“Everything’s set for your meeting at Gray Security tomorrow morning.”
I heaved a deep sigh of relief, feeling like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The last few months had been beyond difficult for me, ever since I’d gotten shot while on a mission in a country where my body would never have been claimed if my wound had killed me. The agency wasn’t supposed to have been running an op there, not without looping in their government since we were allies. I knew the risks going in—knew what the lack of backup could mean for me—but it needed to be done, and I was the best person for the job.
I’d barely managed to get out of there alive, but I’d done it and brought the intel we needed with me. It cost me a few weeks in the hospital, months of rehab, and ultimately my career since the incident played a large part in my decision to leave the CIA. Even with all that, I had no regrets. What I’d done had saved countless lives, and it was time to move on with my own.
“Thanks, Evie. I appreciate your help on this.” I’d turned to Genevieve Shaw because I knew she understood what I was going through, to a certain extent at least. I respected the hell out of her, for her skills as an operative and as the instructor she currently was.
“Cut the bullshit, Cali. You don’t owe me any gratitude. We both know you could walk into any security firm in the country and land yourself a position without any assistance from me.”
“Maybe,” I sighed. “But there would be too many damn questions I couldn’t answer. Most of the shit I’ve done for the agency is classified. My records have more lines blacked out than not.”
“You can still take me up on my offer. Say yes, and I’ll call Alex right now. You could fly back tonight and start tomorrow.” Her voice was cajoling as she tried to talk me into training the newbies with her.
I had no doubt she was right. If she called him, her husband would absolutely offer me a position as a trainer. “Only because you can talk your hubby into just about anything.”
“We’d be lucky to have you.”
“And so will Gray Security.” My tone brooked no argument as I walked into a bar down the street from the hotel I’d checked into when I’d landed in Atlanta a few hours ago. Although it appeared to anyone watching me that my focus was wholly on my phone conversation, I took in every minute detail as my eyes scanned the bar.
“Fine,” she huffed. “But if you change your mind, give me a call.”
She hung up before I could say anything else, and it made me laugh softly to myself as I walked up to the bar and claimed a stool at the end where it angled so my back was to a wall and I had a clear view of the room. My position gave me a better view of the other patrons sitting at the bar. When my gaze landed on the guy closest to me, my entire being focused completely on him.
I tried not to stare at the mouthwatering man who was drinking a beer while watching a baseball game on the big screen hung high up on the wall. Everything about him screamed sensuality—from his dark, wavy hair to his equally dark eyes and a mouth with firm, plump lips that made a woman think about kissing the fuck out of him.
He had a dangerous air about him, even while he was just sitting there. I’d noticed it when I’d only seen him from behind. He was hard to miss with those broad shoulders, lean hips and long legs stretched in front of him. It wasn’t something that bothered me since I was used to dangerous men, but my reaction to him was a surprise since it was so strong. I’d never reacted to a man like this before. Then he turned towards me, and his hooded gaze struck me. Hard.
His dark eyes trailed over my face, hair, and breasts. It started out as a lazy perusal, but by the time he was done something had changed. It was intense, and I found myself wondering what it would be like to have him staring at me the same way while we were in bed together. His lips tilted up at the edges, in a smug grin that told me he had a good idea of exactly what I was thinking.
Luckily, the bartender stepped in front of us, cutting me off from his view. It gave me a moment to pull myself together. It was unsettling knowing that I needed it since I was known for my ability to remain calm under fire. Yet, somehow this stranger had the ability to get to me.
“What can I get you, sugar?”
The bartender’s drawl, combined with his good looks, probably got him quite a bit of attention from women while he was working, but it didn’t do a damn thing for me.
“A shot of tequila”—my gaze darted over his shoulder to the shelves lining the wall, scanning them until I found what I wanted—“the DeLeon. Follow it up with a margarita on the rocks using the Tres Agaves Añejo. Salt on the rim. And don’t call me sugar or you‘ll end up with my very high heeled boot in your ass.”
“It sounds like I underestimated you.” The bartender’s eyes filled with masculine approval before he turned to get my shot.
In the short time it took for him to grab the shot glass and bottle, Mr. Dangerous made his move, sliding into the seat next to mine. “Put ‘em on my tab,” he instructed as the bartender set my shot in front of me.
“Sure.” The bartender’s disappointment was clear in his voice and with the way he stiffly walked away to make my margarita.
I didn’t say a word, instead opting to sip at my DeLeon. I savored the lightly sweet vanilla and roasted agave flavor, balanced out by a touch of black pepper.
“No salt and lime to go with your shot?”
“It isn’t that kind of tequila. Something you’ll discover when you see the bill.”
His eyes heated, and he didn’t seem to care how much he’d just dropped on my drinks. “So no body shots, then?”
I shook my head in the negative, but my tongue swept across my lips at the thought of licking salt off his skin.
“Such a shame.”
His husky tone sent shivers along my spine. He was even more dangerous than I’d originally thought, and I was damn lucky not to have met him in a professional capacity while I was with the agency. If I had, I wouldn’t have been able to consider giving in to the temptation he presented.
“Have a taste?” I offered him the glass with a small smile.
His fingers slid against mine as he took it from me. When he lifted it to his mouth, he twisted his wrist so he could drink from the same place where my lips had rested before his.
“Mmm. Sweet and spicy,” he murmured.