Palace of the Jaguar (MF)
[Siren Classic: Erotic Contemporary Romance]
CID Agents, Ali Donavon and Jack Gunnison no longer believe in love or their fellow man, until life or death circumstances reveal the depth of sacrifices they willingly make for each other...
Ali's work in the CID is dark and dangerous like her new partner, Jack "Gun" Gunnison, the agency's top sniper. Recently ending a bad relationship, Ali doesn't want anyone like Gun in her life, too good looking, too into himself, and too much like her arrogant ex. As a woman in a man's world, she is determined to prove herself among the best in the CID. The agency is her life now.
Gun's life has been filled with self-doubt, guilt, an unfaithful wife, and the unwitting responsibility for his best friend's death has made him wary. He needs to succeed in his new assignment, both to achieve justice for his friend and to find the redemption that will heal him. He sees Agent Donavon as a real danger to his concentration which could jeopardize the success of their mission.
A Siren Erotic Romance
5 CUPS, 2008 Coffee Time Reviewer's Recommend Award: "This is excellent; truly one of the best books I have read in a long time. The suspense and adventure are everything you could ask for. It is superbly written and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The romance is just as fantastic. The main characters are exactly what the reader is looking for. They are tough as nails, intelligent, and fight for their love as well as their country. I could easily read this over and over, and would love to see Donavon and Gun again. Both thumbs up for Palace of the Jaguar, and a huge thank you to Ms. Womack for such a great read!" -- Lototy, Coffee Time Romance
4 STARS: "Betty Womack has a talent for engaging her readers. I suddenly found myself an FBI Agent in Columbia in love with my partner. The characters are flippant, tough, and very sexy. Palace of the Jaguar is a nonstop action novel. Fans of action romantica will not want to miss Palace of the Jaguar." -- Anne Boling, ReviewYourBook
4 STARS: "I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this novel of romance and suspense. This story was fast paced with a plot that flowed very well. There was sexual chemistry between Ali and Gun from the beginning and you just knew that they were going to satisfy that itch, you just didn't know when. When they come together sexually it was hot... Palace of the Jaguar is a great read for those who enjoy a lot of suspense with their sex and romance. Another winner from Ms. Womack!" -- LT Blue, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
4 ANGELS: "With non-stop action and a super-hot romance, Betty Womack's Palace of the Jaguar was a stupendous read that I enjoyed immensely. I found the characters of Palace of the Jaguar to be well-developed with realistic flaws. Readers, you don't want to miss out on this fantastic read." -- Contessa, Fallen Angel Reviews
"I enjoyed this book immensely. The characters were razor sharp, and the sexual tension was palpable. I felt like the author exorcised a few of her own personal demons in this book, and all I could think to say was "wow", and "watch out"! The bad guys in the book were actually pretty well rounded from a reader point of view, and appeared to participate in all of the seven deadly sins. The plot points in the book were well thought out, and it was hard for me to put it down. I can't wait to see more from this author." -- Dawn Epton, Paranormal Romance
Gun stared out the van window until the driver turned off the highway and drove down a narrow, weed-choked road. He’d been here before. The rifle range was a wind-driven piece of dirt surrounded by bunker-like berms and bullet-riddled mock-up buildings.
They were there to test fire the weapon he and Ali would use to take Armondez out. Donavon sat with Rance in the middle row of seats. She hadn’t spoken for thirty minutes. He liked that she wasn’t chatty.
The van rolled to a stop near a dilapidated shell of a building, and the agents climbed out. It was hammer time. Gun fell in behind Hamm, who carried a dark leather case. He set the case down on a battered wooden table and motioned for the agents to gather around.
“Donavon, Gun. Over here.” Hamm opened the case and brought out the weapon he had chosen for them. He held up the sleek, no-nonsense .338 Lapua Magnum sniper rifle. “This weapon is a rotating-bolt, manually operated rifle with a Zeiss scope. It will bring down a water buffalo at 15,000 meters.” Hamm lowered the rifle and looked at his team. “This weapon is the T-76 longbow, tactical engagement rifle. Vastly superior to .30 rifles without the weight of a .50 caliber. The weapon’s failure ratio is zilch. It won’t let you down.”
Ali seemed to be impressed, edging closer to caught up in the blustery wind. She still wore the big old parka she’d snagged from the lost-and-found. The thing swallowed her slim figure. Come to think of it, he’d never seen her figure.
“Gun, you want to join us over here? Maybe fire this weapon a few times?”
“Be glad to, sir.” Gun appeared nonchalant, but he felt pissed off at himself. He’d been checking out his partner.
He checked the magazine, worked the bolt to lay a round in the chamber. “Nice action, sir.”
“Let’s see how accurate it is.” Hamm signaled for the target boards to be raised. “Start anywhere you like.”
Gun knew weapons, and he liked the feel of the Beretta. Just enough weight to remind you it was there, but not enough to weigh a man down. Just the way he liked his women. An odd sensation made him look to his left. Ali was staring at him, her icy-blue gaze serious as hell.
