This came up in my reader group today, because it turns out, a lot of readers have an old version of Fall Dark that still has a promise at the end for a follow-up short story to come about Larken and Vince’s first mission.
I wrote that ages ago! And I re-distributed the ebook file to all the retailers. I’m going to follow up with them tomorrow to find out why it wasn’t pushed out to readers who already had it, but if you are one of those readers, here’s that epilogue!!!
I’ll bury it a bit further down the page so you don’t see spoilers if you haven’t yet read Fall Dark.
It’s quite good! It was my second visit to Camo Cay (the first is in Fall Out, book #1 in the SEALs Undone series).
And while I’m trying to burn a bit of blog space, did you know that Fall Quiet, the last book in the series, is coming out at the end of August? August 29, specifically.
OKAY. I think I’ve tabbed down enough, yes?
OH! One quick way to know which book you have — the new epilogue is under this cover:
If you don’t have this cover on your copy of Fall Dark, ask the retailer where you bought it to push the most recent version out to you. That will have the epilogue in it.
Or you can read it here:
“Next time we’ll just shoot for fun,” Vince glowered, his dark eyebrows pulling tight over even darker eyes. Larken couldn’t help but notice how he got super hot when he got mad. He waved his finger at her. “Watermelons and soda bottles.”
This was their third re-match in as many weeks, and she’d out-shot him again.
She gave him her most innocent-not-innocent look. “What? You’ve won once.”
“And you’ve won twice. You lord it over me!”
Before she could point out that was because she was the better shot, Jackson interrupted their version of a loving date with a shout. They turned together, rifles at their sides, and watched as the ex-Navy SEAL ran toward at full speed.
Larken shoved her giddy excitement down, hiding it below her professional readiness. “What’s up?”
“We got a mission. Helo’s arriving for us in thirty minutes.”
He could have radioed up, and he didn’t. Larken frowned. “Why’d you sprint out here to tell us that instead of using comms?”
Jackson grinned. “I won rock-paper-scissors. Trent wanted to be the one to tell you, but sucks to be him.”
“Tell me what?”
“It’s Omar Bin Farooq. That’s our mission.”
Her heart picked up. She’d never been blood thirsty, but part of being a sniper meant taking kill shots. And this was one kill shot any American soldier would be proud of. Bin Farooq was an American-born convert to radical Islam and a complete psychopath. Responsible for multiple suicide bombs at American and British bases around the world, he was on everyone’s hit list. “How did we get tapped…?”
“I don’t know. We’ll brief on the way. Rik just said it has to be a sniper shot.”
Vince mentally went through his gear as they flew low over the ocean in their third helicopter of the day, heading toward the Turkish coast. Knives, two pistols, and a couple of communication devices in addition to his burner phone.
They’d been briefed in the jet from Grand Bahama to their first touchdown in Greece, where they’d landed with their American passports.
Then they’d left those identities in a small villa on a private island. Larken had assembled her rifle, zeroed the scope, and now they were ready to do this thing. Ghosts, traveling without legit papers or a safety net.
Fuck, he loved his job. He’d loved it when he worked for Uncle Sam and he loved this, too—same goals, different process.
And he loved the woman across from him, too.
The radio squawked in his ear and Rik’s calm voice gave them a five minute warning. They were about to pop into radar space, then touchdown and disembark before company arrived. They’d complete the mission, hide in plain sight, and get on a lunch cruise the next day. Jump off the side, get on a waiting speedboat, and be back in Greece before the next sunset.
If the country wasn’t locked down once they assassinated a man.
If it was locked down, they had identities. Since they weren’t actually government agents, Vince had no idea how well those identities would hold up, but he’d do whatever he had to do to keep Larken safe.
A car would be waiting to take them to Istanbul—and a separate delivery van for Trent and Jackson, who would get Larken’s weapon in place.
The password was a series of two questions, both in Turkish. Larken had warned him that Rik was a Monty Python fan, and sure enough, during the briefing, everyone groaned when he told them what their contacts would say.
Vince didn’t care. He’d heard all sorts of batshit crazy passwords. When checkpoints had to change the code every twenty-four hours, that kind of thing happened more often than you’d think.
