Since Windswept Danger is still in pre-order status, nobody has seen anything other than the blurb and first chapter on my website. For this party, I’m going to be posting excerpts, so you’ll be the first to get a glimpse of Hotshot and Olivia.
And speaking of first glimpses — it’s always fun to see how the characters size each other up the first time they see each other. Here, Hotshot has been ordered (with a 911 from Horace Blackthorne, the boss, which means drop everything) to a meeting. Assuming it’s a briefing for their next op, Hotshot is waiting for the rest of his team to arrive. (You might want to look at the first chapter to get a feeling for what’s happened prior to this meeting.)
[Blackthorne] opened the folder and set three stacks of paper in a neat row.
Briefing materials, Hotshot assumed. He also assumed Blackthorne wasn’t going to make idle small talk while he waited for the others to arrive. Why say something he might have to repeat?
Hotshot didn’t mind. He wasn’t up for small talk himself. He’d already had his ass chewed for not being honest about how the Colorado op had aggravated his previous injuries. Which made him wonder why he was here.
And where were the others? The meeting was scheduled to begin at six, five minutes from now, and he couldn’t imagine any of the guys being late. Not for a 911.
The door opened. Grace, Blackthorne’s new wife, breezed in with two thick manila envelopes. She placed one in front of Hotshot, the other in the vacant seat beside his, then stepped to her husband’s side and kissed his forehead.
Hotshot felt himself go red, but the boss smiled and squeezed Grace’s hand. She was wearing navy blue slacks and a red-and-blue print blouse that set off her silver hair and twinkling blue eyes. All Hotshot knew was that she and the boss had a past, and had recently found each other again.
Hotshot rose. “Good afternoon, ma’am.”
“How are you, Mr. McCade?” she asked as she took her seat.
“Fine, ma’am.” What was the boss’s wife doing sitting in on a briefing? She wasn’t going to be in the field, was she? She may have been a super spy when she was younger—but that was when she was younger. She had to be well into her sixties now.
The door opened once more, this time admitting a slender strawberry-blonde. An attractive strawberry blonde. Jeans that hugged her rear, a flowery print top that dipped low enough in front to invite a closer look. Hotshot ignored the temptation and studied her face instead. Blue-green eyes, uptilted nose. High cheekbones. Pointy chin. And between the nose and chin, a pair of pouty lips. The kind made for kissing.
Get real. You’re at a briefing, not a cocktail party. Head in the game.
And what does Olivia think of Hotshot?
“Mr. McCade, you’ll be posing as a wealthy—an exceptionally wealthy—adventure-seeking business mogul, recently injured on a wilderness survival trek.”
Olivia’s heart thumped as she waited to hear what her role was going to be. This had better not turn into a romance novel cliché where she was supposed to pose as his wife. She’d played a variety of roles in her assignments for Blackthorne, Inc., but she drew the line at intimacy, either with her teammates or a client.
As if he could read her mind, Mr. Blackthorne gave her an even stare and said, “You, Miss Fairbanks, will be his caregiver.”
She gave him a polite nod. Thank goodness! Married people had to know way too much stuff about each other—too easy to get caught in a contradiction.
“How long have I been working for him?” Not too long, she hoped, for the same reason.
“About a week, I believe.” He turned to his wife. “Grace has established your background cover stories.”
Olivia followed along from the paperwork Grace had given her, as Grace explained who she was going to be.
“You’ll find new IDs in there.” Grace indicated smaller envelopes among the papers on the conference table. Olivia opened hers as Hotshot did the same. “Olivia, your last name will be Fairchild, but you can keep Olivia as your first name. Easier to remember. It’s up to you two to decide how you’ll be addressed.”
Rather than discuss it now, she nodded and checked out her face on her new driver’s license. “I’m from Oregon, I take it.”
Hotshot was studying his own new ID. “Glen-with-one-N McAllister. Is that spelling right? One N?”
“It is,” Grace said.
“I’ll have to work on an illegible signature—less chance of messing up. I’m also from Oregon, according to this.”
“Yes, which is where you live when you’re not traveling around the world. You have an estate on the coast. Your income is substantial, and your financial advisor makes sure you have everything you need,” Grace said. “That should allow you to feign ignorance if somebody wants to delve into your financial history.”
“Or asks me for investment advice,” Hotshot added. “I’m all for playing the ignorance card whenever possible.” He grinned at Olivia. “Isn’t that right, Nurse Livvy?”
“Watch it, buster,” she muttered. “You’d better not call me that. I’m going to be in charge of your rehab. Or therapy. Or whatever I think you’ll need to recover from your little—” She shuffled through the papers, seeking specifics of Hotshot’s cover and found a medical file. She gave it a quick skim. All those accidents, all those injuries. Maybe that’s why they called him Hotshot. Always pushing the limits.
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