Show No Fear - By Marliss Melton

Maiquetía, Venezuela

Lucy Donovan, top-notch case officer for the CIA, considered herself virtually fearless. But the Elite Guards’ threat to blow up the warehouse, with her trapped inside it, made her skin feel too tight. She wasn’t afraid to die, but thoughts of being blown to pieces touched on a memory so raw and painful that she came closer to panicking than she ever had in her life.

With a knife slipped in her hands at the last minute by a sympathetic Elite Guardsman, she had severed the flexicuffs that had kept her bound to a chair. The window through which a warm, sulfurous breeze wafted offered escape and certain survival. Only Lucy couldn’t jump out yet. She had a job to finish—to find the CDs she’d been forced to hide when the Elite Guard first stormed the building.

Beaten and bleeding, with seconds draining away like sand through an hourglass, she slipped from the office to slink along the catwalk edging the outer wall.

The creaking of hinges one level below her made her freeze. What now? she wondered, uncertain whether the sound was real or just imagined. With no time to guess, she continued to search for the line of chalk marking the support beam behind which she’d hidden the CDs.

A scuffling sound confirmed that she was not alone in this vast, echoing warehouse. Footfalls, so stealthy they gave her pause, crept along the cement slab below.

Two people? Three?

Awash in a cold sweat, she wondered who they might be. Damn it! If they interfered with her exodus, they were all going to end up in little pieces!

Seeing the line of chalk, at last, she bent to retrieve the CDs from the aperture behind the beam. Plop! Blood dripped from her chin, landing loudly on the grooved metal flooring. At the same time, the stairs leading from the first floor to the second gave a groan.

Lucy held her breath. Someone was ascending the steps to the catwalks above. If he was equipped with night vision, he would discover her almost immediately. Her only option was to disappear.

Casting a desperate eye around her, she realized the metal supports for the catwalk offered possibilities.

Stuffing the CDs into the pocket of her cargo pants, she stepped onto the railing and reached for the horizontal bar high over her head. In a move called a roof assault, she pulled her feet, then her body, up and over the bar. The effort sent blood rushing past her eardrums, challenging her equilibrium. Had she imagined it, or had someone called her name?

The silhouette of a man edged cautiously into view. Friend or foe? she wondered, praying she’d climbed too high for him to see her. He wore night-vision gear, so it was impossible to see his face, to determine his affiliation. With a pack on his back, an assault rifle, and more gear strapped to his belt, he looked like a Navy SEAL, but she couldn’t be certain.

She could tell that he was following her blood trail. With his gaze angled downward, he still hadn’t noticed her, clinging to the support rod several feet over his head. She watched as he passed directly below her, crossing to the beam where she’d hidden the CDs.

The blood coursing down her face proved problematic. She tried to staunch the flow with her sleeve, but a droplet escaped, falling in slow motion to hit the metal riser with a musical thunk.

Lucy flinched. The commando shrank out of sight at the sound, hiding his broad-shouldered frame behind the slender beam. “Lucy!” he whispered from his hiding place.

At the sound of her name, Lucy’s tense muscles went lax. Her body slid bonelessly off the bar. She hung by her sweaty fingertips for a second before dropping gracefully to her feet. “Here I am,” she said, relieved beyond measure that she was being rescued and not hunted down.

He spun into view, lifting the visor of his night-vision gear, and Lucy’s heart stopped.

It had to be the greasepaint that made him look exactly like her college boyfriend, James. The athletic body didn’t jibe with her mental recollection. But as she took a curious step closer, his expression of horror confirmed her observation.

“James Atwater,” she breathed, ignoring his concern over her ravaged face, amazed that her voice could sound so calm when her heart was trotting. “What the hell are you doing here?” But then her knees betrayed her, going suddenly weak.

As she started to sway, he leapt forward, catching her against him. “Lucy!”

“We need to get out of