Home Sweet Home – or more like Home Sweet Fortress. The FBI has brought Jason back to his house and have set up their base there. His living room has been commandeered for the work area – computers and phones clutter the floor. Agent Driscole is very unhappy with her detail.
Driscole’s face flushed a brilliant pink. She swallowed, blinked and looked very much like she wanted to cry. Jason felt sorry for about five seconds, then his anger came back tenfold when she punched him so hard he saw stars.
Clutching his jaw with one hand, he hurled his coffee cup across the room with the other. It shattered against the wall, splattering coffee all over the room. No one made a move to clean it up. The men watched the exchange between Jason and Taylor with mute horror.
“I’m so sorry,” Agent Driscole whispered. “Oh, Jason, I’m so terribly sorry. That was completely unprofessional.” She ran to the bathroom and got a wet washcloth for him to put on the rising bruise.
Still seeing stars, Jason shook his head slightly, trying to clear it. His ears rang, his jaw ached and the stars were starting to change colors and spin. He sat heavily on the settee, rubbing his jaw as Driscole tried to apply the cool cloth.
“Goddammit,” he grumbled. “I liked that mug.”
Tim Stuart started laughing. Soon, Greg Kisler and Alex Graves joined him. Jason didn’t want to laugh, it hurt horribly to do so, but he couldn’t help himself. The only one not laughing was Agent Driscole. Her eyes held deep sorrow and embarrassment. Jason took the cloth from her, his fingers brushing hers. She hopped back from him, nearly falling over the low coffee table. Jason grabbed her wrist, pulling her toward him to keep her from falling down.
Unfortunately, he pulled too hard and she tumbled onto his lap. Screeching, she landed in an untidy heap half on and half off his legs. Her face was again mere inches from his and the desire to kiss her doubled. Her hair fell loose, cascading around her face in a tangle of golden brown waves. Her eyes were a more remarkable shade of blue than he had originally thought, bordering on lavender. Her complexion was clear, although she could do with some sun, and her lips were a full, deep red.
Two other agents ran in the room, weapons drawn. When they saw Agent Driscole on Jason’s lap, they stopped.
“We heard a scream,” the leading agent said.
“And before that a crash,” the other replied.
“Nothing serious,” Tim told them. “Little incident with the coffee mug. Agent Driscole surprised Mr. Banes. No harm done. You can go back downstairs.”
“Yes, sir,” they replied in chorus, closing the double doors behind them.
“We shall have to stop meeting like this,” Jason said with a completely straight face. “Or people will talk.”
He righted Agent Driscole and helped her to her feet. Unsure what to do, she flopped down next to him on the settee, her leg pressed tantalizingly against his own. He knew he should move, but he was loathe to do so. There was something comforting about the pressure and nearness of another person.
Jason found himself horribly attracted to Taylor Driscole. She positively hated him, and that made his attraction that much stronger. Still, she’d be living there, right? And he had a way with women, or so he’d been led to believe by the dozens who had fallen prey to his charms and not inconsiderable skill in bed. She’d come around. It might take the rest of his life to do it, but he vowed that he’d make Taylor Driscole love him if it was his last act on Earth.
The men made excuses to leave, saying little as they backed out the door. Two of them took positions outside while the third took the coffee things down to the kitchen.
Left alone, Taylor and Jason relaxed slightly. A tacit agreement passed between them, the differences were set aside—at least for now.
“I’m really sorry about the….” She mimed a right hook to his jaw.
“Sorry I yelled.”
“No, you’re right. I let my personal feelings get in the way. This case is more important. It’s a step up, really, this job…. I was prepared not to like you.”
Jason frowned, puzzled by her admission. “Not like me? What’s not to like? More to the point, why?”
Driscole hung her head, staring at her hands. “You’re a thief,” she said quietly, as if that explained everything.
The set of Jason’s head and shoulders expressed his question nonverbally. So?
“My father owned a small store, kind of a Mom and Pop place in our neighborhood. Our home was upstairs. One evening when he was closing up, some street punks stormed in, robbed and shot my father. They looted the place and left him bleeding on the floor. My mother and I heard the shots, but by the time the emergency services arrived….”
“Your dad was dead.”
She nodded, twisting her fingers in her lap. “I was serious, what I said. I did become an agent to catch people like you.”
“No, you joined to get people like Orchid. If you wanted a man like me, you’d have joined an international task force.” He looked around, feigning surprise. “Crikey, look where you are!” He let his lowbrow, street tough accent come through full force.
Taylor giggled, her eyes moist. She nudged him playfully with her elbow.
Jason’s heart stopped beating for the space of three breaths. He had the urge to kiss her again. Knowing that not only were there other agents all over his house, but she could kill him with her big toe, prevented him from giving in to his primal urges.
© Dellani Oakes