At Any Cost [The NASSD Counter-Terrorist Agency 1] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Allie K. Adams
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: When a NASSD double agent steals the technology for a deadly virus, counter-terrorist agent Dan Weber is more than ready to take on the complex and potentially deadly mission to hunt down the technology he once protected with his life, even if it means babysitting a gorgeous, yet reckless tomboy agent. Rookie JT Turner is hungry to prove her worth in a profession dominated by men. Even though she can hold her own against a dozen trained agents, she's been labeled a screw up after too many mishaps. JT would do anything to redeem herself, even accept a shady mission to track down a phantom disc NASSD denies ever existed. Undermanned and unarmed, can they unravel a madman's plot and remove the threat before it is unleashed? In a race against time, the line between desire and destiny will blur, and their true desires will finally be met.[Erotic Contemporary Romantic Adventure: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren, Published: 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2008
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14 Reader Ratings:
"4.5 Pixies: At Any Cost is a wonderfully convoluted tale of betrayal, terrorism, action, adventure, and redemption and yet Ms. Adams still is able to work in some romance. Everything you could possible want in an action/adventure is here--you have weapons, hand-to-hand combat, good guys, bad guys, a madman and a deadly virus--what more could you ask for! Ms. Adams has created a very detailed counter-terrorist agency and has peopled it with both good and bad agents and you really can't figure things out until almost the very end. I kept trying to figure out the good from the bad and was proven wrong in a number of instances, which I thought was fun! The plot is strong and very fast paced and I found myself anxious to get back to the story to find out what was happening next. I loved JT--here is this multi-talented young woman that is the perfect agent--and yet she always manages somehow to get hurt while working a case. Dan is a perfect foil for her--ultra confident, ultra capable, and he still finds himself riding her reckless train of disasters! The relationship between the two of them is fun, sexy and full of misunderstandings. I thought the sex scenes were relatively mild although graphic and sensual, but they make a nice counterpoint to all the adventure going on around them. I really enjoyed At Any Cost and would be excited to read more stories about the NASSD Agency!"--Sandi Potterton, Dark Angel Reviews
"4 Stars: Action-packed...The action is nonstop in At Any Cost. JT and Dan are the heroes in this great adventure to save the world. Allie K. Adams presents an interesting and plausible plot that will capture the reader's attention and take them on a whirlwind trip into the dangerous world of counter intelligence. If you like spies and romance, this book is for you."--Anne Boling, Review Your Book
"You've got nothing to lose, Miss Turner." JT Turner felt her heart skip a beat as she concentrated into the darkness. The figure remained hidden in the shadows as he spoke in that raspy voice. Her suspicions jumped into overdrive.
"What's your name?" JT fought the contents of her stomach, not to mention her nerves. Her voice shook, which she attempted to try and cover time and again by a casual clearing of her throat.
"I'm waiting for your answer," he countered, ignoring her request. The rancid smell of the contents in the nearby dumpster caused her to swallow several times, forcing her stomach back into check. Or could it be her nerves?
No doubt meeting in a dark and deserted alley, brick buildings on either side of them, only one way in or out, had something to do with that. Since when did her agency deliver assignments outside of headquarters, and have the assignment delivered by someone who refused to give a name or show his face?
She took a breath and slowly let it out, knowing she couldn't fight the inevitable. She'd already received the final paperwork on her transfer to the desk job after screwing up her last assignment.
Last assignment. She hated the sound of that. Ever since she'd heard of the counter-terrorist agency, JT wanted to be a NASSD agent. It seemed so unfair for them to bench her before she ever got the chance to prove to them she could do the job.
"Are you in?"
JT closed her eyes, contemplated her decision. When had she hit rock bottom? Did she really have nothing to lose? Did she in fact screw up past the point of no return?
"What's in it for me?" The apprehension and weight of her next move settled like a lead elephant on her chest. If she accepted the assignment she'd have to go deep under, which meant no contact with anyone--not even HQ. If she failed, there was a high probability not only would the enemy come after her, but her own agency as well. If she succeeded, she'd be labeled a hero and would secure her future as a NASSD field agent.
