As we go to run to the car that we parked opposite to the building, three more guards come from the entrance of the building carrying Ceska Zbrojovka CZ2000. They fire upon us as we run to the car. We avoid being hit and get in the car and escape in one piece. As we head to the A8, we are followed by three white Land Rovers. They are weaving in between the traffic behind us. Charles can see them through the rear view mirror. I use the wing mirror on the passenger side to see what he is seeing. They are gaining on us.
I get the jitters, ‘Ugh, Charles, I think we have company.’
Charles is cool as a cucumber, ‘Yeah. They have been following us since we left. They want to know where we are going to.’
I feel panicky, ‘So what do we do?’
Charles keeps looking in the rear view mirror, ‘Once we get on the A8, we will take them out then.’
I give him a panic look, ‘What do you have in mind?’
While looking in the rear view mirror, he confidently says, ‘Take them out.’
Charles puts the pedal to the metal and starts overtaking the other vehicles on the road. The pursuers take heed of what we are doing and take up speed the same as us. It is not long before they are directly behind us.
I think about what I can do while I am just sat here, ‘Do you want to give me a gun to shoot them?’
He keeps looking in the mirror, ‘That won’t be necessary.’
I feel rejected, ‘You don’t trust me?’
He concentrates while saying, ’You are still a virgin.
Need to break you in slowly. Just sit tight.’
I do not know what he means by that. A virgin as ‘in he knows I have not slept with anyone’ or ‘this is my first rodeo’. Charles almost goes up the back of the car in front as he swerves round the car. There is sudden gunfire from machine guns. I look out of the side mirror and see guys hanging out of the window of the passenger sides. I can see sparks coming from the ends of the guns in four lines creating a square. The bullets are not hitting us yet but the vehicles around us are starting out of the way and almost crashing in one another.
I start to become scared, ‘Are you sure you do not want me to fire at them!’
He is still calm, ‘Yes. Just take a chill pill. We are almost there, almost there.’
I feel helpless as he is doing all the work while I just sit here. A few times, my heart has palpitations as he causes me to tilt to the left and right as he marks hard swerves from left to right overtaking the vehicles. I look at the car’s speedometer and see he is doing over a hundred miles an hour. The engine of the car is making a low engine noise with a faint whistle as the turbo charge kicks in. We are finally on the A8 and the cars on the road are more spaced out. The road is quiet as we are travelling gone midnight and so there are less vehicles around. I notice that Charles is allowing the car to slow down by taking his foot off the accelerator.
I scream at him, ‘Why are you slowing down!’
He snaps at me, ‘I need them to catch up with us.’
I shout back in disbelief, ‘You what!’
He licks his lips in concentration, ‘I slow right down, we pick them off one by one.’
I think Charles is crazy letting them catch us up with machine guns firing at us infrequently. I remember Ivor crouching in the seat when I was driving, so I do the same. Charles looks at me and smiles then focuses on the road again. I cannot stop thinking how confident and cool he is under pressure. I remember I was nervous and panicking when being chased by the four bikers. I think I am starting to fall for Charles even harder now. If only he would look at me in the same way.
I can tell he is thinking of an idea, ‘There are three cars. I have an idea. But it could be suicidal. Just trust me Jane. I have done this before.’
I look at him with a quizzical look, ‘What are you trying to tell me?’
He pauses while concentrating, ‘I don’t think it is good idea to tell you. You will only freak out.’
I am nervous now, ‘My heart is in your hands.’
Guns are still firing at us as we are discussing tactics. I can hear the bullets either hitting our car or whistle past us. The sounds of the guns sound like poppers you have at a surprise party. You can see intermittent shoots of fire, flaring from the guns.
He holds my left hand tightly. I think it is to reassure me. I feel that the three Land Rovers are on top of us now.
He is anxious and freezes, while looking in the mirror, ‘Wait for it!, wait for it!’
Three cars are now directly behind us and Charles is breaking slightly to force the three cars to straddle us either side. Two of the three Land Rovers are either side of us, which is what I think Charles was hoping for. I gauge by Charles’s face that he is happy with how they are falling into his hands. He keeps looking left and right at the Land Rovers. It is like he is mentally measuring his spatial awareness with the two Land Rovers. Each man in the cars hang out their machines out of the back window, getting ready to shoot us either side. I start to become scared as I am putting my life in Charles’ hands.
