Home > Alpha One (Shadow Agents #1)(12)

Alpha One (Shadow Agents #1)(12)
Author: Cynthia Eden

It might be clear, but that didn’t mean Guerrero didn’t have someone out there, watching them, following them.

Guerrero had definitely taken the bait. He wanted Juliana, wanted her alive, because not one single shot had ever been taken at her.

And when a man like Guerrero wanted something...he didn’t stop.

Come for her yourself. Come and face me.

Because Logan wasn’t the type of man to ever stop, either.

* * *

SHE DIDN’T KNOW how long they drove. She didn’t really care. Juliana sat hunched in the car and saw the image of a man taking his own life flash before her eyes.

That man—Luis—had been so afraid of Guerrero that he’d killed himself instead of betraying his boss.

Logan hadn’t so much as flinched.

During the ride, he’d been on the phone beside her, talking to the mysterious Mercer and demanding explanations. He wanted to know who’d leaked their location.

But every now and then, she could feel Logan’s eyes on her. And she could have sworn there was suspicion in his gaze.

Why?

The vehicle slowed. Juliana blinked and glanced around even as the engine died away. “Another safe house?” she whispered, and yes, she’d put too much emphasis on safe. At this point, she didn’t think anyplace was safe. Guerrero was going to keep coming.

The man could track like no one she’d ever seen before.

“Not exactly,” Logan said. His voice was guarded, carefully emotionless. In the closed interior of the vehicle, she was too conscious of his body pressing next to hers.

Had she really been moaning in his arms just an hour or two before? That memory seemed surreal. The death, the violence—that had been reality for her.

Then Logan opened his door. She turned away and shoved open the door on her side and rushed out into what looked like a parking garage. A deserted one.

Jasper was by her side, waiting. “You all right, ma’am?” he asked.

He actually seemed worried. More worried than Logan. Juliana nodded.

“It’s for your safety,” Jasper said. “It might hurt, but...”

Wow. Hold up. She lifted a hand. “What’s going to hurt?”

Jasper pointed to the left. Juliana turned and saw a redheaded woman in a white lab coat heading her way. Her gut knotted and she asked, “What’s going on?”

“Just a small procedure,” Jasper told her. He even put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a little stroke. As if that was supposed to be reassuring. “To make certain that you stay safe.”

“So far, I sure haven’t felt safe.” Her own words snapped out.

Jasper winced. “This isn’t the way things were planned. No one should have found out about your location, not so fast, anyway. We were going to wait until—”

“Jasper.” Logan’s snarl shut up the other EOD agent. Jasper rocked back on his heels.

But it was too late. He’d said too much. Suspicion rolled within Juliana. “Tell me that he’s wrong.” He wasn’t wrong. She knew it, but denial could be a fierce beast.

We were going to wait.

Wait and then leak her location to Guerrero? Wait and set a trap for the arms dealer, using her as the unknowing bait?

But Logan didn’t speak; the doctor did. “I’m ready for her in the operating room. The implant can be placed immediately.”

Implant? Juliana shook her head and backed up fast. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyplace for her to go, and her elbows rammed into the side of the SUV. “I’m not ready for you, lady.” The doctor could just back off.

The redhead’s lips thinned. “Do we need sedation for the patient?”

“What?” Juliana wasn’t sure her voice could get higher than that startled yelp. “I’m not your patient! Stay away from me.” Her gaze found Logan’s. “You asked if I trusted you.” First at that run-down hotel, then back at the cabin, in the middle of all that death. “I said that I did, but Logan, you’ve got to give me something here. Tell me—tell me that you weren’t using me.”

He still didn’t speak. Maybe because he’d finally stopped lying.

It was Jasper who reached for her. “Come inside with us, Juliana, and I’ll explain what’s going to happen.”

“It’s a simple enough procedure,” the doctor said.

Juliana felt her face flush. “Lady, I just came from a bloodbath, okay?”

Now it was the doctor who backed up a step.

Good for her.

Juliana ignored Jasper’s outstretched hand. Her gaze locked on Logan. “Did you set me up as bait?” Her breath caught in her throat as she waited for his response.

“Yes.”

That breath froze in her lungs.

“No,” Jasper said in almost the same instant. “He didn’t.”

Her gaze darted to him, saw his lips tighten as he told her, “We did. Our EOD team had its orders. Logan didn’t have a choice, still doesn’t.”

That was a fat line of bull. “There’s always a choice.” She rubbed her arms, chilled. She was standing there barefoot, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. She smelled like death and Logan’s touch seemed to have branded her skin.

How wrong was that?

“Not always,” Logan said. She became aware of the others then, men who’d been hanging back in the shadows. Armed. Wasn’t everyone in the EOD always carrying a weapon? “My goal is to bring in Guerrero.”

Her laugh was bitter. “I thought the goal was to keep me alive.” So much for thinking she ranked high on his priorities.

And damn it, she caught a flash of pity in Jasper’s eyes. Not what she needed to see right then. Her chin shot up.

“It is,” Logan growled. Then he looked around at their audience and swore. In the next instant, he was pulling her toward the double doors on the right. Juliana was marching on his heels, more than ready to clear the air between them.

His palm slammed into the door and then they were inside a small hallway. More guards were assembled. Logan turned to the left and pushed open the door that led into what looked like a small waiting room.

Or an interrogation room. Her gaze darted to the wall on the right. A wall that looked as if it was just a mirror, only, she’d seen walls like that on television shows. Two-way mirrors. “Where are we?”

“Government facility. Off-the-books.”

Wasn’t just about everything off-the-books these days?

“I’m not... Hell, it’s not about using you.”

At his outburst, she spun around. “You were going to lure Guerrero to that house! Dangle me in front of him as bait!” She was so angry her words came out rapid-fire.

