The Terrorist’s Game
“Everyone does things for love.”
The stop in duty free was short and simple. Cameron picked up an L.L. Bean parka and some Thinsulate gloves. Talia insisted that he buy some Gumshoes as well, in case the weather in Iceland got soggy. He had bought plenty of sweaters and jeans earlier in the day on his shopping spree, so he was easily readied to go to the Island nation that bordered the Arctic Circle and was a well known stopover between continents for travelers.
He was trying to wrap his mind around what was happening and why they were skulking away to Reykjavik, Iceland under a veil of mystery that seemingly only he didn’t understand. Talia’s staff didn’t question anything that she said. It was as though they knew exactly what she was thinking and were normally one step ahead of her, which piggy backed onto the fact that she tended to seem as though she was always one step ahead of everyone else in the world. This trip that they were embarking on, seemed routine to these people, and he found that disconcerting.
Cameron felt uncontrollably compelled to discover what Talia’s unnatural interest in Eduard Sokolovsky was. It was driving him crazy. One word about the man, and she made instant arrangements to meet with him in a discreet location in the North Atlantic. He was too old to be her love interest, and he was not known around the world as a stand out leader. In the news, he was talked about in a boring matter of fact way on a regular basis. He seemed cookie cutter bland, and in no way capable of setting anyone off the way he did Talia. He hoped that she would explain what their connection was, as she promised, because he could not even imagine what it could be.
They were so busy scrambling to get to the plane and get off the ground in apparently record time, that he and Talia didn’t had a chance to discuss anything. He didn’t even have a chance to ask her about her pink jet.
The jet was a medium pink Lear 75 Liberty twin engine that Talia’s mother had given her for Christmas a few years ago. Clarissa thought that a personal jet would make it easier for her to make impromptu trips, and of course, no gift was too large apparently. It wasn’t uncommon for her to have reason to fly at a moment’s notice, as indicated by the present situation. Representing so many clients from around the globe, meant that incidents could happen, meetings could come up, and systems at private residences or at the United Nations in Geneva could need attention. She was a vital part of the security of many important people in several different countries as well as all over the United States, in addition to being the head of security for the U.N. It was amazing to Cameron that she could keep all of her clients in check, and do it with such grace.
Tyrell acted as her personal pilot. He had been an F-15 Eagle pilot in the Persian Gulf while in the military. Since then, he had worked for Clarissa directly for years and most recently, he came to work for Talia as her chauffer, personal assistant, bodyguard, and pilot at her mother’s behest. He still took the occasional trip to the Pentagon to consult on upgrades and contracts for new fighters, and he still took the occasional test flight in new planes. He was both Talia and her mother’s most trusted security personnel.
Cameron realized quickly why Tyrell had no worries about being fired. Talia would be lost if she ever fired him or Michael, the Yin to his Yang. They were with her, whenever she needed them, 24 hours a day. They had no issue with doing exactly what she needed them to when she needed them to. She would also have to answer to her mother if she ever fired Tyrell, and he was quickly realizing that she would never allow that to happen. It was apparent that the last thing on Earth she wanted was to deal with her mother.
Talia joined Cameron in the passenger compartment about half an hour after the Lear jet left the ground. “Sorry to leave you back here alone. I sometimes help Tyrell and Michael run through the take off checklist before I take a seat for the flight. I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I’m sorry I haven’t been available to answer any of them.”
He felt a little punchy with all of the cloak and dagger activities that he was fearful were specifically designed to make him uncomfortable. Or, he was chronically paranoid and a bit tired. “Of course I have a lot of questions. Who wouldn’t have questions about all of this?”
“I told you that you would wish you’d never met me. I’ve told you from the beginning of this whole situation, that you had no idea what you were getting into by messing in my life. I warned you all day and I warned you before we left New York. You were the one who wouldn’t let go. You’re like a dog with a bone. That’s not my fault.”
She was right. She told him at least a dozen times that he didn’t want to get involved in her life. Instead of being put off, however, he was intrigued.
“You’re right, you warned me,” he replied. “But, since you’ve let me tag along this far, why don’t you just explain what the hell is going on? I’m not scared. I can handle it. I’m tougher than you think.”
“Remember, you asked for it,” she said. “First however, I have to be absolutely sure that this won’t end up on some tabloid site or episode of TMZ. Can you promise me that?”
She looked him straight in the eye. She wanted to trust him, but she didn’t feel that she could. She knew that it was her personal insecurities, and that she had no real reason not to trust him, but she didn’t care.
