Book 1

To hell with the bastard. He doesn’t own your right to come here. Look at the sights you’re missing.”

“Sophie pointed to two handsome men working on laptops. “They’re serious eye candy.” 

“You’re right, Soph. Maybe it is time.”

Sophie turned serious. “Cass, you have to say some‐ thing. You can’t let Wilds get away with this.”

“Look, I stopped him before he got too far. If I report it, it’s ‘he said, she said.’ And, Soph, believe me, I’m not the first female agent Wilds has done this to.”

Sophie scowled. “You can live with that?”

“This time, I have no choice. I am not the one to fight this battle. Wednesday night is the event, and when the job is complete, I’ll be free of him. I can come back to our divi‐ sion. Besides, the reality is, even without my personal history, if I say anything, I’m a pariah.”

The athletically thin, raven-haired woman with golden- hazel eyes tapped her fiery red fingernails against the table‐ top. “Cassie, please. If this were happening to me, you’d be rattling sabers, screaming sexual harassment.”

“Wilds has a lot of power. You know the FBI is part of the good ole boys club. I had to jump through extra hoops to get where I am. It’s a temporary assignment.” Her voice was low. “No one will help without it backfiring on them. I can’t ask anyone to risk his or her career.” She placed the catalog of Nouveau Art in front of them, effectively changing the topic. “What do you say, after Memorial Day, a weekend in New York?”

Suddenly, Cassie’s skin prickled. A repellant smell swarmed her senses: an oriental cologne with amber notes mixed with sweat and clove cigarettes. An overpowering feeling of nausea washed over her, and goosebumps erupted down her arms. The visceral reaction was so strong, she wrapped her fingers around her cup to ward off the icy feeling enveloping her.

She scanned the area. No one appeared threatening or familiar. The aroma dissipated into a cloud of steam from a fresh latté. She concentrated hard to maintain her flagging self-control. Breathe in. One, two, three. Out.

Cassie focused on her watch. “I’m sorry. Gotta go.” She ran out the door.

The hot black coffee scalded his tongue. He ran his thin fingers through his messy white-blond hair while his other hand reached for another sugar packet. His heart sped up after spotting Cassie in the corner with her friend. A display of the newest bestsellers provided him with a way to get closer.

Mmm, Cassiopeia Ellis. Look at you all put together. You look a lot better than the last time I saw you, my girl who got away. I think you are worth a repeat performance. He felt the tingles of arousal. I wonder if you will come willingly this time—or if you will require some assistance.

Another thought crossed his drug-addled mind: Maybe I can make a little cash on the deal too? Cassiopeia Ellis, I missed you.

Copyright © R.L. Dunn