Code Name Stargate – Book 4
When her yoga teacher, Jay, doesn’t show up for his classes for over two weeks, sci-fi novelist Olivia Morikawa, who has a crush on her handsome teacher, is worried.
Meanwhile, Jay “Tiger” Garner, ex-CIA agent of the now defunct Code Name Stargate program, is recovering from his ordeal at the hands of Mr. Smith, when he has a vision of his arch enemy in Olivia’s house. Suspecting Olivia is somehow involved with Smith, Jay has no choice but to get close to her to find out where Smith is hiding, even if that means he has to take the gorgeous Olivia to his bed. Not that it’s a hardship…
However, nothing ever goes as planned when emotions are involved…
(unedited – please excuse any typos)
(Copyright 2022 Tina Folsom)
Olivia Morikawa shut down her laptop and closed the lid, before getting up from her desk in her small two-bedroom cottage in Alexandria, Virginia. She used the second bedroom as an office, and had furnished it accordingly, complete with a hidden safe in the back of the closet. She placed her laptop as well as the external hard drive in the safe now, then locked it, and slid the cedar paneling over it, so nobody would even know it existed. She hung the bridesmaid’s dress for her sister’s upcoming wedding in front of it, before closing the door.
Olivia was normally not a paranoid person, but ever since her sci-fi novels had taken off and were rivaling the great writers of the genre, unseating them from the top spots on the bestseller lists, she’d started worrying about somebody finding out who was behind the male pseudonym T.R. Harland. Her fans were anxious about the next book, and speculations were rife about which main character would get axed next by way of a spectacular death. Her publisher had informed her that two rival authors were actively trying to find out how the Galaxy Outcast series was going to continue, and would pay good money to leak spoilers in an attempt to turn her fans against her before the book was even published.
Luckily, so far, nobody had figured out that T.R. Harland wasn’t a bearded geek who preferred the company of the people in his head to real-life people, but a somewhat shy 28-year-old woman of Hawaiian descent with a master’s degree in fine arts and a fondness for croissants and animals of all kinds. She hoped her secret would never be revealed. Even her publisher didn’t know who she was. She dealt with them only via email and text messages, and any payments she received went to the LLC she’d set up to hide her true identity. At first, she’d done it, because the sci-fi genre was dominated by male authors, and without a track record, she’d figured that no publisher would even take a look at her manuscript if they knew she was a woman. Besides, readers and other authors not knowing who T.R. Harland really was added a certain mystique. Olivia wasn’t looking for public adoration. All she wanted was to get lost in her stories and share them with the world.
The only people who really knew what she did, were her parents and her sister, Grace. In fact, she often brainstormed with Grace, and talked to her about her writing when she got stuck, running different scenarios by her to get her feedback.
The doorbell pulled her out of her thoughts.
“Coming, coming!” she called out toward the door, snatched her workout bag and her yoga mat, and hurried to the door. She opened it.
“Hey, Claire,” she said to the woman who was only two years younger than her. “I’m not late, am I?” She waved her to step inside.
Like Olivia, Claire was dressed in yoga pants and a tight top, a small bag slung across her torso, a yoga mat under her arm. Her long red hair was bound back in a ponytail. “No, no, we’ve still got a few minutes.”
“I just need my keys,” Olivia said and looked around the foyer, when she spotted them on the shoe bench. “And my phone.” She ran back into the office and found her cell phone on the desk.
When she returned to the hallway, she found Claire looking in the mirror, adjusting her hair.
“You look great as always,” Olivia said.
Claire chuckled. “It’s hard work.”
“As if.” Olivia shook her head.
“Is that a new outfit?” Claire asked.
“Oh this old thing?” Olivia replied, pointing to the brand-new yoga pants and the pink top she’d bought only days earlier.
Claire rolled her eyes. “Looks good on you. I’m sure Jay will like it.”
Olivia felt herself blush.
“Oh, come on, do you really think that no one noticed that you have a huge crush on the guy? Everybody in class knows.”
Olivia sighed. “Yeah, everybody but Jay.”
Claire shrugged. “Men can be so dense sometimes. Particularly the yummy ones.”
“He is yummy, isn’t he?” Olivia said.
Looking at the clock in the foyer, Olivia motioned to the door, and she and Claire left the house and started walking.
