Sins, Lies & Spies (Black Brothers #2) (2 page)

BOOK: Sins, Lies & Spies (Black Brothers #2)
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CHAPTER TWO

 

 

Trinity

 

Two creamy marble obelisks sat on either side of the entrance to Representative Lang’s home office like sentries. A small metal lion head knocker was affixed to the center of the door, which didn’t make sense in my opinion, but apparently, Lang liked drippy extravagance.

With a trembling hand, I clutched the tubular, bronze colored door handle and leaned my ear against the six-paneled, heavy wood door. I couldn’t hear anything over steady hum of conversation and light tinkling of the piano from the party down the hall, but I knew he was in there. I saw him disappear down the hall with a glass of champagne in his hand when I arrived at Lang’s party ten minutes ago. For the fifth time in as many minutes, I cursed my boss for causing me to arrive late. This was the first time he hadn’t accompanied me on a mission. We role-played in preparation for tonight a hundred times, but it didn’t make it any easier or less nerve-racking, especially now that I had to move to plan B.

I took one last deep breath to release my tension. It didn’t help. If nerves conducted sound, mine would’ve been roaring like an airplane engine. Screw it, I couldn’t back out now. Somehow over the past year, I’d become addicted to the rush of endorphins when I completed a mission.

I lived for it.

I got drunk on it.

Especially tonight, when I knew who I’d encounter on the other side of the door—Knox Black. He’d only been doing this for three or four years, but he and his partner were superstars. He had as close as someone in our line of work could get to a hundred percent success rate. Tonight he wouldn’t be so lucky.

With disciplined precision, I pushed the lever down and opened the door, careful not to make a sound. The inside of the room tasted thick with anticipation.

One step.

Two steps.

Three steps…and the floorboard moaned underneath my feet.
Dammit!
So much for the element of surprise. Knox whirled around, and my breath caught. Either it was the tuxedo or he looked a hundred times better up close than in pictures.

His powerful muscles tensed, and something savage glinted inside his frosty, navy eyes. For one brief moment, my mission disappeared, and it was only Knox Black and me. My eyes lingered for a beat on the chiseled angles of his face, but just as quickly, I snapped out of my reverie and adjusted my gaze to his hand. My heart leaped as his hand inched inside his jacket, and he reached for what could only be a gun.

I pulled back the slide of my gun, and I heard the click of the ammunition as it moved into the chamber. “Don’t even try it, Mr. Black.”

He remained perfectly still, his hand tucked inside his tuxedo jacket for a tense second. Then he barked out a bitter laugh. “I seem to be at a disadvantage. You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”

“My name is not important.”

“I beg to differ.”

He smiled, but his face was taut and colorless, except for two flags of color high on the sharp blades of his cheekbones. His relaxed posture and feigned indifference didn’t fool me. It’d only take one flicker of indecision from me, and he’d wrestle the gun out of my hand. Everything I heard about him suggested he had reflexes like quicksilver.

“I’m Trinity Jones.” I smirked. “Maybe you’ve heard of me.”

He hissed a curse under his breath, and the corners of his eyes crinkled. “Who’s your client?”

“Tsk-tsk, Mr. Black. You know better than to ask me that question. You’ve been around long enough to know I can’t reveal that information.”

I tried to concentrate on his body language, but the edgy glint in his deep-set eyes and the twitch on the side of his jaw monopolized my attention.

“What do you want?” he asked, his voice deceptively serene, almost gentle.

“Give me the thumb drive sticking out of the computer, and then I want you to walk out of the office and leave the party.”

“Ah.” He shoved his hands into his pockets and shook his head. “And to think, I heard you were a competent and hardworking agent. You’re every bit as lazy as the other hacks out there. You can’t even do your own dirty work. Instead, you waited for me do the heavy lifting. Tell me. Are you afraid of hard work? Or are your skills that inferior?”

“I’ve always believed in the work smarter, not harder philosophy,” I snapped, not hinting at my true intentions. He wanted the information, whereas I needed to destroy the thumb drives and the computer.

