Red Heat

Red Heat by Nina Bruhns Read Free Book Online

Book: Red Heat by Nina Bruhns Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nina Bruhns
Tags: Suspense
scientists.”
    She scowled. “There has to be somewhere else.”
    He pursed his lips. “Sure. Several racks on the lower deck—but, again, with the crew. And the engines.” He wrinkled his nose. “Not very pleasant down there. Diesel fumes.”
    “I meant another stateroom ,” she gritted out.
    “Yes, well, that poses a bit of a problem,” he said. “There are only three other staterooms, and they’re all full.” He ticked off on his fingers. “My senior officers have one, the male expedition leaders another, and the last is assigned to the two scientist ladies. Everyone else is in general berthing.”
    “Why wasn’t I put in with the other women?” she demanded, starting to worry.
    “Only two bunks in that one. Until yesterday we were expecting a male reporter. I’m still not sure why he was replaced. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But this is the only remaining bunk on the boat appropriate for a lady.”
    She ground her teeth. Of course. She hadn’t thought about the injured field officer being a man. Irritated, she wondered if her boss had made the switch deliberately . . .
    She didn’t know what to do. She certainly didn’t want to bunk in an open area with a gang of Russian sailors. But this arrangement was unacceptable. “You’ll have to sleep somewhere else, then,” she told him briskly.
    Instead of answering, he reached for another towel from the overhead cupboard. “Turn around,” he said. When she didn’t react, he did it for her with a firm hand to her upper arm.
    “What on earth do you think—”
    From behind, he toweled up the cold rivulets of water from her shoulders. The protest died on her lips. His hands were strong and gentle as they moved up and started to rub her hair dry. It felt . . . really nice.
    So nice, she almost forgot she was standing there practically naked.
    Almost.
    When he started on her back, she said, “Nikolai, I’m serious. I’m not sleeping in your bed, with or without you.”
    “We’ll see,” he murmured. She could feel his warm breath on her neck. It raised the fine hairs on her nape to attention. His fingers began to push her damp bra straps off her shoulders.
    Frustration swept through her. Why wouldn’t he listen? “Stop! This is not some pirate ship where the captain can do as he pleases with his female passengers!” she said in exasperation, turning to face him. She clutched the towel to her breasts, determined to keep him at bay.
    He looked down at her, his expression unreadable. Her pulse jumped madly. Unfortunately, her own body wasn’t listening, either.
    “You are welcome to make other sleeping arrangements, and I will undoubtedly rack out elsewhere for the most part,” he said evenly. “But . . . isn’t being in my stateroom an ideal situation for completing your assignment? Always knowing what the boat’s commander is up to?” He tilted his head. “Perhaps I’ll forget to lock up some important documents. Who can tell what state secrets you might discover?”
    Her heart nearly stalled at the implication of his statement. Oh, God. He did know about her! But how?
    She gathered her wits, praying she was just being paranoid. “My assignment is to write articles about the expedition,” she said as forcefully as she could, “ not about you or the secrets of the Russian navy.”
    His gaze met hers, lit with subtle challenge. “But what else are you here for, dorogaya moya ?”
    “I don’t know what you mean,” she insisted. What had he just called her?
    His icy blue eyes seemed to pierce right through her. “I have been a submariner for many years,” he said. “On every patrol without exception there has been a zampolit , an FSB political officer, hidden among the crew. Not to spout doctrine, as in the old days, but to spy on navy missions.” He stepped closer to her. Their bodies were brushing now, the fine wool of his uniform scraping erotically against her bare skin. “Trust me, I know a shpion when I see

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