The Traitor Within Chapter 1

Houston, Texas

Natasha Kelly brushed trailing blond hair behind her ear and scanned the personal ads of the Houston newspaper. Four weeks had elapsed since she’d left Israel, and not one day passed that she didn’t wonder how hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Bedouin had disappeared without a trace from the cave near the Temple Mount. What had happened to Hassan and his grandfather? And Yaakov? Had the terrorist gone to ground? Had he taken Hassan with him or was the agent’s cover forever blown?

If only some official Mossad channel had received word of his status, but she couldn’t ask. The secretive society of Israel’s counter-intelligence very much acted on a “need to know” basis. And Natasha didn’t need to know where, or if, Hassan and his grandfather, Hamil, had taken refuge.

The sharp peal of the phone brought her head up, and she reached across her office desk. “Kelly Courier and Shipping. This is Natasha.”

“Hello, darling. What are you doing?”

Dirk Sloan’s smooth, British baritone never failed to give Natasha’s heart a thrill, but it also gave her a fit of guilt. Should she tell him she was searching the personals for a coded message from Hassan? Would he understand? It was difficult to foretell when he’d react like the secret agent he was or when he’d act like a predictable male protecting his turf. She attempted to make her voice as carefree as his.

“Just reading the newspaper. What about you? Have you finished shooting your scenes today?”

“They’re still blocking off something. I decided to take a break and call my girl…Tell me what you see.”

She laughed. They played this game with increasing regularity when separated for any length of time.

“I see the warehouse walls through the glass window of my office. Tim and Ricardo are hauling a pallet of crates from one end of the building to another. Tim is shaking his head, like he disagrees, and Ricardo is pointing his finger at Tim, as if he knows what he’s talking about.”

Dirk laughed with her. “Don’t those two ever agree?”

“Hardly ever. Makes one wonder why they’re such close friends. Tell me what you see.”

“I see stage seven, numerous sound and camera technicians, your basic plethora of extras, an irate director, and…my annoying assistant.”

“You have an annoying assistant? What does he want?”

“She probably wants me to give her my cell phone and get back on the set.”

“Why won’t you go to the set…and why do you have a female assistant?”

“Don’t worry, darling, she’s ugly as sin and twice as mean. I’m not on the set because they’re still blocking my next scene. They don’t need me for that.”

“She’s ugly?”

“Certainly, but I believe my perception is forever tainted.”

“How is that?”

“Once I met you, every other woman failed to measure up.”

His silky voice brought a rush of longing. She couldn’t wait until she saw him again.

“When you talk like that, I could swoon on the floor.”

“Only when I’m there to join you. Gotta go. I’ll call you later. Love and kisses, darling.”

“Love you, too.”

Natasha hung up and stared into space as she tapped a pencil on the newspaper. Dirk had a female for an assistant. Unusual. She didn’t care for it, but he hadn’t cared for her undercover mission as Hassan’s wife, so she’d have to deal with it.

Whenever he worked for Trinity Pictures, he operated with a man. Considering the number of hours the two would spend together, it made much more sense to hire a man. But she wasn’t going to be one of those nagging, jealous girlfriends.

The sooner her brother and Tennia returned from their honeymoon, the better. Two more days to wait, and Natasha would fly to meet Dirk on his movie set.

She picked up the newspaper and read, ignoring the thought that she hadn’t confessed to Dirk that she was worried about Hassan. After another five minutes, she found an ad that looked promising. J.A. seeking L.O. Need to see you ASAP. Next year in Jerusalem.

Natasha leaned back. There were so many reasons why she thought that message was for her. Hassan’s Jewish name was Jadon Ashdod. J.A. He called her Little One. And that phrase, next year in Jerusalem, was common in Jewish dialogues. Certainly, a safe way for Hassan to convey where he wanted to meet.

What was she thinking? Dirk would have a fit if she went running off to Jerusalem after he’d arranged for her to go on location with him. It was the first time he’d asked her to accompany him to a movie set. She couldn’t dare skip it to go tearing off after Hassan, especially since she wasn’t on a mission.

Natasha penned several responses to the ad. She’d have to place her reply in all the Arab papers and the Jerusalem Post to make sure Hassan read it. L.O. to J.A.-impossible now. Call home for update. If Hassan really wanted to reach her, he’d know to phone David Benjamin, her handler in the Mossad. David would give Hassan her secure phone number, and that would be that.

