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Authors: Sydney Croft

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Supernatural, #Occult Fiction, #Paranormal, #Suspense, #Adult, #Erotica, #Erotic Fiction, #Animal Communicators

Unleashing the Storm

BOOK: Unleashing the Storm
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Unleashing
the Storm

ACRO Series
– Book 2

By Sydney
Croft

CHAPTER One

TUESDAY
4 P.M. MST

Kira
Donovan would be dead by now if Ender needed her to be, another victim of his
steady hand and expert marksmanship, which were part random gift of nature and part
honed by years of training.

He
lay in familiar sniper position, on his stomach on the broad, grassy slope
overlooking the farm, mentally lining up one perfect shot after another as the
woman he’d been sent to persuade walked in and out of the dilapidated barn
without a care in the world.

The
woman born as Charity Connelly was going to require a hell of a lot of training
to bring her up to spec. And she was going to have to stop wearing those shorts
and T-shirts that showed off too much tanned, curvy flesh too, because that was
much too distracting for everyone involved. Ms. Freakin’ Doolittle and her
merry band of animals were going to have a rude awakening.

He
sighed, put his forehead down against the cool earth and breathed in the scent
of nature that always seemed to be a part of him, no matter how hard he’d tried
to get away. And even though he so didn’t want this assignment, he was here,
and he had a job to do. And his jobs always got done.

Speaking
of done, what hadn’t been was the beautiful woman he’d picked up last night,
someone who shared his tastes in bed and his penchant for no-strings
relationships. That had to be the real reason for his hard-on.

They’d
just gotten to the handcuffs portion of the evening when he’d received the call
from work, something he couldn’t ignore. And when Dev, the head of the Agency
for Covert Rare Operatives that employed him, and Ken, his direct supervisor,
had laid out the plan to him, which meant taking the red-eye from the
Catskills, New York, compound to bumble-fuck Idaho, Ender had just shaken his
head in a combination of irritation and no-fucking-way.

“Why
me?” he’d asked when he arrived at Dev’s office. Because he’d worked for five
years as one of their top Convincers, the guy who brought home the big catches.
He liked being able to go in and pick off the men and women who’d already been
briefed to some degree about the agency’s dealing in Special Ops of a very
different kind, was always prepared for one of these rare-ability types to go
off the deep end, but never had much more than a casual, passing acquaintance
with them.

He
did not want to be one of the people who actually had to recruit the talent.

“You’ve
got patience,” Ken said.

He
snorted. “Patience when I’m waiting for the right shot, yes. My patience where
new recruits are concerned is severely limited, and if you mean patience where
women are concerned—well, I just went from bad to worse.”

“You’ve
got the background for the cover. You grew up on a farm,” Ken continued.

“Shit,”
he’d muttered, because he’d put his shit-kickers away when he left the farm,
and the horse, when he was sixteen, and never looked back. Hitched around the
country for a year doing odd jobs, whatever he could get his hands on—same went
for women—and finally, when he hit seventeen and got his GED, he hit the
nearest recruiting office. He wanted different—college—something. And the Army
had given him that, Delta Force and Covert Ops even more. His parents had given
consent, grateful that he’d finally called to tell them he was still alive.

He
finally appealed to the head of ACRO. “Come on, Dev. You’ve got plenty of other
guys who could handle this one—guys whose job it is to do this. What the hell
do you need my talents for so early in the game?”

Dev
had smiled, and with his usual straightforwardness, simply said, “Because if
she can’t be convinced to join us within forty-eight hours, you’re going to
have to kill her.”

Ender
had grabbed the file and left the office without another word. Ken hadn’t
wanted a trail—needed a quick in and out because of the target’s highly
specialized and unforeseen increasingly urgent needs, and the fewer people seen
on and around the farm, the better. So it was good-bye Ender and hello Tom
Knight for the next forty-eight hours.

If he
had his way, the job would be done in twenty-four. Whatever it took, no holds
barred, he was going to drag Kira the animal whisperer kicking and screaming
into ACRO, or he’d carry out his alternate orders. From what information he’d
gleaned from her files, she might actually enjoy being tied down, especially
during this time of year.

If it
could only be that easy, a seduce and convince special, normally Wyatt
Kennedy’s favorite means of persuasion. An ACRO operative who specialized in
deep undercover ops, Wyatt was convinced that ninety-nine percent of women
would roll with just the right kind of persuasion, and the other one percent
would require a tranquilizer gun.

Ender
had both plans covered.

Mixing
business with pleasure had never gotten in his way before, and from what the first
contact person, a psychic who’d gone undercover at the sanctuary, had reported,
it might be the only way to get Kira on board. ACRO’s psychic had claimed that
Kira’s spring fever was a major issue and, according to Ken, utilizing Kira’s
insatiable need for sex during this time was supposed to be part of Ender’s
master plan. An open invitation.

Now
he pushed up from the ground and headed down toward the barn, taking the main
route that led from the driveway. Bag slung over his shoulder, he looked like a
man who’d walked in from the one Greyhound bus stop in this one-horse Idaho
town, without many possessions or cares.

