“Get off me,” I said more calmly.

“What are you going to do if I don’t?” he asked. “I’ve got you pinned, and you know what? There’s not a damn thing you can do about it. So it looks like you’ve got yourself a bit of a problem.”

“You think so?” I replied, nearly breathless. I had to get him off of me before I did something stupid. Like whimper…or spread my legs.

“I do,” he said confidently. There was a pause, then, “Was I too rough?” he asked gruffly.

I forced myself not to struggle. “I happen to like it rough.”

“Liar.” His voice was now low and husky. Full of sexual energy. “I think you like it slow and tender.”

My God, if he kept talking to me like that, I was going to rip off his shorts and demand he take me right here. “Damn you. Don’t you want to teach me a lesson?”

“Maybe next time.” He paused. “When a man has you pinned like this, the best thing you can do is bite his arm and use the distraction to twist yourself around.” Before I could take his advice, he jumped off me and stood to his feet.

Feeling strangely bereft, I wrenched to my back and kicked, swiping his feet out from under him. Down, down he tumbled. I laughed when he hit. “To do something like that?” I asked him.

His laughter mingled with mine, the sound of it raw and genuine. He didn’t move to rise, but remained in place. “Good move.”

“Thank you.”

When our amusement died, he anchored one of his arms behind his neck and frowned. “I want that bastard EenLi killed. Not because it’s our assignment, but because he deserves to die.”

I glanced over at his profile; it was as harsh and savage a view as full frontal. “You make it sound personal.”

“Every mission is personal, but I’m sure Michael told you EenLi used to work here.”

“He did.”

“When he left, he killed several agents. Agents who were my friends.” Lucius turned to face me, the glint in his eyes feral, hard. “If at any time I think you’re holding me back, I swear to God I’ll kill you myself.”

My eyes narrowed. “I’m only going to say this once.” I held up one finger, just in case he needed a visual. “I’ll speak slowly so you understand. Ifyou hold me back, I’ll send you crying back to your mommy—cut up like a little girl.”

Another flash of amusement played at the corners of his lips. “Good with knives, are you?”

“Very,” I said with utter confidence.

“Fair enough. Warning received.” Quick as a snap, he rolled on top of me and pinned my shoulders to the mat with his knees.

I quickly brought my legs up behind him and wrapped my ankles around his neck. My thigh muscles ached when I jerked him backward. Down he went, up I went. The moment his back hit, I used the momentum to pull myself the rest of the way up and planted my elbow in his stomach.

His breath whooshed out. “That’s the second time you’ve elbowed me,” he panted.

“Has EenLi showed up anymore?” I asked, quickly pushing to my feet. Just for fun, I dropped and thrust my elbow into his lungs.

“Damn it!” When he caught his breath, Lucius said, “A few more times in New Dallas. We think he murdered a human female.”

“That’s not his usual MO. EenLi abducts, rapes, and tortures. He rarely kills. There’s no profit in a dead body.”

“I know. I think he’s desperate and made a mistake.” Lucius spun and lashed out, his foot slamming into my forearm. Into my wound.

I winced, but maintained my balance. My God, that hurt. He wanted me to cry “unfair,” but I didn’t give him the satisfaction. I leapt, whirling in the air, one fist cocked and ready. Contact. I nailed him in the temple.

His chin whipped to the side.

“It usually takes him months to round up the right slave candidates, since he only wants those that meet his buyers’ specifications,” I said. “Why act hastily now?”

“From what you told Michael,” he said, dancing to the side when I came at him again, causing me to miss him, “some of his last shipment died from some sort of sickness. His buyers wouldn’t have liked that. They asked for a certain number, I’m sure, so he has to supply that exact number. And don’t forget, you killed his top man, so he’s doing some of the dirty work himself now.”

“Makes sense.” Since the move had worked for me before, I went low, kicked out. My leg connected with his ankles. When he tumbled down, I jumped and pinned his shoulders with my knees, my crotch near his face.

He met my eyes, then purposefully slid his gaze slid downward. “Nice view.”

I shivered and tried to halt the new flicker of awareness sparking within me. Short, inky locks of hair spiked over his forehead, giving him a just-roused-from-bed appearance. “Look, I’m not like other women you know. I’m tougher than you think. I’ve done things and been places most people only fear.”

“You’re still a woman,” he said, as if that explained every secret of the universe. “And you’re a Raka, the most peaceful race ever to slink their way onto this planet.”

Slink? I should break his nose for that. “I’m a Rakan woman who kills people for a living. I’m not afraid of you, and I’m not afraid of EenLi. Iwill kill him.”

An unreadable emotion glimmered in his eyes, and I wondered what he was feeling. Admiration? I wished. Doubt? Most likely.

“Why do you choose to kill other-worlders when you yourself are an other-worlder? Isn’t that like killing your own brother?”

“My reasons are my own and no business of yours.”

“I’ve read your file,” he said. “No reason is mentioned.”

Stunned, I blinked. Michael had the nerve to delete Lucius’s file so I would have to learn about him on my own, but he left my file for the man to peruse at his leisure? Fury seared me, and lightning snapped along my tongue. “Like my reasoning, my file is my business and mine alone.”

He remained unperturbed. “I’ll be honest. You’re a contradiction, and I haven’t figured you out yet. By killing other-worlders, you protect humans,” he said, “but humans hunt your people for their golden skin.”

“I’m as much an earthling as you are. I was born here, raised here. The fact that I’m Rakan…” I gave a stiff shrug. “You’re human. Would you kill a human if you had to?”

“Absolutely,” he said. His eyebrows arched. “Would you?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. “You, in particular. Some people, no matter their race or gender, are bad and need to be destroyed. That’s the only way peace will be reached.”

Those full lips of his curved sensuously, and I had the sudden, unwelcome urge to lean down and nibble them.

“You want to know what Michael plans for us today or what?” he asked.

I nodded and fought a rise of color in my cheeks because I’d forgotten Michael’s dictate so easily. Stupid lust. I didn’t like this man. Remember?

“Last night one of our agents caught Sahara Rose. She’s being held in New Dallas,” he said, not bothering to try and move me off of him. “Michael wants us to fly there and question her, get whatever information we can.”

I nearly jumped to my feet in excitement and anticipation, but managed to remain where I was. “When do we leave?”

“Two hours.” He clasped his hands over my thighs and squeezed. Not enough to hurt, but enough to get my attention. “I want to question her alone, which means you need to stay here.”

I laughed. I just couldn’t help myself. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“There’s no way you’ll get answers out of her. You look about as scary as a bowl of warm honey.”

“Looks do not determine ability,” I ground out, losing all traces of humor. I’d heard similar words my entire life. As a teenager, my spoiled, pampered self had loved that kind of statement. As an adult, and in light of my recent failure, I hated—hated!—hearing such a thing.

“And don’t even get me started on your mouth,” he continued.

“What about my mouth?” I asked slowly.

“It’s a two-hundred-dollars-an-hour mouth, not a tell-me-all-your-secrets-or-I’ll-kill-you mouth.”

“You know what?” I said. Oh, this was going to be fun. He obviously had no idea what he was about to encounter with his interrogation. “I’m willing to make a bet with you. I’ll give you ten minutes to get a single answer out of Sahara Rose. A single answer.” I’d followed the woman for days. I knew her. Lucius, with his towering build and hard-ass I-don’t-give-

a-shit edge, would intimidate her into absolute silence.

Wicked intent gleamed in his expression. “And when Ido get an answer out of her?” he asked, both brows raised.

“I’ll let you have my mouth for free.”

He didn’t hesitate. “Agreed.”

“Don’t you want to know what I get if you fail?”

“I don’t plan to fail.”

“You still have to offer me something I want.”

Now he hesitated. “What?” he asked suspiciously.

“When your ten minutes are up, I want you to step aside and shut the hell up. I’ll get the information we need. Afterward, you’re going to get on your knees and praise my ability.”

