Losing Control

By: Nina Croft

PROLOGUE

Kim cracked open the door an inch. The outer office was in darkness.

Good.

Her intel was correct. The CEO of Knight Securities had left for the evening. And about time—it was close to midnight. She slipped through the gap, pulled the door closed behind her, then stood, her back resting against the wood as she waited for her racing pulse to slow.

Without turning on the light, she crossed the room to the door opposite. This one wouldn’t be so easy. A PIN code, as well as a more conventional lock, protected the inner sanctum of her boss.

From the bag at her waist, she pulled a small bottle of talc and puffed a fine cloud over the keypad. The white powder clung to four numbers. So far, so good. Now she just needed the correct sequence, but looking at those numbers… She knew exactly what the order would be.

She entered the PIN and grinned as the light turned from red to green. Take that, Mr. High-and-Mighty.

The next bit was the trickiest.

Kneeling on the floor, she withdrew the pick and tension wrench from her kit. Her hand shook slightly as she slid them both into the lock, and then she waited for a minute, breathing slowly until she was ready to go on. She leaned in close as she manipulated the tools.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, she heard the small click as the first pin fell into place. Almost there. A few seconds more and the wrench turned cleanly.

Yay—she was in. One more security element to breach and she’d have that promotion in the bag. She’d worked as an operative for nearly four years now, investigating low-level threats and putting together security systems for the rich and famous, but she was ready to take her career to the next level: gun-toting, badass bodyguard.

Her best-friend-slash-boss had set the bar for her promotion pretty low when she’d told him she wanted to carry a gun. Or so she’d thought, right up until the first time she’d tried to break into his safe. Now on her fifth attempt in as many months, she was more determined than ever to outwit the infuriating man once and for all.

As she pushed open the door to his office, she slid the goggles down over her eyes. Instantly the world changed. Beams of red light crisscrossed the room, separating her from the goal: the safe hidden inside the cabinet behind the desk.

The first beam was a mere foot above the ground and she easily stepped over it, then ducked under the second. The third was tricky, and she hesitated. Over or under? She lifted her foot, stretched her leg—

“Looking for something?”

She jumped as the deep male voice skittered along her spine, then lost her balance and crashed to the floor. Alarms jangled, lights flashed. Chaos reigned.

“Shit,” she cursed.

Kim lay on her back and gritted her teeth until everything went quiet, the flashing lights stopped, and the main overhead light came on. Then she pushed the goggles from her eyes and sat up.

Jake Knight lounged in the open doorway, arms folded across his chest. Dressed all in black, he looked lean, mean, and vaguely menacing. The image spoiled only by the mocking smile on his handsome face.

She waggled her fingers at him. “Hi there, boss. Why aren’t you at home?” Where he was supposed to be.

His lips twitched. “I had a feeling something…urgent was going down in my office.”

“Nope. Only little old me.” What had given her away? The problem was, Jake knew her too well. He probably hadn’t bought it when she’d offered to stay late to take a client interview so he could get an early night. “By the way,” she said, “cute move using my birthday as the PIN code.”

“I like to give you a fighting chance.”

She rolled her eyes.

He strolled across the room and came to a halt a foot away, hands thrust in his pockets, that lazy smile still curving his lips.

Yeah, she was so funny. And she’d failed.

Again.

Crap. At this rate, she’d never get her promotion.

“So,” Jake said. “What do we do with you?”

“Er…nothing?”

“Don’t you think breaking into my office deserves a little…retribution?”

Kim scrambled to her feet and brushed herself off. “I’d like to see you try.”

“You think I couldn’t take you?”

She tipped her chin up. “I could kick your ass.”

Probably a lie. Okay, definitely a lie. She was good, but she was also only five foot nine and Jake had six inches on her. Plus, he was twice as broad at the shoulder. However hard she trained, she could never match that. All the same, his smug expression was starting to piss her off.

Without giving herself a chance to think this was a really bad idea, she whirled around and kicked out, but Jake caught her boot before she could connect with an ease that made her curse, leaving her balancing on one foot.

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