An agent broken
MI6 agent Damon Knight prided himself on always being in control. His missions were executed with cold, calculating precision. His club, The Garden, was run with an equally ordered and detached decadence. But his perfect world was shattered by one bullet, fired from the gun of his former partner. That betrayal almost cost him his life and ruined his career. His handlers want him to retire, threatening to revoke his license to kill if he doesn’t drop his obsession with a shadowy organization called The Collective. To earn their trust, he has to prove himself on a unique assignment with an equally unusual partner.
A woman tempted
Penelope Cash has spent her whole life wanting more. More passion. More adventure. But duty has forced her to live a quiet life. Her only excitement is watching the agents of MI6 as they save England and the world. Despite her training, she’s only an analyst. The closest she is allowed to danger and intrigue is in her dreams, which are often filled with one Damon Knight. But everything changes when the woman assigned to pose as Damon’s submissive on his latest mission is incapacitated. Penny is suddenly faced with a decision. Stay in her safe little world or risk her life, and her heart, for Queen and country.
An enemy revealed
With the McKay-Taggart team at their side, Damon and Penny hunt an international terrorist across the great cities of Northern Europe. Playing the part of her Master, Damon begins to learn that under Penny’s mousy exterior is a passionate submissive, one who just might lay claim to his cold heart. But when Damon’s true enemy is brought out of the shadows, it might be Penny who pays the ultimate price.
A Masters and Mercenaries Novel
Release date: February 18, 2014
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment
Print pages: 411
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“What are you trying to say, Nigel?” Damon Knight looked across the wide, solid desk at the man who had been his handler for the last ten years. The very air seemed to have stilled around him.
Nigel sat forward, his graying hair perfectly coiffed and his eyes serious. They had come up through the ranks together, but Nigel had taken the analyst route while Damon liked to be in the field. He was rather afraid his wishes weren’t going to be taken into account now.
“Have you looked at the reports from the medical team?” Nigel asked.
Fuck. A hole was opening up in front of him and he wasn’t even close to being ready. He didn’t need to read the medical reports to know what was in them. “I’m perfectly fit.”
It had been seven months since his partner, his best friend, had walked into his office at The Garden and put a bullet in his chest. He’d sat there, bleeding out at his desk, visions of murder and revenge running through his dying brain.
And a deep regret that no one would miss him.
It had only been luck that one of the Doms at his club had dropped by to set up a scene for the evening. Otherwise, he would be dead.
“Not according to these reports you aren’t.” Nigel set the folder between them. “According to this, you’re permanently incapacitated. You lost an enormous amount of blood. There was some question about how long you were technically dead.”
He couldn’t help but answer through clenched teeth. “I’m not brain damaged.”
“Of course not, but it had to have affected you.”
“I’m not suffering from bloody PTSD.” He’d gone through every counseling session they’d forced on him. When the bloody hell had the Secret Intelligence Service become a bunch of psychobabbling, talk-about-their-feelings wankers?
He might have spent too much time with Ian Taggart, but the man had a point. Spies should have nerves of steel. If they didn’t, if they required weekly hour-long sessions to discuss their feelings, they bloody well shouldn’t be spies.
Nigel frowned. “Fine, let’s talk about the physical damage then. That bullet tore apart your left lung. The doctors were forced to remove a portion of it.”
“The good news is, I have a spare.” They had only been forced to remove a small portion of his left lung. Unfortunately, MI6 preferred its agents to have full lung capacity. No matter how hard he worked out, he always hit a wall.
He didn’t mention the other problems he was having, the problems the doctors in Dallas had discovered with his heart. If Nigel knew about those, he wouldn’t be sitting here talking about assignments.
Nigel sat back. “Damon, you know how much we all want this to work. No one on the team wants to see you out of the field. You’ve been our most effective agent since the moment you walked through the doors.”
Ah, there was a “but” coming. Damon could feel it. He simply didn’t want to hear it. “Excellent. I’m very glad to hear it because I am ready to get back in the field. I have some thoughts about information building on The Collective.”