"You honestly think that desk job is real?"
That question gnawed away any confidence she'd built up. How did he know about that? It was supposed to be confidential. She didn't answer the question, knowing she wouldn't be able to keep the quiver out of her voice. Damn her nerves.
"Desk job is code for you're out. Out of NASSD, out of any future fieldwork with any agency. Your file will be erased and you will simply cease to exist. Disappear."
A quick and icy fear thrust itself into her thoughts. If she disappeared, who would care for her uncle? He didn't have anyone else. Without her, he'd become a ward of the state and live whatever days he had left stuck in that convalescent center.
She had no choice. She had to do this, if not for her, then for the man who'd raised her. But the shadow did have one thing wrong. She had everything to lose. * * * *
"We've got a mole."
"Another conspiracy theory, Donovan?" Although Dan Weber feared the worst, he remained calm as he watched his friend and HQ contact chew on the filtered end of his cigarette. Ron Donovan always came up with the most outrageous schemes. And the team would always write them off as the man spending more time with a bottle of Jack Daniels than with real people.
But this time he seemed more agitated than ever. And sober. Donovan twisted and fumbled with his wedding ring that, according to the other two men in the room, had been a recent addition.
"This time it isn't coming from me, Weber." He spit out the remnants of a chewed up filter, pulled out his pack of Marlboros, and brought another cigarette up to his lips.
"You know, usually it's customary for you light it," Dan pointed out in jest.
"I can't. My wife told me to quit."
"Didn't you say you just quit drinking?"
Donovan sighed and nodded, leaned back in his chair. "Yep."
"You know, ever since you got married--"
Donovan brought up his hand. "Don't start with me. We've got bigger problems."
They'd been sitting in the stuffy old office at the Western Division of NASSD Headquarters for ten minutes. Finally they were getting somewhere. "And that is?"
Donovan glanced at the men sitting to Dan's left. They both returned his look before all three sets of eyes rested on Dan. He couldn't help but think he didn't want to know whatever Donovan was about to reveal.
"You ever heard of JT Turner?"
"NASSD's own secret weapon. Turner has been trained on every weapon we've got. And a few we don't. Add martial arts, computer hacking. This agent takes everything we can give, masters it on the first try, and asks for more." He eyed Dan with his droopy, bloodshot eyes. "Finally, someone who can even stand up against the magnificent Dan Weber."
Dan ignored the jibe. Great, so there's some whiz of an agent working for the agency. Big deal. It wouldn't be the first time. His mind drifted back to twelve years ago when he was that wiz of an agent, so eager to prove how much he could take that by the time he stopped to see how far he'd gone, it was already too late.
Why pull him out of his two-year hiatus for this? He'd spent the better part of his time away doing everything he could to forget NASSD. Why bring him back to brag about some hotshot agent? To throw it back in his face? "So? You could have told me this over the phone, Donovan. Why would I even care?"
"I have something you do care about. You remember LEON?"
Dan felt every muscle in his body tense. Of course he remembered LEON. How in the hell could he forget? A pulsing knot of dread formed at the base of his skull, demanding answers. "What about it?"
Donovan smiled at him. Not a friendly smile, but one meant as sympathy, meant as some goddamn outreach of pity. Dan almost got up and walked out. He didn't need this. He'd given this all up, walked away from NASSD, away from his career as a counter-terrorist agent. He eyed the door, every nerve in his body whispering his greatest fear. LEON still existed. Against all odds, LEON survived. He repeated his request. "What about it?"
"Better yet, what is LEON?" one of the men asked as he glanced between Donovan and Dan.
Donovan started to explain. "LEON is--"
Dan stood, stopping him in mid-sentence. "Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to take a trip down memory lane."
"I told you when you left there would only be one reason why I'd ever call you back." Donovan's voice remained calm, but unsteady. Dan felt the anxiety push aside all his other senses. He turned back and met his friend's eyes. They were wide, worried.
Ah shit. Dan knew what that meant, also knew it couldn't be true. "LEON was destroyed."
