Before ascending all the way to the upper deck, she paused at the top step and looked around the quiet bay area for any threat, but all she saw was the coastal outline of San Marino and San Marco Islands. Using Google Earth and actual maps, she’d pinpointed exactly where Wyatt Christiansen’s house was along the San Marino coastline. He was south side, which would make her escape easier—since she could use the other islands as cover if necessary. There was a string of six palm trees blocking some windows of the Mediterranean style mansion, but she had clear visibility of the rear facing upstairs and downstairs windows.
She smoothly slid her rifle up on the roof of the boat covering, then hoisted herself up. The salty air tickled her nose, making her wish she was actually in Miami to enjoy herself. After setting up the weapon’s tripod and aiming the rifle toward Christiansen’s house, she stretched out on the flat surface. Since she was petite, she had enough room to be comfortable laying there. Peering through the scope, she slowly scanned the building and surrounding landscape. She would need to get closer to take a shot since her scope was calibrated for a shorter distance, but right now she wanted to do some recon to see if it was even possible. There was a covered pool between the back lanai and the stoned area to dock a boat—or more likely a yacht. But she’d never get close enough to come in through the water. Not unless she used diving gear. Sato filed that thought away for later if her other plans fell through.
The extended balcony had the shades pulled down and the two expansive windows to the left of it were also dark. She knew from the specs of the house she’d retrieved that was the master bathroom. Unfortunately all the windows on the bottom floor had shades drawn also. She could see the outline of at least four people patrolling the grounds, but didn’t doubt there would be more she couldn’t see. After she’d been seen there early this morning security would be increased three-fold.
When one of the shadowed figures turned in her direction and paused, she quickly rolled off the covering then grabbed her weapon. She knew she hadn’t done anything to give her position away, but she was on a boat in the middle of the night just idling. If someone was looking for a threat and saw her boat, they would automatically be suspicious. It was too dark for her to make out the individual’s features, but by the bulk of the figure she could tell the person who’d been looking in her direction had been male. Instead of securing the rifle, she propped it up next to the wheel and slowly reversed the Hatteras. Once she was closer to Hibiscus Island and out of the line of sight, she turned her lights back on and revved the engine.
Unless the person she’d seen had been using high-powered binoculars she doubted they’d witnessed anything useful. But a boat idling in the water near a home that was now under tight security was reason enough to be curious. Seemed that a hit from the water wasn’t an option—unless she did it in the middle of the day with the help of a huge distraction. But that meant she’d have a very dicey escape. Instead she’d try for one of Christiansen’s upcoming meetings.
And she knew exactly how to get in. Her client wouldn’t like it, but he was going to help her with this next step.
* * * * *
Iris’s shoes were silent against the kitchen tile as she entered the Tuscan-themed kitchen. She and her team had secured the house and swept it twice for bugs and explosives residue. The home had already been searched before they arrived, but she liked to be thorough. And this time she was being extra careful because it was Wyatt. Extra security was stationed outside the house and would remain there all night. Normally she would take the first night shift since she was team leader for this detail, but Wyatt had two important meetings tomorrow and he wanted her with him at both of them. If she was being honest, she wanted to be at them too. Despite her resolve to resist him, she loved being near him. The thought of seeing him in action when he was negotiating was a little hot.
“There’s a boat idling in the bay maybe half a mile out. Lights are off,” Vincent said in her earpiece. Like Wyatt’s guard, Jay, Vincent had been a SEAL too, but he’d been with a different team and had gone through BUDs years after Jay had gotten out so the two men didn’t know one another.
The house was situated on the water so boat traffic was to be expected—but a moving vessel with no lights at this time of night was odd. She started to respond when Vincent’s words stopped her. “Never mind, they’re leaving.”
That didn’t mean anything. “Keep an eye on the waterfront.” Someone could try to infiltrate the premises that way. It would be difficult, but Iris wanted to be prepared for all scenarios.
After he signed off Iris opened the stainless steel refrigerator she could easily fit in. She was headed to Wyatt’s room before she went to bed, but she was starving and didn’t want to face him on an empty stomach. There was a lot of food, but everything would have to be cooked. Ugh, no thanks.