Seven bloody months. He’d spent seven months recovering, waiting, thinking. And plotting his revenge. He was ready to start again, ready to do almost anything that brought him one step closer to getting his hands around Basil Champion’s throat.
“Yes, I found your file on them very interesting.” Nigel’s fingers drummed along the thick file folder he’d turned over.
Damon had spent his recovery time in Dallas with Adam Miles and Charlotte and Chelsea Dennis, using their brilliant computer skills to find absolutely everything he could about the shadowy organization known only as The Collective. As far as he could tell, they were a secret organization run by some of the world’s largest corporations and richest men. They used secret agents culled from intelligence agencies across the globe to manipulate the world economies to suit their companies.
He’d put together everything they’d been able to find, and none of it was completely solid. It was all conjecture, and he was pretty sure Nigel was starting to think he was a conspiracy nut.
“Perhaps it’s not concrete, but you know that an operative has to listen to his gut. This is me. I’m listening to my gut and my gut says this is real and Baz is involved.”
“You know the chief is fairly certain that Champion was a double.”
It took everything Knight had not to groan. “He wasn’t working for MSS.”
The theory was that Basil Champion had turned and started to work with Chinese intelligence.
“It would explain the influx of cash you found.”
“But it does nothing to explain why he left when he did. He chose to blow up his career because he realized that Ian Taggart had found out about The Collective. Hell, the man practically told me he was offered Nelson’s job.” Eli Nelson had been a CIA operative recruited by The Collective. He’d run guns where it suited the corporations involved to keep civil wars going in order to spike prices on oil and other resources. He’d stolen technology plans from non-Collective companies. As far as Damon could tell, Nelson had planned and carried out a couple of terrorist plots that had aided the corporate bottom line. After the Taggarts had sent Nelson to his just rewards, Baz had become their go-to guy.
“The CIA believes Nelson was also working for MSS,” Nigel explained.
Damon slapped a frustrated hand against the desk. “Tennessee Smith wants you to believe that. He’s hiding something. Damn it. You don’t have to believe me now. You just have to give me some tech staff so I can prove it. I’ll find him, Nigel. I’ll find that bastard if it’s the last thing I do.”
“How do you feel about moving into training?”
“I feel rabidly, violently opposed to it.” He wasn’t going to be relegated to the training gym. No. He didn’t want to spend his time training recruits for the life that should have been his. He damn straight wasn’t going to invest in a bunch of idiots who would likely get themselves killed. “I’m not a trainer. I’m never going to be a trainer, Nigel.” He stood, his head swimming a tad because it really was rather hard to breathe in this building. He couldn’t imagine being chained to a desk day after day. It would be a living purgatory. “You’ll have my resignation on your desk by noon.”
He had absolutely no idea what he would do. The decision he needed to make about his future was here, and despite having seven months to think about it, he wasn’t close to being ready for the outcome. Somehow he’d always thought he wouldn’t be forced to face it.
He’d been sure he would die in the field like a good double 0 should, not get retired like a useless object.
He was thirty-nine years old and he had absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of his bloody life.
“Damon, please sit down. I might have a solution.”
“What? I grow a new lung? Has tech managed to do that yet?” He could hear the bitterness dripping from his voice. Maybe he’d end up being one of those old men in a pub, barking at the world around him.
“We’ve had a situation come up, and you might be the only one who can take over.”
He stopped, pulling his hand back off the door handle. “Is it an operation?”
Nigel gestured to the seat in front of him. “Yes, though it’s not as dangerous as you’re used to. It’s fairly simple. We have intelligence that a known terrorist will be attempting to come into England using a cruise ship.”
He snorted a little, settling back in his seat. “Even cruise ships require passports.”
“Not in every port they don’t.”
He hadn’t thought about it like that. A cruise ship required proper documentation to get on the boat. It depended on the port of call from there. Damon wasn’t knowledgeable about their security protocols. He’d never been a holiday-type chap. If he went to a country, he wasn’t sight-seeing. He was hunting. If Damon had been running a cruise ship, he would have required proper identification, including thumbprint scans, facial recognition, and routine pat downs for everyone getting on board.