"No, it wasn't."
"Yes, it was." He pulled back the tension in his voice, forcing a sense of calm even though that was far from how he felt. "I was there. After that first test scared the hell out of the government, they ordered it destroyed. When we witnessed firsthand what LEON was capable of, it scared the hell out of us. We were happy to carry out the orders to destroy the computers, the lab, everything. You can't control chaos. We learned that the hard way."
Donovan shook his head. "NASSD knew the government would come in and shut us down. So we made a copy of all the documents, the formulas, everything. Hell, we even made a copy of the lab. The one you destroyed hadn't been used in over a month."
Despite his years of training to remain calm under the most intense situations, he felt the fear grip his heart. LEON couldn't be loose. If it fell into the wrong hands...
That would explain why NASSD had called him back.
Donovan made his way over to the wet bar. His limp seemed more pronounced from the last time Dan saw him. And he now used a cane. He'd let his body go and was a good twenty pounds overweight. Add that to his rapidly thinning brown hair and it was safe to say Ron Donovan looked like shit.
"It's gotten worse. Thanks for asking," Donovan commented after noticing Dan's interest. He poured himself a scotch on the rocks.
Obviously still bitter about his injury. He only had himself to blame. They all warned him not to play with technology he didn't understand. Only those assigned to the project fully comprehended LEON's power. But Donovan was so sure of its success he actually injected some of the nanobots into his leg, despite the team's protests. They were at the ready with the antidote and yet the nanobots were able to eat half the meat off his thigh before the team could administer. It took three seconds.
He was lucky he didn't lose the leg. "Sorry to hear that," Dan offered.
"Turner stole LEON two weeks ago from a lab no one was supposed to know even existed. NASSD thinks the rookie cracked and may be hemorrhaging information to the outside."
Donovan took his time stirring his drink. Dan watched the ice swirling around in the glass, all the while trying his damnedest to wrap his brain around the fact LEON still existed. And now some hotshot rookie had it. Some hotshot rookie who had the IQ of Einstein and the fighting skills of Jason Bourne. It would only be a matter of time before he decrypted the data on the disc. Could he be brainy enough to recreate the nanobots?
And then what? Use the weapon against NASSD? Against the United States? Against the world?
"Fuck me." Dan looked at Donovan. "This is bad."
Donovan looked up from his drink. "Why do you think you're here?" He lit the cigarette he'd been chewing on and took a long drag. "I picked the wrong time to quit smoking."
Dan walked over and grabbed the drink out of his hands, threw it back. He didn't even like scotch, but he needed something--anything--to help take the edge off.
LEON was loose. Damn. If one of the many terrorist groups salivating to destroy mankind got their hands on that kind of technology, the entire world would be in a shit load of trouble.
"Question," the man with bright red hair and freckles over what Dan suspected to be every inch of his body spoke up. A young kid, early twenties, well built. Judging by the way he dressed--black head to toe in the same BDU's NASSD dressed all their agents in--he obviously felt had something to prove. The way he wore his weapon, so proud to be able to display a sidearm, Dan would wager him straight out of boot camp. Why in the hell would NASSD offer him a rookie on an op like this?
Donovan shifted his eyes to him as he spoke, then back to Dan. "Weber, meet Ben Stevens. Plucked him straight out of the academy. One of the best damn shots I've seen. The guy next to him is Grant Brooks. Speaks six languages fluently."
Dan studied Grant Brooks. He put him at close to forty-five, but no older. Sporting an old, wrinkled gray suit that didn't fit him like it used to, and the way his physique had gone to pot, Dan would put him out of the hands-on combat column. Besides, he didn't look like he had the stomach for hands-on combat. His hands looked like they were freshly manicured. Obviously not ops material. Intel. Had to be.
"Let's see if you still got it, Weber. Tell me about these two." Donovan hobbled back over and sat on the corner of his desk. Dan followed and slid back into his chair.
He scratched the stubble on his chin as he studied the two to his left. The redhead stiffened and eagerly met Dan's eyes. The other shifted restlessly and muttered something in French.
