Story Excerpt
Operation Foxtrot

flame div

If I had to smile at one more idiot or shake one more clammy hand, I was going to scream. Why my agent had suggested I attend this stupid party, I would never know. I was really starting to think I needed to find a new agent. I was nothing but window dressing at this damn thing.

The number of people who thought they could feel me up because I was a model was staggering. I was pretty sure I had bruises on my ass from being pinched so many times. And if one more person tried to get their hands down my pants, I was going to hurt someone.

This was ridiculous. I had been at this party for over two hours already, and I was so ready to go home. I glanced at my watch. It was only eleven. The party would not doubt go on until the wee hours of the morning. I had a shoot in the morning. I couldn't do wee hours. The photographer would have my ass in a sling if I had bags under my eyes.

Maybe I could slide out without anyone catching me. It wasn't like I'd be missed. This party was all about being pretty. There were at least ten models here who were by far more attractive than me. I wasn't even the most attractive waiter. Soon enough, there would be someone prettier than me to take my place and I wouldn't have to endure these horrid cocktail parties.

I hated them.

I wasn't putting myself down. I knew I had the right looks for this business. My hefty bank account attested to that. Most models made about what I did. I just invested better than most, and didn't spend frivolously.

It wasn't like I needed all that much. I had a spacious loft apartment. I had gotten it cheap because it was above a Cuban restaurant. The smells were intoxicating. The music was lively, but played all too late in the evening.

Strangely enough, I had grown used to it.

There was always some sort of buffet on the shoots, so I ate relatively cheap. I didn't own a television, but I had the top of the line computer set-up. My biggest expense was my sweater budget. As most of my clothes were provided for my shoots, I didn't need much else. I usually showed up for shoots in my jeans and sweaters.

I had a strong addiction to cashmere. I liked how soft it was, how it felt against my skin. I liked how it made me feel. Cable-knit was my next favorite. I owned three pairs of well worn jeans. I had over forty sweaters. Five Armani suits. Two tuxedos.

I didn't even want to contemplate how many pairs of shoes I had.

I didn't indulge in drugs or over-drinking. I wore one piece of jewelry, a silver bracelet given to me by my grandma before she passed away. I never took it off, even for photo shoots. I didn't travel all that often, and when I did, my travel expenses were paid for by whoever I was modeling for. I had actually been around the world on someone else's dime a couple of times.

The trip to South America a few months back had been all on me. Just knowing my cousin Hank was really alive, and now living happily with his boyfriend made any amount of money I had spent chartering a plane and arranging everything more than worth it.

No matter how much I'd had to dip into my savings to pay for that trip, I didn't regret one bit of it, except the car. I regretted that damn car...if it could be called a car.

Metal box from hell came easily to mind.

I was going to regret a whole of a lot more if I didn't get some fresh air. The air inside was stagnant, stale, and filled with the overwhelming stench of smoke and sweat. I moved toward the balcony. It was a bit chilly to be outside, but if I didn't, I was going to gag.

I pushed open the double glass doors leading to the balcony and stepped through them. I took in a deep breath of fresh, clean air—or at least what qualified as clean air in the city—and realized almost immediately that I wasn't the only one out here.

I could smell at least, five people out here, and one of them smelled very familiar—and delicious. I craned my neck to get a better view of the balcony. It was actually quite a large space with several different seating areas, an infinity pool, and an unmanned bar.

The sound of a scuffle reached me. Considering who I was scenting, that couldn't be good. I moved around the large wall divider and spotted several men standing by one of the seating areas. They did not look as if they were having a friendly conversation.

I tilted my head and lifted my ear toward them, shamelessly eavesdropping.

"Who are you?" someone snapped. "Why are you here?"

"I told you. I was just out here having a cigarette."

The sound of flesh hitting flesh made me wince.

"Who are you? What did you hear?"

When I heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked, I knew I had to do something. All of my instincts were screaming at me. Considering who—or rather what—I was, that was saying a lot.

"Darling," I called out as I stepped around the corner. "Are you done with your cigarette yet? I'd like to head home."

I plastered one of my award winning smiles on my face as I strolled toward the small group of men. "There you are, love. Are you ready to head home yet? I have a shoot in the morning. I need my beauty sleep."

When I reached the men standing there staring at me, I sent them all a friendly smile before leaning leaned up and pressing a kiss to the lips of Sgt. Dennis Cooper.

My eyes widened just a bit when I felt an electrical zing zip through me at the contact.

I hadn't been expecting that.