We are both outside her office on a three-seater slim wooden sofa. Her office is along a corridor, not far from the lift we took to get here. Her office has a reception area immediately off the corridor, five feet in depth. We can lean towards the corridor and see down the length of it. We are sat opposite her secretary.
We hear Mary’s voice on the secretary’s hands-free phone, asking for me first. Charles smiles at me and teases me that I am in trouble.
I am in Mary’s office for the first time. I look around to take stock of what she has inside her office. It looks very minimalistic, just like Miles’s office. Like Miles’s office, she has a wide bookshelf as well but is on her left side as I walk in. Her office does not have glass walls. Her plastered wall is red. She has mahogany furniture, her desk and a reclining chair like a sun lounger. I notice out of the corner of my right eye that she has a low cabinet like a television cabinet. It has a glass door and inside the cabinet is alcohol of various spirits.
I am still standing in front of her desk waiting for her to let me sit down. So I just observe her office to make the time go by. She is busy looking at a report and writing notes over the pages. She eventually looks up to notice me and motions me to sit down.
Once I am sat down, she continues looking at her report which I find annoying. She has asked me to come for this meeting. Finally she looks up at me.
Mary looks like she is annoyed with me, ‘Jane. How well do you think the assignment went?’
I don’t know if it is a trick question. I hesitate, ‘Went well?’
She smiles which concerns me, ‘I am impressed. For your first assignment, you retrieved the information. You also found out that there are further leads.’
I am relieved, ‘We want to analyse the data and make further observation. We feel that there is something bigger.’
Mary is quizzical, ‘How do you mean?’
I mention the conversation I had with Ivor, ‘Ivor suggested that there is a society that influenced Brexit and have been around since world war one.’
Mary looks weary, ‘And you believe it. Charles?’
I mention about Nice, ‘The file we retrieved not only has Vladimir’s businesses but also influential players. People who could have influenced Brexit.’
She looks at me as if I am being far-fetched, ‘Just focus in bringing down Vladimir. We will look at the other data once we close this case.’
I am disappointed in her not showing an interest, ‘Is that all ma-am?’
Mary indicates me to leave, ’Can you bring in
I stand up still facing her, ‘I will get Charles in.’
I am fazed by her reaction. I thought she would be interested in the other data. I walk out delated, with a confused look. I see Charles and let him know she is expecting him.
Charles looks at me worried, ‘You okay? I will see you downstairs at your desk.’
Charles walks in and waits to be seated. She looks up and puts the report aside. Charles takes a seat. He adjusts his double cufflink sleeves, pulling them out from his blazer.
Mary walks over to her drinks cabinet, ‘Rum?’
Charles nods his head, ‘Why did you ask me here?’
She pours out Charles’ drink, ‘How are you?’
Charles takes his drink and smells his favourite rum, ‘Take each day as it comes. What did you say to Jane?’
Mary pours out her drink and sits back at her desk, ‘She thinks there is more to the file. I dismissed it.’
Charles looks fazed too, ‘She was told that the people on the server were just as dangerous.’
Mary asks for his opinion, ‘She is bright. She goes with her gut feel. She won’t make an assumption on a whim.’
Mary mentions Jane’s state of mind, ‘Miles has told me that she has suicidal tendencies.’
Miles raises his eyebrows, ‘She hasn’t given me any indication. Does Miles know something we don’t?’
Mary looks into her drink, ‘She tried to take her own life when her parents were killed.’
Charles looks stunned, ‘Wouldn’t you? I assume they died ahead of their time.’
She continues staring at her drink, ‘She could be a liability.’
Charles cuts to the chase, ‘You want me to micro manage her. You need her. Personally, she is not a problem. She will get the job done.’
Mary wants to know his opinion, ‘Do you trust her?’
Charles thinks before he speaks, ‘I trust her with my life.’
They conclude the discussion. Charles heads to Jane’s desk. He sees Jane in a different light now. He looks at Jane sat at her desk focusing on her computer. He finds her cute and vulnerable.
I stop what I am doing and look up at Charles, ‘How was it?’
Charles is not forward with telling me, ‘Nothing to write about. Just catching up in general… she questioned me if I agree with your theory on the society.’
I am glad he picked that up, ‘She dismissed it. But I believe there is a society. Ivor was approached to replace him.’
Charles grabs a chair and sits in front of me, ‘We will have to look at this in our own time. Our priority is Vladimir.’
I smile at him. He said we, not you. It tells me that he accepts me as his partner.
Charles looks at me with a quizzical look and makes a half laugh, ‘Ha, what?’
I keep smiling and nod my head, ‘Nothing. So, while you were with Mary, I gave Barney the hard drive for him to analyse.’
Charles looks impressed, ‘Going with your gut feeling. Is he going to give us the other names?’