He glanced back at Larken. She was dressed in an elegant gown, long and layered enough to disguise her thigh holsters, but not so long or tight it would interfere with her sprinting if needed. She wore gloves, like he did, although hers were long satin opera gloves, and his were leather driving ones.
The entire package was…disorienting. Gone was the natural island girl he’d made love to so many times over the last month. In her place was a sophisticated goddess, from the perfect makeup to the polished hair. But the most startling change was the look in her eye. He recognized it, of course. From a decade earlier, and from every time he looked in the mirror after a mission.
Get it done. That was all that mattered. That was the only reason for the change, and as soon as the mission was completed, she’d be back in a bikini, her hair a tangle of waves flying behind her as she sprinted down the beach.
The landing and transfer into the city went as smoothly as possible. The helicopter landed on a deserted concrete pad just as two vehicles pulled up.
The driver approached Jackson, and if Vince wasn’t mistaken, they knew each other. “Selam. İngilizce biliyor musunuz?”
Jackson nodded. “Bir dil asla yeterli değildir.” One language is never enough.
“Milwaukee.” This part was key, because the answer had to be a city other than New York or Los Angeles.
And then they were off, their drivers remaining anonymous but clearly as briefed as they needed to be. Jackson gave Vince a discreet thumbs up before getting in the delivery van, Larken’s rifle carefully disguised inside a box of carpets they had a purchase order for. Jackson and Trent would ride together, Vince and Larken following.
They were a couple on holidays.
Every cell in his body had slammed into high-alert as they landed, and he stayed like that as they drove into the city, following streets Vince had memorized. Streets he’d been on before, in an entirely different capacity.
They changed routes into the heart of the business district at the last minute, which made Vince nervous, but they were deposited at the main entrance to the Bolte Hotel without incident, and their driver disappeared into the night.
His phone vibrated. A text message from Jackson, confirming they were inside, and Trent had room keys programmed for them.
He slid his palm against the small of Larken’s back and leaned in, brushing his lips against her neck as he murmured, “Good to go, mi corazon.”
She gave him a blinding smile before nodding demurely at the doorman. They headed straight for the elevators, no need to check in. The red-headed Scott had taken care of that in a sideways manner.
Vince pressed the button for the tenth floor, and they shot straight up. When they got there, they walked silently down the corridor to the room Jackson had told them to use. Out of the corner of his eye, Vince noticed the security camera pointing away from the room. A blind spot. Good job, guys.
As soon as they’d double-tapped on the door, Jackson let them in, then left. He had work still to do.
Trent waved toward the carpet roll on the bed, and Larken got to work. The room had a terrace-style balcony, which would be more exciting for guests if the view wasn’t of a newly constructed parking garage. Thank you, urban sprawl.
Because tonight, that parking garage was exactly the view Larken wanted—because through her scope, she could hit her target when he arrived at the office suite on the far side of the garage.
At five hundred metres, it wasn’t the longest shot Larken would ever taken. But the urban setting, the lack of options for zeroing her sight on the actual target space, and only getting one chance…that made it enough of a challenge for her.
Add in the stakes if she missed—because Omar Bin Farooq rarely went anywhere they could reach him like this. Without taking out dozens of other people, including women and children.
Yes, they were assassinating a man tonight. But they were doing it for the greater good, and once they were done, Vince knew Larken would sleep like a baby. So would he.
Trent’s phone flashed, and he gave a nod to Vince, who murmured to Larken that Jackson was in place down on the street. They had an estimated arrival time, but Jackson would be able to start an eighty-second countdown.
That’s how long it would take the subject to get from the street level up to the office suite.
But first there was the wait. They had seven minutes before their target should arrive.
Seven minutes of stillness for Larken, in case the convoy was early. She wouldn’t miss.
Seven minutes of watching for Vince, listening, waiting for it all to go sideways. He wouldn’t let her down.
Trent came up beside him and quietly handed over a plastic room key. “Room 716,” he said. “You’ve been there since yesterday.”
Larken heard them talking behind her, but all of that faded. She was leaning against the wall. She’d take this shot standing up. Prone was a popular position for snipers in films, but it required being at the top of a rise—here, that would be out on the terrace, and that brought with it a risk of someone noticing the muzzle flash. No, she’d rather be back, inside the room, sheltered. Against the wall and staring down her scope, through the parking garage and right into the office suite where one of the most dangerous ISIL backers, a puppet-master, would be making a rare appearance.
