Work. It can be a four letter word. But for Chad Miller, the hero of Deliberate Deceptions, his job at Hauberk Protection has been his mental salvation. Being Hauberk’s second-in-command gave him something to focus on other than his disastrous past, to build a company for a man he felt he’d failed, to provide protection for those who needed it, like his sister whom he’d also felt he’d failed to protect. Turned out he needs a little protecting himself…he just doesn’t know it yet. But everyone else in the room does…
Copyright © 2011 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Chad left Sam to discuss the monetary details while he considered which safe house to use and who to assign as their principal’s guards. He discarded the house in Fredrick as unsuitable. It worked fine for partners seeking distance from a vengeful ex, but with this case, they were talking a more sophisticated threat. The estate in Texas Sam had bought and fitted out the previous year was a possibility, as were the penthouse in New York, the farm just outside Atlanta, or the compound in Vermont. They’d each been set up with a state-of-the-art alarm system, along with a panic room that would be secure even if someone hit it with a hundred pounds of C-4 explosive. For some reason he couldn’t name, he ruled out Arlington. New York was out too. It had seen enough terrorism, thanks very much. He checked with the Atlanta office only to discover their safe house was in use. Which left Vermont.
They’d need round-the-clock coverage and someone experienced in dealing with people willing to die to attain their target. He ran through his list of available operatives, weighing each on their merits. The former vice cop Walters? He’d be the best bet as a lead op. The newbie—Campbell—made the list because he hadn’t lost that wariness from his hitch in Afghanistan. Wariness was exactly what he wanted, what their client needed. He added and discarded a half-dozen more names. Once he had a plan set in his head, he rejoined the discussion.
Sam leaned back in his chair. “Who are you thinking for lead op?”
Before he could say anything, Troy leaned forward. “Can I recommend Scott Phillips? He’s got one of the best strategic minds of anyone at Hauberk.”
Phillips? They both knew the operative wasn’t one hundred percent recovered from his torture at the hands of the terrorists in Colombia.
“No.” Sam’s emphatic denial saved Chad from having to denounce Troy’s pick. “He can help guard her, but I don’t want him as the lead.”
“That those people were taken hostage wasn’t his fault, Sam, and you know it. There’s no possible way he could have known they were being set up,” Troy argued, intensity building in his tone. “Plus he’ll be extra cautious because of what happened down there. Paranoia can be a good weapon sometimes.”
Sam shook his head. “No. I’ve got a better idea.”
He turned his attention back to Weir. “I’m gonna put Mr. Miller himself here in charge of your lady’s protection, Mr. Weir. He’s former FBI and has learned a few more tricks since we’ve set up Hauberk.”
Damn it. Chad’s irritation increased twelvefold when Weir turned a considering eye on him. “From what I understand he’s been sitting behind a desk for a while. How do I know he’s up to the task?”
“Shee-it.” Sam hissed in a breath. “Who the hell do you think plans and supervises all our ops? The damned janitor?”
The tension in the air thickened when Weir stiffened, making Chad wonder what his story was, and if he was telling them everything about this threat that they needed to know. Finally he nodded. “All right. So, tell me what you’re planning to do to keep her safe.”
“First we’re going to get her out of D.C. We drive her around the city and check for a tail. Then we take her to Dulles and fly her to one of the busier airports—”
“Atlanta or O’Hare,” Troy injected.
“—have her change planes to one of our private jets, changing planes at least twice more.”
“We make it effin’ hard for anyone to follow her path.”
Chad ignored Troy’s interruptions. “Then we stash her in one of our safe houses we have scattered around the country, surround her with a dozen or more heavily armed agents, and keep her safe until the threat can be neutralized.”
Weir’s condescending smile rankled. Who did he think he was dealing with here? A fucking amateur? “With all due respect, Mr. Weir, if I tell you where she’s staying, next thing we know there’s a leak somewhere—an email that’s compromised, a phone conversation that’s overheard and your lady is lying on a slab in the morgue beside a handful of our agents. If you hire us, you’ll just have to trust us to keep her safe.”
“While she’s tucked safely away, we set up a team to smoke Harris out,” Sam added. “Since I’m going to be around anyway, I’ll lead the team myself.”
Weir tapped his index finger on his knee for ten seconds before he nodded. He stood and held out his hand, surprisingly to Chad, not to Sam. “All right, you’re in. But if you lose her, if you fuck this up and she gets hurt? I’m coming after you.”
“I’ll keep her safe.” Because who knew if Sam would let him come back. Without Hauberk, without a job to lose himself in, what else did he have left?
Don’t forget to visit the other participant’s in today’s Snippet Saturday: