The Terrorist’s Game
“There’s a lot of conning as part of our society, I think.”
- Sigourney Weaver
Talia walked into her office suite in the subterranean area of the United Nations Building half an hour late. She had taken some time to shake off the altercation that she had with Mr. Walker at her apartment. She was bothered by the incident. For some reason that she could not qualify, she cared what the guy thought of her. She couldn’t figure out why she would care what he thought about anything. She didn’t want to deal with any man, but there he was, and she couldn’t stop thinking about him. He made her edgy. His angered description of her had been insulting and made her sound like a spoiled rotten princess, and she couldn’t stop thinking about it. He even called her princess. Why did that moniker irritate her so? She new that she was a hard working honest capable woman, and commanded respect from everyone, male or female; but somehow this strange man was making her question her stature.
“Where did that guy come from?” she wondered. “Why do I care what he thinks? He obviously has me confused with my mother.”
Michael Monroe, one of Talia’s assistants and bodyguards joined her at the main entrance of the U.N. compound, followed her through the lobby, through the gallery past Rockwell’s Golden Rule, down the stairs, and along a hallway into her assigned office suite. Michael was the bodyguard who threw Cameron Walker into the limousine at her request the previous evening. He was a young man of 25, six feet three inches tall with hair so light it was almost white. He was close to albino, with faded blue eyes and pale skin that burned easily to a bright pink when in the sun. His exotic look was nicely complimented with broad shoulders and rock hard abs. Michael was recently honorably discharged as a Specialist from the Army Rangers and one of the very few people on Earth that she trusted. He was the son of one of her mother’s best and oldest friends, William or Will Monroe. William was a Staff Sergeant during his career with the Army and had gone to high school with Clarissa. Michael was a good son, a good Ranger, and one of Talia’s staunchest protectors. Sometimes he seemed more of an over protective brother than an employee with a loyalty that could only come from elite military service and homage paid to a well respected father, but that made her comfortable. She wouldn’t have wanted someone who was just in it to get paid. She had never been poor, but she believed that money simply shouldn’t always be the most important thing in life. Honor, love, and family, and friendship; all should come above money.
Talia attempted to ignore Michael’s overbearing behavior of literally shadowing her. She walked into her personal office and sat down at her rebelliously pink desk and grabbed her mail. There was a mural of a desert sunset painted on the wall behind her and with the delicate colors of the desert at twilight; it blended right in with the pink desktop and made everyone forget that they were actually sitting in a cellar.
She sorted through her mail, one piece at a time and then tossing it all in the garbage as junk in the same fashion.
“Did you do the morning sweep?” she asked Michael.
“Of course,” he replied.
A morning security sweep was done of the entire compound and adjacent areas every day. Security recordings were studied and analyzed for anything that might prompt improvements in the security system. The meeting chambers and offices were swept for potential listening devices or cameras, incendiary devices or explosives. Reports of any incidents were reviewed. The food vendors across the street were checked from the taco stand all the way to the frozen yogurt vendor. The videos of the grounds and the East River were also reviewed. It was necessary to monitor traffic along the waterway, in case of suspicious activity because the complex sat near the shore. Michael was in charge of all of those activities and normally had them completed with a written report ready for her by the time she came to the office.
“Anything of concern?” Talia asked, tossing aside the written report that Michael had left for her on her desk and trusting his opinion.
“Not at the U.N.,” Michael said, grinning at her.
She glared at him from behind her pink Ralph Lauren reading glasses. He smiled at her from the straight backed chair on the opposite side of her desk. “What?”
He grinned and leaned back in his chair, watching her face. “Rough night?” he asked, trying not to giggle.
“Shut up,” she snapped as she threw a paper clip at him. “Why did you let him come back to my apartment? Isn’t the definition of personal security to not leave me at my private home with a total stranger?”
“Hey, that was your idea,” he replied. “I would never have taken him there. It was a disaster waiting to happen. You insisted that he was harmless. I tried to stay and watch him, but you ordered me to leave. You are the boss unlike some other security officers, I want my job.”
“Since when do you listen to me?” she argued. “You’ve never once listened to a word I’ve said after a cocktail party. And you’ve never once cared that I’m the boss any more than anyone else has around here. What if he’d been an axe murderer?”
“You got all uppity with me and talked to me like I was a slave or a child,” he replied. “You had a couple of drinks yourself and told me to mind my own business. So, I did. Do axe murderers dress like college professors?”
“Fine, I guess I deserved that, but I count on you to have the brains sometimes. You were right.” She sighed and slammed her fist on her desk. “That asshole took pictures of me!” She flopped back into her chair. “He just wanted to meet mom anyway.”
