Canada is probably the last place you’d expect to find an American spy. But even idyllic Ottawa has its deadly secrets—and so does CIA operative Talia Reynolds. She can climb through ventilation shafts, blend in at the occasional diplomatic function, even scale buildings (small ones). But there’s one thing she can’t do: tell her aerospace engineer boyfriend Danny about her Top Secret occupation. It worked for a year, keeping Danny in the dark, keeping him away from danger, keeping her secrets. And then Talia finally catches a hot case: Fyodor Timofeyev. Russian. Aerospace executive. Possible spy? She can make this work, too—until Danny needs her at the same time her country does. And when Fyodor targets Danny? Suddenly her schedule isn’t the only thing suffering. Now to save her secrets and her country, Talia must sacrifice the man she loves.
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Read An Excerpt:This excerpt comes from the second chapter of I, Spy. The morning after an op with her fellow spy Elliott—an op that almost went bad—CIA officer Talia Reynolds returns to work to report, a few minutes before she’s supposed to meet her boyfriend Danny for a date he’s planned. He knows she has a demanding job, but he has no idea she’s a spy.
The next morning, I march into work. You never stroll into the CIA, even if the name on the door is Keeler Tate & Assoc., even if you won’t be long, even if it’s Saturday. The weekend receptionist barely acknowledges me.
I charge through my report, almost done when Will walks in. I look up to nod a greeting, and then I see it — Elliott’s desk. It’s clean.
That’s bad. A lead weight sinks into my lungs.
I have to do something. I have to fight.
Will stops at his office door and beckons me to follow. He sits me down in front of his desk. “Talia,” he says. The hollow tone of his voice, the telling slump of his shoulders, the glance away, and I know. Elliott’s not coming back.
Tension tweaks the bruises on my back. I can’t let this happen. I won’t.
“After last night,” Will starts the let-her-down-gently explanation, “it was time.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal. We got out okay. It was a little close —”
Now he breaks in, one eyebrow propped up an inch. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it was your life on the line?”
“Exactly. I made it out okay. There’s not a scratch —” I stop myself, but it’s too late.
Will fires an oh-really? look at the Band-Aids peeking out of my capris. “Elliott’s distracted. His head isn’t in the game — last night it wasn’t even in the ballpark. How many close calls can we take before someone dies?”
He’s right, I’m wrong, and we both know it. Heat blooms across my face. Will sees the weakness and attacks. “Every time he goes out, he’s putting someone in danger, himself, his agents, you.”
“Come on, we can’t put all the blame on Elliott. I could’ve moved faster.”
“‘Flash’ Reynolds now, are we?”
“Hey, we all know Shanna’s his Achilles’ heel right now. And that’ll change soon.” I hope.
“‘Soon,’” Will repeats. “You want to bank on ‘soon’?”
“I want to bank on Elliott.”
Will laugh-snorts. “Account’s overdrawn, and he keeps kiting checks.”
“Everybody makes mistakes.”
“Not this many.” His voice is too quiet, his sigh too soft. “It’s a miracle we’ve lasted this long.”
I know. I know even in Ottawa, not exactly a Shanghai or Moscow (heck, not even a Toronto), there are people who’d kill us without a thought. I know because the Canadians are kind enough to turn over that information to us on a weekly basis.
And I know because the Elephant has already come close to losing one of our own. I see it in Will’s eyes. Last night was Elliott’s last shot.
The argument is over. “Can I finish my report?”
Will jerks a thumb at the door. The report needs a quick proofread before I submit it, but afterward I’m not ready to leave — not ready to face that empty desk — not ready for Elliott to be gone.
The recordings from last night’s bug are already on my computer. Breaking in was my job partially because I’m the resident Urdu linguist, too: Urdu, Russian, Finnish, and passable French, as long as we stick to the weather.
I pull up our transcription program — yes, classified — and I cue up the recording. The computer pops up with a couple of guesses at the words under the transcript waveform.
