He never looked back, until the only bridge he needed was the one he’d burned.

Screwed. No other way to describe Ryker “Crow” Ward’s life, because… A month after ditching his CIA status—accepting a job with his former Delta Force teammates as part of Wayward Souls—he’s been recalled. Tasked with chasing ghosts and rumors in hopes of preventing a top secret file from falling into the wrong hands.

Getting partnered with NSA agent Devlyn Adams—his ex-everything—wasn’t supposed to be part of the package. Not when she’s just as likely to kill him as the man they’re hunting. And, with time ticking down, and multiple agencies trying to permanently silence them, Crow barely has the strength to keep them alive, let alone fight the ever-present attraction to Devlyn threatening to smother him.

Devlyn doesn’t want explanations, and Crow can’t blame her. But, if she thinks that’s enough to scare him away, she’s got a hard lesson ahead of her. He’s vowed to find a way to win her back, and failure isn’t an option. Dodging bullets, drones and assassins is the easy part. Convincing Devlyn he’s worth another chance…

It’s going to take all his skills, and a healthy dose of luck, to complete his mission and stop Devlyn from walking out the door. But he’s determined to make things right between them, even if that means dying to protect the woman he loves.

“All right, ladies. Time to dance.” Ryker “Crow” Ward kept his fingers pressed against the comm at his neck. “Everyone in position? Colt?”

“When have I ever been out of position, jackass?”

Crow chuckled. Damn, he’d missed this. Working with teammates he trusted implicitly. Men he’d bled for. Who would have his back, no hesitation. No second thoughts. Choosing to work for Cannon—leaving the CIA behind—had been the best decision he’d made since first joining Delta Force. Especially, after the fallout from his last big move—leaving Delta and heading Roger McCormick’s JSOG unit. The joint special operation group had been a rewarding change until Crow had learned—the hard way—that McCormick had gone rogue. Was leading a parallel life outside the CIA, and that everything Crow had been told was a lie—a fabrication to further McCormick’s agenda. Namely, selling out his country to the highest bidder.

But that was all behind Crow, now. And if it wasn’t for the lingering pain of losing her in the process, the one woman he suspected would haunt his dreams until the day he died, Crow’s slate would be clean. “A simple ‘check’ would have sufficed, buddy. Six?”

“Doubling Colt’s sentiment. Are you questioning our abilities, Crow? That’s cold, even for an ex-spook.”

“Christ, you two are touchy. And I was Delta before both of you, if memory serves.”

“True.” Six, his voice even. “But none of us ventured to the dark side before retiring.”

“The dark side, Six? Really?”

“That’s me being nice.”

“And to think I left the CIA behind to join you guys. Must have had a moment of insanity.”

“You have something, Crow. Hopefully, it’s not contagious.”

An engine growled nearby, proceeding the roll of a Harley down the street, then into the lot. A large man with leather accents and a grungy beard stepped off. A felon who went by Rocko. Wanted in connection with two bank heists and the assault of several security guards. Nasty piece of work who’d somehow wormed his way into a high bail then actually convinced someone to post it. He’d since missed his court date and had taken up the number one spot on Cannon’s shit list. Crow’s boss had been planning to go after the creep, himself, but had gotten called away on official business with the Marshal service. Which was why Colt, Six, and Crow had been staking out the biker bar for the past three days. Though, it looked as if their patience was about to pay off.

Rocko hung his helmet off a hook on the back of the cowling then headed for the doors. Boots tapping the asphalt. Long hair trailing in the gust of wind, held loosely at his neck by a wrap of more leather.

Crow studied the other man’s gait. Slight limp on his left side. Likely a knee injury. Definitely a weakness that could be capitalized on. Of course, that was somewhat negated by the large bulge beneath his armpit. The raise at his right ankle. The guy was packing, and based on the size, neither was a twenty-two.

A click in his ear, then Six’s voice. “Looks like our second mark is here. And right on schedule. We should head in before the place gets busy or we’ll lose our window of opportunity.”

Crow ran a hand through his hair. “I just hope the early hour limits the number of by-standers. If we screw anything up…”

“Again, with the doubt? We’ll let it slide since you’re still washing the stench of the Agency off your skin.”

“Not all of us have that sixth sense of yours, buddy. Know, in advance, how the whole damn thing is gonna play out.”

“That’s not how it works, and you know it.”

“Close enough. Okay, we’ll move in. Breach all three doors in sync. See if we can blend just long enough to isolate Rocko and his buddy, Marc Bower. Though, based on the clientele we’ve observed at this place, I doubt they’ll be the only two armed.”

“Look at it this way—it can’t be as bad as Somalia.”

“If it is, we’ll be dead, and it won’t matter. Moving in three—two—one…”

The comms went silent as Crow popped out from behind a scrubby tree on the far side of the road. He stuck to the late afternoon shadows, quick-stepping along the pavement then over to the side of the building. He paused long enough to do a scan of the lot—eight bikes parked in a row out front. A mustang on the far side that belonged to the cook. Crow and his buddies had already scouted out the bar during their first night. Confirmed which vehicles were connected to the staff. It also meant the cute bartender he’d ordered a beer from was there, marked by the baby-blue Volkswagen just visible next to the dumpster.