“I was—am—going to keep you under guard. We have to take out Guerrero. You’re not going to be safe until he’s in custody or until he’s dead.”

Her breath panted out. “You should have told me the truth.” She felt as if Sydney was the only one giving her real insight into what was happening. Yes, they all wanted Guerrero stopped, she understood that. But did they have to lead her around like a lamb to a slaughter?

He shook his head. “There are some truths you don’t want to hear.”

That did it. Juliana shot across the room and jammed her finger into his chest. “Don’t.”

His brows rose.

“I’m not a child, Logan. I’ve handled death, disillusionment and betrayal just fine for years.” Handled it and kept going. She wasn’t going to break, not now and not ever. “So don’t make decisions for me. Don’t hide the truth from me.” Her father had done that for the past ten years. “Just...tell me.”

His gaze searched hers, then he gave a slow nod. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

Damn straight he should be. And sorry wasn’t going to cut it for her. “Sydney told me about Gunner’s brother. About how Guerrero was responsible for the attack that killed him.” Her breath heaved out. “I get that your team has a personal stake in this, all right? I get it. But we’re not just talking about your team. We’re talking about my life.”

His eyes blazed.

“Talk to me.” Now she was the one giving orders. “Tell me what’s going on.”

His nod was brief. Then “You’re in a government medical facility, one that was set up to assist agents in tracking their witnesses.”

She realized her finger was still stabbing into his chest. Juliana dropped her hand. “Tracking them how?”

“A small chip is implanted just under the skin. With that chip, we’re able to track a person anyplace that he or she goes.”

Anyplace. “You mean in case Guerrero gets to me—”

“He won’t—”

She waved that away. “If he gets to me, this chip is going to help you follow me.”

His jaw clenched. “Yes.”

Suspicion made her push because the trust she’d had...it was brittle. “Are you going to let his men take me...act like I’m protected but really ease back so they can grab me?”

His eyes chilled.

But she kept going. “Then you can just follow my tracking signal—what, some kind of GPS?—all the way back to Guerrero. You can get him. Get what you want, and hell, maybe all I’ll have to do is get tortured or killed so you can bring him down.”

His hands wrapped around her arms and Logan pulled her against him. “That’s not going to happen.”

“Promises, promises?” The taunt snapped out. “Because I don’t think I can trust you on this, Logan.” The pain from the past struck out at her. “I trusted you before, remember? We were going away together. I was there that night. Ready to leave everything I knew behind. I was there for hours.” She couldn’t hold back any longer. “Where the hell were you?”

Chapter Seven

His fingers were too tight on her arms. Logan knew it. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to step back. There was so much anger, no, rage in Juliana’s eyes. He hated that.

Even as he knew he could do nothing to change the past. “We were just kids, Julie. Two confused kids.”

“I was twenty. You were twenty-two. It’s not like we were playing in the sandbox back then.”

She wouldn’t make him flinch. Terrorists, killers—he’d faced plenty in his time. He’d taken bullets and been sliced by knives. He hadn’t flinched then.

I hate the way she’s looking at me. “We were too young. It wasn’t love. Wasn’t meant to be forever.”

She just kept staring at him, as if she could see through his lies. “No, it wasn’t.” Her breath rushed out. “I counted the minutes on that stupid clock in the bus station. That stupid, huge clock that hangs over the counter. I counted until midnight, when I had to give up.” Her stare was burning him alive. “At midnight, I promised myself I’d never let you betray me again. But...I guess I was wrong about that, too.”

The woman was carving his heart out of his chest with every word she uttered.

“Forget it.” Then she shoved away from him with more force than he’d expected. “So I get an implant, huh? That’s the next big deal? Someone to slice me open, whether I want it or not.”

He wanted the tracker on her, just as a precaution. After the way things had gone down at the cabin, he wanted to make sure he’d have a way of finding her. “Hostages, witnesses—they’ve been taken before. They’re stripped, their bags are tossed. We realized a few years ago that we needed technology that wouldn’t be ditched so easily.” The tracker was tiny, barely noticeable at all, and easily inserted under the skin. A little piece of tech that Uncle Sam hadn’t shared with many others.

“A few hours after the insertion, you’ll barely even notice it’s there.”

She finally glanced away from him. “I’ll notice.” Her words were clipped. So unlike her usual voice. “But I’ll do it anyway because if Guerrero does get to me, the EOD had better haul butt to save my life.”

He would.

Juliana had already turned from him and headed for the door. He should let her go but he had to speak. “I really am...sorry.” The apology came out sounding rusty and broken.

She pulled open the door. “For what?” Juliana didn’t bother looking back at him. “Leaving me before...or setting me up now?”

Both. “I wanted you to be happy. You wouldn’t—you wouldn’t have been happy with me.” The line he’d told himself for years. She deserved better. She’d have better. It was only a matter of time until some Prince Charming took her away.

His hands were clenched so tightly that his knuckles ached.

“Don’t tell me what I’d be,” she said, her spine stiff and too straight. “I’m the only one who understands how I feel and what I want.”

Then she walked through the door, calm and poised. So what if she was barefoot and her cute little toenails were flashing bright red? The woman had held court too long in her life not to walk with that easy grace.

“Come on, Doctor,” she called out and he knew that Liz Donaldson had to be close by. “Let’s get this over with.”

Logan exhaled slowly. He looked up and stared straight into the mirror that was less than five feet from him. His reflection stared back. His jaw was lined with stubble, eyes and face worn.

She wouldn’t have been happy. The words were stubborn, but they weren’t his, not really. Her father had been the one to first speak them.

You can’t make her happy. When she finds out what you did, how do you think she’ll ever be able to look at you again?

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