I closed my eyes and awaited my fate. Only I didn’t hear the cocking of the gun and when my eyes were closed I could make out the soft whir of something moving. I let my eyes flicker open and gazed up at the ceiling. In the corner to my right, just above the door a red light flashed. It was a camera.
“Recording a snuff film?” I mused, my tears dried and my body language shifted. My intuition told me this was staged, that I was in the compound, that this was a test. If I was wrong, I was dead anyway. I leaned forward and smirked.
“Because I mean, at least ask the government to spring for HD cameras. Where’s Noah.”
The men stood up without another word and both walked to the door. The door opened and Noah walked in, he was out of his disguise. I held back a scowl, annoyed and hurt that the man I had trusted had let me believe this was the end for me. I knew it was his job, but that didn’t salve the hurt I felt in the slightest.
“Vi, you have to understand…” He stopped and sat down. I spoke over him, knowing that as soon as he explained I would forgive him.
“Did you know that was going to happen like that, that I was going to be taken by your own people?” I shouted.
Noah’s head fell forward. He nodded pathetically. “Yes.”
I lifted my foot and brought it down hard on his, he yelped in pain.
“I trusted you.” I scathed.
“I know you did.” he murmured, He looked back up at me. “I trust you, but Vi, these guys needed to know they can trust you.”
I sighed, it made sense when Noah put it that way, they’d needed to test me, to see if I would break and reveal all of the classified information I’d been privy to.
“Did I pass.” I muttered.
“With flying colours.” Noah smiled. “I’m sorry for my part in this Vi…”
“Can I be let out of these cuffs?” I replied still winded by the ordeal. Noah nodded and stood up. He pulled a set of keys from his pocket and unlocked the shackles that bound me.
“The boss said I can take you to where you’ll be staying while you’re here. The room is fully functional, you won’t need to leave it for anything.”
I frowned as I stood up and rubbed my wrists. “Am I under room arrest?”
“The less classified information you see the better Vi.”
“I didn’t need to see to know exactly how I can escape this place from where we stand.” I muttered. “Pretty sure knowing my way around this building is super classified.”
Noah sucked in a breath. “Vi.” his tone was low. “Stop”
“Exit the room, turn right, walk five paces, turn right again, twenty paces, turn left, twenty two paces, turn right, five paces, turn left, sixteen paces and I’d be at the door I was brought in.”
Noah stopped and folded his arms across his chest. I could see he was mentally working something out. Finally his brow furrowed and he shook his head.
“You memorised your way in and reversed it?”
I shrugged, it had felt like common sense. Noah raised his eyebrows.
“You continue to surprise me Olivia. Seriously though the room is the safest place for you. Just… please, trust me.”
I swallowed hard, knowing deep down he was right. If I walked out of this building I was on my own. The threat against Noah was very much still there, leaving was irresponsible for me, and for him.
“Fine. Lead the way.”
I followed behind Noah, the rooms were on the next floor up and the elevators were right outside the interrogation room I’d been kept in. The entire building was clinical and white, almost like a hospital. When we excited the elevator Noah led me down a corridor then stopped outside a room.
“The Boss has already had the room stocked, there is clothes, food, magazines.”
“No computer?” I mused.
“No.” he smiled. “But I could find a deck of cards if you wanted.”
Noah opened the door and ushered me in. The room was modern, functional. It was very clearly devoid of any sentiment, but that didn’t surprise me. I wondered who usually used these rooms, but knew asking would just get me the ‘it’s classified’ answer. I walked to the bed and sat down, it was soft at least.
“Where will you be.” I whispered.
“In the next room.” He replied. “I uh, can’t exactly go home.”
I tried not to be obvious about my relief. Noah didn’t need to know how heavily I was relying on him. He walked to the bed and sat down beside me. For a minute or so, neither one of us spoke but the air circulating the room was anything but awkward. I felt the tension between us and I wondered if he did too.
“About what happened…” He stopped and swallowed. “Before we boarded the plane. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
He felt it too… the tension. I turned to face him and raised an eyebrow. “Make sure I was okay?” I questioned.
“It’s all well and good to liken my job to ALIAS, but actually immersing yourself into a role is different. I’ve had to pretend to be with someone before, I know where the line lies.” He paused. “It’s not something that was always easy.”
I frowned, he was letting me down gently. Reassuring me that the kiss meant nothing but work to him. I smiled and nodded.
“Don’t panic Noah. I know this is business… no unrequited sexual tension here.” I said sweetly.
“Oh.” Noah replied. “Yeah good. I’ll uh go settle into my room and we can catch up in a little bit.”
I nodded. “Bye Noah.”
Noah walked to the door of the room, he looked back at me and smiled but didn’t say anything. Once the door was closed again behind him, I heard it lock. I tried to ignore the fact that I was being kept prisoner and lay down on the bed. I was just beginning to drift off when the door to my room unlocked and opened.
“Olivia Bennett.” A woman’s voice said as she walked into the room. “An very proper sounding name, it conjures up images of vulnerable, whimpering waifs… waiting to be rescued.”
My eyes shot open the woman’s voice was husky, she sounded at least fifty. I sat up and looked at the intruder to my room. She was dressed in a dark blue pantsuit, her long black hair was pulled back into a tight bun. She wore makeup that had been perfectly applied and accentuated her almond shaped green eyes.
“Well technically I am still Jolene Right.” I mused, pulling a the too tight fabric that still barely covered me.
The woman smiled, her bright red lipstick covered lips parted and revealed her perfect white teeth.