Together, there should be ten patrons, three staff, and the owner. Another piece of work by the name of Rickie Valley. He’d done time for larceny and assault but had apparently turned his life around—used some family inheritance to purchase the bar.

Crow didn’t buy it. Would bet his ass that the money Valley had acquired was stained with blood. The kind that screamed much deeper connections to organized crime than anyone suspected, and that Valley was balls deep in drugs, weapons trafficking, and anything else that lined his pockets with cash. Crow just hoped none of those men were inside, or this arrest would turn ugly, fast. And the last thing any of them needed was a recreation of the O.K. Corral shootout.

Crow took one last look, then he was moving. Heading for the door, one hand close to the gun strapped to his belt, the other double-checking the extra clips in his left pocket. The spare pistol under his arm, and the Ka-bar under his right. More than he’d carried while working for the CIA, but far less than he’d donned while in Delta Force. And Crow had to admit, it felt good to be carrying the same weapons that had kept him and his teammates alive through countless missions. While he hoped he wouldn’t have to use any extreme measures, just having the extra firepower settled the jumpy feeling in his gut. Clicked everything into place.

He palmed the door, waited until he got confirmation from Colt and Six that they were ready, then stepped inside. 

The main section of the bar was L-shaped, with a long counter running along the left side. An open area with tables, chairs, and a pool table branched off of it to the right, edging up to a raised stage along the outer wall—a few mike stands scattered around the space.

The area directly opposite of him led to the restrooms and a couple of offices. The dim corridor lit by a crappy sconce at the far end made it the perfect place for Colt to take cover in. If the man hadn’t actually shifted forward just enough to nod at Crow before slinking back into the shadows, Crow wouldn’t have known he was there. Couldn’t see even a hint of him in the hallway.

Six shifted out from the left side of the stage, blending in with a group of men gathered around the pool table, watching some redneck kid lose to another man in a leather jacket. Six nodded toward the table closest the hallway, slowly making his way over.

Crow focused on the four men gathered at the table. Rocko, Bower, Valley, and some creep in a suit. Heads bent as they talked amongst themselves. They didn’t seem to notice him or Six as they maneuvered into a better position—one that afforded them the best sight lines. Enabled them to isolate their marks without putting any of the other patrons in the crosshairs.

Crow leaned against one of the posts next to the bar, noting where the staff was located before edging forward.

“Hold up a minute, Crow.”

Six, in his ear. Which meant it was serious if he was using the comm. Risking someone seeing him talking to himself. Crow stopped, not questioning his buddy further. Six didn’t make mistakes. Didn’t compromise an op without due cause. Instead, Crow shifted back—opted for a seat at the bar. Thankful the bartender was already busy with a couple a few seats over. 

Crow thumbed the coaster with his left hand, eyeing Rocko’s table in his peripheral vision. While nothing seemed out-of-place, there was definitely a tingling between his shoulder blades that felt wrong.

He did another scan of the bar, skipping over the faces he’d already put into memory. There. At the back in the far-right corner. Three men dressed in jeans with black shirts and jackets. Their round of drinks on top of the table barely touched.


He hadn’t seen them come in, or spotted their vehicle in the parking lot. Which meant they must have parked down the block then entered through either the back or stage entrance before Colt and Six had circled around—taken up their positions. None of which boded well.

Crow continued looking around the bar, skirting his gaze past Six. His buddy was fixed on the men—eyes narrowed. Hand within reach of his weapon. Whatever had made Six stop Crow involved those men. He just wasn’t sure if they were hired muscle or with whoever had footed the bill—whoever truly owned the bar.

Colt slipped out of the hallway, shadowing another patron as he made his way to the counter, sitting at the opposite end. He made eye contact, glanced at the men, then looked back. Crow didn’t need to read minds or have some sixth sense to know what his teammate was saying—their op had just gotten complicated. In fact, they were on the verge of having to back off. Try, again, another day when they had more intel—knew who the hell these men were. Because wanted felons or not, Cannon would have Crow and his buddies’ asses if any of the other patrons got so much as a scratch.

Then, Bower got up—headed down the hall. Just like they’d planned for. One of the men using the restroom. A trick to get the other into the hallway.

Crow glanced at the newcomers, and damn if they weren’t focused on the same group. The same men. Crow frowned. They didn’t look like recovery agents—too stiff, for one. Not enough weapons, for another. And unlike him and his buddies, their jackets were open, clearly exposing nothing but their cotton shirts beneath. A hint of a holster on the side of their chests. They were armed, but not for bear.

Six nodded when Crow looked over at him, then made his way to Rocko’s table while Colt disappeared. Just vanished into the small crowd. He’d be heading for the hallway—would get Bower alone. Knock the creep out while Six lured the other man down the corridor—did the same.

Crow sighed. Adapting was a bitch, but damn it, he’d spent what had felt like a lifetime adapting. Doing whatever was necessary to get the mission done. Unknown intel? Crow would just have to make sure he had Six and Colt’s backs. Put himself between them and whoever came at them if things got dicey.

