that she couldn't stop the soft moan that vibrated in her throat. She arched, and he cupped her bottom in his big hands to hold her still.The bright overhead light dazzled her eyes. She stared upward as pleasure zinged through her body, unable to raise her head to see. This was ... this was so totally unexpected she couldn't quite grasp it was happening. He brought her to a hard, rapid climax that left her gasping, her eyes tearing from the force of it."That is just the first one," he murmured, leaning over her. "'You know I would never, never hurt you. Tonight we will discover all the ways I can pleasure you, as no other man can." His dark eyes twinkled at her. "And afterward, perhaps I will let you tie me to the bed."She moaned and arched as his long fingers slid into her, stimulating nerve endings that were still sensitive from her climax. Her fear had faded, because his hands on her were loving instead of brutal, and in place of fear a deep excitement was blooming. This was different, and kinky. She had never been helpless before during sex. Usually she dominated, because that was how she liked it.But she liked this too, she found. She was totally at his mercy, naked and exposed in the bright light. He could do anything to her he wanted, and her mind reeled at the possibilities. Hossam was so big and powerful, and he tended to be slow at sex anyway. This was going to be a long night-wonderfully, deliciously long."It's time," John breathed into Niema's ear.Her pulse leaped. She took a deep breath and felt herself steady. She tilted her head back and gave him such a vibrant smile that he physically checked, staring down at her.Who was she kidding? The moment of clarity was almost blinding as they left the ballroom and climbed the curving staircase to the second floor. She was a risk-taker. She loved every minute of this. She didn't want to go home and resume her job; she wanted to stay in fieldwork, where she belonged. She had paid penance for five years, but John had wrenched her back into the life for which she was truly suited and she never wanted to leave it again.She felt almost breathless with discovery, with an inner joy that spread through her as if she had finally returned to life, to being herself.The long hallway was empty. With no one to watch them, they walked briskly down to her room. She retrieved the wrap from the closet and held it folded so the tools and pistol were in a pocket of fabric against her body, with the loose ends draped over her arm. "How about this?" she asked."Looks good. Come on."They hurried back up the hall, but instead of going down the stairs they went straight across into the west wing. "I prowled around and found a back way," John explained."Ronsard's private quarters are in this direction, too.""I know. The back way is through his rooms."She rolled her eyes, but didn't bother asking how he'd gotten into Ronsard's rooms. Locks didn't mean anything to him.This route wasn't without risk. There were fewer people to see them, but anyone who did would be staff who worked in the private section, and who would know immediately they didn't belong there. Guests or not, Ronsard wouldn't allow anyone to disturb his daughter.John pulled her to a halt in front of a wooden door burnished to a high gloss. He turned the handle, and they slipped inside the room. It was a bedroom, she saw-a huge, lavish one. "Ronsard's," John whispered in unnecessary explanation. "There's a private elevator going down to the hallway where his office is located."The elevator was small, but then it was meant to carry only one man. It was also surprisingly quiet and arrived without the customary "ding" of a commercial elevator.The hallway they stepped into was also empty, which was good because there was no logical excuse for them to be there, especially stepping out of Ronsard's elevator. John strode to a door, pulled a small recorder out of his pocket and held it to the electronic lock. He pressed a button, and a series of tones sounded. A tiny green light on the lock lit up, there was a faint but audible click, and he opened the door.They slipped inside and he silently closed the door behind them, then did something to the lock. "What are you doing?""Disabling the lock. If we're caught, the fact that the lock isn't working will at least cloud the issue in our favor a bit, but I'd still have to come up with some reason for our being here.""Boy, you have this planned down to the last detail, don't you?""I don't intend to get caught. Come on, move your pretty butt and get to work." Chapter Twenty-TwoNiema looked around while John sat down at Ronsard's desk and turned on the computer. Another setup, far more elaborate, was hooked up on a desk on the other side of the room, but he ignored that one. She checked the jacks on what must be Cara Smith's desk; there were three separate lines coming into the office, but the phones themselves were only two-line phones. The computer was on a line by itself, then. She looked at the phone on Ronsard's desk; it was identical to the other, with two lines coming in. The first line would