Throwback Thursday – Rogue Soldier

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It’s the one year anniversary of Rogue Soldier (Shadow Unit Book 2) so I’m showing Sergeants Connor Finley and Shawn Weller some love on this Throwback Thursday. Stop by my blog to read the first chapter for FREE!

ROGUE SOLDIER

CHAPTER ONE

 

Shawn looked down at his blood soaked hands, at Connor lying motionless beside him on the rocky ground.

“It can’t end like this. Not like this…”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

FIVE DAYS EARLIER

 

“Bloody hell!

Sergeant Connor Finley swore as he ducked behind the crate a split second before a spray of bullets slammed into it, sending shards of wood flying toward his face. This op had gone both pear shaped and sideways and he needed to get control of it. Immediately. Shadow Unit only had one chance left.

Connor began running through possible scenarios as fast as his brain could process them just as their target let loose with another barrage of automatic gunfire, the muzzle flash lighting up the night.

“Fuck!”

Connor glanced to his left as his partner cursed and hunched over behind his own crate. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Connor idly thought that someday soon he’d keep a tally of how many times Shawn Weller actually said the word “fuck” in a twenty-four hour period. Did they teach him that back in his Navy SEAL days?

Shawn’s gaze flicked to the house and back. “We need to do something,” he said. “He’s the last one left.”

Connor clenched his jaw, the muscle jumping. As if he needed another reminder. “I know, I – ” he began but cut himself off as his comm crackled to life. A split second later the gruff voice of his commanding officer was in his ear.

“Shadow One. Alpha. Send sit-rep,” Lieutenant Colonel David MacDonald demanded in his Scottish brogue.

“Shit,” Connor spat, banging his head back against the crate. He ran a hand over his face then responded. “Alpha. Shadow One. We have one target remaining,” Connor reported back. There was a long pause and Connor could picture the scowl on MacDonald’s face from where he sat at the communications desk back at the hub, five miles away.

“Need I remind you we need him alive, Sergeant?” MacDonald finally responded.

Connor glanced over to Shawn, hazel eyes locked with blue. “No, sir.”

All of Shadow Unit was well aware that if they didn’t take this last man alive they’d never get the intel they needed on the money man funding a terrorist cell of the United Jihad Council. They knew he was based here in the Kashmir region of northern India but not his name and exact location. There were four men inside the house when the op began. Now they were down to one. If they didn’t do something quickly there was a distinct possibility their target would kill himself instead of allowing himself to be captured.

Connor squeezed his eyes shut in frustration but then opened them again as a crazy plan began to form in his head.

“Bugger this,” he hissed, decision made.

He reached over and grabbed a flash-bang grenade off of Shawn’s tactical vest and pressed it into his partner’s hand. “Go on zero,” he instructed, then kept low and darted off into the darkness, hearing Shawn calling after him.

“Finn! What the fuck are you doing?!”

Connor smiled inwardly at the nickname only Shawn was allowed to call him, a split second before his partner’s angry voice was in his ear.

“Shadow Team, be aware that Shadow One is attempting a south side entry. Hold position. Wait for my signal then move in.”

“Shadow Three, copy that,” replied Sergeant Mandy Cho, followed by Sergeant Chloe Davis.

“Shadow Four, copy that.”

Assured that his teammates were ready, Connor crept silently to the back of the house, keeping his six-foot, two-inch frame as small as possible, sweating profusely in the humid climate with all of his heavy tactical gear on. What he wouldn’t give to be back home in cool and rainy London he thought as he wiped the perspiration from his face.

He made his way to the rear of the small, dilapidated house, pausing outside the door, which was partially open and barely on its hinges. He cautiously looked inside, peering around the edge of the door. The interior was just one open room. A kitchen sink and stove were to his left, a small table and two mismatched chairs to his right. Beyond that a mattress on the floor with a ripped and stained blanket thrown over it. And on the other side of the bed, a beat up recliner sat in front of an ancient television set sitting on a box.

The two windows had been shattered from gunfire and broken glass littered the wooden floor, along with three dead bodies, blood pooling all around them. Connor spied their last remaining target, who was partially turned away from him, casting furtive glances out one of the broken windows, his semi-automatic rifle clutched to his chest. The Indian man was breathing hard, shifting nervously.