That told him everything he needed to know.
Dan started with the redhead. "Ben Stevens. Early twenties. Six one. Two hundred fifteen pounds. Thinks he has something to prove because he's one of the youngest NASSD Agents out there. Left-handed. Picked on in high school and now has a huge chip on his shoulder. Masters simulation exercises, but has never been on a real mission. He's a hair trigger, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. When put in real combat, he'll crack."
The redhead shot to his feet, the color of his ears matching his hair. "The hell I will!"
Dan remained seated, calm. The only movement he made was an arch of his brow. He noticed how the kid's hands had started to shake. The kid noticed as well and bunched his hands into fists. "Tombstone courage will only get you killed. And might just get your team killed too, Opie."
"You son-of-a-bitch!" He jumped at Dan. Still seated, Dan reached up and dropped the kid with a single chop to his neck. The kid coughed and sputtered.
"And Grant Brooks," Dan continued, ignoring the kid writhing around on the floor at his feet. Brooks flinched as Dan spoke, "Mid-forties. Five-eleven. Two hundred forty pounds. Hides behind a desk instead of working in the field. He's seen his share of field ops though, and doesn't care to go back. Used to be in great shape, but doesn't give a shit anymore. No longer packs. Likes to blend into the shadows. Doesn't want to be here, but knows no other agent can do what he does."
Dan knew several languages as well, so why was Brooks brought in? As he studied the past-his-prime agent, it clicked. "You're ICE, aren't you?"
Brooks shifted his eyes to Dan. "How did you know that?"
"There are plenty of NASSD agents who can translate. Intel Central Enterprises brings computer skills in, skills NASSD doesn't have."
"I didn't ask for this assignment." He spoke with a slight French accent.
"Too late. With your experience with ICE, and previous experience as NASSD, you've made yourself indispensable," Donovan spoke up.
"Welcome to the club," Dan added sarcastically.
"Were you in ICE?" Brooks looked at him.
Dan shook his head. "We both have indispensable talents, or so NASSD believes."
"Enough chit-chat, gentlemen." Donovan returned to his seat behind his desk and threw a manila envelope down as he sat. It slid across the desk and stopped in front of Dan. But Dan didn't reach for it. He knew based on his other missions reaching for the envelope meant you're in.
"In that envelope," Donovan started. He knew the rules as well, knew Dan wouldn't touch the envelope. Yet. "You will find a photo of our mole. It was taken two weeks ago from a surveillance camera right before LEON disappeared. We lost contact with Turner after that."
"Lost him? How does an agency with the ability to smoke out the invisible lose one of their own?" Dan shot a look at Brooks. "Especially with ICE on their tail."
Donovan stared at him. "Him? Weber, Turner is a her. And she has been very good at covering her tracks."
The weight slammed back into his chest, with vengeance. No, it couldn't be. He already had a solid suspicion on the identity of the mole. And it wasn't a she. "She?" He reached for the envelope and, against his better judgment, tore off the top and pulled out the photo.
And damn near swallowed his tongue. He immediately sprang to life.
This woman couldn't be an agent, let alone the mole. No, this woman should be the next centerfold for Playboy. Dan smiled slightly as he studied her. Dark chocolate hair, mesmerizing green eyes, creamy skin. His fingers tingled to touch that hot flesh, his want to trace every inch of her with his tongue had him hard in record time. Jesus Christ, he'd never had such an immediate and urgent reaction to a woman before, let alone her photo.
He didn't even bother to try and hide his erection. Hell, if any of these other men took one look at her, they'd all be sporting hard ons. Running his finger down the photo of the perfectly sculpted and toned body, he studied the way the neon swimsuit hugged her frame, barely covering enough to be decent, teasing him by giving him an image of what she'd look like naked.
"You got this photo from surveillance? Or Sports Illustrated?" Dan turned the photo to the side, imagining what she'd look like horizontal, and imagining him next to her. And under her. And on top of her.
Holy shit, Weber. Turn it down. He tensed.
"Look at the next one."
