Brig Monroe is a brainy security specialist with unique paranormal abilities—a geek with muscles. When it comes to the up-close-and-personal, Brig likes sex as much as the next guy, but she doesn’t do emotion, she’s amused by people who believe in true love.
Duncan Cameron is a purebred Scottish prince, and sovereign ruler of the rim planet, Ben Nevis II. The media likes to portray him as a playboy. The assassins on his trail call him the target.
When Brig is hired to fortify Cameron’s defenses, her perspective on life is put to test the instant she meets the dazzling prince. The last thing she needs is the distraction of white-hot lust when one-step in the wrong direction could mean death for both of them.
With the planet’s twin suns rising behind her, she had a clear view of the man leaning casually against the hood of the red car. Brig judged him to be in his mid-thirties. His hair was dark and longish, and he was dressed informally in black pants and a cream-colored sweater. It was difficult to tell if he was part of the palace security team or some sort of ripped royal gofer.
She noted she was also getting a marked once-over. Her build took most people aback. Not only was she was tall for a female, but her years of physical training, in a mix of martial arts, had given her a body as powerful as most men. That was fine with her. Appearances were everything in her line of work.
Now, she heard the stranger’s communicator buzz. She watched him push away from the car and turn his back while he spoke to the caller. Brig noted he was unusually large, perhaps a head taller than her with a solid set of muscles stretching his cream sweater. Her gaze drifted downward, taking in his tight black pants, which outlined powerful thighs…and a very nice butt. She ignored the twist of reflex lust and listened carefully. Anyone she met from now on could be a would-be murderer.
“No, it won’t be a problem. I’ll speak to him privately when I return.”
His rumbling baritone carried an air of authority and a hint of an accent. Brig surmised it was a Scottish burr, since Ben Nevis’s colonizers had originated from Scotland. On a deeper level, her hyper-senses told her the stranger’s chi harbored warrior traits, no surprise there if he was a bodyguard. Since she didn’t pick up any dark energy, she relaxed a trifle.
“That’ll be fine,” she heard him tell the other party. “Set the others up for an early meet tomorrow.” He clicked off his link and turn to face Brig. Gold glinted on his wrist as he removed his sunglasses. He stared for a long strumming moment. “Good morning. I’m Duncan Cameron.”
Brig was astonished both by the fact that the man himself had come to meet her and by the electric blue eyes examining her as though she were an undetermined and unexpected species.
He was the exact opposite of what she’d expected, disturbingly attractive with a sculptured mouth and smooth tanned skin that showed he spent a lot of time outdoors. Since she didn’t care for the fact that looking at him made her feel as if she needed to take a deep steadying breath, she rolled her shoulders and gave him her I’m-here-to-save-your-ass face. “Good morning. You can call me Brig or Monroe.” She never used her full name, Brigitta. It sounded too feminine for her line of work.
Cameron gave her a long level look. “Very well, Monroe. Let’s get going. We can talk on the way.”
Still wondering why Mr. Big would trouble himself to drive out to meet her when fawning minions must surround him, it suddenly struck— “Wait! Has something happened? Did you receive another death threat?” Quickly, she scanned the countryside again.
Cameron cast her an irritated glance. “Nothing has happened. Everything is fine. Now, let’s go. I have a meeting to attend.”
Brig couldn’t tell if it was bruised ego or something else that was annoying him. Men could be absurdly touchy about their male pride. If he felt unmanned because a female would be standing guard over him that was his problem. “Fine,” she said, “but if you want my advice you’ll stop tooling around in that little number—” She tipped her head toward the sleek open-topped car. “You might as well put a bull’s-eye on your back.”
His blue eyes narrowed on her face. “I’ll assume you’re not deliberately trying to annoy me, Miz Monroe, and I’ll tell you just as bluntly that I will travel as I wish.”
She shrugged. “Your call, but since I come with a very high price tag, why pay it if you’re not planning to take my advice?”
“Because I didn’t engage you personally…my Minister of Trade, Hagen Warner, took it upon himself to initiate your contract.”
She nodded slowly as she absorbed that. “Understood, but if Intel surmises that you might be a target during the upcoming trade talks, why are you not taking the threat seriously?”
He shrugged. “I’m not disregarding it, but threats are part-and-parcel of my job, and it’s not the first time Warner has overreacted. But enough about that. What I primarily wish to discuss with you is your style of behavior while you’re here.”
His high-handed attitude was really starting to piss her off.
“I don’t know how you normally go about protecting your clients, but in this instance, since you’re here under sufferance, I don’t want you in my face while I’m conducting business.”
While it was tempting to trade a few sharp barbs with His Haughtiness and head back to the shuttle, her business sense prevailed. On top of her fee of fifty thousand universal credits to safeguard Cameron until the trade meetings were completed, her contract stipulated she’d receive double that amount, if she could identify and neutralize the hired gun.
Brig had earmarked the bonus for the charity she’d set up two years ago. A shelter for battered women and their children named Haven House, in memory of Anya Brooke, a college friend of Brig’s who had died from a beating at the hands of her husband. Brig didn’t learn about the years of domestic abuse Anya had endured until it was too late, but in her friend’s name, Brig could help other women. “Right,” she said. “I’ll do my best to carry out my duties while following your directives.”
He held her gaze. Calculating her mindset, she thought.
“Good, so we understand each other.”
Before she could respond, his com-link buzzed again. This time he glanced down at the screen, frowned and rejected the call.
Watching his expression while she took her sunglasses out of her backpack, Brig picked up an emotion in Cameron that told her it was a woman trying to reach him. Doubtless, there was no shortage of beautiful women in his life, and why would there be? Wealth and power were heavy-duty aphrodisiacs, not to mention his spectacular looks.
He surprised her with an unexpected show of courtesy, bending to haul up her duffle bag and place it on the rear seat next to her backpack.
As he turned toward her again, something dark and intense flashed in his blue eyes, causing her senses to spike sharply in response. For one totally absurd moment, she got an image of him moving in to lock lips with her in a hard bruising kiss. Completely flummoxed, she went rigid, her breathing suspended. When he merely reached behind her to open the car door, she sidestepped, calling herself a moron.
“Jump in,” he said. “The journey will take approximately twenty minutes. I’ll answer any questions you might have on the way.”
Feeling as if hot-to-trot was now flashing on her forehead, she covered her eyes with sunglasses, and sank into the beige leather seat that felt as soft as butter. She didn’t doubt that Cameron had picked up on her reaction, and was amused by it. She had to be the exact opposite of the women he normally took to bed.