Michael’s expression softened, yet his smile continued to widen. “You liked him! Oh my God! I’ve never seen you intrigued by a man before! He seemed like such a geek with tweed. I had no idea that’s what you liked. I never would have pictured you with a geeky skinny clumsy dude. I always pictured you with a powerful confident ass kicking dude.”
“I didn’t like him,” she snapped. “I do like manly men. I felt sorry for him, you know, like a lost puppy. Unfortunately, he bites.”
“Did you mean that in a bad way?” he asked.
“Smart ass.” She threw another paper clip at him. “Enough of this blather. I have work to do here today. Let’s forget all about Cameron Walker.”
“Okay, but what about the pictures you mentioned?” he asked.
“I erased his card before I woke him up this morning.” She smiled an evil smile. “Cameron is apparently trying to be a tabloid reporter, but he’s really inexperienced. He’s gonna be pissed when he discovers that his pictures are missing. He actually tried to tell me that he didn’t remember anything about last night. My bullshit detector went off on that one.”
“Well, he seemed pretty drunk,” Michael noted. “Would you like me to check into him? What if he was playing you? He might want something more from you. No offense, but you have some extremely high clearance here at the U.N. and several government agencies around the world.”
“You saw this guy, right?” she scoffed. “Besides, I ran a check on him this morning,” she lied. “He’s no one.”
“No one?” he asked.
“No one,” she insisted. “He’s some high tech research and development lab rat that decided to get out of the lab. He’s nobody.”
Michael thought about what she said. He was fairly certain that she hadn’t checked Cameron Walker, because she always had him run background checks for her. He really didn’t think that she knew how. However, he was sure that she wasn’t interested in seeing the man again. He got the sense that Cameron had crossed some sort of a line and that she truly never wanted to see him again. The one thing that struck him was that he had never seen her pay the slightest bit of attention to any man. The way she behaved when introduced to men was as though she didn’t see them at all. Talia Anderson ignored men as though she had something far more important on her mind at all times.
“Why was Cameron different?” Michael wondered.
Talia snapped Michael out of his distracted thoughts. “What’s on my agenda today?”
“Taheem called and wished to meet with you,” he replied.
“Ugh,” she groaned.
Taheem Sarraf was the United Nations Ambassador from Qatar. He was in town for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. His father, previously the U.S. Ambassador from Qatar, had discovered the West Hampton Dunes on Long Island when he came for meetings in New York decades before. Taheem’s father had so fallen in love with the dunes by the shore that he built a family vacation cottage there with a miniscule amount of his crude oil money. The family beach cottage was a lovely modern home with a wall of windows facing the ocean that stretched the entire three floors of the 8 bedroom, 9 bath structure. It was made for entertaining and impressing all who visited. It was one of the most exclusive homes in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods on Long Island, yet the barrier island had a public national seashore at the end. There was no public parking, but if you didn’t need a place to park, you could go to the beach in Taheem’s neighborhood. As a result, Taheem Sarraf relied on Talia’s private security service to make sure that no undesirables ever slip in to one of his events.
“He didn’t say what he wanted to discuss,” Michael said.
“I think we both know precisely what he wants to discuss,” she commented.
Taheem was going to ask her who Cameron was and how he got through her security and into his elite, listed guest only, party.
“Of course,” Michael answered. “You should meet with him, irregardless.”
“Where did he wish to meet and when?” she groaned.
She felt her temples where her current stress headache was living. “Coffee, please?”
Michael stepped out briefly to the coffee shop upstairs and got Talia her favorite iced coffee, extra light with extra sugar and returned to the office to find her staring at her iPad.
“Coffee,” he said as he sat the plastic cup where she could reach it easily on her desk.
“You know he called me princess, and not in a good way,” she said.
“Who?” he asked.
“Cameron Walker,” she replied.
Michael started to think that he might have a problem with his boss. She was distracted. He had written off the fact that her dress was out of the ordinary as she had replaced her Jason Wu feminine power suit look with a much softer Nicole Miller lady dress. He was wondering what it was about this Cameron that was getting under her skin. He had worked for her in her professional and personal life for three years, and he had never seen a man be of any consequence to the infamous Talia Anderson.
“Could this be because of this mystery geek?” he wondered. “I thought we weren’t talking about him anymore,” he said to Talia.
“Sorry.” She shook her head to refocus her mind. Her outdated United Nations intercom on her desk, buzzed. She pressed the button. “What is it?”
Her other assistant and bodyguard, Tyrell Smith, had arrived and was on the other end. “Ms. Anderson, are you busy?”
“Yes, why?” she snapped.
“Well, you have a…” The intercom crackled. “Hey, you can’t just barge in there!” She heard Tyrell yell.
There was a crashing sound and the intercom went dead.