I have one better, ‘I asked Barney to run a algorithm to see how they are all linked together.’
He smiles at me, ‘Not just a pretty face and blonde.’
Charles moves his thoughts on to Vladimir, ‘We need his itinerary to monitor his activities. Find when his next deal is.’
I feel that Charles is not interested in my theory, ’Yes, but we can do both at the same time. We are not going anywhere soon. So we can split the work. I look for
similarities and you find out where Vladimir is.’
Charles moves his chair closer to me, ‘Let’s get Barney to access his itinerary.’
I can smell his cologne, ‘Let’s go.’
Charles lets her lead the way. He looks at her body and how pert her bum is. He also looks at how naturally bleached blonde she is. He cannot believe that this beautiful girl with everything to live for, suffers depression and is suicidal.
When we get to Barney’s desk, Miles approaches us. We speak to Barney first to ask him to get Vladimir’s itinerary.
Then we go to Miles’ office.
When we get to Miles’ office, we give him the full lowdown of what we found and how we managed to retrieve the information. Miles is overwhelmed with the car chase, both mine and with Charles and escaping the office. Once we finished telling him, mainly me, Miles wants to know what our next plan of action is.
Miles is waiting for Charles to speak, ‘We have enough evidence that his company is still funding terrorism with his other subsidiaries. So we need to catch him in the act. So we need to know his next itinerary. Barney is doing that as we speak.’
Miles ignores me, ‘So wherever he goes, you go.’
I was about to agree when Charles interrupts, ‘Naturally. I assume Russia. I am not a fan of Russia. They don’t like black people.’
Miles and I look at each other.
Charles looks at us, ‘What? They don’t. If we have to go to Russia, you’re on your own Joe.’
I correct him, ‘Jane.’
Charles gives me a stare, ‘Joe sounded better.’
Miles interrupts, ‘Good. Well, that is all. Jane, can you stay behind?’
I look at Charles, ‘See you at my desk.’
Charles looks at me, then walks out of the office. Miles waits for a few moments. Miles walks round his desk and sits next to me where Charles was sat.
Miles changes his mannerism, ‘Jane. How are you?’
I am surprised that he wants to talk about me, ‘Fine.’
Miles looks at me more closer, ‘How are you?’
I realise what he is getting at. I feel my thoughts on us start to grow back, ‘If you mean, have I thought about killing myself recently, then no.’
Miles reminds me, ‘It is the first anniversary of your parents’ death this month.’
I did not want him to remind me, ‘This Sunday.’
Miles remembers the football, ‘You have the football tournament. I hear you are playing.’
I totally forgot about it, ‘Yes. I am playing striker.’
He gives me a sorry look, ‘If you would rather be by yourself, I can say you have an assignment.’
I snap, ‘No. I need the distraction. Football would be good. Besides my siblings are coming.’
Miles stands up and leans against his desk with his bum, ‘I have recommended that you start seeing a shrink. I cleared it with Mary.’
I am upset, ‘Why did you tell Mary?’
He tells me his reasons, ‘You are a field agent now. The incident at your flat…’
I reassure him, ‘I will never jeopardise an assignment because of my issues.’
He realises he has insulted my intelligence, ‘Wanted to double check.’
I feel awkward and stand up to walk towards the glass wall, overlooking the office.
I blurt out, ‘Apart from making a fool of myself in front of Charles, dodging bullets while gathering intel and to finish off… being told I need to see a shrink. Peachy.’
Miles walks up behind me, ‘I miss you.’
I am touched, ‘You are spoken for.’
Miles apologises, ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you. My job was to find a reason to open this unit. I saw you, and the rest is history. You could have been anyone.’
I close my eyes as he says that, ‘You hurt… me.’
Miles is quick to accept, ‘I know. I know. It was not intentional.’
I change conversation, ‘Are you still with her. Not that that it is any of my business.’
Miles hesitates, ‘We are going to get married. Natalia asks about you. Every day.’
I do not understand why, ’Why? I am just a girl.
Miles defends her, ‘Like me, she felt bad.’
I still do not understand why, ‘Why, She never knew me.’
Miles goes quiet which makes me turn round, ‘Please tell me, she does not know that I started falling you.’
Miles grows confident, ‘I don’t keep secrets from her. It was her who helped me to know how to handle you.’
I feel manipulated now, ‘Oh, great. So she knew… how much I was falling for you. I guess she had a great laugh at my expense.’
Again Miles defends her, ‘She is a decent girl. She, like me, felt bad about you trying to take your own life.’
There is silence. I look to move my head down as I am embarrassed to face Miles now. I cross my arms. Miles lifts up my chin with his index finger to look at me. I keep my eyes looking down.
