"I've got about ten more minutes before I need to get out of here." Gallen placed the file he had under his arm on the table and folded his large frame into a chair. “Close the door.”
There was something about interview rooms that always gave Taya a rush of adrenalin. Like just being here meant she was closer to the hand of justice. She took a seat opposite Gallen and focused on the file in front of her, not the obscenely attractive man she would now be working with. Or the thought of what would happen if she stuffed this up.
“You are Chloe Brown, twenty-four years of age."
Taya nodded. She was twenty-eight, but had always looked younger than her age.
"You were in a foster home in Ramsgate from June, 2011 to October, 2011. You were fourteen years old and Alex Riley was seventeen. He arrived about six weeks after you, in August. There were three other children who were much younger. The foster father was an abusive alcoholic who forced himself upon you while the foster mother turned a blind eye. Riley protected you and kept you safe."
Taya pursed her lips but kept her mouth shut. Her gut told her this was the wrong cover to be using, but she forced herself to hear Gallen out.
“You recently ran into trouble with a boyfriend who kicked you out and took all your belongings. You knew Alex was with The Devils and you've come to the clubhouse looking for him. You have nowhere else to go and no-one to turn to."
Gallen looked up at her, his whiskey-coloured eyes pulling her in. She'd never been this close to him before and now was really not the best time to admire his bottom lip that was just begging to be nipped at. "Questions?"
She snapped her attention back to the task at hand. “I don't think this will work.”
Gallen didn't hide his frustration. “Why did you agree to the job if you weren’t up to it, McGovern?”
“Not me - the cover story.” Her nails pressed hard into the fleshy part of her palms. She had no intention of being the scapegoat for another poorly executed assignment.
“The foster sister just happens to turn up after Riley goes missing? I don't buy it and I doubt The Devils will either.”
“And you have a better idea?”
“A pre-existing connection between you and I.” She sat up straighter and stared Gallen down. It was a lot easier to do after he’d jumped to the conclusion that she didn't have what it took for the job.
Something flickered in those sexy eyes and he leaned forward. "What do you mean?"
“We had a one night stand a few weeks ago, and that's the reason the boyfriend kicked me out?"
Gallen gave a slow nod. “And you’ve come looking for me to help you.” His gaze intensified, sending a wave of excitement up her spine.
“Will Silver go for the change?”
“He will if I do.”
Taya swallowed the smile that threatened to betray how relieved she was she’d backed her instincts and spoken up. They went over a few more details, enough to make her story sound plausible if questioned. Then Gallen removed some photographs from the file and slid them towards her.
“These are the main players in The Devils. Zep is the President. What he says goes, so you need him to sign off on you being in the clubhouse.”
Taya glanced at the picture and wondered whether to tell him she knew all of this from the case files and briefings. She might be nervous at the thought of going undercover again, but she didn’t need her hand held on the basics.
He passed her a second photograph. “Connor is one of the oldest brothers but he’s significant. He was best friends with Riley's father and looked out for him after his parents died. It was Connor who brought him back to The Devils."
Yep, she knew that too.
She clenched her jaw. If she let him do his job, he would trust her more.
But when he reached for the third photograph, she couldn’t help it. "I know all of them. How long they’ve been Devils, and their rap sheets.”
Gallen looked startled.
“You are John Dutton - JD. Came in as a prospect in March this year but quickly proved your worth and received your cut nearly four months ago."
Great, what a way to undermine your new partner. Only Gallen didn’t look bothered. He looked a little impressed.
"Okay. Your ex took everything, including your phone and access to money. So, you’ll be going in with no back up."
Her heart started to thump a little faster in her chest. The Devils clubhouse was in the middle of nowhere and she wouldn't even have a phone to call for help if it all went south.
“Don’t worry. I plan on being at the clubhouse when you arrive, so it shouldn’t be an issue, but an unclaimed woman in the clubhouse is fair game."
"Unclaimed?" Her voice came out like a squeak. She knew what he meant; it was just imagining being claimed by Gallen that had her blood pressure soaring.
"If a brother claims you as his woman, you're untouchable. If not, you're fair game." Gallen's tone was so matter-of-fact, it sent a jolt of unease down her spine. "When you arrive, I’ll say I know you and claim you as mine. That will also give us a chance to keep each other briefed so I can feed any information you discover back to headquarters."
"Right." Taya clenched her hands together tighter, her stomach tensing with nervous anticipation at going undercover again. She had to get inside that clubhouse and gather information for the taskforce. And Jake Gallen was going to claim her as his woman. She wasn’t sure what was more intimidating.
Author of author of gut-churning Viking romance and romantic suspense that always includes good sex and a happily ever after - eventually.