Connor hooked the strap of his rifle around his shoulder, leaving his hands free, then whispered into his comm. “Shadow Team, I have eyes on target. Shadow Two, on my mark.” Connor reached out, silently and carefully easing the door open wider to fit his body through. “Three, two, one…zero.”

The flash-bang grenade sailed through the window and exploded at the exact moment Connor burst through the back door. Prepared for the smoke, intensely bright light and deafening noise, Connor did not let any deter him as he sprinted toward his target.

Caught completely off guard, the man turned away from the light and smoke – unfortunately right toward Connor. His eyes widened and he raised his rifle, firing as Connor charged forward, now mere steps away from him.

Connor saw the muzzle flash an instant before his head snapped to the side, blinding, white-hot pain tearing through his temple. He fell backward, managing to kick out and sweep the legs out from under his target. They both went down hard just as Shadow Team made entry. Connor got a glimpse of Mandy and Chloe subduing the man and then Shawn dropping to his knees beside him, clutching at his arm. He could see Shawn yelling, his partner’s face a mask of panic, but Connor couldn’t make out the words as his vision went red, then gray, then black…

~*~*~*~*~*~

Shawn was on Connor the moment they walked into their hotel room, grabbing fistfuls of Connor’s black shirt and pushing him back against the closed door. Connor winced as his head knocked against the wood. He could see the suppressed anger in Shawn’s expression, mixed with fear underneath.

“What the fuck did you think you were doing, charging in there on your own?” Shawn snapped.

“Getting the job done. Just like you would have,” Connor answered, his words soft and even.

“We’re partners,” Shawn replied. “We work better together and you know it.”

Connor nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“I thought I’d fucking lost you.” Shawn’s voice was high and tight. He brushed his fingers against Connor’s short blond hair, over the white gauze bandage taped to Connor’s temple, which hid the stitches underneath. “Don’t you ever do that to me again.”

Connor tried to lighten the situation. “Goes to show how hard-headed I am. Bullets just bounce right off,” he grinned.

Shawn’s blue eyes narrowed and he pushed against Connor’s chest. “Don’t fucking joke about this. I saw you go down and my heart fucking stopped. Do you have any idea how that feels?”

And instantly Connor was back in Kuala Lumpur…

“Get me the Narcan!” Connor yelled as he immediately began CPR on his partner. “Don’t you do this, Shawn! Don’t you fucking do this!” he yelled as he pumped Shawn’s chest, his voice breaking.

Connor tipped his head toward Shawn, his words quiet. “You know I do,” he answered and when realization hit he saw the anger slip from Shawn’s expression, but not the fear. Connor unclenched one of Shawn’s hands from his shirt and placed it over his heart instead. “I’m here. I’m okay.”

Shawn surged up against him then and kissed him hard, and Connor returned it equally for a long moment, as they held one another close in reassurance. Then Shawn slowed and stopped, pulling back slightly. He took a deep breath, captured Connor’s gaze then kissed him again, softer this time.

Their lovemaking had changed after what Shawn had gone through at the hands of that sadistic bastard Jae Chan. Things were slower now, hard and fast conjuring up too many painful memories for his partner. Shawn preferred to be on top now, though that had started to change over the past few months, giving over some of that control to Connor more often now. It still gutted Connor to think that Chan may have left a permanent scar on Shawn. But if one good thing had come out of that fucked up mission it was that they were closer and more intimate than they’d ever been.

Shawn eased back from the kiss, the anger and worry in his eyes now replaced by desire and Connor’s heartbeat increased. He felt Shawn fumbling at his waist, tugging at Connor’s belt, then Shawn dropped to his knees, taking Connor’s briefs and black cargo pants down with him.

Shawn wasted no time, taking Connor’s soft cock in his hot, wet mouth and Connor groaned at the sensation. He closed his eyes and dropped his head back heavily against the door, heedless of the throbbing in his temple at the action. He reached out and threaded his fingers through Shawn’s thick, dark hair then down to brush across the hint of stubble on his jaw, feeling his cheeks start to hollow as he sucked.