There was a reason he didn’t get invited to a lot of parties.
“What exactly do you mean? You think he’s going to wander up from the beach on some island and make his way to London?”
“We believe he’s targeted a very specific cruise. Cruises are usually full of children. This particular cruise is going to be all adult. It gives the target more of a chance to find someone he can change places with. We believe he intends to target someone with a legitimate passport, wait until he gets off the boat, and then kill the man and take his place. All he needs in most ports is a card the ship requires to get back on the boat.”
It could work. “He would have to have someone on the inside.”
“Yes. We believe he’s got an English woman working for him, but we haven’t figured out a name yet. Our source isn’t particularly close to the heart of this group.”
“What’s the group?”
“It’s a bit odd. We think this agent is working with Nature’s Core.”
He groaned. Nature’s Core was an all-encompassing lefty group who thought the world would be a better place if the banking system was shut down. They fought against everything from new technology to CEO pay scales. They were normally quite peaceful though obnoxious. “Then it’s not a terrorist group. What are they going to do? Protest us to death? I will admit the smell they get after a month camping out in Hyde Park can be rather noxious.”
“They’re using Nature’s Core as a screen to throw us off. Our source is absolutely certain that this operative is going to attempt to enter England with biological weapons.”
Nigel was trying to send him on a wild goose chase. “How is he going to do that? Surely they have some security.”
“They do, but if he got small amounts in every port, he might be able to either sneak them on board or claim that they’re medicinal. Security won’t know the difference between a biological agent and a vial of insulin if it is done properly. And no one will check his bags as he gets off the ship in Dover.”
“If you know which ship it would come in on, why don’t we lock it down and search the place?”
“It’s a two thousand passenger ship, Knight. And all he has to do is toss the package overboard. We need to catch him in the act. I want you to go on board, identify the target and his assistant, get control of the package, and bring everyone in for questioning.”
It didn’t sound too difficult. “Fine. Why does it have to be me?”
“Because the cruise ship is the Royale. It’s the top of the line ship in the VIP Cruise Line. They’re known for their specialty cruises.”
“Like a GLBT cruise?” He’d heard of the company. They were a party line, very adult-experience oriented.
“Yes. Or their new alternate lifestyle cruise.”
Damon sat forward, arching his brow. Seriously? “Are you telling me there’s a bloody BDSM cruise running out of Dover?”
“Yes. I know you keep your lifestyle private, but I think you can see why you’re perfect for this job. We have very little time to prepare. No more than a week and a half before you need to have a team on board.” Nigel glanced out his window and then refocused on Damon. “If you can prove yourself here, perhaps I can convince the higher-ups to disregard the medical reports. The truth is you wouldn’t be considered for this job except the two agents we had working it were involved in an auto accident. Harris broke both legs and Keller’s face looks like one big bloody bruise. I obviously can’t send her in as a submissive.”
Nigel knew about his lifestyle, but they hadn’t talked much about it besides Damon being forced to prove it didn’t impact his security clearance. Other than that, Nigel hadn’t wanted to know much.
“Why wasn’t I brought in on this operation? I can’t imagine you have anyone who understands the lifestyle better than I do.” He reached for the folder Nigel was pushing across the desk. He ran through the particulars including the fact that the cruise was a twelve-day Baltic tour that went across Northern Europe.
He spoke Russian, but he would need a partner who spoke German at the very least, Danish and Finnish preferably.
“We began the operation before you were cleared for duty,” Nigel explained.
It seemed a simple enough operation, but he would need more than one set of eyes. And he only had a week to prepare, so he would need his own people. He wasn’t close to anyone here. Well, anyone who hadn’t turned out to be a traitorous bastard. “Do you already have support in place?”
“This was Harris’s operation. He wanted to do it quietly.” The tightness of Nigel’s voice told Damon he didn’t agree.
Which was good because Harris was a bloody idiot. How did he expect to watch over an entire ship without backup? But then Harris had always been an arrogant prick who couldn’t find his head because it was usually shoved up his arse.
