Title: Danger’s Edge
Author: Nancy Northcott
Genre: Romantic Suspense
When terrorists disrupt the inaugural ball, new Arachnid Agency operative Kelsey Mitchell tables her planned undercover operation and works to bring help into the hotel. Her only ally is Greg Reed, an FBI agent on medical leave after being shot during a robbery. Kelsey dreads making a novice mistake, and Greg is afraid he’s lost his edge.
Attraction flares between them though Kelsey knows the Feds disapprove of people who work for her freewheeling agency. Together, she and Greg must fight their demons and the terrorists to gather intel for the FBI and create a safe landing zone for a rescue force. Can they succeed against overwhelming odds, or will the battle cost one or both their lives—or their hearts?
Stopping here and there to offer champagne, Kelsey worked her way closer to Keyes. She’d slipped a bug under his lapel earlier, so the recorder in her locker downstairs would catch everything he said. Unfortunately, it would also pick up music and ambient noise that could garble the words, so she needed to note which people talked with him and when.
A balding, gray-haired businessman from Iowa built like a fireplug with a gut and a bad combover, he was so not the image of someone who would kidnap children and sell them as sex slaves.
At least, not if you watched too many movies. But Kelsey’s employer, the secret, international intelligence agency known as Arachnid, had taught her better than to trust stereotypes. Dorton Keyes was importing—and exporting—more than knickknacks out of his sleek offices in Dubuque.
Kidnapping him after the ball, questioning him to learn where his human pipelines ran, was a mission she could happily sink her teeth into. It was the payoff for the eight weeks she’d worked here undercover.
A young, blonde woman in a stunning satin gown of flag blue with silver spangles beckoned to Kelsey. Smiling, Kelsey changed direction.
Beside the blonde stood a tall, ruggedly handsome guy with brown hair that looked almost bronze and keen, hazel eyes. Kelsey sucked in a quick breath. The shoulders under his black tuxedo jacket were the width of the Rocky Mountains, and the trim torso encased in his crisp, white shirt implied the rest of him was in good shape, too.
Her cheeks heated at the thought. The guy was with a date, for crying out loud. A date who had the porcelain-and-cream complexion Kelsey’s favorite aunt always touted. Not to mention makeup so skillfully applied that it seemed not to be there.
I can do makeup.
Yeah, though she usually did it to not look like herself.
“Evening,” the man said in a baritone as smooth and rich as dark chocolate.
“Good evening, sir, ma’am.” Hiding the shiver his voice sent through her, Kelsey presented the tray with a little flourish that looked good but wouldn’t unbalance the flutes.
“Let me, Greg,” the woman said, reaching for a glass. She also took a glass for herself, blue eyes cheerful. “The place is busy tonight.”
“Time passes faster that way,” Kelsey replied easily.
“Then it must be passing fast all over the city, considering how many celebrations are going on.” Fee’s smile was contagious, and Kelsey grinned. Admitting Greg was a top-tier hottie didn’t mean she couldn’t like his date.
“We shouldn’t keep you,” the hottie in question said. “You obviously have plenty to do.”
His gaze met hers, and all the air seemed to rush out of the room. Her mouth went dry, her heart fluttery, and her breath nonexistent. Greg’s hazel eyes darkened. His chiseled lips parted slightly, as though in shock, sending a rush of pure feminine elation through her.
He blinked. His throat moved in a hard swallow.
Kelsey shot a reflexive look at his date.
Fee grinned up at him and flashed Kelsey a friendly look. “I’m sure we’ll catch you later,” she offered.
“Uh. Yes,” Kelsey managed. “Right.”
Conscious of Greg’s gaze on her, she smiled at Fee and strolled away. But her heart still beat fast, and her breathing hadn’t settled.
Okay, what was that? Yeah, the guy’s smokin’ but geez. Get a grip, Kelsey.
* * *
Fee turned toward the dance floor, and Greg turned with her. Waitress Jane, whose name he’d gotten from her employee badge, circulated easily along the edges of the parquet square.
No harm in admiring that smooth stride or the graceful way she slid through crowded areas. She should get an extra gold star for that because some of the guests in those knots of people were none too steady on their feet.
Fee poked him. “What’re you frowning at? Surely not the waitress.”
“It’s not even ten o’clock,” he said softly, under cover of the easy rock coming over the speakers, “and some of these people have passed three sheets to the wind and are going strong toward four.”
“Yes, but they’re not your problem. You should intercept that waitress. Whose name tag, by the way, says Jane.”
Only an idiot would admit he already knew that.
Fee bumped his elbow. “You were looking at her like you’d been on a diet for a year and she was a hot-fudge sundae.”
Damn. Was it that obvious? Regardless, admitting it would be a tactical error.
“Always chocolate something with you,” he replied.
“You should get her number.”
Not a bad idea, but she probably had lots of guys hitting on her at functions like this. He wasn’t going to be one of the crowd.
No harm in watching, though.
She was a few inches shorter than his six one, probably about five seven, in her flat, practical shoes. Her blue eyes glinted with intelligence, and he had the distinct sense she was sizing up the people around her.
Following her gaze, he saw a guy in a black waiter jacket wheeling a cart of empty steel warming dishes toward the door. That seemed normal enough, so why were Jane’s eyes so watchful above her bright smile?
“Why’re you staring at the odd waiter?” Fee asked.
“Just wondering what bug crawled up his shorts.”
Fee sighed. “This may shock you, Gregory, but not everyone treats wait staff decently. Or even politely.” She grabbed his half-full champagne and set it with her empty glass on a passing waiter’s tray. “If you’re not going to go chat with Jane, you can dance with me.”
“I live to serve,” he said, and she laughed.
Greg stepped onto the dance floor with Fee. But his gaze drifted back to Jane. Heading for the door, her tray now empty, she was watching the guy at the dessert table.
His radar pinged. Something was wrong here.
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Nancy Northcott childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance. She currently enjoys attending and volunteering at science fiction conventions.
Nancy has written freelance articles and taught at the college level. Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society. She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s play about that king. A sucker for fast action and high stakes, Nancy combines the elements she loves in the books she writes.
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