Authors: Jerri Drennen
Tags: #Romance, #Suspense, #Thriller, #Contemporary
Agent in Training
Copyright © 2012 Jerri Drennen
Cover art by Elaina Lee
Edited by Pat Thomas
Formerly published with Triskelion Publishing
All rights reserved
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without written permission from Jerri Drennen.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
I want to dedicate this book to my father, Charles John Deling, who died from complications to Alzheimer’s before I realized my dream of becoming a published author.
Other Books by Jerri Drennen:
Her Man Flint
Fire & Ice
(available in e-book and print)
Three stories by Jerri Drennen are published
in an anthology entitled
“Inventing the Abbotts”
“Do you have any idea who the new director’s going to be?” Nicholas Trent asked his partner, Hank Dawson while they waited for the briefing to begin.
Hank leaned closer. “No, but rumor has it, it’s someone from outside the organization.”
Nick shifted on his chair and frowned. “Why’s that?” He’d only been at the Department of National Security for seven months and wasn’t sure if this was common practice or not.
“I don’t know, but Morgan and Vale are furious. Now that they’ve slapped on the old ball and chain and settled down, they’ve both been vying for the position.”
At the mention of Bryce Vale––the man who had just recently married the woman Nick had his eye on four months ago––he flinched. Kiley Morgan was an exotic beauty he thought he’d had a connection with. He had been instantly drawn to her, yet she’d chosen Vale.
But that was the past. Time to put all of that behind him.
With resounding determination, Nick shook off the momentary lapse into melancholy and glanced at Hank. “Where’s our new director coming from? FBI? CIA?”
Hank frowned as he glanced at the open door, then returned his attention to Nick. “All I know is what I’ve told you. I just hope he isn’t a prick.”
Nick shrugged. “I guess it doesn’t matter. I don’t know if I’ll stay with DNS anyway. I mean, am I here for the right reasons? I just don’t know.”
His friend grimaced. “You have to stay, Nick. We’re partners. If you go, I might end up with Freeman. You wouldn’t do that to me, would you?”
“I don’t think—” The sound of shuffling feet outside the door stopped Nick mid-sentence. A group of agents filtered in one by one; Bryce Vale and Flint Morgan brought up the rear.
Nick felt Vale’s hard glare, but ignored it, focusing on the former director’s aides, Frank Adams and Steve Burroughs who’d just entered the conference room.
Frank went straight for the podium and tapped the microphone to make sure it was on. “Please take a seat. Steve and I will field some questions before the new director is announced.”
The room buzzed until Flint Morgan stood. “Is it true he’s not from DNS?”
“Yes, Flint, that’s correct. Our new director isn’t from the agency.”
“And why is that?” Flint’s inquiry held an edge of barely controlled anger.
Frank adjusted his tie. “We thought it best, after what happened with our last director, to look outside the agency.”
“Are we cleaning house, Frank?” Bryce stood so abruptly his chair nearly toppled backward. "Maybe we should have done that twenty-five years ago."
“I understand your anger, Bryce, but the decision’s been made.” Frank cleared his throat and again adjusted the dark blue tie at his neck.
“Now for our announcement. Our new director is former CIA. She worked for the Company for eight years and comes highly recommended. I want you all to welcome Shiloh Templar.”
A hush fell over the room as a tall, auburn-haired woman in a gray wool suit strolled in. Propped on her nose, a pair of dark-brown rectangular glasses made her look quite formidable.
Nick’s mouth gaped as he watched her stride to the podium, a smug grin glued to her lips. She was obviously happy to stir up such controversy—elated to have all these agents in an uproar––she’d been chosen over them.
He gave her a quick once over, his gaze settling on her chest, partially hidden under a loose-fitting, open jacket.
Not a bad body. Pretty decent, in fact
Nick turned to Hank, whose mouth gaped. He leaned toward Hank and whispered, “How old you think she is?”
“Not sure, mid-thirties maybe. I’m still reeling from the fact that our new boss has tits.”
When Nick returned his attention to the podium, he found the director glaring at him. Then glanced around the room to find everyone’s eyes were on Nick and his partner.
He swallowed hard, sweat beading on his upper lip.
Could I look any more foolish
“Would you like to fill us in on what you and your friend were discussing?” Annoyance thinned the woman’s peach-tinted mouth.
Nick ran a nervous hand over his jaw. “It was nothing important.”
“Really? Then why did you feel a need to disrupt our briefing?”
He shifted in his seat, looking around. The smirk Vale gave him spoke volumes. He found Nick’s discomfort amusing.
“We’re all waiting for your answer, Mr…?”
“Trent. Nicholas Trent, ma’am.”
“That’s Director Templar, thank you. And are you an agent here at DNS, Mr. Trent?”
“I wouldn’t be at the briefing if I wasn’t, ma’am. I mean, Director.”
She frowned. “Aren’t you a little young?”
Heat crept up Nick’s neck and he ran a finger under his shirt collar, feeling as if he were suffocating. “I’ve been through training.”
“In that training, were you not taught protocol regarding briefings?”
“Yes, I was, ma’am. I mean, Director Templar.”
He clamped his mouth shut. He could think of a number of colorful phrases he’d love to sling back at her, but the old adage ‘if you can’t say anything nice’ stopped him. His mother had drummed that into his head for years. This whole awkward event made him feel as though he’d been thrust back into grammar school, being reprimanded by wicked old Miss Jenkins, his third grade teacher––a spinster, and understandably so. He suddenly noted a number of similarities between the cold-as-ice teacher and their new director.
