The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…
Steele, a KGI team leader, is an enigma not even his team mates understand. His emotions are tightly locked down and nothing can break that icy exterior. Nothing except Maren Scofield, a doctor on a mission, a woman who has gotten under Steele’s skin and threatens to crack that unflappable cool he’s legendary for.
Steele is determined not to allow Maren past his carefully guarded defenses, but when she’s in danger, there’s no way he’ll allow anyone else to protect her. She’s hiding something. He’s sure of it. But he isn’t prepared for the shocking discovery her secrets reveal. Or how they will forever alter the course of his destiny. He has a decision to make. Hold tight and shut her out. Or take a chance on something more powerful than he’s ever faced. Love.
Maren let herself into her cottage and softly shut the door behind her. When she scanned the room, she let out a startled exclamation when she saw Steele sprawled on her tiny couch.
“Jesus, you scared me,” she breathed.
He sat up, his stare intense as he locked onto her. She shivered and a knot formed in her throat. The way he was looking at her was . . . different.
“Do you always walk back to your cottage by yourself?” he demanded.
She lifted one eyebrow. “How the hell else would I ever get home?”
“Let me rephrase that. Aside from the times that we pull you out at all hours of the night, do you routinely walk back to your cottage alone after dark?”
“You know, I think that’s the most words that have ever come out of your mouth at one time,” Maren said thoughtfully.
Steele raised a hand to run raggedly through his hair, and he growled. Actually growled! Then to her utter shock, he closed the distance between them and hauled her against his chest. She landed with a soft thud and he cupped her chin with one hand and slid the other around her nape, anchoring her in place so she couldn’t move. As if she wanted to!
“Steele?” she whispered nervously.
“Shut up,” he muttered, just as his lips came down over hers.
His kiss was an absolute shock to her system. Electric. Fierce. Demanding. His warm tongue slid like velvet over her lips, coaxing her to open. As soon as she gave in, he deepened the kiss and pushed inward, tasting her, letting her taste him.
She shivered from head to toe. One continuous quake, her knees turning to jelly.
His hold on her was strong and possessive. She sighed into his mouth and he swallowed it up. This was crazy. Insanity at its finest. Steele was in her living room kissing her. A man who never even spoke directly to her. Yet he was obviously attracted to her. The erection earlier. He was kissing her now. Yeah, there was definitely something here and she wasn’t going to question it too hard.
Or maybe he was coming off a mission and any woman would do.
That put a damper on her enthusiasm. She went still as she pondered that very real possibility. Proximity was a definite factor. Steele and his team had just worked a tough assignment, gotten shot at, cut and God only knew what else. They were stuck here for the night and she was female, reasonably attractive, and she had all the prerequisite equipment to sate his needs.
He drew away, his brows drawn together as he stared at her in question.
She would have laughed but she was too unhinged to do more than just stand there gaping at him.
“You just kissed me and then you ask me what’s wrong?”
He frowned. “Was it that bad?”
This time she did laugh. “I think you know it wasn’t bad. Why did you kiss me, Steele? What the hell is going on here?”
“I want us to have sex,” he said bluntly.
She blinked owlishly and stared back at him in silence. Though her glasses were fogged with the heat from their kiss and she itched to remove them so she wouldn’t miss any part of this exchange.
“Ooo-kay,” she began slowly. “You want to have sex with me. You want to have sex with a woman to whom you’ve never spoken more than a few words at a time. Tell me something, Steele, is this one of those situations where any pussy will do? Is it a guy thing, coming off a mission and you’ll dip into the first available well you can find?”
He looked completely taken aback by her blunt language. Surprised even. Then he seemed to figure out that it was possible he’d just been insulted.
“I don’t fuck around,” he growled. “I’m clean. I use condoms. I haven’t had sex in a year.”
“All righty then,” she said, more than a little surprised at his admission. “Maybe a little more than I needed to know.”
“If you’re sleeping with me, you need to know.”
This was true. But wait, was she sleeping with him? Was she entertaining the idea of sleeping with him? The mind boggled. A man she’d spent plenty of time fantasizing over was here in her living room calmly discussing the matter of sex between them as if it were something they did on a regular basis. Not that she’d have a problem with that. But she definitely had questions because this was shaping up to be the most bizarre day in a very long time.
“Why?” she asked softly. “You don’t even like me, Steele. You can barely stand to be in my presence.”
He pulled her back close, trapping her in his arms, his gaze boring into hers. “Why do you think that is, Maren? You’re an intelligent woman. You saw the hard-on I had for you earlier. Put two and two together and I bet you’ll find your answer.”
“You’re attracted to me,” she whispered.
He stood a long moment without saying a word. Finally he broke the silence, his jaw clenched. He was positively ill at ease. Cool, unflappable Steele was agitated.
“You’re under my skin. Can’t get rid of you. Sometimes when I sleep . . . I can smell you,” he admitted. “I can see your eyes and those cute glasses you wear. I wonder what it would feel like to run my fingers through your hair.”
Ho-ly shit. This was . . . epic. This . . . There wasn’t even a description for what this was. This was huge!
She raised her hand, self-consciously adjusting the frame. “You think my glasses are cute?”
He let out a sigh and then, to her utter astonishment, he relaxed, his shoulders dropping the tiniest bit, and an honest-to-God smile curved the corners of his lips upward.