He brought his eyes back to the centerfold one last time. Very nice. Reluctantly, Dan grabbed the photo behind the swimsuit shot and placed it on top.
Now this looked more like a surveillance photo. Digital. Black and white. And a perfect picture of the woman's ear. "What is this? You can't even see her face." He studied her ear. Not even an indent indicating pierced ears. A grown woman without pierced ears was different, but not completely unheard of. It gave Dan a starting point, at least.
"It's the best we could do. Only a few knew of that lab. Although we never told Turner about it, she knew how to tap into the database. It wouldn't take much for her to find it. Besides, she's the only agent who fits the description of the woman in that photo. Add that to the fact she went missing right after LEON disappeared, and is still missing, and you have a pretty good idea why we think it's her."
"That's what you're basing this whole thing on? Her ear? Who best fits? A missing agent? We go under all the time, Donovan." Dan shoved the photos back in the envelope.
"Hey! Don't we get a peek?" Stevens protested.
"I said no."
Opie wouldn't let it go. "Who the hell died and made you King Shit of the Outhouse?"
Slowly, calmly, Dan met his eyes. Without a word, he conveyed how close this kid was to another ass kicking. Dan didn't blink, didn't falter, until Stevens finally looked away.
Too bad. The mood Dan suddenly found himself in made him itch to punch something. Hard. Grinding his teeth, he spat out, "So why bring me in on this? You know what a liability I am, right, Donovan? Isn't that what you said to me when you told me to take a hike?"
"You were told to take a break, Weber. No one expected you to stay away. That was your decision and yours alone."
Dan felt a growl creeping into the base of his throat. That's exactly what they expected him to do. He'd become unpredictable, and that equaled unreliable. He was useless to NASSD. Why wait around for the agency to put him out to pasture? Besides, still being on NASSD's payroll meant he still had to follow their rules. As a freelancer, he could do what he wanted, when he wanted. He had all the freedom in the world.
For the past two years he thought of little else but hunting down the man responsible for the scar on his chest and returning the favor. He'd tried to find him, but always picked up the trail too little, too late. As a NASSD agent he had unlimited resources at his disposal. When he left, he lost that freedom.
"Sounds like you got all the pieces together. By the looks of this hot beauty queen, she hasn't been a NASSD agent for long." He dropped the envelope onto the desk. His hard on finally picking up the fact it wasn't the real thing, he leaned back in the chair.
"How do you figure?" Donovan asked.
"She's young, maybe late twenties. She didn't pose like that as an agent, which means either the swimsuit photo is old, or she's new. I've never heard of her and I've only been out for two years. If she's supposed to be NASSD's secret weapon, I would have known about her. There aren't too many female agents, and none of them are that screaming hot. She's new."
"You got all that off a swimsuit photo?" Stevens asked, his lip curled. Although he tried to sound unimpressed, Dan could see in the kid's eyes that he was, indeed, impressed.
"You're right, as usual." Donovan leaned forward in his chair. "We had her back in training for almost a full year before she disappeared. After proving she can shoot the gnat off a wall at three hundred yards in a high wind, we decided to make use of her skills. She looks better than any pinup centerfold, which we knew would work to our advantage."
"How so?" Stevens asked.
"Any male would turn to putty in her hands," Dan stated and smiled at the thought. He'd give his left nut to have her hands all over him, to have her rub that gorgeous body up against his just so he could melt on the spot.
The thought of LEON out there made him pull his attention back in check. "What about Professor Keithan? His assistant? How do we know it wasn't one of them?"
"Always the chivalrous one. Believe it or not, some women out there are evil. Evil to the core. You of all people should understand that." Donovan's eyes skipped to Dan's chest and back up. "The professor and his assistant are both dead, killed by our little eye candy. Now she is after the unit assigned to the project. Your old team, Weber. She has the skill, and she has the information. We can't seem to stop her. We need you."
Dan felt another chill crawl up his spine. Jesus, not his team. What kind of callous bitch takes out members of her own organization? "Anyone hit?"
"Saunders. Cummings. Johnson is missing."