Miles looks at my eyelids, ‘You have a lot to offer a guy. You are smart, intelligent and… beautiful.’
I move my eyes up, away from the floor, with watery eyes, ‘So why doesn’t anyone want me.’
Miles tries to make me feel good, ‘If I was single, I would have asked you for coffee. I wouldn’t be able to wait a day, before asking for a second date.’
I wipe my tears away with the back of my right hand, ‘You are only saying that.’
I look right into Miles’ eyes and we lock eye contact. Miles smirks at me and becomes distracted. He sees a tear fall down my left cheek and he uses his thumb to wipe it away.
I see Miles looking at me differently, ‘What is it?’
I see Miles looking at my mouth, ‘I could kiss you right now. Find out if you taste of pineapple.’
I remember our last conversation at my apartment, ‘If you did, would you pine for me?’
I freeze as Miles gets out his handkerchief, from his pocket. He gently dabs my tears away from my eyes as I look at him in an affectionate way. I am drawn in by his lips and his cologne. I want to kiss him. He picks up on my body language, what I am about to do and pulls away. He turns his back on me.
I look at his back facing me and hear his voice, ‘God. You are still how I remember you at our friends’ engagement party.’
I reminiscence about our first meet at our friends Anthea and Steve’s engagement party.
He turns round to face me again, ‘You are s-o-o beautiful. For a while, I thought I found myself getting lost in those bright blue eyes of yours. Your perfect skin complexion. The way you show your innocence. Don’t lose that. That is a rare quality in our business. After today, you will only report to Mary.’
I am taken aback and feel I have lost him already, ‘Will you be there on Saturday?’
Miles is distant now, ‘No. This will be the last time you officially see me.’
I am almost tearful again, ‘I will never forget you.’
Miles changes the conversation completely. I can see he looks a bit teary as well.
Miles tells me about being a spy, ‘Jane, I am going to tell you something. When I joined the secret service, I was in my mid-twenties. Not like today, there were about forty of us. I am forty-five now. Out of forty of us, only seven remained in the secret service including me. Two are still out there spying. The remaining four committed suicide. One of them, I went to their funeral yesterday. An article the other day said it best. A spy is no more than a desk junky. Hoping for a whim and then going after the crown jewels. It is more likely that you will end up committing suicide rather than dying in the field. But I am giving you your wish.’
That is it. I have my closure with Miles. The door is shut. I have my answer.
Miles looks down at his desk. Accepting that he will not see Jane’s face in the office on a daily basis ever again.
I leave his office and walk back to my desk. On the way I control my emotions and wipe my tears. I decide to go to the toilet.
I run in one of the cubicles and start to cry. Miles has brought all those emotions that I thought I had buried, back to the surface. Once I let out all my emotions, I eventually calm down. I come out of the cubicle to see myself in the mirror. Stephanie comes out of another cubicle and stands next to me. I can see her smirking at me.
She makes a snide comment, ‘I see you had a another good cry. You make a habit of it.’
I don’t respond to her comment. I just focus on making myself presentable. I stall for time to see her leave first. I wait a few seconds before I walk out.
I get back to my desk where Charles is looking at his emails on my desktop. I am quiet still as I sit next to him.
Charles picks up on me not being myself, ‘What did Miles have to say?’
I play it down, ‘Nothing. Has. Barney come back?’
He sighs while still looking at his emails, ‘No. We can walk over to push him.’
I think the same, ‘Do you want to go now.’
As we are about to go over, Barney already comes over to us.
Barney looks distracted, ‘Here you go. I won’t go too much into detail. But I remembered where you retrieved the data from. I located the ISP address at the office in Nice. I then followed the trail of where the data had been sent from. I made the assumption that where it was sent from was Vladimir’s office in Russia. Once I hacked in, I saw his itinerary. There is one other thing. I noticed he has a personal account on that private server. It is in the Cayman Islands. I will update you on the other data. I am still writing an algorithm to see how they link together. I will look to get the pictures of the names.’
I think aloud, ‘That will be off the books. Which means he will be doing something illegal. Or it could be simply avoiding tax.’
Charles follows up, ‘Based on what we have on him so far, he will be doing something illegal. I think we should arrange a meeting with the account manager. Barney can you look into which bank his account is with. I want to contact them and arrange a meeting.’
Barney responds, ‘No worries. I will text you en route. Happy trail.’
I notice that there is a company do, ’Barney, quickly before you go. Can you add us to his employee list.
Something not too obvious.’
Barney thinks on his feet, ‘Sales or logistic people.’
Charles agrees, ‘Perfect.’
Barney gives me a bit of paper that his itinerary is printed on.
As Barney is about to walk away, I look at the printed paper to see Vladimir’s whereabouts in the next couple of days, ‘Where will he be in Russia? Where is his office?’