Still,
Kira came out of the barn and headed right in his direction like she had a
homing device on him. He hadn’t spotted any cameras, but he’d been told she was
paranoid.

“Can
I help you?” she asked, her voice brisk, businesslike and not at all like the
soft tones he’d figured on. Immediately his own needs gained quick interest and
let him know they’d demand to be heard sooner than later.

God,
she was pretty—naturally pretty, all long, light brown hair and full, pouty
lips, wide amber eyes and a body to freakin’ die for.

“Hey,
I’m Tom. Your new man for hire,” he said, and yeah, he’d let her work him in
more ways than one, if she was game.

He
hadn’t used his real name in years, preferred the anonymity of “Ender” and the
images it conjured up, especially at work. It kept most of the assholes, and
everyone else, at bay. Because, at heart, he never was a social kind of guy,
and things were not going to change if he could help it.

He
approached her, palm out, and she hesitated, the skittish side he’d been
expecting showing through. Finally, she extended her hand, her palm rough from
work, her shake strong and sure.

“Hello,
Tommy,” she said.

“It’s
Tom,” he said, then cursed inwardly and shrugged. “But, whatever, it’s all
good.”

Yeah,
real fucking slick.

She
didn’t smile, but the corner of her mouth pulled up slightly. “You’re right on
time.”

“I
try to make that a habit,” he said, became aware of something sniffing his ass
and turned to find a goat staring at him. It didn’t look happy either.

“Do
you also make it a habit to spy on people?” she asked, and he turned back from
the animal to her.

Son
of a—“No, ma’am,” he said.

“So
you just decided you wanted to stare me down for an hour and a half, then?”
She’d folded her arms over her chest, and he let his eyes skim her breasts
before meeting her gaze and smiling.

“I
got here a little early and wanted to take a nap. Didn’t want to bother you or
anything. And then I saw you, walking back and forth from the barn and, well…”
He shrugged. “Shit, I’m a red-blooded man, Kira.”

That
part was more than true, and standing this close to her, inhaling the scent of
apples and honey and cloves that surrounded her, despite the other, more
pungent smells close by, was killing him.

She
narrowed her eyes at him, and he held his breath because he couldn’t screw this
up this soon. Something was wrong—very wrong. He’d never been spotted, not like
that. He’d been hidden, camouflaged, and he was good enough at that to know
that she’d gotten her information about his watching in some other way than
stumbling on it herself.

When
the goat poked him in the back again, everything suddenly became clear.

 

KIRA
WATCHED PEEPING TOM for a long moment, allowing Cheech time to sniff him out.
The little Nubian goat was a great judge of character, and if he indicated that
Tom needed to be watched, then that’s what she’d do.

And
frankly, she’d watch him anyway. She’d never been one for the rugged, outdoorsy
type, but something about Tom grabbed her in places no man had grabbed for a
long time.

Not
since her last spring fever.

Now
that May had come again, the yearning had begun, the fierce, primal burn that
permeated every cell and told her she was days, maybe hours from the insanity
that would consume her for upward of four weeks.

She’d
been getting antsy, had been unable to concentrate on simple tasks. And simple
tasks in the presence of males…forget it. It was definitely time to scope out
potential partners and give her battery-operated toys a rest. She’d figured her
other hire, a dark-haired, brawny hottie named Derek, would be the first mate
she took this season.

But
now, as she studied Tom Knight, with his piercing blue eyes and sun-streaked blond
hair that was too long for a military cut and too short for a surfer, she began
to think he might be more fun until he wore out. High, chiseled cheekbones,
firm mouth…yeah, he may not be her type, but during this time of year, all men
were her type, and besides, she wasn’t looking for happily ever after.

There’d
never be one of those. Not for her. Not for someone people thought was
psychotic if they didn’t believe she could talk to animals, or were terrified
of if they did believe. Because she didn’t just talk to animals. She understood
them, communicated with them through words and body language and scents, but
mainly, mental images and sensations that transcended most human understanding.

And
the other aspect of her gift, the part that was more of a curse, well, people
really
didn’t understand that. Hence, the moves. The name changes. The prayers that
her latest relocation and identity would be her last.

Cheech
gave Tom a head butt and then, with a low bleat, told her he’d keep an eye on
the man. The goat seemed to think it was strange for a human to lie on the
ground the way Tom had, and Cheech wasn’t going to trust him any time soon.

“Ma’am?”

She
blinked, realized she’d been so immersed in her own world that she hadn’t heard
anything Tom had said, and the way he was watching her, like he didn’t enjoy
being ignored, made her a little jittery.

“I’m
sorry. What did you say?”

“I
asked if maybe I could move in? Get started working.”

His
voice, powerful and compelling, rolled through her like a muscle-deep caress,
and she wondered if his effect on her was a result of her growing need or if he
always talked with a rough, erotic edge, as though urging a woman toward
orgasm.

BOOK: Unleashing the Storm
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ads

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