She'd needed the break. After all that had happened in quick succession--the downfall of SD6, her mother's betrayal and escape, Emily's death--she'd asked for three days, just three days away from the CIA and death and destruction.
Amazingly enough, they'd granted her request. Perhaps Kendall had seen just how close she was to going over the edge, perhaps it was because she'd never asked for vacation time. It didn't matter.
Sydney had three days in the pretty little town of Pilos in the Peloponnese and she was making the most of it.
Which entailed sitting by the pool at her hotel, letting the sun warm her and the fragrance of the flower gardens wash over her, as she read a silly romance novel and sipped a glass of wine. She was just up to the part where the heroine kicked the hero's ass for bungling the rescue operation when she clearly hadn't needed rescuing, when a shadow blocked out the sun.
Frowning, Sydney shaded her eyes and glanced up...and froze.
A startled gasp finally broke from her and she cursed herself for leaving her gun in her room. Frantic, she started to scramble off the lounge chair, and, without thinking, lobbed the book.
The hardback hit Sark squarely between the eyes and he went down hard. Cautiously, Sydney moved around the chair and stared down at him. He sprawled unconscious at her sandal-clad, feet, blood dripping from a cut over one eyebrow where the corner of the book had hit.
"Well, that was too easy," Sydney muttered to herself, then grabbed her bag to pull out her identification as people started yelling and running towards her.
Head pounding, Sark slowly returned to consciousness. As memories filtered back into his mind, he shuddered, took a deep breath, and shuddered again, then forced his eyes to open. He immediately winced as they focused. Sydney stood in front of him, still wearing a bikini covered only by a pareo slung low on her hips. She was all business, though. In one hand was her gun and it was aimed at his crotch.
He realized he was in what looked to be her room, sitting in a hardback chair, tied to it, in fact, and he cursed under his breath. "I came out to stroll through the gardens and saw you. I only wanted to talk to you."
"Yeah, sure, the last time we met," she emphasized the last word, "you shot my boyfriend."
Sark couldn't help the sneer. "How typical. Your handler becomes your boytoy."
"Boyfriend," again with the emphasis.
Another burst of pain exploded in his head and he groaned. "What did you hit me with?"
"The latest Nora Roberts. It could have been the latest Harry Potter. That would have killed you." At his baffled look, Sydney grinned nastily. "So, tell me Sark, why shouldn't I kill you?"
"You're one of the good guys?"
She snickered and pulled up a chair to sit down facing him. As she crossed one slender leg over the other, she saw his attention shift to her naked thigh, and did nothing to cover herself. "Okay, I'll tell you why you're still alive and why you're not in custody...yet. You have information, Sark, that I want and will torture you for."
Another nasty look crossed her face and she lifted the gun to his head. "Where the fuck is my mother?"
Sark stared down the gun barrel and forced aside his fear. She wouldn't kill him, not like this. "Bleeding from the bullet hole you put in her arm. I recall she did the same to you once. Lovely relationship the two of you have."
He sent one eyebrow up and tried to look casual. "I thought you wanted me to talk."
"God, you are so annoying," Sydney huffed, lowering the gun to her lap and glaring at him.
"And you're so very lovely," Sark smirked back. "Though I think I prefer you in a kimono."
"You make an exquisite geisha, although your attitude needs serious adjusting in order to play the part more effectively. Geishas aren't bitchy."
"Back to the subject at hand, my mother," she nearly growled. "Where is she?"
"I don't know, truly. She's probably with Sloane, and I'm not sure where he is at the moment. I don't really care, either, as long as I get paid. I'm sure they'll contact me to run some dirty little errand sooner or later. It will probably involve you, as you tend to stick your nose into all our business."
She bit out sarcastically, "Gee, I wonder why," then tiredly rubbed her eyes. "I came here for peace and quiet, three days of it, and on day two you have to show up and ruin it. Why the hell did you come here anyway?"
Unable to help himself, Sark chuckled. "Would you believe for the same reason?" At her look of disbelief he continued, "Even we evildoers need to relax every so often, Sydney. Decompress, I believe is the trendy term. Greece is one of my favorite places to do so."
"The chances of you coming to the exact same small town and hotel as me at the exact same time for the exact same reason...Jeez, Sark, they're astronomical. Why would you think I'd believe it was coincidence?"
"I didn't say it was. I think it was fate." The ache in his temples fading, Sark relaxed as best he could in the uncomfortable chair with his arms tied behind his back, and crossed one leg over the other knee. "There's a pull between us, Sydney. A chemistry. A need, even."
Sydney gaped at him, then burst out laughing. "You've got to be kidding." At his simple smirk, she shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Not just a pervert but an ego maniac. I don't have some secret lust for you, Sark. Sorry to spoil your illusions."
"I can see it in your eyes, but deny it if you wish."
"You've tried to kill me numerous times and yet you want me."
"One does not preclude the other."
"It does in my book."
He shrugged eloquently. "Your loss." And then he smirked again, that devilish little tilt of lips and raising of a brow. "And it *is* your loss. We'd be fantastic together. All that heat and passion. Add on a bit of hatred for spice and we'd probably kill each other in bed, against the wall, over that desk," he nodded to the desk behind her.
"Again, shut up."
Laughing, Sark did so, and refused to say another word despite Sydney's various and colorful threats.
Finally, she turned him over to the authorities, ordered a late dinner, drank too much wine and went to bed.
When the sound of her pager awakened her from overly erotic nightmares of being bent over the desk with Sark doing wicked things to her body, she could only groan, curse him and herself, and fumble for her pager. A quick phone call in response to the page informed her that Mr. Sark had escaped from custody an hour earlier. As Sydney slammed the phone down in frustration and started to rise from the bed to end her vacation early and go search for the son of a bitch, she spied a large hardback book on the pillow next to her.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Breath catching in her throat, she opened the book and read the inscription.
'A little something to remember me by, though I doubt it would have killed me. I'm notoriously hard to kill. Something else we have in common.'
Fury that he'd been in her hotel room warred with confusion as to why he'd left her alive, and finally, all Sydney could do was laugh and shake her head.
Then she reached for the phone and dialed headquarters to request another two days personal time. Decompression sounded much nicer than going back to work and tracking down Sark.
Though the thought of what she might do to him after finding him left an interesting tingle of warmth in pit of her stomach and a blush on her cheeks.
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