A covert affair, p.1
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       A Covert Affair, p.1

         Part #5 of Deadly Ops series by Katie Reus
 
A Covert Affair


  Copyright © 2016 Katie Reus

  Excerpt from Targeted copyright © 2013 Katie Reus

  Cover photo © BestPhotoStudio/Shutterstock.

  Cover design www.isitdesign.co.uk

  Author photograph © Jessica Ziegler 2011

  The right of Katie Reus to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  Published by arrangement with NAL Signet,

  a member of Penguin Group (USA), LLC.

  A Penguin Random House Company

  First published in this Ebook edition in 2016

  by HEADLINE ETERNAL

  An imprint of HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

  Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

  All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

  eISBN 978 1 4722 3139 0

  HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

  An Hachette UK Company

  Carmelite House

  50 Victoria Embankment

  London EC4Y 0DZ

  www.headlineeternal.com

  www.headline.co.uk

  www.hachette.co.uk

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  About the Author

  Praise for Katie Reus

  By Katie Reus

  About the Book

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Epilogue

  An exciting excerpt from Targeted

  Catch the whole thrilling Deadly Ops series

  Don’t miss Katie’s Moon Shifter books

  Find out more about Headline Eternal

  About the Author

  Katie Reus fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she’d pilfered from her mom’s stash. After changing majors too many times to count, she finally graduated with a degree in psychology. She now spends her days writing thrilling romantic suspense and dark paranormal romance. She currently lives near Biloxi, Mississippi, with her family. When she’s not creating stories she can usually be found spending time with her family or one of the many eclectic animals they’ve adopted over the years.

  Find out more about Katie by visiting www.katiereus.com, connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/katiereusauthor and Twitter @katiereus.

  Katie Reus’s Deadly Ops series will blow you away. Here’s why:

  ‘A fast-paced, high-stakes romantic thriller . . . Strong characterization and steadily mounting tension are powerful weapons in this talented author’s arsenal’ Publishers Weekly

  ‘Katie Reus has the amazing ability of pulling the reader onto the front lines of the action and drama . . . A fast-paced, intelligent, and spirited story of suspense, mystery, intrigue, and murder . . . It is a story of heartbreak and grief; friendship and love; betrayal and revenge’ The Reading Cafe

  ‘Fast-paced romantic suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat!’ Cynthia Eden, New York Times bestselling author

  ‘A well-plotted, excellently delivered, emotional and sensual ride that grabs hold and doesn’t let go . . . delivers mystery, suspense, and a romance nothing short of heart-pounding’ Night Owl Reviews

  ‘Sexy suspense at its finest’ Laura Wright, New York Times bestselling author

  ‘Non-stop action, a solid plot, good pacing, and riveting suspense’ Romantic Times

  ‘Explosive danger, and enough sexual tension to set the pages on fire . . . fabulous!’ Alexandra Ivy, New York Times bestselling author

  ‘Both romantic and suspenseful, a fast-paced, sexy book full of high-stakes action’ Heroes and Heartbreakers

  By Katie Reus

  Deadly Ops Series

  Targeted

  Bound To Danger

  Chasing Danger (e-novella)

  Shattered Duty

  Edge Of Danger

  A Covert Affair

  Moon Shifter Series

  Alpha Instinct

  Lover’s Instinct (e-novella)

  Primal Possession

  Mating Instinct

  His Untamed Desire (e-novella)

  Avenger’s Heat

  Hunter Reborn

  About the Book

  National Security Agent Nathan Ortiz is back in the game. After being wounded in action he’s ready for anything. But he’s shocked when his new mission to find missing women in Miami leads him to the very one he’s never forgotten.

  Successful restaurateur Amelia Rios does everything she can to support struggling women in her community. When one of her waitresses stops showing up for work, Amelia is thrown into a dark, shadowy world.

  Working with Nathan, the only man she’s ever loved, old feelings surface as they fight a ruthless enemy preying on the poor and weak. The heat simmering between them could mean a second chance at love – but first they must survive.

  More mind-blowing action is waiting for you. Don’t miss Katie Reus’s other Deadly Ops novels: Targeted, Bound To Danger, Chasing Danger, Shattered Duty, and Edge Of Danger.

  Dedicated to my loving mom.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  As always, I owe a big thanks to my editor, Danielle Perez, for all her wonderful insight into this book. To the team at New American Library—Christina Brower, Jessica Brock, Ashley Polikoff—thank you for all the behind-the-scenes work that you do; it’s very appreciated. To my agent, Jill Marsal, thank you for your continuing guidance. For Kari Walker, I’m so incredibly grateful that you read the early draft of A Covert Affair (and all my early drafts!). You make reaching the finish line of a book a whole lot easier. To my patient family, I owe gratitude to my husband and son for living with me when I’m on a deadline. You guys are my rocks. For Sarah, thank you for all the behind-the-scenes stuff you do that gives me more time to write. “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough. And I definitely owe thanks to my Deadly Ops readers. Thank you, guys, for reading this series and for reaching out to let me know how much you’re enjoying it. I hope you love this latest book. Last, but never least, I’m thankful to God for so many opportunities and blessings.