“If Mr. Trent’s behavior is any indication of our agent training program here, I can see I’ll have my work cut out for me.”
She lifted her chin and turned her full attention to the rest of her audience. “I’d like to meet with everyone, one on one, before the week’s end. I’ll have my aides set up individual appointments. I’m going to tell you right now, if I find any of you lacking in any area...” She glanced at Nick, then back to the group. “Termination is a real possibility. Any questions?”
The room remained quiet.
“All right, then. Let’s get back to work.”
She turned from the podium and headed toward the door, leaving a faint scent of jasmine in her wake.
The second she was gone, the room thrummed with raised voices.
“Can you believe the balls of…? I m-mean, man, this is not going to be good,” Hank stammered, shaking his head. “She’s going to rule with an iron fist.”
Nick rose from his seat and brushed at the wrinkles in his slacks. His face was still warm with embarrassment. Obviously it wasn’t going to be up to him whether he stayed at DNS or not. The new director, old Iron Maiden herself would make the call.
He snorted. He’d bet money that under that tailored suit, a chastity belt incased her uptight ass.
Nick shoved his hands deep in his pockets and frowned. He didn’t like not being in control of his own destiny or being told what he could or couldn’t do––a true fault of his.
The director might try and force him out. Her comments threatened as much. But if she did, she was going to find out it wasn’t as easy as she’d like it to be—especially now that he realized how important it was for him to stay.
Shiloh quietly closed the office door behind her and released the emotion she’d held in check since the briefing. She tore her jacket off and threw it over a chair. What had she gotten herself into with this assignment?
Her heart raced a mile a minute when she thought of her confrontation with Nicholas Trent. Why had his lack of attention riled her so much? Shiloh was more than accustomed to such treatment by the men in her field. She knew the road ahead would be bumpy. So why had Trent’s reaction stirred such animosity inside her?
She still couldn’t believe she’d been asked to take the job in the first place. Especially since a number of people at the CIA and DNS were more qualified and had applied for the position. Shiloh didn’t have a clue why they’d chosen her, but she wasn’t going to dwell on it any longer. She’d spent the last three weeks worrying over how she’d be received and she was done with that. Time to move on. There were more important things to be concerned with now.
Apparently the agents at DNS needed some discipline and she was going to see they got it. Her first order of business was to weed out all those not suited to the department’s new image––a more professional look.
Walking to her desk, Shiloh pressed her intercom button. “Sandra?”
“Yes, Director Templar. What can I do for you?”
“I need to see Nicholas Trent’s file.”
“Right away, Director.”
Shiloh sat on her plush leather chair and thought about the man she’d chastised at the briefing. He seemed much too young to be an agent. At least he didn’t fit her image of any she’d ever seen. She had started her career with the CIA. She had a degree in criminal justice and a knack for solving problems and she had a vision for where the organization could go. How it should be perceived.
Nicholas Trent didn’t look the part at all, with his spiky blond hair and his I-hang-out-at-the-beach-all-day tan.
A light rap on the door brought her back to the business at hand. “Come in.”
Sandra walked to her desk and handed her a file. “Anything else, Director?”
Sandra left the office.
Shiloh opened the file. A large photograph of Nicholas slid out. She picked it up and studied the picture. He had a beautiful face, something she’d noticed right away at the briefing. His nose was straight, perfectly shaped, his jaw strong and square with a cleft in his chin. A small scar etched the right side of his cheek, but in no way deterred from his good looks. Yet, what really stood out were his faded-denim colored eyes.
Shiloh sighed. A woman could get lost in eyes like those.
Get it together, Shiloh
. This man would probably be history at DNS before the week was up. He’d disrupted her first meeting—in her opinion not taking her seriously as their new director.
She noted the year he was born. Hardly more than a kid, at twenty-five.
Ten years her junior.
She continued to scan his paperwork. She noted that his father had been DNS. She paused and reread the note that said Nicholas’ father had been killed by the former Director of DNS.
? She flipped the page and read the details.
Phillip Trent and his partner Cole Morgan, had uncovered the director’s unscrupulous dealings with a group of New York mobsters. The now-deceased director was still an agent with the Department at the time.
It had taken all these years to solve the murders of the two decorated agents. Flint Morgan, Bryce Vale and Nicholas Trent were credited with determining culpability and closing the file.
Shiloh shook her head and scowled. A director of DNS and the mob––corruption at its worst.
She leafed through more papers in the file. Nicholas had scored extremely high on his entrance tests, especially in the physical endurance portion. He’d obviously earned the right to be here––on paper––but as a pretty boy who lacked regard for authority, he just didn’t fit the image of what she wanted DNS to become.
As the new director, she’d been given a job to do to change things. Improve them. So, despite the fact that the youngest agent’s father had given his life for the Department twenty-plus years ago, and excluding how earth-shatteringly attractive he was, she needed the best of the best. In her opinion, Agent Trent wasn’t the right man for this job. And here, today, her opinion counted far more then his.
She closed the file and picked up the phone. Nicholas Trent was pushed to the back burner as her thoughts took a different direction. She needed to see how her father was settling into his new room. It pained her to remove him from everything he’d known in Seattle, but she wanted him close. Switching nursing facilities had been her only option.