Hot As Hell
SSI Novella, #4.5
Table of Contents
Hot as Hell, Security Specialists International, Book 4.5
Copyright, 2016, Monette Michaels.
Cover art: Copyright, 2015, April Martinez.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the
prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s
imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or
dead, is completely coincidental.
Fed up with her incompetent boss, Interpol agent Dawn Wilson accepts a job with
Security Specialists International. Her first assignment forces her into close contact with
the devastatingly sexy, but far too pushy CIA agent Sam Crocker.
When the SSI team, plus a forced-on-leave Sam, gathers in Aruba to take down a
traitor to the United States, Sam soon discovers the beautiful, feisty Dawn’s skills are a
complete match for his own.
As the fairly low-risk operation goes FUBAR, their attraction ignites and turns hot as
No book is written in a vacuum. I count on a small band of very special people to keep
me centered and on task. Without these people, I would never have the courage to put
my work out there. So, here is where I thank them for taking time from their lives to
help me polish my fictional worlds.
Special thanks go to author Cherie Nicholls and Gail Northman for Dawn’s British slang.
There are no words that could even begin to express how much I appreciate my primary
critique partner, author Cherise Sinclair, for her constructive criticism and unique brand
of tough love. So, I’ll just say: Thanks, Cheri.
Thanks must also go to my band of beta-readers: Debbie Kline, Valerie Samouillan, and
Gail Northman. These ladies are long-time fans and catch all the pesky back story and
series logic issues for me.
As always, many thanks to Ezra Solomon, my copy editor. He catches everything the rest
of us miss.
Finally, major kudos to April Martinez for another fabulous cover and to Gail Northman
(my triple threat!) for putting my manuscript in all the formats I don’t know how to do.
You ladies rock and make my work look so professional.
To my SSI fans. Without you Sam would never have found his HEA.
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand
February 28th, international airport outside of Belize City
Sam Crocker sat in the boarding area, waiting for his flight to Cartagena. Feet propped up on
a window ledge, he listened to the rings over his secure satellite phone as he eyed the ground crew
fueling a commercial jet. He was tired. He was pissed. Nothing had gone the way he’d planned since
leaving the Belizean resort where he’d assisted a Security Specialist International team consisting of
Conn Redmond, DJ Poe, and Tweeter Walsh—and Interpol agent Dawn Wilson—on an undercover
Maybe this call would set him on the path toward achieving his goals.
“Redmond.” The abrupt voice of his old Marine buddy growled in his ear. Conn, SSI’s man in
Central and South America, had left Belize immediately after the end of the op.
“Hey, Conn—” Sam kept his voice low and atonal so as to make his conversation more difficult
to overhear. The boarding area was crowded and no one seemed to be paying attention to him. But
he’d spent too many years in deep cover assignments for the CIA’s National Clandestine Service to take
a chance someone might listen in, and old habits were hard to break, especially when said habits had
kept him alive and mostly whole.
“—it’s Sam. Need your help.”
“Anything.” His buddy’s immediate response was a relief. “Whatcha need?”
“To be put in touch with Tweeter Walsh—and Ren Maddox.”
For the umpteenth time in the last two and a half days, Sam rubbed a finger over the cheek
the petite, but fiery Dawn Wilson had slapped. While the little Brit packed quite a wallop—the redness
from the blow had taken hours to fade—it was the emotional impact of meeting her that still bedeviled
him. No woman had ever gotten under his skin and lodged herself in his gut the way the little hell cat
had. Maybe it was the way she handled a submachine gun like a seasoned Marine or the fact she
swore like a sailor. Lord knew, she packed a lot of honor, courage, and strength into her tiny body—and,
fuck, what a body. He’d been able to tell she was curvy even through the dark, Goth-like disguise she’d
worn. She was a pint-sized package of trouble—trouble he hungered to explore more fully.
Immediately after reporting into his CIA handler, he’d gone on the hunt for Dawn. He’d been
one step behind her ever since.
Earlier today, he’d finally tracked Dawn’s Interpol Incident Response team to the Belize Defense
Force headquarters. There, a man by the name of Ron Lloyd, an officious asshole, refused to tell Sam
where Dawn was or relay a message. Every territorial instinct Sam possessed told him the fucker
wanted Dawn for himself and saw Sam as competition for the little Brit’s sole attention. He was right.
Sam’s lips quirked upward as he pictured what his next meeting with Dawn might be like. He
planned to storm all her defenses, a tactic guaranteed to ruffle her fur. After which, he would wear the
little Brit down until he had her purring like a kitten and cuddling up next to him.
But before he could make a move on Dawn, he had to take care of some unfinished business.