“Shit…” Connor breathed as he felt his cock start to harden and grow inside Shawn’s talented mouth. He twitched when Shawn’s tongue ran around the rim of the foreskin, then pushed against the bundle of nerves on the underside of the head of his cock. He felt himself release a burst of precome and Shawn hum appreciatively in response as he swallowed.

Shawn’s hand joined his mouth, stroking Connor’s cock quickly as he sucked and Connor felt the first sharp spike of his orgasm low in his belly. He tugged Shawn up then, not ready for this to be over so soon. Shawn made a sound of protest as he stood back up, his face flush, his lips wet.

Connor kissed him swiftly. “Bed. Now,” he growled, feeling Shawn’s hardness through his pants, pressed against Connor’s groin.

A moment later their all-black fatigues and boots shed like snake skin across the floor as they made their way to the large bed, only one needed now that all of Shadow Unit knew about their relationship. Target reached, they tumbled down upon it, naked, limbs entangled, mouths fused together.

Shawn rolled Connor under him and Connor sighed at Shawn’s solid weight blanketing him, surrounding him. His hands roamed up and down Shawn’s bare back as they kissed, feeling the heat of Shawn’s skin under his palms. His hands wandered lower, to the swell of Shawn’s ass, where they gripped as Connor rocked his hips upwards. Shawn groaned into the kiss and answered in kind, shifting his hips, rubbing their erections together. He broke the kiss a moment later, rutting harder against Connor, breathing fast, his eyes wide and dark.

“Need you,” Shawn ground out, voice low and deep and Connor felt a thrill race through him in anticipation.

Connor swallowed and nodded, spreading his legs, bending them at the knee, fitting Shawn between them. Shawn dipped his head and kissed wetly across Connor’s smooth chest, his tongue flicking out to rasp against each of Connor’s nipples, an erogenous zone well known to Shawn. Connor gasped sharply at the simulation and slapped his left hand down on the bedside table, fumbling blindly for the tube he knew was there somewhere. He cupped his right hand around the back of Shawn’s head as his partner continued to suck, drawing the small nub into pebble hardness. The sensation shot straight down to Connor’s cock as his hand finally closed around the prize.

“Shawn…” he panted and his partner raised his head, spied the tube in Connor’s hand.

Shawn levered himself up slightly and reached down between their bodies. He took both their hard cocks in his grip and stroked them quickly, teasingly. Connor sucked in a sharp breath and Shawn swiftly plucked the tube from Connor’s hand.

Shawn sat back on his knees and coated the fingers of his right hand and his erection, jutting out proudly from his body, in the slick lube. Then he leaned back over, bracing himself with his left hand next to Connor’s shoulder. A moment later Connor felt Shawn’s fingers brushing against his heavy balls as they searched lower. Then he shivered as the cool gel was rubbed against his entrance, one of Shawn’s fingers probing gently. He canted his hips up and Shawn’s finger pressed past the puckered muscle and slid inside him.

“Yeah…” he breathed, reaching up and curling his hand around the side of Shawn’s neck.

Shawn stretched him quickly but carefully, a second finger joining the first before Connor started shifting restlessly beneath him. His partner knew the signs and withdrew his fingers and Connor instantly felt empty. But then the blunt head of Shawn’s cock was there and seconds later with a steady push, Shawn was inside him.

Connor made a sharp sound, closing his eyes and pushing his head into the pillow. His back arched as Shawn slipped in further, filling him completely.

“Oh fuck, Finn…”

Shawn’s hoarse whisper had Connor opening his eyes again to see his partner looking at him, completely unguarded. He only ever let his walls down when he was with Connor, and it never failed to touch Connor deeply.

“I love you,” Connor murmured, the words now coming easily after so long fighting against them.

Shawn swallowed hard, his blue eyes suddenly bright and he bent his head to kiss Connor deeply as he began to move, sliding his cock nearly all the way out of Connor before pushing back in smoothly.

