Two Hot!

By: Cara Summers



Zoë McNamara drew her bottom lip between her teeth and studied the words she’d just written on the first page of a fresh notebook. From the time she’d been a very young girl, she’d developed a habit of writing down her thoughts and feelings. Doing so had always helped her keep her focus and work through problems.

Jed Calhoun definitely qualified as a problem. She’d only known the man for two weeks, yet he could scramble her nerves with nothing more than one of those mocking looks of his. And when he touched her, even in the most casual way—the brush of his arm against hers as they entered a doorway—he sent her pulse rocketing.

Then there was the kiss.

Frowning, Zoë tapped her pen against the edge of the page. It hadn’t been a kiss at all, not really, but it had stirred up desires she hadn’t acted on in a very long time.

The problem was Jed Calhoun made her want to act on them. Ever since that “almost” kiss, he’d haunted her dreams, waking and sleeping. He was even beginning to interfere with her work. All she thought about was what it might have been like if he’d really kissed her.

Zoë badly wanted to pick up the notebook and throw it at the wall of her office. Better still, she wanted to go after Jed Calhoun and demand that he finish what he’d started. But she’d learned that giving in to what her parents referred to as the “wilder” side of her nature, especially with men, never solved a thing. She’d been there, done that her freshman year in college, and she’d learned her lesson. Hadn’t she?

When the phone rang, Zoë jumped. A glance at the caller ID had her stomach knotting. It was her mother, no doubt wanting a progress report on her work.

Letting the call transfer to her voice mail, she rose and circled her desk, then began to pace the small Oriental rug. Lately, her parents had been pleased with her. She was a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology at Georgetown University. The current research she was doing with Dr. Sierra Gibbs on the dating and sexual practices of urban singles would be published, and that together with her degree would ensure her the kind of academic career that her parents felt was right for her.

Genetically, she was very suited to the kind of work she was doing with Sierra Gibbs. Her father, Dr. Michael McNamara, held a chair in theoretical physics at Harvard, and her mother, Dr. Miranda Phelps, was the dean of the engineering school at Stanford. But while raising her they hadn’t been content to trust in genes. They’d schooled her at home, providing her with private tutoring and special classes.

Stifling a little sigh, Zoë glanced around the small, meticulously neat office. This was the kind of world that her parents had raised her to fit into. And she was very good at what she was doing. So why did she feel so…trapped?

Moving to the window, she gazed out at the quad. The slant of the morning sun sent long shadows across the lush green grass. The two times she’d actually done what she’d wanted and strayed from her parents’ expectations of her, she’d messed up. After her experiment with life on the wild side her freshman year in college, they’d insisted she go into therapy. They’d refused even to talk to her during the two months she’d worked at the CIA. Poor judgment and a sinful waste of her talents, they’d called it.

Taking the job at the CIA had been her last little rebellion against their plans for her. She’d thought that her work there would bring her the kind of adventure she’d always secretly dreamed about. She’d even studied karate in the hopes of eventually becoming a field agent.

But the only real excitement that she’d experienced in her work as a CIA data analyst had been of a vicarious nature, reading and analyzing the reports of one particular field agent whose code name was Lucifer.

Her job had been to analyze the probability that he’d carried out a hit on a fellow agent. Of course, he hadn’t, but in the course of gathering intelligence on Lucifer, she’d become insatiably curious about the man.

His reputation was mythic. He was such a master of disguise that no one even knew what he looked like. His track record for getting the job done was flawless. There was even a theory that he didn’t really exist, that Lucifer was merely a code name for a group of agents who performed dangerous and secret missions.

But Zoë didn’t believe that. She’d read all of his reports, and there was something very distinctive about Lucifer’s writing style, a kind of dry humor that appealed to her. And she admired the careful planning that was a hallmark of any mission he worked on. But the thing she’d admired most about Lucifer was the integrity that lay beneath all of his work. Lucifer was a man who could be trusted.