Crash Into Me
Writing is such a solitary exercise that I think we tend to forget how many people helped us along the way.
I’d like to thank the members of surfingsandiego.com and the surfers I interviewed at Windansea Beach. Everyone I communicated with was gracious in answering my questions and generous with their time.
Thanks to Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents, especially Laurie McLean. Your input on this project was integral and your support unswerving.
To Shauna Summers and Jessica Sebor of Bantam Dell, thank you so much for helping me make this story better, and for taking a chance on a new author. The experience has been amazing.
Thanks to my two best friends, Jennifer and Celeste, for always being the first to read my books (and praise them!) no matter how busy they are. And special thanks to the members of the San Diego chapter of the Romance Writers of America. We are a wonderful group.
Mom, you’re the best. Thanks for always being there for me, and for my girls. We love you!
Last but definitely not least, thanks to Chris. You are proud of me, and it shows. You mean the world to me.
Any factual errors I made or liberties I took are completely my own.
FBI Training Center. Quantico, Virginia.
Special Agent Colby Mitchell was about to drop Special Agent Sonny Vasquez.
He pivoted, leading with his right elbow, intent on driving it home and ending a sparring match that had gone on far too long.
Vasquez was a legend, a chimera, a fantastical figure the cadets had heard about but seldom seen, so their attention was rapt. Then again, they probably would have enjoyed watching anyone get the better of Mitchell, who ran a grueling two-week training session. Although most of the trainees were in good shape, they valued the cerebral over the physical, and called Mitchell a meathead behind his well-muscled back.
Legend or no, Vasquez was the underdog, or had been before this impromptu demonstration started. Despite the considerable differences between them in height and weight, which should have tipped the scales in Mitchell’s favor, he was the one dripping sweat and grunting with exertion, while Vasquez remained as cool and elusive as a goddamned ghost.
Mitchell added the energy of desperation to his blow. He did not want to lose to this particular opponent. His colleagues would never let him live it down, and Vasquez, too superior to gloat, would merely study him calmly, assessing his weaknesses, making it apparent to all that he wasn’t up to snuff.
So he said a mental prayer as he swung his arm around, visualizing success, anticipating the winning impact of his triceps against Vasquez’s smooth, perfectly shaped jaw.
But as his powerful body turned, he knew he’d miscalculated. Vasquez
Of course, Vasquez struck with the swiftness and ferocity of a mythical creature. The jabs to Mitchell’s side were startlingly painful-how Vasquez wrung that amount of strength from those scrawny arms was an elliptical mystery.
Sucking in a sharp breath, Mitchell dropped his arm to protect his burning midsection, focusing only on preventing Vasquez’s bladelike fists from striking into his sore ribs. Then he saw a premonition of his own defeat in those strange, light eyes, and Mitchell didn’t have time to blink before Vasquez dropped
An excruciating, debilitating caress.
From the ground, Mitchell looked up at his nemesis in wonder, fighting nausea and gasping for breath, his eyes stinging with sweat and tears. The circle around them clapped and cheered, oblivious to his torture, or perhaps excited by it.
Bloodthirsty little guppies.
Vasquez’s head gave a slight shake, indicating to the group that celebration was unnecessary. Mitchell groaned, letting his head fall back against the mat while Vasquez made a sanctimonious little speech about never underestimating a smaller opponent. After the crowd dispersed, Mitchell focused his eyes long enough to see Vasquez standing over him, neither smiling nor smug, offering a hand to help him to his feet.
At the sight of that hand, so slender and deceptively innocuous-looking, the same that had dealt his ego, not to mention his temple, a crushing blow, Mitchell snapped. He took the proffered hand and yanked on it, bringing the victor down to his level, and in a split second, Sonora Vasquez was on her back, with Colby Mitchell on top of her.
“How’d that sex change operation go, Vasquez?”
He grinned as beads of sweat from his forehead fell on her face. She needed to be reminded she was a woman, and if he wasn’t man enough to do it on the mat, he was more than willing to have a go at her on the mattress.
More amused than insulted, Vasquez wiped away the offending drops of sweat like she was swatting at flies. “It’s called sexual reassignment surgery, Mitchell. Don’t they teach you anything in sensitivity training?”
“Yeah. I’m feeling real sensitive right now.” He was aware of her breasts crushed against his chest and the soft apex of her thighs, an inviting warmth beneath him. She might not fight like a woman, but she felt like one, and although he willed his body not to, it began to respond to hers. He was enjoying dominating her a little too much. Still, he feared for his manhood. Vasquez would go ballistic if he got hard.
But she didn’t go ballistic-she laughed. “The doctor said if I wanted to live my life as a man, I’d have to be happy with three inches, so I told him to forget it. I couldn’t bear to look like you.”
Mitchell grunted. “Keep wiggling, Vasquez. Those three inches will turn into six.”
For a moment, she looked startled, as if she’d only just realized he’d been flirting with her. Before she could shield the reaction, her unusual eyes betrayed her panic, and Mitchell experienced an intense surge of satisfaction. Vasquez couldn’t dislodge him, because she sucked at wrestling, and now he’d found her secret vulnerability: she was afraid of men. The vindictive side of him wanted to press her further, but he rolled away, because he was a meathead, not a jerk, and the last thing he needed was a sexual harassment charge.