She prepared to leave her warehouse for the day. Hers, until Katir returned from his honeymoon. She still had to remind herself that soon the shipping business would belong to Katir and Tennia. She had given it to them as a wedding present. With her chaotic life as an undercover operative for the Mossad, Natasha no longer had time to run the business properly.

Tim and Ricardo rapped on the office door and walked in.

“We’re all done, Natasha,” said Ricardo.

Tim held up a hand in farewell. “See you tomorrow.”

“Thanks, guys.” She grabbed her purse. “I’ll go out with you.”

They waited patiently while she locked up then followed her to the car. “G’night, drive safe!”


Tel Aviv

Before stepping out of the shadows, Hassan scanned the area to the left and right of the parking lot exit. With a price on his head, he couldn’t afford to take chances. Just a few more days in hiding, and he’d be finished with his undercover job. He could reenter the fold of the Mossad.

How many years had it been since he lived openly as a Jew, instead of hiding as an Arab amongst Arab terrorists. Maybe he would get a girlfriend…even a wife. How would Natasha’s Brit feel about Hassan the Bedouin terrorist dating his sister as Natasha had suggested? Somehow, he couldn’t see Dirk welcoming him into the family with open arms. He smiled to himself. It had been unnerving when Dirk took a swing at him, but gratifying. The great Dirk Sloan was a household name when it came to Hollywood sex symbols. If he was jealous, Hassan must still have what it takes to attract women.

A lone dog barked from behind a fence. Hassan darted another glance at his surroundings. This late at night, few pedestrians wandered the suburban streets of Tel Aviv.

Not that Hassan cared about being a sex symbol. His life as a Mossad operative had taught him certain things didn’t matter, and he wanted something that did. He and the God of his ancestors were going to have a long chat, and then he was going to find himself a woman who knew what was important in life…someone like Natasha.

He heard the loud squeal of tires as he stepped into the street. To anyone else, it would seem like just another traffic sound. To Hassan…a death toll. By the time he heard the blast of the semi-automatic, he was already diving for the curb.



Dirk folded the Houston newspaper under his arm and walked back to his dressing trailer, trying hard not to overreact to the ad he saw in the personals. If it wasn’t addressed to Natasha…

There was no “if.” That message was meant for Natasha. Why hadn’t she told him she’d heard from Hassan? She admitted reading the paper. There was no way she missed seeing the ad. She habitually read the personals for secret messages from her many undercover associates.

Dirk scowled at the paper. If Natasha would resign from the Mossad, they’d only have to deal with his undercover status, and there were more perks than draw-backs to being a film star.

A knock at his trailer door brought his attention back to the perks with a bang. Without waiting for an invitation to enter, his new assistant walked through the door, and she wasn’t dressed for a jog through the park.

Dirk kept his eyes on her chin, though she bent to give him an unobstructed view of her endowments. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. It was much easier to pretend she wasn’t there. Her hand on the back of his neck prevented that. He jerked up in his seat. That type of activity would certainly have Natasha breathing down his neck, and he would deserve it.

“Ah, Drulla, what are you up to tonight? Going out?”

He moved to the sink for a glass.

She followed him to the counter and leaned over…again. “I thought I’d check on you first. Do you need anything from me? Can I get you anything…massage, perhaps? You look tense.”

He shook his head, trying to keep his man of the world countenance intact when all he could think of was Natasha reaming him out for telling her this exotic woman was ugly.

“Thanks, no. I’m going to call Natasha and beg her to get a sooner flight out here.”

“She giving you difficulties? I’ll keep you company. We could go to dinner.”

How was he going to get rid of her? “Nothing like that. Her brother got married, and he’s on his honeymoon. When he gets back, she’ll be here.”

She rested her hand on his. “Can I bring something back for you?”

He frowned. This was ridiculous. He hadn’t had this type of problem for years. He usually reserved his acting for Trinity Pictures, and all their employees were CIA, British Secret Service, or Mossad.

“Drulla, it would be best if you didn’t touch me in any way. Natasha doesn’t understand superficial body language nor does she see the need for acquaintances to touch me in the course of normal conversation.”

She raised an already arched brow over sultry brown eyes. “Is she inordinately jealous?”

“We should lay down some ground rules if you’re to continue as my assistant.”

Several minutes later, the irate female erupted from Dirk’s trailer. He didn’t need the gossip this would bring. Was this a spiritual test or was something else at work?

He picked up his cell phone and dialed a number from memory. “I want you to investigate someone for me.”


