The basement of the Silver Star rang with energetic conversation as the five members of the top secret special operations unit ate dinner around the large wooden table.
For a brief moment Xavier Trout stood on the stairs and listened to the light-hearted banter, wishing he wasn't about to destroy the happy-go-lucky mood.
But finally he sighed heavily and continued down.
The conversation stopped abruptly when they saw him.
"Trout," Matt Shepherd greeted, his expression guarded, "don't you ever knock? You want to join us?"
The former special forces colonel turned Pentagon spook crossed the basement and stopped near the table.
He gazed at the feast – Italian carryout from the looks of it – and knew it was a meal to celebrate their recent successful operation on Cat Island.
"No, thank you anyway," he said wistfully. "Matt, can we talk?"
Shepherd shot him a half-angry scowl over the interruption, but rose and gestured toward his basement office.
The others watched in silence until the two men were inside, then went back to their meal and their conversation, but it was much more subdued than it had been just a few moments earlier.
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