Hacking the SEAL (Saving the SEALs Series Book 2) (3 page)

BOOK: Hacking the SEAL (Saving the SEALs Series Book 2)
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Yep. These next few days would fun indeed.

Chapter Four

“Um, Michelle, when you have a second?” Hayley said as her boss passed by her desk the next day. This was at least the fifth time she’d tried to flag the woman’s down and each time she’d blown her off. Usually, Hayley had better luck impressing her superiors, but her mojo was off. Had been since yesterday.

She still couldn’t quite believe she’d agreed to partner with Scotty Devonshire on the whole Natalie Matthews affair. And yeah, she’d investigated the hell out of the guy too, spending her morning digging up whatever she could on him and his SEAL pals. Just because her decision had been impetuous, didn’t make her stupid. If she was going to entrust even part of her career and possible promotion to the guy, she wanted to know everything she could about him. Hayley had to say she’d been pretty impressed at first.

A bit of digging into the top-secret Naval databases had shown he’d grown up a Navy brat, traveling the world with his highly-decorated father. Then when he was eight, his dad had been killed in action. Something that seemed to inform the guy’s choices from that point onward. Hell, Scotty even looked just like his father—same sandy blond hair, same cornflower-blue eyes. Same devastatingly delicious smile.

But then she’d come across a classified report that was devastating in a completely different way.

“What is it?” Her boss, Michelle Harper walked up to Hayley’s desk, her expression harried. “Sorry. My son’s sick today, so I’ve been dealing with doctor’s offices and insurance snafus on top of the review board’s questions for our meetings later. Time’s short, so give me bullet points, Stevens.”

“Right.” There’d been plenty of rumors circulating about those review board meetings. Word had it they were looking to shut the intelligence team down, which would leave not only Hayley, but the whole department, unemployed. They were only rumors but still, they added fuel to Hayley’s fire for a promotion. With an upgrade in title, she’d be less susceptible to the government’s ever-constant budgetary concerns. “Natalie Matthews. Widow of a Navy SEAL. Dead at twenty-eight. Questionable circumstances. Possible ties to a shadowy military cover-up. I’d like to keep working on this one, with your permission. I think there’s something there.”

Yeah, right
. Considering the way her heartrate surged whenever Scotty was around, even when he wasn’t wresting weapons away from her, there was definitely something there.

Of course at that instant her boss’s phone buzzed again. Michelle sighed. “Fine. Whatever. I don’t have time to deal with this right now. But I’m sending a security detail with you. If this is some kind of conspiracy, you’ll need back up.”

Hayley waited until her boss had gone again, phone to her ear once more, before she got back on her computer. Dodging her boss-assigned tail would be tricky, but she’d find a way, she hoped. Besides, she’d have Scotty guarding her back. Couldn’t get more protective than a frigging SEAL.

Now all she had to do was contact Scotty and set up another meeting, preferably with the rest of his team this time. If they were all going to be cohorts, she wanted to know they were all people she could trust.

One quick phone call and it would all be set up.

Adrenaline speeding through her veins, Hayley pulled out her cell and dialed.

Chapter Five

“So, where you been, man?” Spencer Nixon, Scotty’s SEAL team bro and their resident sniper, said. He flopped down on the other end of the sofa and kicked his stockinged feet up on the coffee table. “You got a new little somethin’-somethin’ on the side?”

Scotty ignored his friend’s waggling brows and took another drink of his ale. “I’ve been working.”

“Working. Right.” This from Gage Jackelson, the team’s explosives guru. Sitting where he was with his back to the windows, the hazy sunlight streamed in through the windows and highlighted the jagged outline of his earlobe that had been shot off during one of their missions in Iraq. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?”

“Like you’re one to talk, dude.” Scotty sent him a disgruntled stare. “How’s Anna?”

“Fine. Busy. Always working these days. Thanks for asking.” Gage grinned. “You should try getting a girlfriend some time. Sticking with one woman longer than a night has its advantages.”

“Did anyone else come here to discuss our mission? Because that’s the only reason I’m here.” Kyle, said. He was slightly older than the rest of the team and Scotty was still surprised the guy was back to work, since he was still mourning the loss of his younger brother, Nick. Then again, they all were. Probably always would.

“Sure.” Scotty set his half empty bottle down on a side table and pushed to his feet. Smack talking with his buddies was usually his forte, but something about including Hayley in his one-night stand pile bugged him. Not that they’d slept together, but still. “So, Nick’s widow.”

“I ran all the information you gave me on Natalie last night.” Kyle said from inside the condo’s open galley-style kitchen. Scotty kept this place as a safe house in case the team needed a place to crash or hideout while in DC.

“What’d you find, boss?” Scotty leaned against the granite bar top. “I don’t buy for a second that the widow’s dead too.” The minute the words were out, he cringed. “Sorry, man. I know you miss him.”

Kyle met his gaze, then looked away, his voice low. “Yeah.” He walked out into the living room and took a seat in an arm chair across from the sofa. “From the intel I gathered, the only evidence to support Natalie’s death is the certificate. And the grave.”

“So you think someone faked it? Becks maybe?” Scotty sank back into his seat, frowning. “But why?”

“Good question.”

Scotty’s phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out. Didn’t recognize the number. He held up a finger to the guys as he stood and moved to the opposite side of the room. “Hello?”

“Scotty Devonshire?”

“Who is this?”


He couldn’t help smiling. Just hearing her voice did that. “Red? He glanced over at his buddies, then faced the wall for more privacy. “To what do I owe this honor?”

“I found some footage I think you might be interested in seeing.”

“Cool. When should we meet?”

“How about ten minutes?”

“Seriously?” He frowned and checked his watch. “Where are you?”

“At work. But it’s almost my lunch and I can take some extra personal time, if I need to. I’ll hop on the metro and be in your neighborhood in a snap.”

“I won’t even ask how you know my location.”

“GPS. It’s a beautiful thing.” She laughed and the room around him seemed to brighten. “All right. We can meet at the pub down the street, McGruff’s, in ten.”

“Bring your team along. I want to meet them.”

“Really?” Disappointment tugged through him. He’d been hoping for some more alone time with her.

“Yeah. If we’re all going to be working together on this, don’t you think I should meet them? And vice versa.”

It made sense, dammit. “Fine.”

“I know, it’s tough when you aren’t the one with all the good ideas,” she said, and he could tell she was smiling. That sly smile of hers, probably. Before he could even come up with something snarky to say back, she added, “I just sent you some still shots to look at in the meantime. See you soon.”

The phone went dead and he squinted at the images flooding his tiny screen.

“You done talking to your latest bae, dude?” Spence said.

“What?” Scotty asked without looking up. The stills from Hayley showed a woman, at what looked like Union Station. Dark hair, slender build, peculiar taste in bohemian chic, thrift store clothes—
oh shit.
Natalie. He checked the date and time stamp. “Um, guys?”

“Yeah?” Gage said. “What the hell’s wrong? Did some tramp dump your ass again?”

“No.” He walked over and handed his phone to Kyle. “Take a look at these.”

Kyle frowned. “Where did you get these?”

“A contact of mine at the FBI. According to the time stamp, they were taken yesterday. Not sure, but whoever that female is, she looks a hell of a lot like our Natalie.”

“Who’s this contact?” Kyle gave him a wary look. “Can they be trusted?”

“Her name’s Hayley Stevens. She works on their cyber intelligence team, and yeah. I think we can trust her.” He crossed his arms. “In fact, you can meet her yourself, We’re due to see her at McGruff’s in”—he checked his watch—“seven minutes.”

Kyle gave Scotty a pointed stare, then concentrated on the photos again.

“Hayley, eh?” Spencer pushed to his feet and moved in beside Scotty. “Is she hot?”

“Shut up.” Scotty gave his friend a dirty look. He’d barely had a chance to get to know Hayley himself. Having her meet with the rest of his crazy team so soon would be overwhelming for her at best, but it’s what she’d wanted. Much as he hated to do it, he extended the invitation. “She wants all of you to come too.”

“Cool.” Gage said. “Always a pleasure meeting one of your girls, man.” He grinned. “Plus, it’ll give us a chance to make sure she’s trustworthy.”

“Of course she’s trustworthy.” Scotty did his best to keep the edge from his tone and failed miserably, if the impassive look Gage gave him was any indication. “I’m not an idiot.”

“Don’t get your undies in a wad.” Spencer slapped him on the back then tossed his empty beer bottle across the room and into the recycle bin. “But if she falls for one of us instead, you’ll just have to deal.”

