Locked, Loaded and SEALed

By: Carol Ericson


A possible target came into view and a bead of sweat rolled down Austin Foley’s face and dripped off his chin. It wasn’t the mission making him sweat, even though technically the SEALs weren’t supposed to be operating in Pakistan; it was the heat rising from his rooftop hideaway, even in the dead of night. The corner of his mouth lifted. He had full confidence in the mission—he always did.

He adjusted his .300 Win Mag slightly to the left, repositioning the target in his crosshairs. The man in his sights had just slipped around the corner of a whitewashed building and stepped around a whirlwind of sand in his path—and his path led to the Jeep parked in front of Dr. Hamid Fazal’s house.

“I have eyes on a suspected target. How’s it looking, Grayson?”

Chip Grayson, his spotter, sucked in a breath. “It’s that guy who just came around the corner, right?”

“That’s our man, and he’s heading for the Jeep and Fazal’s house. Is the doctor out yet?”

“Not yet. Do you see a weapon?”

“Nope, but I don’t see his hands.”

“Movement at the front door. Whaddya got, Foley? Do or die time?”

Austin let out a measured breath, the man in the crosshairs his whole world, the man’s movements determining Austin’s next step and the target’s own fate. The suspect turned his head to the side once. Austin blinked. Another drop of sweat plopped to the gravel on the rooftop.

“Fazal’s at the door, outside, weapons up.”

“The rescue team can’t see our guy yet, which means nobody has a clear shot.”

“Except you.”

“Got that right.”

“Are you gonna take it?”

“Patience, my man. He could be a friend coming to say goodbye to Fazal.”

“Except nobody’s supposed to know he’s leaving, especially not in the company of a navy SEAL team.”

The man hunched forward suddenly and Austin’s finger tightened on the trigger, the action an extension of his brain. The suspect couldn’t have a gun. He wouldn’t be ducking if he wanted to shoot.

The target pulled his hand from a pocket, clutching something dark and pear-shaped. Austin’s jaw tensed as he recognized the object. The man reached for the grenade with his other hand.

Austin took the shot. “Got him.”

The man jerked and fell, the grenade dropping from his hand and rolling away from his body.

Grayson got on the radio to the team now assisting Dr. Fazal into the Jeep. After acknowledging Grayson’s communication, one of the SEALs broke away and approached the dead man on the street.

A movement on top of a building across the way caught Austin’s attention. With his scope, he zeroed in on the sniper raising his rifle and aiming at the SEAL in the street.

Austin took him out...and the fight was on.

Chapter One

Sixteen months later

The soles of Sophia’s sneakers squeaked on the slick cement floor of the parking structure. She hit the key fob and her trunk popped open. As she swung her bag into the car, it fell on its side, scattering the contents across the carpeted trunk.

She huffed out a breath and hunched over to collect her junk—a hastily wrapped leftover sandwich from lunch, a dog-eared paperback...and Dr. Fazal’s files.

“Damn.” She must’ve swept them up by mistake in her rush to leave the office. She checked the time on her cell phone clutched in her hand, and grimaced. She’d planned to leave work a little early so she could get ready for her date tonight, but Dr. Fazal had wanted her to look up something for him and one thing had led to another, which it usually did with Hamid, including a stop at the pharmacy on her way out. Now she had to return these files to him since he was burning the midnight oil and might need them.

She hadn’t disappointed her mentor’s faith in her yet and didn’t plan on starting now. His belief in her these past months had been the highlight of her year—hell, the highlight of her sorry life.

She grabbed the folders, shoved the rest of the stuff back into the canvas bag and slammed the trunk shut. As she turned with the folders pressed to her chest, a car squealed around the corner from the parking level above hers.

She jumped back, coughing on the exhaust the old beater left in its wake. The car had sped past her and was already too far down the aisle for its driver to benefit from a choice hand gesture from her, so she just shook her head.

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