"That he took BUD/S? Yes." BUD/S was Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training: extensive, and so grueling only a tiny percentage of men who tried actually completed the course.
"But has he told you what that training entailed?"
"No, not in detail."
"Then take my word for it, Dallas can do things no ordinary man would ever dream of doing."
"I know. And -- thanks. But he's still human, and plans can go wrong -- "
"He knows that. They all do. They're prepared."
"Why didn't he want you to go in?"
There was an infinitesimal pause, so brief she wasn't certain she had heard it. "Despite what he said, Dallas doesn't think I'm as good as he is," Tucker said with wry humor.
She didn't believe him. For one thing, Dallas respected him too much. For another, that tiny pause before he spoke told her he had been weighing his response, and his answer wasn't one that had required any weighing.
Whoever he was, whatever he was hiding, Niema accepted that she wasn't going to get any straight answers from him. He was probably one of those paranoid spooks everyone read about, who saw spies and enemies everywhere, and, if you asked him if it was supposed to rain the next day, would wonder what you were planning that required bad weather.
Sayyed's voice whispered over the radio. "Trouble. Activity in the warehouse. Looks like they're getting ready to make a shipment."
Tucker swore, his attention immediately focused on the situation. It was imperative the warehoused store of bacteria be completely destroyed before a shipment was made. The warehouse was usually deserted at night, with guards posted outside, but now there was activity that prevented Sayyed from planting his charges.
"How many?" Tucker asked.
"I make it...eight...no, nine. I took cover behind some barrels, but I can't move around any."
They couldn't let that shipment leave the warehouse.
"Dallas." Tucker spoke the name quietly into his headset.
"I'm on the way, Boss. My charges are set."
Niema's nails dug into her palms. Dallas was going to Sayyed's aid, but they would still be badly outnumbered, and by moving, Dallas was risking exposure. She reached for the second headset; she didn't know what she was going to say to her husband, but she didn't have the chance. Tucker's hand shot out; he jerked the plug out of the radio set and tossed the headset aside, his dark gaze cool and hard as he met her stunned look.
She found herself on her feet, her shoulders braced, hands knotted into fists. "He's my husband," she said fiercely.
Tucker put his hand over the tiny microphone. "And he doesn't need the distraction of hearing you now." He added deliberately, "If you try anything, I'll tie and gag you."
She wasn't without some training herself, and Dallas, once he realized he couldn't convince her to play it safe and sit home like a good little wife, had been teaching her how to fight in ways her self-defense class had never covered. Still, her level of expertise in no way matched his, or Tucker's. The only way she could take him, she thought, was to catch him totally by surprise, from behind.
But he was right. Damn it, he was right. She didn't dare say anything that could break Dallas's concentration.
She held up her hands in a brief gesture of surrender and moved three steps away. The hut was so small she couldn't go much farther anyway. She sat down on a pack of provisions and tried to beat down the suffocating waves of anxiety.
The minutes crawled by. She knew Dallas was creeping toward the warehouse section, using every bit of cover available to him, trying not to take chances. She also knew that every passing second put the terrorists that much closer to leaving with the shipment of bacteria. Dallas would be balancing caution with expediency.
Copyright © 1999 by Linda Howington. Published by permission of the publisher, Pocket Books.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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