She didn’t have a lot of time to futz outside with taking wind measurements, but she watched the flags fluttering gently on a nearby building. At this distance, she might need to anticipate a two-centimeter drift. Three if she wasn’t lucky. Center-of-mass would be the safer shot to take, but she wanted to hit him in the T-zone. Turn out the lights, zero chance of being saved.
She’d only have a split second to pick the target and fire.
Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly. Don’t think about it, she told herself. Just let it happen. She’d take the shot she could make in the moment, and it would be the right one.
Inhale, exhale. Wait.
Vince moved closer, but not too close. He was a good body man. It wasn’t his preferred role in a mission—he’d probably rather to be down on the ground, providing the visual intel that Jackson was feeding to Trent. But she was glad to have him here with her.
“Three minutes,” he said quietly. “You—” He cut himself off. “Correction. Target’s arriving.”
“Understood.” She stood up straighter, away from the wall, and settled into her stance. The slice of a clear shot through the parking garage didn’t allow her to see any other part of the office building, and the seconds ticked by.
What if he went into another suite. What if his security people kept him too far from the windows…
But then the light came on in the window she was watching, and two bodies stepped into view. Too big. Security. And then there was another, wearing long robes, and she wasn’t sure if it was him. She needed to see his face, needed to make that visual confirmation. Get out of the way, she mentally urged the bodyguards.
The meeting could take a while, or be over pretty quickly. The sooner she got a chance the—
The bodies parted and there he was. Omar Bin Farooq.
Her crosshairs swept to his forehead and she exhaled quickly, turning to stone. The sharp pop of the shot, the heavy crack of the rifle butt into her shoulder, and the drop of the human body five-hundred-meters away all happened at the same time. Another kill.
Her job was seriously whack sometimes.
Hands shaking ever so slightly from the adrenaline rush, she swung the rifle down, swiping her gloved hand over the sides where it may have touched her skin. “Done.”
“Good.” Trent gestured to the carpet roll. “If I may be of service…”
She laughed. A weird reaction, but that was how it went sometimes. “Thank you.”
It was a pretty clean crime scene, but they still did a quick sweep. Collected the casing and locked the balcony door, then Trent was gone and it was just her and Vince, alone in the hallway.
“And now comes the hard part.” He straightened his bow tie. God, he looked good. And way out of her league, all intense Latin playboy.
“Oh shit,” Larken said with another nervous laugh. “You’re going to make me pretend to be rich, aren’t you?”
He winked at her. “I know it’s cruel, but someone’s gotta do it.”
Larken gave him a quick kiss on the mouth. “I forgive you, baby.”
They hit the stairwell at a run. Ten floors below, they heard a door slam open and heavy footsteps start to climb toward them.
Not running. Vince risked a quick glance over the railing. Security, but maybe doing their regular rounds.
He held up his hand and gestured to Larken, reminding her they’d go down two more flights. No more running for them, either. They walked lightly, matching their steps to the security guard’s so he wouldn’t hear them. If they met him before they reached their floor, he’d knock the guy out and go with Plan B. But from the sound of it, he was still five flights below them, maybe six, and they only had twelve more steps to go. Eight. Six. Two.
The heavy metal door squeaked on its hinges as Vince pulled at the handle.
He grabbed Larken’s hand and sprinted as soon as their feet hit the plush carpet. Their room was at the far end of the hall. He sped up, churning over the distance, Larken keeping pace.
He jammed the keycard into the slot on the door. Flash, flash, flash…green. A quick glance over his shoulder told him they were still alone in the hallway.
He shoved the door open and locked it behind them as Larken stripped down. If anyone knocked on the door doing a room-to-room search, they’d be naked, wrapped only in hastily grabbed hotel towels.
Lovers who couldn’t keep their hands off each other. A convenient cover story.
Larken winked at him as she shimmied out of her gown, then sauntered toward the bed wearing nothing but a pair of white panties and her thigh holsters.
That shouldn’t turn him on as much as it did…but wasn’t that how they found each other again?
He was a lucky man.