Her submission fulfilled her
When Eve St. James married Alex McKay, she had her whole life ahead of her. They were the FBI’s golden couple by day, but by night Eve gave herself over to her husband’s world of Dominance and submission filled with pleasures she came to crave.
His betrayal destroyed her
Worried for her safety, Alex left Eve behind to tackle a dangerous mission. But Alex never suspected that Eve was the real target and her security is destroyed by a madman. By the time he rescues her, his wife has been changed forever.
But when her life is in danger he is her only hope
Unable to heal the damage, Alex and Eve are still trapped together in a cycle of pleasure and misery that even their divorce cannot sever. But when a threat from Eve’s past resurfaces, Alex will stop at nothing to save her life and reclaim her heart.
Release date: May 12, 2013
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment LLC
Print pages: 411
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On Her Master's Secret Service
Alex McKay felt his stomach churn as he stared at the projection in front of him.
“Do you know how dangerous this could be?” Ian Taggart asked.
The conference room was quiet. Not one sliver of early morning light made it past the tightly drawn shades. The sun was coming up. He knew it because of the time, but in the dark conference room, it still felt like night, utterly dark, the only illumination a series of slides that depicted his life in tragic photos.
He sighed and simply clicked to the next slide. The last thing he needed was Ian telling him how dangerous Michael Evans could be. He knew that up close and personally. Michael Evans had cost Alex McKay everything he cared about in the world. His job. His future. But most of all the fucker had cost Alex his wife. And that was why he was going to find him no matter the cost.
“The last time I had a source contact me, they believed Evans was in Argentina, but that was over a year ago. This is the first time he’s surfaced since then.” He kept his voice moderate, like he was just going over another Tuesday morning case file and not the most important events of his life.
Adam Miles slipped into the room, sliding into the seat to Alex’s left. “Is there a reason we’re having a meeting at six in the morning? I don’t think I should have to be awake before the sun is.”
Jake Dean rolled his eyes as he followed his partner. Jake and Adam always worked together, but then they pretty much did everything together—including their wife, Serena. “He’s bitching because I refused to let him wake up Serena this morning.”
“I don’t do well without a good-bye kiss,” Adam said, sulking a bit.
Ian groaned, sitting back in his massive leather chair. Dressed for business, the early morning hours did not seem to faze Ian at all. Unlike Alex, who was still in sweat pants and a T-shirt, Ian had come into work in a designer suit. It would make most men look civilized, but Ian looked like a well-dressed gangster, the kind who could kill a man and never even wrinkle his clothes. “Adam, dude, get out from behind Serena’s skirts.”
“I spend all my time trying to get into her skirts, boss,” Adam shot back.
“If you’re all done here, I would like to continue.” Alex really didn’t have time to sit and listen to how fucking happy Adam was. “Or we can close this thing up right now and I can handle this on my own.”
“What crawled up Alex’s butt and died?” Jake asked in a whisper that absolutely everyone in the building could probably hear.
“Shut up, Jake.” Ian leaned forward. “Michael Evans seems to have surfaced.”
“Fuck.” Jake looked up, and even in the dim light of the predawn conference room, he could see the solidarity in Jake’s eyes. “Anything you need, man. We’re here. Where’s Li, by the way? Tell me he didn’t kill the English asshole?”
“Like he bloody well could.” Simon Weston was damn quiet. He’d slunk into the room without anyone noticing. As the newest member of the McKay-Taggart Security Service’s team, the former MI6 agent hadn’t much tried to fit in with anyone past Ian. Ian seemed to have taken the man under his wing despite the fact that Simon had nearly blown up their last assignment. He’d been fooled by Eli Nelson, and didn’t Alex know that feeling. Despite his surly attitude, Alex felt a bit of a kinship with Simon. He knew damn well what it was like to get his ass handed to him on an operation. “Liam had other plans this morning, and this is just a friendly info share. I can fill him in later.”
He’d pointedly not invited Liam this morning, and he’d lucked out because this was Liam and Avery’s weekly breakfast with Eve. Liam and Eve had gotten close over the years, and she adored Li’s new wife, Avery. They were the perfect distraction. Eve usually came in early, but Tuesdays were spent at a local café.
“Who’s Michael Evans and why does everyone look like their best mate got run over?” Simon asked. He stood in the back, not bothering with one of the four seats left.
