Riding on instinct, p.1
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       Riding on Instinct, p.1

         Part #3 of Wild Riders series by Jaci Burton
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Riding on Instinct
Page 1


  Author: Jaci Burton ONE


  Spencer King walked a circle around Agent Shadoe Grayson, shook his head, and decided that this assignment was going to fail.

  “No way is anyone going to believe she’s a stripper. ”

  As he stopped in front of her, she arched one perfectly manicured brow and narrowed her brown eyes. She was pretty, but nothing about her screamed “stripper. ”

  “Excuse me?”

  “Sorry, darlin’, but you’re not the right man for the job. ”

  She crossed her arms. “And why is that?”

  “Well, look at you. Loose, dark pantsuit with God only knows what kind of body underneath it, hair in a bun without one strand out of place. Your face is pinched so tight you look like you have a stick shoved up your ass. ”

  “Jesus, Spence, use some tact. ”

  Spence glared at his boss, General Grange Lee. “When have I ever used tact?”

  “Good point. ” Grange turned to Shadoe. “I’m sorry, Agent Grayson. The guys around here aren’t polite. ”

  “I don’t need polite, General Lee. I’m just here to get the job done. ”

  Spence leaned against the sofa arm and shook his head again. “You aren’t gonna get it done looking like that. Strippers wear less clothes than that goin’ to church on Sunday. ”

  “This is regulation Department of Justice uniform . . . What is your name again, Mr. —”

  “Spence. Just call me Spence. ” He directed his attention back to General Lee. “Grange, this isn’t gonna work. ”

  “It’s going to have to. We’ve been given the assignment; we’ll work it out. ”

  Spence slid fully onto the couch and planted his booted feet on the coffee table. “Whatever. But who’s going to teach the prim schoolteacher over there how to be sexy?”

  “I am not a schoolteacher. I’m a trained field agent. ”

  He grinned. “Yeah, but you ain’t no stripper. ”

  She pivoted and faced Grange. “Really, General Lee. This is ridiculous. ”

  Spence thought so, too. He could think of a hundred women who would make better strippers than Miss Prim and Proper. Of course, those hundred women were strippers, so that was probably why. What dumbass in Washington thought up this colossal clusterfuck of an assignment?

  “We have a DEA agent out there selling us out to the Colombians,” Grange reminded him. “Our job is to find him and detain him, and if we’re really lucky, intercept the next shipment so we can take down the drug smugglers. We’ll make this work. ”

  Spence shrugged. “Whatever you say, boss. ”

  The others began to trail in—all part of the Wild Riders, a secret government organization charged with operating under the radar, assisting the government in less than legal ways. Spence loved his job. He got to steal and do illegal things that suddenly became—legal.

  “So, another assignment?” Mac asked, his new wife, Lily, in tow. Jessie came with them. They piled up on the sofa, Lily pushing at Spencer to scoot over.

  “So it seems,” AJ said, coming in with Rick to stand behind the sofa.

  Diaz and Paxton followed.

  “Agent Shadoe Grayson of the Department of Justice. These are the Wild Riders. ” He made them all introduce themselves, then asked her to take a seat, motioning to a space left over on the sofa where Spencer sat.

  Spence noted with some amusement that she took the vacant chair next to the sofa. Oh yeah, she was going to be all over the men at the strip club. She couldn’t even stomach sitting close to one man. He resisted rolling his eyes, not in the mood for a lecture from Grange.

  “I have new assignments for all of you, but we’ll get to the reason Agent Grayson is here first,” Grange said. “Here’s the deal. For some time now, the DEA has been aware that every drug bust operation involving the Colombian cartel in the New Orleans area has been foiled, as if the Colombians have received advance knowledge. They know they have someone inside feeding them information, and every time the DEA tries to set up their own sting, the rogue is nowhere to be found. It’s as if the Colombians are able to swing a ship into New Orleans, offload drugs, and move out without the government knowing anything about it. So someone is tipping off the Colombians about potential covert operations, and we think the rogue inside is in league with the Colombians. ”

  “Probably because the agent knows everyone in his department, knows when he’s being followed or if there’s a plant,” Mac suggested.

  “Or her,” Lily said.

  “Exactly,” Grange confirmed. “Which is why we’ve been brought in. The rogue doesn’t know us. ”

  “But wouldn’t the rogue know Agent Grayson?” Lily asked.

  “No. She’s new. ”

  “Great. A rookie,” Spence mumbled.

  Shadoe glared at him. Spence smiled.

  “Agent Grayson might be new in the field, but she’s very good at her job. Don’t underestimate her. Plus, she has some . . . special talents that the department is thrilled to make use of. ”

  “Such as?” Rick asked.

  “I have a photographic memory,” she answered.

  “Oh, cool. So you can remember everything you read and hear?” Jessie asked.

  Shadoe nodded.

  “Bullshit. ” Spencer didn’t believe anyone could have a photographic memory.

  “ ‘No way in hell is anyone going to believe she’s a stripper. Sorry, darlin’, but you’re not the right man for the job. Well, look at you. Loose, dark pantsuit with God only knows what kind of body underneath it, hair in a bun without one strand out of place. Your face is pinched so tight you look like you have a stick shoved up your ass’ . . . Should I go on, Spence, or stop now?”

  “Well, goddamn. She just repeated everything I said to her right before y’all came in. ”

  “No shit?” AJ asked.

