Publisher: St. Martins
IT’S NOT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
Navy SEAL Clint “Iceman” McIntire didn’t earn his nickname by being a coward. Or a quitter. Having crushed an infamous drug cartel in Colombia, Clint was nothing short of an American hero. Now he’s home, on a much needed leave, but instead of some R&R, he finds himself neck-deep in trouble with his best friend’s little sister, Morganna Chavez, the only woman who has the power to bring him to his knees. . .
IT’S HOW YOU PLAY….
Morganna has been secretly working with the DEA to uncover a thriving date-rape-drug, which leads her to a shadowy faction that is more deadly than anything her team has ever encountered. Now it’s up to Clint to keep this beautiful, determined agent out of harm’s way, even while the passion between them threatens to consume them. Soon Clint’s greatest mission will be not just keeping Morganna safe, but getting her into his arms and never letting go.
“Why am I so not surprised to see you here?” Morganna muttered as she followed the scent of freshly ground and brewed coffee from her bedroom to the kitchen.
There were few people capable of making decent coffee. Clint was one of the best.
He was sitting at her kitchen table reading the newspaper. Dressed to kill in well-worn jeans and a white shirt that begged her to unbutton it and strip it off his wide shoulders. If she weren’t so damned mad at him, then she would have tried.
Her one concession to modesty herself was the loose, light cotton pajama bottoms with Kiss This written across the rear, and a rosy pink camisole top that left a swath of creamy bare skin from just above her belly button, to the band of her pj’s that lay below her hips.
“I brought donuts. They’re probably still warm.” His voice was soft, almost conciliatory as he laid the paper down and picked up his own steaming cup of coffee.
“Would I bother with anything else?” Amusement laced his voice.
Okay, so her habit was pretty well known. Krispy Kreme cream-filled glazed. She opened the box and inhaled as a shiver of pleasure washed over her. Forget sex with grouch-ass. She would drown her sorrows in fluffy cream filling and melt-in-your-mouth sweet perfection.
“Why are you here?” She shuffled over to the coffeepot and picked up the waiting cup.
She heard his sigh behind her. She didn’t trust Clint when he was being nice. Which said something about their non-relationship.
“I promised Reno I’d look after you while he was gone.” He cleared his throat with uncharacteristic nervousness.
She restrained the urge to throw the cup of coffee at him.
“I’ll lie for you and tell him what a great job you did when he gets home.” And in the meantime she would figure out how to heal the lacerations he was inflicting on her heart.
She turned, watching as he wiped his hand over his face, his expression somber as he lifted his eyes to her. Not just somber, his blue eyes were dark with emotion, with a rare tenderness that never failed to clench her heart.
God, she loved him. And at it times it just seemed so hopeless.
“Look, I just want to talk sensibly. Can we do that? Just once?” He asked.
“I always talk sensibly, Clint. You can just never get past the fact that while I’m doing so, I’m making you hard,” she pointed out sadly. “That’s not my fault.”
He lowered his head, rubbing fiercely between his eyes as he grimaced.
“I’m trying here, Morganna. Can’t you?” The irritation faded from his expression as he stared back at her sincerely. “Just for a few minutes?”
“Have you changed your mind about working with me?” That betrayal was the worst he had dealt her so far.
“I can’t do that.” Regret filled his voice.
She breathed in roughly, fighting past the pain that rose in her chest, thickened her throat.
“Then we don’t have anything to talk about,” she told him evenly. “You wasted your time this morning, Clint. The donuts were a nice try though.”
She moved to the box of donuts, lifting the lid and removing one as she glanced back at him. He was watching her silently, calculating.
Damn him, he knew how she felt, knew how weak she was toward him. Surely he wouldn’t try to use that against her now?
She knew Clint, to the bottom of her soul. What he couldn’t get yelling at her, he would try to ‘reason’ her into. Sadly, his male reasoning sucked, which meant she wasn’t in any danger of agreeing with him. He hadn’t tried sexual coercion. Yet.
