Dungeon Royale(6)

By: Lexi Blake

“Yes, of course, but this isn’t the type of operation you should be on. You’re a nice young lady. You certainly shouldn’t be exposed to that sort of thing.”

That sort of thing? Sex? He thought she shouldn’t be exposed to sex? Well, it wasn’t like she hadn’t thought the same thing, but it hurt. “Is the lifestyle situation detailed in the report?”

He picked up the file. “There is information on it, yes.”

“And Mr. Knight knows about this lifestyle?” She had to admit she was curious. Curious about everything.

And she owed it to Mr. Knight to at least read the file. She couldn’t do it herself, but perhaps they weren’t thinking of everyone. Maybe she could help them find someone who would be suitable. “I’ll take a look at it.”

“If you’re sure.” He let her take the folder. “But obviously no one expects you to accept.” He emphasized the “you.”

And she felt that deep sense of completely unrealistic outrage again. “We’ll see.”

Before she turned, she thought she caught just a hint of a smile and wondered if Nigel Crowe wasn’t playing her for everything she was worth.

And she suddenly wondered if it just might work.

Chapter Two

He’d fucked up royally.

Damon stood in the middle of Paddington station, the Saturday crowd milling around him, the smells of coffee and baked goods filling the space, and considered the problem he’d created for himself.

He’d completely lost his cool. He’d damn near rubbed his cock all over Penelope Cash and then wondered why on earth she didn’t want to work with him. The entire afternoon before had been a classic fuckup. He’d been a tosser and she’d been a prude. Well, at least on the outside she’d been a prude.

Why didn’t she want to work with him? He hadn’t been insane. He really had felt her pulse, seen her eyes dilate, gotten a hint of the sweetest arousal coming from between her legs.

If he’d slid his hands up that plug-ugly skirt she’d been wearing, if he’d caressed her thighs and made his way to her pussy, he was damn sure he would have found her wet and squirming. And all right in Nigel’s office. How would she respond to him when he got her in a dungeon?

There was a whooshing sound that signaled the arrival of the train he’d been waiting on.

Paddington station was a massive hub, a testament to the power of London transport. To his right, he could get to the Tube and go just about anywhere in London proper. But the train platforms in front of him led to the rest of England, and more importantly to Heathrow.

The Heathrow Express pulled into the station, stopping quietly, its shiny silver doors opening with almost a preternatural quiet.

What came out of the train wasn’t quiet. What came out of the train was likely to be a pain in his arse.

“I’m just saying you didn’t separate Li from his newborn.” A big man with military-cut dark hair and broad shoulders was complaining as he muscled out with a duffel bag over one arm and a massive suitcase handle in the other.

Ian Taggart had his own baggage. “Li doesn’t have a partner. If you wanted to get paternity leave—god, I just vomited a little—then you should have manned up and gotten your own girl. Adam won the battle fair and square. He gets to stay with the wife and rug rat.”

“It wasn’t a fucking battle. It was rock, paper, scissors, damn it. I think Adam cheated.” Jacob Dean frowned as he looked up and finally caught sight of Damon. “Hey. You suck. Don’t you have like a whole fucking country of Brits to do your job for you? You have to hire us?”

So not everyone was happy with the assignment. Lovely. “Sorry about that.”

“I have a kid who’s going to grow up while I’m gone, thanks to you. I need some coffee. Your immigration officers suck.” Jake walked off, his every move a testament to his annoyance.

Ian just grinned as though he loved the chaos.

The rest of the crew had stepped off the train and were rearranging their baggage. Charlotte Taggart smiled as she looked around the station, her blue eyes taking in everything. Simon Weston had seen it all. He had come home and didn’t exactly look happy about it. Jesse Murdoch rubbed his eyes as though he’d just woken from a nap.

And then there was Chelsea Dennis. She pulled her suitcase out of the train, the last one to leave. She was a petite woman, twenty-seven years old. She favored her left leg. He recalled she’d had both legs broken quite badly, but the left had never healed properly and she walked with a limp. Pretty enough, though there was a darkness about her, like a cloud followed her around.

