Agent M4: Riordan by Joni Hahn
Series: D.I.R.E. Agency, # 4
Publication Date: June 4, 2014
Genre: Sci-fi Romance, Superhero Romance
• Former D.I.R.E. Enemy Agent
• Mongolian Prison Survivor
Sent to a Mongolian prison against his will, former enemy agent Riordan St. James is suddenly back in civilization. With his hands crushed, and littered with scars, he trusts no one. When he accepts D.I.R.E.’s prosthetic hands to operate a future, super power enhancement, Riordan knows their offer comes with a price - he just isn’t sure he wants to pay.
After an affair with a client turns deadly, psychologist and senator’s daughter Natalie Meeks, doesn’t trust her own judgment. When she’s hired to help Riordan adjust to civilization again, she finds herself in familiar, forbidden territory – battling a fiery attraction to her client.
One heated encounter with the elegant Dr. Meeks convinces Riordan to abide by D.I.R.E.’s bargain. However, when new evidence about his disappearance uncovers shocking secrets, he questions not only his decision, but the people around him – including his sexy-as-hell doctor.
While their lives become more entangled, yet pulled apart, a madman turns up the heat on his plans for Natalie. And the only person she can trust is the one man that doesn’t trust her…
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Hanging his head, he turned to face her with a cocked brow. “Really? You’re going full-on doctor on me? Is this where I lie down on one of the loungers and tell you my troubles?”
She matched his cocked brow. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were ridiculing my profession.”
He held up his hands in feigned innocence. “Not me.”
Lifting a shoulder, she said, “Mitchell is paying me the big bucks to be a full-on doctor, Riordan. If you want to lie down, please do.”
His gaze dropped to her breasts before a smirk crossed his features. “Care to join me?”
Been there, done that. And, it had ruined her life on so many levels.
She tilted her head. “What do you hope to gain with that question, Riordan? Outrage? Shock...?”
His deep, gravelly voice shot a wave of gooseflesh over her skin. Why did her body scream God, yes, while her brain told her beware men bearing barbaric sex appeal? Rough, arrogant, long-haired men were not an everyday occurrence for her. This one oozed animal magnetism through every tanned pore of his scarred skin.
She sighed. “Riordan, let’s keep things profess-”
His soft chuckle stopped her mid-speech. “When I first saw you, I thought that’s why Mitchell brought you here.”
Stilling, she stared at him, hoping sand wouldn’t blow in her mouth. “Are you implying that I look like a-“
This time, he stared straight into her eyes, his dark with appreciation. Her body tingled in places she hadn’t realized were still around, his smile rueful.
“No, but I thought that could be the only reason Mitchell would bring a woman to me. He knows I’ve been without a long time. You’re just not my type.”
What a complete and total Neanderthal. “Nor are you mine.”
With a shake of his head, he looked down at the water again. “Hell, I could see that right off.”
Something in his soft tone told her more stood behind that statement than the obvious. He considered himself beneath her. Growing up in the ranks of high society, Natalie abhorred pretentiousness. She’d been scolded a few times herself for speaking her mind in front of high-ranking officials.
In her eyes, equality ran across the board, regardless of social class or ethnicity. In Riordan’s case, they were just… different.
Regardless, she’d gained no headway traveling down this road. She needed to find some camaraderie.
Pulling off her college ring, she held it between her thumb and forefinger. “May I? It’s made of nickel.”
Glancing at her, his gaze dropped to the ring before returning to her face. “You’re proposing? I’m not a virgin so you don’t have to marry me to get me on that lounger.”
She cocked an eyebrow. “Wow, that was so… not original, St. James. Did you spend the last three years coming up with that?”
He laughed outright, the sound echoing off the cavernous canopy. Natalie couldn’t contain her grin. Laughter looked darned good on him.
“May I?” she said again.
His sober gaze studied her. Did he fear her touch, or the idea of going against his preconceived notion?
Probably both. “I promise I don’t bite.”
Rather than the smart remark she expected, he gave a brief nod.
With tentative movements, Natalie reached for his now dry hand. He felt warm to the touch, raw strength emanating from his artificial bones and rough flesh. He had capable hands, limbs that were just an extension of the man himself. Natalie had a feeling he could be enlisted to perform any task and would eagerly face it head on. When it came to dares, the word no would never enter his vocabulary.
If she ever went on one of those survival shows, Natalie wanted Riordan St. James with her.
Holding his hand, she set the ring upright on top before slowly moving away. It stood erect, just shy of his knuckles.
She felt her smile grow of its own volition. “You do have magnetic hands.”
His sky blue gaze roamed over her face. She felt heat bloom in her cheeks.
“I do. Once my enhancements are complete, my pull will be more powerful. I’ll have to control it with my brain.”
Cocking her head, she said, “And, you’re okay with that? With someone altering your body that way?”
He graced her with another bright smile. She took a deep breath and let it out.
“To be the only man in the world with the ability to attract and repel objects with his hands? To be one of The D.I.R.E. Agency’s super agents? Damn straight, I’m okay with that.”
The man knew what he wanted when it came to his career. It didn’t sound like Riordan had made a forced decision out of some sense of loyalty to Mitchell. If he lacked self-confidence as Mitchell said, his assurance proved a step in the right direction.
Clenching his hand into a fist, Riordan watched the ring tumble into the clear water. No sooner had she gasped than he dropped into the pool.
She waited for him to resurface. When he didn’t show after long moments, her heart started to pound. “Riordan?”
The water lay calm, gently lapping against the side. “Riordan?”
He sprang from the water like a dolphin at play, his head popping up between her legs. Gasping, she shoved away from the pool, a foot braced on the concrete, her dress riding high on her thighs. His beautiful, pale eyes went from playful to dark as he placed the ring on the ground between her thighs - just inches from the crotch of her black thong.
She didn’t move.
Her mind swirled with images of him touching her there, slipping a finger under the lace. She could feel her body prepare for an invasion that could only take place in her mind. Yet, she did nothing to stop it.
Her legs fell open further. His breath rushed through his nose. Their gazes held, his dark as sapphires, hers clouded with visions of his hand on her.
Riordan’s gaze dropped to the hem of her dress. Her breath caught. Bracing both hands on the edge of the pool, he jumped out of the water, flinging heavy droplets over her.
Natalie held up her hands to ward off the dousing. What was she doing? Hadn’t she learned anything with Paul?
Heart pounding against her ribs, she snatched up the ring and shot to her feet. She grabbed her shoes.
“Natalie.” He grabbed her arm with a wet hand.
She flung it away.
Rushing to the fitness room door, she had to find Mitchell. She couldn’t do this.
“Meeks.” Riordan came up behind her.
She grabbed the door handle just as Mitchell shoved it open from the inside. He glanced at her with narrowed eyes before turning to Riordan who stood beside her.
“I’m sorry, Mitchell, but you’ll have to get someone else.”
Mitchell’s thunderous gaze shot to Riordan, who crossed his arms over his chest.
“We’re up a creek then, Mitchell…” Riordan pointed at her with his thumb. “…because I’ll only work with her.”
AUTHOR BIO & LINKS:
By day, Joni Hahn keeps her secret decoder ring hidden while she works as a mild-mannered HR manager and accounting generalist. She believes the world can never have too many superheroes, and anxiously waits for the call when one will need help saving the world… or getting into his costume. Joni was born with a hopelessly tender heart and believes there is nothing more exhilarating than falling in love (other than the rear shot of Chris Evans hitting the punching bag in The Avengers – that was pretty darn exhilarating). A native Texan, she thinks cowboys are the epitome of masculinity, and country music is the other soul music.