“Don’t worry.” He figured she was grading him. “I never miss what I aim at.”
She gave him the bird and smiled at him with her teeth. “Famous last words.”
He pulled the cold stock to his shoulder and cradled it against his cheek. Sighting the 500-yard target, he pulled the trigger. The kick should’ve loosened his molars.
“Let’s see what you scored.” Hamm signaled for the target. He studied it with a shake of his head.
Gun wasn’t concerned. He knew he’d hit it dead center and finished taking his shots. All bull’s-eyes. He turned around when Hamm called for Ali to fire.
She took the rifle from him with her strong-looking hands and immediately worked the bolt to drop a round in the chamber. She shrugged the parka off and raised the rifle to her shoulder. He liked her moxie, but her fine ass got most of his attention. While her jeans worked up between her butt cheeks, he was getting hard.
The way she took aim was exactly what he would have told her to do. He realized she had been holding her breath until she pulled the trigger.
“Dead Eye Dick,” Rance yelled from the trench under the targets. “Perfect center shot.”
Gun was impressed. She was an ace. While Ali reloaded and blew the hell out of the target, he gained some decent respect for her. She was a top gunner, but would she hold up under a drug dealer’s crazy shit?
The supervisor obviously liked her. Hamm crowded around her along with the other agents to slap her on the back, helping her into her coat. She had to have been cold as hell, but too proud to let on. Yeah, she was lean and mean. He liked that. When he joined the group, she glanced over Rance’s shoulder, giving him a wiseass grin.
The agents all climbed in the van and headed back to the agency. This time, Gun claimed the seat next to Ali.
“So, Donavon.” He appreciated the blank stare he got for his audacity in sitting beside her. “How’s a chick learn to shoot like that?”
“What’s the matter, Gunnison?” She brushed at her flyaway hair. “You jealous?”
“Who, me?” He draped his arm across the back of her seat. “See, I just have this need to know everything about the person who’s going to be covering my ass.”
Her snort of derision was funny as hell to him. “It’s not your ass I’ll be watching.” She went into her silent mode again.
He nudged her knee with his. “I’ll be watching yours.”
She gave him the deadpan expression.
“What?” He knew what. She wanted to slug him.
She shrugged away from him and leaned against the side door. He liked her. That wasn’t part of the deal, but he wouldn’t fight it if she didn’t.
Ali slipped out of bed and went out on their small balcony to listen to the morning rain. It rushed off the overhangs and splashed down to spray the brick courtyard in the back of the hotel. The humidity and sound of heavy downpour made her think of Charleston and its warm summer morning rain. She wondered if she would ever get back there.
Rustling of the bed sheets and an audible groan made her look over her shoulder at Gun. He had tangled up in the sheet and lay on his belly, face turned toward her. She rolled her eyes, thinking about the rowdy sex they’d had a short time ago. Leaning around the doorway, she grabbed the half-full pack of cigarettes off the dressing table and lit one. She blew the smoke out toward the rain, watching it disappear.
Regret squeezed her hard while she thought of all the sane reasons to avoid such crazy behavior. Not because he didn’t give a rat’s ass about her. Hell, no. She didn’t exactly like him, either. Well, that was a bold-faced lie. She did like him, damn it. He was a man wanting no ties, no soft emotion, and she knew all that. After all, she was in no rush to feather a new nest with some lying son-of-a-bitch anytime soon.
Not wanting to think about how fast she had jumped in the sack with him, she snuffed out the cigarette and went back into the room. Making as little noise as possible, she went in the bathroom and brushed her teeth. No wonder she was hungry. Seven in the morning was a late start for her.
No telling when “dream man” would regain consciousness. She had her robe off, ready to shower, when her cell phone rang. Not wanting to wake Gun, she grabbed it.
“Come back to bed.”
Gun. She peered around the door to see him kicking the tangled sheets off and trying to sit up and hold the phone to his ear. He yawned sleepily and gazed around the room as if he were lost. She crooned into the mouthpiece.
“Go to sleepy, little baby.”
He stunned her when he finally broke his silence. “Speaking of babies, I don’t recall taking time out to get rubbers for our party.”
Ali had never expected Jack Gunnison to spend time reflecting on the night before. “Gun. You’re not my first.”
The silence was long, and she eyed him through the small space left between the door and the wall. He looked at the phone with a grin before speaking to her again.
“Damned right, I’m not your first.” He threw the sheet aside and sprawled on his back. “I would have taught you a few things.”
Resentment brewed in her stomach. What did he mean by that crack? It would be a cold day in hell before she let him touch her again. Not caring that she was nude, Ali opened the door. She walked to the bed to look at his smug face.
“Not that I give a damn, but just exactly what did you find objectionable or lacking in my sexual performance?” Her narrowed gaze sought out his cock. He was rigid; his cock pressed so close to his belly, she might have a hard time getting her fingers around it. “Looks like part of you thought I was pretty good.”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the bed. “I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to him.” His gaze flicked over his member and back to her face.
“Him? That has a gender and a name?”
