Harlequin.com FREE Online Read: The Navy SEAL Affair by Carol Ericson
A brand new online read is up on Harlequin.com! If you’re looking for a killer combination of suspense and romance, you’ll absolutely love this.
She wanted danger. She found it.
And this hotshot SEAL is her only hope…
Brainiac CIA agent Lauren Woods wanted to prove she could be sexy and spontaneous. For one glorious evening, she was—until her “encounter” with a mysterious billionaire compromises her cover. Now there’s a very incriminating tape out there, and Lauren needs help. The only person she can trust with the truth is the last man she wants knowing about it… gorgeous playboy and Navy SEAL, Shane West.
Only the tape is just the beginning. Lauren’s moment of recklessness is part of a plan filled with lies, deceit, and death. With her dangerous seducer cleaning up his tracks, Lauren and Shane can only rely on their wits and instincts to stay alive. They don’t have back-up. They don’t have help. All they can do is stay one step ahead… and hope that the red-hot attraction blazing between them isn’t the last thing they feel.
An electric current zigzagged down Lauren’s spine, terror or excitement she couldn’t determine which and it didn’t really matter. This moment marked the beginning of her new life.
Through her binoculars, she tracked the man with the bulging backpack hanging from one shoulder as he loped across Rochstrasse toward the train station.
Her head sunk to her shoulders and she flattened her body against the rough parapet of the building, although common sense told her nobody could see her up here on the rooftop. Her secret was safe.
One second later, a strong, unrelenting hand grabbed her arm and yanked her back from the edge of the roof. Lauren spun around, her hand reaching for the gun holstered at her waist. She collided with the solid form of Shane West, navy SEAL attaché on this assignment and all-around badass.
“Unbelievable.” His growl matched the scowl on his rugged face. He didn’t even have the courtesy to address her or look at her as he bellied up to the parapet and took in the street below.
“It has to be our guy.” She shook him off. “He has a backpack and he’s heading straight for the trash can in front of the train station—the trash can I identified.”
“You’re not supposed to be here.” He finally glanced down at her from his superior height, his gaze breaking away from the scene over her left shoulder.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” She stomped her booted foot into a puddle of rain leftover from the night before, the water spattering against Shane’s jeans. Served him right. “I made the location, and it looks like I was right. We have to stop him.”
Shane plucked the binoculars hanging against her chest and handed them to her with a tilt of his head. “Look to the left of the small park. Do you see the men, crossing the street?”
Raising the binoculars to her eyes, she jerked her head to the side. She opened her mouth and Shane placed a finger over her lips, shushing her. To compound the insult, he’d smeared her lip balm.
His low voice continued. “There are two more men coming out of the train station. Do you hear the rumble from down below and around the corner? It’s a garbage truck. Do you see the Polizei herding those people away from the station?”
His rapid-fire questions kick-started her brain and dissolved her resentment—temporarily. The CIA, its German counterpart the BND and the German police had put a tactical plan in place to stop this bomber, and it was unfolding before her very eyes on the streets of Berlin beneath her.
But they hadn’t bothered to tell her.
“N-nobody’s going to get hurt?” She hated the quaver in her voice in front of this hardened navy SEAL sniper. She stepped away from him, squaring her shoulders.
“We warned the Polizei about this location days ago—thanks to you—and they managed to set up a fake construction site to keep people away from the area and cars off the main street.”
His little nod to her part in this plot to neutralize an ominous bomb threat warmed her belly. She tapped the binoculars hanging around his neck and shot a nervous glance at the sniper rifle he’d propped up against the parapet. “What are you doing here?”
“My presence here should be obvious.” He raised one eyebrow at her. “But yours is still a mystery. Nobody gave you orders to be here. I should hustle you right off this roof and out of danger.”
She held her breath. She didn’t want to be hustled out of danger. She’d taken this assignment with the CIA in Berlin for excitement. If she’d wanted to sit in front of a computer all day, she would’ve become a computer programmer like her father had strongly suggested.
Those dark eyes that had witnessed so much studied her face for a moment. Then he shrugged. “You’re in luck. I can’t leave. I heard you making noises up here, so I took cover. What’s been happening? Has he noticed the unusual activity yet?”
He settled beside her, bumping her shoulder with his.
Lauren put her binoculars to her eyes again and squinted. “He’s looking around now. Probably wondering where the crowds are. He’s still walking toward the trash can. Could he call it off at this point?”