Natasha stepped off the plane, and the butterflies in her stomach took a nosedive at the thought of her imminent reunion with Dirk. Would it always be that way? She never tired of him…of being with him. Her gaze searched the crowd with anticipation. He would probably have on shades, so the public couldn’t easily recognize him. She certainly didn’t want to spend valuable moments, waiting for him to sign autographs.

Someone gripped her forearm, and Natasha whipped around. Ever since her Mossad training, she had a tendency to clobber anyone who grabbed at her. Too many people had tried to kill her.

The dark-haired woman who smiled up at her was lovely, even if her smile appeared forced. “Miss Kelly? Dirk asked me to pick you up. He was delayed when they had to re-shoot a scene. I’m Drulla Nhim, his personal assistant.”

Natasha’s eyes narrowed. This woman was far from ugly, though she might be mean. “That’s an unusual name. Is it Arabic?”

“It is. Fancy your knowing that.”

“I visited recently with Arab friends.”

“This way to pick up your luggage…Were you in the United States or in an Arab country?”

Such questions might be idle words, but Natasha had been trained too well to reveal her recent activities. And two could play that game. “I was in Israel. Has your family been in the US long or are you first-generation American?”

“I have relatives here. How many pieces of luggage did you bring? We don’t want to leave anything.”

Interesting. Drulla didn’t like questions about herself.

“I have two. I thought I might get a few things while I’m here.”

“Yes, the shopping is wonderful. Make sure you arrange an outing for Rodeo Drive. Even if you don’t purchase anything, the experience is not to be missed.”

“I’ve seen Rodeo Drive in several movies. I can’t wait to see if the merchants are really as snobby as they’re portrayed by Hollywood.”

“Worse, sometimes. But I’m sure for Dirk Sloan’s fiancée, they’ll be quite attentive.”

“I don’t advertise the fact.”

Drulla smirked as she studied Natasha from head to toe. “You won’t have to. Once it’s known you’re in town, your picture will undoubtedly appear in the local rags. The paparazzi are relentless.”

Natasha frowned. She’d had more than her fair share of attention from photographers since she’d met Dirk, but it was part and parcel of life with the rich and famous.

Two hours later Natasha’s head jerked from one direction to another in an attempt to absorb everything around her. A mass of people wandered the movie studio lot, some costumed, some not. She stared as a huge yellow crane lifted her idea of the ideal spacecraft, a silver orb complete with little green men. What an education in Dirk’s world. If only he were there to share it with her instead of his self-absorbed, posturing assistant.

When Natasha’s cell phone rang, she reached into her purse. “Dirk?”

“Darling, where are you? I thought you’d be here long ago.”

Natasha raised her eyes to a trailer door that held Dirk’s name and flipped her head to throw Drulla a questioning glance. Drulla nodded.

“Open your door.”

The door flew open to reveal a tall, devastatingly handsome man with a cell phone plastered to damp blond hair. He jumped down the stairs to pick Natasha up and swing her around.

“Put me down, you nut, so I can kiss you.”

“That’s an offer I can’t refuse.” He dropped her on the top step of his trailer. As he stepped in after her, he looked over his shoulder. “Thanks, Drulla. I won’t need you again.”


Dirk managed to shut his door before Drulla had a chance to respond…before Natasha had a chance to respond. She was probably going to let him have it for having an attractive personal assistant, for lying about said attractiveness, and for not picking her up at the airport. He pulled her close. After kissing her soundly, he raised his head to look into her eyes. Though she scowled in an attempt to appear stern, she couldn’t quite pull it off.

“Ugly as sin, huh?”

“Now, darling, I knew you’d see her soon enough. Why trouble you before it was absolutely necessary?”

“You agree she’s not ugly.”

“Irrelevant. I don’t find her in the least attractive. Besides, she annoys me on a regular basis, which detracts from any pleasant features she might have.”

“I’ve missed you, you silver-tongued rascal.”

“Show me. Kiss me like you mean it.”

When at last she lay her head on his shoulder, they were both a trifle breathless.

“What would you like to do tonight?” he whispered against her ear.

“What I’d like to do can only be done on a honeymoon.”

“Tasha, I can’t believe you said that…and it better last long after the honeymoon. Be serious. I’ve asked you often enough to set a date.”

She flashed him a provocative smile. “I’m ready.”

“Are you playing with me, darling? Because you know I’m ready whenever you are.”

“Really…I’m ready.”