He stood, ambled over to the far end where Colt had been sitting—muscles primed in case anyone else got nosy. Tried to follow. They hadn’t pegged any of the muscular men inside the establishment as bodyguards for their targets, but there was always a possibility some were. That they’d have a set amount of time before they went searching for their bosses. And Crow wasn’t about to let anyone get the jump on him. He’d already gone down that road once before, and he’d be damned if he made the same mistake twice. All he needed was to keep the area secure until Colt and Six had the two men cuffed. Then, they could quietly extract their assets without making a scene or getting anyone else involved.

Scuffs sounded in the hallway, followed by a grunt, then a dull thud. And Crow bet his ass that Six had just knocked Rocko out. Despite the fact the man had what looked like three inches and fifty pounds on Six, Crow had no doubt the brute hadn’t so much as touched Six. His buddy’s hand-to-hand skills coupled with his freaky sixth sense crap made Six extremely lethal.

“Targets acquired.” Colt’s voice in the comm. “Meet us at the rear entrance.”

Crow grinned before he caught a glimpse of movement behind him. Two men in denim and ratty tees heading his way. Arms jacked out from their sides. Scowls marring their harsh faces. Crow darted partway down the corridor then shifted into the shadows. While he’d have rather kept any possible confrontation away from where Six and Colt were currently trussing up their targets and marshaling them out to the doorway, he couldn’t risk a fight too close to the main section. One that could get others involved. Instead, he waited. Listened to the steady echo of footsteps along the corridor.

Five seconds, and the men had closed the distance by half—were still heading his way. 

Two more, and they were nearly abreast of his position. Were acutely focused on the doors at the end of the hallway. 

One more, and Crow was on them. Booted the first guy in the knee followed by an elbow to the head as the guy crumpled. His buddy turned just as the first man hit the floor. Hard. Making the floor vibrate from the impact. The other bodyguard managed to raise his hand—point a gun Crow’s way—but it was too late. Too slow.

Three strikes, and the gun clattered to the floor. Skidded across the old wood and against the wall. Two more, and blood was pouring out of his nose. Had splattered across the office door on the opposite side. One final kick, and he was out. Sprawled on the floor next to his partner. That guy looked up at Crow, still grabbing his knee, and sneered, then fell back with Crow’s heel notched into his jaw. His head cracked against the floor—silenced him.

Crow looked up, somewhat surprised to find the hallway empty. He’d thought those other men in the black jackets would have been on him, by now. That they would have charged the corridor, guns drawn. Maybe taken a few shots while he was dealing with the bodyguards. And Crow had been ready. Had the scenario all planned out in his head, so not having to face them made his skin crawl. Sent off warning bells in his head.

Something was definitely wrong.

He dragged the two men over into the shadows lining the hallway then made his way to the rear entrance. Both Six and Colt had their marks slung over their shoulders fireman-style. Blood slowly dripping down the unconscious men’s faces.

Six looked at him then glanced at the corner. “Problem?”

“Not anymore. Though…” Crow shrugged. “I have a feeling this isn’t where it gets easy.”

Colt snorted. “Just another Thursday afternoon, bro. You ready?”

“I’m not the one standing with his hand on the doorknob but not turning it.”

“Good to have you back, Crow. We missed your constant criticism.”


Colt grinned, opened the door, and stepped out, Six on his heels. They scoured the area, then headed for Colt’s truck. They’d just reached the corner when Six grabbed Colt’s arm and yanked him back, dumping Rocko’s limp body on the gravel before pressing his back into the wall. Six didn’t draw his weapon, just stood there, motioning them to follow suit.

Crow took up his position next to Six, with Colt bringing up the rear. Six showed the count on his hand, hitting one when a silhouette rounded the corner of the building.

Six caught the man’s wrist—sent him tumbling to the ground. Crow grabbed the next guy, blocking the man’s punches, then landing one to his throat. Dumping him on his ass with nothing more than a grunt. By the time Crow looked behind him, Colt had the third guy pinned to the wall—arm wrenched up into his shoulder blades.

“Enough.” The man Six had tossed held up a hand, a black billfold clasped between his fingers.

Crow motioned for Six to back up, stepping forward to take the ID. Dread settled in his gut as he stared at the emblem embossed on the card—no shiny badge, just the words Central Intelligence Agency scrawled across the top. The guy’s photo and more info on the bottom.

Crow glared at the guy. “You’re CIA?” When the man merely arched a brow, Crow tossed the wallet back at him. “Want to explain why you’re following us?”

The officer grunted then stood, dusting off his pants before meeting Crow’s gaze. “Officer Ryker Ward?”

“Ex-officer. And everyone calls me Crow.”

“Not today. Today, you’re Officer Ward. Seems there’s a clause in your contract that allows the powers-at-be to recall you. I’m sure they’ll explain everything. All I know is that there’s a situation that requires your expertise, and the clock is ticking.” The guy stepped into Crow’s personal space, grinning. “Welcome back to the CIA, Ward. Must be your lucky day.”