His lips stretched to a full, anticipatory grin. “Agreed. But get ready, cookie.” He lifted up, getting so close I felt the warmth of his breath on my face. “I want your mouth all over me.”

Chapter 4

Iwant your mouth all over me.

I tried not to think about Lucius’s parting words as I luxuriated in the softness and decadence of Michael’s private ITS—Ionic Transport System—a jet that ran on vibrations of subparticle strings of energy rather than gasoline. Complete with four laser cannons and retractable wings. I tried not to imagine my mouth devouring Lucius’s hard, muscled body, his moans of pleasure in my ears, his hands gripping my hair, the taste of him teasing my tongue.

Unfortunately, I thought of little else and spent nearly every moment of the flight to New Dallas lost in a sensual haze. The cloying scent of honey still wafted from me—and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. At least Lucius hadn’t mentioned my ‘perfume’ again. I might die of acute mortification if he did—I could even picture the headline of my obituary:

“Alien Assassin Survives Antique Gunshot, Laser, Knife Wounds, Poison, and Explosion, Only to Succumb to the Stupid-ass Comment of a Human Male.”

I pushed out a breath and settled deeper into the plush leather seat. The private, luxury ITS offered a smooth ride, a lavish sapphire couch and a gilded table. If it weren’t for the panoramic view of white clouds and blue sky, I might have convinced myself I lounged at home, reflecting on the success of my last mission.

Instead, here I was. A failure. Partnered. Lusting after a human.

Rakas were sensual by nature. Creatures of peace, pleasure, and decadence—qualities I’d battled for many years, and thought I had conquered. Or rather, killed, along with all of my victims.

I sighed. I hadn’t set out to become an assassin. I asked to train with Michael and his agents simply to spend more time with my father. To impress him. He respected his men, and I’d wanted that respect for myself. Wanted to be more than his spoiled, pampered,lazy daughter—something he’d been teased about often. He’d never complained, had actually taken pleasure in indulging me, but I had begun to notice the difference between his men and me.

Reluctantly Michael agreed to let me participate. Throughout training, I was pushed as hard as the men. I fought, I hunted, I learned the intricacies of weapons. Afterward, I watched my male counterparts leave and return from assignments while I remained behind. I heard them discuss the atrocities being committed by their targets, and I felt their pride at protecting those weaker than themselves.

Becoming an agent soon became my real goal. As the days passed, it was less about Michael and more aboutme. What I could do to help.

Finally Michael allowed me a chance to prove myself. That first kill had been less difficult than I’d expected. Less difficult than everyone expected. I was a Raka, sensual, a peace lover, true, but I had easily taken life. That’s when I realized the destruction of evil was a sensual dance and my means of keeping the peace. Killingwas my nature.

Lucius stretched out his long, thick legs, eating my personal space. He sat across from me, no part of our bodies touching. Still, I felt the heat of him, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like him, period. He upset my inner balance. An inner balance I desperately needed. After all, I destroyed aliens and humans for a living, violently, without thought or regret. One single distraction could getme killed.

Iknew that. I did. Yet here I was, consumed by a man who made me ache in ways that had nothing to do with physical injuries.

I stole a quick glance at him, my gaze locking on his lips. Though pink and lush, they somehow appeared hard just then. Abrasive. Just like the rest of him. But I didn’t think they’d be hard when kissing a woman. No, they’d be tender and silky. Hot. Perfect. Utterly perfect.

A man who looked like he did, comprised of razors and nails, muscle and sinew, belonged in wars. Not on top of a woman, giving untold pleasure. And yet I’d be willing to bet he excelled at both. Not that I would ever find out first hand.

Shifting to the side, I allowed myself to take in the rest of him. The change in his appearance still surprised me. The man had somehow transformed himself before leaving New Mexico. After ourinnocent tussle in Michael’s basement gym, we’d gone our separate ways to shower and change clothes. Lucius had emerged with his dark hair bleached completely white, his left eyebrow pierced, and the base of his throat sporting a skull tattoo. He looked sexy as hell.