Alex directed his attention to the projection on the wall. It was a picture of a man he knew far too well. “This is Michael Evans, thirty-seven. He’s a homegrown terrorist. He ran a small commune in the northern section of Idaho. No name. Just two hundred acres and a belief that the United States government has grown corrupt. I’ll admit, it’s not only the US government Evans has a problem with. It’s mostly all of society. The FBI didn’t pay much attention to him until we discovered his ties to jihadist leaders in Mexico. Between 2001 and 2005, Evans made over fifty trips to Central America. The CIA marked him as a potential stateside contact for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and other associated groups.”
Simon nodded. “Yeah, I remember him now. He was all over the news a couple of years back. I was actually in the States when he was arrested. He grew drugs on that land of his and funded small cells. They bombed low profile sites, if I remember correctly. I found it rather odd that they didn’t choose high value targets.”
“Evans considered them to be very high value targets. Allegedly, he was the money behind fifteen clinic bombings across the US,” Alex murmured. Evans had managed to kill doctors, nurses, and patients, most of whom had only walked into the clinic for routine exams, but they made Evans’s hit list because the clinics were government funded and offered family planning. “He also targeted domestic abuse shelters. He liked to set those on fire. Evans isn’t really big on women’s rights.”
“He specifically targeted clinics where women got routine care and could procure birth control. In twelve of the clinics he targeted, no abortion services were provided,” Ian continued. Ian knew the file as well as Alex. It was this very case that had brought Alex to Dallas to found the company with his best friend. Ian was a head case half the time, but Alex owed him everything, and that was his only reason for having this briefing. If it weren’t for Ian, he would be on his way to the meet site right now.
“What’s his motivation?” Jake asked. “I know the case files, but I never really understood what he wanted. Obviously he’s a misogynist pig, but terrorists usually have a point they’re trying to get across.”
“Evans is a deep believer that modern America has stripped men of all their god-given rights. He wants to go back to the times when a man owned everything. When a man had full rights to his property and could enforce his own laws on that property, and part of the property included a man’s wives. Yes, I said wives,” Alex explained. “He had several wives across the country. He killed one when she turned state’s witness against him. He left behind the corpse of another woman when he fled his Idaho compound. Wherever he is now, we should be prepared that he likely has a wife or two and he won’t hesitate to throw them in the line of fire.”
“Charming,” Adam muttered.
“Yeah, well, he’s no prince.” Alex clicked through to the next slide. It was the one of Evans being hauled in. Evans was smiling at the camera, his handsome face looking more like a movie matinee idol than a mass killer. Those good looks had brought him hoards of women who wrote to him in prison or did an enormous amount of his dirty work.
Evans is a charismatic killer, Eve had written. He uses charm to draw his victims in, but in the end, he can’t consider himself a winner unless he beats a male he considers of equal worth.
God, if he’d only listened to Eve. “Evans was placed in prison awaiting trial. He had excellent lawyers, naturally. They managed to push the trial out almost two years and to have Evans held at a medium security prison to await trial.”
“He escaped in a mattress, right? I didn’t recognize the name at first, but I do remember now. He made headlines.” Simon finally moved in, sitting down and starting to glance through the material in front of him.
“Yes, right before the state was set to present opening arguments. He had a long-term issue with his lungs. They were damaged from a fire in his childhood, and he was on oxygen therapy from time to time. He had a breathing episode, very likely faked or purposefully brought on, and, not only did the prison doctor give him a small oxygen tank, he prescribed new, allergen-free bedding. Almost two years to the day that he was arrested, Evans was smuggled out in the bedding. It had been hollowed out. One of his most loyal followers took his place in jail with a duplicated oxygen tank. Because of the mask over his face, no one noticed until almost twenty-four hours later, not even his cellmate. They took him in for questioning, but he wouldn’t say a thing. He’d been taken out of the cell at the time, so the authorities couldn’t link him to the escape. As far as we know, Evans joined his jihadist friends in Central America shortly thereafter.”
“You said the FBI arrested him? Don’t you mean you arrested him?” Simon asked, his icy blue eyes coming up from the file folder.
“Yes, I was the arresting agent.” He said the words through clenched teeth.
“You were the Special Agent in Charge? I believe that’s the local lingo,” Simon said. “How long after this case was it before you quit?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Ian pronounced.
But Simon had a right to know. “I quit two months after Evans was arrested. That was five years ago. I packed up my life and I moved here. Ian and I started this company. Make no mistake. This is personal for me. This isn’t a payday, and anyone who doesn’t want to volunteer time should feel free to walk away. I’m not going to ask for much beyond some behind-the-scenes support, and even that will be in an informational fashion. I don’t need muscle on this one.”
He usually was the muscle.