Christ. That left three of them. Dan swallowed down the bile creeping up the back of his throat. "Where are the others?"
"NASSD is in contact with them. Cole doesn't want anything to do with us, but he isn't much of a threat. The guy snapped after we destroyed the project. He can barely remember his own name. He's in a convalescent center, drooling all over himself."
"Too bad. He was a smart guy. Loved to talk about his little niece, Jessica," Dan remembered aloud. Charlie Cole talked about that little girl so much the rest of the team felt like they knew her, too. The last time he'd talked to Cole, little Jessica had been accepted into some Ivy League college on the east coast.
Dan snapped out of his melancholy. "Aims?"
"He's fine moving undercover until this blows over."
"Blows over?" Dan kept his voice as steady as possible, but the thought of LEON loose, coupled with the fact a sexy-as-sin rogue agent has targeted his old unit for extinction, made it difficult. "That's simplifying it a bit, don't you think? And you have yet to prove to me how the mole could possibly be that woman."
"Weber, quit thinking with your little head. That female isn't as innocent as she looks. She took out an asshole in Mexico her first day out of boot camp. Snapped his neck with the strap of her M16."
"Why didn't she just shoot him?"
"Said she didn't want to waste the bullet. Now I'm telling you, she's an assassin, and she loves her job."
"So why'd she turn?"
"That we don't know. After proving she could do an efficient job, we sent her to the base up in the Cascades. The same one we sent you to years ago."
Dan rolled his eyes. "Gahanna? How can I forget? Day in and day out NASSD shoveled so much information into my head I couldn't make heads or tails of half of it."
"Well she's miles ahead of your progress, and you were the best. We were so preoccupied with how much we could feed her we failed to stop and think of how much we should feed her. She took off before we could give her her next assignment."
"We've been gearing up to send her undercover in Colombia."
Dan swung up his gaze, slammed it on Donovan. "Don't tell me you are going after the Mercado cartel again? We took care of Carlos Mercado years ago. It destroyed the cartel and sent the remaining members into hiding."
"Carlos Mercado had a son, Santos, we didn't know about until recently. You thought Carlos Mercado was dangerous? Well, his son redefines the term. We busted a big shipment of Mercado's heroin last year. As payback, he blew up the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, killing 164 Americans. He graduated from drug lord to terrorist with that one, and moved up a notch in the FBI's most wanted list."
"Charming fellow. What's he got to do with Turner? I thought you said she took off?"
"From what intel has been able to gather, Mercado is the frontrunner for the bid on LEON."
Dan looked at Brooks. "Is that why you're here?"
"I'm here in case Turner succeeds in deciphering the code to recreate LEON," Brooks replied grimly. "ICE believes I'll be able to shut down the program before LEON regenerates."
"And you?" Dan asked Stevens.
"I'm here to make sure you can still do a job," he said, his voice full of prickly attitude.
Ah. So NASSD still didn't trust Dan. He had earned himself a couple of babysitters. "And if I can't? Your orders are to take me out."
Dan smiled as he turned back to Donovan. This bordered ridiculous. "They send a rookie and a wash out to cover me? Come on, Donovan. The kid won't be able to stop me. He's just going to get in my way and annoy the shit out of me. Brooks already said he didn't want to be here and probably wouldn't even put up a fight. I've got two strikes against me. You know I like to work alone."
"It's the only way I could get NASSD to agree to this." Donovan shrugged.
"But you're the head of the entire western region. You've got enough pull."
"Sorry, buddy. If you want back in, you're going to have to take them with you."
"Swell," Dan said flatly. He wanted to tell them all to go screw themselves. He wanted to get up and walk out. But he wanted LEON back more. And damn if he didn't want to take the assignment just to meet Turner, to see if she looked that good in person. "Keep going."
Donovan grinned. "Thanks, man. We need you on this."
"Back to Mercado, please." Dan wasn't interested in Donovan's gratitude. LEON was loose, possibly in the hands of a terrorist. They didn't have time for niceties right now. As much as it pained him, if JT Turner really did turn, he'd have no choice but to eliminate her.
