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Justine Davis

Justine Davis2006

ISBN 1-55254-440-0



Copyright © 2006 by Harlequin Books S.A.P.D.F.




Published by Silhouette Books

America’s Publisher of Contemporary Romance


ISBN 1-55254-440-0


Copyright © 2006 by Harlequin Books S.A.

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the editorial office, Silhouette Books, 233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279 U.S.A.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

® and TM are trademarks of Harlequin Books S.A., used under license. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Trade Marks Office and in other countries.


Special thanks and acknowledgement are given

to Justine Davis for her contribution to the

ATHENA FORCE miniseries.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 1

The satisfaction of a tight grouping in the ten ring on her shooting qualification was fading as Alexandra Forsythe sat cleaning her new Glock on her grandfather’s front porch.

Charles Bennington Forsythe was rarely jittery. That he was now acting as if he’d been mainlining double espressos for hours was a fact not lost on his granddaughter. When he resorted to pacing the farmhouse porch, she couldn’t hold back any longer.


Alexandra Forsythe used the nickname with affection and concern. As a child she’d made it up for this beloved man, who was more a father to her than her real one had been, even before his untimely death. “Grandfather” had seemed too distant, and “Charles” far too lacking in respect. The fact that G.C., her shortening of Grandfather Charles, had made her mother wince was merely a side benefit.

He kept pacing as if she’d not spoken, which began to make her jittery in turn. Normally she would not push him, having learned in her years as a forensic scientist for the FBI that patience usually paid off. But this was so uncharacteristic of him that she found she couldn’t just ignore his mood.

The afternoon breeze swirled her hair, and she shoved red-gold curls back from her face. Determined now, she quickly finished up on the Glock, put it back in the case, then got up from the cushioned wicker chair that sat near the porch railing. She leaned forward onto the rail, taking in the expansive view of Forsythe Farms.

This was the place she loved most, the place she considered home, and of late the only place she found peace. But peace was obviously not within her grandfather’s grasp this afternoon, and neither, apparently, was patience within hers. Not when G.C. was this edgy.

“You have two choices,” she said without preamble. “You can either tell me what’s chewing on you or I can go saddle Twill and he can beat it out of you.”

She’d finally gotten his attention. He turned to look at her, one corner of his mouth quirking.

“So, you’d like to see your old grandfather groveling in the mud, would you?”

As she knew from personal experience, the big bay hunter was a handful, by turns all heart or all contrariness as the spirit moved him on any given day. But her grandfather had been a horseman for decades, and there were few he couldn’t handle.

“As if even Twill would have the nerve to toss you,” she said, in exaggerated outrage.

He gave her that smile that had always made her feel as if she could conquer the world. “Only because you’ve taught him to trust.”

“True. Now, if I could only get you to trust me with whatever it is that’s bothering you,” she said, looking at him steadily.

Her grandfather sighed. “I trust you,” he said. “You know that I always have.”


“I’m not sure that what’s bothering me matters after all these years.”

She studied his face for a moment, saw the troubled look in his eyes and the furrow between silver brows that matched his still-thick mane of hair.

“It matters to you,” she said softly. “So it matters to me.”

His expression softened. “Inside with you, then. I’ll tell you over lunch.”

Their weekly lunch was a tradition Alex worked hard to maintain whenever she was at home. She’d gone through thinking she was going to lose her grandfather once before, and the awareness that he wasn’t getting any younger rarely left her mind. She didn’t like thinking about it, but there it was.

The only thing she thought about more was Justin. And that in itself bothered her. She wasn’t sure how she felt about her fellow FBI agent, wasn’t sure she wanted to feel about him at all. That he’d already assumed such importance in her mind was disconcerting enough.

But she couldn’t deny she was tremendously attracted to him; he was good-looking without being pretty, confident without being cocky, and smart without being a smart-ass. He also seemed determined to make their relationship exclusive, and she didn’t know if she was ready for that. She wished she could get him out of her head, at least for a while.

As was his wont, G.C. flipped on the noon news for background as they ate. No new disasters had struck the world, no one they knew had died, and the stock market had held steady. Alex had hopes this would cheer him, but then a clip of a politician flinging some charges G.C. strongly disagreed with set him off on a rant.

“He’s an idiot. Most of

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