AGENT M4: RIORDAN
D.I.R.E. Agency, #4
She’s hired to earn his trust.
He trusts no one.
After suffering in a Mongolian prison, Riordan St. James finds himself back in civilization, struggling to acclimate. When D.I.R.E. equips him with superhuman, prosthetic hands, the gift comes with a price—he must submit to psychotherapy.
When the complicated and elegant Natalie Meeks is hired to work with Riordan, their attraction is magnetic. However, after new evidence about his disappearance uncovers shocking secrets, he questions not only his decision, but the people around him – including his sexy-as-hell doctor.
As their lives become more entangled yet unglued, a madman turns up the heat on his plans for Natalie. And, the only person she can trust is the one man that doesn’t trust her…
If men were like ice cream, Riordan St. James would be rocky road.
Natalie Meeks studied the new D.I.R.E. agent through the one-way glass. He was one, major hottie and, like ice cream, the last thing she needed on her hips.
But, a girl could dream.
Golden, sun-streaked hair lay in sweat-soaked tufts against the wide horizon of his shoulders. His pale blue eyes were barricaded and hard, a narrow beard lining his tight jaw. Glistening, tanned skin, mapped with scars, covered a torso of concrete-like muscle, his back a crossroads of whip marks.
Hanging on a pull-up bar several yards from the other agents, Riordan appeared to be a loner, on the opposite side of a bridge from human contact and relationships. His perpetual scowl screamed back off, his tense shoulders poised for attack. All he needed was a do not enter sign stamped on his forehead to make it official.
It must be her lucky day. She had to figure out how to get past the human obstacle course and get inside.
“So, are you ready to meet him, Doctor?”
Natalie glanced at Mitchell Jacobs next to her, his attention trained on the man in the D.I.R.E. fitness room. He had a smile in his eyes she hadn’t seen before. Of course, she’d only spoken to him briefly at a couple of her father’s fundraising galas. As a former SEAL C.O., and now head of a private security agency, he was in high demand at political functions.
No, she wasn’t ready to meet Riordan St. James. As a matter of fact, she really wanted to leave. Once upon a time, she’d considered herself qualified to diagnose and treat people with emotional conditions. Now, she didn’t trust her own judgment on what deodorant to use.
“As I told you on the phone, Mitchell, I really don’t feel skilled–“
“Save it.” Mitchell sliced a hand through the air, his brows furrowed. “What happened with Paul Warner was one hundred percent his fault, Natalie. He knew what he was doing.”
That made it even worse. As his psychologist, she should’ve seen it coming. She could’ve prevented it.
Mitchell Jacobs wouldn’t understand that. Paul would’ve been just another casualty in his book. In hers, a possible love turned tragic regret.
Crossing her arms over her middle, she sighed. “He won’t be pleased to meet me.”
Shaking his head, Mitchell chuckled. “No, he won’t. I’ll bet a bottle of Glenfiddich 1937 Scotch he’ll be royally pissed.”
Riordan climbed onto a treadmill farther across the room. He pressed a couple of buttons and started to jog.
“So, what do you want from me, Mitchell? A clinical diagnosis?”
“I want you to get him ready for the field. I think he lacks confidence. Right now, he thinks he’s ready – I say, he’s not.”
Natalie frowned as she played with her pearl earring. That meant working with him beyond today. How did she make Mitchell realize her qualifications disqualified her for the job?
Riordan St. James was different from any patient she’d ever counseled. He had a raw, barbaric edge about him, reminding her of a street fighter. He played by his own rules, wore attitude like a badge and defense like a shield.
She worked with the upper echelon of society. People that enjoyed telling her their troubles, people that looked for easy prescription drugs and found her unyielding. Many of her clients worked with her father in the Senate, or lived in upscale San Diego.
Her patients liked her. Listening rather than talking had been a trait from birth, her desire to help others deep and ingrained.
Riordan St. James didn’t strike her as a talker or someone that wanted help.
He pushed himself harder and faster than any agent in the room. Sweat ran from his brow, the waistband of his shorts soaked through.
“When do you need him?”
“Yesterday.” Sighing, Mitchell turned to face her. “I took a gamble with St. James, Natalie. When he came in, he was in bad shape. Among his injuries, his hands had been broken and crushed. Deformed, for lack of a better word.”
Her gaze shot to the man on the treadmill. Though several feet away, he appeared exceptionally… fit, his hands normal. However, the scars littering his body backed up Mitchell’s story.
“Using a device similar to a 3D printer, we mapped out the previous bone structure of his hands and created replicas made with neodymium, iron and boron.”
Stilling, she held out a hand to halt his speech. “Wait. Are you telling me he has magnetic bones in his hands?”
Mitchell nodded with nonchalance. “Yes, but the attraction is minor at this point.”