"Apparently he likes his new status as psycho terrorist, wants to prove he's more than a drug lord. Turner had access to all the files on Mercado. She could see how much money he has and must have realized how much Mercado would be willing to pay for a weapon like LEON."
"Millions," Dan commented dryly, his want for the mouthwatering rookie starting to dull. Oh, he still ached to touch her, to kiss her until she forgot her name, and to tease and lick her until she begged him for release. Only then would he bury himself so deep inside her, over and over, until they both passed out.
That's it, Weber. Way to keep that hard on in check.
"Millions upon millions," Donovan corrected. "That's why we need you to find her. Before she takes out the rest of your old unit and sells LEON to Mercado."
"She stole LEON two weeks ago, right under our damn noses. You'll notice in that surveillance photo she kept her face away from the cameras."
How'd she get in? Fuck that. How'd she find the lab? He didn't even know of its existence. Did any of the others? That left only a few men knowing of its existence, aside from the scientist and his assistant. This didn't look good for the good-looking agent.
Ballsy. Stupid. Very unlike a NASSD agent to be caught on surveillance. Something didn't feel right. She kept her back to the cameras, which meant she knew they were there. Instead of staying out of range, she purposely had herself in positions to be caught on camera. It didn't fit.
"She obviously knows which agents were on the project," Donovan explained.
"How's that possible? Only those assigned to protect it knew about LEON. The team's identity was top secret." Dan could hear the alarms screaming in his mind. The situation had just gone from bad to worse.
A lot worse.
Damn. A mole. A mole with possibly the deadliest information in the world at her disposal. A mole who, if Dan's instincts were right, and they were usually dead on, had control of the world in her hands. They could sell that control off to the highest bidder.
Holy world domination.
"She's contacted each and every one of the others from the project. You are the only one she's never contacted. Unless..."
Dan thought of the flawless beauty in the photo and almost felt a sense of remorse she hadn't contacted him. Almost. If she so much as sent him a text message, he'd put a bullet in her head without hesitation. "No. She's never contacted me."
The unit disbanded shortly after Dan left the agency. How in the hell could she possibly have gotten the information? It wasn't like NASSD would keep the blueprints of a secret lab right there on the computer. It couldn't have been from any of the members in his unit. They swore an oath, and swore to protect it to the death. And by the looks of it, they were carrying out that oath, one by one. "How did she contact them?"
"We don't know. Saunders was found floating in his pool, a hole in his forehead, five more through his back. He'd called Aims and told him about this hot brunette he'd met that day, and how she was coming over for a swim. The next day, when Saunders didn't answer his cell, Aims went over there and found him. Two days later, Cummings called Aims and told him about this hot brunette he'd just met, and how she was into playing in his sandbox. Aims told him about Saunders and said to ditch the bitch. Apparently Saunders didn't listen. The next day, Aims found Cummings face down in his Zen Sand Garden, a hole in the back of his head. Again, he had five more in his back."
"How do you know all this?"
Donovan looked at him and blinked a few times. "How else would I know?"
"That didn't answer the damn question."
"Aims told me."
Dan's head hurt. Another piece that didn't fit. The guys didn't call and brag about their women. They waited until the Saturday night poker party. Of course, Dan hadn't gone to one in a while. Maybe if he had, he would have been able to pick up on the fact someone was trying to pick them off.
That was enough to convince Dan. He'd find her, find LEON, and clean up this goddamn mess. He owed it to Saunders and Cummings, and more than likely Johnson. "What is it you want me to do? Kill her? Retrieve the disc?"
"God no, don't kill her. Bring her in. Get that disc. It has everything needed to regenerate LEON. We don't want a weapon like that out there."
With a curt nod, Dan grabbed the envelope and accepted the assignment. "Stevens. Brooks. You're with me."
"Duh. Asshole," Stevens muttered.
"Show some respect," Donovan ordered. "He's now your boss."
"Yeah," Dan added. "If you're going to insult me, follow it with 'sir'."
"Alright. You're an asshole, sir."
Dan smiled. "That's better."