Disclaimers:

Story:  Original  

Disclaimer 1:  I am gaining absolutely nothing from this story.  In fact, I have spent more hours on this than I ever thought I would, but once I started...  Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer 2:  I set up this story as though you could see it being performed.  In the story there are a few instances where I used song lyrics to help depict a scene.  I am gaining nothing from these songs and no copyright infringement is intended.  I simply used them to help tell a story.  As such, the wonderful performers are listed in the endnotes.  Again the songs belong to their respective writers and performers and in no way belong or were made by me.

Disclaimer 3:  This story will eventually have sex between two adult consenting women.  Whereas this brings happy thoughts to me along with a variety of other readers, I realize that it is not for everyone.  Also, it may be illegal where you live, which is lame.  As such, if you are not a 18, it is illegal in your state, or you are just a hater, move on.  For all my wonderful lesbian friends, the sex does not happen until later in the story.  It is all about the seduction for me. 

Cheers!  Comments are welcome at: rem2breathe@yahoo.com

   

Remember to Breathe

by Freedom

Part 4

Present day.

Chapter 1:  Come on!

"I don't think this is a good idea,"  Riley halted.

Not more than twenty paces away was the playhouse Lee took Riley to on the first day they met. 

"What do you mean?" Anne asked.

"She didn't invite me."

Anne shrugged, "She didn't invite me either."

"Right," Riley agreed, taking a few more paces towards the playhouse.  Stopping again, "What if she sees me?"

Lord have mercy, Anne thought rubbing her brow.

"Look, you have been asking me about this play for months and now you're going to back out?"

"She didn't invite me to go.  She knows I wanted to see it."

"Once again, she didn't invite me either.  In fact, she has never invited me to see any of her plays.  Ever.  It doesn't mean I don't go anyway."

Looking towards the playhouse Riley was trying to decide her next move.

"Tell you what.  I will sit in my normal spot and you can sit in the back.  She won't even know you are here.  Now come on!"

Reluctantly Riley allowed Anne to pull her into the theatre.  Much to her relief, Lee was nowhere in sight.  Still, Riley felt incredibly awkward about showing up to the play uninvited.  Just as she was about to lose her nerve and leave, the lights dimmed and a spotlight took focus on Lee.  Captivated by the sight, her mind nor her legs gave anymore thought towards escape. 

Scene 1: The Play

Music in the background.  (Coldplay's We Never Change found at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZSobH1wiiM )

A coffee shop in France.  Shoshanna is sitting on the veranda of a small restaurant sipping coffee.  It is beautiful day; bright outside.  All of the shops have spring colors.  She is watching the people around her; those that are sitting and those walking past.  Three teenagers pass by laughing at a joke.  They have such innocence.  Eliane approaches from behind and sits down.  She follows Shoshanna's line of sight.

I want to live life, and never be cruel
And I want to live life, and be good to you,
And I want to fly, and never come down,
And live my life, and have
friends around

"You will never have that Shoshanna."

Ignoring Eliane, Shoshanna continued to stare amongst the crowd.  One of the teenagers pulled out her phone.  The message on it must have been funny because the young woman giggled and cupped her hand over her mouth.  Showing her friends, they cooed over the message as well.

Speaking mildly, almost empathetically, "Shoshanna.  Shoshanna."

We never change do we?
No, no.
We never learn do we?
So I want to live in a wooden house

"There are two worlds you see here.  They live in the light; we in the shadow.  These people you see, they live in ignorance.  They don't know how the world truly works.  Not like you and I.  And if they ever found out they would scamper and scare.  They are not strong like you, like us."

"There are many forms of strength Eliane."

A moment passes as the music continues to play.

I want to live life, and always be true
And I want to live life, and be good to you,
And I want to fly, and never come down,
And live my life, and have friends around

A man at the table next to them proposes to his girlfriend.  She kisses and hugs him tightly.  The look on her face was such bliss. 

Eliane sees this and continues.  "You can never be one of them Shoshanna.  Even if you could leave, where would you go?  What would you do?  You seek a connection with another and yet you would have to lie to them every day to keep them safe.  They would never truly know you.  They could never know you; understand you.  And you could never tell them." 

We never change do we?
No, no.
We never learn do we?
So I want to live in a wooden house
Where making more friends would be easy

"And then something would pull you back to the shadows.  You would come across some piece of information that would incite you.  And you would go for many reasons.  Because you must.  Because you have to.  Because no one else will.  Because if you don't and something terrible happens, how could you live with yourself knowing that you could have stopped it?  Indifference is the worst sin Shoshanna." 

Oh and I don't have a soul to save,
Yes and I sin every single day.

Shoshanna continues to look amongst the crowd with longing in her eyes.  What would it be like to live in a world where there were not monsters behind every turn; where she was not one of the monsters hiding, waiting. 

"What you see is a dream Shoshanna.  One you will never have."

We never change do we?
We never learn do we?

"You will never be free.  You will never be free because I will never let you go.  I will hunt you, your enemies will hunt you, even those you consider friends will hunt you.  People like us, we don't get old."

So I want to live in a wooden house,
Making more friends would be easy,
I want to live where the sun comes out. (1)

"All dreams end Shoshanna.  Let them, before they kill you.  There is a briefing in an hour.  Be prompt."  Taking one last look at the crowd, Eliane added,  "One day you'll realize you are just like me."

Disgust crosses Shoshanna's features.

Scene 2:

The inside walls of The Order look concrete.  In reality they are made of material that could withstand a nuclear bomb.  There is a network of people sitting down staring at computers.  Each putting in data, cross-referencing.  Others are looking to make sure the network is not breached.  Passing them by, Shoshanna enters a conference room and seats herself at the table.  Sitting across from herself is Eliane, Bryan, and two men with whom she is unfamiliar.

"Ah.  Shoshanna.  This is Jean Michelle Gerard.  He is the president of France.  Apparently his political views are not popular with a small terrorist sect.  We have agreed to keep him safe."

"At quite a price I might add." Michelle interrupted, "The information you are requesting is quite valuable."

"Not so valuable as your life," Shoshanna smiled.

"Apparently," Jean Michelle agreed."I would like you to meet my head of security, this is Lucas."

"It is a pleasure to meet you," Lucas extended his hand in order to kiss hers.  Shoshanna ignored the request.

