Black Jack (Elite Ops 4)

Page 2

Lilly was different, his heart swore, though his mind fought that instinctive knowledge.
He shouldn’t have been surprised, though. He should have expected it at some point once he’d managed to uncover her former identity. She was the perfect asset to use to find the individual or individuals involved in the death of the powerful, influential Lord Harold Harrington, Lilly’s father.
But they were prepared to use her in a way that Travis feared would end up destroying her. Returning her to her old life, to the family she had left behind, wouldn’t be a cakewalk for her.
Sure, Lilly had already been training to follow in her father’s footsteps as an MI5 agent before her “death.” But even then, she had been a Harrington and had been entrenched in that blue-blood life. She had been raised to be a lady and to assume all the responsibilities that entailed. However, once she had joined the Elite Ops, she left all of that behind and had become someone else entirely. An outsider, a rebel . . . a lost soul who had seen and done things others only saw in their nightmares. Like him, she no longer belonged in that rarefied world. And making her face what she had been forced to leave behind was damn cruel.
Facing it himself wouldn’t be easy. There was an added painful element for Lilly, though. They were returning to investigate the death of Lilly’s father and the attempt on her own life when she had been Lady Victoria Harrington. Lilly remembered very little about that final night of her old life. She remembered seeing her father lying in a pool of blood when she entered his study, and nothing more.
The next day Lord Harrington’s body had been pulled from his car, which had gone over a cliff. The fuel line had cracked upon impact, and in a matter of minutes the car exploded. Harrington’s body had been burned beyond recognition. They’d had to identify him by his dental records. Lilly’s body had never been found. It was believed that she had been thrown from the car upon impact and that her body washed out to the sea at the bottom of the cliff.
They believed that whoever shot Lord Harrington had tried to cover up the crime by making it look like he and his daughter had gotten into a horrible car accident. And because he had been wealthy and titled, and because MI5 would have preferred not to have anyone looking too closely into why Lord Harrington might have died, he had been laid to rest quickly and Lilly had been declared dead. Unfortunately, the ones responsible still had not been identified.
As a covert agent for MI5, Lord Harrington had been investigating the electronic theft of thousands of pounds from trust funds and legitimate companies in England. The situation came to his attention when he had launched a probe into his own company when funds had gone missing.
Those funds had been diverted to accounts overseas, transferred again and again until they disappeared entirely in dummy accounts. That’s when Elite Ops had become interested in the case.
No one could track who was doing it, how they were doing it, or who would be targeted next. Until Lord Harrington had sent a message to MI5 that he had figured it out. Before the agency could send anyone out to his estate to pull him in, he had turned up dead, and his daughter had disappeared. However, money was still disappearing, and they had finally managed to track it to several terrorist accounts and it looked like someone among England’s very wealthy was involved, which made it a delicate situation for MI5. And though they might hesitate to investigate England’s upper crust, Elite Ops had no such compunction.
Pulling beneath the wide receiving area of the Marriott, Travis cut the power to the Harley, unclipped his helmet, and swung his leg over the seat before striding through the electronic doors to the reception desk.
The tired young woman who checked him in paid a little too much attention to the wet leather he was wearing. The glint of lust in her eyes assured him that if he needed any company when she got off her shift, he only had to let her know.
Hell, he should take her up on it, he thought as he strode to the elevator. He would have, if he wasn’t damned sure that he’d end up disgusting himself. Once a man saw heaven in one woman’s arms, then nothing else would do. And that scared the shit out of him, the thought that no other woman but Lilly would do.
Sliding the security key card into the electronic slot, Travis waited for the green light before stepping carefully into the room, his fingers curled around the butt of the gun holstered beneath his shirt.
The room was empty. The sense of vacancy that filled it wrapped around him. It was pure loneliness. Hell, he would have almost preferred an assassin.
Closing the door behind him, Travis tossed his leather bag to the empty chair beside the bed and stared around the darkened room for long moments before moving to the lamp and flipping it on.
Turning, he came to a hard stop at the sight that met him in the shadowed corner on the far side of the room.
“Hell, I didn’t even sense you.” Travis raked his fingers through his hair as Jordan uncurled himself from the chair next to the small round table. “I thought we were meeting later.”
Jordan was an enigma to him, as well as to the rest of the team. Even his nephew, Noah Blake, admitted that his uncle was damned complicated. Travis knew he had never worked with another man as dangerous, nor as completely icy, as Jordan Malone.
“We need to talk before we meet with the commanders from Elite Two. You’ll be accompanying them to Switzerland, and I wanted to brief you first,” Jordan informed him as he moved to the tiny kitchen station in the corner and pulled open the door to the box refrigerator.
“I could have used a nap first,” Travis grunted.
Why the hell Switzerland? The last he heard he was heading to England.
He could have used some time to think about this one.
“You want the nap or full disclosure?” Jordan asked as he pulled free two beers, uncapped them, and handed one to Travis before returning to his chair.
Full disclosure from Commander Tight-ass? Now that would sure as hell be a change.
Setting the bottle on the dresser behind him, Travis threw the helmet to the bed before peeling off his wet jacket and throwing Jordan a dark glare.
“Since when do you give full disclosure?” he asked.
Bright blue eyes flashed with a hint of anger as Jordan lifted the bottle and took a long drink of the beer. When he set the beer back on the table, his expression was once again cool, composed.
“Since we’re using a noncombatant,” Jordan stated, his voice harder than normal.
Travis watched him carefully now. “Night Hawk isn’t a noncombatant, Jordan,” he reminded him. “She’s an agent.”