Prelude to a Rumor, Part Two (Harmless Book 4)

BOOK: Prelude to a Rumor, Part Two (Harmless Book 4)
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Prelude to a Rumor, Part Two
Melissa Schroeder
Contents
ABOUT PRELUDE TO A RUMOR, PART TWO

F
ormer SEAL Randy Young
isn’t looking to settle down. He just got out of a bad relationship with his share of emotional scars. When he and Sean Kaheaku team up on a surveillance job, he isn’t opposed to a little fun while they work.

Sean learned the hard way that workplace romance doesn’t work out. Hell, hookups are always risky. But, when they find themselves on the run in a foreign country, lines get crossed, and both of them discover more about each other than they ever expected.

This is a prelude to the full-length book A Little Harmless Rumor and has a happy for now ending. It is NOT a serial and it is not required to read this book to understand the relationships in the final book.

CHAPTER ONE

S
ean studied
the overhead screen and fought the need to curse. This was going to be a shit job. Sure, it was going to bring in some much-needed capital, but he didn’t know if it was going to be worth it. Now that he knew the risks, he was starting to have second thoughts—especially with a new partner.

He glanced at Randy Young. When Lassiter had first told him whom he was working with, Sean wasn’t all that thrilled. The newest member of Lassiter’s motley band of contractors wasn’t Sean’s first pick, but he would do for this kind of job. As a former SEAL, Young had the experience. Young must have felt his study and gave Sean an understanding nod. He thought the job sucked too.

It was hard to get a handle on the newest member of Lassiter’s team. He was a fucking god built of muscles and California good looks, hot enough to make Sean drool. But there was a brain in there too. Knowing he swung both ways like Sean made him almost irresistible. Young had been working his way through just about all of the operatives, with the exception of Sean.

The man was long and lean, just about as tall as Sean, with laughing blue eyes. From the smooth, tanned flesh, he had been spending a lot of time on the California beaches, but for some reason, Sean was sure he was tan from the tips of his toes to the top of his head.

Fuck, he didn’t need to become preoccupied with another operative. He needed to focus on the job at hand, no matter how much of a FUBAR it was.

“I don’t like the idea,” Sean said. “We have to go in blind?”

Lassiter nodded. “Yeah, and I know it sucks.”

“It’s beyond sucking,” Randy said, his voice deadly calm and his usually jovial mood absent. “It could end up with both of us dead.”

Lassiter shook his head. “You military folk always look at everything in worst-case scenario.”

Lassiter had never been in the military. MI-6 was his only training and that’s why he had no problems cutting corners or taking chances—as long as other people were at risk. Sean was former Army and with Randy being a former SEAL, they both knew too well what could go wrong.

“It’s one way to make sure we arrive alive,” Sean said.

He didn’t mind taking chances, but he really did not like the idea of a suicide mission. This definitely had those markings and not for anything noble. Saving a life, that would have been worth it, but for money—no matter how much—he wasn’t sure this was worth it.

“I wouldn’t send you if I thought there was a chance you’d be attacked,” his boss said, his voice as cool as it had been over the last year. Sean had started working for him when he and Jaime had broken it off. Well, more like she had broken it off, and Sean had left MI-6 for a fresh start. Lassiter apparently blamed Sean, even though he was the one who had wanted more. At least Lassiter had hired him outright.

“What is actually the reason we are going?” Young asked. His new partner was definitely not sold on the mission.

“Missionaries.”

Sean paused. “We’re going after missionaries?”

“They need transportation out. I had one of their friends contact me. He is the one promising the money.”

“Who is after missionaries?” Young asked.

“They aren’t your average missionaries. Rich do-gooders who have caught the attention of an Islamic terrorist group. MILF.”

“MILF?” Sean asked.

“The Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”

“And I take it they want the young do-gooders’ money,” Young said.

Sean nodded. Kidnappings were on the rise in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, even if the kidnappers were paid on time, the chances their prey was still alive was slim to none. Still, most people would take that chance if it meant saving a loved one.

“But, no contact?” Young asked.

“Sean knows the area.”

Young glanced at him. It was the first time since they had been sitting side-by-side in front of Lassiter’s desk that he had. The full attention of those deep blues short-circuited his brain for a few seconds.

“Do you think it’s worth it?”

Sean shrugged then looked at Lassiter. “You said they are in hiding? No one has found them?”

Lassiter nodded. “Being rich does have its benefits, and they have paid people well to hide them.”

Young read over the report and nodded. “Yeah. Doesn’t mean I like it. The area we are going into is overwhelmed with terrorist groups. They use it as a training area. Hell, so did we.”

“Legally?” Sean asked.

Young’s lips twitched. “No comment.”

“The other problem is the coverage in the area. I know this area. Cell sucks and even satellite reception has issues. We get stuck, there might be no way to get out.”

Apparently, Lassiter had had enough. “I’m pretty sure I can find someone else to handle it for the money, but, you two are my best bets.”

Sean glanced at Young and nodded again. “I can handle the money
and
the situation.”

Young’s eyes twinkled as his lips curved. “Most definitely.”

Sean just hoped once they got to where they were going, they got out free and fast.

CHAPTER TWO


S
omething’s fucked
,” Randy Young said, his tone as dark as his scowl.

They’d arrived just moments before, both of them relieved on how easy it had been. Then, they had stepped inside. There was something very, very wrong. Sean could feel it in his bones.

Sean glanced at Young, then around the abandoned hut. He had to agree with the former SEAL. There was something really fucking wrong with the situation.

Dust covered the furnishings, and there were definitely signs of decay. The small wooden table looked like termites or something had been eating on it. Hell, the covers on the small cot were moving. The stench of rotting vegetation permeated the air. He really didn’t want to know what was living under there. The absence of any humans—along with any kind of food told him one thing.