“Why now?” Conn asked. “You need to give Ren time to adjust to you being one of the good
guys. Tweeter’s post-operation report on Belize will go a long way in helping the situation, but I’m not
sure Ren’s quite ready to forgive and forget. I know Vanko isn’t.”
After working deep undercover for so many years, being painted as a bad guy was par for the
course. But still, Sam wondered how many times he’d have to tell Maddox that Maddox’s wife Keely
hadn’t been in any danger from him. And, hell, he got shot in the back protecting Petriv’s woman
Elana. If that wasn’t evidence of his being on the side of angels, what was?
“I’ll deal with Maddox—and Petriv—when the time comes.” Which would probably be sooner
rather than later since Sam’s current quarry was their common enemy. “I need Tweeter to find out
where Syd MacLean is right now and get current intel on the fucker’s activities.”
Sam’s jaw tightened. “I’m going after the bastard and will end him—one way or another.”
Syd MacLean or, as the treasonous fucker was now known, Sergio Manuel Lazaro a.k.a. Oraio,
had sold his country’s secrets and exposed the U.S.’s black ops teams to their enemies. MacLean’s
drugs and weapons businesses continued to contribute to the deaths of soldiers and innocents
worldwide. His latest venture, sex slave trafficking, was just another abomination on top of all the
other abominations MacLean had created while seeking wealth and power.
“Didn’t the CIA get the intel Tweeter sent to the NSA?” Conn asked.
“Yeah. But while the CIA might believe the evidence that Sergio Manuel Lazaro, a legitimate
Brazilian businessman, was the crook Oraio, they didn’t want to make the leap that the two were one
and the same as Syd MacLean, U.S. traitor. So, after I made my report on Belize, my handler put me
on a two-month enforced leave. Said I’d been undercover too long and needed a break… to rest.” Sam
blew out a disgusted breath.
“Fucking politicians have no business running intelligence,” muttered Conn.
“Amen, brother,” Sam said. “Truth is, I’ve got no physical proof, just circumstantial evidence
and my gut. Even with Tweeter and his sister Keely throwing their weight behind my conclusions, the
CIA—and Brazil’s government—weren’t ready to go after a man with Lazaro’s kind of money and clout.
With concrete proof that Lazaro-Oraio is MacLean, the United States could send in a spec ops team to
kidnap the fucking traitor’s ass and bring him back to the U.S. to stand trial.”
“Hoo-rah.” Conn paused. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do in getting Ren and Keely to help you.
Tweeter’s out of the picture for now. He and DJ are getting married in Vegas today.”
“Married?” Sam whistled. “Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. The sexual vibes coming off those
two were as hot as hell. I’ll have to send them a wedding gift. Maybe his-and-her handguns?”
Conn snickered. “That should work. You still in Belize?”
“For maybe twenty more minutes. I’m on the next commercial flight to Cartagena and your
place. Figured if I went after MacLean that Maddox might bend enough to lend me you as my backup.”
Conn chuckled. “If Ren doesn’t sign off on it, I’ll take some time off and go in with you.”
“Thanks, Conn. If we need more boots on the ground, I have some mercs I’ve worked with
who’d love to get a piece of MacLean’s ass.”
“Bet there’s a lot of ex-military who’d help us out if called upon. Need me to pick you up at the
airport?” Conn asked.
“No. I arranged for a rental. I should be at your place by dinnertime. Pick a place for a late meal,
preferably one with good beer on tap, and I’ll buy.”
“Sounds good. Safe travels.”
“See you soon and”—Sam paused—“thanks, Conn. I’ll owe you big time.”
“Nah, you won’t.
, brother.” Sam disconnected and leaned back in his chair, a big smile on his face.
Thank fuck for the Marine brotherhood.
March 1st, Belize Defense Force Headquarters, Belize City
The Belize Defense Force conference room was filled with Dawn Wilson’s fellow Interpol
Incident Response team members and the local BDF uniforms and officers who’d worked with them
on the joint drug task force. Their goal had been to collect intelligence on the shady Brazilian Oraio in
order to find connections to his more legitimate business persona of Sergio Manuel Lazaro and to take
out his Belizean drug operations, if possible. Since both objectives had been accomplished, this would
be the task force’s last meeting.
Dawn sat at the large oval table and barely managed not to utter aloud the uppermost thought
in her mind—that Ron Lloyd was an utter twat.
On paper, Ron was the nominal leader of the Interpol team in Belize. Unfortunately, the words
intelligence, leader, and Ron didn’t belong in the same sentence. A product of mediocre prep schools,
Ron had risen to his current level of incompetency through political connections alone. The man didn’t
understand how to run a law enforcement team, especially one which involved undercover operations