“Ah, fuck.”

“Jesus, I’m sorry! Shit! Are you okay?” Michael waded quickly to stand in front of him.

“I think so.” Already, his lip was starting to throb. But a tentative check with his tongue reassured him there were no loose or broken teeth.

“Move your hand and let me see.”

He did, and Michael reached out, frowning. Gently he grasped Bastian’s chin and brushed a thumb over his puffy bottom lip. “It’s just a scrape, but I know it must hurt. I’m sorry. God, I’m an idiot.”

At his touch, Bastian froze. Every cell in his body screamed out for more intimate contact, but he didn’t dare move, much less breathe. “Forget it.”

“I should’ve paid more attention to what I was doing.” His voice softened. “You know I’d never hurt you for the world.”

Michael’s eyes locked with his for several long moments, and Bastian couldn’t think. Because Michael still hadn’t dropped his hand, was still rubbing the pad of his thumb over Bastian’s lip. Because suddenly there was an unmistakable fire in Michael’s dark eyes as his friend’s gaze dropped to his mouth… and not in examination of his wound. Michael angled his body closer, throwing off enough heat to boil the water around them.

The man appeared ready to devour Bastian whole.

Please do it. Please, I’ve waited so long.

“Sir? You have a phone call. I believe it’s important.”

Michael jerked away as though he’d been electrocuted, and spun to face Simon. “I’ll be right there.”

“Very good, sir.”

“And find some medicine to put on Bastian’s mouth. We had an accident.”

“Right away.”

Michael couldn’t leave the pool fast enough, and didn’t look back as he grabbed a towel from the shelf against the wall, quickly ran it over his body, and walked out. Bastian faced the distinguished old butler, struggling to mask his bitter disappointment at the interruption. If he hadn’t known better, he would have thought he saw a hint of sympathy in Simon’s usually placid expression. The look said that the butler hadn’t had any idea what he was interrupting until it was too late, and that he was sorry. The elderly gentleman had a big soft spot for both him and Michael.

For a split second he considered asking Simon for his input on how to deal with Michael. The man had worked for Michael for years and wasn’t blind. But Simon was terribly proper and never ventured an opinion unless asked. And on this matter, probably not even then.

“I don’t need any medicine, just a little ice for the swelling,” he said, proud of how he kept his voice steady.

Simon nodded. “Do you wish to accompany me to the kitchen, or shall I bring it here?”

“Here, please. I’d like to swim a bit longer.” And sit in the hot tub. Maybe then he’d be able to warm the chill that had overtaken him with Michael’s abrupt departure.

Simon left and Bastian sagged against the side of the pool, letting the misery seep in now that he was alone. You know I’d never hurt you for the world.

“But you do, over and over,” he whispered. “And it’s my fault for letting you.”

Somehow, he had to stop loving Michael. And he would.

The day they lowered him into the ground.


“Katrina, we’ve got a problem with this new pinhole camera.”

Katrina Brandt looked up from the vast array of high-tech spy gadgets on her worktable to see Emma Foster striding into the room. The tall, stacked blonde worked down the hall and served as SHADO’s expert in the area of makeup artistry and disguise. Their agents depended on Emma to make them blend into the scenery while on assignment, and on Katrina and her team for reliable electronic-surveillance technology.

A failure on either front was not only unacceptable, but potentially fatal.

Katrina skirted the table and held out a hand. “Let me see.” The other woman released it into her palm and waited while she examined the tiny device. “Nothing appears to be bent or otherwise damaged. I’ll have to check it internally, run it through a video test feed, and let you know if it can be fixed.”

“I figured as much.” Emma propped a hip on the edge of the table. “Whether it can or not, that thing cost a couple of our agents some vital evidence earlier today. They got their target’s confession on audio, but the video was shot. I had to call Michael and let him know.”

She stifled a groan. “There goes my vacation I just managed to wheedle out of the man today. How long ago did you call him?”

Emma checked her watch. “It’s going on eight, so… a few hours ago. If he hasn’t called or come by yet, you’re probably safe from his wrath until tomorrow.”

“Gee, thanks.”

But she doubted that very much and knew Emma did, too. When it came to the agency, particularly to costly mistakes, their boss wasn’t one to let things slide. If he didn’t catch her here, he’d show up at her condo. The one place she’d always wanted to get the gorgeous man, and for something much more pleasurable than a stern reprimand.

She got back to the business at hand. “No problems with any of the other equipment?”


“Well, that’s something.” A glint of gold at Emma’s throat caught her eye. “New necklace?”

A broad smile lit the other woman’s face. “Blaze gave it to me. Do you like it?” She parted the material of her blouse at the neck to give Katrina a better look. A slim gold chain lay snug but not too tight against her neck. A small lock and dangling heart charm rested in the hollow of her throat.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, admiring it. “You’re a lucky girl.”

“I am. And it’s not a necklace, it’s my collar.”

Katrina hesitated. “Your what?”

“My sub collar,” Emma replied proudly. “Blaze is my master, and in a few months he’ll be my husband, too.”

“Oh. I had no idea that you and he were…” She fumbled, at a loss.

“Into the D/s lifestyle?”

“Yes, that.” The topic was so far out of her realm, she had no idea what to say. Then a thought occurred to her. “Wait. Isn’t that why you two broke up a while back? His lifestyle?”

Emma nodded. “Yes. I didn’t really understand his world, and I’ll admit that the prospect of giving up control scared me quite a bit. I didn’t get that the lifestyle isn’t about humiliation, and it’s not some sexual free-for-all where the Dom gets whatever he wants.”

“What is it about, then?” The world of D/s would never work for her, but she couldn’t help but be curious.

“The master’s sole priority is the safety and happiness of his sub. He’s in charge and has the final say, but he’ll always listen and consider what’s best for his sub. Blaze loves me and would never hurt me, and I love and trust him. It works perfectly for us.”

“Well, you’re certainly happy these days and that’s all that matters,” she said, patting her colleague’s arm. She studied Emma, seeing her in a new light. Here was a woman with an adventurous spirit and an open heart, someone she hadn’t gone out of her way to get to know outside work. Perhaps a friend? She really needed to make more of an effort to socialize, and what better time than now? “Emma, would you like to go have drinks after work sometime?”

The other woman’s face brightened. “I’d love to! I’d just need to check with Blaze. What day?”

Вы читаете I Spy a Dark Obsession
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату