A Beautiful Lie

Page 13

Garrett took one last look at Parker's body under the covers and made a quick decision to just do what he'd normally do. There was no reason why this time should be different than any others. He pulled off his shirt and tossed it onto a chair in the corner then untied the string on his running pants and let them drop to the floor.

Wearing just his boxer briefs, he eased back the covers and crawled into bed as gently as he could so he wouldn't wake Parker. Garrett lay there on his back, still as a statue, listening to Parker's deep, even breathing. He turned his head toward her on the pillow, and the nightlight from the bathroom offered just enough of a glow that he could see her face.

She was sleeping in her favorite position: on her stomach with her arms wrapped around her pillows.

Garrett needed to get some sleep. They had a team meeting first thing in the morning. For some reason he had a feeling it wouldn't be as easy as it used to be to sleep next to his friend tonight.

Garrett only hoped he was able to keep his boundary problem under control.

Chapter Eight

Parker's eyes fluttered open and she quickly closed them when the bright Dominican sun assaulted her through the patio doors. She wondered if she forgot to turn on the air conditioning the night before. Parker knew it was hot in the Dominican, but this was ridiculous. She was burning up. And she felt like she was pinned to the bed.

When her subconscious finally woke up, she realized there was an arm draped over her waist and a hard body pressed into her back. It only took a few seconds for her to realize that Garrett must have come back to the room after she fell asleep. Parker held perfectly still, not wanting to wake the man that had his nose pressed into the back of her neck and an erection nestled against her ass. Out of all the times they had sleepovers through the years, they never woke up this way. In the past, Garrett's leg had slid between hers and she'd push him back to his side of the bed. His hand would flop over and smack her on the arm and she'd jerk awake to throw it off of her. In the morning, they always woke up on their respective sides of the bed. This was uncharted territory and Parker didn't know what to do. She knew what her body wanted to do: rub up against the hardness currently pushing into her and slide the hand warming her stomach inside her pajama bottoms to see if Garrett's fingers felt as good as they looked. Parker assumed Garrett wouldn't react very well to something like that, so she closed her eyes, slowed down her breathing, and wished for a few more hours of just being close to him.

Garrett was oblivious to Parker's daydream about his fingers and the morning swell of his member because he was lost in his own thoughts. The smell of coconut awakened his senses before he realized where he was. All Garrett knew was that there was something soft that smelled like heaven in his arms. He fluttered in between dreaming and waking, and he wasn't quite sure which category he fell into. He didn't care as long as he could stay where he was.

Feelings of arousal tingled through his groin, and he felt his cock harden and push into something supple. Garrett liked the way it felt so much he shifted his hips in an effort to feel more of it rubbing against him. He realized his hand was resting against something flat and warm and pushed it up so he could feel even more of it against his palm. His hand lightly skimmed the silky smoothness, letting his fingertips glide over every inch along the way, until they were met with something full and round that fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. He halted his movement. Garrett didn't know if it was the low muttered female moan that forced him fully awake, or the realization that he was holding a breast in his hand, but his eyes popped open and his brain flew into overdrive when he comprehended the fact that it was Parker's breast in his hand and Parker's body that he was currently snuggled up against.

Do I keep pretending I'm asleep or make a huge joke out of the situation, Garrett thought to himself. And why can't I move my hand away from her breast, his brain practically screamed.

Parker knew the moment Garrett became conscious of what he was doing probably before he did. An agent was trained to pay attention to certain tells, like a subtle increase in breathing patterns and a heartbeat that went from a sleeping rate of fifty-two beats a minute to Garrett's current ninety-seven beats a minute. Garrett's rate was unusually high for someone just waking up, which told Parker he was finally aware he was currently palming her bare breast.

"You've obviously decided on a whole new meaning for the word 'boundaries' haven't you?" Parker said, attempting to inject some humor into the situation. She knew better than anyone that Garrett-straight-laced-does-everything-by-the-book-Parker-is-my-friend-McCarthy would be absolutely mortified that he woke up that way.

Garrett jerked his hand out from under Parker's tank top and tried not to whimper at the loss of her beneath his palm. He quickly scrambled away from her and off the bed while she casually rolled over to face him, propping her head in her hand and her elbow on her pillow.

Parker watched as Garrett bent down to the floor and grabbed the pants he had discarded last night, pulling them up his legs and over the erection that strained against his boxer briefs. Parker watched the sight before her disappear behind the black nylon pants as Garrett pulled his thumbs out of the elastic, letting it snap into place. The pants hung low enough on him that Parker could see the muscled indents by his hip bones and a bit of his happy trail peeking out of the top. Parker wondered why she never took more time to stare at his body before when a flash of something caught her eye. She blinked and looked down to see Milo's engagement ring resting on top of her tank top, right between her breasts.

While Garrett got dressed without saying a word, Parker was hit with a wave of guilt and wondered if the reflection of the sun against the ring was some sort of sign she was betraying Milo's memory with all of these thoughts of Garrett.

Parker reached up and fingered the ring, sliding it back and forth along its thin, silver chain, the zipping sound of metal against metal filling the quiet room.

"We're supposed to be downstairs in thirty minutes to meet everyone for breakfast," Garrett finally spoke. His back was to Parker as he rummaged through his suitcase for a change of clothes.

Parker sat up in bed and pushed the covers off of her.

"I'm going to take a quick shower," Garrett said without looking at her as he piled a tee shirt, jeans, and clean underwear into his arms and moved towards the bathroom. "I'll just meet you down there."

The door slammed shut behind him, signifying that there would be no discussion about the morning's wake up call.

Thirty minutes later they were all seated at a table for a continental breakfast with a view of the Atlantic at the Playa Restaurant located just off the resort's lobby.

