Secret Agent Santa

By: Carol Ericson

Christmas was supposed to be about joy and hope…not about thwarting terrorist plots

Most covert agents weren’t blessed with long careers. Mike Becker wasn’t like most agents. On the cusp of early retirement, he’s given one final assignment: babysit a single mother with a reputation for coming up with conspiracy theories. Except the bullets flying Claire Chadwick’s way can’t be dismissed. Now Mike will do anything to protect her and her son, and uncover the truth. A truth that places them at the center of a terrorist attack on Christmas Day. Mike’s career may be coming to a blazing finish, but in this woman he finally has a shot at the redemption that’s eluded him for so long.

A flood of adrenaline surged through her.

Claire shoved through the glass doors and took off down the sidewalk toward the car. Mike must’ve seen her in the rearview mirror because the engine growled to life at her approach.

The man yelled after her, but she had no intention of stopping.

Despite her high-heeled boots, she took off in a run, someone sprinting behind her.

She tugged open the door and scrambled inside the car. The man had caught up with her and made a grab for her coat as it flew out behind her.

“Claire?” Mike’s voice gave her strength and purpose.

“Go, Mike! Just go!”

That was all he needed from her. No questions, no answers.

He floored the gas pedal and the car lurched away from the curb, flinging the door open and shedding the government man hanging on to it.

Chapter One

Password Failed.

The message mocked her, and Claire almost punched the computer monitor. She didn’t think it would be easy figuring out her stepfather’s password, but she didn’t think it would take her almost fifty tries over the course of three weeks, either. How did those hackers do it?

Placing her fingers on the keyboard, she closed her eyes, racking her brain for the next possible password. The voices in the hallway stopped her cold, sending a ripple of fear across her flesh.

She had no reason to be in this office, especially with a lavish party going on downstairs—her lavish party. She whipped her head around, the action loosening her carefully coiffed chignon, and lunged for the French doors. She parted the drapes, grabbed one handle and slipped through the opening onto the balcony.

She clicked the glass door shut just as she saw the door to the office crack open. Placing her palms against the rough brick, she sidled along the wall until she reached the edge of the balcony farthest from the doors.

Feathers of snow drifted from the night sky, leaving a dusting of white on the Georgetown streets. DC rarely saw snow in December. Just her luck.

She crossed her arms, digging her fingers into the cold skin exposed by her sleeveless gown. She couldn’t stay here long or her stepfather’s security detail would find her and would have to chip her stiff body from the brick facade of the town house.

The French doors next to her swung open and Claire flattened herself against the wall. Her stepfather, Senator Spencer Correll, must’ve noticed the parted drapes or the chill in the room and had decided to investigate. What possible excuse could she offer for being out on the balcony in the snow in an evening gown in the middle of a party?

“I love it when it snows in DC.” Her stepfather’s hearty tone reassured her that he had no idea anyone was lurking out here—it also sounded forced. He must be putting on an act for someone—but then, when didn’t he put on an act?

“We’re not going to have a white Christmas in South Carolina, so maybe I’ll stay here for a week or two and soak up the atmosphere.”

The other man’s Southern drawl marked him as a constituent from her stepfather’s home state. She just hoped the snow didn’t enthrall him enough to step onto the balcony.

“I suggest you do. Nothing like Christmas in DC.”

Spencer’s voice sounded so close, she was surprised he couldn’t see her breath in the cold air. She held it.

“It’ll be an especially merry Christmas for you, Senator Correll, if you vote for that...uh...subsidy.”

“It’s a done deal. I’ll introduce you to my assistant tonight. Trey will take care of all the details. After tonight, your boss should be reassured.”

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