Eliane interrupted.  "The name of the terrorist group is The People.  Our intelligence is being worked now and I can assure you, you will have no trouble from them.  Shoshanna is our top operative and will stick with you when in public.  At home, a team of our operatives will stand guard. "

"What did you do?" Shoshanna questioned.

"Excuse me?"

"What did you do that made these people want to kill you?  Surely it is not over a health care bill."

Grinning, "I have friends in many places, high and low.  The information you want comes from my, shall we say, less than pristine counterparts.  Knowing these men alone is reason enough to have me killed.  Surely in your line of work you can understand that even acquaintances can be the end of you."

"And when these acquaintances find out that you are sharing their, private details?"

"Well, let's just hope you can keep a secret than, lovely," he winked at her.

Gathering her things, Shoshanna left the room.

Turning back to Eliane, "She seems less than impressed."

"Don't take it the wrong way, she doesn't like anyone."  Eliane smiled and poured more coffee.  

"Yes, I have no doubt she is your best.  Quite beautiful and quite deadly I'm sure."

"Like no other."

"And what would a man like me do in order to find myself, within her graces."

The smile Eliane's gave became quite feral as the curtains closed for change of scene.

End of Scene 2.

Scene 3:  Eliane's office was just as cold as the rest of the building.  No personal items adorned any area.  Shoshanna walked in.

"So how is the follow up?" Eliane asked casually.

Shoshanna handed a small data package.  "I have gathered a list of names.  The most promising target is a man named Jacob Francis.  He seems to have a personal vendetta for joining the terrorist group.  Jean Michelle ordered his wife killed.  He is seeking revenge.  Emotions such as these leave an opening for sloppiness.  I believe this is the best site for infiltration."

"Sounds promising.  When will you be leaving?"

"Tomorrow.  It seems Mr. Francis makes a habit of having breakfast every morning at the same coffee shop.  I plan on meeting him there."

"Let me know how it turns out."

Shoshanna nodded and made her way towards the door.

"One more thing.  It seems President Gerard is quite taken with you."

"Well I hope he isn't too disappointed."

"I want you to sleep with him."

Shoshanna blanched at the idea.  The man made her skin crawl.

"He has more information we want.  He is willing to part with it.  The price is your, companionship."

"For what purpose?  You know very well I could get whatever information you want."

"As he said, he has connections in very low places that we may find useful in the future.  It would be better for us to remain in good standing with the president for now."

"Is there anything else?"

"No.  That's all." Eliane dismissed her and returned to her paperwork.

Turning on her heel she walked quickly out of the room.  She was not far from the quietness of her office when she came across President Gerard.

"I was wondering if you would be so kind as to have dinner with me?"

Ignoring the request, "I found a piece of information.  It seems that a man named Jacob Francis is part of the terrorist group.  Our intelligence says you had his wife murdered.  May I ask why?"

"She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and heard the wrong information."

"Who would believe the imaginations of a woman who works in a coffee shop.  She probably didn't even understand what she heard let alone be willing to tell anyone."

"I don't like loose ends."

The look on his face filled Shoshanna with disgust.

"You did not answer my question."

Despite Eliane's instructions, "It seems as you have brokered a deal for my companionship."

Caught off guard Jean Michelle cleared his throat.

"Let's be clear.  The only reason you want me is because I have made it quite clear that I detest you.  You are a man who likes having power.  More to the point, you like having power over others.  You want power over me which brings us to our current situation.  You seem to have brokered a deal with Eliane on my behalf.  But I know as well as you that simply sleeping with you will not persuade you to give me the information she wants.  So it seems we are at an impasse."

"I don't believe Eliane would be happy if you decided not to honor the agreement."

"She would be less happy if I didn't get the information."

"And how do you plan to do that?  The information is here," he said pointing to his head.

"You wish to play a game.  I will have dinner with you, drink wine, go dancing, whatever you wish.  I will play along well enough to keep you interested. "

"You would let me seduce you but not give in.  What is the fun in that?"

"Because you think you are smarter than me.  So here are the rules.  You give me a piece of information and I will have dinner with you.  The better the information is the more likely I will find myself in a position to be, friendly."

"Why would I agree to this when I have already made a deal for you?"

"Because the only way to collect on that deal is if Eliane puts me in a drug induced coma.  Whereas I'm quite sure this may not bother a man of your stature, I do believe you would find it much more exciting if I were to give you want you want willingly, knowing full well that I am disgusted by the mere sight of you." 

A feral grin graced his features.

"St. Claire's restaurant.  Eight o'clock."

Smiling sweetly, "Information first."

Playing with the hair of his goatee,  "there are only two men who have the information you want.  I am one of them."

"And the other?"

Stepping closer he lightly brushes his lips against hers, "Dinner first."

End of scene 3

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 2:  You aren't our regular tree hugger type

Fourteen days ago.

Riley couldn't wait to get to work.  She had been hoping to speak to Lee all week, but Lee had taken a few business trips recently and she hadn't had much time to talk.

Knocking at Lee's office door, she stuck her head in, "Hey."

Lee looked up from her computer screen, "Hi, come in."

Entering Lee's office she took a seat.

"Did you know I am actually a board member of Green Living?"

"You certainly seem to keep busy."

Riley smiled.  "Imagine my surprise when I saw the name Leeland turn up on the newest member advocate list."

Lee nodded in a nonchalant manner.

"Is it coincidence, or did you sign up?"

"I signed up."

Riley was grinning from ear to ear.

"What?"

"I'm just surprised is all."

"I seem to remember not so long ago you were telling me that if we are going to save all the people on this planet , we should have a planet worth living on.  Seems logical to me."

"Yes, but you aren't our regular tree hugger type."

"I like trees.  You've seen me climb one."

Riley laughed at the memory and Lee smiled back.

"There was a request to have another presentation on water birds.  Have you also taken an interest in bird watching?"

"Hell of a bird that can fly from Asia to New Zealand."

"Uh huh," Riley nodded her head.  "I'll see you at the meeting then."

Lee nodded in return. 

Walking to her own office, Riley reviewed the conversation in her head.  Neither one of them talked about what happened in Sydney.  Every time she thought about bringing it up, it just seemed like the wrong time.  She wasn't sure Lee even remembered any of their conversations during the ordeal, but apparently she had.  Turning on her computer screen, Riley tried to focus her concentration to the day ahead of her.  Tree hugger my ass.