Slack-jawed, she could do nothing but stare. Had she just stepped into Frankenstein’s laboratory? “Why? Why not give himnormal prosthetics?”
Leaning a shoulder against the wall, Mitchell shoved his hands in his pockets. “Have you heard of Robert Naylor?”
The infamous crime boss. Natalie doubted there were many people that hadn’t heard of him. “Yes.”
“St. James was one of Naylor’s best agents. The man has talents I can use. My plan is to give Riordan the ability to attract and repel objects with his magnetic hands. He has the groundwork now. Once I know I can depend on him, I’ll install the rest of his system.”
Shaking her head, Natalie couldn’t believe what she’d heard. “You’re going to make him some kind of superhero?”
Mitchell gave a lopsided grin. “You could call him that.”
Logic warred with astonishment in her head. “That kind of thing is impossible… isn’t it?”
His arrogant smirk almost seemed patronizing. “I assure you, it’s quite possible. I already have a team of agents with super powers – my son, Tristan, among them.”
Hand to her forehead, Natalie looked away in utter incredulity. What had she gotten herself into? D.I.R.E. made scientific enhancements to human beings. Her father had used D.I.R.E. in the past. Did he know about this?
She pointed at Riordan through the glass. “He agreed to this, this… enhancement?”
Mitchell nodded before glancing at Riordan. “Make no mistake, Natalie. He trusts no one. And, he has good reason for feeling that way. St. James knew if he didn’t take my offer of new hands, he’d live handicapped the rest of his life. The magnetic bones were a quick, permanent fix – for him and our team.” His voice lowered. “He needs to trust again. He can trust D.I.R.E.”
The sun god dropped to the floor and did push-ups. This was just so wrong. Wasn’t it? Messing with the human body? Playing God?
Then again, the idea of following someone going through the process, and tracking his subsequent work, fascinated her. It would take her work to a level she’d never imagined.
You can’t even diagnose normal humans. You want to diagnose superheroes?
“He’s been working his ass off, trying to get back in shape,” Mitchell said. “He’s made remarkable progress. If anything, he’s determined to defeat, not only bad guys, but his own demons.”
Riordan switched to one-handed push-ups without skipping a beat. He had demons, no question. They stood on the opposite side of that bridge he’d erected. She just wasn’t sure if the bridge was intended to keep them at bay, or to rush them head-on when he felt ready.
Then again, she had her own demons to slay. Helping Mitchell and Riordan St. James would keep them front and center. What if she failed them both?
Mitchell said, “I need good agents, stat. And, when I get St. James up and running, my gut tells me he’s going to be one, bad ass superhero.”
… Joni Hahn’s newest addition to her awe-inspiring D.I.R.E. AGENCY series, AGENT M4: RIORDAN held my attention from beginning to end. On the surface Riordan and Natalie don’t seem to have much in common but it soon becomes obvious that they’re both vulnerable and insecure due to events in their pasts. Together, they make a wonderful couple, passionate and supportive, but their relationship is constantly bombarded with uncertainty. Like with the previous books in this series, I was completely captivated by Riordan’s enhancements and couldn’t help but be impressed by his capabilities and bravery. I loved that Natalie shows an admirable inner strength when standing up to Riordan, her own father, and others.
If you haven’t read the other stories in the D.I.R.E. AGENCY series then I highly recommend you do so… it will enhance your enjoyment of Riordan and Natalie’s story. However, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to do so in order to appreciate this couple, the D.I.R.E. AGENCY, or Ms. Hahn’s captivating writing style.
Read the entire review here.
Joni Hahn does such a wonderful job of bringing the romance to her science fiction. The D.I.R.E Agency Series is a combination of the now trendy Mercenary type series and you got it the Justice League! While it is filled with everyday people doing some pretty scary work, it also has a branch of individuals who have some added talents.
In Agent M4: Riordan, Riordan (our hero) is merged with the ability to attract and detract metal (Think magneto). But each hero has his own special skill hence the letter designation. Of course technically it should be M1 because Riordan is the first to have this ability implanted. But it’s a series and Ms Hahn is using the number in his designation as the book number in the series.. and I forgive her. *grin*
The first three books in the series was something of a twisted and tangled trilogy with the ever devious Ms. Hahn tossing in some pretty interesting family connections. But Book 4 takes us a step away from the core group and adds some more individuals.. whew.. otherwise the series would have had to end. In Riordan, we take on a new enemy although in some ways it is winding up some old business…
…This could have been a boring, run of the mills story but Joni infuses it with her trade mark twists and turns and no one (except D.I.R.E and it’s agents) is who they are supposed to be. To the extent that one of things Riordan must do to reenter society is discover who stole his identity and why.. And believe me once you are sure you know who it is.. you will be forced to think again.
This was an exceptional addition to the D.I.R.E Series and I am already looking forward to more!
Great Job Joni!!!
Tea and Book