Both men groaned and broke the kiss as Shawn set up a rhythm their bodies knew intimately. Connor raised his legs and wrapped them around Shawn’s waist, pulling Shawn’s cock in even deeper. Connor’s hands gripped Shawn’s upper arms, the fingers of his right covering the SEAL tattoo emblazoned proudly on Shawn’s tanned skin.

Connor lost himself in the sensations Shawn created inside him, gave himself over to his partner completely as Shawn guided them both to the edge of the cliff. His cock ached for release, trapped between their bodies, the head now slick with precome.

On Shawn’s next smooth thrust Connor gasped sharply as Shawn’s cock found that spot deep inside him.

“Right there…right there, Shawn…” he rambled as he felt the first spike of his orgasm lick at the base of his spine.

“I’ve got you, I’ve got you…” Shawn answered, his voice tight and Connor knew he was standing on the edge now, too.

Connor wanted to hold on a little longer, to stay this intimately connected to Shawn for as long as he could, but two more strong thrusts and Connor fell over the cliff. His orgasm raced through him and he cried out Shawn’s name as his cock pulsed over and over, painting their bodies with his release.

He was still coming when Shawn stiffened above him. He caught a glimpse in Shawn’s blue eyes the moment his orgasm overtook him before his eyes squeezed shut and he came with a shout, throwing his head back. The feel of Shawn filling him with slick, wet heat, his cock surging inside him, nearly took Connor’s breath away.

He pulled Shawn down against him and they held one another close as they shook through their climax.

“Finn…” Shawn whispered against Connor’s ear and Connor closed his eyes and held him tighter.

Long moments later their tremors finally subsided and they relaxed against each other. Shawn slipped from Connor’s body and Connor sighed regretfully at the loss of their connection. Shawn kissed him languidly as Connor felt exhaustion suddenly sweep over him, his eyes sliding closed. It’d been one long fucking day.

“Get some sleep,” Shawn murmured.

And that was all the encouragement Connor needed.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Connor woke sometime later to the sound of rain. He blinked open his eyes, catching the time on the clock that sat on the bedside table. 2:32 am. He’d only been asleep for about an hour and a half. He turned his head to the right, saw Shawn lying next to him, sleeping soundly, his breathing slow and even.

The rain caught Connor’s attention again and he shifted slowly and carefully, not wanting to wake his partner. He slipped from the bed and padded naked the short distance to the glass door that led out onto the balcony. As quietly as he could, he slid open the door and then stepped into the doorway, leaning his shoulder against it. He breathed in the still humid air and the scent of the rain, heard the muted sounds of the city four stories below him, saw scattered lights in windows in the buildings that surrounded him.

After the capture of their target, Shadow Team had brought him back to their base of operations here in the state capital city of Srinagar, the hub tucked away in a nondescript abandoned warehouse on the outskirts. Normally the interrogation of a prisoner was a tag-team event, but with Connor sidelined because of his head wound, the duty fell solely to Mandy and Chloe. Who were more than capable, often being underestimated because they were women. Hell, they were tougher than most men he knew!

That took his mind to his partner, and Connor glanced over his shoulder at Shawn. Healthy again. Back on duty with Shadow Unit now for five months, stronger and tougher than ever.

They had stayed in Kuala Lumpur for a week as Shawn fully recovered from his forced heroin addiction, gaining strength by the day. Then they were on a plane to the States, to Washington, and on a pair of motorcycles soon afterward for the next month, traveling down the west coast. After the nightmare of their undercover mission, it was time they needed to reconnect with each other.

Connor closed his eyes and listened again to the sound of the gently falling rain. He was back in the woods of Portland with Shawn. His body immediately started to respond to the memory when he heard a soft sound behind him. A moment later Shawn’s strong arms wrapped around him. Connor sighed and relaxed back against his partner, the dusting of dark hair on Shawn’s chest soft against his bare back. Shawn kissed him feather-light on the side of his neck before resting their heads together.

“You okay?” Shawn asked, his voice sleep-rough.

“Mmm-hmm,” Connor replied. “Just thinking.”

Shawn paused, the only sound the rain, then Connor heard him chuckle. “Bet I know what you’re thinking about.”

Connor grinned. “Oh, do you now?”