He caught her hand and pulled her to the built-in couch. “Tell me when. I’ve got to put in for leave at MI6 right away. We should celebrate tonight! I’ll take you to that new hot spot everyone’s raving about. I can’t wait to show you off.”

Natasha held a hand to her mouth.

Dirk studied her. “What? What is it? You weren’t teasing me…” His brows came together in a threatening look.

“Not at all. It’s just…I’ve never seen you so…boyish with exuberance.”

“You know how I feel, Natasha. So, when? When will you be mine?”

“Now and forever. But I should give my parents and my sister at least two months to recover from Katir’s wedding, then we’ll make it legal.”

His lips lightly traced hers. “The end of summer then.”

She sighed deeply. What that man could do to her senses. “If that suits you.”

“Absolutely. I’ll be finished here and ready for a breather.” He straightened. “Can you put a wedding together in two months?”

Natasha gasped. She hadn’t thought about the details of marrying The Dirk Sloan. “Where are we going to get married? Houston…Britain? Should you have a Hollywood wedding? What will your family say?”

“It’s all right. If we invite only family and very close friends, we can forgo all that Hollywood blitz.”

“All my friends are close friends. I’ve attended that church for the last ten years. If I invite one, I’ll have to invite them all, and then the whole world will know when you’re getting married.”

“We could have the ceremony in England. I don’t have many friends, occupational hazard, and I doubt many of yours would fly over. Perhaps your family would care to travel to England?”

Natasha leaned back to regard him thoughtfully. If she agreed to have the wedding in England, he would insist on paying for all her relatives to fly there. “I see we have a problem already.”

“No…we don’t. I don’t care if we get married at a justice of the peace as long as you stop stringing me along.”

“I am not stringing you along. I want to marry you…now.”

“We could be married tonight…in Vegas.”

“Is that what you want, Dirk?”

“Would you do it if I asked?”

“Probably. But somehow I always thought our parents would be there…and John.”

Dirk thought about the elderly monk that had become such a part of their lives over the past year and sighed. “You’re right. But I want you to get this figured out. Now that you’ve said yes, I’ll give you three months to work out the details. That’s more than fair. And I don’t care who you ask, where you have it, or when. Just make it happen, Natasha. I’ve become a very impatient man.” He took a nip of her wrist.

“I see that. They haven’t put something in your water, have they?”

“No, and I haven’t had any love scenes, either. You’re the only aphrodisiac I need. By the way, how was your brother’s honeymoon?”

“Ohhh, you should have seen them. They were disgustingly happy. The honeymoon went well.”

“I’m happy for Katir.” He stood and pulled her to her feet. “Come along. Let’s go to dinner before I ravage you right here.”

“Wait, what about my suitcases? I left them with that woman.”

“I’m sure that woman had them sent to your hotel room. She’s very efficient, a little bossy, actually. I had to put her in her place.”

“Really! And why is that?”

“She can be intrusive. I don’t like help unless I ask for it.”

Natasha almost choked on her laughter. “Understatement of the year.”

“I know how to ask for help. I rarely need it.”

“All you super spies are the same. You think you’re omnipotent.”

“And you’re delectable. Let’s go back to the hotel and change then I’m taking you out on the town.”

Dirk held the door to a black sports car as Natasha climbed into the low-slung seat. She whistled when she felt the leather interior. “Is this yours or just a perk on loan?”

“Like it? We can keep it.”

“I don’t know.” She gave him a mischievous grin. “Where would we put the babies?”

“Are we planning a family? I haven’t enjoyed the honeymoon yet.”

“You will.”

He reached for her hand. “Doubtless, but you didn’t answer my question. Are you in a rush for babies and nappies?”

“How would you feel if I was?”

“I wouldn’t want you on the field…at all. We’d certainly have to contemplate a desk job for me.” He shifted gears and pealed out of the studio lot. “I guess we have more to discuss than I realized. Tell me what you want, darling.”

Natasha’s heart swelled with joy. Dirk wanted the same things she wanted, and he was prepared to give them to her. “I’d like you alone…for a while. If that’s ok.”

“I’d like that very much…for a while, but I’m rather looking forward to some little nippers in nappies.”

Natasha enjoyed the food and the bright, colorful atmosphere of the restaurant Dirk chose, but she didn’t care much for Hollywood people. Nearly everyone who came to their table to greet Dirk seemed shallow, self-absorbed, fawning…The list could go on forever. Weren’t there any people in this town who seemed more like normal folk?

