The Tracers Series #8
By: Laura Griffin
Releasing January 27th, 2015
FBI agent Elizabeth LeBlanc is still caught in the aftermath of her last big case when she runs into the one man from her past who is sure to rock her equilibrium even more. Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn is back home from a harrowing rescue mission in which he found evidence of a secret terror cell on US soil. Elizabeth knows he’ll do anything to unravel the plot—including seducing her for information. And despite the risks involved, she’s tempted to let him. . . .
On the surface Derek’s offering a simple deal—Elizabeth provides him with intel, he delivers the terrorist. But he knows nothing about Elizabeth is easy, and now their volatile relationship threatens to distract him from the most important mission of his career. Together with the forensics experts at the Delphi Center, he and Elizabeth are closing in on the truth, but it may not be fast enough to avert a devastating impending attack . . . or stop a ruthless enemy from escaping to kill again.
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“Vaughn, get over here.”
He followed a narrow corridor and almost stepped on a pair of legs jutting out from the wall. A young man was seated on the floor with his hands zip-cuffed behind him. He wore loose-fitting pants and high-top sneakers and was fifteen, max, but his eyes already had the flat, battle-hardened look of a warrior.
“Found him in the tunnel.” Sean nodded toward a passage that connected the house to who the hell knew what. The tunnel system here was like a rabbit warren.
Derek spotted a workbench littered with electrical wires, nails, several jars of black powder—all bomb components. He scanned the rest of the room, and his gaze came to rest on a large safe in the corner. It was a serious box, definitely imported, and would have been a major pain in the ass to get here.
Now Derek understood why he’d been called over. He glanced at the kid and tried to remember his rudimentary Pashto.
“What’s the number?” Derek asked in Pashto, because he didn’t know the word for “combination.”
The kid didn’t answer.
Derek pointed the stock of his gun at the safe. “Open it.”
The kid looked away, sullen.
“Screw this.” Sean reached for his kit and got out some C-4.
Derek stepped over to check for booby traps. He didn’t see any, but there was only one way to know for sure. Sean set a small charge, and they crossed to the other side of the room. The burst reverberated through the cavern, and they rushed back over.
“Damn, look at all this.” Sean pulled out a stack of papers, singed around the edges and still smoking. He flung it to the ground and stomped the fire out as Derek reached in and pulled out a notebook computer.
“Two minutes,” the CO said over the radio.
Derek cursed. Even with the extra minutes they’d built into the plan, they were running behind.
Sean was already pulling out his mesh bag, which they carried for this purpose. Some of the papers were in English, but Derek didn’t take the time to read them as he jammed everything into the bag. He reached in and snatched a thumb drive as Sean grabbed another batch of papers. Loose pages fluttered to the ground.
His teammate held up a sheet. “Hey, look at this.”
“No time to read. We need to move.”
“It’s a map.”
Derek glanced at it. It was in English, with notes scrawled around the edges. Derek scanned the street names. His blood ran cold. He looked at Sean.
“Guys, move it!” someone yelled down the stairs.
Derek glanced at his watch. They’d been on target way too long. He glanced at the kid. In a matter of hours, this house would be looted and abandoned. In a matter of minutes, this guy would be in the wind.
“On your feet,” Derek ordered.
Sean shouldered his pack. “They said no prisoners.”
“On your feet!”
The kid stood grudgingly, proving he knew at least some English. Sean shot Derek a look before taking the prisoner by the arm and propelling him toward the stairs.
Derek’s mind reeled as he looked at the papers strewn on the floor. He scooped up every scrap and checked the safe again to make sure he hadn’t missed anything, then threw his bag over his shoulder and raced upstairs. All the windows rattled as a Black Hawk swooped overhead en route to the landing zone. He glanced into the courtyard just as their EOD guy ducked out. He’d been setting the charge on the ordnance, and the look on his face told Derek it was about to blow.
“Hey, what are you doing here? Haul ass!”
Derek dropped to his knees as the house shook. Chunks of debris rained down from the ceiling.
“Come on!” Derek yelled.
They sprinted outside, where the last member of their team was holding security by the door. A few neighbors’ lights had come on. People peered through windows and leaned out from doorways.
“Vaughn, where the hell are you?”
It was Luke’s voice over the radio, probably already at the LZ, which was a vacant lot at the end of the street.
“We’re half a click away.”
They double-timed it toward the landing zone, pushing the prisoner ahead of them.
“We got company,” Cole said over the radio as a truck screeched around the corner. It was packed with armed men and had a .50-cal machine gun mounted to the roof.
Derek grabbed Sean’s vest and yanked him out of the road. He pushed him down the alley leading to their alternate exfil route.
“Vaughn, report! Where are you?”
The street smelled like sewer water. Trash swirled in the rotor wash as they neared the waiting helo.
The gunner on the truck let loose with the .50-cal. His buddies with AKs were well out of range, but that didn’t stop them from spraying bullets.
Derek rounded the building just in time to get a mouth full of dust. Mike was lifting the doctor into the chopper. Hailey had a SEAL on each arm, and they were practically carrying her, but she tore away from them and made a sprint for it. She flung herself onto the helo, and about a dozen hands reached out to pull her inside. Luke and Mike jumped in behind her.
Derek and Sean ducked and sprinted while several teammates aimed over their heads and returned fire. The prisoner reached the helo first, and Mike pulled him aboard.
Sean crashed down behind him. Derek turned and hauled him to his feet. Noise drowned out the words, but Derek could read his friend’s lips and the panicked look in his eyes: I’m hit. Derek heaved him over his shoulder and stumbled forward. Bullets peppered the helo’s sides as Luke jumped down and helped lift Sean inside.
“Go, go, go!”
Derek grabbed the outstretched hands of his teammates as they seized his pack and yanked him aboard. His boots were barely inside when the Black Hawk lurched off the ground and lifted into the sky.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author LAURA GRIFFIN started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award winner (for the books Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Laura currently lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book. Visit Laura at www.LauraGriffin.com or Facebook.com/LauraGriffinAuthor
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