Her Perfect Mate

By: Paige Tyler

With special thanks to my extremely patient and understanding husband. Without your help and support, I couldn’t have pursued my dream job of becoming a writer. You’re my sounding board, my idea man, my critique partner, and the absolute best research assistant any girl could ask for.

Love you!





Prologue


Grozny, Chechen Republic

Ivy Halliwell studied the dilapidated warehouses across the street, her eyes narrowing in the darkness. Casualties of a decades-long war, the buildings were mere burned-out husks of their former glory. Not to mention the perfect setting for an ambush. She scanned the broken windows and overgrown landscape. There wasn’t anyone in sight, but that didn’t mean someone wasn’t hiding somewhere. She sniffed the air, trying to pick up a scent, but all she could smell was the sickening exhaust from the crappy rental car’s idling engine.

She glanced at her partner. “I know you don’t care what I think, but something’s off about this.”

Dave snorted. “Why? Because your Spidey senses are tingling again?”

Her feline intuition—the one that told her danger was lurking in those warehouses—wasn’t one of her recognized skills, so Dave didn’t put much stock in it. No, check that. Dave didn’t put much stock in her, period. He didn’t like working with her kind.

God, she was so sick of his attitude.

“I’m not asking you to trust my instincts because I know you won’t. Going in there without checking the place out first is beyond stupid. It’s dangerous.”

He pulled into an alley between two abandoned buildings, put the small car in park, and opened the door. “That’s your professional opinion, based on years of field experience, right?”

She got out and followed him to the back of the car. “It’s a good idea to be a little cautious on this one, okay?”

Dave checked the magazine in his .40-caliber automatic, then shoved the weapon back in its holster. “If I want an opinion on what kind of cat food to buy for my ex-wife’s tabby, I’ll ask a freak like you. Until then, do us both a favor and keep your mouth shut.”

Ivy clenched her jaw to keep from growling. Literally. She was so close to losing her cool and ripping her partner a new one. But a rat-infested street in the middle of a dangerous crime-ridden, war-torn country wasn’t the place to do it, no matter how much Dave might be asking for it. When they got stateside, though, she was done with this sham of a partnership. She was going to her boss and requesting a new partner because this one sure as hell wasn’t working out. Teaming her up with a chauvinistic former jarhead like Dave Graner had been a disaster from the start.

But first, they had to make it out of Grozny alive. A couple hours ago, that didn’t seem like it was going to be a problem. Now, Ivy wasn’t so sure. Something was not right about this op.

Dave opened the trunk and grabbed a pair of night vision goggles—NVGs—as well as a communication headset. “Stay with the car.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m coming with you.”

He gave her a hard look as he hooked the headset over his ear and adjusted the mic. “Stay here. That’s an order.”

Damn him! She was his partner, not his subordinate.

She stood and watched Dave jog toward the warehouses, then grabbed the other communication headset, hooked it over her ear, and turned it on.

“Dave, the plan was to watch the guy from a distance, then pick up the bag after he makes the drop.”

She heard him swear under his breath. “If the Russian can change the plan, so can I.”

Typical Dave. Always trying to prove he was in charge. “Let me at least come in and cover you.”

“Stay with the damn car like I told you to.”

Ivy bit her tongue. The moron was going to get himself killed. She shouldn’t care what happened to him, but she didn’t want him getting hurt. And every instinct told her that would happen if she didn’t stop him from going in those warehouses alone.

How the hell was she supposed to do that?

“Dave, please—”

“Dammit, just shut the hell up. I’m too busy right now to listen to your shit. I have eyes on our guy and the package. I’m moving toward the drop point now.”

Crap.

Ivy’s stomach twisted in the same gut-wrenching knot it always did when she attempted to ignore her body’s internal alarm system. The hell with standing around. Let Dave report her for insubordination when they got back to DC if he wanted to. She wasn’t going to be the one to let that jerk get killed. Pulling the 9mm from the holster on her hip, she ran toward the dilapidated warehouses.

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