Dirk leaned into her. “You’re watching me, darling. Have I sprouted a second head?”

“I’m just wondering…how much like those people you really are.”

Exasperation crossed his face before he had a chance to mask it. “Where did that come from?”

“You’re very popular, and some of these new acquaintances would do anything to garner your favor.”

“Let’s not have that talk right now. I thought we were celebrating.”

When she didn’t say anything, he reached for her hand. “Natasha, I love you. When we’re together, it’s real. I know this world is make-believe. It’s even more of a farce for me, since it’s cover for my real job. And I never forget that. The glitter sparkles, but it doesn’t consume me. I’ve spent years blocking it out. I thought you knew that.”

He sounded tired, and his face looked worn. Only hours before he’d been overjoyed to see her. What had she done to change that? Guilt swamped her mind as a still, small voice reminded her of all the self-less acts Dirk had performed to show her he was committed to her and the Lord.

She kissed his cheek. “I do. Forgive me? I was letting my insecurities blind me, and I’m sorry. You’ve always treated me with the utmost respect and admiration, and I appreciate it.”

“Let’s dance. The music is so slow, even I can’t mess up.”

“You’re a marvelous dancer, and you know it.”

They moved to the small dance floor, and Natasha flowed into his arms. When Dirk held her, everything else seemed to fade away. He made her feel safe…cherished. She shouldn’t have doubted him, but they’d known each other such a short time.

No, it had been over a year since they met. But their moments together had usually been on a mission with their lives in mortal danger. It hadn’t helped their accord at all when Dirk had forgotten her. His amnesia had destroyed something in her. At the time, she hated Yaakov for putting Dirk into that coma…and nearly killing him. Forgiveness had been difficult. She still struggled with it. No, in all honesty, she hoped God had stricken Yaakov dead for trying to enter the Garden of Eden. But she and Dirk had worked their way through his recovery and come out closer than before. If they could make it through that, they could make it through anything, even Hollywood.

Dirk breathed in Natasha’s scent. She smelled faintly of lemon and something else…some flower. It was intoxicating. She was intoxicating. Since they’d first met, he’d felt that way about her. Nothing could stand in the way of making her happy, especially not Hollywood. He would quit the film business before he’d lose Natasha. She was the most sincere, stable woman he’d ever known, and sharing her faith with him had changed his life. He had a long way to go, but he was committed to knowing God in an intimate way. He was committed to a godly marriage and family.

He studied the vacuous expressions on several of the room’s inhabitants. For a long while, he hadn’t thought about the emptiness of this life. It had always been a charade for him, so he kept up his guard to protect his secret. Looking at the lights and the people through Natasha’s eyes made it all seem exceedingly small.

Before they returned to the hotel, they were invited to no less than three parties. With debonair ease, Dirk refused them all. Natasha was glad. The constant party noise and the flash of paparazzi cameras tired her, and she knew Dirk had an early call in the morning. All she wanted was rest, and Dirk must be exhausted.

He bent toward her. “Are you ready, darling?”

“I can’t wait to get these shoes off.”

“They look lovely. In fact, they do things for your legs.” Dirk led her to the front of the restaurant, where they waited for the valet to bring around the car. “It’s a shame I can barely see them peeking through that slit in your dress.”

“You notice everything, you know.”

“Occupational hazard. But didn’t you want me to notice? It’s so much more enticing for you to hide those treasures from me. Makes me want to…”

“Dirk…here’s the car.”

Had the valet heard their exchange? She wasn’t used to being with a man who was so enthusiastic about her appearance. She’d always felt average. It still took some getting used to Dirk’s compliments.

As he dropped in his seat and closed the car door, Natasha heard what sounded like a car back-fire. Before she could get her seat-belt attached, Dirk gunned the engine and skidded away from the curb. Natasha slid sideways in her seat and landed against the door.

“What was that?” she asked. “Surely they don’t have clunker cars in this neighborhood.”

“I wasn’t waiting to find out. You all right?”

“Fine. You think that was a shot? Why didn’t it penetrate the car?”

“Armor plating. This is a company car…Perhaps you should sleep in my suite tonight.”

“Absolutely not. You arranged that whole thing, didn’t you?” She teased, trying to ease the frown she saw on his face.

“No, but I wish I’d thought of it. I wouldn’t mind having you closer.”

“Consider the gossip. If I spent the night in your room, the whole world would know by morning.”

“Probably. I’ll take a look around before you lock up for the night.”

“Should you call someone? Is this related to MI6?”

