she could guess what he had meant to say: Or they would be looking for another job."They'll see you," she pointed out."Ill split off and let you go home alone. Once they see you're safely home, they'll break off surveillance.""What else is on the agenda today? More target practice?""That and more self-defense training."With her new insight into herself, she didn't know if close-contact training with him was such a good idea. "I thought only the basics were necessary.""We might as well do something with our time.Who knows? It may come in handy some day. By the way, some boxes will be delivered to you today. It's a new wardrobe, jewelry, things you'll need.""Why do I need a new wardrobe?""It's part of the cover. You'll be attending embassy parties, posing as the daughter of old friends of the ambassador."She would be playing dress-up, Niema thought with amusement. She looked forward to that part of the job. Like most women, she liked good clothes and the thrill of knowing she looked good."Try everything on," he continued. "The clothes have to fit perfectly. What doesn't will be replaced or altered.""They can't be returned if they're altered.""Don't worry about it, you can keep them." He looked around. "This is where I leave you. See you in five minutes." He peeled off to the right, his stride lengthening as if he hadn't already been running for over an hour. He cut between two houses, jumped a fence, and disappeared from view.Niema turned on the afterburners. Her thighs ached from the effort, but she pushed harder, her feet pounding. It was silly to compete with him when they weren't racing; all she had to do was leisurely jog back to her house and let the surveillance team see her, so they knew she was all right. She knew it was silly; she did it anyway. She fought to suck air deep into her lungs as she raced down the sidewalk. Anyone seeing her would think she was running for herlife, she thought, except there was no one behind her.Up ahead she saw the surveillance car, or at least she thought it was. She hadn't gotten a good look at it in the dark, but the tail lights looked the same, and there were two men in it. The car was parked at the curb; she blew by it in a dead run, without giving the men so much as a glance. When she was twenty yards past them, she heard the car engine start.She was two blocks from home. She ignored the messages her thigh muscles were screaming at her and forced herself to maintain her speed. When she reached her house she pounded across the small front yard and to the front door. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the car cruise past. She unlocked the door and practically fell inside, gulping in huge breaths.She leaned against the wall beside the door, wondering if the goal had been worth the effort. Her heart was pounding so hard there was a roaring in her ears.Or was there? She forced herself to breathe regularly, her head tilted as she listened.The shower in the second bath was running.Muttering to herself, she stomped off to take her own shower.Niema faced Medina across the blue foam mat. "Today I'm going to show you some strike points," he said. "Done properly-and it takes a lot of practice to do them properly-these are death blows."She drew back and put her hands on her hips, eyeing him suspiciously. "Why would I need to know anything like that? Am I going to be in hand-to-hand combat?""If I thought you were, I wouldn't take you. This is partly just in case and partly because I have time on my hands." He motioned her forward. "Come on.""You want to turn me into a trained killer because you're bored?"That drew a flashing smile. "You won't be a trained killer. At most, you'll be able to stun someone so you can get away. I told you it takes years of practice to do this properly. The only way you'll kill someone is if you accidentally get it right." Again he motioned for her.Warily she approached, but still remained out of his reach."Relax, there's no hitting in this session. I'm just going to show you some of the points and the striking motions." He took a quick step forward, grabbed her wrist, and dragged her to the middle of the mat before she could retreat."This is part of t'ai chi. Actually, it's the basis. Dim-Mak is death-point striking, and it involves acupuncture points. Never, never use it unless it's a life and death situation, because like I said, you might accidentally get it right." He brought her hand up and caught her fingers, then held them against the outside corner of his eye."Here. This exact spot. Feel it.""I'm feeling.""Even a slight blow here can do major damage- nausea, memory loss, sometimes death." He showed her how to do the strike, using her fingertips. Positioning was important, to get the right angle. He made her go through the motion over and over, using himself as a dummy for her to aim at; she actually hit him once, nothing more than a touch. He whirled away from her, bent over from the waist, gagging."Oh God, I'm sorry!" She rushed over to him and put her arms around his waist as if she could hold him up. Panic surged in her as she remembered what he'd