at Spider’s unconscious body with a lip curl of distaste.
“Not our mission.” Dagan shook his head. “Our mission is to find the proof that ties him to his underworld operations and then turn that proof over the proper authorities. They’ll be the ones to tear apart every sorry thing he’s built and then light a match and burn the rubble to the ground.”
“So for us, it’s all guts and no glory.”
“As you Yanks are so fond of saying”—Christian made a face—“what else is new?”
Dolly Parton’s voice suddenly blared through the room. Christian wasted no time pocketing the thumb drive and crushing the Android beneath his heel. It wasn’t much, but taking out even one of the enemy’s forms of communication was better than nothing. Then Christian tossed the purple cell to Chelsea.
They all recognized that ringtone. They’d heard it every day, twice a day, for more than a month. Chelsea’s mother was calling. And even if hellfire was raining down on their heads, Chelsea would answer.
There were a lot of things that Dagan admired about Chelsea. Her commitment to family was a big one. And he got it. After all, it was his commitment to his brother that had forced him to put in for a transfer from Afghanistan back to the States all those years ago.
“Momma!” she hissed into the phone, her Southern accent coming to the forefront and stirring Dagan’s heart—and other parts of him located decidedly south. “I told you not to call me ’til after six p.m. London time. I’m on the job.”
“The job you took because of the money.” The eerie quiet of the penthouse meant Dagan had no trouble hearing the other side of Chelsea’s conversation. “But, honey, I’ll say it again. I don’t want you wastin’ your God-given talents just so—”
“I can’t go through that with you right now,” Chelsea whispered, nodding her head that she was ready to go. Ace and Christian led the way. Dagan motioned for Chelsea to follow, then took his place at the rear of the pack, unholstering the dart gun.
As they made their way from the office, Chelsea’s mother said something Dagan couldn’t quite make out. Chelsea’s response, however, was crystal clear. “It’s not what you think, Momma! I’ll explain everything once I’m home.”
“Home?” He heard Grace Duvall’s squawk.
“Yup. I’m coming home soon, Momma. Maybe today.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. Then Grace demanded, “Chelsea Lynn Duvall, what haven’t you told me?”
Chelsea had kept the true reason behind her quitting the “Department of Land Management” and moving to London a secret from her mother. Given Grace’s propensity for—that wording was Chelsea’s, not Dagan’s—and given the lengths to which they had suspected Morrison might go to vet Chelsea, it had been decided that Chelsea’s cover story should remain entirely intact. Only the president of the United States, the Black Knights, and the director of the CIA knew the whole truth about her undercover operation in London.
“Well, this one time in the twelfth grade when you thought I was at a sleepover at Lori Jackson’s house, I was really on a coed camping trip with fifteen members of the senior class,” Chelsea whispered into the phone as they passed the kitchen. Her eyes widened when she saw the cook lying on the floor, but she breathed a sigh of relief when she spied the dart sticking from the woman’s thigh before Christian removed it and pocketed it. Leave no evidence behind. It was a tenet they lived by.
“Don’t sass me, child!” Grace’s bellow rang through the phone’s speaker.
Despite himself, Dagan grinned.
Chelsea narrowed her eyes at him, shaking her head. “Momma, I have to go. I’ll call you later. Love you. Bye.”
Grace was still sputtering on the other end of the line when Chelsea thumbed off her phone and slid it into the breast pocket of her blazer. “Not a word,” she warned him before turning back to the duo in front.
Good. Since words became impossible when he had an unencumbered view of her ass in that tight pencil skirt.