Two seasoned operatives finally meet their match: each other.
Cillian works for the mysterious Special Branch 20: an organization that runs black ops commissioned by the British government. His specialty is deep undercover assignments with virtually no support. He’s been alone for so long that he no longer knows anything else.
Mal’s also used to being alone. Wanted in several states and even more countries, he’s not allowed in the vicinity of any of his former Navy SEAL teammates. And his current assignment is to track Cillian in order to discover the spook’s endgame. Except he’s no longer sure which one of them is getting played.
Cillian isn’t about to let the mission that’s consumed him for the past several years crumble because an outsider is poking around where he doesn’t belong. But Mal forces his way through Cillian’s defenses—and into his heart—exposing a devastating betrayal that could destroy them both.
Connected Books: EE Ltd. Universe
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Read an Excerpt
Music pounded through Cillian’s body like a war drum, the cacophony beating in time with his pulse as he scanned the crowded club, looking for his informant.
The dance floor was a teeming mass of bodies, undulating in sync, while the bar was more of a holding area of men cruising for their next conquest. He spotted the asshole he’d been looking for there, wound through the masses, and slid onto the empty stool next to him. Karl didn’t glance at him but ordered a Jack and Coke from the bartender. When it came, Karl put four slim red straws into it and pushed it at Cillian.
Informants ran the gamut from scared to pathetic to overly dramatic. Some of them had been in it for so long, they fancied themselves some kind of honorary spy. Karl was one of those. Cillian knew the four straws were his idiotic way of saying that he’d seen the man Cillian had been tracking.
“Did you actually see him?” Cillian demanded. Karl frowned, got out his phone and showed Cillian a shadowy figure. Maybe no one else would’ve known who it was, but Cillian’s job was to know his target better than the man knew himself. He checked the date on the photo—four days earlier—and he went with his gut. “You didn’t take this.”
“No,” Karl admitted. “It was sent to me yesterday.”
“Who sent it to you? Because they’re doing a hell of a better job than you.”
Karl sighed. “Shelby. He didn’t say where he found it.”
“Morse could be anywhere by now. This is no help to me.” He pulled the straws out and tossed the drink back before he told Karl exactly how unhelpful the picture was—completely fucking worthless, in fact. “Do you have anything else?” He had to fight the urge to throw the man through the plate glass mirror behind the bar when Karl smiled, wound a hand around his shoulders, and pulled him close. More drama.
“Haven’t heard from Shelby since that picture.”
Cillian refrained from rolling his eyes. Barely. “You think something’s wrong?”
Karl leaned into Cillian’s neck like a lover would. “He was supposed to meet me two hours ago. He didn’t show, and he’s not answering his phone.”
“Two whole hours—check the morgue,” Cillian told him dryly, refusing to give away how pissed he was. Because in this game, check-ins were important for this very reason—when someone went missing, it usually wasn’t an oversight. Shelby wasn’t the best informant, but still, even when his intel wasn’t completely on the mark, it was usually quite close, so Cillian didn’t want to lose him.
He pulled away from Karl, shifted to sit with his back to the bar so he could scan the crowd.
Karl did the same, put a hand on Cillian’s thigh, and said, “By the way, that dark-haired guy’s still following you.”
Cillian shifted his leg away from Karl’s touch. “He’s here?” He should’ve spotted Tom Boudreaux easily enough, because the man certainly wasn’t a seasoned undercover operative. He was, however, a giant pain in Cillian’s ass.
“No. But he was in Indonesia a couple of weeks ago, asking questions about you.”
Probably because Tom was concerned that Cillian was trying to fuck his boyfriend. “And I’m just hearing this now because . . .?”
“You told me to tell you the important stuff in person.” Karl gave a self-satisfied smile. “Want to dance?”
“No thanks. Knock yourself out, though.”
Karl slid off the stool with a semi-disappointed look on his face. He put his hand up to his face, mimicking a phone, and mouthed, “Call me, maybe,” before disappearing into the crowd.
The man was just like a teenaged girl. God, save him. Cillian had dealt with the man’s shit because Karl was loyal. Or he had been. Cillian needed to figure out if Karl was getting lazy, or if this decidedly lacking intel was a hint at something more treacherous.
The easy thing to do would be to drop Karl from the roster, but Cillian was quite good at getting intel from his sources by any means necessary. One more performance like this, and Karl would be on the receiving end of that treatment.
