Experience predicated that he, like most men after a few drinks and faced with a beautiful woman showing interest, would be unable to help himself. Getting him into bed was beside the point; the challenge was in possession, to crawl inside his head so deeply that he wouldn't want her out.
She replied in French and in the small talk listened for his personality, filtering options through his answers. When the pieces became a composite whole, she would shift into characteristics that would most easily enchant - whatever the particular role necessitated in order to acquire the end goal. Bimbo, coquette, siren - name it and become it. His answers were unexpected and made her laugh, not the laugh of an actress but one that was genuine, real. And that he carried his own streak of adrenaline hunger didn't hurt.
Discovering that work had taken her to Morocco, he flashed a teasing smile and switched from French to Arabic: "Hal tatakalam al-Arabia?" She grinned and whispered, "Tabaan."
Their conversation undulated, it swelled and lingered. His personality was beyond what she'd anticipated - closer to her own than any distraction she'd yet sought out. Perhaps this hunt would be the easiest of all. No games, no roles, just a sanitized version of who she really was. Desiring more privacy than the bar and lounge provided, Munroe said, "You want to find the Jacuzzi with me?"
"I'd love to," he said, "but I don't have a bathing suit."
She moved closer to his ear. "Neither do I, but if you wear your underwear and act like you own the place, nobody will ever notice."
He laughed, a deep, hearty laugh, spontaneous and alive. He gulped down the remainder of his drink and placed the glass on the bar counter. "I think I like you, Lady Munroe." He stood. "Where is this Jacuzzi?" The hot tub was situated in an alcove away from the main pool, and when they'd found it, Munroe shed her clothes and slid into the foaming water. Noah studied her for a moment and then, without breaking eye contact, draped his shirt over a nearby pool chair and slid in beside her.
"These," he said, tracing his finger along one of the many white slivers etched into her body. "Are the scars also part of your job?"
She began to say something, then hesitated and stopped. "Those," she said finally, "are a story for another time." It wasn't the usual bullshit about car accidents and glass, and it avoided a truth she had no desire to relive.
Excerpted from The Informationist by Taylor Stevens. Copyright © 2011 by Taylor Stevens. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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