What Others are Saying...
“A gritty, sexy romantic suspense that you won’t be able to put down.” ~ Maria, Fresh Fiction
Illicit Intuitions, Sensory Ops Book Three
Love could be their greatest liability...
Ava Malia knows three things. She was once a kickass covert operative. She will eventually adjust to her new team, the FBI Specialized Crimes Unit. And the only way to finally be free of her professional past is to solve her first case and get her hands on a game-changing technology. The only problem? Success rides on her ability to swallow her distaste for the persona she must adopt in order to earn the trust of a mysterious scientist.
Dr. H escaped childhood captivity with three things. His sister. Complete control of his gift. And an engulfing distrust of anyone in the government. Adjusting to a life of freedom hasn’t been easy, but he’s found peace in solitude. The sexy woman auditing his empathic studies, though, has a way of getting under his skin that’s both arousing and disturbing. Plus, his psychic ability warns him of secrets so deeply buried in her psyche, they’d be better left alone.
Yet their instant attraction strips away all their protective barriers, down to the foundation of a new, fragile trust. And a vulnerability that, when an old enemy opens fire, could blast away any chance of a future.
Now, almost four hours later according to the dashboard clock, she waited in her car in the parking lot of his lab where she’d come to escape the dreams attempting to overwhelm her mind like a plague. Neither the cold shower nor the drive-thru coffee had succeeded in clearing the gritty haze scrubbing her eyes with each blink or the fog in her brain.
“Ugh.” Ava gave up on the losing battle of expelling thoughts of Dr. H from her mind. She abandoned the fight against wakefulness and dropped her head against the car’s headrest to rest her eyes for a few minutes.
Despite the morning sun brightening the sky she slipped into dreamless darkness.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
“Ugh.” She grumbled and turned away from the rapping intrusion.
Tap. Tap. Tap. “Ms. Sebastian.”
Not him again. Like when she’d attempted to sleep at home, remembered images of him mostly undressed and his smooth voice invaded her mind’s deepest recesses. His power slid over her in streams of awareness and arousal. Teasing. Taunting. Threatening.
Click. Screech. Groan.
More vivid than in her dreams, old-timey musk swirled with morning mugginess through her car. Drawn in, with pulses of arousal sparking beneath her skin, she turned her head closer to the clean scent of him.
His formality, his unyielding habit of calling her Ms. Sebastian rather than Ava, felt…intimate. Like he knew her. Knew her darkest secrets and saw her scars. She sighed and settled closer to the impression of him. She drew his scent into her lungs. “Mmmm.”
Warm breath fluttered along her neck and the edge of her ear. She shivered. He cleared his throat.
“Ms. Sebastian, when you are ready to wake up, we will begin.”
“Huh?” She slitted open one eye and jerked back. Dr. H’s face, haloed by the morning light behind him, filled her vision. She’d not only fallen asleep, but she’d been snuck up on. Mistakes like that cost lives.
“You’re late.” The stoic man from the lab was back.
“I’ve been here since around six. I’m not late.”
“You’re not ready to go either.” His face and tone remained blank of emotion, but intuition told her he was humored and a little aroused. Would he be if he knew who was after him?
“You’re inhuman. Who willingly kicks off their day before nine?” She ignored the whine in her voice and instead turned away to find the energy in a bottle she’d apparently dropped when sleeping.
He shouldn’t be so…awake. So ready to tackle the day. Especially given that his lights had still been on at four when Liam had shown up to relieve her from duty.
“Looking for this?” He waved the small bottle between them. She reached for it. He pulled it away.
“Hand. Over. The. Shot.”
“You won’t need it.” He stuck it in the pocket of his swimming shorts and stepped back.
With deliberate slowness, she turned in the seat and placed her feet on the ground. He took another step back. She concentrated on her core muscles and raised herself out of her convertible Mini.
“Hand. Over. The. Shot.” She knew how to kill a man with her bare hands. If he thought he would get between her and her shot, the man was delusional.
His only answer was a leisurely survey up and down the length of her. After a pause at her winged, messenger-hat shaped lapel pin, his gaze scanned up to hers again. He shook his head. “I said wear a suit.”
She glanced from his ratty tank top, shorts and flip flops to her pant suit and heels, and back to his shorts. “This is a suit.”
“Not for swimming.”
“For… No.” She shook her head. “I’m not going swimming. We are not going swimming.”
Where would she hide the gun currently nestled at the small of her back? How was she supposed to protect the man, keep him alive, if he insisted on keeping her unarmed? Okay, so he didn’t know what he demanded. But that didn’t matter.
She was on a case. She had a mission. She could not indulge in a morning swim. Hunk in board shorts looking ready to surf for hours or not, she couldn’t do it. Especially when she only had an hour of sleep to fuel her.
“Have a nice day.” He stepped back and she noticed the open-topped Jeep he’d driven the day before. Beach boy looks, a vehicle that said he enjoyed fun, an adeptness at meditation, a tense work mood, and a habit of speaking in short sentences. The man was a contradiction. “What? You said we were working…” The energy flowing through the air around him was waking her up, but not enough.
“We would be if you could follow instructions.” Even in his sun-loving clothes he was somber. Seemingly one-track minded.
“You said wear a suit. I wore a suit.”
She rolled her shoulders back. “That’s not what you said. And swimming has nothing to do with auditing.”
“Well, it’s what I meant. And tantrums don’t suit you.”
“I do not throw tantrums. And you’re no more psychic than I am.” Yeah, she was waking up, but her focus wasn’t what it could be if she had that shot. He was looking for any excuse to eject her from the study. She needed to stay alert if she wanted to keep up with him. Failure could too easily mean death. “And you can’t blame me for not reading minds.”
He opened his mouth, but shut it again. Shaking his head, he closed the distance between them, coming close enough for the morning breeze to whisk his scent to her. Too close.
Her pulse quickened.
He pulled the bottle he’d confiscated from his pocket and with a quick twist removed the cap.
Yes! Her brain screamed in anticipation. He was going to take mercy on her. He was going to…
He upended the bottle, dumping the blessed, berry-flavored, focus-giving liquid on the ground between them. The gun holstered at her back pressed into her spine. The barrel would fit nicely into the groove at the bottom of his jaw. Not that she wanted to hurt him so much as make it perfectly clear standing in her way of an energy shot could be detrimental.