Hot Pursuit

Security expert Gates Bromley’s number one priority is protecting art collector Dav Gianikopolis. But when he joins forces with CIA Agent Ana Burton tracing several pieces of stolen art, Gates is distracted by the leggy brunette who stirs up the raciest thoughts…

After botching an operation that cost her colleagues’ lives, Ana has been reassigned to cold cases. When news gets out that she’s reopened a case involving stolen art and five brutal murders, Ana is almost killed. Seeking comfort in Gates’s strong embrace is easy, but surrendering trust to the sexiest man she’s ever known isn’t—unless Gates can show her that an attraction this hot is worth all the risks. But first he’ll have to stop a killer who’s bent on keeping the past buried…

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Her phone rang and this time, she checked the incoming number. Not Jen. Hmmm.
“Agent Burton,” she answered. “To whom am I speaking?”
“Agent Burton, this is Gates Bromley, Special Assistant to Mr. Davros Gianikopolis,” the man’s rich, luscious voice filled her ear. “You had called regarding a follow up on an old case.”
Mesmerized by the voice, it took Ana a heartbeat to make sense of the words. Wow, she’d never been affected just by someone’s voice, but this one was worth it. “Yes. I’d like to make an appointment with Mr. Gianikopolis to discuss his losses in the incident. I’m following up on some new leads.”
“I’ll be happy to meet with you, get the information and assess if there’s any new data we can add.” Holy cow, the man’s voice was pure, liquid sex and he wasn’t even trying to flirt, which she’d have squashed anyway.
For a second, all she could think about was the image of liquid sex. Jeeez, she had to get out more. Jen was right, and she hated to admit it. In the next second, she processed what he’d said and bristled at the high-handed phrasing. Assess the data, my ass. Fabulous voice or not, this guy needed a set down.
“Mr. Gianikopolis is the insured,” she kept her voice brisk, impersonal, and boy, wasn’t that achallenge? “I’ll need to speak with him. You are welcome to be present, Mr. Bromley,” she put all the I Am An Agent Of The Law insistence she could in her voice. Oddly enough, it felt good. She hadn’t felt that sure since Rome. Weird. “Which day this week is he available?”
There was a momentary pause, and when Gates Bromley replied, he sounded amused. “Mr. Gianikopolis is in town, but unavailable for the next several days.”
“Fine. Monday then?” she pushed.
“Ten a.m. at his estate,” was the still amused, but clipped reply. He rattled off the address.
“I’ll be there. Thank you,” she added, remembering her manners. She’d gotten her way, didn’t hurt to sugar things up. “I won’t take much of his time.”
“I’ll see to that, Agent. Good day.”
Ana clicked off. “I’ll see to that? I’ll see to that? What a snotty thing to say,” she accused the now-humming phone. “You can bite my ass, Mister Gates Bromley.”
###
Ana drove up to the speaker at the edge of the driveway into the compound. Several workers bustled around a landscaping truck on the other side of the driveway, and there were workers cutting grass beyond the ornate fencing. By habit, she made a note of the license plate, counted the number of workers, noted the lone woman working the crew.
“State your business, please,” the voice said, a second time since she hadn’t answered the first hail. Embarrassed to be caught out, she briskly stated her business.
“You’re expected, Agent Burton,” the man said, and directed her to drive through the first set of gates.
To her surprise, the gates shut behind her, trapping her in between them. It reminded her of an old castle, with a portcullis at both ends of a tunnel into the grounds. “Same idea, I think,” she muttered, noting the openings in the second wall. “Huh, the modern version of arrow slits and murder holes,” she decided, seeing the shadow of movement behind one of the gaps. “What the hell?”
The sharp-eyed and well armed guard asked for her identification and, unsmiling, took it into the guard house. He was apparently reading the contents to someone who approved, because he nodded and put down the phone with a smile. He was far more pleasant when he returned her documents.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Agent Burton. As I said, you’re expected, but we double check everything.”
She knew the feeling, but didn’t particularly like it. As an answer, she took her identification and put it away before she spoke. “I would hope no one would attempt to impersonate an Agent.”
The man grimaced. “They try everything,” he muttered, glancing beyond her car to the outer gates. “Really.”
She moved through the estate at an easy pace, appreciating the peace, quiet and beauty that money could buy this close to the city. The estate was a huge, well-manicured fortress. Once again, she was reminded of knights and feudal lords, always ready for the worst.