Charles puts his foot down slightly to keep up with the two drivers. He is still looking left and right at both the cars with fleeting looks.
Charles is saying to himself ‘Ste…ady, ste…ady. And now!’
Charles slams on the brakes just as each man in the two Rovers go to fire their Ceska Zbrojovka CZ2000. The two Land Rovers look like they pressed a rocket as they shoot forward ahead of us. Charles had planned for the two Land Rovers to shoot each other, to kill one another. We see the two Land Rovers starting to fall apart from shooting each other in a split second. The Land Rover on our right explodes as the other gunman hits their petrol tank and jolts to the right, rolling over from the initial explosion. The other Land Rover on our left drives off the motorway and crashes into the verge, rolling over and exploding as well on impact. The third Rover which is behind us had swerved to avoid crashing in the back of us and almost crashes into the central reservation, side-scraping their vehicle.
Charles puts his foot down again to gain distance from the final Land rover and they start shooting at us more frequently now. They start hitting the back of our rental car, eventually smashing the back windscreen, having glass debris flying inside the car. We both lean forward and crouch down at the same time in knee-jerk reaction.
The Land Rover keeps knocking the back of the car and Charles looks like he is getting tired of them.
He rushes his conversation, ’Jane, I need you to do
something. We don’t have time to discuss.’
I look at worried, ‘Name it!’
He calmly tells me, ‘I want you to open your door when I say.’
I am panicking now, ‘You what!’
He looks at me with reassurance, ‘It is okay. You have your seat belt on. You won’t fall out.’
I role my eyes, ‘Great. Why don’t you do it then.’
He is about to say, ‘You are—’
I jump in, ‘What, an expendable!’
He shouts at me angrily, ‘I am driving! I cannot drive and do what it is I am going to do!’
I moan at him, ‘So you can’t multi-task.’
Charles tries not to smile, ‘Very funny. We don’t have time to argue! Get prepared to open the door. I just hope this works.’
I am really scared now and worried what may go wrong, ‘I don’t think I can do it! I am too scared!’
He looks at me and reassures me, ’It is okay. I promise.
I will not let anything happen to you. You are too pretty.’
I only catch the part where he says I am too pretty. I feel overwhelmed to hear him say that. Just because he said I was too pretty, I was happy to risk, my life with his hair-schemed plan.
I nervously say, ‘So what is going to happen when I open the door?’
He says it as a matter of fact, ‘It will fly off and either fly into engine grill or the windscreen. Either way, it will take them out.’
I give him a shocked look, ‘And so how will the door fly off the car?!’
He shouts, ‘You will see! Get ready when I say when!’
I put my hand on the door lever, poised on his say so. I look at him in anticipation for his say so, ‘What is the sign?’
He shouts, ‘What!’
I say, ‘The sign. One, two, three… or now?’
He steadies his words, ‘It will be “now”. But you will know. I am just waiting for the right vehicle to come along. Also how I am going to do this without two-way traffic. But I will think of something.’
I say, ‘Why do bad guys always drive Land Rovers.’
Charles continues speeding at over one hundred miles an hour while I am waiting for his signal to open the door. After a few more minutes of racing down the R8 motorway while being fired upon still, I notice Charles is smiling and puts more pressure on the accelerator. I look out into the distance to see what he is seeing. All I see is a truck that we are about to overtake.
After we are up close to the trailer of the truck, Charles swerves to have the truck’s trailer on our right. Charles goes to overtake the truck when, out of the blue, he yanks the hand brake up and brakes, while spinning the steering wheel to the right. We almost drive into the trailer, missing it by inches. He turns the car one eighty and now we are facing the oncoming traffic. Charles is reversing the car up the motorway.
Charles takes his foot off the accelerator a little and I feel that we are too close to the truck’s trailer. The Land Rover is almost touching the front bumper of our car. Charles is still calm and has no panic in his face. The gunman sits outside on the edge of the back car door and starts firing his machine gun while leaning on the car roof. The front of our car is now getting a rain of bullets. Charles is calm and is not fazed by the shooting.
He is getting himself psyched up now to do the manoeuvre, ’Right, I am almost ready now. I am going to allow the truck to get ahead of us and then I am going to slam on the accelerator. So ready with the door!’
