Title: Beachcomber Trouble
Author: Stephanie Queen
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Out of the blue, ex-special ops legend Dane Blaise receives a CIA coded message for Trouble. It’s a call to action to help an old associate of his—Oscar. He had no idea Shana knows Oscar too. Even though he suspects Oscar’s CIA handler is not to be trusted, he answers the call.
Dane doesn’t know that Shana answers the call too–and that the trap is set. Now the trouble is about to go from bad to the worst possible trouble of all …
“What is it?” Dane said. The adrenaline-induced thrumming of his pulse blipped to the next level. He took a breath and stopped on the threshold less than a foot from Shana’s warmth. Either the breath, his years of training and experience, or Shana’s warmth calmed him.
He was afraid it was her. Afraid because, as well as she could calm him with her presence, she could rile him up with her iciness—or her absence.
She didn’t answer him, but stepped aside and retreated into the kitchen where she proceeded to pace in a tight circle around the small space of the linoleum-floored room.
Dane took another breath.
“I got a call,” he said.
She stopped her pacing and whipped around to face him.
“You also got an e-mail.” She stepped up close and lifted her chin, not to look at him, but in her usual defiant way—the way she did when she figured she’d hit a snag with him. His pulse went back to blipping a hair too fast for good health.
She stood with her breasts heaving a little too close to his chest for him to not feel the discomfort of holding off a distraction. She paused long enough for him to get that oh, no feeling welling up in his gut.
“Tell me about it.” He kept his face blank as a spike in acid assaulted his gut.
“I’ll show you.” She went to the dining table, where they kept the computer, and turned the monitor to face him. They both stood and looked at the curt e-mail. It was meant for Dane’s eyes only. There was no indication that whoever sent it was sending it to Shana or to both of them, although there was a reference to Beachcomber Investigations in the subject line. It was from Oscar’s emergency code e-mail address. Dane knew that didn’t necessarily mean that Oscar had sent it. But someone who knew he’d started Beachcomber Investigations less than a year ago had sent it. And that someone also knew their emergency system. The message was clearly written per their Trouble Protocol. It said:
“It’s hot here. I could cook on the ground, but I’m using a pan. Nic is home now.”
Dane said, “It’s a call to action. Standard Operating Procedure.” His mind ran through the possibilities, which seemed infinite. If the reference to the hot weather wasn’t enough, the word pan followed by Nic and then now was not good. In fact, it was the worst kind of trouble code of all. Immediate panic.
“SOP for the CIA, you mean. You were in the CIA?” Shana asked.
He ended the train wreck of possibilities running through his head and looked at her. He had not considered the possibility that Shana George had worked with—or maybe for—the CIA.
He said, “I’ve worked with the CIA. Sometimes against them. But never for them. Not unusual in my previous line of business.” He eyed her. He didn’t ask her for the explanation of how she knew it was CIA SOP, but he saw her come to the realization that she ought to tell him.
“I worked with them—with the CIA. Once.”
He stood straight from his bent posture leaning over the computer and kept his eyes on her. She also stood. He didn’t nod. He didn’t prompt. He, most of all, did not let her off the hook.
About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.
Social Media Links:
Twitter: @StephanieQueen https://twitter.com/StephanieQueen