The Terrorist’s Game
“I have never been the mousy, stand-two-paces-behind, obedient ‘little woman’ type.”
The door opened, and in he walked. Cameron Walker, the man that Talia didn’t wish to discuss was back.
“Mr. Walker, can I help you?” she snarked. “Maybe I can give you directions to the train station or the airport? I can have Tyrell find you a subway map.”
Tyrell rushed in behind Cameron. He was the inverse of Michael in many ways. He was a very dark black man, with black nappy hair and dark brown eyes. He did stand over six feet tall with broad shoulders and rock hard abs, like Michael, but he was much older. Tyrell was the other person that Talia trusted with her life, and he had been assigned to her by her mother. She had known him as her mother’s head of security while growing up. Her mother had wanted to make sure that there was one person in charge of her daughter that was worthy of the Clarissa Anderson seal of approval, hence, interviews were forgone, and Talia’s opinions meant nothing when he was hired. A lot of Talia’s acquaintances called Tyrell and Michael yin and yang, an insensitive set of nicknames based on their physical and personality differences. In addition to their appearance, Michael was stoic and science minded, and Tyrell was more emotional and over protective.
“I’m sorry. He’s quick,” Tyrell said.
“I’ll be the judge of that,” She commented. She looked at Cameron. “What can I do for you, and how did you get in here?”
Cameron watched her for a moment. “What was it about this woman?”
He should have gone back to Seattle and forgotten all about his encounter with Talia Anderson, but for some reason he was worried about what she thought of him as a man. He was determined that he wasn’t leaving town until he had convinced her that he wasn’t scumbag paparazzi.
“Can I talk to you?” he asked.
“Sure, talk,” she challenged him. “Maybe you can explain how you keep breaching my security.”
“Do we have to have an audience?” he asked.
Michael and Tyrell smiled at each other. Talia noticed their enthusiasm, and found it annoying.
“Sure,” she told him. She looked at Yin and Yang. “You heard him. Get out.”
She motioned to Tyrell and Michael as though she were scooting mice out the door. They raised their eyebrows at one another, smiled, and left silently.
“And turn off the intercom!” she yelled after them. She held her index finger up for a moment. A click came from the antique intercom on her desk. “Now, what?”
Cameron stood across the desk from her. She waited, but he didn’t speak.
“I thought you wanted to talk,” she said, finally. “Why don’t you sit down?”
“No thanks,” he answered. He started to speak a couple of times before anything audible came out. “Look, I don’t know why I care what you think of me, but I couldn’t just leave town with you thinking that I’m an unexplained jerk of some kind.”
“Okay. Let’s start with the basics. What kind of a jerk are you?” she asked.
“See, that’s what gets to me!” he exclaimed. He pointed his index finger in her direction. “You drive me insane, and in record time I might add. I’m a nice guy, and I’m extremely intelligent. I have a MENSA card for Christ’s sake! I’ve been one of those together sort of guys my whole life that never let anyone bother me in any way; male or female. Insults didn’t bother me. I was always the smartest guy in the room, and that gave me confidence. Then I meet you, and you drive me nuts!”
“You know, you sound like an idiot,” she observed.
“I know,” he groaned. “That’s new since I met you.”
Talia smiled. “I’ve heard that I have that effect on men.” She motioned to the chair opposite her. “Now, sit. Let’s talk. Tell me what you think I need to know, so that you can start sounding like a normal person. Then we’ll see if you’re the smartest one in the room.”
He was skeptical. His limited experience with the woman told him that he was being set up for more humiliation, but he couldn’t resist. She challenged him, and he wanted to learn about her. He sat down in the pink Swedish modern armchair gingerly, as he watched her.
“What do you want to tell me?” she asked. “Do you want to ask me something? What do you want?”
“First, I have to know one thing. Is everything you own pink?”
“Most of it, yes,” she answered. “My turn. How did you find me? For obvious reasons, my offices are not listed in the public entrance. It’s one reason that I live in the cellar.”
“I followed you,” he replied.
She didn’t know whether to be insulted or to enjoy the game that he was playing with her. He obviously didn’t want her to think that he had gone to a significant amount of trouble to locate her, and she was sure that he didn’t want her to find out that he tracked her with a device; most likely her phone.
“I’ve been here for a while today,” she said. “Try again. Be honest.”
He decided not to pursue his defense in the matter. “Give me a chance to show you what kind of a nice respectable guy I really am.”
“Why?” she asked. “Unlock your phone and let me see what you have going on there. Then, I’ll see what kind of guy you really are.”
“What does that have to do with it?” he asked.
“Michael and Tyrell insist on being able to track me, so there’s an app activated on my phone. I have a hunch that you managed to access it and that’s how you tracked me to this office.”
Cameron was frustrated that she had analyzed his method so easily. She was too smart and seemed to read him like a book. He didn’t want her to find out everything about him. He wanted to have the upper hand, but she wouldn’t allow that. He did not like that, but he handed her the phone without a word.
