Home > SEAL Next Door (SEALs of Coronado #9)(2)

SEAL Next Door (SEALs of Coronado #9)(2)
Author: Paige Tyler

“What kind of additional duties?” Sam asked curiously.

Additional duty crap was a way of life in the military, but SEALs were usually protected from the worst of them because of all the training and deployments they got sent on.

“Crazy stuff,” Lane muttered. “Like right before coming out on this mission, Laurissa and I were going to hang out for a couple hours, but then I get a call that I’m needed to help with monthly ammo inspections. A week before that, I had to serve as an honor guard for Captain Hunt at an award ceremony in downtown San Diego. Before that, I got pulled into a late-night accountability check on the Team’s night vision goggles. I swear, if I didn’t know better, I’d say somebody had it out for me.”

Sam opened his mouth to ask who the hell Lane had pissed off—because that seemed to be what was going on—but Holden’s voice interrupted him.

“I’m picking up movement in the water. Multiple boats. Everyone get ready.”

Sam shoved some more sand around, making extra sure he’d be difficult to spot, then checked the small parabolic microphone resting on the ground in front of him. The thing might be tiny, but from previous use, he knew it’d pick up and record any conversation within two hundred yards.

A few minutes later, five Zodiac-style inflatable boats slid up onto the sand, engines shutting down immediately as twenty or so men in unmarked black tactical gear slipped out and started setting up a perimeter. Seeing the way they moved—along with the folding stock AK-47 variant weapons they carried—made Sam sure they were military of some type, though from where, it was difficult to tell. In this part of the world, they could have been Chinese, North Korean, Cambodian, or even Vietnamese. Though if Sam had to guess, he’d lean toward China or North Korea. Those were the only two countries bold enough to send their people out this far from home.

Sam reached out to flip on the parabolic mic when several of the men began to head straight toward the dune he and Lane were hiding behind. Sam made himself as small as he possibly could, using his free hand to sweep some sand over the backs of his legs, hoping that’d help hide him.

As two of the men walked up the side of the sand dune, he started to reach for the M4 carbine tucked at his side, but stopped himself. A firefight against these odds wouldn’t end well and would completely blow the mission. Instead, he grabbed the mic and stand, tucking it against his chest, resting his face against the sand. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the men halt halfway up the side of the dune, their backs to Sam and Lane, and he breathed a sigh of relief. But while that was a good thing, it also meant that he and Lane couldn’t use the surveillance equipment they had with them, which was the entire reason they were on this beach in the middle of nowhere in the first place.

Just when Sam was about to take a chance and move the mic into position—regardless of the two bad guys standing less than ten feet away—there was a noise from further down the beach. The men in front of him immediately stepped off the dune and moved away, taking up their positions along with their fellow bad guys in a loose semi-circle facing the newcomers.

This group was nearly as large as the first, and as heavily armed. But they definitely weren’t military. Based on their mismatched clothing and weapons, they looked like some kind of terrorist group.

Two members of the ragtag group stepped forward to be met by two soldiers from the military team. The four men sized each other up as Sam moved the parabolic mic back up to the top of the dune and turned it on. Words in a foreign language came through the earpiece he had set to listen into the mic, but after a few seconds, he turned it off. There was no reason to listen since he couldn’t understand what they were saying. The CIA analysts back at home would go through the memory card and translate everything anyway.

Beside him, Lane was busy taking pictures, focusing most of his attention on the four men in the middle of the circle. Sam didn’t blame him. Those four were obviously the ones with the power in this situation. Everyone else was paid muscle.

Sam studied the men, trying to figure out the parts each played in this meeting by the clothing they wore and the way they carried themselves. The two men in the black tactical uniforms were as different as day and night. One was middle height and older while the other was at least six-four and a good ten years younger than the first. He stood silently behind the shorter man, too. The quintessential right-hand man. Just in the extra-large variety.

The two men that Sam assumed to be terrorists were so similar in height and looks that they had to be brothers. Dark-haired, they had beards to match, and both adopted the same aggressive stance as they bartered with the military guy in charge.

And bartering was definitely what was going on, Sam was sure of it. Even without being able to understand anything they said, it was obvious the men were negotiating over something. And whatever it was they were haggling over, it must have been important because the tension down there on the beach was thick enough to choke a goat. Sam half expected someone to start shooting simply so they could all start breathing again.

But nobody shot anyone.

Instead, the military guy handed the terrorists a folder, who gave him a small cloth bundle in exchange. Sam couldn’t make out what was in the folder, but it wasn’t hard to identify the small glittering gem the soldier took out of the bag. It was a diamond. A big one.

The meeting broke up shortly after that. The two terrorists turned and walked back down the beach in the direction they’d come, one carrying the folder while the other motioned to their men to follow. The military troops stayed exactly where they were, watching them leave.

Then the leader made a motion with his hand and everyone headed for the boats. Everyone except for the big guy. He stood where he was, at first staring down the beach in the direction the terrorists had gone before suddenly turning and looking Sam’s way. A split second later, the man started moving purposely toward the dune Sam and Lane were hiding behind.

Sam grabbed his weapon, sure he wasn’t going to have any choice but to start shooting when the man’s boss called out from one of the boats they were already sliding back into the surf.

The big man hesitated, scanning the top of the dunes in front of Sam and Lane. Finally, he turned and walked away, wading into the water to catch up to his boat. Once seated, he looked back in their direction, gaze trained on Sam and Lane’s position until the boat disappeared into the darkness.

Sam let out a sigh of relief. Beside him, Lane did the same.

“I hope the CIA tells us what that was all about,” Sam whispered to Lane as they cleaned up their gear. “Because that was the weirdest crap I’ve ever seen.”

“Hooyah,” Lane said.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Sam cursed as the heavy stack of boxes in his arms shifted, nearly toppling over. He staggered to the left as he reached the second-floor landing, barely keeping the load from falling. Maybe he should have asked Wes and Lane to hang around a little while longer to help with these last few things. They would have stayed, but Sam already felt bad enough about commandeering his friend’s Saturday morning. Especially since they’d just gotten back from the mission in Indonesia late yesterday and were all still running on fumes. So, after the guys had helped him move all the heavy stuff—bed, dressers, couch, kitchen table, and TV—he told them to take off, saying he’d get the rest. That was three trips ago. Now, he wished he hadn’t been so noble. Even if it was boxes of old clothes, books, and knickknacks that had been sitting in his parents’ basement since he joined the Navy, it was still a lot of crap. And it was damn heavy.

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