Lagos, Sunday, March 11
"What does it matter what he looks like?" Mary tyson said into the phone, looking like hell the dark, primal lust drumming through her veins didn't bleed into her voice. She frowned absently at her control's odd question as she shifted the compact sat phone between chin and shoulder, and the binocs left an inch for a better view.
A logos street and a shit load of swirling fog separated the two apartment windows. The lights over here were off. The lights over there weren't. Desire tightened her body and clogged her throat. Her heart, which was normally as steady as a rock, still pounded uncomfortably sixty seconds after she'd lifted the binoculars to her eyes and taken her first look at him.
Bam! Mary felt as though someone had punched her in the solar plexus, grabbed her heart and squeezed hard.
That's what Edoh John Francis looked like.
Not that she had share her physically reaction with her control. Adakole Chris. He was like a frigging dog with a bone , if he thought his people weren't focused. Unfortunately she was plenty focused. "Earth to Mary".
"He looks.......I don't know" sexy, handsome. "Strong, expensive". She told Christopher smoothly. Her heart was racing, she assumed herself, because her god-damned knee hurt like hell. She leaned a little more of her weight on the shoulder she had propped against the wall.
Francis had pushed the sleeves of the soft looking black sweater up his strong muscled forearms while he worked on something at the table. The fabric dropped over his tall muscled body as if it had been custom-made, probably had. John Francis had more money than many third-world countries.
"Interesting location for him to hide out," Mary dragged her gaze from the gentle swell of Francis's cheek back to the top of his head. "Look up again, sweetheart, let's see those cute eyes again. "How long's he been there?" Were his eyes green?, Brown? Black? Hard to tell from this distance.
"About six months, " Christopher told her. "Why?"
Reluctantly Mary shifted the binocs. "Places pretty stark. Chair, bed, table. Nothing personal that I can see."
"He's been moving around."
"Yeah". And not easy to track down, according to Christopher, finding Francis's father first would've expedited this op, and made it a lot more interesting, Mary thought. Unfortunately, O'neil John had been missing for the better part of a year. Not surprisingly, he'd completely obliterated his trail, so he was a little freaking hard to find at the moment.
Which left his delectable son to the mystic beings.
Mary figured she'd been in physical rehab for too damn long if just looking at the devil's son gave her a hard-on.
Long, elegant bones. Chocolate strong fingers. Black looking hair, shinning that would feel like sun light the world. Francis, the most powerful being in the universe.
She'd begged Christopher to send her on a mission. Anywhere, any damn thing to escape the hospital. This had been the best Christopher claimed he could come up with at short notice.
Bullshit. Fact was: He didn't think she was ready to go back into the field.
This wasn't an op. A simple question needed answering. Hell, someone could call it in.
But here she was, because anything was better than being stuck in a rehab center for months on end. Boredom seemed to be a family trait this week. Her older brother, james, had visited her a couple of days ago on his way to woshinton DC to get Intel from some scientist there. He'd been uncharacteristically crank and out of sorts. Clearly needing a little action himself.
Her younger brother, cavill, was secretly lobbying to become head of the wizards council and was off somewhere, totally focused on his goal. And when Cavill focused, he was pretty frigging single-minded.
So Mary didn't even have her brothers to spare with at the moment. Too bad, she wouldn't mind a kick-ass sweaty workout with with James and his magical training or cavill and his game of mischief with knife throwing or both right now.
Instead she was in Lagos watching the son of the banker to some of the worlds most Lethal tangos. Francis is different though.
Surprisingly, Mary's reaction to the man she'd been sent to find had been visceral and immediate. She liked men just fine. No, she loved women. But she'd never had such an instantaneous, energizing, chemical.......... Jolt looking at a man before.
Adrenaline junkie that she was , her physical reaction on seeing him - blood pressure up, - libido up, temperature up,- entrigued her. Pheromones were one thing, but she wasn't even in sniffing distance of him.
Her reaction was so immediate, so primitive it shocked the hell out of her.
"Why him? Why here? Why now?"
"Ok, then let me ask you an easy question," Christopher said in her ear. Mary braced herself. Christopher was an empath, and she didn't want him picking up any signals. "How's the leg?" He asked, throwing her.
Yeah. Concentrate on something that made sense. The new knee still hurt which annoyed the hell out of her. One of her unique powers was the ability to heal, but the only persons injuries she couldn't fix were her own. Pissed her off no end. Mary consider her body too in her arsenal against tangos. She needed to be in tip-top condition to do her job well, and she worked to keep herself in the peak of physical performance at all times. She was marelly I'll, and this knee injury was the first time in her career that she'd been stuck in the hospital for so long.
"One hundred percent A-okay," she assured christopher.
She'd been pathetically grateful when she'd gotten the call an hour ago during her hopefully final physical therapy session in Abuja. Hell yeah, she was only a few hours from lagos, she'd talked to John's son. Anything to cut short the boring sessions. She'd been going stir-crazy.
She had commandeered an apartment across the street , one whose windows looked directly into his. A typical winters day in Lagos.
Damp, misty fog addied in gossamer ribbons between the tall, narrow buildings in an ever-changing screen that made it difficult to maintain a clear view into Francis's apartment, even with his lights on. Mary had seen enough.
