Agent Cate Creighton is in love. Unfortunately, as the Agency honeypot, she is knee-deep in an assignment that tests the bounds of her new relationship. It seems eight socialites have gone missing, all wealthy twenty-somethings with influential parents. No one seems to care until a former vice president’s daughter disappears.
When the vice-president shares a tale of false arrest, a broken promise of deportation, an illegal diversion into a private prison, and an alleged trip to an unwater habitat called Martimus, Cate and her colleagues must find a way to follow the same path. In other words, they must enter the right prison, meet the right fixer, wind up on Martimus, and hopefully return in one piece. And it looks like Cate is the perfect bait.
That doesn’t sit well with Cate’s lover, former U.S. Navy Seal Warren Hazelton. He intends to protect her until death ‘til do they part.
Fortunately, another possibility appears, in the form of an MISix agent who has interfered in one too many Agency operations. Tillie Henderson owes them and they are all too willing to serve her up on a plate. It’s race against time as the Agency attempts to lure their adversary out of hiding and into their somewhat ambiguous trap. Maybe then Cate can finally focus on love.
Cate Creighton yanked at her gold form-fitting dress and muttered, “You’d think a five-thousand-dollar dress would cover a bit more skin.”
She stepped into the ballroom, and her gaze swept the crowd of twenty-something socialites. Around the ballroom, easels bearing photographs of buildings and people were artfully arranged but mostly ignored. Attending these gay soirees with her too-wealthy brethren was de rigueur, expected of people in her social strata, but it annoyed her that most were there to party. They didn’t give two shits about the cause.
This particular gathering benefited a homeless veteran’s program, one she and her work colleagues actively supported. Sure, a lot of money would be raised this evening, but she doubted any of these people would ever engage a homeless veteran in conversation, much less extend an actual helping hand. Throwing money at a problem seemed to be their solution for everything.
Cate sighed. Sometimes, the people of her social class sucked. She had grown up wealthy. She had never really associated with anyone outside the monied class until her mother, Lydia, was named the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Then she accompanied her mother on trips to Third World countries, countries ravaged by war, and nations steeped in poverty. Cate’s eyes had been opened. Wide. She now understood that she had an obligation to use her wealth for good. To pay it forward. Unfortunately, that was not a commitment shared by many of the people in the present room.
Cate could not imagine living a life without purpose. That was why she had joined the Agency. She gazed around the room, looking for other members of her Agency team. Hope Ali waved from across the room, then laughed at something another guest said. Her much taller husband, Tom Jeffries, stood at her side and appeared bemused at the conversation taking place. Their team leader, Anders Mark, and his wife, Dianna Murphy, sat off to the side, apparently engaged in conversation. In reality, Cate knew they were actively scanning the room, studying each and every attendee. Near the buffet table, a tall man with platinum blond hair turned, and his steel-blue eyes grew wide. Warren Hazelton, Hope’s official bodyguard and a new member of their team, grinned, then boldly winked.
Cate ignored him. Warren made her heart race and her panties wet, but tonight she was on the job. She had no time for his flirtations and dirty talk. She was supposed to be collecting information. Cate approached the bar set up in a corner. When the middle-aged bartender cast her an admiring gaze, she purred, “A dirty martini, please. Extra dirty.”
The bartender blushed and quickly prepared her drink. When he set down the extra-large martini glass in front of her, he said, “Pardon me for saying so, but you’d give Marilyn Monroe a run for her money. Those big blue eyes, luscious red lips, divine blonde hair, and that dress has every man in the room drooling.”
Cate tittered. She picked up the swizzle stick that pierced a big green olive and popped the fruit into her mouth. “Well, then,” she cooed. “You’d better make sure you have lots of clean towels!” She giggled at the bartender’s expression of surprise, picked up her glass, and sauntered away. She had turned playing a bimbo into an art. Flash a little skin, flirt without restraint, play dumb when politics was discussed, and most importantly, make them believe that with just a little bit of effort, they could convince her to wiggle out of her teeny, tiny dress and display her charms.
A young man dressed in a flashy red and black jacquard tuxedo stepped in front of her. His gaze moved from her face to her barely covered breasts to her long, tanned legs and back to her face. The man’s thin-lipped mouth curled up into a lecherous grin and his narrow green eyes flashed with lust. “Why, Cate, you do clean up nice.”
Cate took a sip of her martini and studied the pasty-faced man over the rim of her glass. “Why, thank you, Charles.” She paused. “Tell me, how is Jackie? What is she, about four months along now?”
Charles Wright shrugged. “I guess. I haven’t seen her in a while. We’re sort of taking a break.”
Cate studied him. His flat brown hair framed a lackluster face. His eyes were a bit too close together, his nose unattractively broad. Not someone she would enjoy waking up next to every morning, though Jackie was no beauty either. Cate tapped his arm with her blood-red nails. “Take my advice, Charles. Marry that girl before she takes off with your child, then demands your liver in exchange for visitation rights.” Cate cocked an eyebrow. “By the way, have you seen Elise Ellis? I was supposed to meet her here, and I can’t find her anywhere.”
Charles cast Cate a speculative glance. “I was not aware you were even acquainted.” His eyes narrowed. “And why would you be asking me about Elise anyway? Have you heard something about us? Oh God, please tell me there are not any rumors going around about us. They simply are not true. If Jackie hears about this…”