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Do You Trust Me?

BOOK: Do You Trust Me?
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A cryptic message
from her brother leaves Rina Devargas with a secret and no one to trust.
Assigned to protect her, Connor McCall must gain her confidence the only way he
knows how...

 

He stared at her for
so long she wondered if he’d ever speak again. “Do you trust me, Rina?”

“Yes. I do.” And she
did. Absolutely. There was no question about that. At least where sex was
concerned.

“You know I would
never hurt you.”

She nodded.

“Next time we’ll
discuss a safe word,” he told her. “You won’t need it tonight.”

Safe word?
She knew about
those. McCall had no idea that the world he was taking her into was one she
wrote about in her romance novels. Now it would be more than just her
imagination.

She swallowed and let
out a breath. “I’m ready.”

His body was rigid
against hers. “Sully will kill me for this.”

“Forget Sully. We
don’t have to tell him. And he’s not in bed with us, last I looked.”

“Jesus, Rina. You’ll
send me to hell, but I can’t avoid the journey.”

 

Reviews

 

There’s
not a book from Desiree Holt that I haven’t enjoyed.

~
Night Owl Romance, Reviewers Top
Choice

****

Desiree
Holt is a talented author and I will be on the lookout for more of her writing
in the future.

~
Romance Junkies

****

Holt pens
an exciting, rapid-paced tale that’s sure to keep the pages flying. A sexy
alpha male and a fiery heroine create a dynamic couple readers can stand
behind. The love scenes scorch the pages, and overall, this is a compelling,
satisfying novel with emotionally driven characters.

~
RT Book Reviews 4 stars

****

Holt creates
tense situations for her characters that will have readers eager for a happy
ending.

~
RT Book Reviews 4 stars

 

Give It To Me

 

A hot
read. Don’t miss it!

~
Cocktail Reviews

****

Looking
for a quick read you can dive right into? Do yourself a favor and print out
this novella. Holt delivers with delicious love scenes, a believable story and
characters you care about. A perfect combination of wit, sexuality,
experimentation and romance. It’s over way too soon!

~RT’s top rating 4 ½
stars

 

Do You

Trust Me?

 

by

 

Desiree Holt

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

 

Do You Trust Me?

 

COPYRIGHT
Ó
2009 by Judith Rochelle

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used
or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author
or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in
critical articles or reviews.

 

Contact Information:
[email protected]

 

Cover Art by
Angela Anderson

 

The Wild Rose Press

PO Box
708

Adams Basin
, NY 14410-0708

 

Visit us at
www.thewilderroses.com

 

Publishing History

First Scarlet Rose
Edition, January 2009

Print ISBN 1-60154-550-9

 

Published
in the United States of America

 

Dedication

 

How could I not
dedicate this book

to Diana Carlile, who
believed in it and gave it life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Rina Devargas ran
full out, arms pumping, lungs burning, every muscle in her body on fire. Her
thick auburn curls had come loose from the gold clip at the nape of her neck
and were tossing wildly about her face. The fabric of her slacks flapped
against her leg where she’d ripped them running through a low hedge. She had no
idea which direction to take, which building would be safe to hide behind. Too
many open spaces. Too many street lights.

Behind her, she heard
the slapping of leather on pavement as the man pursued her. He’d been waiting
for her, watching for her to leave John’s townhouse. As she’d slipped out the
back door, sure she was safely away, he’d grabbed her, slamming her head into
the brick wall. She wasn’t certain, but she thought her nose might be broken.
Blood had run down her face and onto her blouse. Only instant reaction and a
well-placed knee to the groin had freed her from his grasp.

His shoes pounded on
the pavement behind her, closing the gap with every second. Could she cut
through a walkway between buildings? But what if it led to a dead end? Where
was everyone, anyway, in this residential neighborhood of upscale town homes?
Shouldn’t someone at least be walking a dog?

Slap! Slap! Slap!

The echo of his
footsteps sounded like rifle shots.

Damn it, she had to
find some place to hide quickly. Her car was back near John’s place, so no hope
of cutting back there. She tried to pick up the pace, but every step sent a
jolt of pain through her head.

Turning a corner, she
sprinted down the sidewalk, searching for a place with lights on. Maybe she
could bang on someone’s door, ask for help, if her appearance didn’t scare them
to death.

She stopped for one
precious second to drag air into her lungs and froze when a muscular arm pulled
her against a hard male body and a hand clamped over her mouth. Her heart
actually stopped in mid-beat, and for a moment, she was sure she’d pass out.

“Don’t scream,” a
voice whispered at her ear.