Shawn pulled him back flush against his naked body. One hand skimmed down Connor’s chest, his voice a low rumble in Connor’s ear.

“Portland.”

Connor pulled in a breath as the memory started to overtake him again. Shawn stepped forward, walking them both out onto the darkened balcony. A few steps and they were at the railing, where they could feel the spray of the warm rain against their skin. Connor quickly darted his head from side to side, making sure no one else was having a late night sojourn on their own balcony. Mandy and Chloe’s rooms were on this same floor, not to mention MacDonald. Their commanding officer already didn’t approve of their relationship. That’s all they’d need, for him to catch them naked.

Shawn’s hand traveled lower until it cupped Connor’s soft cock and heavy balls. He tugged and pulled gently, kissing down Connor’s neck to the top of his shoulder. Connor groaned quietly at the sensations, reaching forward to rest his hands on the balcony railing.

“An exhibitionist now, are we?” Connor breathed, pushing into Shawn’s hand as his cock began to harden.

He felt Shawn smile against his skin. “Me? Who was the one that stripped off all our clothes in those Oregon woods?”

Connor closed his eyes and fell headfirst into the memory as Shawn continued to stroke him unhurriedly, his voice low and deep as he narrated.

“We fell asleep in front of the fire instead of in our tent,” Shawn began. “Then woke up in the morning when it started raining. But it was warm, just a shower. And you got this look in your eyes…”

Shawn paused, shifting his hips and pressing his growing erection against Connor’s ass as Connor’s mind continued the memory…

He’d undressed them both then worked his way down Shawn’s body with his hands and mouth, kissing and stroking across rain damp skin until his chin bumped the head of Shawn’s hardening cock. He’d taken Shawn into his mouth then, his partner’s most intimate taste exploding across his tongue as he sucked and stroked Shawn to full erection, until Shawn was writhing beneath him, eyes blown wide with arousal.

As if inside his head with him, Shawn groaned quietly and pressed his hips forward and back, sliding his cock between Connor’s legs.

“Then you climbed on top of me…” Shawn murmured.

Connor’s cock throbbed in Shawn’s grasp and he pushed forward into it, then back against Shawn’s body, telegraphing his desire.

The hand that had still been on Connor’s chest moved, Shawn reaching out to cup his palm and fill it with rain. Shawn took himself in hand then, coating his erection in the rainwater before pressing the blunt head fully against Connor’s entrance.

Connor tightened his grip on the balcony railing. “Yeah,” he breathed, closing his eyes as his cock released a burst of precome in anticipation.

Still stretched and slick from their earlier lovemaking, Connor’s body offered no resistance as Shawn’s thick cock slid inside him. Connor sucked in a sharp breath as Shawn filled him so completely, as his body stretched around him, drew him in until his groin was flush against Connor’s ass. Connor arched back against Shawn, one hand dropping from the balcony to reach around and grasp Shawn’s ass.

“You rode me so hard,” Shawn growled into his ear, and Connor shivered.

Both hands now on Connor’s waist, Shawn drew his hips back until his cock nearly slipped all the way out of Connor’s body before pressing forward again, all the way back in.

“Wish you could’ve seen yourself,” Shawn continued, voice low, thrusting smoothly in and out of Connor’s body. “Your head thrown back, your skin wet with the rain, moving on top of me, trying to get my cock deeper inside you…”

“Christ…” Connor swore, pushing back sharply as Shawn thrust forward, his cock so hard now, aching for release, his orgasm right beneath the surface. “Felt so fucking good…” Connor ground out, squeezing his eyes shut. Just one touch…it’s all he needed. Just like in the woods… “Shawn,” he pleaded, just like that morning.

“Love watching you let go,” Shawn breathed.

Connor flew apart then, his cock swelling in Shawn’s hand as his partner stroked him to completion. He bit down on his lip to keep from crying out as Shawn filled him a moment later with his own release, his cock throbbing deep inside him.

Shawn’s arms wrapped around him again, holding him close until their tremors subsided. Connor turned his upper body as much as he could, not willing to break their physical connection just yet, and kissed Shawn softly, slowly.