She arrived at the front portico and a man was waiting for her. It was a bright day, but the area shaded by the overhanging canopy left the man standing there in shadow. Her dark glasses made it worse. All she could tell was that he was above average height. Judging by the dramatic doors behind him, he was at least six feet tall, probably a little over that. A dark grey, well-tailored suit emphasized his height, and showed off impressive shoulders. His hair was a medium brown, his eyes probably were too.
Statistics showed that the brown/brown combination…
“Stop it, Ana,” she snapped at herself as she turned off the engine, gathered her briefcase. “Quit analyzing him, making him impersonal just because you’re nervous.” Not that she wanted anything personal, but it was ridiculous to make it a cop-like rundown.
She tugged down her suit jacket, making sure it and her skirt were straight, before she went around the car. She arrived at the hood ornament just as he came down the last step to meet her.
“Agent Burton?”
“Mr. Bromley?” they both spoke at once and he smiled.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a Hollywood, toothpaste-ad blinding white smile, otherwise she might have thought he was a god. The voice was just as luscious in person, but a crooked eyetooth and a scar over his eyebrow kept him from being too perfect.
“Please, come in. I regret that Mr. Gianikopolis won’t be able to join us today,” he began.
“Wait. What?” Jeez, all that reading for nothing? Any warmth she had for the man in front of her evaporated. A spurt of anger surfaced as well. “You didn’t call to reschedule?”
“My assistant did, yes, but you were already on your way. As I’m sure you know, cell service is spotty coming up the hills. This was…unavoidable, I’m afraid. A family matter.”
Annoyed, Ana managed to overlook the physical attraction and focus on the irritation. A feat of pure determination, because Gates Bromley was one fabulously attractive man. At least she thought he was gorgeous. She’d given up on figuring out what other people thought of that sort of thing.
“Then I guess my trip is a waste.”
“No,” he said, motioning her to proceed him through the doors. “I have a list of the stolen items, we can move through the initial comparison to be sure everything was accounted for by your Agency. Then, we can have a look at what you’re doing now.”
His easy assumption that he was in charge pissed her off. She felt the stirring of her former, brash self rising up to protest. As he led the way down a gorgeous wood-paneled hallway, she was devising several methods of killing him, slowly and painfully, ruthlessly discounting his fabulous face.
She hated being treated like the freshman geek.
“Mr. Bromley, I assure you, we have a complete list. And I’m not at liberty to share information with you on avenues I might currently be pursuing.” Ana was pleased that she sounded professional, and firm. No wimpy hesitation.
“Perhaps. Perhaps not,” he said, and his smile was filled with infuriating superiority.
God, how she hated smugness. She hated when someone tried to bushwhack her or the Agency, and this was shaping up to be that kind of deal.
“Let’s sit here,” he directed her to a table. “Coffee?”
She wanted to say no, she wanted to stalk out, head high and in full dudgeon. Instead, she repressed a sigh. Thanks to several months with the departmental shrink, she knew enough about her own patterns that she now recognized the defensiveness as her own inadequacies rearing their ugly heads. Nothing messed with her more, especially now, than someone being haughty.
“Agent?”
“Sure, why not. Black and sweet please,” she said, taking very petty satisfaction at him serving her coffee. It was small, but it was a victory in its own way.
He set down two deep china cups, somewhere between the size of a regular cup and a mug. It was like china for guys, with big loops on the handles of the cups, more suited to a man’s hand than her more delicate ones.
“Thank you. Now, Mr. Bromley, as I explained to you when we talked last week, I can’t discuss this with you. You’re not the insured, nor are yours the paintings lost.”
“Actually, Agent Burton, you can,” he smiled again, and it looked warmer, more…personal. She wondered why. “Several of the paintings on the list were owned by the corporation registered here in San Francisco. As an officer of that corporation, I’m authorized to discuss that portion of the listed pieces.”
Ana wanted to seethe. She wanted to smack the warm, personal, and interested smile off his face. He could have told her he was an officer of the corporation. He could have…
She heard the voice of the psychologist in her head. “Is it always necessary to go on the attack, Agent Burton? Should you not consider your objective?” In the split second of silence before she spoke, she focused on the objective. She needed information.
Jeeez, Ana, he’s cooperating. Take it, for once. With that in mind, she took a breath and pasted a smile on her face. “That does change things, Mr. Bromley. Let’s look at your list.”
You show me yours, she smirked to herself, and I’ll show you mine.
