ONCE UPON a time I had been a captain in the U.S. Army, serving
as an intelligence officer, but a series of unfortunate and bloody
events had led me to the precipice of a dishonorable discharge and
a life sentence to the Army prison in Leavenworth, until a heavily
tanned man working for the Central Intelligence Agency had offered
me a way out.
His exit path meant joining the CIA, undergoing their training
sessions, then accepting overseas assignments at a moment’s notice—
missing my husband, Tom, and daughter, Denise, terribly—
to do serious work on behalf of an unknowing and mostly uncaring
It was either that or go to prison.
Some days I almost think it was worth it.
But not today.
I’m with my two very skilled and angry killers, about to crawl
up to the edge of a ridge, and it’s nearing noon on this warm day
in the wild mountain areas between Syria and Lebanon. The night
before in our little encampment, we and our British friends could
see the glow of night raids going on in Syria, not sure if the Russians,
Turks, or Americans were doing the bombing—but all of us
agreeing it probably didn’t make much difference.
It was a damn lonely feeling, but now I feel even lonelier. Jordan
and Santiago are professionals, good at following orders—even if
it’s from someone who uses sanitary products once a month—but
I can feel the smoldering anger coming off them after abandoning
the exfiltration point back at that wadi.
Now, instead of showering and eating good ol’ greasy and fattening
American food aboard the USS Essex near the Lebanese
coastline, we’re deep in hostile territory, with few good options facing
But there’s a hard core of me that knows I’m right.
To hell with our orders.
Classified mission or not, I’m not leaving anyone behind.
We three are strung out in a line and now we’re peeking over the
ridgetop, using the jagged rocks and boulders for cover. By now
Jordan has reassembled his .308 Remington—putting a standard
tactical scope on the frame instead of the spooky Star Wars aiming
system—and Santiago is using standard binoculars as well.
I say, “There it is.”
It being a sad-looking one-story farmhouse and attached small
barn, both made of wood and stone, with an orchard of scraggly
trees, a fenced-in area where goats are doing whatever goats do,
and a small courtyard off to the left, surrounded by a knee-high
Looking through his rifle’s scope, Jordan says, “Doesn’t look like
“Langley told us this farmhouse is used as a transit point for
smugglers and jihadists. It’s the closest building to our ambush site.
If our Brits were taken someplace, this is it.”
Santiago, his binoculars in his hands, says, “Crappy looking
“Yes,” I say. “But check out the parking lot.”
A dirt lane leads to the farmhouse, and three dark and dented Toyota pickup trucks, as well as a black SUV, are parked in a semicircle
“I don’t think this is the far outpost of Honest Ahmed, used-car
salesman,” I say. I gesture to the left. “Spread out. Santiago, that
little lump of rock . . . and Jordan, that chunk that looks like a doghouse.
Sound off if you see anything.”
They silently pick up their gear and move as ordered.
I look down at the farmhouse.
The only sign of life is the goats.
I hate goats.
In the few minutes it takes for Jordan and Santiago to take up their
new positions, only a handful of words are exchanged.
Quietly Jordan says, “She broke orders.”
Santiago says, “Yeah.”
Jordan pauses, takes off his rucksack. “If my ass ever gets captured,
hope someone does the same for me.”
“No argument here,” Santiago says.
“See you later.”
Santiago moves forward. “You bet, Bro.”
I check my radio gear.
Still no signal.
Being in the mountains will do that to you.
I look down through the fine German optics at the Lebanese
farmhouse, where I hope my two British comrades are being held.
It’s a damn UN meeting, it is.
We can sit here for a while, try to see what’s going on. Those
parked vehicles mean something of importance must be
But maybe it’s not Jeremy and Oliver—those polite, charming,
humorous, and utterly stone-cold killers in the service of MI6 and
Maybe it’s something else.
I could leave Santiago and Jordan here while I find a location
that will allow me to reestablish radio communications—and, after
getting reamed out, try to pinpoint resources that I could use to
find Jeremy and Oliver.
But my gut tells me they’re in that building.
How to get them out?
I’m hungry, thirsty, and my feet hurt, and the bandages wrapped
around my torso make me feel like I’m going to lose a cup size
when this particular op is wrapped up.
As I start going through the options once more, I think I see a
hint of movement off to the left. Then Jordan makes up my mind
“Amy!” he yells, holding his rifle, face to the scope. “We got a