Sure they could. She spent most of her days shoving the memories of her past away.

Carefully, Monica set down her pen. Then she lifted her gaze. Dante sat across from her, his long legs spread out, taking up too much room. He’d changed before they left, thankfully gotten rid of the blood, and now he wore loose khakis and a button-down shirt.

Over the years, she’d tried not to think about Dante. Tried to pretend the fling with him hadn’t happened.

Tried and failed really, really well.

“Like what you see?” The words came out of his mouth sounding like some kind of sensual purr.


And, dammit, yes. Luke Dante was sex, he was power, and he was temptation.

A temptation she hadn’t been able to resist when she was twenty-two. But one she would ignore now.

Tall, muscled, with bright emerald eyes and sun-streaked blond hair, Dante was a southern boy with charm and a dimple in his chin.

A long, thin scar marred his right cheek. She’d been there the day he got that scar. The mark didn’t detract from Dante’s looks. No, the scar just made him look all the more dangerous.

She stared at him, trying to be detached. A strong jaw, wide lips, slightly twisted nose—he shouldn’t have been handsome.

But he was.

No, not handsome. Sexy.


Monica cleared her throat. “The past is over, Dante.” They’d been over this before, when he’d made the mistake of tracking her down. Serious mistake. “We’re professionals, we can—”

“Pretend we never had sex? Pretend we didn’t nearly tear each other apart because we were so f**king hungry those nights?”

Her heart thumped hard enough to shake her chest.

He smiled at her, flashing his white teeth. “Don’t know if I’m that good at pretending, Ice.”

Her eyes narrowed. She hated that nickname. The jerks she’d been in training with had tagged her with it. No one understood.

Control—control mattered. But she’d sure lost control with him.

Dante was her one mistake over the years. The one slip that had broken past the walls she’d worked so hard to erect.


All the agents had been given names in their class.

Dante had been called Devil. The guy liked to take risks, to push boundaries. A devil who didn’t care about being cautious. How were you supposed to resist the devil?

His name hadn’t stuck, though. Hers had.

Monica sucked in a hard breath and deliberately relaxed her fingers. “Long time ago, Dante. And I don’t deal in the past.” Wrong. She’d spent years running from her past. “I focus on the present.” As much as possible. She held his stare and knew that her face would be expressionless.

She’d practiced that. Ice.

So, okay, maybe she’d helped a little bit with that nickname. But being cold kept the others away, and it could be dangerous when someone got too close.

Straightening her shoulders, she said, “I’m the senior agent here, and I’m not looking to screw around.” Too dangerous. “We’re on a case. We work together because that’s what we have to do in order to get the job done.” Simple. Flat.

Dante didn’t so much as blink.

“Now, are you going to have a problem with that? Because, if so, it won’t be too hard to send your butt back to Atlanta.” Total bullshit now. Like she had that kind of power.

Hyde wanted Dante on his team. He’d been adamant about him. He’d even overridden her objections, and the guy usually listened to her opinions about people. Not this time.

A muscle flexed along Dante’s jaw. Perfectly shaven now, but she’d seen him at dawn, seen the rough stubble that—

“No problem, ma’am,” the title was a sardonic taunt. “I can do my job just fine.” A pause.


“Can you?”

Monica ground her teeth together. “Trust me, Dante, it won’t be an issue for me.” Liar, liar…

She could still remember all too well what the man looked like naked.

And what he felt like.

She swallowed.

Leaving him before had nearly ripped her apart, but there hadn’t been a choice. The man was a weakness, one she couldn’t afford.

“Prepare for descent.” A male voice broke over the intercom system. “Buckle your safety belts. We’ll be arriving in Jasper…”

Monica caught the belt in her hands as the rest of the pilot’s words washed right past her. Snap.

If Dante handled his first SSD case right, she’d be working with him, every day and all those nights, for a long time to come.

Shot down. Luke blew out a slow breath. He could handle it. A case waited. Victims. He could focus and get the job done.

They climbed down the small flight of stairs leading out of the plane. A private plane. His jaw had nearly dropped when he’d caught sight of it.

Hyde must know some serious dirt on the higher-ups in order to have swung a plane—just for the SSD. But the ride had been pretty close to torture. Trapped in the plane with her, he’d been able to do little more than drink in her scent and drink in… her.

Even after all these years, the woman was still too beautiful. Smooth, pale skin. Nose perfectly straight. Full, red lips. And those legs…

He could still feel them around him, digging into his back, clenching tight as he drove into her, as hard and as deep as he could go. Those legs…

On the plane ride from hell, she’d crossed them, then begun to kick one foot slowly while she made her notes. Watching that foot, then letting his gaze rise to follow the smooth lines of her legs up to the edge of her skirt…

Once, he’d licked his way up her body. Tasted the flavor of her skin. But that was the past.

In the present, the woman had frozen him out. She’d looked at him with those blank eyes and pretty much told him to go screw himself.

Hands off or your ass heads back to Atlanta.

So much for picking up where they’d left off.

Business only. He could do that.

Luke jerked his gaze off the sway of Monica’s ass and caught sight of the two uniformed sheriff’s deputies waiting for them.

Stick to the case. Forget the girl.

Her high heels clicked across the pavement. The two cops shot up from their slouching positions and hurried toward her. Smart men.

“Agent Davenport?” The first guy to reach her asked, shoving out his hand. A fresh-faced kid, he looked like he’d just skated past twenty-one. He had black eyes, olive skin, and twitchy fingers.