Moving back to her coffee, she leaned against the counter, crossed her ankles and bit into the near orgasmically delightful confection. His eyes followed every move.
“You’re not going to even try to understand, are you?” he asked quietly.
“That you’re being unreasonable?” She licked the thick fluffy cream from her lip with a flick of her tongue. “I understand that completely, Clint. I actually expect it from you.”
A frown marred his brow. “What the hell does that mean?”
“It means that since the moment you caught me wearing makeup and dressing like a girl instead of a tomboy, you’ve resented me. You see me as a pretty, worthless party girl without a brain in her little head. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to play into your image of that forever. I’ve actually grown quite sick of it.”
Morganna picked up her coffee, sipping at the hot brew as she watched his expression close.
“That’s not true.”
“Of course it’s true.” She smiled gently, inhaling a ragged breath. “You think I’m just like your mother. Unable to settle down or care for her children while her husband is off fighting wars.”
There. It was out in the open. Morganna steeled herself against the hard expression that came over his face, the ice in his eyes. God, she hated it when he looked at her like that.
“This has nothing to do with her.”
“Of course it does. It always has.” She shrugged, fighting back the tears, the pain. “Do you think I haven’t realized what the problem was all along, Clint? You believe I’ll screw around on you while you’re gone, simply because I wear makeup and like to dance. Because she did. As far as your concerned, I have no more honor than she did.”
“You’re reaching, Morganna.” He shook his head.
“Am I?” Her smile was forced as was the calm edge of her voice. “I don’t know, Clint. The evidence is pretty overwhelming from where I sit. We were getting along fine when I was a little tomboy chasing after you. Once I started wearing makeup and having a life outside you, you’ve hated me.”
“I don’t hate you.”
“You can’t keep your hands off me and you hate yourself as well as me for it.”
Her heart was racing as his brows lowered ominously, his expression becoming darker.
“Morganna. That has nothing to do with this operation…”
“Of course it does.” She lifted her chin defiantly. She was not going to cry over him again. She had spent weeks crying a year ago when she made the mistake of going to his apartment to comfort him after his buddy’s death. “It has everything to do with it. How can a party girl, one step above a tramp, possibly contribute anything worthwhile to such an important cause? I’m a hazard to the entire operation aren’t I, Clint? It doesn’t matter that I’ve been training for this for years. That I fought for this assignment and that it means something to me. All that matters to you, is that you can’t handle it.”
“Because you’re inexperienced and that will get you killed.” His jaw clenched almost violently. “You’re not cut out for this life.”
She stared back at him silently for long moments. She didn’t fight the pain he could cause her. It would rise and ebb, like the tide. What tore at her heart now would ease to no more than a dull ache in a few weeks.
“Taking me off this assignment isn’t going to make a difference,” she finally said. “When I return to the agency, the commander will find me something else. Perhaps not something that means as much to me, but something I believe in. What will you do then, Clint?”
He didn’t answer her. Clint rose slowly from his chair instead, his expression blank, though his eyes churned with emotion as he watched her.
“Don’t make the mistake of coming back to one of those clubs tonight,” he announced, his voice hard.
She tossed the donut to the top of the box as she stiffened defiantly. “Don’t make orders you can’t enforce, Clint. It is a free country here, you know.”
“Don’t you underestimate me, Morganna.” He towered over her, glowering down at her from his lofty height with arrogant confidence. “I will put a stop to this.”
“Why?” Her fists clenched as anger enveloped her. “Why do you even care, Clint?”
“Because it’s no more than I would expect from Reno if it were Raven acting so damned foolishly,” he growled. “I won’t let you risk your life, Morganna.”
“And you don’t? Have either Raven or I demanded that you leave the military and take a nice safe little job shuffling papers? Your double standards suck, Clint.”
“Then they suck,” he retorted, his voice harsh. “Dammit it, Morganna, you’re asking too much of me.”