There was a smirk on Shawn’s face when they moved apart long minutes later. He gave Connor a wink.

“I think we need to take more road trips.”

~*~*~*~*~*~

Later that afternoon, Shawn and Connor walked into the hub, after having received a call from MacDonald. He wanted them there in ten for a briefing. It was time to move on to their money man target.

The hub was its usual hive of activity, just on a smaller scale. Since this mission did not require an overwhelming show of force, only a dozen fatigue-clad soldiers ran drills in the far corner of the warehouse, and half the amount of communications staff manned the row of computer monitors.

Even though not at full strength, Shadow Unit was still the elite, the best of the best. What had begun as an off-shoot of British Military Intelligence to combat terrorism grew into a joint operation with various United States agencies as well, pooling their resources for an even stronger unit.

Case in point, Sergeant Mandy Cho and Sergeant Chloe Davis, who Connor spied already seated at the briefing table, chatting with one another, dressed as he and Shawn were, in tan t-shirts and khaki camo pants.

Mandy had been born in Japan but raised in London, the most brilliant computer analyst/hacker Connor had ever known. MI-6 had recruited her straight out of university and Shadow had snatched her up years later. Besides her computer skills, Mandy was also an expert marksman.

Like his partner, Chloe was also an American, from Dallas, Texas. She was former US Army Counterintelligence and her vast contacts around the world had proved invaluable to Shadow Unit. A skilled soldier in the field, her petite build and delicate ebony features belied her deadly hand-to-hand combat skills.

Connor and Shawn’s backgrounds were just as diverse.

Shawn hailed from Detroit, Michigan and spent nine years as a Navy SEAL, deployed all over the world. After his time with the SEALs he was recruited by the CIA, where he spent the next three years before being approached about joining Shadow Unit. Even after four years as partners, Shawn had never spoken a word to him about his time with the Agency, and Connor had respected Shawn’s privacy about his past.

Connor himself had been the first member recruited for Shadow Unit eight years ago. He had been serving with the SAS at the time and had jumped at the opportunity to do covert op missions. Even though this was the most dangerous work he had ever done, he never regretted his decision to join.

As Connor and Shawn approached the table, another man made his way over. Liam Beckett was the newest member of Shadow Unit. The young Irishman was a top-notch communications specialist and also fluent in several languages, plucked from MI-5 just two months ago. Used to sitting behind a desk in London, he was still trying to find his feet in Shadow, working in the field. But he was giving it his all and Connor knew he’d soon settle into his new role, well-liked by the rest of the team.

“Sergeants,” Liam greeted the four of them as Connor and Shawn took their seats. He placed a slim file folder in front of each of them, along with a bottle of cold water. The heat and humidity in the warehouse kept climbing, Connor’s shirt already sticking to his back and chest.

Connor picked up the bottle and tipped it in Liam’s direction. “Cheers, mate,” he thanked him as he twisted the cap off. Liam smiled and walked back toward his computer station.

“How’s the head, Connor?” Chloe asked.

Connor touched his temple. He’d removed the gauze bandage, exposing the angry red line of the bullet graze.

“Still attached.” He winked and Chloe grinned.

“Glad to hear it,” she replied.

“Where’s the boss?” Shawn spoke up, looking down at the empty end of the table.

“On a call with Whitehall,” Mandy answered. “He should be here in a minute.”

As if her words conjured him up, their commanding officer stepped out of his makeshift office and walked purposely over to the briefing table.

Lieutenant Colonel David MacDonald had been in command of Shadow Unit for the past two years. What the fifty-year-old, grey-haired Scotsman lacked in stature he more than made up for in sheer presence. MacDonald was a legend in Military Intelligence, having served in every major theater the British had taken part in. It was an honor for Shadow Unit to count him among their ranks.

MacDonald set his folder down on the table but remained standing. He looked directly at Connor.

“Finley. What’s your status?”

Connor squared his shoulders. “Fit for duty, sir.”

MacDonald nodded. “Right. Let’s get down to it then.” His mouth compressed into a tight line. “Because of the…incident last night, I was forced to make our presence known to the Indian government. They are not happy we are operating on their soil. We need to wrap up this mission quickly and quietly. Understood?”