The moment Olivia had seen Jay enter the yoga room at the Namaste Studio and Gym three months earlier, her heart had started beating out of control. At first, she couldn’t even believe that Jay was the new yoga teacher. He didn’t look like the kale-eating, vegan, thin yoga instructors the studio normally employed. Jay was a tall, muscular guy, who looked more like a kickboxer or a weightlifter than a man who taught yoga to a bunch of housewives, stressed-out professionals, and retirees who tried to remain limber. In his yoga pants, Jay looked like a ballet dancer with strong thighs and slim hips. But his upper body was much bigger than a dancer’s, with a broad muscled chest, and strong arms. His skin was a deep brown, and during class she’d often seen a thin sheen of perspiration on it and wanted nothing more than to lick it off him.
“I figure, why not. Olivia?”
Claire’s voice pulled her out of her reverie. She hadn’t heard a word of whatever Claire had been talking about. “What?”
“I said you have to do something about it. Clearly, he’s not gonna ask you out because you’re his student. So you have to make the first move. And if you don’t ask him out today, I’m gonna do it for you.”
They stopped in front of the studio, and Olivia looked at her friend. “What if he says no?”
“Then at least you know. But there’s no reason why he wouldn’t wanna go out with you. You’re pretty, you’re smart. What’s not to like? Hell, I’d go out with you if I were a lesbian.”
“Honestly, just put on your big girl pants and ask him,” Claire urged her and opened the door to Namaste.
Inside the gym, they both signed in, then walked to the yoga room. Outside the door, they took off their shoes, and left their bags in one of the open lockers.
When they entered with their yoga mats, several other students were already assembled, their yoga mats laid out in an orderly pattern. Unfortunately, the first row was already taken, so Olivia had to place her mat in the second row. Clearly, she wasn’t the only one who lusted after Jay. The middle-aged housewives in the first row weren’t immune to his charm either. When the door opened again behind her, the four women in the first row turned their heads.
Were they wearing make-up? For a yoga class? How pathetic. Olivia sighed, but didn’t turn her head to see who’d entered, trying not to make it too obvious that she couldn’t wait for Jay to arrive.
From her seated position, gaze downward, she caught a glimpse of the instructor’s bare feet as he walked to the front of the class. They were white. She lifted her head and stared at him. This wasn’t Jay.
“Morning, all. I’m Mathias. I’ll be filling in for Jay today.” The pale, spindly guy who couldn’t be older than twenty-five set his drink bottle next to his yoga mat. Yep, that was definitely a kale shake.
Disappointment swept through Olivia.
“That’s the second week now,” Claire whispered next to her.
Olivia glanced at her. “Do you think he’s sick?”
“Let’s start with some deep breathing this morning,” Mathias said.
The entire hour Olivia went through the motions, not really enjoying the exercises like she did when Jay taught the class. Instead of feeling relaxed and invigorated, she felt worried and stressed. She couldn’t wait for the class to end, and the moment Mathias released the class with the customary Namaste, she was already at the door. Rapidly, she put on her sneakers, grabbed her possessions, and went to the front desk.
Amber, the owner of the studio stood behind the computer.
“Hey, Olivia, good session?” she asked.
“Yeah thanks, though, I’m surprised Jay wasn’t teaching. Nothing against Mathias,” she added, not wanting to let Amber think that the replacement instructor wasn’t any good. “But I just like the way Jay teaches the class. Is he sick?”
Amber let out an annoyed huff. “Your guess is as good as mine. He hasn’t been answering his phone. Frankly, I’m so pissed at him that if he does finally call me back, he can look for another studio. I need reliable people.”
“Oh,” Olivia said. “Maybe something happened to him?”
Amber shrugged. Then the phone rang, and she picked it up.
Now more worried than disappointed, Olivia went outside. A moment later, Claire caught up with her.
“So what’s wrong with Jay?” Claire asked.
“Amber didn’t know. Apparently he’s not answering his phone. I have a bad feeling about it. What if something happened to him?”
“You mean like an accident?” She shook her head. “If that were the case, I’m sure somebody would have notified the studio.” Then she grimaced. “People are flakes. Better you find out now. Or do you really want a guy who’s gonna ghost you after he got what he wanted?”
“Of course not, but he never struck me as a flake.”
No, Jay was the serious kind of guy. Almost a little buttoned-up, and she couldn’t imagine that he would not show up for his class without an explanation. Not for two weeks in a row. Something was wrong. But how could she figure out what?