“Hayley’s not falling for anyone. She’s a cyber analyst for the FBI.” A small muscle ticked near his clenched jaw and he forced himself to relax. Why the hell he was getting so worked up about a woman he barely knew? Yeah, Hayley seemed smart and funny and that body…
Fuckin’ A
.  A man could lose himself in all those wicked curves and die happy. He coughed to clear the sudden constriction from his throat and headed for the door. “Well, if you ladies are ready, let’s go. And try not to act like your usual asshole selves.”

“Whatever. Girls can’t get enough of me,” Spencer said as he passed by Scotty.

“Right.” He waited until they’d all exited, then secured the door behind them. “As evidenced by the fact you haven’t gotten laid since Bush was president.”

“I get laid plenty.” Spencer followed Kyle and Gage out into the overcast afternoon.

“Sorry, bud. Your own hand doesn’t count, my friend,” Gage said over his shoulder.

They walked half a block down to the corner pub. McGruff’s was dark and smoky and served the best bar food this side of the Potomac. After securing a table in the far corner, Gage headed to the jukebox to complete his usual survey of the room’s layout and hopefully pick out some good tunes. Spencer excused himself to go to the bathroom, and double-check the exits. And Kyle ordered them a round of beers then hiked his chin toward the door. “Looks like your gal’s right on time.”

“Dammit. She’s not my—” Scotty swiveled toward the entrance and his breath caught in his chest. With the daylight behind her, Hayley’s red hair looked like an unholy halo around her angelic face. All the blood from his head shot straight to his groin.
. “Yeah, that’s her. How’d you know?”

Kyle didn’t answer.

Scotty waved Hayley over and she came up to their table, her smile a little hesitant as Gage and Spencer rejoined them as well. He wanted nothing more than to scoop her up in his arms and hold her close. Instead, he fisted his hands against his thighs and made the introductions. “Hayley, these are the members of SEAL Team Ten.” He went around the table—Kyle, Gage, Spencer. Each stood and gave her a crisp handshake, except for Spencer who also gave her a slow once-over. Hayley didn’t seem to notice, but still. He was gonna have to kick Spence’s ass later.

“Have a seat.” Scotty gestured to the chair beside him. He caught a whiff of her sweet strawberry scent and his pulse kicked higher. Not helpful. Not helpful at all. The other guys stared at him, so he did his best to make useful conversation. “We, uh, saw the photos you sent. Pretty interesting.”

“I’ll say.” She glanced at Kyle, then lowered her voice, speaking directly to Scotty. “I had a feeling after we searched the house last night that someone had planted that newspaper article, but it never occurred to me she might have done it herself.”

“Wait. You were at Nick’s house last night too?” Kyle scowled.

“What? You told me to check out the place again.” Scotty narrowed his gaze.

“I meant alone.” Kyle started to say more, but the bell above the door jangled merrily, cutting off whatever else he’d been going to say.

“Aw, fuck.” Gage said and sank lower in his chair. “We’ve got company.”

Scotty glanced over at the new arrivals, a bevy of black-suited clones, then glanced sideways at Hayley. “You were followed?”

“My boss sent them as back-up. I thought I lost them.” Color zoomed into her cheeks. “Sorry.”

“Shit.” Spencer hung his head. “I hate those guys.”

“We need to go. Commander Brighton will have my ass if we don’t keep this on the down low.” Kyle stood and the other guys followed him. “Scotty you coming?”

Well, damn
. He looked at Hayley, then over at the small contingent of sunglass-wearing agents now blocking the entrance. His oath as a SEAL demanded loyalty to his team, but his instincts told him to stay near the woman at his side, at least for now.

Hayley leaned over and whispered, “Is there another way out of here?”

Her warm, minty breath ghosted over his face and warmth spread like liquid honey from his center out through his extremities. Yep. He was definitely sticking with Hayley. He met Kyle’s dark gaze and managed not to wince under his leader’s hard stare. “I’ll stay with her for now. Make sure she’s covered, if that’s okay, sir.”

“Right. I’ll contact you later.”

His SEAL team mates disappeared into the shadows of the room and he turned to Hayley once more.  He’d made his choice and now he’d have to live with it, for better or worse. “C’mon, I know a back exit through the kitchen.”

BOOK: Hacking the SEAL (Saving the SEALs Series Book 2)
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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