"Liar," christopher told her. Dr. Palma just told me you're still favoring that knee".
"Then why did you ask?" She'd had her knee replaced, but there'd been some nerve and muscle damage. It would heal. Eventually. These things usually did she had plenty of scars to prove it.
Watching JOHN FRANCIS was more interesting than discussing her knee. Which in turn made her bad tempered. Which in turn made her even more antsy to get back to work so she could forget about it.
Based on photographs, John's son had changed some during the last year.
"To see if you'd like," christopher informed her.
Lying was the least she'd do to get back to work. "I have a medical release from the doctor and the therapist. So, quit torturing me, honey.
Find me something. Anything. I beg you. This lack of activity has made me a basket case.
"You're a workaholic, middle Mary."
"You said that like it's a bad thing. Come on, christopher, help me out here. Send me to some exotic hellhole to kick some terrorist butt."
"Can you run?"
"Better than most." No. But she didn't want her her control to know that her doctors were right. She wasn't fully back up to speed yet. But she had get back into shape on the job. "And since when does Mary need to run? We show up and take names."
"That maybe, you should still take some downtime until you're fully recovered. Think of it as a vacation."
"I don't want a vacation. I don't need a vacation."
Christopher had a pretty laugh, even if it was working." You sound like a truculent five-year-old. But I agree. You can do your job just fine limping, your trigger finger's just fine, your brain wasn't damaged-much by that explosion you took.
"Heartless, christopher. I'm sharp as a tack" was he going to send her back in? Mary imagined the Young Man who was her control. Christopher looked like a cross between a biker chick and a goth rocker. With spiked black-and-fuchsia hair, and half a dozen silver rings in each eyebrow, ànd one in his nose for God's sake. But behind that pale face and scary black eye lived the brain of a brilliant tactician warewolfe.
"Tell me what you see" he'd circled back to Francis.
This was a "look-see" . She wanted to get back to real work. "Are you sending me back into the fiel---"
Christopher was like a particularly friendly pit bull. Mary shifted to do a quick scan of Francis one room apartment.
"How the mighty have fallen. Like I said, it's almost empty. The walls are bare. No pictures, no knickknacks. Nothing whatsoever to personalize his living space.
The covers on the narrow single bed behind him were thrown about haphazardly. Restless night or lover?
Her insides clinched at the thought of a lover and her reaction surprised her. Good thing she would be with Raphael in Russia within days. That was one of the benefits of been who she was . What she was . She could teleport with ease.
Mary, work for PEACE-CORP/PSI. PEACE CORP was a privately founded counterterrorist organization . PSI was the psychic phenomena offshoot.
This wasn't a PSI op. She'd been in Kaduna undergoing forced physical therapy on her knee - it had been just a small bullet hole -
When Francis's print had just been ID'd. Since she was closest, she'd been requested to get Intel from the man. Intel they surely needed if they had a hope in hell of tracking down his father.
"He lived alone?"
Mary found downtime reluctant. Unlike her laid back younger brother, Cavill, Mary liked to be on the go all the time. But they'd insisted. Getting shot in the knee was a pain in her technically, she was supposed to be off duty for another three weeks. She'd never been real big e technicalities. All she needed was to be sent on an op now. And she'd prove to the team and control that she was in top form. And this wasn't an op. It was a frigging conversation. And a short one at that.
No action to prove she could still outrun, out jump, out shoot the best of them.
Right now even watching a man through binocs beat lying around on a sun- drenched beach somewhere doing nothing. Give her action and she was a happy woman. An op relaxed her. Hell, a fast-paced op made her sleep at night like a baby.
Watching Francis should have been a step in that direction. But instead her body grew even more coiled and tight. She needed to get a grip. And not -- she thought with a mental thump on the head -on that perfect body of his. Still , the mere thought of running, her fingers through his black-honey-colored hair, of allowing his palms to slide over the gentle curve of his hip, was interfering with her assignment.
Time to focus.
She finished checking out Francis living quarters. The kitchen occupied one corner, an open door led to the bathroom, another door led, she presumed, to the stairway. The bed and folding table where he now sat were the sum total of his furnishings. The small, sterile accommodations after living the high life, must really cramp the socialities style.
He was seated at the table, some sort of small tool in his hand.
Prying a stone out of a person piece of jewelry, or putting one in. He made and sold his own jewelry to local jeweler. That's how he'd been found . His finger prints had been lifted from a jewelry store after a robbery there yesterday. The local cops had run them with all the other prints they'd found at the scene. His prints hadn't been in their data-base. They were in PEACE-CORP's.
Not under the name King, but John Francis. The jewelry store had a current address for him.
He had filled out some. In the last photographs they had of him from some high-society thing in Lagos a year ago he looked almost skeletal. Now he had more meat on his bones.
Not that Mary could see much of him, dressed as he was in jeans and black sweater. But his face looked softer, more appealing now. Her heart, which had started a perculiar erratic beat when she'd first set eyes on him, picked up more speed as she took in the creamy curve of his cheek, the silky sweep of his hair, the stubborn jut of his chin.
Her reaction to him was weird, as she felt the monster in her trying to come out.
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