May 3 2013 11:00am
Nothing is more important to private investigator Sean Rogan than his relationship with FBI trainee Lucy Kincaid. But when his past catches up with him, Sean faces an ultimatum: clear his name and help the FBI take down a rogue agent, or go to prison and lose everything he holds dear. With only Agent Noah Armstrong as his back-up and forced to keep Lucy in the dark, Sean steps back into his old world. But the longer he’s undercover, the more dangerous the game becomes. More than Sean’s future with Lucy is at stake—so is his life.
Lucy can’t imagine Sean would keep secrets from her—until an FBI agent casts doubt about who he really is…and who he used to be. Why did Sean quit his job with his brother and move to New York? Why hasn’t he told her anything about his new job? With more questions than answers, Lucy doesn’t know who to believe or who she can trust. All she knows is that Sean is in grave danger, and this time, it’s personal.
Get a sneek peak of Allison Brennan's Stolen (available June 6, 2013) with this exclusive excerpt!
Lucy decided to go to the source and called her friend Special Agent Suzanne Madeaux in the New York City office. She trusted Suzanne to be discreet.
After they had exchanged pleasantries, Lucy said, “I need a favor, and I need complete confidentiality. If you can’t help me, I understand. I don’t want you to get in any trouble.”
Suzanne laughed. “Where you go, trouble follows.”
Lucy didn’t see the humor. “I’m serious.”
“Lucy, we’re friends. Lighten up.”
“It’s complicated, and I don’t—”
Lucy appreciated Suzanne’s friendship. She didn’t have a lot of girlfriends, and no one she felt particularly close to except Suzanne.
“Do you know Special Agent Deanna Brighton?”
“No. Should I?”
“She’s in the Manhattan office. White-collar.”
“We have over three hundred agents in the Manhattan office, and I only know one guy from White-Collar because one of his CIs ended up dead in the middle of one of my investigations. I can ask him, though—”
“No,” Lucy said quickly.
“What’s going on?”
“Deanna Brighton is looking for Sean, and I don’t think it’s to ask for his help.”
“How do you know this?”
“She came to Quantico because she thought I knew where he was staying in New York.”
“Why didn’t she call?”
“If I had to guess? She wanted to intimidate me. She also talked to Sean’s brother, Duke, in Sacramento. I just got off the phone with him.”
“Does this have something to do with Sean leaving RCK?”
“Does everyone know?”
“It got around pretty quickly, since RCK is a federal vendor and there are like a half-dozen former agents who work for them. Is Sean in trouble?”
“No,” Lucy said quickly. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I don’t know where he is. I haven’t talked to him today and he isn’t answering his phone. I’m worried.” She scratched Chip behind the ears as the cat purred and stretched on Sean’s desk.
“When was the last time you spoke?”
“Less than forty-eight hours ago. You don’t know what he’s doing in New York?”
“He took a temporary job. Not through RCK. He couldn’t share the details because of a confidentiality clause, and now I’m worried there might be something more going on. This Brighton—I didn’t like her.” Lucy didn’t want to go into details. Telling Duke had been hard enough, and Suzanne didn’t need to know. “I wish I could explain better. Chalk it up to a gut feeling.”
“I trust your gut, Lucy. Stop apologizing and tell me what you need. If I can do it, I will.”
“I need to find out if either Sean or his friend Colton Thayer is the subject of a federal investigation. It could be Brighton wants Thayer and thinks she can get to him through Sean. But the way she was talking, she thinks Sean’s guilty of something.”
“I can get the information. But depending on the answer, I don’t know if I can tell you. If he’s the subject of a federal investigation—”
“I don’t think he is. I think she’s fishing.”
Sean’s computer beeped and Lucy resisted the urge to look at the results.
“Let me see what I can find out. Quietly. You’re adding some spice to my life—I get to be a spy.”
“I can’t ask—”
“You didn’t. I get it, Lucy. And tell Sean when you talk to him, if he gets jammed up, send me a nine-one-one.”
Lucy hung up and closed her eyes. Her heart was racing, and not from her conversation with Suzanne.
Lucy breathed deeply. In and out. It didn’t matter who this woman in the park was, did it? It didn’t matter, because whatever that picture showed on the surface didn’t mean anything—Lucy trusted Sean. Explicitly.
She opened her eyes and viewed the report.
Sean’s ex-girlfriend. One of his many ex-girlfriends, but the one he’d had for years while at MIT.
There’d been a weekend months ago when Lucy and Sean had the house to themselves before Lucy went into the Academy. Carefree, relaxing. They’d gone to see a Disney movie that made Lucy smile and Sean laughed like a little boy. They’d come back and made love in front of the fireplace, Lucy drunk with emotion.
“I love you so much,” she’d said as they held each other. She was unable to contain her feelings, a rarity for her, since she usually kept her emotions bottled up inside.
“I don’t deserve it, but I hope to earn it.”
“Earn it? You don’t earn love. There’s nothing you can do that could take this away from us.”