He leaned forward unexpectedly, and before she could recoil a long finger stroked a brief caress down her cheek. “You had a piece of fluff, just there,” he commented, leaning back. “It was quite distracting.”
She frowned as the air backed up in her lungs, caught there by the intimate gesture. She felt like a trail of tingles had rippled down her cheek. Whoa. What the heck had that been about?
 
Her phone rang and this time, she checked the incoming number.Not Jen.Hmmm.
“Agent Burton,” she answered.“To whom am I speaking?”
“Agent Burton, this is Gates Bromley, Special Assistant to Mr. Davros Gianikopolis,” the man’s rich, luscious voice filled her ear.“You had called regarding a follow up on an old case.”
Mesmerized by the voice, it took Ana a heartbeat to make sense of the words.Wow, she’d never been affected just by someone’s voice, but this one was worth it.“Yes.I’d like to make an appointment with Mr. Gianikopolis to discuss his losses in the incident.I’m following up on some new leads.”
“I’ll be happy to meet with you, get the information and assess if there’s any new data we can add.”Holy cow, the man’s voice was pure, liquid sex and he wasn’t even trying to flirt, whichshe’d have squashed anyway.
For a second, all she could think about was the image of liquid sex.Jeeez, she had to get out more.Jen was right, and she hated to admit it.In the next second, she processed what he’d said and bristled at the high-handed phrasing.Assess the data, my ass.Fabulous voice or not, this guy needed a set down.
“Mr. Gianikopolis is the insured,” she kept her voice brisk, impersonal, and boy, wasn’t that a challenge? “I’ll need to speak with him.You are welcome to be present, Mr. Bromley,” she put all the I Am An Agent Of The Law insistence she could in her voice.Oddly enough, it felt good.She hadn’t felt that sure since Rome.Weird.“Which day this week is he available?”
There was a momentary pause, and when Gates Bromley replied, he sounded amused.“Mr. Gianikopolis is in town, but unavailable for the next several days.”
“Fine.Monday then?” she pushed.
“Ten a.m. at his estate,” was the still amused, but clipped reply.He rattled off the address.
“I’ll be there.Thank you,” she added, remembering her manners.She’d gotten her way, didn’t hurt to sugar things up.“I won’t take much of his time.”
“I’ll see to that, Agent.Good day.”
Ana clicked off.“I’ll see to that?I’ll see to that?What a snotty thing to say,” she accused the now-humming phone.“You can bite my ass, Mister Gates Bromley.”
###
Ana drove up to the speaker at the edge of the driveway into the compound.Several workers bustled around a landscaping truck on the other side of the driveway, and there were workers cutting grass beyond the ornate fencing.By habit, she made a note of the license plate, counted the number of workers, noted the lone woman working the crew.
“State your business, please,” the voice said, a second time since she hadn’t answered the first hail.Embarrassed to be caught out, she briskly stated her business.
“You’re expected, Agent Burton,” the man said, and directed her to drive through the first set of gates.
To her surprise, the gates shut behind her, trapping her in between them.It reminded her of an old castle, with a portcullis at both ends of a tunnel into the grounds.“Same idea, I think,” she muttered, noting the openings in the second wall.“Huh, the modern version of arrow slits and murder holes,” she decided, seeing the shadow of movement behind one of the gaps.“What the hell?”
The sharp-eyed and well armed guard asked for her identification and, unsmiling, took it into the guard house.He was apparently reading the contents to someone who approved, because he nodded and put down the phone with a smile.He was far more pleasant when he returned her documents.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Agent Burton.As I said, you’re expected, but we double check everything.”
She knew the feeling, but didn’t particularly like it.As an answer, she took her identification and put it away before she spoke.“I would hope no one would attempt to impersonate an Agent.”
The man grimaced.“They try everything,” he muttered, glancing beyond her car to the outer gates.“Really.”
She moved through the estate at an easy pace, appreciating the peace, quiet and beauty that money could buy this close to the city.The estate was a huge, well-manicured fortress.Once again, she was reminded of knights and feudal lords, always ready for the worst.
She arrived at the front portico and a man was waiting for her.It was a bright day, but the area shaded by the overhanging canopy left the man standing there in shadow.Her dark glasses made it worse.All she could tell was that he was above average height.Judging by the dramatic doors behind him, he was at least six feet tall, probably a little over that.A dark grey, well-tailored suit emphasized his height, and showed off impressive shoulders.His hair was a medium brown, his eyes probably were too.
Statistics showed that the brown/brown combination…
“Stop it, Ana,” she snapped at herself as she turned off the engine, gathered her briefcase.“Quit analyzing him, making him impersonal just because you’re nervous.”Not that she wanted anything personal, but it was ridiculous to make it a cop-like rundown.
She tugged down her suit jacket, making sure it and her skirt were straight, before she went around the car.She arrived at the hood ornament just as he came down the last step to meet her.
“Agent Burton?”
“Mr. Bromley?” they both spoke at once and he smiled.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a Hollywood, toothpaste-ad blinding white smile, otherwise she might have thought he was a god.The voice was just as luscious in person, but a crooked eyetooth and a scar over his eyebrow kept him from being too perfect.
“Please, come in.I regret that Mr. Gianikopolis won’t be able to join us today,” he began.
“Wait.What?”Jeez, all that reading for nothing? Any warmth she had for the man in front of her evaporated.A spurt of anger surfaced as well. “You didn’t call to reschedule?”
“My assistant did, yes, but you were already on your way.As I’m sure you know, cell service is spotty coming up the hills.This was…unavoidable, I’m afraid.A family matter.”
Annoyed, Ana managed to overlook the physical attraction and focus on the irritation.A feat of pure determination, because Gates Bromley was one fabulously attractive man.At least she thought he was gorgeous.She’d given up on figuring out what other people thought of that sort of thing.
“Then I guess my trip is a waste.”
“No,” he said, motioning her to proceed him through the doors.“I have a list of the stolen items, we can move through the initial comparison to be sure everything was accounted for by your Agency.Then, we can have a look at what you’re doingnow.”
His easy assumption that he was in charge pissed her off.She felt the stirring of her former, brash self rising up to protest.As he led the way down a gorgeous wood-paneled hallway, she was devising several methods of killing him, slowly and painfully, ruthlessly discounting his fabulous face.
She hated being treated like the freshman geek.
“Mr. Bromley, I assure you, we have a complete list.And I’m not at liberty to share information with you on avenues I might currently be pursuing.”Ana was pleased that she sounded professional, and firm.No wimpy hesitation.
“Perhaps.Perhaps not,” he said, and his smile was filled with infuriating superiority.
God, how she hated smugness.She hated when someone tried to bushwhack her or the Agency, and this was shaping up to be that kind of deal.
“Let’s sit here,” he directed her to a table.“Coffee?”
She wanted to say no, she wanted to stalk out, head high and in full dudgeon.Instead, she repressed a sigh.Thanks to several months with the departmental shrink, she knew enough about her own patterns that she now recognized the defensiveness as her own inadequacies rearing their ugly heads.Nothing messed with her more, especially now, than someone being haughty.
“Agent?”
“Sure, why not.Black and sweet please,” she said, taking very petty satisfaction at him serving her coffee.It was small, but it was a victory in its own way.
He set down two deep china cups, somewhere between the size of a regular cup and a mug.It was like china for guys, with big loops on the handles of the cups, more suited to a man’s hand than her more delicate ones.
“Thank you.Now, Mr. Bromley, as I explained to you when we talked last week, I can’t discuss this with you.You’re not the insured, nor are yours the paintings lost.”
“Actually, Agent Burton, you can,” he smiled again, and it looked warmer, more…personal.She wondered why.“Several of the paintings on the list were owned by the corporation registered here in San Francisco.As an officer of that corporation, I’m authorized to discuss that portion of the listed pieces.”
Ana wanted to seethe.She wanted to smack the warm, personal, and interested smile off his face.He could have told her he was an officer of the corporation.He could have…
She heard the voice of the psychologist in her head. “Is it always necessary to go on the attack, Agent Burton?Should you not consider your objective?”In the split second of silence before she spoke, she focused on the objective.She needed information.
Jeeez, Ana, he’s cooperating.Take it, for once.With that in mind, she took a breath and pasted a smile on her face.“That does change things, Mr. Bromley.Let’s look at your list.”
You show me yours, she smirked to herself, and I’ll show you mine.
He leaned forward unexpectedly, and before she could recoil a long finger stroked a brief caress down her cheek.“You had a piece of fluff, just there,” he commented, leaning back.“It was quite distracting.”
She frowned as the air backed up in her lungs, caught there by the intimate gesture.She felt like a trail of tingles had rippled down her cheek. Whoa. What the heck had that been about?

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