Excerpt from ANGEL FACE

It astounded her that she knew exactly how to interrogate a hostage. The steps were right there in her head: First render him helpless physically. Then work on his mind. Take control of every aspect of his existence. Keep him under surveillance at all times, and make him dependent on you for everything, even his personal hygiene. Feed him, clothe him, groom him and accompany him to the bathroom. The more private his needs, the more vulnerable and exposed he is. Insist that he follow your orders to the letter. Mete out punishment when he doesn’t and rewards when he does. For MAXIMUM VULNERABILITY confiscate all of his property, including his clothing. Restrain him naked and use food and water as a reward. Starvation and thirst are powerful motivators.

Angela stared down at her prisoner, marveling that she could have subdued such a large, powerful man. Her arms still ached from securing the ropes, but keeping him down was imperative if she wanted to stay alive and in control long enough to carry out her plan. She not only knew how to restrain a hostage, she knew the desperate tricks they could pull.

He wasn’t naked, but he would be if all else failed.

He was lying on bamboo mats in the corner of the living room nearest the door. It was as far as she’d been able to drag him, given his size. She should have been intimidated by that—his size. If she knew anything about dead weight he tipped the scale at better than two hundred pounds, and he was at least seven inches taller than she was, which would put him around six-one. No small adversary, but somehow she knew in this one area, she possessed superior skills. He was a wizard in the operating room and perhaps he had some intelligence experience, but she sincerely doubted that he’d moved in the circles she had, or done the things she’d been forced to do.

Her immediate problem was how to deal with him now that he was awake—and angry. He fought his bonds and snarled at her.

"Take off this blindfold," he demanded. "Get me out of these ropes and deal with me face to face."

That was not the way it worked, but he didn’t understand that yet. She gave the orders now. Perhaps it was time to impress that on his mind.

"You don’t call the shots here, Doctor. I’m in charge—of everything, including your fate. If you want to survive, you’ll do exactly as I say."

He laughed at her. His cold disdain cut like the gleaming knife she held in her hand. He didn’t fear her at all, but she would teach him fear. She would teach him respect. A woman could do anything a man could, including shed blood if it came down to protecting what was precious to her. Only she never killed for fun, never for sport. And she never bluffed.

Angela yanked tight the front of his T-shirt. "Don’t move." With two clean strokes, she sliced around the entire sleeve, leaving his arm bare and untouched, except for one tiny nick.

Why did it surprise her that she knew how to wield a knife?

He shot up as far the ropes would let him. "What the hell?"

Apparently he’d felt the nick.

"I just cut off the sleeve of your shirt. Speak to me in that tone again and you’ll lose another sleeve, and then I’ll divide the rest of your T-shirt into squares and start cutting cake. You could be totally naked in no time."

"Naked? Is that one of your sick rituals?"

"Are you hard of hearing or just slow?" With a swift stroke, she opened his shoulder seam and the crew neck of his T-shirt flapped forward. "Want to go for the other sleeve?"

The sound that escaped his clenched teeth was straight out of the jungle. If Angela hadn’t been certain the ropes would hold him, she would have backed off, backed way off, and let him cool down. But that would signal intimidation and too many men had tried to control her in that way—by frightening her. Too many, dammit.

"The only thing between you and naked bondage is those safari shorts, Doctor. And if I were you, I wouldn’t want me anywhere near your pants. I could miss."

He didn’t respond, but he hadn’t given in. He was thinking, calculating.

"You’d be better off to kill me now," he told her, "because if I ever get free—"

Angela was shaking everywhere, deep inside, shaking with purpose. But she was burning up too. Either the jungle heat had brought her blood to a boil, or she was running a fever. God, she must be ill. Her mouth watered copiously and a strange lethargy crept into her movements. There was nothing to drink in the hut but wine, and that would make her woozier. If only she could get out of these clothes and drench herself in a cold shower. The water would bring her temperature down.

Her blouse was wet with perspiration. She began to unbutton it.

"What the hell are you doing?" he said.

Not until she was thoroughly good and ready did she meet his eyes.

She didn’t flinch as his gaze burned into hers. This was what he expected. Apparently it fascinated him to think that she was a siren who seduced men and then slayed them . . . so perhaps she should give him what he’d been anticipating.

Locked with him in visual battle, she undid the last buttons on her blouse and let it fall from her shoulders. She felt the gentle caress of the night air on her skin—and the utter boldness of what she’d done. After a moment she gathered up her blouse and wrung the dampness from it. Her naked breasts glistened and burned in the fire from the lanterns.

"You had better not let me loose," he warned harshly.

Her intention had been to leave, but that wasn’t going to happen now. A raw power flowed between them that made her arms weak, useless. He glared at her for one incendiary second, and she watched his throat convulse again and his head rear back.

She could only imagine the current that arced through his body. He was a man sentenced to the electric chair. A cord in his neck jerked like a spring under stress, and his thighs were shaking. His skin gleamed from the strain, but he wouldn’t give in to it. He ravaged every naked inch of her with his eyes, brutally exposing her.

A drop of perspiration rolled toward her breasts and she stopped it with her fingers.

"Never let me loose," he snarled. "Never."