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The Navy SEAL Affair

Written by Carol Ericson

Chapter Eight

Two Weeks Later

Lauren rested her head against Shane’s chest as he played with her hair. “You could’ve just taken the shot through the smoke. You would’ve hit him.”

“And take a chance on shooting you, too? Not worth it.” He kissed her fingers. “I’d already gotten my hands on the camera and had figured out that it was one of those that plug directly into the computer for downloading. I knew he hadn’t downloaded the video yet.”

“I don’t know how you could’ve been so sure about that. How did you know he didn’t have another camera the night before and this was a new one?”

He tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “I watched it. I had to. I wanted to make sure I had everything up to the point where you found the gun—and I did.”

“Oh.” She buried her face in his bare chest, his hair tickling her cheek.

“Don’t give it another thought. I won’t. We’ve both had people in our pasts, and that’s what it is—the past.”

She couldn’t tell Shane, she’d never tell him that Becker had been just her second lover and the first one who’d made her come. He didn’t need to know that information.

“H-how do we know he didn’t download it first and then stick it back in the wall to reuse it?”

“You’re thinking up reasons to worry.” He leaned over and kissed her head. “You should know more than I about those cameras. If he did that, he’d have to start over with a new camera. He didn’t. It’s over.”

“But we lost him.” She sat up, crossing her legs beneath her.

“At least we turned over what we knew about him to the CIA and the BND.” He scratched his jaw. “Of course, that wasn’t much. He’d fabricated an entire identity.”

“We didn’t turn over everything. Thank you for keeping my secret, Shane. I was such a fool.” She covered her face with her hands.

“Hey.” He encircled her wrists with his fingers. “Becker had one of those tapes with Astrid, too. Why do you think so much of espionage involves sex? We’re all human. We all make mistakes based on our emotions and needs, and Becker had yours down pat.”

“You’re all I need now.” She spread her fingers and peered at him. “If you’ll have me.”

He pulled her into his arms and sealed his mouth over hers with a kiss so hot her toes curled. “That kinda depends on if you’ll have me—you know, lady in every port.”

She punched his rock-hard bicep. “You’ll have to change your ways. I can’t share you with anyone else.”

“You won’t have to. You’re all I need, too, Woods.”

And then he made love to her like he meant it.

***

Ten Years Later

Jack Coburn, the head of Prospero, leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “What do you think, Lauren? Are you sure you want to head this task force as just your second assignment with Prospero? I admit your request surprised me. You’re so good in the field, I didn’t think you’d want to be stuck behind a computer, even if you are calling the shots.”

“As good as I am in the field, I’m better behind a computer, sir.” Lauren swept all the files they had on the enemy sniper known as Vlad from the corner of Jack’s desk. “It’s clear this man is trying to build a terrorist network, and we have to stop him.”

“You have your work cut out for you. Vlad’s a sneaky bastard. Maybe he’s European, maybe Middle Eastern, maybe even American. He speaks several languages. He’s a chameleon—hair color, eye color, facial hair, clean-shaven, hair length, balding, shaved head, fat, skinny, limp, scarred, tattooed. We’ve seen it all. Nobody knows what he looks like or who he is.”

“I like a challenge, sir.” Lauren clenched her jaw, grinding her back teeth.

Jack hunched forward over folded hands. “I know you had an impressive career with the CIA and collected a bunch of accolades there, but Prospero is different. There are no accolades—only secrecy, subterfuge. You can’t even let your own husband, Secretary West, in on this assignment.”

“I understand that, sir. Shane understands it, also.” Lauren’s lips twitched into a smile. “He’s too busy with his new position as Secretary of Defense to pay much attention to what I’m doing.”

Jack snorted. “I doubt that. You’ll also need a code name for the task force. Nobody can know your real identity.”

“A code name?” She raised her eyebrows. “This sounds exciting.”

“After the career you had with the CIA, a code name sounds exciting?” He lifted one shoulder. “You don’t have to try to sell me anymore, Lauren. I know you lobbied hard to get on this task force, and the job is yours. Any ideas off the top of your head?”

Her cheeks warmed and she dipped her head. Had she shown too much enthusiasm for this assignment?

“How about…Ariel? What would fit in better with Prospero than Ariel, another character from The Tempest?”

“Ariel—I like it.” He checked his watch. “Now I have a teleconference with your old boss at the agency. Let’s get this done, Lauren. We need to ID, track down and neutralize Vlad.”

“Yes, sir.” Lauren hooked her purse over her shoulder and spun around.

As Jack’s phone rang, she snapped his door shut and strode down the hallway, hugging the files on Vlad to her chest.

She whispered, “Don’t worry. I plan to track down and kill Matt Becker—and I plan to do it myself.”

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I blame it all on my sister. When she finished reading a paperback cop...

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Carol Ericson

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