If men were like ice cream, Riordan St. James would be rocky road.
Tilting her head, Natalie Meeks studied the new D.I.R.E. agent through the one-way glass. He was one major hottie and, like ice cream, the last thing she needed on her hips.
But, a girl could dream.
Golden, sun-streaked hair lay in sweat-soaked tufts against the wide horizon of his shoulders. His pale blue eyes were barricaded and hard, a narrow beard lining his tight jaw. Glistening, tanned skin, mapped with scars, covered a torso of concrete-like muscle, his back a crossroads of whip marks.
Hanging on a pull-up bar several yards from the other agents, Riordan appeared to be a loner, on the opposite side of a bridge from human contact and relationships. His perpetual scowl screamed back off, his tense shoulders poised for attack. All he needed was a do not enter sign stamped on his forehead to make it official.
It must be her lucky day. She had to figure out how to get past the human obstacle course and get inside.
Natalie glanced at Mitchell Jacobs next to her, his attention trained on the man in the D.I.R.E. fitness room. He had a smile in his eyes she hadn’t seen before. Of course, she’d only spoken to him briefly at a couple of her father’s fundraising galas. As a former SEAL C.O., and now head of a private security agency, he was in high demand at political functions.
No, she wasn’t ready to meet Riordan St. James. As a matter of fact, she really wanted to leave. Once upon a time, she’d considered herself qualified to diagnose and treat people with emotional conditions. Now, she didn’t trust her own judgment on what deodorant to use.
“As I told you on the phone, Mitchell, I really don’t feel skilled–“
“Save it.” Mitchell sliced a hand through the air, his brows furrowed. “What happened with Paul Warner was one hundred percent his fault, Natalie. He knew what he was doing.”
That made it even worse. As his psychologist, she should’ve seen it coming. She could’ve prevented it.
Mitchell Jacobs wouldn’t understand that. Paul would’ve been just another casualty in his book. In hers, a possible love turned tragic regret.
Crossing her arms over her middle, she sighed. “He won’t be pleased to meet me.”
Mitchell chuckled with a shake of his head. “No, he won’t. I’ll bet a bottle of Glenfiddich 1937 Scotch he’ll be royally pissed.”
Riordan climbed onto a treadmill farther across the room. He pressed a couple of buttons and started to jog.
“So, what do you want from me, Mitchell? A clinical diagnosis?”
“I want you to get him ready for the field. I think he lacks confidence. Right now, he thinks he’s ready – I say, he’s not.”
Natalie frowned as she played with her pearl earring. That meant working with him beyond today. How did she make Mitchell realize her qualifications disqualified her for the job?
Riordan St. James was different from any patient she’d ever counseled. He had a raw, barbaric edge about him, reminding her of a street fighter. He played by his own rules, wore attitude like a badge and defense like a shield.
She worked with the upper echelon of society. People that enjoyed telling her their troubles, people that looked for easy prescription drugs and found her unyielding. Many of her clients worked with her father in the Senate, or lived in upscale San Diego.
Her patients liked her. Listening rather than talking had been a trait from birth, her desire to help others deep and ingrained.
Riordan St. James didn’t strike her as a talker or someone that wanted help.
He pushed himself harder and faster than any other agent in the room. Sweat ran from his brow, the waistband of his shorts soaked through.
“When do you need him?”
“Yesterday.” Mitchell sighed as he turned to face her. “I took a gamble with St. James,
Natalie. When he came in, he was in bad shape. Among his injuries, his hands had been broken and crushed. Deformed, for lack of a better word.”
Her gaze shot to the man on the treadmill. Though several feet away, he appeared exceptionally… fit, his hands normal. However, the scars littering his body backed up Mitchell’s story.
“Using a device similar to a 3D printer, we mapped out the previous bone structure of his hands and created replicas made with neodymium, iron and boron.”
Stilling, she held out a hand to halt his speech. “Wait. Are you telling me he has magnetic bones in his hands?”
Mitchell nodded with nonchalance. “Yes, but the attraction is minor at this point.”
Slack-jawed, she could do nothing but stare. Had she just stepped into Frankenstein’s laboratory? “Why? Why not give him normal prosthetics?”
Leaning a shoulder against the wall, Mitchell shoved his hands in his pockets. “Have you heard of Robert Naylor?”
The infamous crime boss. Natalie doubted there were many people that hadn’t heard of him. “Yes.”
“St. James was one of Naylor’s best agents. The man has talents I can use. My plan is to give Riordan the ability to attract and repel objects with his magnetic hands. He has the groundwork now. Once I know I can depend on him, I’ll install the rest of his system.”
Shaking her head, Natalie couldn’t believe what she’d heard. “You’re going to make him some kind of superhero?”
Mitchell gave a lopsided grin. “You could call him that.”
Agent M4: Riordan is Book 4 in The D.I.R.E. Agency Series. Look for these other books in the sci fi romance series:
Book 1 – Agent I1: Tristan
Book 2 – Agent E2: Aidan
Book 3 – Agent T3: d’Artagnan
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