 

Present day

Scene 4: The Play

The curtains open to a coffee shop.  A gentleman is sitting in a booth reading the newspaper.  He is of African American decent.  Tall, reaching nearly six feet two inches, and well built.  Shoshanna sits across the diner waiting.  Finishing his breakfast, the man stands to leave.  In that same moment Shoshanna walks over and bumps into him spilling orange juice down the front of his outfit.

Acting startled and out of balance, Shoshanna allowed the man to catch her.  Making sure she had her footing, he looked down towards his clothes.  He was drenched.

"I am so sorry.  I cannot believe how clumsy I am.  Please forgive me," she begins dabbing at his shirt with napkins.

The man although frustrated maintained calmness.  He had places to be.  Looking up to the girl for the first time, he stood mesmerized.

"It's alright," he answered, forgetting his plans for the moment.

"No, no it's not.  Just look at you.  You are sopping wet," she continues to dab at his shirt.

Taking her hands in his own, "Really it is alright."

Putting on her most innocently charming smile, "I'm Roxanne."

"Jacob," he replies shaking her hand.  Immediately he waves the server over, "Another orange juice for the lady."

"And a, coffee," she looked questioningly towards Jacob for his agreement, "for the gentleman."  By this time, Shoshanna had studied Jacob long enough to know that he preferred coffee to tea.

"With cream," he added as the waitress walked off.

Sitting down in the booth, Shoshanna tucked one hand under chin, her elbow rested on the table.

"So, Jacob?  Do you like animals?"

Struck by the oddity of the question he looked down into his coffee.  He wasn't sure how to answer.  He had nothing against animals although he never had any himself.  Jacob was a confident man, but when he met this woman, somewhere underneath it all he knew he was way out of his depth.  Having the courage to look in her eyes,

"Dogs, I guess."

Shoshanna's expression turned into a wide grin as she fumbled with the straw in her drink.  The lights dimmed a moment for change in scenery.  As the lights raised again, Shoshanna was standing in front of Eliane's desk.

"I take it the meeting went well?"

"We are having dinner later."

"So soon?"

 Shoshanna continued to look on confidently.  Eliane laughed. 

"Our profilers say he is old fashioned.  He likes to chase, not be chased.  Don't be too forward."

"I have done this before."

"Yes I know, but he is different.  Most men would fall all over themselves for you.  With his past, he doesn't want just another conquest."

"Is there anything else?"

Eliane shrugged and watched as Lee left her office.  Making towards the engineering room, Lee had the misfortune of running into Jean Michelle.

"Ah, mademoiselle," he kissed her hand.  "I don't suppose you would have time for dinner this evening?"

"Busy I'm afraid."

"Unfortunate.  I don't suppose you could be persuaded to take the night off?"

Playing with the front of his tie, "That depends.  How keen are you on breathing?"

Bowing his head at the statement, "Tomorrow?"

Leaning in, "I'm not sure.  I never did get that name you promised last time we had dinner.  Why should I indulge you tomorrow?"

"Because it is the only way you will get the information.  Besides, you didn't hold up your end of the deal.  I was hoping for a bit more than light conversation."

Shoshanna leaned in, a breath away from his lips.

"The name."

"Kiss me first."

Obeying, Lee pressed her lips against his own.  It was not long before he was pulling her body against his.  As he tried to deepen the kiss, Shoshanna leaned back. 

"The name."

"Mr. Brian Carter is whom you looking for."

Looking into his eyes, she knew he was lying.  She also knew that the only way to get the information was to find the connection herself.  He would never tell her.  The only reason she indulged in this game was to keep him too busy to complain to Eliane.  The last thing she wanted was to sleep with this man.  If he were to complain to Eliane, she would once again order her to sleep with him.  No.  Shoshanna had to keep him just close enough so that he thought he could win. 

"Tomorrow then," she dusted an invisible particle off his shoulder and walked off.

Again Shoshanna set out for engineering.  She needed to speak with Samuel.  Turning the corner, she spotted him.  Motioning him away from prying eyes,

"Hello sparrow."

"Samuel."

"What can I do for you today?"

"I take it you have been informed on our current mission."

"President Jean Michelle Gerard?"

Shoshanna nods.

"He has some information that Eliane would like to have."

"What's the problem?"

"He wants me in exchange for it."

Although very well trained, for the briefest of moments Shoshanna saw a tightening around his eyes.  He could hide his emotions nearly flawlessly when it came to any other business, but not with Shoshanna.  Tinkering with the tools on his desk,

"I see."

"I was hoping you would look into his business holdings.  I'm not even sure what information Eliane is looking for, but I have no doubt it will stand out.  And who better to find it than you.  He gave me name, Mr. Brian Carter.  I doubt it will take you far, but it is a starting point."

"Of course."

"Thank you Samuel."

"How is your mission coming along?"

Conflict passed along her eyes.  She knew that no matter what, this was not going to end well.

"As well as all the others," she smiled. 

To anyone else, this answer would have seemed simply ordinary.  Knowing the details of the mission parameters, Samuel knew different.  As she made her exit she heard Samuel gently call after her,

"You can't save everyone sparrow."

Lights dim.  End of scene.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 3:  I do believe that is an Italian Steam Frog

Ten days ago.

"Cormorants are another of our lovely water birds," Professor Bateman went on clicking on yet another slide.  "They are found in both the northern and southern hemispheres and even here in New Zealand.  This bird is medium weight and build and has a tremendous flight pattern.  Please understand that the fragile ecosystem that these creatures live in.  It is of utmost importance that we maintain the East Asian-Australian Flyway.  Every day, more and more of their habitats are destroyed due to commercial development.  If not careful, these beautiful creatures will find themselves on the endangered species list and extinct if we do not stand up and fight for them.  It is up to each and every one of us to get involved.  Thank you."

The lecture took place at the local university.  Many of the science students were attending, especially from the biological studies program.  Lee sat in the back and waited for the room to empty.  She watched as Riley shook Professor Bateman's hand and thanked him for coming.  Riley was a glow.  She loved her work.  It is not often that a person can find themselves in a position where there work is also their life's mission, but Riley has.  You could see it in her very posture. 