Rina’s nose twitched
as a familiar scent drifted in the air and the body pressing against her from
behind had a remembered feel. She tried to turn her head to see her captor,
struggling in his grasp.

God, surely not him.
Not here. Not now.

The man pulled her
into a nearly invisible tiny alcove where two buildings met, waiting until the
running figure passed. Then he half carried her to a car that pulled up to the
curb.

“You can let go of
me,” she mumbled against the fingers over her mouth.

“Not yet. And quit
struggling. I’d hate to coldcock you,” he growled. “But I will if I have to.”

Opening the passenger
door of the car, he shoved her inside. “Not a word,” he cautioned as he changed
places with the driver. He hit the accelerator, and they roared down the
street. By the time they reached the bridge from Harbor Island to downtown Tampa, Rina had managed to slow her heart rate to somewhere between almost dead and
hopefully alive.

She eyed the man next
to her. Her nose hadn’t let her down.

“Hello, McCall.”

Of course it had to
be him. The very last person in the world she wanted to see.

But he was paying no
attention to her, speaking into a cell phone too softly for her to understand
what he was saying. Blood dripped from her nose again, and she pulled up the
tail of her blouse to blot it, the only thing she had since she’d lost her
purse when the man attacked her.

McCall snapped the
phone shut and dropped it on the seat beside him. “I should lock you up just on
the grounds of stupidity.” His voice was taut with tension. “What in the
fucking hell were you doing at John’s place tonight?”

Her hand went automatically
to the locket around her neck “What were
you
doing there?”

“Uh uh. I get to ask
the questions.” He huffed a breath. “Have you lost your everlovin’ mind?”

No matter what she
said, it would turn out to be the wrong thing, so Rina just kept silent,
blotting her nose and wishing she had a huge bottle of aspirin.

“Listen, you idiot,”
he went on. “You know the lengths we’ve gone to in order to keep your
relationship with your brother a secret. In our line of work, families are
prime hostage targets.”

Rina knew that. When John
had been accepted as a member of the ultra-secret anti-terrorist task force,
every trace of their relationship had been buried. His boss had even gone so
far as to acquire a phony birth certificate for her brother and a fake background.
Any evidence that
John Wilson, black ops operative, was her brother, John Devargas, ceased to
exist. Except to Sully and the team.

“No comment?” he
asked.

“Who-who was the man
who attacked me?”

“Someone whose
identity we’ll never know now that you blundered into the middle of our
stakeout.”

She had never heard
McCall quite so angry, but it couldn’t be helped. The call from John had
shocked her, coming out of the blue as it had. There was no way she could have
refused his request, no matter what the rules were. Or what she made a mess of.
“I left my rental car back there.”

“Forget about it. I’ll
have someone pick it up.”

“I, um, don’t have my
keys. I...that is...I lost my purse.”

“Jesus Christ.” McCall
pounded the steering wheel. “Are you serious? You left your purse with all your
identification where these people could get it?”

“What people?”
The
ones John was afraid of? The ones who were after him? Had even maybe killed
him?

No. She pushed that
thought out of her mind.

“What people?” she
asked again, but McCall drove on in silence, his mouth set in a grim line.

Rina took a good look
at him. His lean, muscular frame was dressed in the familiar all black, his
thick black hair blending in with it. She remembered all too well the last time
she had seen Connor McCall.

****

One year earlier

“I can’t believe you
were just in the neighborhood.”

Rina stared at the
lean, hard-faced man standing in her doorway. He was the last person she’d
expected to see in San Antonio late on a Saturday afternoon. Or any other morning.

“Are you going to let
me in, or should I stand here and give the neighbors something to gossip about?”

She stepped back and
gestured him inside. He closed the door behind him, standing so close to her
she could feel his body heat.

She shoved her hands
in the pockets of her cutoffs. “So, what are you doing here anyway?”

“I have a letter for
you from John. You know we can’t just send it through the mail.”

Her heart skipped a
beat. “Is he okay? Nothing’s wrong, is there?” She swallowed the fear that always
rode just at the surface. She and John were both fully aware of the incredible
danger in his job.

“No, he’s fine. Just...off
on a mission that will keep him out of touch for quite a while.” He pulled an
envelope from an inside pocket of his black windbreaker and handed it to her.

She nearly grabbed it
from his hand and ripped it open. Then, realizing she didn’t want to read it
with McCall watching her, she rushed to the kitchen.

“I don’t suppose you’ve
got a beer I could drink while I’m standing in the hallway?” he called after
her.

