Circle of Spies – Book 1
Games can be deadly.
Eighteen-year-old Savvy Bent expects fireworks on her first date with Malcolm – in Paris! Except over a picnic of sparkling cider and strawberry tarts, a sniper shoots at them.
That’s only the beginning. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the catacombs, Savvy must sneak, deceive, and spy to save her family and friends and figure out whether Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.
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Praise for A SPY LIKE ME:
“Move over Gallagher Girls – there’s a new spy in town! A Spy Like Me is a fast-paced, high energy ride through Paris that left me almost as breathless as Pauling’s hot hero. Super fun beginning, great story, and an ending that won’t disappoint.”
-Gemma Halliday – NYT best selling author of Spying in High Heels.
“Oh. My. Holy. Spy. Pants. A SPY LIKE ME is the most fun we’ve had in Paris since ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. The perfect mix of romance, mystery and danger, A SPY LIKE ME has more twists and turns than a Paris arrondissement.
-Lisa and Laura Roecker – author of The Liar Society Series
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect date – the Eiffel Tower, a night in Paris, and holding hands with the waiter I’d been flirting with for weeks. Nothing could ruin it.
“I have a surprise.” Malcolm smiled, flashing his dimples. “Close your eyes.”
I huffed before shutting them. “Fine.”
I’m not really a surprise-me kind of girl. Ever since I’d moved to France with my dad, I’d wanted normal. Cornflakes with heaps of sugar for breakfast, jelly and pepperoni sandwiches at lunch, and a language I could understand. No more parlez-vous francais. Give me a healthy dose of swearing, loud-mouthed, impatient Americans, thanks.
“Hey, Savvy.” He nudged my arm. “No peeking.”
“I’m not. I swear.”
Okay, maybe I was a tiny bit. With my eyes shut tight, in almost complete darkness, I could hear the hum of the passing motorboats, the traffic from the road, and the leaves above me, whispering.
Malcolm’s warm hand pulled me forward, and I stumbled in the dark. The sounds and smells in the evening air became sharper: the tangy River Seine and the laughter of couples nearby. My imagination went wild. Maybe he’d surprise me with a boat ride. Flower petals would be scattered at our feet, and violinists would be playing on the bank, as we passed, holding hands and locking lips.
I tripped for the third time, straining to hear the lap of the water. “Are we almost there?”
“Soon,” Malcolm said.
Grass tickled my ankles, and I gripped his hand tighter. But he let go and pulled away. I heard the unzipping of a backpack. So maybe it wasn’t a boat ride. Maybe my surprise would be a hot air balloon flight over the sizzling sunset of Paris where we’d toast to the many romantic nights ahead of us.
I opened my eyes and gasped at the sight before me. It wasn’t a boat ride or a trip in a hot air balloon, which frankly are probably highly overrated and a bit cheesy. Instead, he’d laid out a checkered quilt with a full spread of sparkling cider and mini-tarts slathered with all kinds of berries and drizzled with chocolate.
I gasped. “Wow!”
“I have a confession.” Malcolm looped his fingers in mine.
Oh no. I tensed and pulled away. I should’ve known it couldn’t last. “What?”
He shifted his weight from foot to foot.
“What’s the confession?” I urged.
His cheeks turned pink. “I overheard you and your friend talking about your work the other day when I took your breakfast order. I didn’t mean to spy on you. And this morning I talked with your dad about a possible job with Spy Games.”
“Really.” I drew out the word, while my mind raced.
So this whole date was a set up so Malcolm could have an in with my dad and his crazy business of letting people run around Paris pretending to be spies? They at least paid to do it. In my fantasies, this date was about me. Not about a cute boy using me to supplement his income.
“Yeah, I know it was kinda stupid.” Malcolm kneeled on the blanket as he laid out fancy cloth napkins and poured the cider. A gentle breeze rippled the sleeves of his shirt and teased the hair above his ears. Cider splashed out of the plastic, fluted glass. He smiled awkwardly and held it out to me.
The tips of my fingers brushed against his when I accepted the glass. “Well, I don’t know. Espionage is a serious crime.” I paced in front of the quilt.
Malcolm lifted his hands, palms out, in an act of surrender. “Guilty as charged.”
I spoke in my sternest most lawyer-like voice. “I want to believe you liked me for me. That you waited on our table because you thought I was cute and you liked the way I laughed.”
“Why do you think—”
“Whoops.” I put a finger to my lips. “The defense is not allowed to speak. You’ll get your turn later. Maybe.”
Malcolm sipped his sparkling cider, which I promptly whipped away from him. Some of it splashed out on his jeans. “No cider while on trial.”
He snorted, trying to hold back his laugh.
I stifled a grin and continued my interrogation. “I’d hoped for days you’d been building up the courage to ask me out with sweaty palms and an out-of-control heartbeat. The whole shebang.”
It’s how I felt waiting for him to ask me out. Once I’d admitted it, I couldn’t look him in the face. He reached for a strawberry tart, but I slapped his hand.
“No, no, no. No indulging until proven innocent.” I spied the cloth napkins. Perfect. “Hands behind your back.”
He complied with a silly grin. “Do I get my one phone call and a lawyer?”
My heart fluttered, but I stayed on task. Using my famous Spy Games knots, I tied the napkins around his wrists, tightly. My hostages could never escape. I grabbed a strawberry tart, because prosecuting a spy makes one hungry, and continued my attack.
“When asking a girl out on a date, especially in Paris, certain expectations are involved. The boy should spend hours planning the date and picking out the perfect desserts and the right clothes to wear to impress her.”
“I object!” Malcolm blurted out. “Hours? That’s ridiculous.”
I stomped my foot and shouted. “Order in the court room!”
People walking by glanced our way, and even a mime was distracted from his act, so I kneeled and brought my face inches from his.
“Was that an admission of guilt?” I said in a quieter voice. “Did you not put much forethought into the planning of this date? Did you not truly care? And is it true that your only intention and motivation were to get closer to the girl for your career purposes?”
He leaned forward and before I could officially object, he kissed me.
I jerked away, spluttering and gasping, but completely delighted. “The defense is not allowed to sway the verdict. That will be a penalty.”
“What’re you going to do? Splash more cider on my jeans?” He tilted his head, completely underestimating the girl he’d offended.
I narrowed my eyes, and a grin spread across my face as an utterly evil idea sprang into mind. I sipped the sparkling cider, letting the tart liquid coat my throat. With shaky fingers, I rushed to unbutton his pants and slide them off, revealing navy blue boxer briefs. I pulled off his crisp white tee and let it stay bunched by his hands. Yum. Nice view.
Malcolm spoke in a husky voice. “Are you flirting with the defense, Ms. Bent?”
I ignored the sudden desire to drop the case and pushed forward. “Once you were close to the girl, the plan was to infiltrate her father’s company. Do you deny it?”
“There’s more to the story,” he murmured, his gaze lingering on my lips.
The sounds of Paris at night faded and for a moment I could pretend we were like all the other couples sprawled across the city. Except, we weren’t. Boys don’t play games with me and get away with it.
“I proclaim you guilty on all accounts for espionage and for asking a girl out under false pretenses. Punishable by death.”
He moved to kiss me again, and I was tempted to give in to his tactics. But with a laugh, I stepped back. “The court has decided to let you off with an easy sentence.”
He waited for his sentence, but his flushed face told me he was thinking, hoping that I’d come back and kiss him. He’d underestimated me. This whole courtroom drama might be a joke, but inside, I was a bit hurt that this date wasn’t really a date. That it was just a way into Spy Games for him.
I cleared my throat in a judicial sort of way. “You are hereby sentenced to fifteen minutes of intense embarrassment by sitting in your underwear in public.”
His face turned a bit pale as he realized I meant what I said. I felt only slightly bad.
“Au revoir for now,” I whispered, and grabbed a smashed tart covered in strawberries because something that good should never go to waste.
And then, I was outta there for the full term of the sentence. Almost.
About two steps away and one bite into the tart, I heard a groan. Was he okay? Would his circulation get cut off? Maybe I should loosen the ties. I turned. Malcolm lay in the grass. Just like I left him.
Except for the blood running in rivulets down his arm.
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