Read At Any Cost Online

Authors: Allie K. Adams

At Any Cost

Advertising Download Read Online

AT ANY
COST

The NASSD Counter-Terrorist Agency 1

Allie K. Adams

EROTIC ROMANCE

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK

IMPRINT: Erotic Romance

AT ANY
COST

The NASSD Counter-Terrorist Agency 1

Copyright © 2008 by Allie K. Adams

E-book ISBN: 1-60601-063-8

First E-book Publication: August 2008

Cover design by Jinger Heaston

All cover art and logo copyright © 2008 by Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

ALL
RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

PUBLISHER

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

DEDICATION

For my mom, Norma, the best MICOR in existence. My critique partner, my muse, my friend. Without you this book would have never happened.

And to the
real
Dan, my very own hero, with all my love.

AT ANY
COST

The NASSD Counter-Terrorist Agency 1

Allie K. Adams

Copyright © 2008

Chapter 1

"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?"

"No."

"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."

Other books

Burmese Lessons by Karen Connelly
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Choices of the Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes
The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn
Once Upon a Wicked Night by Jennifer Haymore
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Night Prey by John Sandford