When our car is two thirds behind the trailer, Charles shouts at me to open the car door. I use my shoulder to push car door full open and the wind catches hold of the door and keeps it full open. The wind resistance causes the car to slow down like a wind break. Charles swerves the car into the trailer and puts his foot down on the accelerator. My passenger door smashes on the back of the trailer and rips the door clean off. The door flies into the air from the force and heads towards the Land Rover. I am impressed as I watch, like it feels it is in slow motion, the door slams into the windscreen of the Land Rover. The driver has the door smash into his head and the Land Rover swerves into the central reservation and bounces off to drive off on to the verge. The Land Rover roles over and the shell of the car starts to disintegrate as the car rolls and tumbles along the verge of the motorway. After a few seconds, Charles pulls the hand brake up again and spins the wheel to his right to make the front of the car almost hit the side of the trailer again. Once we face the right way again, Charles allows the car to slow down and travel at a more sensible and safe speed below eighty miles an hours. I feel unsafe being in the car without my door. Charles takes us off the motorway to join the D500 road which leads us to Monte Carlo.
The forty-minute drive felt like the longest drive ever. I am looking forward to getting to our hotel that Charles had booked on his credit card before leaving to go Nice.
We park what is left of the car, in the underground car park of the hotel. I feel exhausted after coming down from the adrenalin of high-speed driving and sitting in a car without a door attached to it. Charles seemed to be still fresh and alert even though he did the driving and concentration. He did not appear tired at all.
We are parked up now. I don’t know about Charles, I am ready to go to our room and sleep. As I get out of the car, even though I do not have to worry about opening the door, I feel a twinge in my right shoulder. I must have twisted my shoulder badly during our car chase. I do not bother thinking anymore of it. I just want to be in a nice hot bath before getting ready for bed. I hope Charles can cope not having access to the bathroom for a couple of hours. Charles carries our bags which makes me feel like a boyfriend and girlfriend. He looks so manly carrying two small bags that he insisted having.
Once we are settled in the hotel room, I am ready to take my clothes off and get in the bath. Charles is busy on the balcony overlooking the harbour. He is on his mobile talking to someone. He acknowledges seeing me and points to his mobile. I mouth to him what I am doing.
I quietly say, ‘I am going to have a bath.’
Charles does not know what I am saying and puts his hand behind his ear to indicate this, ‘I… a-m go-ing in the show-er.’
Charles nods his head to understand what I am trying to say. I turn round and feel a twinge in my shoulder and move my arm around to try to make it the pain ease away. Charles cuts the conversation off and quickly comes over to me. I think he is being melodramatic.
Charles grabs my left arm without the bad shoulder, ‘Let me see that shoulder. Sit on the bed. I want to make sure it is okay. You really look in pain.’
I try to shrug it off, ‘It is nothing. It is just a twinge. Think I pulled a muscle. Also I hit the corner of that server really hard. I probably bruised it.’
Charles nods his head as if to say yeah yeah yeah but I am still going to look, ‘Seriously. Let me see for peace of mind. I don’t want you on my conscience. So sit on the edge of the bed and let me have a look.’
I begrudgingly sit down on the bed for him to take a look at it, ‘Quickly have a look, I don’t want the water to get cold in the bath.’
Shrugs and raises his hand in the air, ‘I need you to take your top off.’
I feel awkward, ‘Do I have to?’
He sighs at me, ‘J-a-n-e. Take your top off. There is nothing I have not seen on a woman. I am not asking you to take your bra off.’
I reluctantly say, ‘Okay, I am not going to beat around the bush. I have never taken my top off to anyone… except Miles. But that was a mistake.’
Charles is shocked, ‘What? You and Miles? You are kidding.’
I do not realise what I just said, ‘Uh. Yeah. But nothing happened.’
His face lights up, ‘Oh, but he saw you naked.’
I turn round and show him my shoulder, ‘Well… yeah. But not like that.’
While Charles checks my shoulder, he makes light of the fact, ’So he saw you naked. But nothing happened. That happens to me all the time. I accidentally take my
clothes off, but nothing happens.’
There is silence of a sudden and we both don’t know what to say next. I just take my top off and let him see me in my bra. He does not say anything and just looks at my shoulder.
Charles feels my wound, ‘You have been shot. It looks like a graze. The bullet did not go in. It must have happened when we escaped from the building. Luckily, it doesn’t need stitching. I will get a surgical pad and clean the wound to make sure it does not get infected.’