“Donavon’s jelly roll.” His chuckle was a sweet aphrodisiac, deep and rough, just like him.
She stayed on her knees and braced her weight on his belly, avoiding the warm length of dick near her hand. Sex wasn’t on her mind at the moment. She didn’t know if she liked him well enough for another romp. The tips of her fingers grazed his chest, and she didn’t smile when she spoke.
“Are you ever serious about lovemaking?”
“Donavon.” He ran his hand up her arm and met her serious gaze, gesturing in a show of exasperation. “We fucked. That’s it. We fucked.”
The slap of her palm to his belly rang in her ears. “You fucked. I made love.” She slapped his cheek for good measure. “You’re a pig, you know that? No wonder your wife left you for a lawyer.”
She only had time to gasp before she felt her hair flying around her face and the wind jolting from her lungs as he grabbed her and tossed her onto the bed, pinning her with his leg.
His voice remained level, but there was ice in his tone. “She didn’t leave me because the sex was bad. She left because she wasn’t getting it often enough.”
He was grinning, but Ali heard self-deprecation in his words, no matter how big his grin. He had just admitted he had failed life’s hardest test. Being married. Still, that didn’t excuse his horse’s-rear attitude toward her.
“You’re bragging again.” There was no grin on his face now. The pitch black of his gaze was unreadable, like the set of his chiseled lips.
“You like me, Donavon.” His mouth curved into a half-smile. “But, don’t.”
Her lips quivered in a maddening show of nerves. “No need to take that attitude. You don’t meet my standards.”
She didn’t like being pinned and quickly freed herself from his leg hold, pressing him down with her body. He laughed and spanked her ass, making her growl with resentment. She stopped struggling when he whispered against her cheek.
“It’s okay. You can like me.” He caught her face in his hands and covered her lips in a deep, hungry kiss. She barely heard his next words. “Just don’t count on me for anything past this job.”
Ali couldn’t avoid the hard slam to her gut, that sick, cold feeling of losing something you love. No, oh, no. That wasn’t what she felt for him. He made her mad as hell, insulted her, made her laugh, and was a phenomenal lover. But, no, she couldn’t feel anything else for him. Gun had no place in her life after Colombia was history. Okay, so right now she was in bed with her partner. Nothing that hadn’t happened a million times before. Just not to her.
He didn’t try to stop her as she sat up and tugged on his arms, trying to get him in a sitting position. He eyed her with some suspicion.
“You going to try to hurt me, chili pepper?”
“Shut up and enjoy it while you can.”
His big, strong hands caught her waist and pulled her close to his beautiful, scarred chest. “Do whatever you want, baby. I’m ready.”
She relaxed against his warm body, hugging his strong neck so hard, he pushed her away a little to look at her face. To cover her feelings of unwarranted emotion, she bit his earlobe and tightened her grip again.
No, God. She couldn’t love a guy like this. He would be off and running in another week, in another country with another woman and she would be wearing sackcloth and ashes if she didn’t get hold of her runaway heart.
She caught his earlobe in her teeth, gently sucking and nursing until he squeezed her breasts. The quickening in her body flashed through her like wildfire, and she couldn’t force herself to be demure, not when he mouthed her nipples and worked his fingers inside her, sliding them in and out until she raised her hips in response. Her murmur was urgent. “Gun, fill me and I’ll ride.”
“Up a little higher, Donavon. I’m not that damned long.”
She heard a grin in his voice and lifted her hips more, nearly bolting through the ceiling as the head of his cock touched the sensitive folds around her clit. Losing control was a new experience for her, and she gave all credit to Gun. He just knew all the best areas of her body and caressed and licked them all.
The silly little moan she heard had been hers, and she clung to his warmth and strength as if she were drowning. He filled her arms and her body, making her foolishly think it could last forever. She opened her eyes and found him staring at her. “What?” Her voice had been a miserable croak.
“You really do like me, don’t you, Donavon?”
“Shut up and make me happy.” She strained against him, taking him in, gripping with all her might. He clasped her thighs and rocked into her, finding the most sensitive spot of her neck to suck voraciously until she cried out in her release.
While she struggled to catch her breath, he smiled at her. Ali knew he hadn’t climaxed, but she was too tired to offer any help. He wasn’t tired, nibbling little kisses along her neck.
One last sniggle of need made her accept some more physical exertion. “Let’s do it another way.”
He stopped his movement and laughed. “Is there one we haven’t tried?”
“Standing up is good.” She toyed with his flat nipple. “Come on, lazy boy. I want it.” She made that clear, hanging on to him like a sex-starved idiot.
He grinned and pulled her close. “You think I can’t do it. Right?”
The thought had not occurred to her, but she went along with the idea. “Well. Can you?”
“Hell, yes. I can fuck standing on my head.”
Her gaze touched and kissed his lips as he yawned. He was stubborn and proud. “I’m glad to hear you are so talented.”
“I’ll show you that one later.” He got off the bed, pulling her with him. “One standing fuck ... coming right up.”