Simon frowned, obviously unwilling to give up. “Why isn’t O’Donnell around? I can’t imagine he would willingly miss this meeting. Is he already working on the case? And where is our lovely shrink? I suspect she would be helpful in this case. She used to be in a behavioral analysis unit, correct? Did she work on the Evans case with you? Could we see her files on him?”
A tense silence filled the room. They were all perfectly valid questions, and Alex resented the shit out of them.
“Yes, Eve used to work with the BAU. She was a profiler, but she doesn’t need to be involved in this case.” None of them really needed to be involved. The only people required were him, Evans, and whoever the hell this mystery contact was. He glanced at the clock. Four and a half hours. Four and a half hours before he could meet his contact and start up the nasty game he and Evans hadn’t quite finished.
“What do I not know?” Simon asked. He looked around the table, studying every man there. “I obviously am the only one not in on the joke.”
“It wasn’t a joke, asshole,” Adam said. “And Eve should be here. She has a right to know if the man who raped and brutalized her is back in the States.”
“Eve isn’t coming anywhere close to this case,” Alex stated flatly. “And if I get even a hint that Evans is close to us, she’ll be on her way to a safe house and under twenty-four seven cover.”
“Ah, no, not a joke at all.” Simon closed the folder. “I assume this is of absolutely no use. It’s going to be sanitized. I’ll research it myself. I’m rather surprised they allowed you to stay in charge.”
Simon was right about the file. He’d sanitized the thing because he couldn’t stand the thought of anyone knowing what had happened. The Bureau had kept things very quiet and the press had only gotten the merest hints of what his wife had to go through. They had enough other evidence on Evans to burn the fucker five times over.
“I was taken off the case, but I didn’t stop working,” Alex admitted. The Bureau had granted him a leave of absence, but he’d simply used it to track down Evans. He often wondered if Warren resented him for that. Warren Petty had taken over for Alex, but Alex had gotten the arrest.
“Do you think he’s going to come after her again?” Simon asked.
He lived in terror of that very thing happening. He dreamed at night of her being gone and the days that passed until she’d been discarded like a used up tissue, tossed on the side of the road in the middle of the night. She’d had to make her way to a gas station, her body naked against the snow and frost.
Had Evans intended for her to live? Alex thought he had. Eve was supposed to be a reminder of everything Alex had done wrong, of how much he’d lost and how much more powerful Michael Evans was.
Don’t push him this way, Alex. Keep this private. If you go to the press, I think he’ll lash out and he’ll strike at you.
He could still see her eyes pleading with him to change his plans, but he’d known what he was doing. He’d known he could take Evans down.
But Evans hadn’t come for him. Oh, no. That would have been too easy.
“I don’t think he’s coming after Eve. I have no evidence that he would. It’s been almost six years since he had any contact with her, and we all know damn well that he likes to play with his prey.” Ian stood up, turning on the lights and flooding the room. “There’s also the fact that they’ve divorced. That had to give Evans an enormous amount of pleasure, and I’m sure he knows that it happened. I’m sure he kept track of you after he fled the States. But when you left the FBI, you very likely went off his radar. A man like Evans would no longer consider Alex to be a real threat. And he wouldn’t care about Eve at all at this point.”
Alex couldn’t take that chance.
“I want her kept out of this. It’s why I didn’t contact Li. Li is close to Eve. He would tell her,” Alex admitted. He wasn’t bringing Eve into this. The less she knew the better off they all would be. He couldn’t take her back into that hellhole. He couldn’t.
And he also couldn’t allow anyone else to handle this.
“Why do you think he’s surfaced?” Jake asked.
“I received an e-mail from a woman named Kristen six weeks ago. According to the e-mail, she’s an investigative reporter and she’s been tracking Evans since his jailbreak. I’m supposed to meet her later this morning. It’s a public venue. Right out in the open.” The woman in the e-mail had insisted on it. He’d been told flatly that if she saw someone other than him, she would walk away. He couldn’t let that happen. “I need someone to have eyes on Eve while I make contact. I can’t take the chance that this is his way of getting at her.”
“I’ll keep eyes on Eve, and Jake and Adam can handle your backup,” Ian stated.
This was precisely why he hadn’t wanted to have this session. “I can’t. If she sees anyone but me, she’ll run. That e-mail was very plain. She will deal with me and only me. I don’t know what she looks like. I have no idea. I have to talk to this woman, Ian. I can’t let her slip past me. The meet up is totally public. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“She won’t know we’re there,” Jake promised. “Believe it or not, we’ve done this a time or two.”