said about a slight blow. "Should I call 911?"He shook his head and waved off that suggestion. He pressed under his nose, and rubbed from the corner of his eye back toward his ear. His eyes were watering a little. "I'm okay," he said, straightening.'Are you sure? Maybe you should sit down.""I'm fine. Things like this happen all the time in training.""Let's do something else," she suggested uneasily."Okay, let's move on to the temple-""I meant like judo.""Why, are you going into professional wrestling?" His blue eyes were like lasers, pinning her to the spot. He caught her hand and brought it to his temple. "Here. Hit hard, straight in. It's a knock-out point, and if a vein is ruptured the attacker will die in a day or so. CPR might revive him, but he could still die from the hemorrhage."Here." He moved her hand to just under his nipple. He showed her the exact spot, and the positioning of her hands. "This is instant death-""I'm not doing it," she said hotly. "I am not going to practice on you again.""Good." He pressed her hand in the center of his chest, between the nipples. "A blow here makes the lower body spasm and go stiff, and the attacker falls down. Here-" He pulled her hand lower, just below his sternum. "A correct blow here stops the heart."He was relentless. The gruesome lesson went on and on. He made her perform the motions until her hand positioning was correct, but she was adamant about not using him as a dummy again. She was still shaken that such a light touch had been able to produce such a strong reaction; what if she actually hit him?Finally, he called a halt. He had just shown her a couple of strikes that caused instant diarrhea, and she thought she really should practice those on a live target. Medina stepped back, shaking his head and grinning."No way. You're mad enough at me to do it.""Damn right I am.""You'll thank me if you're ever in a tight spot and need to know how to bring someone down.""If that ever happens, I'll make it a point to find you and let you say 'I told you so.' But I think I'll practice the diarrhea strikes instead of the death strikes."He walked over to get one of the bottles of water they had brought with them. He twisted off the capand tilted it up, his strong throat working as he swallowed. Helplessly, Niema watched him. Even though she knew she should be wary and keep a mental, if not a physical, distance, he was a fine specimen of masculinity and everything in her that was female appreciated the scenery. His sweat pants were soft, clinging to his ass and thighs like a second skin, and that black T-shirt didn't do a thing to hide the muscular contours of his chest and arms.Her nipples tingled an alert, and a wave of heat swept over her. Clearing her throat, she tore her gaze away from him and turned her back to do some stretching exercises. Her legs especially needed the stretching, after that run this morning. She would have stretched even if they hadn't, just to give herself something to do besides think about John Medina's body.I have to be careful, she thought. Very, very careful."Ready for target practice?" he asked behind her.She groaned and straightened. What on earth had she gotten herself into?Later that night, after a stop at the hardware store where she purchased their entire stock of hook and eye latches and spent a couple of hours installing them-except on the window in the second bathroom, which was high and small and she wanted to see if he could get in that way-she tried on the boxes of clothes that had been delivered.Everything had a designer label. The underwearsets were silk, the hosiery was gossamer. Each pair of shoes had to have cost upward of two hundred dollars, and there were over a dozen pairs. There were cocktail dresses, evening gowns, smart little suits that showed more leg than she normally revealed; shorts, camp shirts, lacy camisoles, jeans, cashmere sweater sets, skirts. And there was the jewelry: pearl earrings and a matching necklace, a web of small diamonds that hung on an illusion chain, gold bracelets and chains, and an enormous, breathtakingly lovely black opal pendant with matching earrings. She carefully put the opal set back in its box and reached for a yellow diamond solitaire ring.The phone rang. She stretched to reach the receiver, holding the ring in her hand. "Hello.""Have you looked at the clothes yet?""I'm going through them now." Funny how he didn't need to identify himself, she thought. Though she had never talked to him on the phone before, she recognized his voice immediately. "Do they fit?""Most of them.""I'll have that taken care of tomorrow. Have you gotten to the opal pendant yet?""I just put it away. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." There was a touch of awe in her voice."There's a transmitter behind the stone, hidden between the prongs of the set. Be careful and don't jostle it. See you in the morning."The phone clicked as he hung up. Slowly shereplaced the receiver. His last words could be taken as a warning, considering his penchant for breaking into her house. She smiled, thinking of that small bathroom window."