Trailing after Jay, her heart rate kicked up a notch when the back door on the passenger side of the vehicle started to open up. Iris glanced around her quiet neighborhood, instantly looking for any threat. After reading the detailed file on Wyatt—and learning that Jay had found poison in Wyatt’s ridiculously expensive coffee—she wasn’t taking any chances.
And Wyatt shouldn’t be either. Hell, the man shouldn’t even be here. Coming out into the open like this was unnecessary until she’d done a complete overview of potential threats. Hurrying across her lawn, she nearly tackled him as the door opened completely. His blue eyes widened for a fraction of a second as she jumped in the vehicle and shoved him over. She slammed the door behind her and fought the urge to snap at him. She might be worried about his safety, but he clearly just wanted to see her.
Before she could say anything, he fisted her hip in a tight grip and tugged her so that she was straddling him. She knew she should protest but her traitorous body moved over him as if it was the most natural thing in the world—as if that was where her body belonged. After that dream she’d just had she wanted to feel him pumping deep inside her. But this was no dream. “What are you—”
His lips were on hers, his kiss demanding, probing and powerful. Her entire body flared to life in that instant, need slamming into her with an unexpected surge of intensity. She put her hands on his shoulders, ready to push away but he beat her to it. His head pulled back a second later, his breathing just as ragged as hers.
“I’ve missed you,” he rasped out, his eyes darkening with hunger and need.
I’ve missed you too, she almost said, but was saved by the driver’s side door opening. They’d only spend a freaking week together in Vegas. Sure, it had been the best time of her life, but she missed him too much and admitting that made her feel unbalanced. Letting him know would give him too much control. She refused to do that.
She needed to set up ground rules during this job so she could remain professional. Too bad it was difficult when she was actually close to Wyatt. Just being around him and her senses went haywire.
Iris quickly slid off Wyatt and sat back on the plush, leather seat as Jay put the SUV in reverse and studiously ignored them. She’d missed Wyatt something fierce this past month but she didn’t want to discuss anything personal in front of someone else. Clearing her throat, she said, “I’ve reviewed the file on your new home and the security concerns you have. They’re valid and I’d like to go over exactly who you’re meeting with over the next week and who you think is the most likely individual to target you. Poisoning something that you alone were likely to ingest was an interesting choice and tells me a little about the person who targeted you. They don’t want collateral damage, but that could always change if they get desperate. I’m not sure what timeline whoever wants you dead, is working with—or if they even have one. We’ll need to figure that out and soon.”
Wyatt’s eyes strayed to her mouth, his expression heating up and she nudged his shoulder with hers. “Can you focus?” she whispered. “Your security is important to me. Who’s the first name that pops into your head as a threat?”
“Mark Keibler,” Jay muttered from the front seat.
The name was familiar to Iris. She frowned, running through all the information she’d read in Wyatt’s file. Keibler’s name had been linked to one of Wyatt’s competitors, but he hadn’t had a red flag next to him. “What’s his deal?”
“We worked together in Iraq,” Wyatt said.
When he didn’t expand, Iris cleared her throat. It was clear he didn’t want to talk about it, but whatever the issue was, she needed to know everything. Wyatt had been in the Marines just like her, but he’d only been in four years. After that he’d done contract work for another four years and made a small fortune so he could have been referencing almost eight years of possible time where he’d worked with this guy. “Feel like expanding?” She glanced around their surroundings as Jay drove them through quiet, residential streets. He was taking the long way to Wyatt’s place on the Venetian Islands and she was glad. It would be easier to spot if they were being followed. Whoever wanted him dead knew where he lived, but they might try to attack his vehicle.
“I’m watching the rearview, don’t think we’re being tailed—and this vehicle is armored,” Jay murmured, as if he’d read her thoughts.
She smiled at him in the rearview mirror then focused on Wyatt who was watching her intently, those piercing blue eyes unnerving her. “What’s up with you and Keibler?”
“We did some contract work together in Iraq. Worked for different companies, but our groups teamed up together for a couple special operations. He made a bad call on an op, I called him out and it turned out I was right. He’s held a grudge ever since.” Wyatt’s words were clipped, his jaw clenched tight.
Oh yeah, he was holding something back. She looked to the front seat and caught Jay’s eye as they pulled up to a stop. “Give me all the details, Jay.”
