It’s reeeeeeeeelease day!!! Yay! The most wonderful of all days. The Dreams and Desires Vol 2 anthology goes on sale today in both trade paperback and ebook format. You can pick up a copy at either Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at FreyasBower.com. This release is near and dear to my heart because, as I may have mentioned, all proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to help victims of domestic violence. So, not only are you buying a fabulous book chock full of 19 entertaining stories of love and romance from some of today’s top authors, you’re also helping a family in need get back on their feet and live their lives fear-free. I love that kind of win-win. In two weeks some of the wonderful authors who have donated their stories to this collection will be stopping by to chat about their contributions to the anthology (Check the sidebar calendar!), but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt from my short story contribution to the collection called, “Mark of a Bond Girl”:
“Look alive, Maya. Your mark’s at twelve o’clock.”
I swiveled in my chair, watching the glass doors swing open and a tall, lean man in a button-down shirt walk in.
I froze. Instantly paralyzed in my wooden chair as I followed his progress across the crowded Starbucks toward the barista with the nose piercing and bright red pigtails.
“Oh. Sh**.” I gulped down the shock that had settled in my throat. “No way.”
“Do you have a visual?” my earpiece buzzed. But I scarcely heard it, my entire being focused on him. Those angular features, that dark hair, those unnaturally blue eyes crinkling at the corners as he exchanged banalities with the barista.
No way could it be him.
“Maya? Talk to me, girl. Dark hair, blue jeans, white button down. Tell me you have a visual?”
The sound of panic creeping into Danny’s voice in my ear snapped me back to reality. I spun around in my chair, turning my back to the mark, letting my dark hair fall across my face in a lame attempt at staving off recognition.
“Danny I cannot do this,” I whispered into the mic’d ruby broach pinned to the lapels of my low-cut blazer. The file on our mark had said he was partial to corporate types. I’d done my best to dress the part – tailored skirt, slit up the thigh high enough to show off my dedication to the gym, white blouse unbuttoned dangerously low, three inch stilettos strapped over freshly manicured toes. I was “corporate piece of a**” to a tee.
Only now I realized I could have shown up in a grubby t-shirt and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. Goddammit, it could not be him!
“Sure you can, kid,” Danny’s voice reassured me. “Just breathe. Stick to the script and you’ll do fine.”
“No, you don’t understand. I can’t do this with him. He’s…” I trailed off, struggling for the words to explain just who he was. I snuck a glance at him through my curtain of hair. He was taking his coffee to a table near the back. A triple shot soy latte. Not that his paper cup looked any different from all the others in the place, but I knew that was his usual order. Or at least, it had been.
He sat down and unfolded a newspaper to the sports section. He crossed one leg casually over the other, leaning back in his chair. Dark stubble dusted his jaw, giving him a rugged look despite the expensive fit of his dress shirt across his wide shoulders. He sipped his coffee, his eyes intent on last night’s baseball scores, seemingly oblivious to the fact he was being watched.
“Not him,” I whispered urgently into my lapels. “Danny, this is a mistake. I cannot do this. What about Sam? Or Caleigh? One of them can run this play.”
“The Boss said it was yours.”
“I cannot do this, Danny. Not with… him.”
“Kid, we’ve got one shot at this guy. This is it. You’re it. Work your magic, girl.”
“No, Danny, I-”
But the telltale static click told me he’d already disconnected.
Actually, I’d been lucky he’d stayed on this long. As soon as a mark appeared, you cut off communication with surveillance. The Boss’s rule. A woman sitting in the corner talking to herself wasn’t exactly inconspicuous.
I took a deep breath. Then snuck another look at the guy in the corner. He’d moved on to the business section. Not surprising. He owned holdings in a dozen or more companies.
At least he had.
I took another deep breath.
Okay, so obviously the play had changed. Obviously I couldn’t go with the beautiful stranger who just happened upon him at Starbucks. Strangers we were not. In fact we’d been about as far from that as possible at one point. We’d almost been…
I gave myself a mental shake. That didn’t matter now. What mattered was that I’d been hired to do a job and dammit, I was going to do it.
I took a sip from the tepid coffee in front of me and gathered my courage. He was a mark, nothing more.
One more big breath.
My earpiece crackled to life. “Quit it, you’re going to hyperventilate.”
I resisted the urge to give the camera in my broach the finger.
I got up, grabbing my cold latte, and crossed the room. Slowly, even though it killed me. Even though all I wanted to do was get this over with and get out as quickly as possible.
The room moved past me in slow motion, my stomach knotting, churning over itself, until I was there, standing in front of his table.
~Gemma “Trigger Happy” Halliday
P.S. Went on a second date with a very cute boy last week. Sigh and swoon. Things may be looking up!
Friday, February 01, 2008
Posted by Gemma Halliday at 9:46 AM