Knox leaned his hip against the desk, rubbing his hand along the square planes of his jaw. “At least you admit you’re lazy. Most people wouldn’t. Although I must say, I’m flattered by your confidence in my ability to extract the information from his computer.”

“You’re one of the best, or so I’ve been told. But that’s not the issue right now.” I jerked my gun toward the computer. “If you didn’t notice, we don’t exactly have time for a cordial meet and greet. Give me the thumb drive, before someone finds us in here.”

He cocked one pale eyebrow as he snagged the memory stick out of the computer. “Now that would be interesting. How would you explain the gun?”

“I’m more than capable of thinking on my feet,” I countered.

“I’m glad to hear that, Jones. I wouldn’t want a pretty woman like you to get in over your head.”

The slightly husky rumble of my last name rolling from his lips sounded nice. Too nice. I didn’t know exactly what was happening to me. For the first time in months, I was aware of another man—more aware than I should have been given the circumstance. Maybe I was finally over Miles, my mentor, and my boss. He screwed me over in more ways than I could count, but I hadn’t dated anyone since. He took me under his wing when I had nothing and no one, and for that, I’d be forever grateful.

“Ah, it’s touching you’re concerned about me, but you shouldn’t be. I haven’t gotten this far on luck alone.”

He crossed the room in a couple of giant strides and held out the thumb drive. A twinge of guilt twisted in my gut. I stared at the slim black drive for a second without reaching for it.

“Jones,” Knox taunted, drawing out my last name. “Are you going to take this or are you wrestling with the ethics of stealing my work?”

Without dropping my gun, I grabbed it with my free hand, but he didn’t release it. Locked in a silent battle, I heard Representative Lang’s scratchy voice outside the office door. My head whipped to the side.
Dammit!
I hadn’t fully closed the door.

What is wrong with me tonight? I’m not thinking clearly.

Knox closed the space between us, his face mere inches from mine and one side of his mouth hooked upward. A jolt of electricity arced between us. My blood felt like lava in my veins. He angled his head toward the cracked door. “An amateur mistake, don’t you think?”

“Fuck you,” I whispered, but I could hardly hear my words over the frantic swoosh of blood through my ears. My carefully crafted plans were going to blow up in my face. If I lowered my gun, Knox could take advantage of the moment and walk out of here with the memory stick. If I kept my gun aimed at Knox, I’d end up spending the night in jail, and I’d have to call Miles for bail money. I’d almost rather rot in prison than tell him I messed up. Sure, he was my boss, but that didn’t mean I wanted to interact with him any more than absolutely necessary. Our relationship was dicey these days.

“I see your wheels spinning, but there’s only one way we’re going to get out of this now.”

My dark eyes his clashed with his in a silent battle. “What do you have in mind?”

“We’re going to put on a good show,” he said, his warm breath tickling my face and sending shivers down my spine.

Electricity zigzagged through the air like a thunderstorm gathering strength on the edge of the horizon. My fingers involuntary twitched with the urge to sweep through his disheveled blond hair. He looked downright dreamy as his deep sapphire eyes zeroed in on my mouth. Before my mind registered his intent, he was kissing me. Like a puppet, I was too stunned to do anything except follow his direction. His tongue dueled with mine, and his arms circled my waist, pressing me firmly against his hard body, and I melted into him. Only our clothes and the cold metal of my gun separated us.

I heard a deep chuckle and murmured voices, but I couldn’t bring myself to push Knox away. One of his hands edged around my neck, locking me in place and my ribcage squeezed tight around my heart. The kiss went on and on until I lost track of everything. He lit up every nerve ending in my body like a stick of dynamite nearing the end of its fuse. I never wanted it to end. I felt this kiss all the way down to my toes.

I was acutely aware of everything about him.

The spicy scent of his cologne.

The smooth weave of his jacket beneath my fingertips.

The faint fruity taste of champagne on his tongue.

The sound of a throat being cleared registered somewhere in the back of my mind. “I guess this room is taken.”

