Chasing Shadows (Stealth Ops #9) by Brittney Sahin

Chapter One

Barcelona, Spain - Present Day, February 2022

Roman had a death grip on his glass of water as he sat in the narrow leather booth at the hotel’s restaurant alongside Finn. “I don’t like this.” His gaze slipped to the two assignments they were protecting, Harper and a CIA officer.

“So, if you don’t like it, then why aren’t you the one posing as Harper’s date instead of the dead ringer for Elon Musk?” Finn kept his tone low to avoid being overheard.

“I didn’t say I—”

“Twenty bucks says Roman kills him before the end of the night,” A.J. said over comms from where he was positioned in the hotel lobby. Roman rolled his eyes when A.J. continued to blab. “Let me guess, our tech billionaire look-alike has his hand on her ass.”

Roman released his hold of the glass and settled his palm on his thigh, hiding the curl of his fingers that tightened into a fist at that exact sight. The CIA officer, Zack, did have his hand on the small of Harper’s back, far too close to her ass, and yes, it did make Roman want to kill the guy.

“Yeah, based on the way he’s clenching that jaw of his, I’d say you’d win that bet,” Finn commented with a laugh. Roman could feel Finn’s eyes on him, but he couldn’t steal his focus away from Harper. “And now that I’m taking a long, hard look at you—damn, brother, you have the kind of chiseled jaw women wax poetic about. Don’t get me started about that head of hair you have, too.”

Roman slowly pivoted his attention at his buddy, who never missed a chance to joke, even while working an op. But Finn never forgot the stakes of a mission.

They were in Spain because a former asset of Harper’s from when she was CIA had reached out to the Agency claiming to have intel on an impending attack against the U.S., but he would only speak to Harper.

And like hell would Echo Team allow the CIA to scoop Harper back into their clutches and refuse authorization for their people to go along on the mission.

Finn shrugged under the scrutiny of Roman’s dark stare, his eyes flashing with humor, then he dug into the tapas sitting on the table. Zack had ordered the food to keep up with appearances before he’d pulled Harper away and over to the bar at the center of the room.

Char-grilled octopus, Iberian pork shoulder, and mushroom carpaccio with a wasabi vinaigrette. At least Zack had good taste. But if he made a move on Harper after the op, and not for the sake of appearances, Roman would have a “friendly” word with the man.

The real kicker was that Roman liked Zack, at least as far as he’d gotten to know him in the last two days they’d been in Barcelona. And that was a rarity. Over the years, he and the guys had only liked a handful of spooks, and three of the former officers were now part of their team: Harper, Jessica, and Natasha.

Jessica Scott Hayes was one of the reasons Bravo and Echo Teams existed. She left the CIA to form the teams with her brother, Luke. And Natasha Chandler, still in the CIA but now a liaison between POTUS and their teams was married to Echo One, Wyatt. That extra layer of protection was necessary with Bravo Five’s father as the President.

But Harper.

Harper was . . .

Everything to Roman.

The guys on both Bravo and Echo knew that, but they didn’t realize he and Harper had already given in to their attraction last year. They’d crossed the line for five months. Stealing every non-operational moment in bed together. Or in other places.

He should’ve chalked up those five months as a lapse in judgment, a mistake. At least he’d tried to feel that way because he’d known better than to get involved with her. Yet, when they’d made the mutual decision to go back to being just friends, it was hard to regret anything other than the fact they couldn’t be together.

“I mean,” Finn said while popping a bite of food into his mouth, “this location sure as hell beats sitting in a trench with only a coffee can to piss in like the old days in Gan.” Gan was Finn’s code for Afghanistan. “So, you think she ever dated him?”

What is this? Were the guys purposely trying to goad Roman into losing hold of his emotions, emotions he’d worked so hard to keep in check? Although, when it came to Harper, he was failing since they could obviously see right through him. “She wouldn’t date someone she worked with.”

Finn coughed on whatever he’d just eaten and whispered, “Sure,” as if he knew something about Roman and Harper’s secret past. But as far as Roman knew, Finn had never witnessed them in any compromising situations last year.