Lee watched and waited as the crowd left.  Being one of the board members of Green Living, Riley shook hands with many of the students, trying to get them involved and volunteering.  She had her work cut out for her and was busy collecting names and phone numbers.  Lee smiled.  Turning her attention back to the Professor, she needed to speak with him.

"Professor Bateman," Lee extended her hand.

"Hello."

"I'm Lee.  I just wanted to thank you for your lecture.  Inspiring."

"Thank you."

"You know, I have become very interested in birds as of late and I have the project that I am doing about migratory patterns.  The thing is, a friend of mine got his hands on a tape of one of our birds here and I was wondering if you knew someone I could play it for who could identify the bird by its call."

"I'd be happy to take a listen."

Ever since she came back from Sydney, Lee had been anticipating this lecture.  She had tried talking to several biologist on her own, seeing if anyone could identify the species of bird in the tape, but no one had been able to give her a definitive answer.  She could only hope that this professor would shed some light.  If she could find out what bird it was she could find the flight pattern and narrow it down.  All she could do was hope the professor knew.  After all, his entire career was following these birds.  Playing the tape, she waited as the professor listened.

"That is a loon.  Beautiful bird, and a fairly common species."

"That's great.  This recording took place in early May.  I don't suppose you would know approximately where these loons would have been located at the time?"

"Like I said, it is a common species, you would no doubt find them on the Southern regions of North America, lower Italy, perhaps at the north end of Africa."

Great, Lee thought.  Not so helpful.

"But that croaking in the background.  Do you hear that?"

Lee listened intently.  She had heard the sound but had mistaken it for simple background noise.  It certainly did not sound like the croaking from any normal frog.

"I work with a colleague that has done some extensive research on amphibians.  I do believe that is an Italian Steam Frog.  Interesting species this frog.  It's main food source is the European Owl Moth which can only be found on the southern shores of Italy.  So I would say that is where your loons reside.

I'll be damned.

Regaining her composure she shook his hand again. 

"Thank you so much.  You would not believe how valuable you have been to me.  I can't thank you enough."

Taking out a pen, he wrote a name, number, and email address. 

"If you are interested in amphibians, this is the contact info for Professor Tallinn.  He can help you will any further questions you might have."

Taking the card, "Thank you."

Turning to make an exit she nearly bumped into Riley.

"Anything interesting?"

"Huh?"

"I saw you talking with Professor Bateman.  I would never have pegged you for a bird lover."

"Just curious."

Riley smiles and nods.  Feeling emboldened by Lee's good mood she asked, "Listen, I was about to head off to get something to eat.  Would you like to come along?"

Her mind in overdrive at the prospect of finding Paul, "Thank you, but I need to look up some information.  Another time." 

Quickly making her exit, Riley just stared off in her direction. 

"Okay," she whispered to herself.  She could not help but wonder what that was all about.

Present day.

Scene 5: The Play

Lights raise up on a conference room setting.  On the wall was a mounted screen giving detail on the terrorist group. 

"What is our tactical advantage?" Eliane asked.

Bryan spoke up, "Unfortunately, the terrorist group does not have one main safe house.  They have several.  We could set up several watches to try and find a pattern to where they intend to stay next, but as far as we can tell, it is random."

"The President's rally is in ten days.  That will take too much time."  Shoshanna spoke up.

"What do you propose?"

"That we let them infiltrate the rally.  We will post our people at every entrance.  Plus it will have the added bonus of making Gerard a target and thus popular with the people of France.  I assume that it is your intention that he remain in power."

"That is too close," Bryan disagreed.  "We cannot chance having a rogue terrorist actually take a shot at the president."

The look on Shoshanna's face was one of annoyance.

"And if we go by your plan, we could hope we find which safe house they are hiding at, and hope that we catch all of the terrorist cell, and hope that they do not have any sleeper agents waiting on the sidelines to take up the cause, and hope that we can identify these unknown enemies in time to save the president in case they are waiting.  No.  The smart play is to allow them to think they have the upper hand.  No doubt the murder of the incumbent president will be a sight to see.  All of them will be in attendance.  I followed Mr. Francis yesterday."  She changed the screen on the monitor.  "Here is a list of names and faces of the terrorist cell.  Ethan is the head of the group followed by these gentlemen.  Focus our targets on them and the president will not be in danger."

Hearing both sides of the argument, Eliane sided with Shoshanna.

"Shoshanna, draw up a schematic of all the entrances and would be scenarios that this terrorist group would employ to take out the president.  Gather a team to set up countermeasures.  Dismissed."

Standing up, Shoshanna headed back to her office.  Entering, she came upon Samuel standing just inside the doorframe. 

"Good morning sparrow." 

He hands her a data chip.  Attaching the memory chip to her screen, a list of data popped up. 

"Your President Gerard has quite the ambition.  What you see on the screen is the information you want, but I do not have the evidence in hand to prove it.  As for the name you gave me, it seems he also has quite a sense of humor.  Brian Carter is the name of the man he goes to in order to have his shoes polished.  Whom you are looking for is Adam Fugate; Gerard's liaison.  I have done some background on him.  I cannot be certain, but I'm sure if our profilers were to give it a look they would see a man with an exit strategy.  I imagine he has all kinds of damning evidence if you can just manage to get to it.  Fortunately, Mr. Fugate likes to have some of his own diversions."  

Scrolling down, Shoshanna finds the list of Fugate's extracurricular activities. 

"Just once I wish these type of men would come up with something more original."

Samuel laughed. 

Seeing Michelle through the windows, "I have another favor to ask you."

Shoshanna whispered in Samuel's ear before heading out to greet President Gerard. 

"I thought perhaps I could persuade you to take a couple hours off?"

"As much as I would love that, I have to prepare some parameters for the mission."

"But,"

Kissing him chastely on the lips, "Tomorrow.  You cannot have me if you are dead."

Unable to argue, Michelle watched as Shoshanna walked away.  Lights faded with her escape.  When the lights rose again, Jacob was walking Shoshanna back to his apartment.

Unlocking the door, she followed him in.  Despite the fact that he was an extremely handsome fellow, he looked quite nervous.  Pretending not to notice, Shoshanna went over to his music collection and picked out a CD.  Pulling him to her, they began to dance.

"So Mr. Francis," she smiled, "what exactly do you do for a living?"

"I was a carpenter."

"Were.  You didn't like it?"

