This was it, Matt realized, his heartbeat kicking up as he moved stealthily toward his target. This was what he lived for, what he did best. If they were lucky and did their job right, they'd have a live prisoner capable of feeding them whatever information they needed to find Ra'id al-Mawsil. If not, they'd still have one less terrorist. It was a win-win situation. His kind of odds, Matt decided with dark humor.

 

Weapon at the ready, he crawled out of the wash, his gaze never leaving his opponent. As he crept closer he watched for the moment his enemy realized he wasn't alone. If the other man was aware Matt was there, he gave no sign of it as Matt edged up behind him. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, Matt jabbed the muzzle of his M-16 between the much-shorter man's thin shoulders.

 

"Don't make a sound," he warned in Arabic. "You will turn around very slowly and not make any sudden moves, or I'll shoot you."

 

The slight form stiffened, and he heard a quiet gasp he would swear was relief. Hands raised, the Arab turned slowly toward him, revealing a smooth, beautiful face that most certainly didn't belong to any man. Matt nearly dropped his weapon in shock as he stared down into familiar gray eyes and a face he knew better than his own. Predictably, his heart tripped over itself and his tongue clogged his throat, making breathing difficult and speech impossible. The memory of holding her, kissing her, was too strong to resist. Joy surged through him that she was here, before ice poured over him as he recalled what sent him running away from her. This woman was a she-devil, a sadistic Jezebel sent to tempt men out of their souls. With a dark scowl, he ruthlessly suppressed all emotion and grasped her upper arm in one hand, keeping the gun against her side even though he surreptitiously flipped the safety back on.

 

"What the hell do you think you're doing out here?" He snarled, his breath fanning her face in a hot growl.

 

Her delicate chin lifted, her gray eyes flashed defiantly. "Doing what I must for my people. What right do you have to question me?"

 

His grip tightened, bringing pained tears to her eyes as he lifted the muzzle of the gun into her line of sight.

 

"Don't think I won't use this, lady," he warned darkly. "You and your people can go to blazes for all I care! As long as I'm holding the gun, I am the one in charge. Now, get moving." With that, he unceremoniously prodded her back toward the wash, aware every step he took was one step closer to either Hell or his salvation. With a scowl, he knew his money was on Hell.

Contact Esther Mitchell at:

esthermitchell@esthermitchell.com

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