To Love A Thief (Code Name: Danger)

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-06-01
  • Publisher: Silhouette
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Yanking open the passenger door of a nondescript gray sedan, a heavyset male dropped into the seat. He brought with him just enough of the crisp September breeze to stir the stale odors of old French fries and half-eaten donuts that permeated the vehicle.

His nose wrinkled in disgust. "I wish to hell you'd dump your garbage in a trash can instead of tossing it in the back seat."

"Never mind my garbage," the driver growled.

"Did you get through?"

"I got through."

"What was the message that was so damn important we had to call today?"

"Our client's getting antsy. Real antsy."

The driver crumpled his foam coffee cup and tossed it over his shoulder to join the rest of the litter. Scowling, he glared at his associate.

"Hell! This isn't like taking down a two-bit pusher or some husband who can't keep his pants zipped. We've been trying to set up the job for a week now. The target never takes the same route to work, never eats at the same restaurant two nights in a row and has a security system tougher to crack than Fort Knox, for God's sake!"

"So tell me something I don't know."

The retort earned him a hard, swift look. More than a little afraid of the man beside him, the passenger gulped and delivered the rest of the message that had come through the phone via a voice synthesizer that completely disguised the speaker's age, sex and nationality.

"We gotta do it within twenty-four hours or the deal's off."

His mouth set, the driver hunched his arms over the wheel. He'd been in the business long enough to know his reputation was on the line here. He'd accepted the contract, demanded and received a five-figure advance. If he didn't deliver as promised, he could kiss off the rest of the hefty fee he'd been promised. Worse, word would soon get around. Before long, he'd be back to shooting out the kneecaps of gamblers who welched on their debts at a hundred bucks a pop.

"All right," he snarled. "We'll do it tonight."

* * *

From the outside, the elegant, three-story Federal-style town house looked much like its neighbors. It sat midblock on a quiet, tree-shaded street just off Massachusetts Avenue, in the heart of Washington's embassy district. The last rays of the afternoon sun glinted on its tall windows. Ivy meandered over its mellow red brick and almost obscured the discreet bronze plaque beside the front door.

The plaque identified the town house as home to the Offices of the President's Special Envoy. Savvy politicians and diplomats knew the position was created years ago to reward a wealthy campaign contributor with a yen for a fancy title and a hankering to rub elbows with the powerful elite. Like so many other fabricated posts in the nation's capital, the position had since taken on a staff and a life of its own.

Only a handful of insiders knew the special envoy also served as director of an agency whose initials comprised the last letter of the Greek alphabet: an agency so secret that its director reported only to the president. So supercharged that OMEGA's agents were activated only as a last resort, when other government agencies like the military, the FBI or the CIA couldn't respond for political or legal reasons.

For almost a year now, Nick Jensen had served as acting director of OMEGA. The wealth and international contacts he'd accumulated as owner of a string of outrageously high-priced watering holes for the rich and famous - not to mention his hefty contributions to the president's reelection campaign - had given him the necessary cachet for the special envoy's title.


Excerpted from To Love A Thief by Merline Lovelace Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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