“No one has been here in months,” he said. He rolled his shoulders as a dribble of sweat slid down his spine. Fuck, it was hot.

Young nodded. “So, did Lassiter set us up, or did someone set up Lassiter and we get caught up in it?”

“That’s a very good question.”

His gut clenched. Damn, he didn’t want to think badly of his old friend, but things weren’t adding up. Lassiter had never had a clusterfuck like this in the years Sean had been working for him. He’d trusted the man with his life more than once, but now he was having doubts.

Maybe Lassiter was more pissed about his breakup with Jaime than Sean had thought. Sean knew Lassiter had trained her, had guided her through her career, and he had taken it personally when Sean and Jaime split up. Still, Sean didn’t think Lassiter would set him up to be killed for it.

Sean glanced around again. There weren’t even any signs the missionaries had been there. It was a dead end. No one had been there for at least a month, probably more. Just as both he and Young had worried, there was something off about the mission.

“You’ve worked for him for awhile. Do you think he’d set us up like this?”

Sean glanced at Young. He was fucking smart, and it wasn’t as if Sean hadn’t just had the same thought.

“I haven’t given him reason to. Have you?”

A smile that had nothing to do with humor curled Young’s lips. Damn, it made him even more fuckable. Sean always liked his humor with a dark and sadistic edge, and especially appreciated it in his lovers.

Fuck. He needed to get his mind off
that
topic. They needed to formulate a plan that had to deal with getting the fuck out of there.

“So, you’re relationship with Lassiter is contingent on you not giving him a reason to kill you?”

He smiled. “That’s pretty much true in all of my relationships.”

Young chuckled at that. “Same here. What the fuck do you think it means?”

“I think he has bad info, or someone is setting us up.”

“Ya think?”

“Who have
you
pissed off lately?” Sean asked.

“My parents, my old commanding officer. Oh, and some woman on the 405 last week, but I don’t think I have pissed off anyone enough for this.”

“Then you aren’t living your life right.”

They shared another smile, then they both went back to inspecting the room. Instinct and experience told him with the small click he’d heard; they had tripped some kind of alarm. Thank Jesus it was only an alarm and not a tripwire to a bomb. His heartbeat jumped up a few thousand beats as he glanced at his companion. Young raised one eyebrow. The former SEAL had heard it too.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” he said, his voice eerily calm.

Sean nodded and followed him out of the hut they had found. They had no idea how long it would be before someone showed up, and there was no use sticking around to find out. He followed Randy out of the hut and down the path they had taken. He held up his fist, indicating to hold position. Sean did as told. He had no problem taking orders from the SEAL. They both had about the same amount of experience, and there was something about a man who knew how to give as good as he got—in more ways than one.

Thwap, thwap, thwap…footsteps hurried toward them. Again, instinct saved both of them. From the sound of it, they had too many people to go up against. There were at least ten of them heading in their direction. While Sean didn’t mind a good fight, he didn’t believe in suicide missions.

Young motioned with his head and Sean followed. He was the better of the two at tracking and finding his way out of a shit situation. This was definitely a shit situation. They had gone in under the cover of night, no support. It had been a bad situation all around, but it had paid good money. Now, he was starting to understand just why.

Shots rang out behind them, but neither of them stopped to answer the attack. They knew they were outnumbered. As their pursuers continued to shoot, Young and Sean put some space between them. When Young led them out to a road, Sean almost ran into the back of him.

“Hey,” Young said.

“Well, I didn’t know you were going to come to a stop like that.”

Then, Sean looked around. “I know this area.”

Young glanced at him. “You do?”

He heard the skepticism and shook his head. He noticed a cargo truck sitting on the side of the road. “We can’t stand here and discuss it. We need to get the fuck out of here, and I know a place we can stay.”

This time he took the lead, going across the road then back into the jungle. He knew if they got to the next road over, they were home free. They could definitely get a ride into Bulusan there and get the fuck off the island.

Then, another shot rang out from behind them. It flew past Sean and hit the tree by his head. A piece of bark from the trunk flew off and hit him in the forehead.

“Motherfuck.”

It wasn’t that big, but the sharp edge of it had connected with his head. His first instinct was to move forward, but he heard Young stumble. When Sean turned around, Young staggered to his feet. His partner looked down at his upper arm.

“Fucking hell.”

A basic flesh wound, but Sean knew it probably stung like a bitch.

“Come on.”

“Go, keep going. There’s only one.”

Sean shook his head and hurried back to him. “You go, I’ll watch your back.”

Young agreed and went on his way. Sean stood still watching the forest, then he saw the flash of movement. He raised his rifle and waited. Movement again, and Sean took a shot. There was a yell, then cursing in a language he didn’t know, but he was pretty sure it was Eastern European of some sort.

“Kaheaku, what the fuck?”

“Go,” he said turning back to Young. “I know a place up here we can stay, no questions, and we can dress that wound.”

“Who did you just shoot?”

“I have a feeling it was supposed to be their lookout.”

Young opened his mouth, but Sean wasn’t in the mood for it. “Just fucking go. I don’t want to wait for the others to catch up.”

Young did as Sean had ordered, and he followed his partner as he tried to figure out just what the hell had happened, and just how the hell they would get themselves out of the mess.

BOOK: Prelude to a Rumor, Part Two (Harmless Book 4)
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Assassin's Tale by Jonathan Moeller
Miner's Daughter by Duncan, Alice
Dark Embrace by Brenda Joyce
El jardinero nocturno by George Pelecanos
Ether by Ben Ehrenreich