The Powers That Be [Room 59 Series Book 1] [Secure]
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by Cliff Ryder
Description: THE GAME.... When a double agent in Cuba suddenly disappears, there's a concern that he might have gone rogue, working against Room 59 and the world at large. But one of the agency's top spymasters has a blood tie to the operative in question, which leaves him with an agonizing choice: allow the mission to be scrubbed, and leave thousands to die in the resulting bloodbath--or risk everything he knows, including his career, to keep his secret deeply buried. THE PLAYERS.... Room 59 is a multinational policing agency sanctioned to terminate global threats that governments can't touch. Its high-level operatives are seasoned in the dangerous game of espionage and counter-terrorism. A Room 59 mission puts everything on the line; emotions run high, and so does the body count.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Enterprises,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [454 KB]
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Kate Cochran somersaulted through the air, maintaining enough control to tuck into her fall and roll with it instead of slamming to the mat on her back. Rising, she immediately assumed a defensive posture, feet shoulder width apart, legs slightly bent, arms close to her sides, fists clenched at her waist with knuckles up, ready to either punch or block.
A burst of laughter came from behind her. Kate turned, keeping her fists ready, to confront the man who had just sent her sailing across the room.
"My, my, don't you look tough." The man was a full head taller than her, and all lean, wiry muscle. His ink-black hair was cropped just short of high and tight, making it impossible to grab in a fight—as she had already discovered. He regarded her with amused, dark brown eyes that missed no detail of their surroundings.
"Kate, I'm not training you to fight in a dojo. What I'm teaching you—well, trying anyway—is how to survive on the street. Pure down-and-dirty fighting, where no one is going to wait for you to assume the position. By the time you're ready, your attacker will have already incapacitated or killed you."
"That's what I have you for, remember?" She slowly stepped toward him, keeping her center of gravity balanced, waiting for him to pounce again.
"Well, let's assume for this exercise that I'm already fighting two—no, make that three other guys, and you're on your own." His white teeth flashed in a razor-thin grin, and Kate knew who would win in a three-on-one fight with the man standing in front of her—Jacob Marrs, her bodyguard and instructor. "Now, relax that horse stance of yours, and for god's sake, stand like you're walking down the street, not some extra in a kung fu movie."
Kate straightened up and dropped her arms to her sides, unclenching her fists. She walked toward Jake, maintaining eye contact the whole way, ignoring the spectacular view her floor-to-ceiling town house windows afforded of the Manhattan skyline to the west. Sweat dripped in to her gold-green eyes.
She walked to within a foot of him, but nothing happened. Turning on her heel, Kate strode back across the room, ready for a chokehold from behind, or a grab at her platinum-blond hair or any one of a dozen other possible attacks. Still nothing. Peeking at him out of the corner of her vision, Jake still stood there in loose pants and his sleeveless gi, hands on his hips, as if he were carved from stone.
With a sigh, Kate whirled around to ask whether they were sparring or posing, only to find her trainer already in motion. Arms blurring like striking cobras, he took one large step forward and grabbed her arm. Instinctively, she stepped back, using his momentum to yank him off balance. Grabbing the collar of his gi with her right hand, she pulled him farther down while her right foot swept his outstretched left foot out from under him. Jacob lurched forward, and Kate directed his fall to the ground, raising a fist to follow up with a blow to his temple—
But Jake wasn't lying still like a good foot-sweep victim. He lifted his legs and scissored them toward her head instead. He caught her between his muscular thighs and snapped her forward, flipping her to the ground. Before she could scramble away, he was atop her, pinning her shoulders to the mat and leaning back so that his weight almost crushed her abdomen, but not quite.
"Two lessons here. One, the most important thing I'm trying to instill in you is to always expect an attack, because the moment you don't, the moment you relax your guard, that's when your opponent will strike." Jake leaned forward, his face inches from hers. "Second, why in the hell aren't you trying harder to escape right now?"
Kate arched her back as high as she could, hoping to throw him off enough to free an arm, but his weight was too much. He simply relaxed and settled down, forcing her back down to the mat. He readjusted his leg for a better pin, and Kate managed to wrench her left arm free and immediately brought her elbow down toward his groin. Jacob blocked it with a low forearm just before it would have made painful contact.
"Better. Let's try that again, and I'll show you another couple ways out of it—"
"Whoa, am I interrupting something, 'cause I could definitely come back later."
The voice from the doorway of the exercise room made both Kate's and Jacob's heads turn. Recovering first, Kate reached between Jake's legs with her free hand and grabbed his crotch while scooting down underneath his legs. Emitting a startled yelp, Jacob reared up on his knees, enabling her to emerge from under him and whirl around, finding him ready for her with a small yet genuine smile on his face.
Framed in the doorway was Kate's live-in housekeeper, Arminda Todd, holding a stack of folded towels and grinning from ear to ear. A couple of inches taller than her employer, she was slender and willowy where Kate was more muscular and toned. She shifted from one foot to another, fiddling with her waist-length hair, currently bound in a thick braid that curled down over her shoulder.
"That's okay, Mindy, we were just sparring. We're done for now," Kate said.
Jake stood and offered his hand. Kate accepted it warily, expecting him to try another takedown maneuver. However, once on her feet, he simply released her.
"I'm gonna hit the shower," Jake said. He walked by Mindy, snagging a towel as he passed. Kate noticed the college student's gaze follow as he left the room, and put on her most disapproving stare as the young woman turned back.
Copyright © 2008 by Worldwide Library.