“I’d like to bring in my own team. I’ll want to put a couple on staff. Have we made contact with the cruise line?” It was a piece of shit assignment, but if it got him back in the field, he would work it with everything he had.
“We’re stretched a bit thin, Knight. With Harris and Keller out of the picture for a bit, I was thinking about sending in a couple of analysts.”
Good god. That would be perfectly dreadful. He needed operatives. He needed people who would take the shot when they needed to. Analysts would sit down and go through all the reasons why they shouldn’t fire the gun before maybe taking the shot.
“I believe I have a friend who owes me, and he won’t need to be brought up to speed about the lifestyle.” He’d done Ian Taggart a favor by not hauling his information broker wife back to England. Ian and Charlotte would be perfect as long as he could keep them from having sex all over the ship.
And Taggart came with a whole crew he wouldn’t have to train.
“Does he have a woman you can take in as your sub?”
Damn, it was weird to hear Nigel say the word “sub” and not mean something nautical by it. Damon ran through the women of McKay-Taggart. If he had to spend any amount of time playing in public with a sub, there was the chance of sex, the possibility that they would look odd if they weren’t sexual in some fashion. He rather thought Ian would protest if he used his wife, and Alex would shoot him first and ask questions later once Eve’s name left his mouth. The rest all recently had babies.
Chelsea? She was smart and a bit ruthless and so uncomfortable with her own body that she would never work.
And it would be so much better to have someone who spoke a couple of languages.
“What about the blonde?” He tossed it out casually, not wanting Nigel to know how anxious he was. Penelope worked in translations. She was an analyst. Pretty, petite, perfectly round with nice-sized breasts and an ass that he could squeeze. Sweet. Submissive. His groin, dead since the accident, gave a good flare of life.
A quizzical look crossed Nigel’s face. “Blonde? We have a few.”
How did he not give himself away here? “She’s a translator. Not sure what she translates. German, maybe. Curly blonde hair. She’s complete shit at dressing herself. Pretty girl, but she doesn’t know it.”
“Are you talking about Penelope Cash?” Nigel’s mouth practically hung open.
Penny Cash. God, her parents must have hated her. “I believe so. She would work.”
“You want to take Penelope Cash on a fetish cruise? Well, uhm, she actually speaks German, Danish, and Finnish and her Russian is fairly good.”
“She sounds perfect.” She was a mouse, a cute mouse who obviously needed a very good fuck. She was kind and sweet and a bit of a doormat. He might be able to teach her a thing or two. And he might be able to break out of his rut. Seven months and not a single erection. He was a bit worried that it didn’t work anymore.
“All right. I suppose it’s your team, but she’s very quiet. I don’t know that she’ll suit you at all.”
She was quiet, submissive. She wouldn’t give him hell in the field. He should be able to control her. He didn’t need a woman he had to worry would disobey him. He needed a sub, and from what he’d seen, Penelope fit the bill better than anyone else in the office. Coupled with the fact that she spoke the languages and he could halfway see himself fucking her—she was practically perfect.
It wasn’t that he was really attracted to her. It was just that she was his type. That was all. He would have to keep an emotional distance from her. No, the fact that he’d thought about her when he’d almost died had been random. She’d simply been kind to him and he liked to reward kindness. In this particular case, he might reward her kindness with multiple orgasms.
“She’s not married, is she?” He hadn’t seen her in seven months. A lot could happen. He’d heard she’d been engaged at one point. That wouldn’t suit. He really would likely have to screw her and possibly in a public setting. It didn’t bother him at all. He could fuck with an audience all day, but some husbands might object.
He didn’t like the thought of her having a husband.
“Penelope? No. I don’t believe she even dates.”
Excellent, then no one would get in the way. “Perfect.”
“Well, you have to convince her first.”
Damon huffed, allowing a bit of his arrogance to show. He might have lost a step or two physically, but the bullet hadn’t taken his charm. “I think I can handle one small female.”
She wouldn’t turn down the chance to serve Queen and country. Of course, in serving Queen and country, she would find herself serving him. His cock stirred for the first time in forever.
Yes, going back to the field would be good for him.
* * * *
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