  Prologue

  Collateral damage: damage, injuries, or deaths that are incidental to an intended target(s). Unintended civilian casualties or destruction of civilian property.

  “Evacuate now!” Karen shouted through their comm line.

  Nathan immediately pushed himself up from one of the pillars of the Metro Station, his gaze locking with Freeman’s, twenty feet away. This was fucking bad. They were undercover, but the urgency in Karen’s voice told him that didn’t matter now.

  Freeman was closer to the exit. Nathan could see him pausing, as if he was going to wait for him. “Go!” he shouted at his teammate, already sprinting after him.

  Selene was shouting over the
comm too, telling them to get the hell out. He’d never heard her sound panicked before.

  Adrenaline shot through him like a cannon blast as he ran, his legs eating up the distance between the subway tracks and the nearest set of stairs. He ignored the strange looks he got from people. If Karen or Selene told him to start tap-dancing in the middle of an op, he’d do it. Not because he was a mindless puppet who followed orders, but because he trusted them with his life. He couldn’t say that about many people. And if they were telling him to get the hell out, then he was outta here.

  That was when he heard it. A familiar whistle and then a whoosh of air. The unmistakable sound of a rocket.

  Shit, shit, shit.

  They were screwed. Without thinking, he tackled the woman nearest to him. Hell, if he could save one random person, he’d do it. Before she could utter a scream, an explosion rent the air, the roar deafening as a brief blast of heat licked through the station. Keeping her body beneath his, he covered his head with his arm as debris rained down around them.

  Something hard slammed into his left leg. He groaned at the shock of pain as the bone snapped. Before it fully registered, something else fell onto his arm, skimming his head. Not as heavy, but his vision blurred for a moment. The edges of his sight went black and he fought to remain conscious as the woman cried beneath him. She wasn’t struggling but was huddled up trying to get even closer to him. He succumbed to the darkness dragging him under.

  Nathan’s eyes snapped open to the sound of groans and crying nearby. Shit, he must have lost consciousness for a couple of seconds. The woman was still beneath him, her body shaking. That was good—she was awake. “You okay?” he rasped out. There was a dull ringing in his ears, his head pounding.

  “Think . . . so.” Her teeth chattered.

  “I’m rolling off you.” When he did, he winced as a jagged pain tore through his leg. He glanced down his body and grimaced at the odd angle his lower leg stuck out at. Definitely broken. It would be easy to give in to the pain and lie back, but he could actually hear his former gunnery sergeant telling him to “rub some fucking dirt on it, Marine!” Code for get over it and man up.

  He quickly did a scan of the rest of his body. His head hurt, but his other leg seemed fine and he could move his arms and torso well enough as he pushed himself up.

  As he scanned the interior of the Metro, he withdrew his weapon instinctively. He could see a few unmoving bodies, some pinned beneath large pieces of concrete, others lying with their body parts twisted at odd angles. Not good.

  The woman, still huddled in a ball on the dusty floor, gasped at the sight of his SIG. “What is that?”

  What the hell did she think it was? “It’s fine. I’m . . . the police.” Not true, but he wasn’t going to tell her he was part of an elite group of NSA agents the public didn’t know about and that he’d been working on a covert op when someone had decided to blow up the place. He tapped his earpiece, seeing if he could turn it on, but he knew it was pointless.

  He hadn’t heard anyone since the explosion.

  Piles of rubble littered the station, and he could see patches of blue sky from where the ceiling had caved in. “Freeman?” he called out.

  “I’m good. Broke a couple bones but I’ll live,” his teammate shouted from nearby, his voice shaky. It sounded as if he was on the other side of twin piles of rubble.

  “Same here. Broke my leg, can’t move too much without help.” A wave of nausea swept through him, but he shoved it back. There was no time for that shit.

  “Sit tight. Gonna see if my phone works.” Freeman’s voice had that thready quality to it, as if talking was a struggle.

  His phone. Hell, why hadn’t he thought of that? Moving sluggishly, Nathan patted his pants pocket, trying to feel for his cell, when the woman next to him gently touched his arm.

  Her eyes were wide and her face and hair were streaked with dirt, probably from when he’d tackled her to the dingy floor. “You’re bleeding,” she said, still shaking but not as bad as before. She pointed to his head before looking around and snagging her purse, which was a foot from them. “I think I’ve got some tissues or something.”

  Her fingers fumbled to open the giant purse, but he stilled her with his free hand. “It’s okay. Just sit tight. Help is on the way.”

  Pop. Pop. Pop.

  His blood chilled in his veins. Gunfire. There was too much debris in the way, and the acoustics of the place made it impossible to accurately decide which direction it had come from. But it wasn’t right on top of them, which was good.