Cillian ordered another drink, threw it back quickly, and then bypassed the dance floor for the safety of the back room. The hallway leading there was dark and quiet, opening into an even darker room guarded by a bouncer. The muted lighting shadowed the half-naked bodies, and the deep groans of pleasure ushered him in, overwhelming him. Bringing him back to that first heady flush of youthful power, and his first steps toward independence.
The scene laid out in front of him was a living, breathing embodiment of rough, hot sex. Not the most romantic or private setting, but Cillian had gotten used to it. He didn’t necessarily like it, but fortunately, he didn’t have to like something to enjoy it.
Only a few pairs and groups of three lined the walls, entwined, and Cillian briefly considered joining a couple who were watching him as they jerked each another off. But then, a strong hand clamped down on his shoulder, a grip that would normally have him turning around to break the arm holding him.
Except here, it made Cillian hard. Especially when the grip turned into a one-handed massage of Cillian’s shoulder, then moved to caress the back of his neck before twisting into his hair hard enough to tilt his head to the side. He hissed when a bite landed on his neck, right before he was half-pushed, half-led to an empty corner.
And he allowed it.
He’d come in here, ready to fuck someone hard, to get rid of the anger and frustration from the meeting with Karl. And here he was, the tables turned, about to be fucked. In his business, surprises were never good, but hell, he was good at his job because danger turned him on. He needed it—craved it—but that didn’t stop him from whipping around when the man let him go.
He didn’t get much of a look beyond dark hair, broad shoulders, and height nearly equal to his own before he was shoved back against the wall and kissed, a kiss that hit him like a series of electric shocks. He closed his eyes and sank into it—it was too damned dark to get a better view than he’d gotten, and his instincts were seductively whispering to him, tempting him into believing that this was somehow safe, despite knowing that nothing ever really was. He groaned into the dark-haired man’s mouth as the man rubbed his body lewdly against Cillian’s, grabbing Cillian’s hips and keeping their pelvises joined for a slow, hot grind.
Submissive acceptance wasn’t Cillian’s usual kink, but his arousal pushed him past that concern. He didn’t bottom regularly, but the way this man just took charge had him intrigued. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to understand why he could only let himself lose control around total strangers.
He needed this, as evidenced by the fact that neither he nor his dick was protesting.
Suddenly, the man pulled his mouth off Cillian’s, and Cillian was turned roughly to face the wall. Before he could think about protesting, his pants and boxer briefs were yanked down, and two fingers trailed his ass crack.
The man noticed and, in response, bit him on the side of the neck again, harder this time. Cillian would be feeling that—and no doubt his ass—for days.
A lubed finger entered him, and a second and then a third pushed in and twisted, and Cillian cried out at the combination of pleasure and pain. Tried to clutch the wall, fingers scrabbling for purchase against the smooth paint.
Giving his body over to someone he didn’t know was always an exciting potential mistake, but the heightened pleasure gained from the risk was undeniable. God, it was good to feel, to know he was truly alive inside despite all the cloak-and-dagger secrecy of his job. He’d seen far too many dead men walking in his profession. After being buried in layer upon layer of undercover assignments, turning himself into whatever and whomever he needed to be to get the job done, he was relieved he could still find himself.
The other man slapped Cillian’s ass—hard. As if he knew Cillian was thinking of something other than the sex.
“Fuck. Yes, I’m here,” he muttered and the man bit the back of his neck lightly—a good boy type of thing. Before Cillian could snarl back, the man’s fingers left him empty and were replaced by his cock.
Cillian cursed more as the man drove into him, the cock thick and long, filling him, impaling him as he remained helpless. He could strive to remain in control, or he could simply let go. Control was easy, but not the more fun of the two options.
The man waited a few beats once he was fully inside. Cillian took several calming breaths, then pushed back against the cock, the friction delicious as he took the man in deep.
He was rewarded by the man hissing in his ear, then yanking the collar of his shirt and biting the bare skin of his shoulder . . . and then the fucking began in earnest.
He closed his eyes and the man hit the sweet spot, immediately and often, and Cillian jolted every time. The man grabbed his hips—I’ve got you—and then Cillian couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything against the onslaught of thrusts. Nothing except come, which he did faster than he’d wanted to. But the climax had been building from the second the man had touched him, winding him so tightly that every single muscle screamed for release. The pleasure was so intense, so seemingly new, that Cillian’s mind went blank, a complete, total whiteout as he shot against the wall and his belly with a soft cry.
