So, I'm in the process of writing Thea and Max's next e-book adventure, and this little missing scene from "How to Win Over Your Arch-Nemesis" suddenly hits me. It fits in after the case gets solved and before the very last scene.
A part of me wants to edit the book to include it - a lovely thing about self-publishing e-titles is that I can do that without too much trouble - but a part of me thinks it would ruin the flow of the story as it stands. Let me know what you think in the comments, and either way you can consider this officially canon. (Though the rating is ever so slightly higher than my fairytale stuff, just FYI.)
Clubs in Monte Carlo were the same as clubs anywhere else, just more expensive. Max stayed by the bar, cola in a glass normally meant for rum and cola, and his eyes were only for a leggy blonde who was making come-hither eyes at him.
To be fair, he was making those exact same eyes at her. Marissa St. Claire was the reason he was in the club in the first place, a high society girl currently in possession of three vials of a brand-new designer drug that had the unfortunate habit of killing more than half the people who tried it. Really, she should be grateful he was taking them off her hands.
He couldn't exactly ask for them, however, so he was here promising things with his eyes. It wasn't long before she cocked a finger at him, and he abandoned his drink instantly and moved through the crowd to her side.
The song changed to something slower, with a beat designed for sex, and it would have seemed like fate if he hadn't slipped the DJ a bribe the moment he'd gotten here. Max took full advantage of it, moving his and Marissa's bodies together in just the right rhythm to make her think of being tangled together naked in the sheets. Normally, that would be where this was leading, and he'd make off with the vials and slip away after he'd worn her out.
Out there on the dance floor, he considered letting it end up there again. It wouldn't take much - they were practically having sex right here on the dance floor, and if anything the challenge would be making sure she kept her clothes on long enough to get to the room. Though there was always round two....
Then he blinked, surprised for a split second to see sun-bleached waves in front of his eyes instead of the sensible ponytail he'd been... expecting? Imagining?
Either way, it was like a bucket of cold water. His hand skimmed over the curve of her breast only long enough to slip her hotel room key out from where it was tucked into her bra. Then he kissed her neck and shouted that he was getting another drink, slipping away while she pouted in disappointment.
"You didn't sleep with her." D's voice in his ear was flat with disbelief. "She was attracted to you enough that you got her room key, and you didn't seal the deal?"
"I don't sleep with everyone," he muttered under his breath, regretting putting the earbud back in his ear. He shut the hotel suite door behind him, dropping the key in just the right place to look like it had fallen out when Marissa originally left the room. "You make me sound like Bond."
"If anything, you sleep with more people than he does," D shot back. "Not that there's anything wrong with that - seduction is a well-established tool of espionage."
"But there are other tools." He started for the safe, then stopped and went for her suitcase instead. "A good spy should use all of them."
There was a moment of blissful silence from D's end, which she promptly went and ruined. "It's that programmer from Chicago, isn't it?"
Max's chest constricted suddenly, making him hesitate. "Thea has nothing to do with this."
D made an exasperated noise. "You changed your codename for her. I told myself that was just because you hated the letter you were assigned, but you haven't seriously looked at another potential bedpartner in weeks."
Spies weren't supposed to miss people, especially women you'd known less than 24 hours. It was practically written into the job requirements, right next to the ability to lie.
But more than once, he'd caught himself wanting to tell her something and wondering what she'd say. Worse, even the smallest reminder of her was enough to chase any other woman right out of his head.
"Did you take your earbud out again?" D snapped suddenly. "Oh, I loathe it when he does that."
"It's still in," Max said quickly, hoping to forestall the rant. He found the vials, wrapped in lingerie, and he took them out and slipped them inside the jacket pocket of the hotel staff uniform he'd "borrowed." "I'm just having a hell of a time denying it."
There was a moment of silence from D's end, then a long sigh. "I've known you for years," she said finally, voice oddly gentle. "And I had no idea you were a romantic."
"How could you?" He slipped out of the suite, shutting the door behind him. "I didn't know."
"Well." She cleared her throat, some of its usual briskness returning. "What are you going to do about it?"
"Practice pick-pocketing," he said under his breath, grabbing an empty food cart from in front of another suite and wheeling it in front of him as he headed for the elevator. "Try to get you to never bring this up again."
D made a dismissive noise. "That's not the spy I know. If you want to see this Thea of yours again, you're going to have to figure out how to make it happen."
Max's fingers tightened on the handles of the cart, chest constricting again. "I didn't know that was an option."
"Darling." D's tone was affectionately chiding. "Since when have you listened to anyone who said you couldn't do something?"
Max stepped into the elevator, doors closing in front of him. Slowly, he started to smile.