Page 86 of Way of the Shadows (Shadow Agents 8)

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Mercer lifted a hand. “My agents sacrifice for the EOD. You think I don’t know that?” And, for an instant, the mask Mercer usually wore fell away. “They give up their homes, their families... They focus on the missions. But life is more than just a mission.” He came forward and slapped a hand on Thomas’s shoulder. “A whole lot more, and I’m glad you finally realized that.”

Thomas glanced toward the observation glass. Noelle was questioning Paula, and Paula was telling her everything.

But his gaze wasn’t on the captured woman. It was on Noelle. He could see the side of her face. The soft profile. The delicate line of her jaw.

“I knew you loved her,” Mercer told him gruffly. “I just wondered when you’d realize it yourself.”

Those words had Thomas’s stare jerking back toward his boss.

Mercer smiled. Smiled. “It’s in how you look at her. Usually, you stare at the world as if daring someone to attack you. But you stare at her...” He exhaled and his hand dropped from Thomas’s shoulder. “You stare at her as if it’s Christmas morning, and you just found the presents beneath the tree.”

Thomas swallowed. “She’s what matters most to me.”

“Then she needs to be the one person you hold tightest.” Mercer gave a firm nod. “Don’t let her go, and, son, you don’t hesitate to tell that woman how you feel every single day of your life.” For an instant, sadness flashed in his eyes. “Because the days pass too fast, and you never know when you could wake up and find—” Mercer broke off then. He turned away from Thomas. “Wait for Noelle to finish up the interview. When she’s done, you two take the next week off. I think you’ve earned that time.”

Mercer headed for the door.

Thomas didn’t move from his spot in front of the observation window. When the door shut behind Mercer, Thomas kept watching Noelle.

He knew what Mercer had been about to say. You never know when you could wake up and find her gone.

Yes, he knew about the director’s past. Because he knew most of the secrets at the EOD. Once upon a time, Mercer had loved, too. But his wife had been taken from him.

You never know when you could wake up and find her gone.

Noelle turned her head then and looked toward the observation room. He stared into her eyes. The most gorgeous eyes he’d ever seen.

He wouldn’t think of a life without Noelle. She’d been the on

e thing to get him through the darkest times of his life. No matter what hellhole he’d entered, she’d been there, the light in the darkness. The image of her had gotten him through so many times when he thought escape would be impossible.

No, he wouldn’t think of a life without her. Because he didn’t want to live that life.

He had his dream, he had Noelle, and Thomas knew he would fight heaven and hell to keep her by his side.

He stayed there, watching, until the interrogation was over, and when Noelle finally came into the room to find him, Thomas stalked toward her.

“Thomas?”

He pulled her into his arms. He still didn’t think she realized just how incredibly important she was to him. Maybe one day, she would.

“I love you.” The words came from him so easily now. No stumbles. No hesitations.

She smiled.

For so long, darkness had been all he’d known. But not any longer. Now he had light.

He had love.

He had Noelle.

Thomas kissed her.

* * * * *


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