“And you’re a liar,” she raged back rashly. “This isn’t about Reno, or friendship or anything else. The fact of the matter is that you can’t admit how much you care about me, so you’re just going to jerk me out of something I’ve worked my ass off for. You’re selfishness amazes me Clint.”
“The hell it is.” She was in his face and didn’t even realize how she got there. Her finger jabbed into his chest as she stared up at him challengingly. “You won’t work with me because you know if you did, you couldn’t keep your hands off me or your stone-cold heart safe. That’s your problem. Walk away like you always do. But no, you have to destroy my dreams while you’re at it.”
“My problem is spoiled little girls who think they’re bulletproof,” he snarled, catching her wrist and holding it in the manacle of his fingers. “My problem is your damned stubbornness. I can’t even talk to you.”
“Because you never see anything beyond your own needs,” she cried out raggedly. “You think you can lay down laws and I’ll obey you like I did when I was a child. I’m not a child anymore.”
“That’s more than obvious every time you parade around half dressed in one of those fucking clubs,” he bit out. “You’re a walking, talking signal for sex and you know it.”
“And you hate it because you can’t ignore me. Because it just makes you hungrier. You can’t stand it, Clint, because you want me just as bad as I want you. Until it’s like a sickness you can’t get rid of.”
“Damn you,” he groaned. “God damn you, Morganna.”
He jerked her into his arms, his lips slamming down on hers, grinding against her as the breath tore from her chest. Desperation fueled his kiss, desperation and fury. She could understand that. She had enough of it herself.
Rather than fighting him, her arms wrapped around his shoulders as she arched to him, certain she could crawl right beneath his flesh if he continued to consume her with his lips as he was.
She moaned with aching need as a growl of hunger tore from his chest. His hands were on her hips, lifting her to him as her back met the wall and his cock notched heatedly between her thighs.
The rough denim of his jeans and the fragile material her pajama bottoms did nothing to protect her from the hard shaft pressing against her. She could feel the dampness flowing from her, the tight clench of her vaginal muscles and the flaming need that overtook her.
Morganna wrapped her arms around his neck, her hands spearing into his hair to hold him closer to her, to relish every inch of the hard body pressed into hers and the calloused palms clenching against her rear.
“Open.” He growled against her lips as she held them closed. “Now.”
His tongue pressed against the seam of her lips before one hand left her rear, his fingers gripping her jaw and exerting just enough pressure to force her teeth open.
A shiver of debilitating arousal shot through her at the dominant forcefulness. She shuddered in his grip as his tongue forged past her lips and sent fire rushing through her body. The heat of his touch, his kiss, seared her, tore through her senses and enveloped her in a need so intense she didn’t know if she would survive it.
She wrapped her legs around his lean hips as they ground against her, moving her body in counterpoint to his, the friction against her clit sending impulses of pleasure so intense throughout her body that she knew climax was only seconds away.
His lips devoured hers, slanting against them as his tongue fed from her. Morganna met his kiss with a greater demand of her own. Years of aching, unslaked arousal was like an animal clawing at her womb. She needed him, helplessly, desperately.
“You make me crazy,” he groaned as his lips tore from hers, his hands moving against her as his body held her firmly in place against the wall.
His hands pushed beneath her sleep top, jerking it above her breasts as his palms covered them, drawing an incoherent cry from her lips as she writhed against him, determined to find release before he changed his mind. Again.
“I love your breasts. They get so tight and hard for my touch, your nipples flushing that pretty ruby red.” His head lowered as the fierce throb of lust in his voice sent tremors quaking through her.
When his lips surrounded one hard point, Morganna saw stars. He wasn’t gentle, but she didn’t want gentle. She didn’t need gentle. She needed this, his teeth gripping the hard point, nipping at it erotically before his lips surrounded it, his cheeks drawing on her with a friction that slammed pulse points of pleasure through her vagina. She needed to come. She needed just a moment of release, just one driving orgasm from his touch and she could go on, because she was smart enough, intuitive enough to know Clint would never give in this easily.