Sean ran his hands through her hair, kissed her, held her close, a light blanket covering them as the fire danced across the darkened room. “You’re the only woman I’ve ever loved like this.”
“You don’t have to say that. I’m not naïve. There have been others for you.” Many others, she knew, from what Patrick had said when he tried to get her to break it off with Sean when they first started seeing each other. Patrick was being an overprotective big brother, but she’d never been able to completely forget what he’d said. “I’m not as comfortable with all this, with my sexuality, with you, as I know you expect—”
“What?” Sean propped up his head with his hand and stared at her, his mouth a tight line. “Who said I’ve ever expected anything from you?”
“I just . . . I know you dated a lot—”
“Lucy, I’m not going to go through all the women I’ve been with, because none of them matter now. They’re in the past. You are my present; you are my future.” He sounded hurt, and Lucy wanted to fi x it but didn’t know how.
“I don’t want to ruin tonight,” she said, her voice catching.
He lay back down and pulled her close to him, so close it almost hurt. He was shaking.
“I don’t know what I can tell you that will make you understand how I feel.”
“You don’t have to say anything; I know—”
“I’m far from perfect. I know Patrick doesn’t like us together.”
“He’s getting used to it.”
“He wants to protect you. I dated a lot of women before you. But from the moment you came to my door in January, drenched from the storm, you’ve been the only one. The only one I love, the only one I want, the only one I dream about every night.”
“Sean—” She kissed him. “Please don’t. I trust you.”
“Then I’m going to tell you something, because it’s important. So you understand my love is real.”
“I’ve never doubted.”
But Sean didn’t believe her, and she’d done that; she’d put that doubt in his head. She was angry with herself because she didn’t want to be this way.
“I dated a lot of women, but I never told any I loved them before you, except one. I was in college, and at the time I thought Skye was it. I was nineteen, she was twenty-one, my life had gone through a major upheaval after I was expelled from Stanford, and she helped.”
Lucy wanted to cry. She didn’t want to hear about his lost love. But she’d started this, hadn’t she? She deserved the story.
“I told her I loved her. And maybe, in an immature way, I did. But what I felt then could fill a thimble; my love for you is an ocean. I can hardly breathe thinking of losing you.”
Tears stung her eyes. “Sean—”
“You are everything to me, Lucy. Ten years ago I was a different person.”
“Sean, I’m sorry.”
He kissed her. “You’re crying. Luce—” He kissed her damp cheeks. “Baby, please, don’t.”
“I just love you so much. I never thought I could feel this way. I thought I was dead inside. I’ve been reborn because of you.”
He kissed her over and over, his arms around her, holding her almost too tight but not tight enough. He made her feel safe and loved and, more than that, wanted. He made her feel special. She kissed him, held his face in her hands, and said, “Make love to me again.”
They locked eyes as he slowly entered her. Her body was still overheated from their earlier round of sex, but this time it was different. She craved him physically in a way she hadn’t before, as if a switch had flipped and she was the woman she wanted to be for Sean. She wrapped her legs around him and watched his skin glisten in the firelight as they moved together in a perfect, escalating rhythm until her mind shut down and her body spiraled out of control—
Lucy’s ringing phone broke through her memory.
She swallowed and cleared her throat. “Sean.”
“You sound surprised.”
“I’m sitting at your desk.”
“I needed your computer.”
She turned off the monitor. “An FBI agent named Deanna Brighton came to talk to me today. She’s looking for you. I can be on the next flight to New York. Just say the word.”
“No,” he said quickly. “Please—stay put.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes.” He wasn’t okay—she heard it in his voice—but she didn’t say anything. He continued, “She’s had it in for me for a while.”
Silence. “How do you know?”
“Duke called. She talked to him, too. He’s worried about you.” And furious, but Lucy left off that part.
“Trust me, Lucy.”
“I’m sorry you were dragged into this.”
Lucy decided not to tell Sean about Brighton threatening her or about the photograph. Instead, she said, “I’m not being dragged into anything. I didn’t like her tone. Suzanne is there if you need her.”
“I can handle Brighton.”
“You must have really pissed her off.”
“I have that effect on people.”
Lucy wanted him to tell her why, but he sounded rushed and distracted.
“If you need me, I’m here.”
“This job has gotten a little sticky. But I’m not doing anything that I’m not supposed to. I promise you that, Lucy.”
“I didn’t say you were.”
“Your brother’s worried.”
“I gotta go, Luce. I love you. Be careful.”
“That’s exactly what I was going to tell you.”
He hung up. Lucy slowly lowered her phone. He’d been preoccupied. He hadn’t even asked her why she was using his computer.
She turned the monitor back on. Time to do a little research. Sean would try to protect her, not to worry her, but she was already worried and she didn’t need his protection.
This time, he needed hers.
Copyright © 2013 by Allison Brennan.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Stolen by Allison Brennan before its June 6 release:
Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eighteen novels and many short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.