“He can if he’s the one holding the detonator. It’s a backpack, not a suicide vest. He wants to walk away alive. If he calls it off, we’ll take him down and take him in.”
“You’re not here to…kill him?” Her gaze darted to the lethal rifle by his side.
“Only if necessary, but the CIA wants him alive.”
The young man in her sights stumbled. He slipped the backpack from his shoulder to his arm. Lauren gasped and pressed her free hand over her heart. “He tripped. Looks like he’s onto us. He’s running toward the trash can.”
“Damn.” Shane hoisted his rifle onto his shoulder and peered through the scope. “He’s throwing the backpack at the trash can.”
Lauren flinched as the dump truck roared to life and lumbered into place on the other side of the can. The German police and the agents backed away from the garbage can, but kept the suspect in their line of fire. Was the suspect in Shane’s line of fire, too?
Shane hissed through his teeth. “He’s got the detonator in his hand. It’s a go.”
The explosion ripped through the air and Shane’s last word seemed to go on forever in the blast and tumult that followed on the street below them. Even at this height, Lauren felt the pressure in the air from the explosion.
A moment later, she was eye level with Shane’s denim-clad knees, the dampness of the rooftop soaking into the seat of her jeans. She didn’t even know how she got down here.
Shane crouched beside her and now she was eye level with his nose. His lips moved but she could only hear ringing in her ears. Gradually, she could distinguish his voice, low and urgent.
“Woods, are you okay? Say something, Woods. Nod. Thumbs up. Anything.”
Nodding, she flashed him a thumbs-up and felt like a two-year-old instead of a CIA analyst on her first overseas assignment. As she scrambled to her feet brushing off the gravel stuck to her wet bottom, Shane tucked one hand under her arm and half pulled her up.
Launching forward, she struggled to get away from him. “We have to see what happened.”
“We don’t go anywhere. You’re a teacher on sabbatical, remember? And I’m not about to go running through the streets of Berlin with my sniper rifle.”
“Was anyone injured?” And this time she didn’t care how she sounded. She’d taken this job to save lives.
Shane had swapped his rifle for the binoculars. “The dump truck, which was reinforced steel, took the brunt of the blast and the shrapnel. A few people down, including the bomber, but everyone is moving. The Polizei know we want that guy first.”
As the sirens wailed, Lauren’s knees turned to jelly and she threw out a hand, wedging it against the side of the parapet for support. She wouldn’t embarrass herself again by winding up at Shane West’s feet.
“Don’t you want to look?” Shane lowered the binoculars and what he must’ve seen in her face changed his mind. He put a steadying hand on her waist. “That’s why you’re an analyst, Woods. You don’t belong in the field.”
She stepped away from his comforting touch, despite her strong desire to throw herself into his arms. Although Shane clearly thought of her as weak, he wouldn’t expect that kind of feminine fragility from Woods the computer geek.
“Maybe I don’t, but I just stopped what could’ve been a major terrorist attack with my analysis.”
“No denying that, Woods.” He tugged on the end of her messy ponytail. “Good work.”
Her chest swelled with pride at the compliment from the great Shane West, navy SEAL sniper, special advisor to the CIA, movie consultant and international playboy if she could believe all the gossip.
How he must revel in the puppy-like adoration shining from the eyes of a plain Jane CIA drudge. Heat washed into her cheeks, and she clenched her jaw. She had no intention of joining the Shane West fan club.
“I would like to see the fruits of my brilliance.” She snatched up her binoculars but didn’t miss the smile that played across Shane’s sensuous lips.
She focused on the chaotic scene below. Pieces of shrapnel and tennis-ball-sized holes littered the dump truck. Scattered EMTs treated a few police officers and CIA agents sitting on curbs or in the backs of ambulances. The first responders.
The second head of the serpent. That phrase from the intercepted communications jumped into her head as she watched the Polizei and medical personnel scurry around below.
“Why did he detonate the bomb when he knew the number of casualties would be disappointing?”
“Huh?” Shane looked up from the weapon cradled in his arms.
With her heart thumping in her chest, Lauren swept the binoculars back and forth. The police had kept the crowds back, but a quick, darting movement caught Lauren’s attention.
She turned her binoculars to a scooter, a man with a backpack driving it straight toward the train station, straight toward the first responders.
“West! He’s coming. The second head of the snake is coming.”