Spy in the Saddle Online - Dana Marton

Chapter One

As Shep Lewis, undercover commando, strode into his team’s office trailer on the Texas-Mexico border with his morning coffee, his bad mood followed him. To do anything right, a person had to give his all—and he did, to each and every op. But it didn’t seem to make a difference with his current mission.

He adjusted his Bluetooth as Keith Gunn, one of his teammates—currently on border patrol—talked on the other end. They all took turns monitoring a hundred-mile stretch along the Rio Grande, in pairs.

“Do you think they’ll really send in the National Guard to seal the border?”

“They won’t,” Shep said between his teeth. “It would just delay the problem.” For some reason, the powers that be didn’t see that the National Guard was a terrible solution, which frustrated him to hell and back.

His six-man team had credible intelligence that terrorists with their weapons of mass destruction would be smuggled across somewhere around here, on October first—five short days away. His team’s primary mission was to prevent that. Switching out players for the last five minutes of the game was a terrible strategy.

They had the exact date of the planned border breach. If they could somehow discover the exact location, they could lie in wait and grab those damned terrorists as they crossed the river. The bastards would never know what hit them.

The National Guard coming in to seal the border could not be hidden, however. Which meant the terrorists would move their crossing to a different place at a different time and might slip through undetected. The sad fact was, even the National Guard didn’t have the kind of manpower to keep every single mile of the entire U.S. border permanently sealed.

“The op has to be small enough to keep undercover to succeed,” he said, even if Keith knew that as well as he did.

“Except, we don’t have the exact location for their crossing.”

“We will.” But he silently swore. They were running out of time, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher—national security and the lives of thousands.

There could be no more mistakes, no distractions. They had five days to stop the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Failure wasn’t an option.

Keith cleared his throat. “The FBI’s guy will be here today.”

“Don’t remind me.” Frustration punched through Shep. Everybody seemed to have a sudden urge to meddle. “Where are you?”

“Coming in. Ryder’s cutting the shift short. He wanted to talk to the whole team at the office.”

“More good news?”

“He didn’t say. We’ll be there in ten.”

They ended the call as Shep strode through the empty office that held their desks and equipment, passed by the interrogation room to the left, then team leader Ryder McKay’s office. Ryder had been on border patrol this morning with Keith.

Voices filtered out from the break room in the back, so Shep kept going that way.

“She burned down his house, stole his car and got him fired from his job.” Jamie Cassidy’s voice reached him through the partially closed door.

Okay, that sounded disturbingly familiar. Shep’s fingers tightened on the foam cup in his hand as he paused midstep, on the verge of entering. His mood slipped another notch as old memories rushed him. He shook them off. No distractions.

“She broke his heart,” Jamie added.

All right, that’s enough. Shep shoved the door open, maybe harder than he’d intended.

He stepped into the room just as Ray Armstrong said in a mocking tone, “Must have been some love affair.” He glanced over and grinned. “Hey, Shep.”

Shep shot a cold glare at the three men, all hardened commando soldiers: Jamie, Ray and Moses Mann.

The latter two had the good sense to look embarrassed at being caught gossiping like a bunch of teenage girls. Jamie just grinned and reached back to the fridge behind him for an energy drink.

The fridge and wall-to-wall cabinets filled up the back of the break room, a microwave and coffee machine glinting in the corner. In front of the men, high-resolution satellite printouts covered the table.

This close to D-day, they didn’t take real breaks anymore. They worked around the clock, would do whatever it took to succeed.

Yesterday’s half-eaten pizza, which they were apparently resurrecting as breakfast, sat to the side. Jamie pushed it farther out of the way as he lifted the drink to his mouth with one hand while he finished marking something on one of the printouts with a highlighter.

“So—” He looked at Shep when he was finished, too cheerful by half. “Want to tell us about her?”

Shep stepped closer,