“Absolutely not,” I said.
My boss Nathaniel Bradley sat forward in his chair. “Agent Steele, you really don’t have a choice.”
I narrowed my eyes. Surely he couldn’t be serious. “You want me to pose as an aristocrat’s lover while he’s on a mission to save England. That’s not an offer I’ve ever had the joy of accepting, and I don’t want to start now.” As I leaned back, I eyed my boss and tried to ascertain if he was joking. When the Assistant Director of SOCA called me into his office, I thought it was a routine check.
Now Bradley’s expression revealed nothing. “You make it sound so salacious, but that’s not what we are aiming for. We need your help on this mission.”
What kind of help
were they soliciting? My curiosity piqued, I cocked my head and asked, “Are you taking the piss here? Is this some sort of hazing ritual at SOCA that I haven’t heard about?”
I sighed. Of course it wasn’t, but the assignment was so outlandish that I hadn’t been sure. “I’m not a bodyguard. If you’re looking for security for this young man, I’m sure there are many others far better trained to do so.”
Another bloke with a visitor’s badge sat next to me. He had introduced himself as Special Agent Anthony Terranova from the FBI when I had shut the door behind. “And if we needed a trained bodyguard, that’s who we would hire,” he interjected. “We need an agent with specialized military training to be his partner in this mission and keep him safe. We need you, Agent Steele.”
“You want me to run around after a duke’s son and make sure he isn’t getting into trouble?” I couldn’t keep the contempt out of my voice.
“There’s more to this mission than just that,” Bradley said as he sat forward but he hesitated. “There’s no polite way to say this.”
“That’s your problem. You’re too damn polite.” Agent Terranova smirked as he turned back to me. “We saw you at the River Bank on Friday night a couple weeks ago.”
The River Bank? What did an upscale gay BDSM club here in London have to do with anything? Of course I had been tempted to visit the scene in London while here, since it was more populated than back home.
“And you’re gay too, correct?” Agent Terranova asked.
The fact I had even been at the River Bank spoke for my liking for men. I didn’t air my lifestyle preferences, but the staff at SOCA had done a thorough background check before hiring me, and they knew about everything else in my life; why not this?
“I don’t see the connection between this mission and my preference for men.” Dread hit my stomach, but I stared Bradley down as I chose my next words carefully. “Is this a coercion tactic?”
“No,” Bradley said, glancing slyly at Agent Terranova. “We’re regular attendees of the club too.”
I lifted my eyebrow. I hadn’t remembered seeing either of them there.
“What you do on your own time isn’t important, except we think you would be perfect alongside Robbie. We need you to pose as his dom and be his mission partner.”
“Let me get the details straight. You want me to go on a clandestine mission to Prague, where I will be dominating the youngest son of a duke. What kind of bloody trip is this?”
“It’s an all-male BDSM sex party in Prague.” Terranova eyed me for a reaction as his words sank in.
My jaw dropped. I kept expecting them to point at a hidden camera and tell me it was going on the telly. “Is this some sort of silly joke?”
“No, it’s not,” Bradley said.
I glanced at Agent Terranova and tried to gauge what he was thinking, but he didn’t give me much to work with. “So just what is it you need me to do?”
“You’ll be accompanying Robbie to Prague, where you’ll be attending parties nightly of a highly sexual nature. He’s not a shy man, but he will need to be guided with a gentle hand. He’s not a trained submissive.”
This was getting more ridiculous with every passing second. “Is he new, or is it that he knows nothing about BDSM?”
Bradley hesitated. “I believe it to be the latter.”
“No,” I said firmly. “I refuse to go, and I can’t believe you’re sending him in there.”
“You’re forgetting that we need you specifically,” Bradley said. “You don’t have the option to decline participation.”
“Listen—” A knock at Bradley’s door interrupted Agent Terranova. When he called out for them to enter, the door swung open, and Anne Winters, the director of SOCA London, walked in with my mission partner, and I saw red.
Well, red hair, to be precise.
The man standing next to her must have been Robbie. I remembered seeing him around the office, but he hadn’t been dressed like this. Before I could stop myself, I asked, “Did you look in the mirror before leaving the house this morning?”
My barbed tongue could have possibly been blamed on his black tracksuit bottoms and an atrocious neon-orange T-shirt. Or it could have been I had lost my mind over his muscled body that was outlined perfectly by his workout gear.
If he had sneered at me and put me in my place and acted every inch the haughty aristocrat, I would have expected it of a man of his social rank. He could have requested a new partner right then, and no one would have blamed him.
Instead, he smiled sheepishly and smoothed his palm down the front of him. My gaze traveled with his hand as it highlighted his muscled abs through his shirt. “I had a toner accident while fixing the copy machine, and this was all I had in my car.”
That maybe explained his casual dress but not the disgusting shade of orange, which didn’t favor him. Was he color-blind? At least it fit him well, accentuating his broad shoulders and trim frame. Barely able to stop from drooling, I tried to quash the rampant lust bubbling inside me.
“I apologize for my state of dress,” Robbie said and grimaced. “I’m not making the best first impression, am I?”
“No,” I said. When he recoiled, I wanted to slap myself. “Uh, I meant to say you look fine.”
I cringed inwardly. All it took for my mouth to turn into a one-way chute of idiocy was bright red hair. It might have been the way his thick black glasses framed his eyes. I had a liking for brown eyes. Or was it his full lips? They were perfectly shaped for tugging on with my teeth.
Or for bumping my balls against as I fucked his mouth. No, no, that’s wrong. He’s your colleague, and if it wasn’t for being paired up on this mission, he probably would want nothing to do with you.
