HEAT OF THE NIGHT
The last thing Ken ‘Viper’ Thompson expected was to be stuffed into a clergy outfit and having to pretend to be a priest, but orders were orders. As a sniper, Ken had a job to do. He couldn’t afford to be distracted by an eagle eye doctor bent on seeing through his disguise. It didn’t help that with one look she made his thoughts turn to sin.
Dr. Lily Houser wasn’t happy about the change in roster. Bad enough she’d had to accept a male nurse she’d never met, but now she had to deal with a priest…a very sexy man of the cloth, who seemed a little too comfortable in the jungle and far too sexually aware to be celibate. Those sharp eyes could tempt a saint. If they’re not careful, they’ll both burn.
The plane bucked and sputtered, its engines threatening to die before the wheels could touch down on the dirt runway that had been carved out of the jungle a hundred feet below. Ken "Viper" Thompson stared at the civilian medical team from behind mirrored sunglasses. They were ragtag group of do-gooders, who believed they were making a difference in the world.
Had he ever been that naïve and young? If he had, Ken couldn’t remember. Fifteen years as a professional sniper would do that to a man. He and his spotter, John James Ekle had replaced one of the nurses and the minister on the team at the last moment, which was why they were jammed in here like a half dozen squids in a jar.
Sweat trickled down his back as the heat rising from the jungle smothered the little plane and its occupants. Lack of circulation made the stale air take on an edge of fear and desperation. Nerves were running high. Ken scanned their faces once more, but everyone seemed to be preoccupied with what was outside the aircraft.
No one suspected the real reason he and John were here, not even the sharp-eyed doctor in charge of the team. They hadn’t had time to develop a deep cover—thanks to a power-hungry ex-general’s accelerated timetable—so they’d decided to blend with a real medical relief team. Danger came with that decision, since civilians were unpredictable and could blow even a good cover by accident.
That’s how Ken had ended up dressed as a missionary priest and John had passed himself off as a nurse. Both had enough combat medical experience and training to pass scrutiny, but Ken’s size had made him conspicuous. At 6’3, there was no blending in. Without the collar to deflect suspicion, the homegrown military would spot him for what he was—a warrior.
It was one thing to pretend to be a priest, it was quite another to think like one. Ken’s gaze dropped to Dr. Lily Houser’s bare legs as she uncrossed them. They weren’t long, but they were shapely like the woman. Firm and compact, they had just enough strength to grip when it counted. It didn’t help that her short sexy blond hair and sleepy green eyes looked as if she’d just crawled out of bed after a night of vigorous lovemaking. Hell, maybe she had.
The visceral reaction the thought provoked made Ken pause. Why should he care if she had a lover or not? He didn’t even know the woman. It wasn’t like he was looking to get involved in the middle of a mission. His eyes strayed to her chest and what few saintly thoughts he’d had fled from his mind. Ken tugged at his clergy collar, wishing he’d worn the vestigial tab instead. The cutout display in his shirt would’ve saved a lot of choking.
Damn, it was hot in here.
Ken had been given a file on Lily and the rest of her team before leaving the marine base in Oceanside, California. According to the papers, this was the second time she and this group had volunteered to be dropped into the ass-end of the jungle. They planned to immunize the locals against the H1N1 virus and set up a makeshift clinic to help curb infant mortality rates.
While they set up shop, Ken planned to put a bullet through Juan Garcia—an ex-general with grand ideas of raising an army to stage a coup—then hump it out of the jungle with John before anyone was the wiser. Unfortunately, that would take time since the satellite photos showed three potential locations. Until John scouted them all out and found where Garcia was hiding, Ken would have to play holy man under the watchful eyes of Dr. Lily Houser.
His gaze strayed to her legs again. Her tan thighs poked out from beneath khaki shorts before tapering into a pair of snug hiking boots. He could think of worse places to be than beneath the good doctor.
Lily felt his eyes on her again. She couldn’t see the blue hidden behind those mirrored shades, but there was no mistaking the heat. She resisted the urge to tug her shorts down over her legs. It wasn’t like they were indecent. They came to mid-thigh. Yet under his gaze, she felt naked. Lily crossed, then uncrossed her legs in an attempt to get comfortable in the cramped space. Weren’t priests supposed to only have eyes for God?
It didn’t help that Ken didn’t look like your average priest. Her eyes slid over his well- muscled form, long-fingered hands, and dark head. He kept his hair short and his rugged face clean-shaven. She caught a whiff of something musky, thought it might be aftershave until she smelled it again and realized it was simply soap and man.
Father Ken wasn’t classically handsome. He was too rough around the edges for that, but he was striking, even more so when she could see his eyes. The color of glacial ice, there’d been nothing cold about the way he’d looked at her. Any more heat and he’d have melted the polar caps. Lily was more than a little ashamed that she’d noticed.