Barriers (Anderson Special Ops #3) by Melody Anne

Prologue




    “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening . . .”

    “What in the actual hell are you singing?” Green asked as he looked over at Smoke, who was gazing through a pair of Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Thermal Binoculars, the best of the best with built-in laser rangefinders, recorders, and video sharing. Of course, Brackish had upped the technology inside them even more. Every tool they used was the best, and this was no exception.

    “A Christmas song. It felt appropriate,” Smoke answered, smiling as he continued his song. “A beautiful sight . . . we’re happy tonight . . .”

    “Stop, just stop!” Green said. “It’s the Fourth of July in case you were wondering. Were you dropped on your head a lot as a child?”

    “There’s nothing wrong with feeling the holiday spirit,” Smoke said before chuckling in his rich, deep timbre.

    “There’s a lot wrong when you’re singing Christmas carols on Independence Day,” Green told him with a roll of his eyes. But there was a smirk on his lips that said he was enjoying the Christmas carol even if he didn’t want to admit it.

    “I’m bored. I despise these babysitting missions,” Smoke said. “Why do Sleep and Eyes get to have all of the fun while we’re in the middle of the hills instead of in the action?”

    “Because they drew the long straws, so they get to have good food and fun. You drew the short straw. Besides that, you stand out too much in a crowd, and I like to keep a low profile,” Green told him.

    “And I have to listen to both of you whine,” Brackish said through the comms.

    “Quit inserting yourself into the conversation,” Smoke told their tech genius. “That’s a sign of narcissism.”

    “Oh, little boys, there’s no denying I’m a narcissist. It’s hard not to be when I’m the best of the best and everything I touch turns to gold,” Brackish said with a chuckle.

    “You might be good with the tech stuff, but we all know I’m the best at everything else,” Smoke said, cockiness radiating off of him in droves.

    “I’m the youngest and can run circles around all of you,” Green piped in.

    “Neither of you have survived walking close to one hundred miles while your body is loaded with bullets,” Sleep piped up.

    “Fake news,” Smoke said, making all of the men laugh.

    “Hey, I was there,” Eyes said. Sleep groaned, knowing what was coming next. “Of course, it was Sleep who shot me all to hell . . . not the enemy.”

    “Maybe you shouldn’t have been sneaking around like a stalker beneath a MILF’s window,” Sleep countered.

    “Really, Eyes? Really?” Green asked, bursting into laughter.

    “Hey, don’t knock hot mamas,” Smoke said. “I’ve had a few of them in my days.”

    “There’s only one future mom I’m interested in,” Sleep said, his voice going mushy.

    The entire team went silent for about three seconds, which was unheard of. Chad was the one to break it.

    “Are you pregnant?” Chad asked.

    “Yep, it’s been killing me not to say anything, but Avery’s through the first trimester so I can officially announce I’m gonna be a dad,” Sleep said with pride.

    All of the men piped in with congratulations and enthusiasm. They weren’t only tough and the best, they were loyal, and they knew what family meant.

    “I guess since it’s not my kid, I get to spoil the hell out of it,” Smoke said. “And she’ll never complain about me singing Christmas songs in July.”

    “Are you saying you won’t spoil your own kid?” Green asked.

    Smoke laughed then held his hands up in surrender. “I’m never, ever, ever, ever having kids. No way. No how. I’d have to get married to do that, and this fine piece of machinery isn’t falling into the marriage trap.”

    “I have a feeling you’re very wrong about that,” Brackish said. “I thought the same thing, but when that woman comes along who takes the breath straight out of your lungs, and nearly sends you into cardiac arrest because she makes your heart pound so hard, there’s no turning back.”