He grinned. “Thank you. I’m Robbie Covington,” he said, holding out his hand. “I guess we’re going to be partners, then, right?”
“Partners” was a very loaded word, but I let it pass as I sought to put him at ease with a friendly smile when we shook. “That’s right. I’m Drake Steele.”
He pushed his glasses up his nose. “You joined us a few weeks back.”
“You remember that?” I was surprised he’d noticed me, but on the day I arrived he’d been in my office with his head stuck under my desk. The memory of his arse in the air made my trousers seem too tight.
Yet another reason why I shouldn’t go on this trip with him. Robbie might have been a man I would ask out if we had met up away from work, but he was the son of a duke and a coworker. Lusting after him was only asking for a disaster.
“So Agent Steele, you’ll be going with Agent Covington to Prague?” Director Winters asked.
Bradley answered for me, before I could stop him. “Yes.”
“Good. Read him in on this mission,” Director Winters said before she glanced at me. “We’re happy to have you on this team, Agent Steele.”
There wasn’t much I could say to that. I hadn’t agreed to go, and as she left, I glared at Bradley.
He smiled, unrepentant and smug as he spoke. “We have quite a lot of business to sort out before you head off to Prague. Agent Terranova and Agent Covington, I think it’s best if you sort out the technical details of the operation while I work with Agent Steele.”
I turned to Robbie. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked quietly.
He looked at me and smiled. “I’m sure.”
Fortunately he didn’t seem overwhelmed, which would be good during the mission. Maybe this arrangement could work, especially if he wasn’t a spoiled aristocrat who needed a full staff just to make him a cup of tea.
I turned my attention back to the briefing in front of me, but in my peripheral vision, I noticed he still gazed at me, studying my face. “What?” I asked.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“Does it matter?” I asked, wanting to bite my tongue when I realized he was asking after my Scottish accent.
“Sure, it does,” he said. “You’re supposed to be playing my partner. I’m supposed to know these things about you.”
“I was born in Dumfries, but when I was in lower school, my father was transferred to Birmingham.”
He cocked his head. “I think your accent’s sexy.”
I had no idea what to say to that, especially since all I could see were his big brown eyes. I turned back to the report, only to find Terranova watching us with a slight smile. Feeling like we had missed a joke while Robbie and I had been talking, I gave them my full attention. “Sorry,” I said, addressing them.
I cursed under my breath. To get the attention off us, I directed a question to Agent Bradley. “Tell me why Agent Covington is needed again?”
“He has specific hacking skills we need on-site to break into Mueller’s computer. We’ve been able to breach their firewalls at their gallery, but from our limited recon, the terminal that keeps his data about the crime ring doesn’t come online. And Robbie’s also proficient in several languages and Czech as well, since he lived there.”
I glanced at Robbie as he pushed his black glasses up higher on his nose. “There’s a weapons haul happening next week, but we don’t know when or where. We believe that data is on his laptop, and it stays with him at all times.”
Grimacing, I asked, “And no one has been able to get the information before now?”
“No. Interpol has come up empty-handed, and that’s why we’re sending in the best now,” Terranova said. “Can we count on your participation, Agent Steele?”
Throwing this plan together was a terrible idea, but we really didn’t have a choice. As Bradley mentioned, the parties started in two days. But first, I needed to introduce Robbie to the world of pain and pleasure. “We need more time to prepare.”
Robbie turned to me. “Why? I’m ready to go.”
Sighing, I faced him. “Do you even know what BDSM is? Are you even gay?”
He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Yes, I do. I’m not a child.”
I snorted, which wasn’t polite, but I didn’t want to hold back making my true feelings known. While I noticed that he didn’t answer my question about his sexuality, the flush that spread across his cheeks concerned me. “You’re barely out of school.”
“I’m twenty-seven, Drake. Not a child by anyone’s standards,” he said through clenched teeth.
I cocked my eyebrow. He appeared barely old enough to be out of upper school, and the freckles sprinkled across his pale cheeks didn’t help matters. Not asking for his birth certificate took a great deal of control, but instead I enjoyed the angry flush that reached all the way to the tips of his ears now.
“We don’t have more time. I wish we did. You have to leave the day after tomorrow. Do you think you can keep him safe in your care?” Bradley asked.
I wasn’t sure. I had severe doubts and reservations that he would be able to pull this off. I wanted an experienced submissive, one I wouldn’t have to keep an eye on while carrying out my mission at the same time. “There has to be trust between the submissive and the dominant, along with good chemistry. Robbie and I barely know each other,” I pointed out.
“I would prefer for you to go,” Bradley said. “You’re an experienced dom, from everything I’ve seen. Beyond that, your military record speaks for itself.”
I glared at Bradley. He’d put me in a difficult spot. In an ideal world, I would have an experienced submissive go along with me, but I would have to take Robbie as he was. He had the skills to get the information they needed. I had the brawn to keep him safe.
This was my chance to get out of what would probably end up a fiasco; someone else could go in my place, but the thought of leaving Robbie with an inexperienced dom turned my stomach. “I’m sure. I’ll keep him safe.”
Bradley stood. “Then we’ll get you ready. Agent Steele, if you’ll stay here with me while Tony starts working with Robbie on the technical details?”
I didn’t miss the familiarity between the other two agents, but I had more interest in the redhead who had stolen my attention from the moment he walked in the room. Robbie stood, and before he left, I reached for him. “Are you sure this is all right with you?”
I could tell he was nervous, maybe even scared, but he held up a brave front, his voice strong and unwavering as he answered me. “Yes.”
Satisfied, but only temporarily, I let him leave to start working on the tech aspect of this mission. Once the door shut behind them, we sat back down, and I turned my focus back to my boss.