“Yes, point taken.” She mused as she walked across the floor and sat where Noah had sat earlier. “Olivia, I am Morgan Jones, Agent 100. I run this department.”
So this was Noah’s boss. I hadn’t really thought about who he was speaking to when he was on the phone, but now she was standing in front of me, I was kind of surprised.
She held out her hand to me for a handshake, without skipping a beat I placed mine in hers.
“Olivia, I have to admit I am surprised at how well you’ve adapted to this somewhat odd situation. You’ve shown incredible intuition and ability in the face of certain danger. I’ve taught recruits that never even learned to possess those abilities at the same level you have them naturally.”
I tilted my head and shrugged. “Thanks, I guess.”
I placed my hands together and rest them in my lap. Morgan let out a soft chuckle and then sucked in a deep breath.
“You don’t know me, so I will forgive that you’ve assumed I give compliments with no reason. Everything I do has a reason. Olivia, at 18 you’re a little younger than any of my recruits thus far, but I would stupid not to offer you a place here. If you want it.”
I turned to face the woman, she regarded me with a partial smile.
“You want me to be a spy?” I whispered, surprised by the offer.
“Special Agent.” She mused. “Yes, I am.”
Everything inside of me pushed me to agree, I wanted to pursue this, to see where it could led me. I had felt more alive in the past few days than I ever had, and now the opportunity was being laid right in front of me.
But before I could accept I closed my eyes and saw Noah’s pain. He didn’t want this for me.
“Can I think about it?”
Morgan nodded and stood up. “Of course, let me know when you decide.”
I sat there dumbfounded for the longest time, trying to digest exactly what Morgan… Agent 100 had just offered.
At some point the door opened and Noah walked back in, holding up a pack of cards.
“Enjoy the disguise more than you let on?” He mused pointing to my ‘Jolene’ get up.
I shook my head and walked to the closet. I pulled out a pair of track pants and a singlet and walked to the bathroom.
“I’m going to take a shower.”
“I can come back?”
“No, I won’t be long.” I replied.
Noah held up his hand and shook a small rectangular box. “Found some cards if you were still interested?”
I nodded add opened the door. “Yeah, sounds good.”
Once I was inside the bathroom I let out a strangled breath, Noah probably already knew about the offer, it was probably why he’d come back... to talk me out of it. I turned on the shower and stood there as the small ensuite filled with steam. I peeled the dress off and pulled off the now almost haphazardly placed wig and climbed into the cubicle, the water was hot, searing, but it was just what I needed.
For a few moments I forgot about everything and everyone and just focused on mesmerising droplets rolling down my skin.
But it was only a few moments, quickly my thoughts returned to Morgan’s offer, and the fact my overprotective stepbrother who I may or may not be falling for… was waiting in my room to talk to me.
It was with great reluctance that I turned off the shower and stepped out of the warmth. I dried myself off and dressed into the clothes that had been issued to me.
I left the offending disguise I’d hated so much in the laundry basket and walked out of the room. Noah was sitting on the bed, playing cards in his hands, he looked as conflicted as I felt. He looked up at me as I walked toward him, his eyebrows raised and he smiled.
“There she is.” He mused.
I nodded and folded my arms across my chest. “Noah, I know why you’re here.”
Noah’s smile fell, he looked down and shook his head.
“I had asked her not too offer.” He said, his voice low. “After everything you said at the safe house I figured you wouldn’t want to say no.”
I frowned, I should have been annoyed that Noah’s incessant need to keep me safe was hindering my future. But I couldn’t bring myself to feel that way. I was changing everything he’d come to know, taking his career for myself.
“I haven’t said yes yet.” I murmured as I sat down on the bed. “I kind of wanted to talk to you about it.”
Noah’s gaze returned to mine, his eyes searched furiously for answers and he shook his head again, only this time it wasn’t in frustration or anger, it was confusion… I could see it in his eyes.
“You don’t need my permission.” He replied.
“I know I don’t. But at the safe house, you gave me the impression you’re not all that keen on me liking this line of work. I want to know why.”
Noah placed the cards down and pat the bed beside him. I sat down, inches away from him.
“It hasn’t been easy staying away from my Dad. Until he met your Mom we were the only family the other had, like you and your Mom. I guess them marrying made it easier to let go, knowing they had you to raise made me feel less guilty.” He paused. “But I barely see my father, before I came back I can count the amount of times I’ve seen you since the wedding on one hand with fingers to spare and they’ve been married for four years. I miss family.”
“So you’re saying you’re not allowed to have a family and this job?” I mused.
“No, I’m allowed to have a family. But I have lie to them. I have to cancel planned events and trips at the drop of a hat. I don’t regret my career Vi, but it’s lonely and I don’t want that for you.”
“You wouldn’t be lonely if I was here too.” I replied. “And we could face family together, we’ll have to when this is all over anyway.”
Noah let out a soft chuckle. “If this is ever all over, then yeah. I will have to come back with you… and we will both be forced to lie to the people who raised us, whether or not you take this job… but Vi, I can’t work with you. If you take the job, I’ll be leaving it.”
Now anger rose in my veins, the man who’d only moments ago had proclaimed I didn’t need his permission was basically guilting me into saying no to the job offer. He stood up and walked to the door without saying anything else.
“I’m sorry I’m so hard to be around.” I called out as he reached the door. “Don’t worry Noah, I won’t accept. You can keep your loneliness.”
Noah didn’t reply, he just opened the door and walked out.