Barney has a blank face, ‘I just get the information. I don’t read it.’
Charles smirks which makes me feel stupid. I smile to deflect how stupid I feel, ‘Well thanks Barney.’
Charles takes the printout out of my hand so he can see when Vladimir’s next appointment is. Barney already walks away back to his desk and I look at Charles studying the paper. He is not saying anything and goes on to my computer, motioning me to move out of his way. I watch him as he brings up a map from the internet. I see him bringing up the Cayman Islands. I particularly notice him expand on the Island on a building. I then see Charles comparing the building to the printout of Vladimir’s itinerary. I lean forward to look at what he is seeing. As I do, I can smell his cologne and I instantly like it. It makes me begin to like him even more. I breathe through my nose to inhale his cologne some more.
Charles notices what I am doing and I feel awkward and move back. I think my feelings are growing for him.
I notice Stephanie again in the office and I am reminded how much she upset me last week. I move closer to Charles, pretending that I am busy and have not noticed her. Charles tries to get me out of his personal space.
Stephanie came over to my desk and Charles looks up to acknowledge her. I keep my eyes focused on the map on my computer.
Charles looks at Stephanie, ‘Yes?’
Stephanie smiles at Charles, ‘Was wondering what you two are up to. Jane, see you have been promoted. Maybe you will be better at this role than report writing.’
I give her a false smile, ‘We are quite busy.’
Stephanie ignores me, ‘I hear you are playing on Saturday. Do you know how to kick a football?’
I do not know how to respond. Charles interrupts, ‘We may not be here. We may have to travel on Saturday.’
Stephanie brings up Ben, ‘Me and Ben had a great time over the weekend. It is a shame that you two did not work out. I assume you are still struggling to find someone. It does not surprise me. You’re not exactly girlfriend material.’
I feel myself getting emotional. Last Thursday flairs up in my memory. I cannot even look at Charles.
Charles looks at me and he can see that I am uncomfortable.
He looks up at Stephanie, ‘I know Ben. I believe he bats a little. Maybe that is the reason why he was not into a feminine woman. If I was bi-sexual, I wouldn’t date a blonde that is pretty.’
I can see Stephanie going quiet and Charles glancing at me. I wait for her reaction and find she is lost for words. She just walks away.
Charles turns to me, ‘If you don’t want to play this weekend, I will book a flight to the Cayman Islands. Have an extra day there.’
I am taken back that he has just supported me. I am caught off guard, ‘No. It will be fine. Will you come and watch me play?’
He smiles at me, ‘Stop me. I will bring my parents.’
I smile back at him, ‘My siblings are coming as well.’
Charles remembers that her parents have passed away from what Mary said. So he does not ask any more questions.
Charles goes back to looking at the map of the island. He is looking where the venue is from the name on the itinerary.
We then plan our flight to the island. We finalise our logistics of getting there. We also think how we are going to get in the party. We both think of Barney to put us on one of Vladimir’s companies’ payroll. Charles looks like he is ready for our next move, ‘So are you ready?’
I am not sure what he means, ‘Ready for what?’
Charles clarifies, ‘Action Miss Knight, action.’
Charles has plans to work on the other names, on the hard drive. We have between now and Saturday of not doing anything else.
Charles looks up at me in a quizzical look, ‘What’s up?’
I play it down, ‘Nothing. When and what time will you book our flight?’
Charles does not push me, ‘Sunday evening. I am assuming you are still playing football this Saturday with a few drinks in the evening. We have to leave at six o’clock in the evening.’
That is good for me, ‘Good. Clothes?’
Charles shrugs, ‘On the way out. We travel light.’
I feel I need to get away from Miles and Stephanie, ‘Can we get outta here?’
Charles looks at me with a caring expression, ’Sure.
In a quiet voice, ‘Anywhere.’
Charles takes me to his apartment. We spend the evening talking about the assignment and what we plan to accomplish.
He pours me a glass of wine and pours himself a glass of rum.
Charles walks around in his living room, ‘So we know he created the Novichok to kill those two people. We do not know why. His father was the escape goat. We believe Vladimir knew of this. We only found about the society because of Ivor. We have his itinerary. The purpose is to catch him in the act by following his itinerary.’
I keep nodding my head in agreement, ‘We need relevant ID to be there.’
Charles continues, ‘There is no reason to check out his family. We can keep it between us. Finally, the other people. We don’t have any pictures of them or why they are on there. We are assuming they are in the society because of Ivor.’
I jump in, ‘Hence why it is a separate enquiry.’
I get a taxi home that night and stay in my own bed. I did not want to sleep on a sofa or make Charles sleep on the sofa. Also, I wanted to put on fresh clothes and underwear the next day.