Jo Davis. I Spy a Dark Obsession

In loving memory of Hannah Montgomery, my dear friend and second mom for almost forty years. Losing you is proof that there is never quite enough time to let people know what they truly mean to you. So I hope you somehow know all of the things I ran out of precious time to say.

The world just isn’t right without you in it. I miss your sweet Southern drawl and your wicked sense of humor. I hope the angels realize how lucky they are to have you among them. I love you.


Special thanks to: My family for supporting me as they always do, with little complaint that I’m frequently here in body while my spirit is running through the woods taking out the bad guys.

My agent and friend Roberta Brown for always being there for me. You are a special lady.

My editor Tracy Bernstein for all her support and confidence.

My dear friend and critique partner Suzanne Ferrell for coming up with the title of this book! Great one, and so perfect for our heroes’ final showdown with Dietz.

The Foxes for making what has been a really tough year immeasurably better. I love you all.


Bastian Chevalier gazed down at the sleeping form of Michael Ross, his boss at SHADO — the Secret Homeland Defense Organization. His oldest friend. In years past, his closest confidant. Fellow football fan and beer-drinking buddy.

The only person — man or woman — he’d ever loved.

And you had to go and ruin your friendship by telling him, didn’t you? Sent him straight into Maggie’s arms. God rest her soul.

Bastian had thought that nothing on earth could equal the pain of watching from the sidelines, heartbroken, as Michael married her. As he spoke excitedly of trying to start a family, while Bastian’s dreams crumbled around him.

Elbows on his knees, he put his face in his hands and gave a soft, bitter laugh, thinking how very wrong he’d been. Because nothing could possibly be worse than a world without Michael in it.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t shut out the horrible memory of the gunshots. Of Michael’s eyes widening with shock, his body jerking, crumpling to the dirty asphalt outside the restaurant. Gunned down by Robert Dietz’s assassin and left to die.

And he nearly had. Michael had fought hard for days, struggled back from the brink of death as Bastian went quietly out of his mind. Bargained with God, the devil, whomever would listen and heed his plea for Michael to live. His promise that if Michael pulled through, he’d never again ask for more.

In hindsight, keeping that promise would be the most difficult thing he’d ever done.


At the sound of Michael’s scratchy voice, his head snapped up and he scooted closer to the bed, fixing a smile on his face that he hoped appeared relaxed and reassuring.

“Hey, man. How are you feeling?”

Michael blinked slowly, processing the question, long, dark lashes feathered against pale cheeks. “Like a building fell on me. How…” He licked his chapped lips and took a pained breath. “How long was I out this time?”

Bastian resisted the urge to touch his hair. Just barely. “A few hours. Water?”


After raising the bed a little, he grabbed the plastic cup and pitcher and poured some fresh water. He held the cup close to Michael, angling the straw to place it between his lips. “Easy. Just a few sips.”

Michael took a few draws before Bastian gently pulled away the straw and helped him settle onto the pillows. Setting the cup on the nightstand, he busied himself checking the IV line, smoothing the covers — anything to keep from getting caught in the brown eyes now studying him. Watching his every move.

Next he rearranged the plants and flowers sent by Michael’s friends and agents, all bearing get-well wishes. Tidied the magazines he’d brought for when Michael felt up to reading. Threw away some take-out wrappers from the previous night. Which reminded him that he needed to go home and shower, change clothes—

Michael cleared his throat. “What are you doing?”

“Straightening things up before I go. What does it look like?” He knew he hadn’t been able to hide the tension in his voice or his movements. Not from his best friend.

“Bastian. Talk to me.”

He froze, fists clenched at his sides. An awful knot was lodged in his throat. It was more than a product of fear, of agonizing days waiting to learn whether Michael would survive. It burned and ached like nothing he’d felt before, throbbed in a pulsing wave that spread to his churning stomach and to every limb. And he recognized it for what it was.

Hatred. Vile, toxic, eating his insides.

Michael waited. Finally, Bastian’s resolve shattered and he gave his friend the truth.

“I’m going to kill him,” he said quietly, “if it’s the last thing I do.”

Michael didn’t have to ask whom. The seconds ticked in heavy silence before the answer came, sure and steady. “We’ll take him together. Promise you’ll wait for me.”

Don’t you know I’d wait for you forever?

But that wasn’t what Michael meant, and the reminder tore at his heart all over again. Still, what was one more promise? He nodded. “I’ll wait for you to get well, and then we’ll take down that son of a whore. You have my word.”

Michael heaved a sigh, his expression relieved, and seemed to sink into the pillows. “Thank you.”

Their gazes locked, and Bastian’s pulse stuttered as for one unguarded moment something more than gratitude shone in those liquid eyes. An emotion more than warmth, deeper than friendship. Then the connection was broken as his friend’s eyes closed, leaving Bastian shaken.

He must’ve imagined it. Michael was doped on all kinds of meds, including strong painkillers. Whatever he’d seen in his friend’s gaze was drug induced and would be forgotten by the time he woke.

Bastian took his seat again as Michael drifted off to sleep. Now that the man was out, he allowed every bit of the love and worry he felt to show once more. Even wrecked, Michael was beautiful. Mussed sable hair poked in every direction, glinting with natural red and gold tints. His full lips were parted in sleep, and Bastian wondered how they would taste, how the muscles of his chest and back would feel under his hands as he brought the man more pleasure than he’d ever known.

“Stop it,” he whispered to himself.

He’d wasted enough years longing for a man he could never have, and his feelings had driven a wedge between them. Michael’s brush with death seemed to have given them a second chance at friendship, and he

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