be the business line, she guessed; the second, his private number.There was a closed-circuit television on Ronsard's desk, also, showing the hallway outside. She followed the line on it to the wall, making sure where it connected. She liked to have a room's wiring laid out in her mind, so she knew exactly what she was looking for and at.Ronsard's phone jack wasn't behind his desk, probably because he didn't want it in the way. She followed the lines again; the jack was behind a long leather sofa that sat against the wall. Carefully she pulled the sofa out, lifting one end to make certain there were no telltale bangs and thumps.Kneeling down on the floor, she unfolded her evening wrap and removed the black velvet pouch that contained her tools. Laying aside the SIG, she quickly unscrewed the jack, then disconnected the wires and stripped the plastic coating to separate the wires.The usual wiretap had a receiver or recorder close by. In this instance, that wouldn't do any good because she had no way of retrieving a tape or listening to the calls. The CIA operative in place here didn't have access to Ronsard's office. John had slipped a digital burst receiver to him; he would trigger a signal to retrieve the audio data, which he would then send by his usual route to Langley. Even if he were discovered with the receiver, nothing could be made of it because the information was digitalized. It looked like an ordinary pocket radio; it even worked as a radio.Quickly she attached the inductive probe tip to only one of the line terminals, which didn't make a complete circuit and hence couldn't be picked up by an electronic sweep. She interfaced the leads to the junction, keeping the leads less than three inches long. The short leads made the phone bridge impossible to pick up by electrical deviations. Next she hooked up two nine-volt batteries as a power source for the receiver/transmitter and began putting everything together in the receptacle."Almost finished," she said. She estimated she had been working about twenty minutes. "Are you in yet?""Still working," John murmured absently. "The files are password protected.""Did you try 'Laure'?""It was my first shot.""Nothing in the desk?" She had been aware of him opening and closing drawers, but thought he might be looking for paper files, too."No." He was swiftly examining everything on top of the desk, looking for anything that might contain the password.She screwed the jack plate into place, then repositioned the sofa. "What if it isn't written down?""Unless he's a fool, he changes the password on a regular basis. If he changes it, then the current one is written down somewhere. If you're finished there, look for a wall or floor safe.""Don't tell me you're a safecracker, too.""Okay, I won't tell you."Swiftly she checked behind all the paintings hanging on the wall, but there was only wallpaper there. Ahuge, thickly woven rug covered the floor and she threw back the edges, but again found nothing. She got out a screwdriver and, moving around the room, examined all the outlets, because sometimes dummy outlets concealed small hiding places. "Nothing," she reported. She gathered her tools and the pistol, slipping them back into the folds of her evening wrap.John picked up a book and ruffled all the pages, holding it spine up to see if anything fell out. He paused, looking at the well-thumbed book. Niema walked over to look at the book, putting her tools down on top of the desk: A Tale of Two Cities.John flipped to a page with a down-turned corner. "It's here. Nobody reads this more than once, unless they have to.""It's a classic," she said, amused."I didn't say it wasn't good, but it isn't something you read over and over." He ran his finger down the page, looking for anything that jumped out at him. "Guillotine."Turning back to the keyboard, he typed in the word. ACCESS DENIED flashed on the screen.He shrugged and consulted the book again. "Dickens was damn wordy," he grumbled. "This could take all day." He tried "monarchs." ACCESS DENIED."Monsters" was rejected, then "enchanter."The file list opened on "tumbrils.""How about that," John said softly. "I was just shooting in the dark.""Lucky shot." Except he wasn't just lucky, he was so highly trained that instinct and experience put him several jumps ahead of almost everyone else, allowing him to see the significance of a battered copy of a classic lying in the open on Ronsard's desk.He slid a disk into the A drive and began calling up files and copying them onto the disk. He didn't take time to read any of them, he just copied them as fast as possible, one eye on the closed-circuit monitor the entire time.Niema moved around behind the desk. "I'll watch the monitor," she said. "You copy."He nodded, and the A drive began whirring almost continuously.A moment later, watching the monitor, Niema saw the door at the end of the hallway open."Someone's coming," she whispered.John glanced at the screen, but didn't pause in what he was doing. "That's one of the security team," he replied."Do they do door checks?""Maybe." The reply was terse.