  “No shit. ” Spence looked back at Shadoe with a nod of appreciation. “I stand corrected, darlin’. You’ve got the skills. ”

  Those weren’t her only skills, either. Because when her lips lifted in a hint of a smile, he saw a spark flash from her brown eyes that rocked his balls into a quiver of awareness. Damn she was pretty. Even with her severe clothing, without makeup, and with hair pulled back, there was definitely . . . something.

  “Can we move on now, Spencer, or do you want to bullshit all day?”

  Spence nodded, realizing he’d pissed off Grange. “Sorry, General. ”

  “Okay. We have intelligence that a shipment will be coming in, and that the rogue will be there to meet with his . . . or her . . . Colombian contact in New Orleans sometime within the next couple of weeks. We don’t know who either is, but with Agent Grayson’s assistance, we hope to nab the rogue. ”

  “What’s the plan?” Lily asked.

  “Agent Grayson and Spencer will be going undercover at the Wild Rose Club in the French Quarter. The tipoff is that transactions go down at the club, but the DEA has never been able to prove it or to set anyone up inside that the rogue can’t make, so that’s where we’re going to plant our insiders. ”

  “Hot damn! One of the finest strip clubs in the city,” Rick said.

  Grange nodded. “Agent Grayson will be undercover as a feature stripper, Spencer as her bodyguard. AJ and Pax will go along as backup. ”

  “Oooh, can I strip?” Jessie asked.

  “Oh, hell no,” Diaz said.

  Jessie affected a pout. “I never get to have any fun. ”

  AJ snorted. “Your day will come, sweetheart. I’m sure there are thousands of guys out there who’d love to see you naked. ”

; “Over my dead body,” Diaz said.

  Jessie grinned at that. Spencer shook his head. Jessie was the baby of the bunch. She’d been with the Wild Riders since Mac rescued her from a really bad situation when she was a teen. She was more little sister than partner to them, and they all protected her. She’d grown up, though, had finished her first assignment a few months back with Spence and Diaz. Jessie and Diaz had fallen in love on that case, making the two of them working together in the future a sticky situation. But since Mac and Lily managed it, Spence supposed Grange could work it out with Diaz and Jessie, too. Spence was just glad he didn’t have to deal with those kinds of entanglements. Fucking was one thing. Love was something entirely different and not in his vocabulary.

  “Anyway,” Grange said, wrangling their attention again, “Agent Grayson will be the headliner at the club. Spence will be set up as her bodyguard, which provides her protection and they can back each other up, which gives them a good reason to stick close together. AJ and Pax will be vacationers who show up nightly and will interact with the crowds, in and out of the bar scene. ”

  “Didn’t you two luck out,” Rick said, crossing his arms and shooting a glare at AJ and Pax.

  AJ grinned. “Well, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. ”

  Grange cleared his throat and caught everyone’s attention again. “Agent Grayson has memorized every single face in the DOJ’s agent books. She’s the only one who will be able to identify the rogue agent when he or she makes an appearance. Our job is to watch the agent when Shadoe identifies him or her, then see if we can break up this drug ring. ”

  “After she learns to strip,” Spence added.

  Shadoe didn’t even look at him, but tapped her fingernails on one crisp pant leg. He smiled at her irritation.

  “I have an expert coming in to assist you with that, Agent Grayson,” Grange said.

  “Please, everyone, call me Shadoe. The ‘agent’ thing is too formal, and as Spence seems so fond of reminding me,” she said, this time shooting a pointed look in his direction, “I need to loosen up. ”

  He winked. She rolled her eyes.

  This was going to be fun.

  SHADOE UNPACKED, RATHER FURIOUSLY, JAMMING HER THINGS IN the two-drawer dresser in the tiny bedroom provided to her by General Lee. At least she could take out her frustrations on her clothing instead of the huge hulk of a man who’d infuriated her from the start.

  Spencer. Why did he have to be the one she was going to work so closely with? The other guys seemed nice, at least. Spencer was an arrogant ass who’d apparently already determined she couldn’t do the job. As if she hadn’t come up against hundreds of guys just like him—starting with her father. She’d made the colossal sin of being born a girl and her father had never forgiven her for that.

  She’d show him, and she’d show Spencer, too. She could do this assignment. And when she rose to the top of the ranks at the department, she’d tell her father to shove it, too. Her gender did not preclude her from becoming successful in law enforcement.

  Just because all her father’s brothers had been graced with sons and her father had managed to produce only one daughter did not make her a mistake, did not make her less than worthy to carry on the Grayson tradition of being prominent, decorated officers.

  Her father was an ass. So was Spencer. She’d prove herself.

  She’d parade down Bourbon Street stark naked if she had to, but she’d nab the rogue agent.

  A knock at the door forced her to hurry and shove the last of her things in the drawer. She opened the door to find her new partner taking up most of the doorway.

  God, Spencer was imposing. Impossibly tall, tan, stunningly gorgeous, if she had to admit it. Brown hair cut razor short, and eyes the color of the ocean, with a square jaw that bore a hint of unshaven stubble. If she was the kind of woman to swoon over a good-looking man, she’d be a puddle on the floor by now.

  Good thing her career took all her time and she didn’t focus on men and sex.

  Though her body was doing a pretty darn good imitation of libidinous longing at the moment. She ignored it. “Yes?”
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