Black Jack (Elite Ops 4)

Page 3

Jordan took a long sip of his beer, his expression thoughtful before saying, “Not any longer.”
Travis froze. He’d never heard of an Elite Ops agent being released from duty. It was a life sentence. Try to run, try to hide, even dare to think of revealing the truth about
your life, and it was fatal.
“What do you mean, not any longer?”
The only way she could have managed release was death. And she couldn’t be dead. She couldn’t.
Leaning forward, Jordan braced his elbows on his knees and stared back at him, his expression remote, but Travis felt the tension emanating from the other man.
“We believe Night Hawk has been compromised,” Jordan said. “Two months ago she was shot outside of Elite Two’s headquarters. She was struck in the head.”
Two months ago. She would have just been returning to England. Two months and he was just now learning what had happened to her.
Travis felt ice form in his veins. For one everlasting moment bleak darkness seemed to flow through him, to slice into the hardened shield he’d placed around his heart.
Night Hawk. She was tiny as hell, fragile, slender. There were times she appeared almost broken inside. She was the type of woman that a man wanted to protect, to wrap in cotton batting and hold close to his heart forever.
The fact that she was a trained sniper with a rating that other snipers would envy never failed to amaze him. She didn’t look strong enough to carry the rifle he knew had been customized for her. She sure as hell didn’t look merciless enough to use it, though he knew she was.
She was filled with regret, with bitterness. There was a dark, overwhelming agony that lived in her eyes, and a hunger that went far beyond the lust he knew she felt for him.
And now, there was a chance he would never again touch her, never taste her, never know the culmination of the need that filled her gaze each time she looked at him.
He could only imagine the damage, and the horrific results of those images flashed through his mind, sending a shaft of pain through his soul that he should have been immune to.
“Status?” He could barely force the words past his lips as he suspected the worst.
Jordan had stated she was compromised, not dead. That left hope. God, he needed hope. He couldn’t imagine his Night Hawk gone forever, the tiny glimmer of hope that always lingered in her gaze extinguished.
“Recovering. She moved at the last second, so the bullet just grazed her. She has a damned hard head, but there are complications.” There was no emotion in Jordan’s tone. He could have been discussing the weather rather than a person’s life.
Travis had to do something. If he continued to stand there, then he might end up losing his grip on reality.
Jerking fresh, dry jeans from his pack and ignoring Jordan, he removed the leather riding pants before pulling the jeans over his legs and securing them quickly. Pulling the damp jacket from his shoulders, he tossed it negligently to the floor before stripping the moist T-shirt from his body and tossing it to the floor with the jacket.
Jordan wasn’t talking.
Travis pulled a T-shirt over his head, then turned, lifted the beer, and finished it in one drink.
“What are the complications?” he finally asked, knowing Jordan was going to draw this out, to force him to ask, to reveal any emotions he might feel. Any feelings that could compromise the assignment or Travis’s ability to use Night Hawk however Jordan intended to use her.
When he spoke, he was deadly serious.
“Amnesia. She’s completely forgotten the past six years. That includes her father’s death. For all intents and purposes, she’s become a liability, Travis.”
Amnesia. She was once again the woman she had been rather than the woman she had been trained to be. For a moment, a sense of joy threatened to swell within him, because he remembered the young woman she had been rather than the agent she had been forced to become. One he knew suffered from the loss of the life she had left behind.
“Then the operation has changed?” She was alive. She was alive. The words played through his mind, his heart, as he fought to get his bearings upon realizing that she hadn’t been killed, that at least he could hold on to the fact that she still breathed.
“The operation’s focus is still the same. But the reasons behind the mission have . . . expanded a bit,” Jordan informed him. “And we’re still going to use her. You’re still going to use her.”
Knowing it and hearing it were two different things. Having that knowledge affirmed with such cool confidence, such lack of regret or mercy, had the power to piss Travis off more than it should have.
“Now why the fuck doesn’t that surprise me?” Travis bit out, his voice rough, emotion slipping through his control despite his attempts to hold it back. “Fuck, Jordan, over the years, has it occurred to you that you’ve turned into nothing more than a governmental fucking robot?”
He knew the original operation that had been planned. It would have been hard enough for her to go back to her old life. Doing it with no memory of who she had been for the past six years would make her a danger to herself, to himself, and to the mission, and that wasn’t acceptable.