She handed the phone back to him. “Thumbprint, please.”
“How did you know that?” he asked.
“You have an iPhone.”
“How did you know it wasn’t my face?”
“Your face isn’t that distinct. Thumbprints are one of a kind.”
“Pain in the ass,” he mumbled under his breath. He didn’t think his face was that bland.
He unlocked the phone with his thumb and handed it back to her. She looked at the files for a moment, tapped an icon and looked at the files inside. She smiled, tapped the phone a couple of times, and handed him the phone.
“Don’t do that again,” she said, smiling. “I’m a pain in the ass, if you haven’t guessed that already. You probably can’t impress me. It’s impossible. Ask around. And you have no chance of winning me over with your covert operational expertise. So why do you care what I think?”
“Because it’s important to me. Why, I don’t know,” he said. “I swear, all I want is for you to take some time to see who I really am. I’m actually smart, funny, and nice. Let me prove that, and then I’ll leave you alone.”
She wondered if he was scamming her to get into her life, so he could eventually meet her world famous hermit of a mother. There was always the possibility that he was being honest, but all evidence was to the contrary thus far. Her experience with Cameron Walker was that he was devious and wasn’t good at it. He didn’t strike her as smart or funny. For no particular reason, however, she felt drawn to play the game and see where it went.
“What did you have in mind?” she asked.
“Dinner,” he suggested. “Tonight.”
“You mean, like a date?” she asked. “I don’t date.”
“Do you eat?” he snarked. “Come on, I’m not talking about romance. I just want you to get to know me a little bit, so you don’t think of me as scum anymore. That’s it. I swear. Then you can hate me and never talk to me again. I only want to make sure that you don’t have a legitimate reason to hate me.”
She anxiously wanted to go. That surprised even her. He was interesting in a clumsy dweebie sort of way . She had never met anyone like him. He seemed straight forward, even though he tried to be clever. He failed at clever, so maybe he was hopelessly honest. She had a feeling that if he said it wasn’t a romantic date it wouldn’t be, and she found herself disappointed at that. Talia Anderson for the first time in a long time wanted to get to know a man, tweed and all, but she couldn’t let him know how excited she was.
“What’s in it for me?” she asked.
“I’m buying.” he said in a meager attempt to be charming.
“That’s it?” she asked.
“If you say yes, I’ll give you the pictures I took of you, instead of selling them,” he promised.
Apparently he hadn’t looked at his lack of pictures yet.
“Pictures?” she asked.
“I took them last night, some while you were sleeping. They’re probably worth an entire career as paparazzi to me, but I’d rather convince you that I’m not that type of guy,” he said. “What do you say? It’s a fair trade, don’t you think?”
She heard a tone in his voice that she recognized. It was the tone that Tyrell used when he said that he wasn’t in love with her mother. He was lying about something poorly, probably the pictures. She decided to torture him, and see how interested he was and in what.
“Deal, but I have a certain reputation concerning the company I keep,” she commented. “If you intend to spend a scheduled evening with me, you will have to dress appropriately.”
“What’s wrong with the way I dress?” he snapped.
“You look like a computer geek or a history professor,” she told him. “Or a professor that teaches the history of computer programming. I can fix that. How about this. I send you shopping at a valid designer, and you can still buy dinner? The wardrobe is my treat. You should take advantage of that and get another outfit or two, in addition to the one for tonight.”
Had he heard her right? Had she agreed to go? He didn’t care if she sent him to Victoria’s Secret and made him wear pink. She said yes.
“Sure,” he answered, smiling. “Where are we going?”
He actually thought she would bother to do the leg work in dressing him. “How hopeful,” she thought.
“I’ll send you shopping with Michael, and I’ll pick you up at your hotel at 7:30. Will that work for you?”
“That’s fine,” he replied. “My hotel is...”
Talia stopped him. “You don’t have to tell me. I can find out from Michael when he gets back from dressing you.”
He was nearly speechless. “sure,” he stammered. “Where would you like to eat? I’m new in town.”
“Casa Bella,” she said instantly. “I presume you like Italian? Most people do.”
“Not the Rainbow Room or The Russian Tea Room?” he asked.
“I’m not a tourist or an actress,” she said.
“Sounds good,” he said. “I’ll see you then.”
“Didn’t you forget something?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah, here.” Cameron tossed a micro SD card on her desk as he stood to leave.
Talia smiled. She couldn’t resist telling him that she erased the photos. This game was starting to be fun for her.
“I erased the pictures before I woke you this morning.” Her grin widened as he turned in the doorway to look at her.
“I know.” Cameron grinned at her. “See you tonight, right?”
“7:30,” she replied.
“Good.” He started to pull the door shut. “Hey Ms. Anderson?”
“That card has the copies.” He smiled a huge smile and shut the door behind him.
That son of a bitch.