He couldn’t believe it. Zara was kissing him back.
When she rose up on her toes and sighed into his mouth, all his brain processes shut down. The kiss turned wetter, hotter and when her hands went under his jacket, pulling him in tight, his brain exploded in an array of fireworks.
Jesus, she wasn’t just kissing him back, she was inhaling him.
This is wrong. She’d just been through a hell of an experience and here he was, jumping at the chance to wrap his arms around her and console her. He was taking advantage of her at a weak moment.
There’s not an ounce of weakness in her.
Fury had crashed into him when he’d returned to the hotel and saw her at Giovanni’s feet. He should have shot the bastard the minute he opened the stairwell door and walked in on the scene, but Zara had been too close to the guy and Lawson didn’t want to risk hurting her. So he’d checked the anger and called on his professionalism to size up the situation and figure out the best alternative. He didn’t know who the man was at that point and frankly didn’t care. It didn’t take a Harvard grad to know what Zara would suffer if the man kidnapped her.
Unfortunately Yvette’s appearance had thrown him off, but only for a moment. She’d actually done him a favor. The second she’d pulled the gun on Zara, Lawson sent his professionalism packing and proceeded with his gut instinct. Zara now had another rotten experience to add to her collection but, by God, at least she was still alive.
Very alive, Lawson thought as she pressed her lower body to his, and very willing.
He broke the kiss and slid his lips to her neck. She tilted her head to give him better access, and he buried his mouth in the curve of her shoulder. She hitched her breath in that familiar way, and he enjoyed the response her body gave as she arched into him a little further.
A fleeting memory of her body moving against his during the self-defense session earlier in the day popped into his head, and he smiled into her neck. She’d been emitting that whole woman-in-charge aura since the minute they’d walked off the plane at Charles de Gaul. Even up to a few minutes ago, she’d been cool, calm and collected every step of the way.
It was bugging the shit out of her that he’d killed Yvette and her bodyguard, as evidenced by the fact she’d mentioned it twice already, but how many women would have enough sense after witnessing such a thing to go back into the hotel room and grab their running shoes? How many would then have sat in plain view of a police officer and applied lipstick with the nonchalance of a seasoned actress? And how many would have called his bluff about driving the freakin’ car?
Jesus, he hated women ball-busters, but this take-charge woman was starting to grow on him. Hell, she wasn’t just growing on him. At the moment, with her hands tangled in his hair and her tongue halfway down his throat, he was ready to drop her robe on the ground and let her drive more than his getaway car…
The sound of a motorcycle cut through the lust building in Lawson’s body and he stilled, every sense on high alert. He raised his head and listened.
He put a finger to his lips and his eyes slid to the left, checking the dark highway. Traffic was light and the bike was still a half-mile away. No sirens, but something about it had his gut knotting and the spot between his shoulder blades twitching.
Police were in general easy to evade, and Yvette and Giovanni had both been free of identification so it would take awhile for their names to be reported. That should slow Yvette’s business partner down considerably if he followed-up and looked for her killer. But there were always people watching. For all he knew, Yvette may have been a regular customer at the Ambassador. The hotel’s manager may have had a direct line to Yvette’s boss.
Lawson tried to place the make and model of the bike. High-precision, high-speed. Ducati.
“Get in the car,” he said and hustled Zara into the backseat. For once, she didn’t protest or ask why. He ran around to the driver’s seat and jumped in, jerking the car into drive and pulling onto the road in a spray of gravel.
Zara’s voice sounded calm. Too calm. “Police?”
The motorcycle’s headlight hit the rearview mirror. It was picking up speed. He planted his foot on the accelerator while he adjusted the seat to fit him. “Keep your head down.”
The Audi was an older model, but the owner had kept it in good condition. It wasn’t as easy to manipulate as the Duke but it was damn close. Germans, they knew how to build kick-ass cars.
“Darn it,” Zara said from the backseat. Her head was down but Lawson saw clothing flying around.
“I don’t have any underwear.”
He was pushing one hundred miles an hour on the speedometer and the bike was still crawling up his ass. The headlight in his mirrors blinded him enough to keep him from identifying whether there was more than one person on the bike, and more importantly, whether or not either of them was armed.
He heard the sound of a zipper from behind him, and Zara muttered something in French. Then the back window shattered and she screamed.
His blood ran cold. Question answered. The men on the bike were definitely armed. Swerving the car from side to side to make them a harder target to hit, he asked the real question burning in his gut. “Zara? Are you all right?”
The second it took her to answer was the longest one he’d ever endured. “I think so,” she said, her voice still sounding unnaturally calm. “But there’s glass everywhere. I’m afraid to move.”
He let out the breath he was holding and zigzagged by a car in front of them. An oncoming car dodged out of his way, horn blaring, but the flustered driver blocked the motorcycle for crucial seconds.
He had two options. Evade the threat or eliminate it. “Get up here and drive.”
“Come on, you’re a woman of action, right? You wanted to drive, so get up here and drive the damn car.”
Zara’s head rose from the backseat, her gaze catching his in the rearview mirror as she leaned forward. “Stop yelling at me.”
Lawson reached back and grabbed her arm, hauling her into the passenger seat. She flailed and fumed and once she’d righted herself, he saw she’d exchanged the robe for her leather jacket and miniskirt. She tugged the hem of the skirt down and sent him a scathing look. “What exactly—?”
“Take the wheel. We’re going to exchange places, okay?”
“While the car’s moving?”
Lawson flipped the steering wheel up as high as it would go. He set her hand on the wheel. “You’re going to slide on top of me, got it? Like you’re going to sit in my lap.”
Her hand tightened and Lawson saw her shift into spy mode. A second later, she climbed across the gearshift and slid between his legs.
“That a girl.” He released the wheel and extracted his body from around hers. “Keep the car on the road, but don’t make it easy for them to shoot us again. When I give you the signal, I want you to pull the hand brake and crank the wheel to the left like you’re doing a hard U-turn. You’re going to turn the car counterclockwise and land on three o’clock. The car will be blocking the road and I’ll be facing the motorcycle. Got it?”
She dropped her hand and repositioned the seat, her eyes shifting between the rearview, him and the road ahead. “And what are you going to do?”
Lawson hauled the gun out of his waistband. “My Dirty Harry impersonation.”
“Oh God.” She gripped the steering wheel in a ten-and-two position. “We’re going to die, aren’t we?”
“No,” Lawson grunted, checking the clip in his gun. “We are not going to die. Ready?”
The road ahead was empty of traffic. He moved to lean out the passenger-side window and Zara said, “Wait! What’s the signal?”
“I’ll yell ‘go!’”
“My mother is going to spend the rest of her life scandalized because her only daughter died bare-assed in the middle of France in a stolen car.”
But then she said, “I’m ready.”
And Lawson yelled, “Go!”
The brakes kicked down and the tires screeched as she swung the car around, bringing it in a two-hundred-and-seventy degree arc. Lawson held onto the car frame and as he came around, he saw the Ducati’s driver and passenger instinctively pull back in their seats as if the shift in their body weight alone could keep the bike from its forward trajectory.
Without hesitation, he raised his Beretta and fired.