without Red even knowing
what was up.
A few hours later, however, a new idea
formed. Better. More honest. He’d call Red and tell her everything
she needed to know. She wouldn’t be mad.
Yeah, she would be, he realized. He’d once
tried to explain a few things about his need for secrecy to his
wife over the phone from a small hotel room in St. Petersburg.
She’d yelled, she’d cried, and she’d served him divorce papers when
he returned home. No. He’d better not explain on the phone.
He called Marcia instead.
“Hello, Brody, all set for the ball
“Yeah. I just picked up the Prince Charming
suit from the cleaners. I need you to deliver the princess.”
“I was told. And, no problem. I want a break
from this hick town.”
“That bad?” He’d found enough to do in the
few days he’d spent there before Red, but longer than a month might
“One word. Bowling.”
“You have me there.”
They made small-talk about several past
operations before Kieran got up his nerve to say, “Listen, tell
Jess why you’re there. She has to be alert to any possibility of
danger. She thinks Max was killed by drug dealers. She should know
what really happened and how exactly I’m involved. Tell her I
wanted her to know.”
“Is it wise to unmask us?” Marcia sounded
“In this case, yes. It should be done in
person, and I think she’ll trust you. I’d screw it up on the phone
and probably piss her off.”
“All right. We’ll see you soonish.”
And he did see them. They arrived a few hours
before the opening reception, and Red changed in his apartment. Her
movements were deliberate, her face somber, but she never mentioned
Marcia’s confession. So he brought it up.
“You understand why you’re here?”
She nodded, rubbing her right thumb in the
palm of her left hand. “Marcia explained that a Russian agent
escaped after murdering Max, and he may be after the two of us. You
want me closer to you. But I have to return to work. I can’t live
“If he knows you’re with me, he’ll make a
move this weekend.”
“I still don’t understand why it’s safer
“I have about twenty men and women backing me
up. In Ohneka, it’s you and Marcia.”
She gripped her hands together but maintained
a calm expression. “Oh. And we have to go to this party.”
“It’ll announce our presence. One of his
friends will be there and communicate with him. I’m sure of it.”
Kieran didn’t mention how many moles he’d contacted, the tapped
phone lines or Internet connections, everything he’d done to find
Dmitriyev before Dmitriyev found either of them. All of which had
led to this.
Red took a deep breath and visibly
Her dressed-up appearance challenged Kieran’s
concentration, his focus. The woman had transformed from a natural
beauty to a goddess created to drive men wild. Every caress, every
kiss had made his body respond with a growing intensity that
nothing could alleviate except finally being with her. His mind,
however, had to overrule his body. She was off-limits until she
wasn’t a work assignment, until he could claim her forever.
He’d hired a car to take them to the party,
and when they arrived every man from the valet to the ambassador
openly admired her. The woman looked amazing in blue jeans and a
sweater; in a black cocktail dress cut high enough to show off her
long legs, and low enough to hint at breasts the perfect size for a
man’s hands, she could bring the entire dinner party to their
Her red hair flowed down her back,
advertising her presence to Dmitriyev or his associates. Who else
had hair like this?
“I feel out of place,” she whispered as they
entered the main reception area.
“You are out of place here, Red. Because not
one other woman here looks as beautiful.”
She released the bottom lip she’d been biting
After dinner, he introduced her to a