Her cheeks heated.
Where were her manners? “Sure. Come on in.” She pulled a bottle from the fridge
and twisted off the top. “Um, why don’t you take it out on the patio? It’s
really nice out there this time of day.”

He gave her a
lopsided grin, a rare expression on his usually grim face. “I can take a hint.
Let me know when you’re through reading.”

The letter was only
two pages, but Rina read them over and over. John couldn’t give her any details
about his assignment, so he filled the pages with idle chatter and
reminiscences. Since the death of their parents five years earlier, they’d made
every effort to stay connected. In fact, it was their death in an explosion at
the American University at Beirut that led to John’s decision to join the task
force.

Rina sat for a long
time at her kitchen table, just holding the letter, squeezing back the tears at
John’s, “Love ya, Dusty,” visualizing his face, and whispering a silent prayer
for his safety. As she stood to carry it to her den and lock it away with the
others, she realized she’d left McCall sitting outside for more than an hour.
His beer was surely long gone, but he’d sat patiently waiting for her to
finish.

Sliding open the
patio door, she stuck her head out. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to take so long.”

He unfolded himself
from the lounge chair. “No problem. But I’ll take another beer if you’ve got
one.”

“I have a couple of
steaks in the freezer if you’d like to stay for dinner.”
Now where did that
come from? Invite McCall—the original granite man—for dinner?

He stared at her, as
stunned by the invitation as she was.

And suddenly she
wanted him to stay, a connection to John she could hold onto a little longer. “Please.”

He studied her as if
wondering what trick she had up her sleeve. Finally, he nodded. “Okay. Thanks.”

It was already well
past six o’clock, so she took the steaks out and stuck them in the microwave to
thaw, then began to gather ingredients for a salad. McCall sat at the kitchen
table, drinking his beer and watching her with silver eyes that seemed to see
right through her. He wasn’t one for casual conversation so she worked in
silence, acutely aware of his gaze on her.

As she went about her
prep work, she wondered what on earth had possessed her to invite this man to dinner.
He was the most antisocial person she’d ever met. She wasn’t even sure he liked
her. But he was a connection to John and somehow she felt she could touch her
brother through him.

She’d lit the coals
in the barbecue on the patio before starting the salad. As naturally as if they
did this all the time, McCall grilled the steaks while she finished the dinner
preparations. She didn’t know if McCall was a wine person—she actually knew
almost nothing about him except that he was the senior member of the team and
the one John worked with the most—but she pulled a bottle of her favorite white
from the fridge anyway.

Okay. We’ll eat
dinner. I’ll pump him for information about John. He’ll avoid all my questions,
leave, and that will be that.

He answered her questions
about John in short, terse sentences, but at least he could assure her he was
alive and well. And maybe that was all she could hope for.

“Why do you use the
name ‘Rina’?” he asked in an abrupt tone. “Why not your full name? Sabrina.”

She shrugged. “When I
was a toddler I had trouble saying the whole name. All I could get out was
Rina, so it stuck.” She gave him a lopsided grin. “Shorter to sign in books,
too.”

Silence descended on
the table again.

“So tell me about
your family,” she said finally, searching for a topic of conversation.

He shrugged. “Not
much to tell.”

“I don’t even know
where you live when you’re not, um, working.”

“D.C. But my folks
have a place up north.”

“Do you get to see
them often?”
God, this is like pulling teeth.

“Not as much as I’d
like. My sister, either.”

He had a sister? “Does
she live up north, too?”

“Yes. She’s a
physical therapist at a hospital near there. She’s living with my folks right
now.”

More silence. And
somehow a certain tension that she couldn’t identify had crept into the air. Whenever
she looked up from her plate McCall’s silver eyes were fixed on her. If the
situation were different—if
he
was different—she would have said his gaze
was devouring her. But she had no idea what was going on in his steel-trap
mind.

For a brief, mad
instant she wondered what it would be like going to bed with McCall.

Are you crazy? The
man is an emotionless machine, and a member of your brother’s team to boot.

She poured herself
another glass of wine with a hand that trembled slightly. McCall picked up on
it and narrowed his eyes, but she managed to lift her glass and sip the liquid
without spilling it.

Get a grip, Rina.

At last, the meal was
over and McCall helped her clear the table. She poured the last of the wine
into their glasses.

“Thank you for
dinner,” he said in a formal tone.

“You’re welcome.”

McCall put his wine
glass down on the counter, and without warning, reached for her, brushing his
lips against hers. Just a brief contact, but it seared her down to her toes.
Her bones felt as if they were melting, and she could have sworn the ground
shifted beneath her feet.

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