“Copy that,” all of Shadow Team chorused.

“Moving on, then,” MacDonald continued. “Cho and Davis were successful in their interrogation of our prisoner last night. We now have the name of our money man.”

Connor smiled at Mandy and Chloe. “Brilliant. Excellent work.”

Shawn laughed. “Bet he never knew what hit him.”

Mandy and Chloe gave each other wide grins.

“No, he did not,” Chloe replied and the two women gave each other a fist bump as MacDonald moved to the large touch screen monitor mounted on a stand just behind him.

Connor and the rest of his teammates flipped open their folders as the screen came to life, displaying a photo of a middle-aged Indian man, the same as on the page in front of Connor.

“This is our target,” MacDonald began. “Deepak Majundar. Beckett has confirmed large monetary transactions between Majundar and a known leader of the United Jihad Council.” MacDonald swiped his hand and the screen changed, now showing a photo of a house on one side and a map on the other, with a star marking a location.

“Majundar’s home,” MacDonald continued. “This is where we will approach him tonight. We need him alive. We need the information he has on the location of the cell, names, targets. I want him talked down. We’re on thin ice with the Indian government. We can’t afford another firefight, not in the middle of Srinagar.” He turned to Mandy. “Cho, I want you as lead on this. Negotiate with Majundar. Deploy the men as you see fit around the perimeter. Except Finley.” He looked at Connor. “You are Omega on this mission.”

Connor blinked at the sniper designation. Omega for the end. The last resort. “I thought you wanted him alive, sir.”

“I do. But he also can’t be allowed to continue to fund that terror cell. If it comes down to it, you are authorized to use deadly force.”

Connor nodded slowly. “Copy that. Permission to use Shawn as my spotter?”

“Very well,” MacDonald agreed. “We will reconvene at 2230 hours. Dismissed.”

Shadow Team stood as one, Connor beginning to walk away with Shawn when MacDonald’s voice stopped him.

“Finley. A word?”

Connor glanced from his commanding officer to Shawn.

“I’ll catch up with you later,” his partner said, curiosity in his eyes. He clapped Connor on his arm then walked away.

Connor turned to MacDonald, who led Connor into his office, closing the door behind them both.

“Have a seat, Sergeant.”

Connor did so, on the opposite side of MacDonald’s desk, feeling as though he was being called into the principal’s office. Was he about to be reprimanded for the deterioration of the mission last night?

MacDonald leaned forward and rested his folded arms on the top of his neatly organized desk. “Excellent job last night, Finley,” he began and Connor’s eyes widened slightly. He hadn’t been expecting praise.

“I won’t deny that entering the house by yourself was a reckless move,” MacDonald continued. “But you took command when the op went sideways, putting the mission above yourself.” MacDonald sat back in his chair. “You’ve always shown leadership qualities. Which is why you’re up for promotion to Captain.”

Connor’s jaw dropped, stunned, as MacDonald went on.

“There’s a new anti-terrorism unit forming. Ghost Squad. You’d be second in command.” MacDonald crossed his arms over his chest. “The promotion hasn’t been made official yet. A colleague in Whitehall phoned to give me a heads up.” He leaned forward again. “Think carefully about this. But quickly. We both know it’s career suicide if it’s made official and you turn it down. You won’t be considered for promotion again. But if you turn it down before the paperwork hits my desk in the next few days, the request will disappear.” MacDonald paused, his tone serious. “You deserve this, Finley. You have a long future in the military ahead of you. You can go far. And this is the first step. I hope you can look at this possibility of promotion objectively.”

Connor understood MacDonald’s hidden meaning – take his relationship with Shawn, which he did not approve of – out of the equation.

“Thank you, sir,” Connor replied. “I’m honored to be considered for promotion and I will give this careful thought.”

MacDonald nodded. “Dismissed.”

Connor stood and walked back out into the hub, his head spinning, trying to process what just occurred, completely blindsided by MacDonald’s words.

He needed time to think.

~~~~~~~

To be continued in Rogue Soldier (Shadow Unit Book 2)

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