“You two handle close cover. I’m the shadow. I’m the expert.” He was damn fine at blending into the shadows. It was a complete reversal of the first ten years of his career. He’d been the FBI’s golden boy, a shining star. The last five years he’d made a goal of never sticking out, always being the behind-the-scenes guy. He’d become a ghost, excellent at watching and waiting in the wings and almost never acting.
“I think I’m fairly decent at distance coverage,” Ian said with a frown. He’d been a long-term CIA operative. He knew distance cover. “Jake and Adam can handle Eve and I’ll back you up.”
There was only one problem with that.
“No. You’re too conspicuous. I can’t risk it.”
“Could we clear the room, guys?” Ian crossed his arms over his massive chest and started to pace.
The guys were out in a flash, Adam giving him the evil eye. Yeah, he was on Team Eve for sure.
Ian stopped in front of the window, pulling the blinds open and staring out at the early morning light. The city was starting to wake up, pinks and purples on the edge of the horizon. There were tall buildings framing the distance, the city a massive landscape in front of him, like a watercolor painting, so beautiful and slightly unreal.
He remembered one perfect day. Hawaii. He and Eve had gone to Kauai on their honeymoon, and they hadn’t slept at all one night. He’d taken her out to the beach and made love to her in the waves, and they had sat there and watched the sky come alive—nature’s great show. He could remember the way she felt in his arms, her back to his chest as they watched the sunrise. The whole world had been alive then, full of promise. They had been young. So fucking young. Strong.
Neither of them had known how broken they could be, how easy it was to take a life and snap it like a twig until nothing remained but meaningless pieces.
“What are you doing, Alex?” Ian asked, not bothering to turn around.
That should be plain. “I’m trying to catch a killer.”
Ian’s shoulders slumped forward as though that was the last thing he’d wanted to hear. “You’re trying to correct a mistake, but you’re making the same one again.”
Frustration welled. Fuck, yeah, he was trying to correct a mistake. It had been the mistake of a lifetime. Of course he wanted to correct it. “I’m not going to let him get close to her again, man. You can’t think I would ever let that happen, but you, of all people, should know damn well that I can’t let this go.”
How was he supposed to sit around knowing Evans was out there? He’d spent the last several years of his life following leads down every damn rabbit hole he could. He’d wasted countless hours talking to people who said they’d seen him, spending money on witnesses who led to nowhere. This could be the same thing all over again, but he had to keep trying. He would stop trying when he was fucking dead.
“That’s not the mistake you’re making.” Ian finally turned around, leaning back against the window and looking like he hadn’t slept in days. He’d been this way ever since they’d gotten back from London, as though being in that city again had aged him, forcing him to remember the wife he’d lost.
“Going after Evans is the mistake? You think I can’t take him down? My mistake the first time was pure arrogance, Ian. Trust me. I was humbled. I’m not looking for glory this time.” He’d been trying to make a life for himself and Eve and fucking everything up because he didn’t believe he could be wrong. He’d been on a fast track, but now he knew how fast the worm turned.
“No, this time you’re looking for revenge.”
Yes. He wanted revenge. He felt his jaw tighten, his vision focus in. “For Eve.”
Ian’s eyes narrowed. “Really? Are you sure about that?”
He was sure, and he fucking well deserved revenge. Evans had torn them apart. “How can you say that? You’ve known me for most of my life. How can you question me like this? You don’t have to help me. I’ll take a leave of absence. Maybe that’ll make it easier on everyone.”
It would be for the best anyway. He’d only let Ian know because they were family. They had a deal, him and Ian. They’d had it since they were kids growing up in the same low-rent trailer park with exactly two ways out—prison or the US military. Ian had stayed in the Army and Alex had gotten out the minute they would pay for his college. The friendship had survived years and distance.
The deal was simple. They didn’t go off half-cocked until the other knew what kind of shit was going down. Ian would watch out for Eve. Hell, if anything happened, Ian would watch out for her for the rest of her life. They had that deal, too. Ian watched Eve and Alex took care of Sean and now Grace and Carys. God, Sean had a kid.
How was he almost forty and single, with no prospect of a family on the horizon?
A ghostly image on the wall answered the question. The lights were on, but he could still see Michael Evans grinning at the camera.
He couldn’t fix his problems with Eve. He’d ruined her life. He’d been directly responsible for all that pain. Days. She’d spent days with that monster, and Alex would spend a lifetime trying to make it up to her.
Ian’s voice broke through his thoughts. “I wasn’t talking about going after Evans. I was talking about leaving Eve out of it.”
Alex felt his eyes go wide. “You can’t possibly expect that I would bring Eve into this. You of all people should know how dangerous it is to have your wife involved in a case.”