About ten seconds in, I’m totally lost. I’m no native, but I’ve put in a lot of hours transcribing conversations like these. Like the computer, I catch a word here or there, enough to make me feel like I’m missing something important. Or just everything. This sounds like gibberish.
On the third pass, it hits me: this isn’t Urdu, what they’d use with their neighbors. It’s a Pakistani regional language, maybe Pashto, maybe Punjabi, what they’d use among themselves. Whatever it is, I definitely don’t speak it, and my work and intel and case will go to someone who does, either at the embassy or Langley. Great.
I pull off my headphones and rub my back between the bruises. I’m here to file a basic report, not receive notice my favorite fellow operative is about to be shunted off to DC for remedial training or worse.
Maybe there’s still something I can do. I check the clock on my computer. Five minutes until I need to leave to meet Danny. Enough time to talk to Will, to keep Elliott from getting fired, to fight.
Will doesn’t answer his door. I know it’s mostly a tactic to give him the upper hand when he doesn’t want to hear what’s coming. This time, he’s probably right.
Finally, he opens the door. “Any luck with the intel?” he asks, though he knows I couldn’t find something that quickly.
“I want to talk about Elliott.”
Will’s sigh is hardly surprised. “Now who’s he going to hurt?”
The cut on my calf twinges at the reminder, but I ignore it. “Me. Just me. I can handle it.”
He gives me a slow, patient blink, like I throw myself on my sword every week.
I don’t. “Elliott’s saved me, or our team, so many more times than he’s put us in danger.”
“You think this is a numbers game? The law of averages?”
I can feel myself shrinking because I know he’s right. But I want him to be wrong. “I will go over every mission we’ve run to prove it. He is a better operative than last night.”
“Are you willing to stake your life?”
In most companies, that phrase is hyperbole. Not at the CIA. “Yes.”
Will opens the door wider, shrugs out of his jacket and heads over to toss it on his desk. “All right. Prove it.”
A thought tugs at the back of my mind. I need to leave if I want to meet Danny, but as much fun as a bike ride would be, this second, Elliott’s career takes precedence. He could be on a plane back to Langley or out of a job in hours. I’m the only one who can save him, and the man’s about to become a father.
I step into Will’s office.
The edge-of-my-seat undercover operations kept me turning pages, and just when I thought the story would go one way, plot twists sent it down another path. Thrilling, adventurous, and romantic, this book has it all for an Alias fan.
— Jami Gold, award-winning author
Jordan McCollum’s debut novel is a delightful combination of mystery, action, and romance. Talia’s CIA training and almost OCD caution feed her quirky humor while exposing her very human fears and insecurities. Add in her boyfriend Danny, and it’s enough to twist your heart.
— Donna K. Weaver, author of A Change of Plans
Clever, suspenseful, and charged with political intrigue and romance, I, Spy is the perfect combination for a fun and captivating read!
— Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of Monarch
Take sure-handed writing, a great main character with a lot of snark, an awesome plotline, a romance on the rocks, and a possible Russian spy. What do you have? The recipe for a great book, and also an apt description of I, Spy by Jordan McCollum. . . . I, Spy started out with a bang and with the confidence that it takes some authors years to develop. . . . You know you’re looking for a great read this summer—put I, Spy on your to-read list.
— Tristi Pinkston, author of the Secret Sisters series
About the authorAn award-winning author, Jordan McCollum can’t resist a story where good defeats evil and true love conquers all. In her day job, she coerces people to do things they don’t want to, elicits information and generally manipulates the people she loves most—she’s a mom. Jordan holds a degree in American Studies and Linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she catches a spare minute, her hobbies include reading, knitting and music. She lives with her husband and four children in Utah. Visit Jordan: BLOG & WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Jordan is offering readers a coupon for the I, Spy prequel. It's a novella called Mr. Nice Spy and you can get you copy by going to her sit store at http://jordanmccollum.com/