The Secret Thief

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Chapter 35

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” Margaret lashed out without thought. Her anger towards Simon overruled. The fact that she managed to restrain herself from physically throttling him was a miracle. Simon should have counted his blessings.

He didn’t.

“She is out of control!” He bellowed.

In another room a door banged shut. They both ignored it. It was Marco returning certainly but that assumption hardly mattered. Their training taught them not to take anything for granted. They should have been on guard. They were not. For Simon and Margaret that afternoon, protocol was the furthest of concerns.

“You are the one who is out of control!” Margaret spat back. “This is a disaster.”

“If there is error here, it is not mine!” Simon’s deep voice was domineering. He forced his words on Margaret like a wave, determined to sink her.

Behind him Marco entered, absorbing the situation in an instant. At least one person in the room would remain professional.

“Knocking an asset out in public is almost never sanctioned.” Marco spoke calmly, wedging sanity into their fight. Though he shared Margaret’s sentiment, he remained vigilant of Simon’s position over them. “You could have found another method to control her.”

“Yes.” Margaret jumped in. “You couldn’t come up with anything cleaner?”

Simon, glaring at Marco for inviting criticism turned back to Margaret. “It was your job to keep her with us.”

“My job was a smooth transition!” Margaret’s nostril’s flared. “And that is something you seem hell bent against!”

“You’ve been coddling her and wasting time!” Simon snipped and temper’s rose even higher.

“Really? That’s how you see this? You are fool.” Margaret pushed. “A fool who’s damming the entire program. If someone doesn’t reign you in, you’ll blow everything!”

“And I suppose you think you’re the one fit to do the reigning?” Simon sneered.

“Hell yes! I’ve been handling this for a long time, Simon. Much longer than you!”

“Yes,” Simon pulled himself back suddenly. “Yes you have.” He studied her form. Tension held her upright with her back arched like a cat. He thought for a moment of the flaws he noted in Agent M weeks before. His apprehension about her character had been well documented. There would be no questioning any decisions he made regarding her now. With that knowledge, he smiled and with his smile the room grew quiet.

“You should listen to me,” Margaret began, sensing the change in him and fearing it. “I know her…”

“Yes, all that time you’ve spent with her, I’m sure you do. But we’re at a different place with the project now. I’m sure you can understand. “

“What are you talking about?” Marco broke in before Margaret and she was thankful. She did not like Simon’s tone and could not trust her own voice in the face of it.

“I’m talking about something that should have happened a long time ago.” Simon replied. He was calm, frighteningly calm.

“Simon…”

“You’re being replaced”

“Simon wait…” Marco interjected but the commander did not take his eyes off of Margaret.

“Babysitting hour is over.”

“No.” Margaret found her words. “No you can’t. It’s not right…” She whispered unable to strain out the mounting anxiety.

“Simon this is not in line with Carlo’s wishes…” Marco pecked at the only thread he thought would fray but Simon continued to ignore him.

The lead agent retrieved his phone and dialed while those beneath him, one lost and one grasping for an alternate resolution, watched in silence. When the line was answered he gave a series of instructions. Margaret and Marco were quickly and completely striped of their positions in the project. Simon made it clear to command that all of their knowledge, all of the work they had put in was henceforth irrelevant. They were done. In less than a hour a car would come and take them back to base. After that would be a debriefing and a purging of any loose ends linking them to the job.

At that point, as far as Violet and her reality were concerned, Margaret and Marco would no longer exist.

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