He wanted to take the words back the instant he said them. Ian didn’t move an inch. There was nothing in his stance that let Alex know he’d hit him hard except his skin paled. They never talked about the woman Ian had married and lost five years before.
“Charlotte has nothing to do with this. And she was always involved in that particular case. Hell, I was her case, and she did a spectacular fucking job. I laugh at the irony since her job was to fuck me. Charlotte married me knowing exactly how dangerous the job was, and she got burned. Eve, on the other hand, was perfectly innocent. If anyone deserves revenge, it’s Eve, and you want to take that from her now, too.”
Alex placed his hands on the conference table, palms down, simply trying to hold on. “How can you say that? I was her husband. It was my job to protect her.”
“And you couldn’t possibly have known that the man you were tracking would come after your wife.” Logic. Ian loved to come after him with logic, but Alex knew the truth.
He should have fucking known. He should have read Eve’s damn case study, but he’d been so sure that he was right, that he couldn’t possibly be wrong. “Yeah, well, if I’d paid any attention to Eve’s profile, I would have. She knew. But I was far too smart. I thought I had the fucker down.”
“And you didn’t,” Ian agreed. “And Eve paid the price and she continues to pay it every single day because neither one of you can let go for a second.”
“If putting Michael Evans back where he belongs gives her a minute of peace, I’m going to do it. I’m her husband. I have to do this for her.”
Ian shook his head, his eyes grim. “You’re not her husband anymore, Alex.”
“Fine, then I’m her Dom.”
“Are you? You don’t act like it.”
Alex felt his back get tight, like a dog that figured out he was about to get kicked. “Wow. Do you have something to say to me? Don’t fucking pussyfoot around, brother. You want to call my rights into question? You want to take a look at my contract?”
He hated the fact that all he had left with Eve was a cold contract between them, one they’d renewed every year for five years now. Ian knew damn well what was in that contract because he was the one Eve had turned to when she’d asked for it. A contract that delineated everything he was allowed to do, everything he couldn’t do, everything that sat between them. A contract that allowed sex but not love, discipline but no compassion.
Life without the possibility of parole.
“That contract is everything that’s wrong between you and yet you keep signing it, man.”
Because if he didn’t, he was pretty sure Eve would drift away from him, perhaps even find another Dom. He couldn’t handle it. Just fucking couldn’t. He would very likely sign that contract for the rest of his life because no matter how angry he got, how alone he felt, he couldn’t live without her. “She needs to scene. It’s the only way she can cry. Do you think I haven’t been over this with her? Do you think she hasn’t been to therapy?”
His wife—ex-wife—was a brilliant psychologist. She’d done her time on a couch.
Guilt plagued him. He hadn’t taken the same time. Before the divorce, he’d cut out on counseling sessions, skipped on her dinners, spent nights away from home, and all in the name of catching Michael Evans.
“I know she’s been, but it hasn’t helped. Oh, Eve looks fine on the outside, but she hasn’t gotten back to her old self. She laughs, but it never reaches her eyes. She’ll let people hug her, but she doesn’t hug back. God, Alex, I remember when Eve was the touchiest, feeliest sub I’d ever met.”
“He raped her. He abused her. She can’t go back,” Alex said. “We can’t go back.”
“Then Evans wins. He did his job, and you should hang it the fuck up. Why bother hunting the man down? You’re already dead. You just forgot to tell us to bury the fucking body, man.”
He thought seriously about putting his hands around his best friend’s throat, but he backed off. Ian couldn’t understand. None of them could. He should have done what he’d thought was best in the first place and handled it on his own. “Whatever. I’m going to get ready to meet the contact.”
“You’re not going without backup. Take Jake and Adam and that’s an order.”
But Ian had forgotten one tiny truth. “You’re not my boss. You’re not my CO, and if you want me to walk, this is the way to get it done.”
He started for the door. There wasn’t anything left to say.
“Alex, please take Jake and Adam.”
Fuck. Ian almost never asked politely. “I can’t. If she spooks easily, I’ll lose the chance.”
“All right. Don’t you dare go in unarmed.”
Like he would do that. “I’m good.”
When the fuck had Ian gotten so chatty? “Yeah?”
“She needs you. She needs you to be her Dom more than she needs someone to avenge her. She needs you to take the reins because she can’t let go of this on her own. She needs her husband.”
But he wasn’t her husband anymore. He was her part-time lover and full-time therapy session. He wondered if she even saw him now or if all she saw was how he’d failed her time and time again. Alex let the door close behind him.
Revenge was all he had left.
* * * *
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