A Question of Intent. Merline Lovelace

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Название A Question of Intent
Автор произведения Merline Lovelace
Жанр Зарубежные детективы
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Издательство Зарубежные детективы
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      She expected him to kiss her, was ready for it.

      But nothing in their previous contact had prepared her for the electric jolt when he took her lower lip between his teeth. The slow, erotic nips generated shiver after shiver.

      Jill gave fleeting thought to her mission, to the need to maintain distance. And then her conscious mind shut down. As greedy now as he was, Jill arched her spine to increase the contact. At that, Cody dragged his mouth from hers and forced himself to speak.

      “If we’re going to stop this celebration,” he ground out, “we’d better do it now.”

      He was giving her the choice. Jill blew out a ragged breath. “I vote we continue the celebration and see where it takes us.”

      “Oh, I can tell you right now where it’ll take us,” he warned. “The question is, are you sure you want to go there?”

      A Question of Intent

      Merline Lovelace

       www.millsandboon.co.uk

      MERLINE LOVELACE

      spent twenty-three years in the U.S. Air Force, pulling tours in Vietnam, at the Pentagon and at bases all over the world. When she hung up her uniform, she decided to try her hand at writing. She’s since had more than forty-five novels published, with over seven million copies of her work in print. She and her own handsome hero live in Oklahoma. They enjoy traveling and chasing little white balls around the fairways.

      To Tammie and Dr. Dave—

      thanks for all the years of fun family holidays and the expert medical input for this book!

      Contents

      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 1

      “Rattler One, this is Rattler Control.”

      U.S. Army Major Jill Bradshaw took her gaze from the moon-washed desert landscape and smiled as she keyed the transmit button on her handheld communicator. When her small detachment of military police had first gathered at this supersecret test site, she’d left the choice of a call sign designator to them. After hot debate, they’d settled on Rattler in deference to the deadly diamondbacks nesting under just about every rock and bush in this patch of southeastern New Mexico. The call sign was also intended to symbolize the fact that her tough-as-nails military cops intended to inject pure poison into anyone who attempted to penetrate their remote site.

      “This is Rattler One,” Jill replied. “Go ahead, Control.”

      “The sensors are indicating a breach of the perimeter.”

      “Is the intruder of the two- or four-legged variety?”

      “I make it four-wheeled.”

      After two weeks of installing the active and passive defenses for the hundred-square-mile site that ranged from flat, dry desert to high, pine-studded mountains, every member of Jill’s team had become adept at differentiating between the varying signals emitted by the sensors. They could ID a jackrabbit on the run and the coyote chasing him, as well as the occasional hunter who missed—or ignored—the Restricted Area signs and strayed onto the site.

      “The vehicle was moving at approximately forty miles per hour but is now stopped.”

      Stopped? Jill didn’t like the sound of that. “Give me the coordinates.”

      “Alpha-three-zero-eight, kilo-six-one-two.”

      She thumbed the digits into the number pad of her eBook. The handy-dandy, palm-held device was only one of the new pieces of equipment being tested in conjunction with the supersecret Pegasus Project. The small apparatus acted as a document viewer and terminal to receive data and graphics. When teamed with a body-worn computer, it gave soldiers the ability to perform computational operations, store data, view maps, coordinate troop movements, and communicate quickly and directly with one another. At thirty-one, Jill considered herself a fairly savvy representative of the electronic generation, but the whiz-bang capabilities of this palm-size gizmo continued to astound her.

      “I make the intruder only a few miles from my present location,” she told the controller.

      “That’s how we make him, too.”

      “I’ll check him out. Contact the patrol in sector five and have them stand by in case I need backup.”

      “Roger, One.”

      Jill thumbed a button to activate the directional finder of the eBook and hooked the device to the dash of her souped-up dune buggy. Standard patrol cars didn’t hack it out here in the desert, where there was a whole lot more sand than tarmac. Her detachment drove a fleet of highly maneuverable ATVs fitted with mountings for a small arsenal of weapons and the latest in high-tech navigational aids. The distinctive Military Police markings on the side of the vehicle left no doubt as to who manned them.

      Despite the markings, Jill and her security forces had orders to keep as low a profile as possible in conducting their duties. Most of the intruders her troops had intercepted in the past two weeks had left the area convinced they’d stumbled onto a remote patch of the Army’s White Sands Missile Test Range. Even the residents of Chorro, the sleepy, one-gas-station town some thirty miles west of the site, didn’t know an entire test complex had been shipped in and assembled in less than two weeks.

      Looking back, Jill could only marvel at all that had been accomplished in those hectic two weeks. Working around the clock, her people had completed a security grid of the entire test site and set up the perimeter defenses. Prefab buildings had been trucked in, assembled, and were ready for occupancy. Racks and racks of highly sophisticated test equipment had been uncrated and set up. U.S. Navy Captain Sam Westerhall, the tough, grizzled leader of the joint service project had hit the site yesterday. The rest of his multiservice test team would arrive tomorrow.

      The day after, Pegasus would roll or fly or swim in—Jill wasn’t quite sure which. She, like the other key members of the test cadre, would find out more about the top-secret project at the team’s in-briefing tomorrow.

      Tonight, though, she had another fifty or so miles of perimeter to run, two patrols to check on and an intruder to intercept. She eyed the directional finder on the eBook, saw she was still two miles to target, and pressed down on the accelerator.

      The wizard in charge of her fleet had modified the ATV’s mufflers to all but kill its normal growl. As Jill jounced along the narrow, two-lane dirt road, the quiet of the vast Chihuahuan Desert surrounded her. The seemingly endless patch of sand was primarily scrub and shrub. The ubiquitous creosote bush with its tarry scent and perforated branches popped up everywhere, interspersed with yucca, saltbush, and a small, night-blooming cactus that blinked delicate white eyes in the vehicle’s headlights.

      Although naturally partial to her native Oregon, Jill had to admit the Chihuahuan Desert was pure magic at night. The wide-open spaces merged earth and sky until she couldn’t tell where one stopped and the other