Parker had thrown on a pair of dark green cargo pants and a fitted white tee shirt, pulled her hair into a high ponytail, and left the room right after Garrett's departure to the bathroom, making her way downstairs to wait in the lobby for everyone .

She sat in one of the black wicker love-seats with red cushions that reminded her of the color of Garrett's underwear from that morning and people-watched. For the most part, this resort looked like a honeymoon destination. Everywhere Parker glanced she saw couples. Men and women holding hands, kissing, and their arms wrapped around one another, completely oblivious to what was going on around them. They only cared about each other. She tried to remember back to a time when she and Milo were like that, but she couldn't. The sad truth was they had never been in love like that. They held hands occasionally. He offered her his elbow when she was exiting a vehicle or they were walking into an event, and he hung his arm around her shoulder in a friendly gesture-but none of it screamed love, passion, and adoration.

Parker always blamed herself for the lack of…everything in their relationship. She kept the most important parts of herself closed off from him. A few times she tried to apologize for not being able to give him more, but he would always cut her off and tell her it didn't matter. He loved her and he would take any part she was willing to give. Milo knew about her father. She was able to give him that much at least. She had to share something with him so he could at least try to understand where she was coming from. Milo was her best friend. She always thought that would be enough. It was the basis for every successful relationship.

But as she sat there and felt the warm ocean breeze against her skin, listening to the rustle of palm trees and the cries of exotic birds in the distance, she looked across the expanse of the lobby and watched Garrett walk the length of the marble floor, feeling her heart speed up in her chest. Garrett was also her best friend, but Garrett gave her butterflies, made her second-guess every single decision she'd made for the past eight years, and made her want to stay locked away in a room with him, away from the world and other people and anything that could come between them. He made her want to greet every single morning exactly like she did that morning. He made her want things she had no business wanting or even deserved.

After everyone finished their breakfast, where they lightly conversed about safe topics like sports, vacations, and movies, Garrett got down to business.

"Marshall, where are we on making contact with President Fernandez?"

While Austin and Cole were there mostly for muscle, Brady's main focus for the mission was intel and communication. He was quick with a computer and skilled with a gun, but he absolutely excelled in sweet talk and cons.

"I sent an email to the lovely Mrs. Pilar Espinal, Fernandez's secretary and guard dog for the past ten years, as soon as I got to my room last night. According to her reply this morning, she received our request last week inquiring about an interview with the President and now that we are in the country, he is more than willing to sit down with us," Brady explained as he wiped the corner of his mouth with a cloth napkin and tossed it on the table. "I was able to get Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Miller an invite to a black tie dinner being held tomorrow evening at the presidential palace."

Everyone looked between Garrett and Parker with smirks on their faces. Garrett and Parker refused to acknowledge them or each other. Garrett was hoping Parker would never, ever speak or think of the morning's events again. He was appalled at his behavior even if it did happen while he was half asleep. But his hand had continued to linger after he woke up, and he had no excuse for that.

Even so, Garrett wanted her bare breasts in his palms and his hardness between her legs so badly it hurt to breathe. He needed to get away from her for a while and clear his head.

"Sounds good. Text me the information," Garrett told Brady as he threw his own napkin down on the table and stood up. "I made arrangements for two rental SUVs. I'm going to take one and scope out the palace. Marshall, start digging into Fernandez's financial records. I want bank account information, local and offshore investments, charity, real estate holdings, and anything else you can find on him."

Parker listened to Garrett rattle off instructions to Brady as he backed away from the table. She stood up and followed him.

"Hey, you want some company?" she asked.

"Nope, I'm good. You can just wander around the resort and relax," Garrett told her before throwing his hand in the air in a casual wave and quickly walking away.

Parker stood there squeezing her hands into fists in an effort to stop her from punch something, like the marble column next to her. She had to stop herself from running up behind Garrett and smacking him upside the back of his head.

"So, little lady," Brady drawled, pulling her out of her murderous thoughts, "how about you sit down and tell us why the hell we never knew you were so bad ass you could accompany four guys on a top secret SEAL mission."

A few hours and several mimosas later, Parker made her way back to the villa. Against her better judgment, after a few minutes chatting with the guys after breakfast, she realized she liked them. A lot. She'd run into them several times over the years at different functions, but she never really sat down and talked to them. They were loud, hilarious, full of sexual innuendos for everything, teased her unmercifully, and they were easy to talk to. They made Parker wish she hadn't been an only child and had been blessed with a few older brothers to watch after her and keep her safe

Not that Annabelle Parker needed to be kept safe. With her black belt in karate and taekwondo, her expert marksman status, lethal and non-lethal hand-to-hand combat training, and wilderness survival skills, Parker could take care of herself.

It was still a nice thought to have every once in a while when her defenses were lowered. She never asked for the life she'd been given. Sometimes she caught herself wishing for a normal one with parents and siblings-a group of people who cared about her well-being.

Parker dropped down on her side of the bed, dragged her laptop bag up from the floor, removed the computer from its case, and placed it on her lap. Garrett might be the computer genius, but Parker took a six month hacker course from Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. He didn't know it was a hacker course, per say, but hind-sight was twenty-twenty, especially when you were with the CIA.

Parker fired up the laptop, plugged in her mobile printer, and got to work.

Garrett spent the rest of the day doing surveillance on the palace and meeting up with Brady every few hours for updates on what he found, which wasn't much. Fernandez's information was one big jumbled mess of dead ends. His business ventures, companies, accounts-they all looked legit for the most part. There were transactions that could have raised a red flag, but Brady was never able to find anything even remotely illegal about the business he conducted. He got to a certain point in his search when he thought he'd find something, and then the trail would end, producing nothing illegal.

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