I wait for him to get back with a first aid kit from Reception.
Charles sees me start to tense up, ‘Don’t panic. I am not going to do anything that will be painful. I am going to pour alcohol in your wound. This will sting a little.’
I prepare myself by tensing, ‘Okay. Do you want me to move my hair out of the way?’
Charles almost chuckles, ‘Yes. That would be good.’
Charles is very attentive cleaning my wound and telling me what he is doing step by step. By the time I realise, he is finished and my shoulder feels a lot better. I am very grateful for him looking after me.
I look over my bad shoulder, ‘Thanks. That is a lot better. Is it okay to have a bath still?’
Charles walks away, ‘Yeah. Just be careful not to get it wet. I am going to look at the data while you have a bath.’
I move away from him and nod my head, ‘Yep. Let me know what you find. I will only be about half an hour. Will you still be up?’
Charles goes on the bed to lie down with his computer, ‘Yeah. I don’t go to bed early. Also I want to have a shower before I go to bed.’
While I have my bath, I think about what I have done since going on my initial assignment. I would never have thought that I would be here a week ago. It has only been a couple of days and I am in a five-star hotel in Monte Carlo. My siblings will not believe this. I also have this amazing man in the next room and feel that we are a couple. I do not know what it would have been like, if I did not gel with him, ignoring if I had any attraction towards Charles. I feel human again as I relax in the bath and look at my body as I clean myself and check for marks or bruises. I have my hair tied up in a bun to prevent it from getting wet. I do not have the bath tub filled any higher than my boobs, so I do not get my bandage wet.
Once I finish in the bath, Charles goes straight in to have his shower. Once we are both ready for bed, we both sit on top of the bed and go through the data on the USB using a laptop that he already had packed in his bag. We discuss what the names are and how can we find out who they are, apart from Vladimir Mashkov who is included on the list.
I am fazed by the information, ‘Look at all these people. Some of these names I recognise from being on television and in the papers. They seriously can’t be all in this, society. Why have they not created world war three already if they caused world war one and two with no problem.’
Charles hums to himself, ‘Umm, yeah, but these guys are heavyweights. This guy is a billionaire in the Florida Keys.’
I think out aloud, ‘That is what is on the USB stick. Ivor told me where to go and get it. People tried to kill him. So it must be right.’
Charles agrees, ‘Which makes sense if Vladimir is one of the guys behind them.’
Charles gets up from the bed and walks around to the front of the bed. He puts the back of his hand to his mouth, resting his elbow on his other arm.
Charles ponders to himself, ‘If this is true, we need to head back to England tomorrow.’
I support his decision, ‘I already had that in mind.’
He thinks out loud himself, ‘We need to get a clearance to go after these people.’
I look at him, ‘Yes. Does that mean we are partners?’
Charles looks up at me, ‘I only came here to save your ass. What there is of it.’
I get up off the bed myself to stand next to him.
He has upset me, ‘I… I…’
Charles looks down at me, ‘What Jane?’
I try to puff myself out, ‘Only because I am new at this. If I had a few months experience, I wouldn’t have taken you for the ride.’
Charles just looks at me, observing my face. I mirror him but I look at his eyes.
Charles leans in to me almost touching my nose, with his,
‘Jane. This will be too big for one person.’
I give him an angry look, ‘I have my people.’
He gives me a serious face, ‘Our people. I am working at the same place.’
I show confidence in my face, ‘So we are partners.’
He moves away from me, ‘Square it with Mary.’
I hand out my hand, ‘So do you want to put it there?’ I keep my hand out to shake. Charles looks at my hand. He keeps staring at my hand, ‘One condition.’
I look at his hands to see if he will shake, ‘Name it.’
He goes to shake my hand, ‘You don’t get to carry a gun.’
I smile and we shake hands.
We head for London the next day to brief our boss Miles and get the go-ahead to go after the people on the list we retrieved from Vladimir’s office in Nice. When we get into the office, Miles says that Mary wants to see me. Charles goes to walk away but he says that she wants to see both of us.
I look at him puzzled, ‘How do I get to her office without a security pass?’
Miles gives me a sighing look, ‘I changed your security clearance when I made you a field agent. Don’t forget to come back to see me. I want to be debriefed as well.’