Knox’s lips lifted from mine, but he kept our bodies molded together. I gasped for breath.

He glanced to the side and quickly returned his attention to me. Apparently, the look on my face entertained him, because he flashed a wicked grin that made my heart stumble. “It’s all yours, Representative Lang. We were just leaving.”

In a too smooth move, he grazed his lips across mine one more time and snatched the gun out of my hand. With a quick flick of his wrist, he eased it inside of the waistband of his pants. He circled his arm around my hip. “Keep walking and put a smile on your face,” he whispered in my ear, his warm breath sending a charged jolt down my spine.

Too stunned to think clearly, I did exactly as he asked. Heat rolled up my neck to my face. Damn my Irish blood.

“Sorry about that, Representative Lang,” Knox said, a smirk on his face. “It won’t happen again.”

“Don’t worry about it, Knox.” Lang slapped his hand on Knox’s shoulder as we passed him. “No harm was done. Don’t forget to talk to your brother for me.”

The minute we reached the foyer of Lang’s home, he dropped his arm, and his eyes hardened, a fake smile ticking up the corners of his lips. “It was nice doing business with you, Jones. Maybe we’ll run into each other again sometime.”

Just like that, he was gone, the front door banging closed behind him. Shaken, I stared at the tiered crystal chandelier overhead for at least thirty seconds without moving, disappointment rolling in the pit of my stomach. I sucked in a gust of air, fighting the overwhelming urge to go after him and beg him to continue where we left off. All at once, the full impact of the last few minutes hit me like a punch to the gut. Knox left with my gun and the memory stick.

“Asshole,” I muttered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

 

Knox

 

“How’d it go?” Jack swiveled around in his chair when I opened the door to our office, his eyebrows raised expectantly. Like every other day, he looked perpetually rumpled.

Jack and I started a private military company specializing in intelligence-gathering the day we finished our tour of duty. While we both loved working as Naval Intelligence officers, neither of us liked the constraints placed on us in the public sector. We thought we could do more as private contractors. Business was slow for the first year, and I’d accepted a part-time computer security gig with my brother at Black Investments to pay our bills. Fortunately, for the last three or four years, we had more work than we could comfortably handle. In fact, we regularly turned away jobs. I’d have more time if I stopped working for Archer, but it kept us in regular contact after he moved to L.A.

“I got what we needed and replaced the USB cord, but it wasn’t as seamless as I would’ve liked.” I slipped off my tuxedo jacket and slung it over the back of my black leather chair.

Jack leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. “What the hell happened? You do know what’s at risk here, right?”

“Relax, Jack,” I said, settling into the desk chair and opening my laptop. I tossed the thumb drives on the desk. Instead of having a traditional office, Jack and I opted to set up shop in a large industrial studio apartment that functioned as a war room of sorts. This way we didn’t waste time going back and forth and sending emails filled with information better communicated without a digital record. “Like I said, we got what we wanted.”

“Then why did you come back here tonight instead of going home?” Jack asked.

“Because I knew your pathetic ass would still be here.” Jack crashed on the pullout sofa seven out of ten nights. At first, I admired his dedication, but now I saw it for what it was—an avoidance technique. He married his girlfriend of three months in Las Vegas the day before he had to report for duty. Since he got out of the service, they spent more time fighting than anything else. I didn’t understand why he refused to call it quits. They didn’t have kids, and they didn’t have many joint assets. Every time I brought up the topic, he shut me down faster than a virgin on prom night, so I stopped asking about her and the marriage years ago. I followed his lead and pretended as though she didn’t exist.

“So what happened tonight?”

I stretched out my legs in front of me and crossed my ankles. “Trinity Jones popped into Lang’s office just as I finished transferring the information to the last thumb drive.”

Jack leaned back and ruffled his fingers through his brown hair. “Tell me you’re kidding.”

I blew out a long breath. “If only that were true.”

He crossed his ankle over the opposite knee, and tipped his head toward the ceiling, all while tapping his pen against the edge of the table. “Fuuuck.” He slapped his hand against the armrest of his chair. “Miles Knightly trained her. She. Works. With.
Him
.”