“Of course it won’t. I already told you that I hung up on Melissa Cooper today. She’s as much of a control freak as you are, so she won’t give me a second chance to work for her. She’s not the stoic type either. I picture her having a hit man in her contacts. So, even if I wanted to sell the information, I have no means at this time. I wouldn’t tell anyone anyway as far as I know. Remember, I have no idea what we’re talking about. It’s hard for me to say what I will do when I hear information, before I hear the information. But, I can keep your secrets. I have no contacts, and I really don’t have a lot of friends. I’m kind of a loner. Is any of this helping?”
She watched his face for a moment. “Fine, but remember, there are people who work for me only to protect my privacy. They will attack you, using whatever means necessary, physical or otherwise, if you even think of revealing any part of this. Also, any tabloid would forgive you one rash hang up in order to run a story about my crazy international family. They would pay a fortune for something concrete about my mother alone.”
“Send the CIA assassins out after me. I don’t care,” he said. “I’m not going to tell your precious secrets. Here’s an idea. Tell me what the hell is going on. You act like it’s life or death or treason or espionage. How bad could it be? And, what do you mean, international family?”
Talia got up and went to the other side of the passenger compartment. She opened a small bar and took out two bottles of Guinness. She opened the bottles with a bottle opener that she took off the side of the refrigerator, handed one to Cameron, took the other and returned to her chair. She took a sip of the Guinness. Being a fan of stout beers, Cameron was impressed at her taste, although he thought she was a wino. Just one more mystery about her to unravel. She observed him for a moment. He could tell she was thinking, but not about what.
“Family. You know that I’m on the inside track to Russian affairs,” she said.
“Yes,” he replied.
“I haven’t told this to anyone in a long time. I don’t like to talk about it at all. It’s very painful for me.”
“I understand, but I can’t help you with any of it, comfort you, or even follow the bread crumbs of information, if I don’t know what is happening. I would like to be of some use to you in a time of apparent need. For that I need understanding of the situation.”
She took a long drink of her beer and a deep breath after. “When I was in college, I did some intern work at the United Nations. I’m gifted in foreign languages, so they put me to work as a translator for primarily Slavic speaking ambassadors. Eduard Sokolovsky was the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations at that time.”
“That’s how you met? That was some time ago.”
“It’s been the better part of 20 years since we first met. He liked me and my work. We spent a lot of time together, because I was an excellent translator. His words, not mine. I was young and having the time of my life. My mom left me feeling underappreciated, by no fault of her own, and the accolades that were showered on me for my talent at linguistics made me feel like a princess. I can’t remember a time when I was more excited to go to work. But, I digress.
“His son, Dmitri, came to visit one day. It was in the spring. March 20th. I still remember everything about that day.” She felt as though she was going to cry.
“Yes.” A look of longing encroached her face. “It was love at first sight. We were married less than six months later.”
Cameron nearly choked in his Guinness. “Eduard Sokolovsky, the newly elected President of Russia, is your father in law? Good, God, then that makes his only granddaughter, Anya…”
“My daughter. I lived in Russia for years. Dmitri was an agent of the Detective Administration. He couldn’t leave Russia to move to America, so I moved there. Anya was born less than a year after we moved to Russia. She was the cutest little baby I’d ever seen. She’s the most important thing in the world to me,” she sniffed, trying not to cry.
“Of course. Wow. Now, what’s the Detective Administration?” he asked. “That’s only my first question about all of this, mind you.”
“It’s part of the secret police in Russia. It’s similar to the CIA. They work in espionage, terrorism, all kinds of spy stuff.”
“But, you work for the United Nations,” he said.
“There are things that most people don’t know about me,” she went on. “If the United Nations officially found out about my past, I would be ruined. Very few of the representatives and none of their staffers know.”
“Why would it ruin you?” he asked. “I would think that it would just add to your amazing list of powerful contacts.”
“Maybe if I’d married a British Royal, but Russia?” she stammered. “Russia is always a problem in the United States. I used to dream that there would be peace and unity, but the reality is that the two shall never be close, and will always mistrust each other, and compete with each other, and for lack of a better term, vie for world domination against one another.”
“I see your point,” he said.
“Now, my father in law is President,” she sighed. “I have to talk to him and see what the hell is going on.”
Cameron gaped at her in silence. He didn’t know what to think about what she was saying. It was in no way what he expected her to tell him. He carefully considered what he should say. He had read about the woman and the books that she authored, and thought that he knew some facts about her, but this negated nearly everything he read. A Russian daughter? A father in law ruling Russia? So many layers. So many surprises. Talia Anderson could easily be the most interesting woman in the world. He couldn’t wait to hear more.