"I loved it actually.  I had big plans.  I wanted to set up shop in Paris.  Sell handmade goods to all the lovely patrons.  One of a kind items."

"What changed?"

"It is not so much that something changed, it is just that life has led me down a different road."

Leaning in close, "Do you always have this mysterious air about you or are you just trying to impress me?"

Looking down towards her shoulder.

"I lost someone."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"No, don't be."

"You loved her."

"She was my wife."

Although he did not answer the question, Shoshanna could see by the look in his eyes that this woman was his life. 

"So before," she paused, "I imagine you wanted a shop in Paris, a lovely flat in the middle of downtown, a dog, and a coffee house nearby."

"She did.  I always wanted to live on the outside of town.  I wouldn't have minded owning a small farm.  Not to raise animals," he laughed, "just to have the space.   A wife.  Children someday."

"It suits you."

He nodded. 

"I think you should do it.  You should go buy yourself a farm, set up shop, and go back to being a carpenter."

"Just drop everything and go?"

"What is so important that you are here?  Close your eyes."

He looks at Shoshanna like she has lost her mind.  Sighing, she swipes her hand along his eyes causing him to close them.  Tightening her grip around his shoulders she whispers in his ear,

"Think about owning a shop in Paris.  Making your own furniture.  Telling all the rich snobs with no taste that your creations will not go uncared for in their homes." 

He laughed.

"Think about coming home smelling like sawdust and stain.  About long summer evenings sitting outside drinking coffee.  Swimming in a nearby lake.  Three dogs and two cats."

"Is this still my dream?"

She nudged him.  Seeing the smile on his face.

"Are you happy?" she asked quietly.

"As much as I can remember," he whispered back.

Opening his eyes he stared into hers. 

Caressing his cheek, "You are a good man Jacob Francis.  You deserve to be happy.  And when you're ready, love and children will follow."

"And you, what dream makes you happy?"

"A simple life where I could charm bees and sell honey by the roadside."

"And if I made sure that my farm was made available to all sorts of bees?  Would you be happy there?"

Smiling, Shoshanna felt Jacob's lips press against hers. 

"Let's go," she blurted out. 

The expression on his face showed some amusement, but inside Shoshanna was quelling her nervousness on what she had just asked.  This was not the mission.  She just knew that she did not want Jacob involved.  Of course she could not go with him, but it would be over before he figured out what happened.

"What?  You mean now?"

"Is there something that is keeping you here?"

All he could think of was of President Michelle Gerard.  

"I..."

"I know you are here for some reason, I just don't know what it is.  I know that it sounds crazy but I feel like if we don't leave right now, we may never have the chance.  I am not asking for marriage or children or any sort of promise, just an opportunity.  Something which is far more rare than people realize.  And usually by the time they do understand, it is too late.  Come with me."

"Soon."

Kissing him again.

"Come with me Jacob."

Looking into her eyes.  "Yes.  Alright."

Shoshanna put on her most brilliant smile and kissed him again.

"I just have one thing I have to do first and then we will go.  One week from now we will be sitting on a porch drinking coffee and trying to think of names for our dogs and cats."

"Why so long?"

"I have made a commitment I have to keep.  One week, I promise you."

Caressing his cheek again, "So much can change in a week Jacob.  In a week, you may decide you hate me."

"There is nothing in this world that would make me hate you."

The sincerity in his eyes nearly overwhelmed her.  Kissing her again, the lights faded.

 End of scene 5.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 4:  Hell's around the corner

Eight days ago.

Knocking on Lee's door Riley enters.

"Anne tells me you are going on a trip."

"Yes. I am."

Trying not to show that she was slightly unnerved that Lee did not give her the information as well, she continued.

"Where to?"

"Europe."

"That's a big place."

"I'm sorry.  I meant to tell you, but you were out of the office yesterday and this is the first I have seen you."

"No, of course," Riley smiled.  At least she wasn't left out on purpose.  "Visiting family?"

"Looking up an old acquaintance."

Can you be anymore vague?

"Well I hope you have a good trip."

"Thanks."

Scene 6:  The Play

Present day.

As the lights rise up, the new scene sets stage at what looks like a high class gentleman's club.  It was no doubt where rich politicians and businessmen went to relax and not be bothered by pesky reporters.  At the bar, a man asks for a scotch and soda from the bartender.

"This is your third time here this week Mr. Fugate.  Not that I don't enjoy your company but you are always telling me how important and influential you are.  Surely a man of such high stature has someone at home waiting on him?"

"My business keeps some rather unconventional hours."

"Of course, please let me know if you require anything else."

"Just here to relax.  Thank you."

Taking a seat near the stage, the audience watched as Fugate began loosening his tie and sipping on his scotch.  Distracted at best, music began to play.

(Hell's around the corner by Tricky.  You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3bBKTdk2Kk)

It was then that the lights dimmed slightly and took on a bluish hue.  Sparking his interest, he looked towards the stage. 

I stand firm for our soil
Lick a rock on foil
say reduce me, seduce me

dress me up in ecstasy

hell is round the corner where I shelter
Ism's and schisms, we're living helter skelter
if you believe or deceive
Common sense says shouldn't receive

Let me take you down the corridors of my life

Until this moment, the back stage was so dimly lit that you could hardly see any movement.  But now, a spotlight was awakened and centered on Shoshanna.  Leaning against a pole, she had one arm stretched far above her head.  It was then she began to sing the female lines in the song.

and when you walk
Do you walk to your preference?
No need to answer till I take further evidence
I seem to need a reference to get residence
A reference to your preference to say

Slowly Lee inched her way down into a squatted position and when she opened her lips to sing again, she parted her legs giving the audience a true taste of the exotic.

I'm a good neighbor, I trudge
So judge me for my labor

The bond on me ensures my good behavior
The constant struggle ensures my insanity
Passing the ignorance ensures
the struggle for my family
We're hungry beware of our appetite
Distant drums bring the news of a kill tonight
The kill which I share with my passengers
We take our fill, take our fill, take our fill

Slowly but surely, Lee walks seductively towards the end of the stage.

I stand firm for our soil
lick a rock on foil
say reduce me, seduce me
Dress me up in ecstasy

Confused by different memories
Details of Asian remedies
Conversations of what's become of enemies
My brain thinks bomb like
So I listen he's a calm type
As I grow and as I grow, I grow collective
Before the move sit on the perspective

Fugate watches on, encompassed with desire.

Mr. Quay
Lay in the crevice
And watches from the precipice
Empirial passage
Heat from the sun some days slowly passes
Until then, you have to live with yourself
Until then, you have to live with yourself

Reaching her intended target; Mr. Fugate holds out a large sum of cash.  Taking the money, she shoves the sum down her breasts and begins to dance provocatively against him. 

I stand firm for our soil
Lick a rock on foil
Say reduce me, seduce me
Dress me up in ecstasy

Pushing him back against the chair, Lee hops on his lap, straddling Fugate and leaning him back against the chair.  Close enough to brush her lips against his own, she once again begins to sing.

Hell is round the corner where I shelter
Ism's and schisms, we're living helter skelter
If you believe or deceive
Then common sense says shouldn't receive
Let me take you down the corridors of my life

As the song comes to a close, Lee leans back showing her incredible flexibility all the while moaning.  Coming back up she pulls Fugate's suit jacket back and kisses him soundly.

My brain thinks bomb like, bomb like
My brain thinks bomb like
My brain thinks bomb like
Beware of our appetite (2)

As the lyrics end, Lee stands up and walks away.  Just before she exits the stage, she holds memory chip so that the audience can see.  It is her proof to the evidence that Samuel found.

Lights fade. 

End scene 6.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 5:  Hello Paul

Two days ago

Italy is beautiful this time of year.  It was becoming just cool enough that the leaves began changing their color.  It did not matter though.  Spring, summer, fall, or winter, the coast was always a sight to see.

Smelling the air, Lee recognized the scent.  A storm was on the horizon.  It would be here in an hour or so.  This was the last stop on her list.  Given the terrain, the population, and the geographies, Lee had developed a short list from places to look.  As cunning a man as Paul was, he would make sure to live isolated enough that he could catch anyone watching yet close enough to disappear amongst the crowd.

There are several basic needs a human must have in order to survive.  Humans need to sleep, breathe, drink water, and eat.  The first three can be done without leaving the domicile.  The fourth however was more difficult.  Food is what would bring Paul out.  Naturally Lee was certain that Paul would not be buying groceries for himself, but if she could just spy someone or something out of the ordinary she would have a lead.  A person would be the easiest to spot.  People undeniable take on their own mannerisms when they think no one is watching.  A statement true even of herself.  She could tell an operative of The Order by the way they walk, speak, act towards others.  An operative stands always ready.  You would never find an operative flatfooted even if they seemed to be resting.  An operative is ready for action even when sleeping.  A lesson well taught in the early stages of recruitment.  How a person speaks is also relevant.  An operative will not stand away from the crowd, but blend in.  Every time an operative meets another, they tailor their speech to fit in with the views of the crowd.  Nothing said will ever stand out.  A thousand names and a thousand stories and no one will remember your face.  As for the last, an operative will always walk closest to the street.  They will never find themselves in tight spaces and every time they come to a place twice, a new route and a new direction is taken.  Lee was set to purpose.  Find the least memorable person in the crowd; an easy task.  Before she could give it much more thought a boy ran past her.

"Amari, throw it here," the boy shouted with arms raised. 

The two boys were playing catch on the street.  Quite an arm the young man had.  He had some talent on his end.  Just as Lee was about to turn away, Amari threw the ball again.  His intended target however was just out of reach and the ball crashed into a parked car on the street.  The driver quickly stepped out of the car and was saying something to the boy.  Handing the ball back, the driver retook his position in the vehicle.  This in itself was not odd.  What was odd, however, was that the windshield on the car did not break.  Lee replayed the scene in her mind again.  Looking towards Amari and where the ball landed, Lee did the mental calculations in her head.  The window was not even cracked where it should be shattered.

Bullet proof glass is indistinguishable from regular to the naked eye.  Just as the thought left her mind, Lee watched a woman approach the car, the driver putting the groceries in the trunk.  Now why would a woman at the market need to have such glass installed?

Waving a taxi, "Follow that car."

Lee's taxi followed the car for about two miles.  All the while she was bringing up the layout of the city on her phone.  Not much further down the road, the car pulled off onto a smaller alleyway.  Deciding not to chance following any closer in the taxi, she told the driver to stay straight and let her off at the next light.

"Are you sure Ms.?  There is nothing here."

Paying the man she gave him her appreciation and began backtracking to where her mystery woman had turned.  The details on her phone showed a farmhouse not more than a mile off the main street.  The estate itself had about three acres in total surrounded by a tree line.

It did not take long to cover the mile.  Lee made sure to stay close to the tree line.  When she was a quarter of a mile from the house, she actually moved into the trees so as not to be discovered wandering the road.

Hiding in the trees not more than one hundred feet away, Lee watched the figures for about twenty minutes pass by the windows.  Lee was stationed at the rear of the house looking around the property thinking on how and when she would come back.  She was also looking for hidden alarms or cameras that could catch her spying about.  It was then that the woman in the market stepped onto the back porch holding a pitcher and two glasses.  Not a moment later a man stepped out behind her hugging her from behind.  His face was masked behind the woman as he cradled her.  Of what she could see, the man was in his early sixties with graying hair and a well muscled body.  When he stepped out from behind her, Lee stood motionless.

"Hello Paul," she whispered to the trees.

Scene 7: The Play

Present day

"It is time Jacob."

A hooded figure stepped into the light.  Standing next to him was Jacob dressed in a well fitted suit.  He looked very fashionable, but something was a bit off.  Not many carpenters dress so formally.  It was obvious that he was uncomfortable. 

Holding a gun out to Jacob, the hooded figure must have noticed his unease.

"Can you do this?"

Jacobs eyes wandered to the gun in front of him.  He had never handled a gun before.  Cautiously he took the weapon offered.  Remembering his wife, his mind wandered to the tiny hole at her heart.  How could something so small and so inanimate take his wife away.  He would see the debt repaid in kind. 

For a small moment he pitied the president.  He wondered if one day another would be standing before him, gun in hand.  Pushing the thought away, he steeled himself towards the task. 

As he did so, the lights dimmed on his section of the theatre while brightening on Lee's half.  Though dark, you could see the hooded figures positioning themselves strategically.

On the brightened stage, a rally scene was played out.  Several actors were all standing at the bottom of the podium waiting for the President to come out and address them.  It was election year after all.  Behind the small podium was a curtain that separated Shoshanna and the President.  It looked as though it was a holding room as similar as if it were happening in real life. 

Softly, a piano and violin begin to play.  ( You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhjR2XLIUuU )

We have a dance!
In the brothels of Buenos Aires
Tells the story
Of the prostitute

A spotlight centered on Shoshanna.

"You look ravishing."

Slithering up behind Shoshanna, he pressed himself firmly towards her back while using his hand to pull her hips towards him.  Kissing her neck,

And the man
Who fell in love...
with her.

"I said you looked ravishing mademoiselle."

Pulling away, "I'm working now," she pulled away peeking through the curtain.

"We are surrounded by guards and yet you still fear for my life.  If I did not know better I would believe you are starting to have feelings for me."

Touching the back of her ear Shoshanna spoke, "Teams one and two at the ready, team three on standby." 

Several members of the actors standing near the podium switched positions.

Running his fingers along her cheek, "I feel it too," he kissed her roughly. 

First there is desire

As their mouths parted, "I think this election is going to your head Mr. President."

Then... passion!

"So you feel nothing for me?" he looked unconvinced.  Taking her hand in his own he brought the two to his lips.

"It is my job to be concerned for your safety.  Your information, our protection.  What we have is a transaction, that is all."

Rage crept into his eyes.

Then... suspicion!

As Shoshanna moved to step away he tightening his grip on her wrist as the music continued to play.

Jealousy! Anger! Betrayal!
Where love is for the highest bidder,
There can be no trust.
Without trust,
There is no love!

"Let me go."

Jealousy.
Yes, jealousy...
Will drive you...  will drive you... mad!

"A transaction I intend to collect," he pulled her alongside as he walked through the curtain and onto the podium. 

Roxanne, you don't have to put on that red light
Walk the streets for money
You don't care if it's wrong or if it is right

In an instant his anger was replaced by a quite charming smile.   Kissing her on stage the couple waved towards the crowd.

Roxanne, you don't have to wear that dress tonight
Roxanne, you don't have to sell your body to the night

Shoshanna scanned the stage looking for Jacob.  She could not see him, there were too many people.  What she knew for sure was that he could see her.  The audience watched as Jacob stood back from the crowd mesmerized by the scene taking place in front of him.  Why was she standing with him?

A light trains on Jacob.

His eyes upon your face
His hand upon your hand
His lips caress your skin
It's more than I can stand

"It is time Jacob," a man nudged him forward.  Jacob hesitated.

Roxanne

Why does my heart cry?

The man continues to push Jacob forward.

Roxanne
Feelings I can't fight
You're free to leave me,
but just don't deceive me
And please
believe me when I say I love you

"Anything yet?" Shoshanna whispered.

"This is team one, nothing yet.  Wait.   I think I see something.  Southwest corner."

When these productions succeed,
you will no longer be a cancan dancer,
but an actress.
I will make you a star

Shoshanna's eyes moved towards purpose.  Immediately she found two brown ones staring wide eyed back at her, betrayed. 

Accept it as a gift from this maharajah to his courtesan
And the ending.

Shoshanna steps forward in Jacob's direction. 

Let Zidler keep his fairy tale ending.

Realizing Jacob wasn't moving, his partner took action onto himself.  Seeing the movement, Shoshanna pushed the President down.

"Go, go, go.  Move in immediately!" she cried out. 

Roxanne, you don't have to put on that red light

Frenzied gun fire took place all the while the music kept playing.  Jacob inched his way towards the president while Shoshanna and her team fought off the other attackers.     

Why does my heart cry?
Feelings I can't fight
You're free to leave me,
but just don't deceive me
And please
believe me when I say I love you

Reaching his target, Jacob pointed the weapon at Michelle only to have Shoshanna step in his path aiming her weapon decisively at his heart.

"Move away Roxanne."

"Jacob don't."

Come what may
I will love you
till my dying day.

A loud explosion took place in the background.  It was not Shoshanna's men, it had to be one of the terrorists trying to cause panic.  It was just enough to draw Jacob's attention.  As he turned his head, Shoshanna hit him with the butt of her gun and he dropped to the ground cold.  As the lights faded on the scene, so did the music.

It took only a moment for the lights to return.  The scene had changed.  Instead of standing at the rally, the group now stood standing in the middle of The Order.  Jacob and three of his comrades stood chained in front of Shoshanna, Eliane, Michelle, and a few guards meant to hold them from breaking free.

President Gerard stepped toward the prisoners. 

"What will you do with them?  I can't imagine you hold people captive?"

Eliane spoke first, "interrogate, then dispose."

A smug smiled dawned his lips.

"I think that would be a mistake."

Eliane turned towards Shoshanna.

"Our last few missions have brought casualties.  We are in need of new recruits."

"And you think these lot fit the bill," Michelle laughed.  "After they were so easily deterred."

"With proper training."

Eliane stepped towards the captives, "these three will be of no use.  No doubt they will turn and run at the first chance.  It would be a waste of expenditures.  And this one," she motioned toward Jacob, "is too strong willed.  No worse, a man of conviction.  He'll die before joining us."

"Not if given proper motivation."

Seeing the way Shoshanna defended Jacob, "I would prefer you dispose of them."

Softly the music started playing again.

"You defend the man who tried to kill me?"

Shoshanna stood, defiance in her eyes, "I see no reason for him to die."

No.  Oh I see, it is our very own penniless sitar player
No!
My dear Duke
Silence!

"I want them dead."

You made me believe that you loved me.
No.

Eliane paused and stared a moment longer at Jacob. 

"Choose Shoshanna, but know this, if they fail, you fail."

Shoshanna took a step towards Jacob looking his squarely in his eyes.

For the first time he spoke, "I would prefer to die."

The moment coming to its pinnacle, "Dispose of them," she took a step back, "save this one.  Break him."

Roxanne!

Roxanne!
Why does my heart cry?
Feelings I can't fight:

Jacob was pulled behind a white curtain.  Through shadows, the audience watched as Jacob was brutally beaten and on his knees crying out, Roxanne!

Roxanne,
 you don't have to put on that light
Why does my heart cry
Roxanne!
Feelings I can't fight
Roxanne! (3)

Lights fade on the scene.  When risen again, Shoshanna stood next to Samuel.

"Did you do it."

"I deposited his sister safely away.  She is in no danger."

"Good."

Wishing to be alone, she turned and walked towards the exit.  Unfortunately, Michelle was waiting.

"That was quite a display you put on back there.  Is his life really worth your own."

"More than yours Michelle."

"Careful mademoiselle, you cut too deep."  Taking her hand in his own, "I think we should have a nice supper and finish our game."

"I see no need for that."

"Eliane.."

"Has the information she requested.  You lost."

Fire burned in his eyes, "You little,"

"Careful with you words Michelle.  I saved you once today, but no one can save you from me."

Turning on heel she walked towards Jacob's holding cell.

Upon entering, "How do you feel?"

Jacob was sitting on the floor, back to the wall.  He did not answer.  Taking courage she went to kneel in front of him. 

"You have done well so far."

"Go away."

Taking a picture from the inside of her jacket, "I have something for you."

Looking at the picture, "Where is my sister?!"

"The Order has her," she lied.  She knew it was the only way to make him acquiesce to The Order's will.  It was the only way he would live.

"I swear to God if you touch her,"

"You will be able to do nothing except die an early death for failure to comply."

"I have been beaten and prodded for the last three days.  I have been given nothing to eat or drink except water, but I swear to you.  Touch my sister and I will end you."

"I'm glad to see they haven't taken your spirit.  You hate me." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yes."

"More than Michelle."

"More so.  Michelle is a greedy murderer.  You know this and still protect him."

"I was contracted to do so."

"Such indifference?  God help you.  Kill me if you like, leave my sister be.  She has nothing to do with this."

Handing the picture to him, "it is amazing what people will do for the ones they love."

"One day, I will end you," he whispered to her.

"You wish to kill me."

The burning in his eyes answered her more clearly than words ever could.

"I'll teach you.  We will start tomorrow.  Tonight I suggest you sleep well."

Leaving his cell, Eliane stood watching, waiting.

"How does it feel?"

"Excuse me?"

"You have hated me all your life for condemning you to this place.  And here you are condemning him to the same fate.  I told you Shoshanna, one day you would realize, you are just like me."

Softly music began to play (Coldplay's We Never Change found at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZSobH1wiiM )      

Eliane exited the stage.  Pulling her jacket across her torso, Shoshanna made for the exit.  A sound of thunder boomed overhead as she reached the door.  Out into the rain she went, slowly making her way back to her flat.  All the while the opening song began playing again, her thoughts being her only companion this night.    

I want to live life, and never be cruel                         
And I want to live life, and be good to you,
And I want to fly, and never come down,
And live my life, and have
friends around

As she enters her flat, Shoshanna takes off her coat lighting the fireplace and a candle sitting on the mantle above.

Eliane's voice in her thoughts.  "You will never be one of them Shoshanna."

We never change do we?
No, no.
We never learn do we?
So I want to live in a wooden house

Sitting on the couch she pours herself a glass of wine.  Her eyes shut tightly.  Again the words in her mind cut at her. 

"There are two worlds you see here.  They live in the light; we in the shadow.  You will never be one of them."

I want to live life, and always be true
And I want to live life, and be good to you,
And I want to fly, and never come down,
And live my life, and have friends around

Taking a sip of wine, she pulls out her gun.  Staring at it a moment, it almost seems awkward to her.  Brushing the top of it.

We never change do we?
No, no.
We never learn do we?
So I want to live in a wooden house
Where making more friends would be easy

Pulling out the clip,

"And then something would pull you back to the shadows.  You would come across some piece of information that would incite you.  And you would go for many reasons.  Because you must.  Because you have to.  Because no one else will.  Because if you don't and something terrible happens, how could you live with yourself knowing that you could have stopped it?  Indifference is the worst sin Shoshanna." 

Then Jacob's voice, "Such indifference?  God help you."

Jamming the clip back in,

Oh and I don't have a soul to save,
Yes and I sin every single day.

Samuel's voice whispers to her, "You can't save everyone Shoshanna."

We never change do we?
We never learn do we?

"You will never be free.  I will hunt you, your enemies will hunt you, even those you consider friends will hunt you.  One day you will realize, you are just like me."

Resting the gun against her forehead, the lights start to fade out so that only the single candle light placed above the fireplace mantle gives light to the scene.  The curtains begin to close on the scene, stopping within a few feet in either direction of Shoshanna.

So I want to live in a wooden house,
Making more friends would be easy,
I want to live where the sun comes out. (1)

Suddenly Shoshanna's phone rings loudly.  A collective intake of breath is heard throughout the audience.

Answering the phone, "Hello."

"You're needed, come in."

Standing, Shoshanna takes one last look at her gun before tucking it in the back of her trousers.  Looking towards the audience she blows out the candle.  Close curtain.

End scene 7

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 6: Six months and you will be free

Present day. 

The audiences cheers could be heard long after the ending scene.  Yet while the others went out to greet the patrons, Lee decided instead to find comfort in her dressing room.

Looking into the mirror, Lee slowly began taking off her makeup.  She had so much to do.  The discovery of Paul still forefront in her mind.  He was the key to everything.  Her freedom and that of her gentlemen relied on her ability to ingratiate herself into his life without him being the wiser.  He knew her and what she was capable of.  It was Lee that had to learn about him.  What were his weaknesses?  How can she exploit them?  How will she infiltrate?  She had be cautious.  Anything less than perfection would mean a death sentence for her and her gentlemen.  This would take time. 

Her gentlemen; Samuel and Jacob.  It took several years for Jacob to forgive Lee, yet he did.  Lee could count on one hand the number of people she trusted and yet would still have more than half her fingers left over.  Two souls comprised her trust, just two.  For these gentlemen, she would stand against the devil himself should he set foot in her path.  Three years had gone by since she was freed from her prison.  Three years she spent tracking down Paul.  She cared nothing for power, only their freedom.

Looking at her reflection in the mirror, "Six months gentlemen," she whispered to the walls.  "Six months and you will be free."

End of part 4.

(1) "We Never Change" by Coldplay

(2) Hell is around the Corner" by Tricky

(3) "El Tango de Roxanne" music from the musical Moulin Rouge

 

To be continued...

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