He surfaced seconds later but couldn’t have said his own name if asked. He braced himself against the wall with his arm, rested his forehead there as he fought simply to breathe. The orgasm had torn through him, leaving his body unsettled, his mind barely registering that the rough man was cleaning off his stomach and cock. Pulling his pants up for him. Taking care of him, which left Cillian feeling odd. Odder still that he liked it.
Cillian had been mauled and licked and bitten, and he’d see—feel—the marks for days to come. That was the price of this kind of sex. And he was gladly prepared to pay.
A final bite and then the heat of the broad body left Cillian’s back, and he knew without turning around that the man was gone.
Gone, and leaving Cillian wanting more. He debated hunting the man down, turning the tables, but he suspected that still wouldn’t be enough. And then what else would they do? Exchange phone numbers? That didn’t happen, not in these clubs or in his line of work.
He pushed away from the wall and headed for the exit, satiated but still needy. As he walked through the room and into the bar, his eyes finally adjusted to the dark, he noticed the way the other men were glancing at him. Must’ve been quite a show, which meant he must look well fucked—a good look for him. Several men came on quite strongly, blatantly brushing their bodies against his, asking to buy him drinks . . . one even trying to guide him into the back room again, asking if he wanted to do it again.
He did, but not with any of them.
Just as he was about to leave for the night, a commotion started along the outer part of the dance floor. Chairs went flying, beer bottles and glasses broke, men were shouting, and suddenly it seemed like everyone in the club was involved in the fight. The bouncers circled, trying to figure out where exactly to dive into the fray, and Cillian was sure the police would arrive soon. He wondered if his man from the back room was involved somehow and decided it was better he didn’t know.
He rubbed his face where a scratchy cheek had rubbed his raw. His neck and shoulder burned from the bites, his dick ached, although his ass ached worse, and he’d never been more relaxed in his entire life.
But on his way out, something—someone—made him stop and double back to stare into the crowd. He couldn’t find the man he thought he’d seen again, but that fleeting glance brought all of his tension back with a vengeance.
Hells Bells (AC / DC)
See the white light flashing as I split the night
Cause if good’s on the left then I’m sticking to the right
I won’t take no prisoners won’t spare no lives
Nobody’s puttin’ up a fight
* * *
Stone Cold Crazy (Queen)
I ran outta juice
They’re gonna put me in a cell, if I can’t go to heaven
Will they let me go to hell
Stone cold crazy, you know
* * *
Another One Bites The Dust (Queen)
There are plenty of ways you can hurt a man
And bring him to the ground
You can beat him
You can cheat him
You can treat him bad and leave him
When he’s down
But I’m ready, yes I’m ready for you
I’m standing on my own two feet
* * *
Put Your Lights On (Santana featuring Everlast)
Cause there’s a monster living under my bed
Whispering in my ear
There’s an angel, with a hand on my head
She say I’ve got nothing to fear
There’s a darkness living deep in my soul
I still got a purpose to serve
So let your light shine, deep into my home
God, don’t let me lose my nerve
Don’t let me lose my nerve
* * *
Insane in the Brain (Cypress Hill)
Hide from the red light beam
Now do you believe in the unseen
Look, but don’t make your eyes strain
* * *
It’s Been Awhile (Staind)
And it’s been awhile
Since I’ve gone and fucked things up just like I always do
And it’s been awhile
But all that shit seems to disappear when I’m with you
* * *
Fell on Black Days (Soundgarden)
To what you wanted to see good
Has made you blind
And what you wanted to be yours
Has made it mine
* * *
Fooled Around and Fell in Love (Elvin Bishop)
Free, on my own is the way I used to be
Ah, but since I met you baby, love’s got a hold on me
It’s got a hold on me now, I can’t let go of you baby
I fooled around and fell in love
I fooled around and fell in love, oh yes I did
* * *
Do You Wanna Touch Me (Joan Jett)
Beggin’ on my knees baby, won’t you please?
Run your fingers through my hair
My, my, my whiskey and rye
Don’t it make you feel so fine
Right or wrong don’t it turn you on
Can’t you see we’re wastin’ time, yeah?
* * *
Closer (Nine Inch Nails)
You can have my isolation, you can have the hate that it brings
You can have my absence of faith, you can have my everything
Help me tear down my reason, help me its’ your sex I can smell
Help me you make me perfect, help me become somebody else
January 11, 2014