Today was the day he met his fate. This was the day he’d die. And, reasoned Bernard Billingsley, he deserved this untimely fate.
A seasoned and accomplished secret agent in the service of the British government, he’d been warned about Roxana Belwin; the suspected double agent he’d been hired to investigate and expose.
Instead, and despite numerous warnings about the cunning and seductive ways of this notoriously heartless woman, he had believed her claims that she wanted to change; eventually blowing his cover to indulge in a passionate affair with the petite, ravishing Roxana.
They were engaged in a heated encounter, one played out in the confines of an upscale London hotel room, when she put a long, sharp knife to his throat.
“Such a study in contrasts,” he mused, staring with wide, blank eyes at his intended murderess. “The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, the softest, silkiest sheets that have ever touched my body, amazing sex…and it all ends this way.”
Ah, but he reminded himself, he did indeed deserve it.
Enamored by the classic beauty and easy charm of the dark-eyed, raven-haired Roxana, he’d forsaken his duty to his agency and government; and, most of all, to the woman who’d ‘had his back’ for almost a decade.
Known as “Cal” to him and their co-horts, Callista Raymond had been his partner throughout the course of his career in counter intelligence; as well as his best friend in ‘real life.’
Not the gorgeous young vixen who fell into an agent’s bed, Calista had never been his lover; she’d been something far more. A strong-minded and devoted friend who’d seen him through some tough times. A stalwart and ingenuous partner who’d distinguished their joint career. A sweet, brilliant and wonderful woman.
And the person who, after warning him repeatedly about the true character of his lover, he’d shut out of his life.
The pain that he’d caused her, along with his failure to serve the country he loved, warranted his assassination; an act he now faced with a staunch posture and an expressionless face.
“Just do it,” he growled, jutting his head forward until the blade nicked his neck. “Do what you’ve been waiting to do for months.”
“Longer than that!” Roxana growled, her bronzed, sculpted face contorted in rage. “I want you to know that I begged for this job—not only to vindicate my mother country,” her thick accent, previously concealed, revealed the truth of her words, “but to wipe that smug, irritating smile off your face, and permanently. To show the ‘steel spy’ that he’s made of flesh and blood.” She flashed him with a deadly smile, pressing her knife to his nape. “Blood that I’m about to spill, my darling.”
“Really? Seriously? That’s the best line you could come up with at a time like this? Cha, that’s pathetic!”
Bernard peered over Roxana’s shoulder to see the face of an angel.
An angel with a killer right hook.
Grasping the neck of his stunned assailant, Callista Raymond threw the smaller woman onto the floor and pounced her; delivering a sharp blow to her carved chin before pinning her hands to the floor.
“Not bad for a chubby girl, huh?” Cal pinned the wide-eyed woman with a devilish smile.
“Oh criminy I called you that once, five years ago!” Roxana rolled her eyes, wriggling and squirming as Callista held her to the floor. “Would you get over it?”
“Elephants never forget.” Cal sneered, fixing her prisoner with a hard stare.
Springing naked from his bed, Bernard retrieved Roxana’s discarded knife and threw it in a black leather bag that sat in a chair by the door; removing a long barreled shotgun from this same satchel and aiming it in his lover’s direction.
“Brilliant work, Callista.” Even as he kept the gun trained on the seething woman, he graced his longtime partner with a warm, grateful smile.
“About time you noticed.” Callista pressed her lips together, keeping her own gaze pinned on their prisoner. “Now put on some clothes and call the boss.”
A nodding Bernard fetched his cell phone from the pocket of a nearby terrycloth robe; one that he scurried to slide over the planed contours of his hard muscled body.
Dialing the single number that connected him with an office known only as ‘headquarters,’ he held the phone up to his ear and shifted his gaze to Roxana; the two exchanged a steely glare as he said, “Yes, hello. I need you to send the commander right away, to pick up a rogue agent.” He spat out these last words with heated venom, his tone softening as he looked once again to the stone-faced Callista. “Yes, we’re fine. Special agent Raymond just sealed the case and, for that matter, saved my life.”
A half hour later Bernard and Callista stood alone in his hotel room; the silence between them absolutely deafening, at least to Bernard.
Their preceding moments had flown by in a flurry of movement and action. Their commanding officer, a stalwart woman named Viola Neuwirth, had appeared on the scene within minutes of Bernard’s call; taking their statements, processing their documents, and informing the flustered secret agent just how fortunate he was.