God, so unlike Penelope. She was a little light even though she obviously didn’t know it. Her light wasn’t brilliantly bright like Charlotte Taggart’s. She didn’t light up the room when she walked into it, but a man could look at Penelope Cash and know that she would try her damnedest to take care of him.

No one took care of him. No one ever had really. Not since his parents had died.

Fuck. He wasn’t a child. He didn’t need someone to take bloody care of him. He just needed a sub, and like it or not, Chelsea Dennis might be the answer to his problems.

Taggart stepped up, his hand out. “Knight. Good to see you. Sorry about Jake. He’s had a rough day. He got a pat down at security. I’m pretty sure Adam arranged that. He’s been pissy about it ever since.”

Damon clasped his friend’s hand. Yes, Big Tag was a pain in the arse, but he’d been a damn fine friend. It had been Ian’s home he’d gone to once he’d gotten out of hospital. It had been Ian who pushed him to get strong, who hadn’t given him a minute’s pity.

Penelope likely would have held his hand and baked him biscuits. Yeah, he didn’t need that.

“I’m sorry about dragging Dean away.” He couldn’t even understand the idea of ankle biters or changing nappies. Jacob Dean was a stone-cold killer. He’d moved through the ranks of US Special Forces, gaining the nickname Ghost for how quietly he could move, how easily he brought death to the enemy.

Now he wasn’t quiet. He was bitching at some poor shopkeeper about his coffee.

“I told him he should have read his job description. It plainly states that he’s an International Super Spy,” Taggart explained. “If he’d wanted to stay in Dallas, he should have applied for Regional Super Spy.”

Jesse pulled his jacket open. “Big Tag made us badges and everything.”

Sure enough he was wearing a cheeky name tag. Jesse Murdoch—International Super Spy.

Sometimes he didn’t understand the Americans. “Well, thanks for coming so quickly anyway.”

“We had a choice?” Weston asked, buttoning his suit coat. He wasn’t wearing a cheeky name tag. He was dressed to the nines, his suit impeccably tailored without a hint of wrinkling. The bastard must have changed. No one could get through a nine-hour overnight flight, hours in immigration and customs, and still look as perfect as Simon Weston. He glanced around the station as though looking for whatever was going to try to kill him next.

“Simon, chill,” Taggart ordered with a smile on his face. “It’s all good. Charlie here isn’t in Brit jail and we had a nice first-class flight.”

It was time to fuck with Taggart. “I’m so sorry, Tag. You do understand that we’re not actually reimbursing you for that. The deal was that you would do us some favors. Favors that don’t include any exchange of cash.”

Ian turned the funniest shade of red.

His wife stepped up, a frown on her pretty face. She put a hand on her husband’s shoulder as though physically restraining him. “He’s joking, baby. I already got the paperwork started. Now follow Jacob and get some coffee. We’ll expense that, too.”

Ian pointed a single finger Damon’s way. “I will kill you and bury you. Don’t think I won’t.”

He stormed off, and Damon couldn’t help but chuckle.

Charlotte turned that frown to Damon. “Don’t tease him. Do you know what the rest of us have been through? Do you have any idea what a first-class flight costs at the last minute? He’s turned into a penny-pinching asshole. He yelled at me the other day for buying raspberries for four dollars. Four freaking dollars. I’ve heard lectures on getting nickeled-and-dimed for months and all because we had to write you an enormous check. So you will pay for everything while we are here. Are we understood, Knight?”

She was awfully cute when she was mad. And she had written SIS a massive check in exchange for keeping her very nice arse out of jail. She’d also given them information the analysts were still going through. She’d been The Broker, a powerful information dealer. “Yes, ma’am.”

She nodded slightly and seemed to catch sight of something. “Oh, thank god. The champagne bar is open. You’re paying for that, too. Let’s go, Chels.”

Simon followed the women, Jesse yawning at his side.

Damon watched as they walked away and realized why he’d really called them in.

He’d wanted a team. Even if he didn’t really belong to the team, he wanted one around him.

Thirty minutes later, he, Ian, and Charlotte were ensconced in the limo Damon had hired to take the Taggarts to their very posh London hotel. The others had scattered, taking up their respective covers, though they would all come together at The Garden later.