When she tried the pantry she grinned. She found graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows and a box of unopened Hershey’s chocolate bars. Oh yeah, Wyatt had been prepared for her. Her favorite late night snack was placing the trio together into a s’more and melting them in the microwave. Not exactly healthy but she didn’t care. Food in hand, she turned and yelped to find Wyatt standing in the entryway—looking a lot more delicious than what was in her hands.
She’d forgotten how quiet he could be when he wanted and she hated that he could sneak up on her.
“Everything okay?” Vincent asked in her ear.
Eyes fixed on Wyatt, she said, “Yeah, I’m in the kitchen and Wyatt’s with me. I’m going radio silent.” Without waiting for a response, she turned off her earpiece and put it in her pocket. For a live-in job she was technically never off-duty except when she was sleeping. Not even then really. But she wasn’t sleeping with her earpiece in and right now the ‘client’ was in front of her so she didn’t need to worry about keeping tabs on him.
Wyatt shoved his hands in his pants pockets and leaned against the doorframe. His plain T-shirt molded to the cut lines and striations of his upper arms. “Late night snack?” he murmured, seduction in his voice.
Iris wasn’t sure how he could make such a simple question sound dirty, but the man pulled it off.
Throat tight, she nodded. “Yeah.” He’d been quiet for most of the drive to his house, then when they’d arrived he’d had to take a phone call. Since she’d been busy securing his home they’d barely said two words to each other.
His dark hair was damp and slicked back—which meant he’d probably just had a shower. He wouldn’t have taken one in the master bathroom because she hadn’t found something to cover those windows yet. Right now her thoughts were more on what he’d looked like naked probably ten minutes ago as hot water pulsed over his muscular body. She could actually picture the steam rising up around his ripped, perfect body. They’d made love in the shower so many times that even the thought of him in one made her nipples tighten.
“What are you thinking?” he murmured, stepping into the big pantry. When he pulled the door shut behind him, alarm jumped inside her.
Not that he’d hurt her, but close quarters with him spelled trouble. She set the foodstuff down on one of the shelves. “I’m thinking you better open that door.” Instead of trying to move past him, she crossed her arms over her chest and waited for him to comply.
His sinful lips just curved up in an almost mocking expression. “You owe me a conversation.”
“And you want to have it in here?” She didn’t want to have it anywhere. Not while she was working, but that was one concession she would have to give him.
He shrugged those broad shoulders, drawing her gaze to them. She couldn’t help but undress him with her eyes, remembering every hot inch of his naked body. Unfortunately he knew what she was doing.
“All you have to do is ask and I’ll take my clothes off.”
Iris gritted her teeth, hating that she was so transparent to him. She ignored the statement. “You want to talk, I’m here.”
“I don’t want a divorce,” he said quietly. At the familiar words, she opened her mouth but he cut her off with a shake of his head, his expression determined. “It’s my turn to talk. Do I like that your job puts you in danger almost every day? No. Do I want you to have to work? No. But does that mean we can’t make this work? Hell no.” Wyatt took a step closer, his large body crowding her in the small enclosure. When he placed his hands on her hips and pulled her close, she fought to breathe.
His familiar scent intoxicated her, making her light-headed. “I love my job, Wyatt. And I’ll never be what you need. We’ve been friends for a long time.” Longer than she wanted to think about. He was the only person she still kept in touch with from their rural Georgia hometown. After her mom had died, she’d had no ties left to it.
And up until last month when they’d got freaking married, they’d talked on the phone pretty much every week. Both their schedules kept them busy and on the road, but they’d always made time for each other. Her feelings for him ran so deep it scared her. “But you made it pretty damn clear that you expected me to quit my job and live with you wherever that might be.” She had nothing against stay-at-home wives and moms, some of her best friends were, but she couldn’t do that. Still, there was more to her running away from him—even if she wouldn’t admit it aloud.
His fingers flexed possessively on her hips and she tried to ignore the fluttering in her belly. Damn him for his effect on her. “I said that in the heat of the moment. We both struggled growing up and I just…I made a stupid assumption that was obviously wrong.”
“But it’s what you want.” She placed her hands on his chest, intending to get him to back up a step, but her fingers curled against his soft T-shirt. Lord, she was weak where he was concerned.
His jaw tightened before he answered. “I want you safe.”