“I’m not working on anything, I promise.”

Natasha perched on the corner of the white brocade chaise lounge and watched in silence as Dirk relentlessly checked and re-checked her room for anything suspicious. The elegance of her surroundings barely penetrated her feeling of weariness. She watched Dirk work with concentrated zeal and shook her head. He must be worn out. He’d been up since five that morning, in make-up, ready to go. What a life! She’d hate it. She walked to stand beside him while he took apart her lamp, looking for bugging devices.

“Dirk…” She rested a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, darling. That’s enough. I don’t care if anyone listens to me. What could I say? Get some rest, or I’ll worry about you. They weren’t spraying bullets at me. You need your wits about you.”

“Let me finish this, and I’ll go.”

She covered his hand with her own. “I’ll finish it. I want you to sleep.”

“You win. I am bushed.” He walked to the door. “Do you want me to call you in the morning when I leave?”

“Can’t I go with you? I’d like to watch them put make-up all over you.”

He smiled. “You would. All right. Jane will be there. You can finally meet her. She’s been asking about you ever since that night she saw us together at the premiere in London.”

“I remember.”

The night Dirk figured out that Natasha was the forgotten woman from his past. Until then, she’d been forced to watch, nearly overcome with jealousy, as Jane and Dirk twirled around the dance floor.

“Sure, I’d like to meet her…and wring her scrawny neck.” Natasha added under her breath.

“What was that, darling?”

“Nothing. I love you. Sleep well.”

“Make sure this door is locked.”

“I will.”

He blew her a kiss then the door closed behind him.

Natasha placed the reconstructed lamp on the side table then walked to her room to find her secure phone. Dirk might not think anything about getting shot at, but she did. She rang a number from memory, waited for the message to leave her call-back, and complied with nothing but her number.

She twisted her wrist to check the time. Oops, after midnight. That meant it was after two in the morning in Houston. She hoped Luke Greyson’s wife would forgive her.

Less than five minutes later the phone rang.

“This is Natasha. I need some help. I’m sorry to wake you. Please make my apologies to your wife.”

A deep, male voice rasped back. “What if it hadn’t been me?”

“Who else would call me back?”

“No one should at this hour of the night. You better be in trouble.”

“Someone took a shot at Dirk tonight.”

“Is he all right? Where are you? Are you on a job?”

“He’s fine. We’re in Hollywood to film a movie. And no.”

“Are you just saying that because I’m CIA?”

“Luke, why would I call you for help then lie to you? I’m not running any secret missions in US territory and neither is Dirk. I want you to verify a name for me…Drulla Nhim. She’s Dirk’s personal assistant, an Arab, and she gives me the creeps.”

He groaned over the phone line. “You’re not jealous, are you?”

“Check the name, Luke. Something is going on. By the way, Yaakov has been missing for over a month now.”

“Doesn’t sound good. You could be right. I’ll call you back…in the morning.”

“Fine. Tell Mandy I’m sorry I woke you.”

Natasha broke the connection and got ready for bed while her thoughts churned. That shot could mean anything. Yaakov might be after them again. It could have something to do with Hassan’s message that he needed to see her. It might even be some lunatic fan of Dirk Sloan, superstar.

Natasha pulled back her sheets and climbed on the bed. Whatever it was would have to wait until morning because she had run out of ideas until she spoke with Luke again.

As soon as Dirk entered his room, he grabbed for his phone. While he waited to speak to his contact, he investigated every nook and cranny of the suite. His assurances to Natasha didn’t change the fact that someone had just taken a shot at him, and he didn’t like it. Although, if they’d meant business, he’d have been an easy mark.

A yawning voice answered. “Cue here.”

“What have you got for me?”

“Nothing yet.”

“Look, I’m in a bit of a hurry. Someone took a potshot at me tonight.”

“And you suspect the Arab?”

“I suspect everyone. I’m not even on a case. Hurry up with this. And by the way, I’m just fine. Thanks for asking.”

“I assumed you were or we wouldn’t be having this little chat.”


Dirk threw the phone across the bed and went into the bathroom to wash his face. He didn’t need this right now. He wanted to concentrate on helping Natasha fit into his lifestyle. The sooner she felt comfortable, the sooner he’d get her down the aisle, and that had become an all-consuming desire.

“Before anything else can screw it up,” he said to his reflection.

He shook his head. His red, puffy eyes lacked that star appeal he needed on the set in the morning. He set his alarm and tumbled into bed.

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