  “Was that—”

  Nathan held a finger to the woman’s mouth. Eyes growing even wider, she nodded, so he dropped his hand. He pointed in the direction of the stairs. There was a pile of rubble there too, blocking what he knew was their only exit. He’d have to crawl over it with some difficulty, but she should be all right as far as he could tell.

  Keeping his weapon in his hand was a difficult feat as he crab-crawled backward, dragging his busted leg as he went. And didn’t that hurt like a bitch? But he couldn’t afford to let his guard down and he couldn’t attempt to belly-crawl. He might not know the exact direction of those gunshots, but he knew the general area. The west side. So he was making it to the east side and not exposing his back to anyone. He needed to get backup, because if there was a team down here, he wasn’t fit to engage. He’d do it no problem, but he had only one weapon and he was fighting unconsciousness each second that passed. They needed help.

  At this point he wasn’t sure if the shooter was the dirty DEA agent they’d brought in as part of this op or someone completely new. Didn’t much matter. The only thing that mattered was getting out of this place in one piece and making sure no more innocent civilians were injured in the name of greed and power.

  He glanced over his shoulder once as he crawled, relief flooding his system as they reached the nearest pile.

  “Can you make it over?” he asked the woman quietly. Whispering would carry louder down here.

  She nodded. “Yeah. I don’t want to leave you, though.” Her voice was just as quiet as his.

  “It’s okay. I’m going to make a call for help. Rescue teams should already be setting up outside. Go as far as you can to the stairs, but don’t crawl under any beams or unstable-looking boulders. Don’t take any risks. If you have to sit tight, just wait for a rescue.”

  “You’re sure?” she whispered, clearly torn.

  “I swear.” He appreciated her bravery, but he wanted her out. He wanted as many innocent civilians out of here as possible. For all he knew, there could be bombs planted in the Metro, ready to be detonated. The rocket could have been only the first stage in this attack.

  “Okay,” she said. “If I make it to a rescue team, I’ll tell them where you are.”

  “Thanks.” As she started to climb, he managed to tug his cell free from his pocket—and found it had been damaged. The screen was busted and it was beyond repair. Freaking great.

  Sighing, he weighed his options, trying his best to ignore the pain blasting all his nerve endings. He could try to crawl up after her or make his way to where he’d heard Freeman last. He couldn’t leave his teammate behind. At this point they couldn’t call out to each other, not with an unknown gunman somewhere nearby, so he’d just have to crawl until he found his friend.

  Gritting his teeth, he’d started to move when an eerie cracking sound echoed through the tunnel. A thick chunk of concrete slammed down barely ten feet away from him. Pieces shattered out in every direction.

  Looking up, he saw more pieces starting to fall. Panic bloomed inside him as he scrambled backward again. He winced as his palms dug into sharp shards of debris, the pieces cutting up his hands. He’d moved two feet when another chunk crashed where he’d just been.

  His heart in his throat, he kept moving until he backed up against another pile of rubble. At least he’d made progress.

  “Ortiz?” Freeman called out, despite the fact that they shoul
dn’t be talking.

  “I’m good.” For now. “You?”

  “Yeah.”

  Okay, then. That would have to do for now. As he settled up against the uncomfortable pile to take a short break, the image of Amelia filled his head. The thought of her surprised him, but maybe it shouldn’t have. He’d locked up his memories of her for years, compartmentalizing the way he had to in order to attempt to get over her.

  For the first time in almost twelve years, he wanted to reach out to her, just hear her voice again. He could have died today. Hell, he still might die. The only thing he was sure of, he didn’t want to leave the earth without talking to her again, seeing her again.

  Chapter 1

  HUMINT—Human intelligence: information gathered from human sources. It is done openly and covertly.

  “So, who’s the lucky lady?” Selene asked, raising an eyebrow as she straightened her white blond ponytail back into place. With multiple skill sets, most of them deadly, she was one of the best operatives Wesley Burkhart had ever trained.

  Right now Wesley decided to ignore her as his two-year-old granddaughter bounced on his knee. “How was the run?”

  “Uh-uh. You don’t care about my boring run.” Tall, lean, and strong, she strode to her refrigerator and pulled out a water bottle. “Spill the deets. I know you’re not heading back to D.C. tomorrow for work. And you’ve been acting weird lately. It’s a woman; I know it.” She pinned him with a pale blue stare that would have made a lot of people squirm.

  But he was deputy director of the NSA. A stare didn’t affect him. Even if she was right about it being a woman. But the situation was complicated.

  “Spill da deets!” Faith demanded, her little fist sweetly patting his face.

  His heart tightened. He’d never been married or had kids. Though he considered Selene like a daughter to him. And now he considered Faith his granddaughter, whether they were related by blood or not. That shit was just unimportant details, because the two females in the kitchen with him were his family. He’d taken Selene in when she was a teenager—after she was rescued from a drug lord who’d kidnapped her—and she’d burrowed her way into his heart without trying.

 
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