“I can’t tell you the operation specifics, but Wyatt was team leader of his guys and Keibler was team leader of his men. I don’t know what the fuck that guy was thinking, but Keibler mapped out this detail that would have led their teams and the principal—a US Senator who will remain nameless—right through a valley and into a trap. He changed plans at the last minute so Wyatt got out of his truck and pulled a gun on Keibler in front of everyone. Told him to back the fuck up, rerouted everyone then took over the vehicle escorting the Senator. At the Senator’s request. To top it off Wyatt had to play hero and got fucking shot later that day saving the man’s life. Got a letter of recommendation and a bonus that Keibler thinks he deserved.”
Iris had seen the long-healed bullet wound scar and had asked Wyatt about it, but he’d brushed her off. Her eyebrows raised as she stared at him. “So this is a male pride thing?” Something was bothering her about the way Wyatt shifted uncomfortably in his seat. For how successful the sexy man was, he didn’t like talking about himself or his accomplishments. She understood that, but right now she could read his body language and he was more than uncomfortable.
Wyatt shrugged. “I’ve also bought him and his business partner out of some deals in the past couple years. It’s just business, not personal. He knows that. Look, Keibler’s a dick but I don’t think he’d put out a hit on me. If he wanted to do it, he’d do it himself. Trust me, the man is arrogant enough.”
Iris’s lips pulled into a thin line. She planned to call Lizzy Martinez—no, Lizzy Caldwell—computer genius who worked for Red Stone and was also married to one of the owners and have her run everything she could on Mark Keibler. If this guy was after Wyatt, Iris would personally destroy him. Though she wanted to remain professional, unattached, she couldn’t. Not with Wyatt’s life on the line. Wyatt wasn’t acting concerned, but she knew he had to be since he’d hired Red Stone. He was very good at hiding his emotions. The fact that he thought he needed extra security told her how worried he was, even if he wouldn’t let anyone see it.
She pulled out her cell and quickly texted Lizzy. As she typed she said, “By tomorrow morning I’m going to know everything about this guy, but I need to know if there are any more surprises.”
“Wyatt…slept with a woman Keibler was seeing.” Jay’s words had Iris’s head whipping up.
Wyatt swore under his breath as Iris looked at him. “Recently?” she bit the word out, suddenly feeling very raw and exposed. Something she hated. While growing up she’d taken a lot of emotional abuse from whatever man her mother had been dating and ignorant kids at school. She needed control in her life and Wyatt was the only man who ever left her feeling vulnerable because she actually cared about his opinion. About him. The thought of him sleeping with another woman while they were supposedly married tore at her gut.
“No!” He shot Jay a murderous look before returning his attention to Iris. “It was almost seven years ago, even before that op that went bad. It was just some random woman that worked for the State Department. She told me she was single and I believed her. Turns out she’d been seeing Keibler for a while.” He shrugged, but his shoulders were tense.
“So there’s definitely bad blood between you two,” she murmured more to herself than them as her thoughts started working overtime. Wyatt might not be convinced the man was guilty, but pride could account for a lot of things and this guy could have been waiting for the right moment to strike. She fixed her gaze on Wyatt. “I don’t care who you slept with in the past, don’t keep anything from me during this detail. I need to be able to protect you. By withholding anything you’re hurting yourself and possibly my team.”
He looked as if he might argue, but he just nodded as his expression shut down. Damn it, she hated it when he did that. Just pushed her out like that. She should be grateful he was putting up walls because it would make it easier for her to keep her distance. Unfortunately it just made her want to knock them down and get closer to him. Oh yeah, she was totally fucked up where he was concerned. The man made her absolutely crazy. Being in such close quarters with him was going to make it damn hard, if not impossible, to keep her hands off him. But if she wanted to keep him alive and neutralize the threat, that was exactly what she had to do.
Sato put the forty-two foot Hatteras in neutral, then dimmed the lights as the boat she’d rented idled quietly in Biscayne Bay. She would have preferred to rent a Donzi because they were a hell of a lot faster if she needed to make a quick exit, but the speedboat wasn’t conducive to this type of operation.
There weren’t many boats out tonight and she had her scanner on, listening for Miami PD or Coast Guard chatter. So far all was silent, which was perfect for what she intended.
She didn’t drop the anchor and instead let the boat slightly drift as she went below deck to retrieve her Dragunov. While she didn’t much care for the Russians she occasionally dealt with in her field of work, they made damn fine weapons and she loved her sniper rifle. She preferred poison or close-quarter killing because it was easy to confirm elimination of the target, but right now she had to utilize whatever was at her disposal. If that meant taking out the target with a gun, she’d go that route.