I groaned. “Fucking hell.”

To put it mildly, Miles and I didn’t see eye to eye. We bumped heads more than once since Jack and I started freelancing. He was a world-class asshole who lacked morals. Granted, in this line of work morals were pliable and lines were blurred, but unlike Miles, I only accepted cases on the right side of the law or what I perceived to be the right side of the law. In this current matter, he was on the wrong side. I just needed the evidence to back up my suspicions.

I rubbed my hand along the side of my face. “Miles has been one step ahead of us this whole investigation. He knows our next move before we do, and I’m damn sick of it.”

“Yeah, but you walked away with the thumb drives, not her. If our luck holds, we’ll have everything we need to uncover all the parties involved in this blackmail scheme by the end of the week.”

“Let’s hope so.” I drummed my fingers on my thigh. “I’ll question Trinity and see if I can get any information out of her.”

“Hm.” Jack’s eyebrows jumped up his forehead. “That’s interesting.”

My eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He shrugged, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “I’ve seen Trinity Jones a time or two.”

“So what?”

His smile widened. “Well, she’s not exactly hard on the eyes.”

I scanned through the subject lines of the emails piling up in my inbox. “Yeah, well, I didn’t notice. I was too focused on the gun she aimed at my head.”

“Uh-huh.” Jack chuckled softly. “It’s kind of hard to overlook a five-foot-ten brunette who looks like a swimsuit model, but if that’s what you’re telling yourself, I’ll go along with it. Just be careful. She’s not some woman you can toy with for a couple of weeks and show the door.”

Ignoring his comment, I searched for any correspondence requiring my immediate attention. When I didn’t see anything, I slammed the laptop closed again. “I’m outta here. I have an early meeting at the Black Investments’ satellite office, so I’ll catch up with you tomorrow afternoon.” I shoved the laptop into my briefcase, stood up and snagged my jacket off the back of my chair. I made it all the way to the door before Jack said anything.

“I’m not lecturing you. I just want you to proceed with caution where Trinity Jones is concerned. She’s not like the other women who come and go in your life. She works in the same field as you, and the last thing we need is a new enemy because you didn’t keep it in your pants.”

I paused, one hand gripping the doorknob. “Don’t treat me like a child.” I whirled around to face him. “I know exactly what’s at stake, but rest assured, I’m only interested in what she can tell me about Representative Lang and his connection to Miles Knightly.”

To some extent, I told the truth. I couldn’t get involved with Trinity Jones. My brain knew that, but from the minute I saw her pointing that gun at me, I wanted to taste her. Touch her. Kiss her. Despite my better judgment, I did exactly that when Lang’s sudden appearance gave me the opening I needed.

Jack stared at me, a hesitant frown on his face, then nodded. “Okay, I believe you.” He slid his fingers along his lips, and I thought he was finished lecturing me for the night. Unfortunately, he wasn’t.

“Trinity Jones is more than Miles Knightly’s pet project. They were involved intimately for at least a year; maybe longer. I don’t know the details. She still collaborates with him, but the relationship ended when she discovered Miles never firmly severed ties with his ex-wife.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because Miles still considers her his property, and if something happened between you two or if you want to pursue her—”

I raised my hand, interrupting him. “Nothing happened and even if it did, you’ve known me long enough to realize I never get hung up on any woman,” I said, forcing my voice to remain even and relaxed. Regrettably, jealousy and anger teemed beneath the surface. I could deal with the anger. Anger management shaped my entire childhood, but I didn’t do the jealous thing. With the exception of my brothers, I never cared about anyone or anything enough to inspire that emotion.

“There’s always an exception to every
never
. One day a woman will come along who will change your mind and knock you on your ass.” Jack chuckled. “I just hope I get a front row seat to the whole thing.”

A burst of laughter escaped my mouth. “Yeah, you and every woman I’ve ever dated. But trust me, Trinity Jones isn’t that woman.”

BOOK: Sins, Lies & Spies (Black Brothers #2)
13.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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