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One Shot

By:Laurie Roma

a as a fellow agent knew better.

Tara wasn’t fooling her.

As a sniper, Mikayla “Lynx” Lincoln had been on her own share of dangerous missions. She had eyes like a hawk and never missed what she was aiming at. Mikayla had read the brief on the mission and knew exactly what Tara had been doing in South Africa. The sympathy in her striking violet eyes was almost more than Tara could bear at the moment.

Unable to stand the conversation any longer, Tara tried diversionary tactics. “What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the bachelorette party.”

“I’m not having one.”

Tara gasped. “Not having a bachelorette party? Well, crap…that’s the only fun part about a wedding!”

Bella laughed at her friend. “Jason and I decided not to follow that little tradition. He doesn’t want to go out and see a bunch of strippers and I don’t want him killing whatever poor soul you would hire to dance for us.”

“Hmm.”

Tara took a moment to think about that one. Yeah, Jason would kill any other man Bella saw naked, but she still had to pout a little. “I guess you’re right. Damn it, I was looking forward to that part, though.”

The women all laughed.

Mikayla looked out of the apartment window with a grimace. “If it keeps snowing like this, you’re sure going to get that winter white wedding you wanted.”

Bella gave a happy sigh of contentment. “I know.”

“I think it’s so romantic that you’re getting married on Christmas Day,” Liz sighed.

“At least Jason won’t ever forget your anniversary,” Tara added.

Like he ever would. Jason MacBain would forget his own name before he forgot something as important as the day he married the woman he loved.

Tara’s phone pinged an incoming text, cutting off further conversation. Mikayla’s phone issued a similar sound. They quickly read their messages and Mikayla rose from her chair, smiling in apology.

“Work calls.”

“Sorry, B.” Tara tried for a look of reticence but knew she failed as Bella laughed.

“No, you’re not but that’s okay.” Bella giggled. “I’m not trying to torture you and believe me I know this is torture for you. Go ahead. Come back up for dinner if you can.”

“Are you cooking?” Tara asked hopefully.

Bella laughed. “You know it.”

“Then hell yeah, we’ll be back. Thanks. See you guys later.” Tara squeezed Bella’s shoulder as she passed by her chair. As she and Mikayla made their way out of the apartment, Tara hoped that no one heard the sigh of relief that escaped.

Chapter Two

“Whatever the assignment is, I’m in.”

Tara spoke as she strolled into the room a few steps ahead of Mikayla. Jason MacBain stood at the head of the conference table where the members of his elite team of field agents had their briefings. The walls were a slate gray and the room housed the most elaborate set of electronics anywhere on earth. IAD didn’t mess around when it came to their equipment. If someone could dream up an idea, then the IAD geek-squad had probably figured out a way to create it.

Nothing but the best was acceptable.

The levels of IAD were located in the subbasement below the apartment complex where they all lived, not in the Mac Securities building next door where most of the agents worked as a cover. The sublevels of the building were reinforced, so well protected that even if a nuclear bomb was dropped on the city it wouldn’t be destroyed.

Sal Moretti stood off to the side pouring himself a cup of coffee. He turned with a wink when the women entered the room. Bella’s oldest brother Sal was a big man, with arms like torpedoes and a heart of gold. He was officially an agent-in-transition. IAD only recruited field-ready agents, but working for the agency required that they were prepared for anything and that meant extensive preparation. Any time a new agent was activated, they went through three months of training on anything and everything that might be useful in the field. It covered everything from bomb making to electronics to hand-to-hand combat. The agents mostly worked in teams but often had to go it alone if the situation called for it. The transition phase helped prepare the agents to handle whatever might be thrown at them, and from personal experience, Tara knew that the training was necessary to stay alive.

Tara had been the one to suggest pulling Sal into IAD. She had been working to take down an arms dealer’s network for three long months before Sal stumbled onto the op by accident. He’d been an Army Ranger when Tara had saved him and one of the men from his unit in Budapest. Sal never knew that Tara was a covert agent before that moment.

Since Tara had always been like a little sister to Sal, he had been royally pissed when he found out what she really did for a living, although he’d been smart enough to wait until they’d reached a clean room with no surveillance to let her have it. He could never stand to see any of his girls in danger and it had taken quite a bit of adjusting for him to work with her.

Not that he had much of a choice. She was the senior agent, after all. They’d gotten the job done and he’d taken some time to clear things up with his unit before officially transferring to IAD. He had been a good soldier, following the rules and regulations set forth by the military, but IAD worked on a different scale.

Their motto was to get it done, no matter the costs.

For some, learning how to operate under a different set of rules was difficult to get used to, but Sal seemed at ease with the change. Like most of the agents, Sal had always had a strong protective streak. With IAD he put it to good use, only on a larger scale.

Mikayla quickly joined Sal at the coffee pot. Those who knew her well knew that Mikayla would put coffee through an IV, straight into her veins if she could. She raised an empty cup in silent question but Tara declined her offer with the shake of her head.

Her gaze drifted across the room and settled on the two large men already seated at the c

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