Her Perfect Mate(8)

By: Paige Tyler


Landon sensed a “but” coming.

“However,” John said, right on cue, “you do have one additional task. In fact, it’s one of the most critical functions you can be asked to perform. Consider it the first general order for the DCO. It’s something of a formality, but I have to discuss it with you. In the event your team is compromised and it appears likely your partner is about to be captured, it will be your task to eliminate them.”

What the hell? John did not just say what Landon thought he did. “I think I must have misunderstood. By them, I assume you mean the enemy we’re up against?”

“No, Landon, you didn’t misunderstand me. One of the most valuable services the DCO provides to the leadership of the United States is plausible deniability. Your partner possesses certain attributes that could prove embarrassing for our county if they were exposed. Therefore, it’s critical that your partner never be captured. Part of your selection involved an assessment of your ability to follow out this particular job requirement.”

Landon didn’t think much of any assessment process that could determine he’d be okay with executing his teammate. What the hell had these assholes seen to make them think that? One of the founding principles of the Special Forces—the army in general—was that no one got left behind. There wasn’t an army unit out there that wouldn’t risk every single member in it to go back into enemy territory and rescue one of their people. It was the cog that made everything else work.

The idea that he’d be asked to kill his own partner was beyond distasteful. It was flat-out repugnant. Just what kind of attributes did his partner have that would make this person an embarrassment to the United States anyway?

He didn’t care if he could turn down the assignment or not. Let them court-martial his ass. He was walking out of here right now. Landon started to get to his feet, but John held up his hand.

“I see this particular issue is difficult for you,” he said. “Let me assure you we don’t take this lightly, Landon. The requirement has been evaluated at the very highest levels of authority, and it’s been determined to be reasonable and required. That said, it isn’t a common occurrence at the DCO. In fact, it’s never happened, and we hope it never does. If it helps, you can look at it another way. It’s your responsibility to make sure your partner is never put into a position where you have to kill them.”

That wasn’t much better, but Landon could live with it, especially since he sure as hell wasn’t going to let any teammate of his get compromised.

“Is my partner aware of this order?” he asked.

John nodded. “Yes. All EVAs are fully aware of this stipulation and have signed the necessary documents to acknowledge and accept the consequence of their capture.”

Landon had no idea what the hell an EVA was, but they must be seriously committed if they could work for an organization that would execute them.

John picked up the phone on the table and pressed one of the buttons. “Olivia, please have Todd and Kendra come in.”

Since there were two of them, neither one was probably his new partner. Another team, maybe? He was about to ask John when the door opened.

The man and woman who walked in weren’t dressed in the black uniforms Landon had seen earlier, so they probably weren’t operatives. The business casual look they were rocking didn’t give much of a hint as to what jobs they did. Neither did the clipboards in their hands.

John stood, so Landon did the same.

“Landon, this is Todd Newman and Kendra Carlsen,” John said. “They’ll be your training officers as well as be your handlers after you and your partner are certified for fieldwork.”

Landon studied the man and woman closer as he shook their hands. Todd looked like he could have played linebacker when he was in college, but he was a little too soft in the middle to be lighting up guys on the field anymore. Kendra was cute, blond hair pulled back in a messy bun, reading glasses perched on her head, a spray of freckles across her cheeks.

He glanced at John. “What if my partner and I don’t successfully complete the certification course?”

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