“And you want to have sex with me,” she repeated.
“I believe that’s what I said.”
“Wow. And, um, what then?”
His eyes narrowed. “You drive me crazy. You’re under my skin. Stuck deep. I don’t need you there. You’re a distraction, and I can’t afford distractions. So we’ll have sex and then I’ll stop fantasizing about what it’s like.”
“I have to say, that’s about the worst proposition I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Steele shrugged. “So I’m not a sensitive guy. You want to fuck or what?”
She clamped her hands over her ears. “Stop. It’s only getting worse.”
He pulled her arms down and then tilted her chin up with two fingers before he claimed her mouth again. She sagged into his arms, her eyes closing in bliss. When the man wasn’t talking—and she’d decided it had been a blessing he hadn’t spoken to her before—he was sexy as sin. Silence was sexy. So far, his speaking hadn’t been that great of an idea. Eloquence was not one of his strong points.
“You want me,” he said gruffly against her mouth. “You want me every bit as much as I want you.”
“Well duh,” she grumbled.
He pulled away, his eyes flashing. Triumph glittered in those ice blue depths. Only instead of feeling the chill in his gaze, all she felt was searing heat.
“The team is staying at the clinic. We have about six hours before we go wheels up. Your bed big enough for both of us?”
Slowly she nodded.
Without another word, he picked her up and she landed with a thud against his body. His arms tightened around her and he strode toward the doorway to her bedroom.
Her pulse thundered in her veins and her heart was beating so fast she felt light-headed. This was really happening. Steele wanted to have sex with her. Steele was carrying her to her bedroom. In a few minutes they’d both be naked and in the same room. Holy hell!
She braced herself, sure he’d dump her on the bed, but he surprised her by easing her gently onto the mattress before stepping back. He began to undress and her gaze was riveted to all the male flesh he was revealing.
Hard. Muscled. Tight. Not a spare ounce anywhere on his body. Lean abdomen with a ripped six-pack. Broad shoulders and chest with bulging muscles in his upper arms. His thighs resembled tree trunks. Thick and sturdy.
She grabbed for her glasses, tossing them toward the nightstand because this was too good too miss. It wasn’t as though she needed them all the time anyway. Just for reading and when she really needed to focus on an injury. Or lab reports.
She held her breath when he yanked down his underwear. His erection bobbed upward, straining and rigid, the head a dusky plum color. She could see the thick vein running the length of his cock from base to head. The man was beautiful to look at. Suddenly she was extremely conscious of the fact that he would expect her to shed her clothes next, and she didn’t have the body he did. Not even close.
She was too soft in places she shouldn’t be. Her boobs weren’t perky. They weren’t sagging yet, thank God, but they weren’t the kind you could bounce a quarter off. Her abdomen was squishy because she didn’t exercise enough and she enjoyed her sugar. At least her hips weren’t big, not that it was much in the way of reassurance. She wasn’t huge or anything, but she wasn’t one of the super slim women or the curvy ones who looked lush and beautiful. She was just sort of in between and . . . blah.
“Give a mint to know what you’re thinking right now,” Steele muttered.
“I’m blah,” she blurted out.
Then she closed her eyes. She needed better social skills. This was what happened when someone grew up in an isolated environment, shut off from most of the world, never having friends or interacting with other people. They became a blithering idiot the first time they tried to interact with another person on an intimate level.
The incredulity in his voice soothed some of her frayed nerves.
“Yeah, blah. You’re gorgeous. I mean perfect. And I’m just blah. We don’t match up very well,” she said in a serious tone. “Gorgeous male specimens such as yourself do not have sex with blah women. They don’t have to. They can have sex with gorgeous female specimens, so why would they settle for blah?”
His lips flapped up and down a moment and he looked so exasperated that she felt sure his next move would be to start pulling at his hair. “You’re shitting me, right?”
She shook her head solemnly.
“You’re an idiot,” he muttered.
“You don’t call a woman an idiot if you have any plans to have sex with her,” Maren retorted.
“You’re an idiot,” he said calmly.
She had nothing to say to that.
He gestured down. “Look at this. Do you think I get this hard for ‘blah’? That I’m so horny and desperate that I’ll fuck anything with a pussy? Jesus Christ, woman, I’m a goddamn walking hard-on around you. Haven’t you ever noticed?”
“N-no,” she stammered out.
“You’re an idiot,” he repeated.
She frowned. “Okay, I’m really not liking that word.”
He sighed. “Okay, you’re clueless then. Completely and utterly clueless.”
She probably couldn’t argue that point because well, it was true. She’d had no idea that he was remotely attracted to her. It still stunned her.
She licked her lips and cleared her throat. “So let me get this straight so we’re on the same page. We have sex tonight. You leave at eight. And we never speak again and pretend this never happened. Do I have it right?”
“Didn’t say we’d never speak again,” he rumbled.
“Yes, because we spoke so much before,” she said sarcastically.
“I want you out from under my skin.”
Well, okay then. That was that. She wasn’t sure how she felt about being used as an exorcism of herself, but sex with Steele wasn’t something she was going to pass up. It wasn’t like opportunities cropped up for her in Bumfuck, Costa Rica. And she damn sure wasn’t going to admit how long it had been since she’d had sex. Better to let him think he’d been the one to go longer without it.
The full series reading order is as follows: