Over the next year, Parker worked at I Spy and for the most part, she liked what she was doing. The scenarios she analyzed for the company were what she found the most interesting and when they suggested she go to the various locations she readily agreed.
Her one disappointment was her inability to find Olivia. True to Carter Malloy’s words, she was able to access every conceivable database, even the ones that had restricted access. She did find Olivia’s name in one obscure database but it only said that she was responsible for the death of a district attorney. Beyond that, there was no mention of her–alive or dead.
The day before, Parker received a message that she was to meet with Carter Malloy for what she assumed was an evaluation. The now familiar black Lincoln was moving west out of Philadelphia to a destination she did not know. From signs, she knew they were in Chester County and had traveled west on Highway One and passed Longwood Gardens before proceeding down several small, unmarked streets. When the vehicle pulled up to a closed gate, the driver reached out and punched a code into a gooseneck panel. The driveway, flanked by a dense growth of trees made the area seem camouflaged as they traveled deep into the vegetation before revealing a well manicured lawn with a house sitting atop a slight incline.
The house was a large Garrison Colonial with a porch running the length of the building. To Parker’s way of thinking, the setting was all wrong for a corporate office so she surmised it must be Malloy’s residence. She knocked on the door and waited. A large man in his mid thirties and dressed in a business suit opened the door. “Ms. Davis, come in. Mr. Malloy is waiting for you.
The man escorted Parker to a door that lead to a library. Carter Malloy smiled and came forward to greet her. “Parker, it is good to see you again. Please take a seat.”
Once seated, Parker eyed the man who took the seat opposite her. “It is good to see you again sir. I hope my work for the company is satisfactory.” She knew it was but to her way of thinking, it didn’t hurt to be humble at times.
“Exemplary,” the man said. “But that isn’t why I called you here. We feel it is time for you to take on a more significant role in the organization.”
Parker raised an eyebrow. “As in a promotion?”
Malloy inclined his head slightly. “In a way.” He paused for a moment then continued. “We are impressed with your plans and strategies concerning the scenarios you’ve worked on. You have an eye for detail and that protects our operatives while they complete their missions.”
As she listened to the man, Parker realized that perhaps the plans she had implemented were more than they appeared. “Can I take it that you have used my plans in actual events?”
The man smiled. “You have good instincts and that is what we are looking for. The company, as I have referred to it, is actually a highly classified government organization that works in the underbelly of society to eradicate terrorist, arms and drug dealers as well as dangerous people in positions of power.” Malloy watched for any reaction and when he saw none he said, “I take it you already had your suspicions.”
Parker nodded for in the back of her mind she always felt there was much more to the job than the obvious. “Yes, I did.” She eyed the man critically. “Aren’t you taking a chance by telling me this? What if I decide not to play your game anymore…it could prove disastrous.”
Carter Malloy fixed Parker with his gaze. “No. We thoroughly vetted you before we ever contacted you Ms. Davis. You won’t turn us down.”
Parker felt her anger rise. “And just how do you know that?”
The man ignored the question. “We would like you to work with several of our operatives by providing them with the means of carrying out their missions. You will be directly responsible for their safety. Of course, you will work closely with them along with the other planners we have on board.”
“I don’t think so,” Parker said before she stood up.
“Please,” the man said. “Before you go, come with me and take a look at who you’ll be working with.” Without waiting for an answer, Malloy took her arm and guided her to what looked like an elevator door. He pushed a button and the doors opened. The elevator moved downward effortlessly and soon the doors opened to a large room. Once they exited the elevator, Malloy lead Parker to a window that overlooked another room. “This is where you will work. It is the main planning area for all our worldwide endeavors.”
Parker struggled loose from the man’s grip. “I will not be a knowing party to assassins.”
Malloy laughed. “Sure you will. Take a look at the operative sitting at the computer console to the left.”
All Parker could see was black hair that she surmised belonged to a woman. Just then, the person looked up and turned her head toward another person. Parker felt her heart stop before it began rapidly drumming in her chest. “O,” she said.
“Yes, Ms. Santos will be one of your operatives.” The man shrugged. Of course you will need a disguise when you deal with her.” He watched the various expressions that crossed Parker’s face before she schooled her features. “You’ll require intensive training before you begin the job. From what I’ve seen of you and your expertise, that shouldn’t take long.” With practiced patience, Carter waited while the woman next to him digested the information. “Are you in?”
“Yes,” Parker whispered–her prayers answered.
Parker stormed into the office of the section director and threw a file on the man’s desk. “Who the fuck dreamed up this scheme? It is destined for failure and we could lose some of our people!”
The man, Wilson Bigalow, looked at the folder and shook his head. “It’s a little late to be giving me this information, Davis. You know damn well that they are already in position. Besides, you signed off on the mission.”
“You won’t put this on my head!” Parker exclaimed. She pointed to the folder on the desk. “That isn’t the plan I signed off on. Recon clearly told us that the building underwent extensive renovation. I don’t see anywhere in the plan that consider those. On top of that, Herald diverted Santos at the last minute to be the lead operative. Had this been my team something like this would never have happened!” Inside she was shaking for Olivia was in danger and she could do nothing to stop the event from happening.
“In case you’ve forgotten Davis, I’m the head of all the teams and it’s my prerogative to send who I think will be the most successful on the missions. We needed Santos’s expertise on this one. She is our most experienced long distance shooter…and the most accurate.”
Parker felt her body shake with rage. “I thought you directed that we share plans so that we could come up with the one that is the most fool-proof.” She glared at the man. “It was only after the plan was implemented that anyone bothered to include me. Mark my words, the entire team will not come back from this one.” She shook her head. “I thought this was a big time operation. How could you miss seeing the holes in this plan?”
“I went over the plan myself and it will work,” Bigalow said.”
Parker shook her head and walked away. She would monitor the situation and pray that Olivia would come out of it unscathed.
Olivia Santos lazily gazed around the room she and her small group used for briefings and debriefings. Her body language, however, was in total contrast for it was bristling with carefully concealed energy–waiting around wasn’t one of her many talents. As she tapped her fingers against the table waiting for the handler to arrive, she pondered not for the first time how she’d eventually ended up in this place and the role she played there.
She could almost sum up the last several years of her life in three distinct actions–training, evaluation and mission accomplished. DOCO honed her skills to become an assassin. It wasn’t a big leap in faith from the time and place she’d been recruited–if you could call about to be arrested for murder that. Recruitment was hardly the term really. No choice was the more descriptive words Olivia would have used if asked directly.
Over the years, she did her job and was still alive. Her extensive training had worked and she had to admit that she enjoyed it. There had been a primal energy pulsing through her as she gained knowledge in the tactical moves to the deadly art of being an assassin for the good guys. At least she told herself they were the good guys. It appeased the last vestiges of conscience she had left to think that way. In fact, she felt at times that DOCO had trained her so efficiently that she frightened them. The nickname her fellow operatives had given her, ‘the she devil’, became her calling card and code name. She sold her soul to the devil when she killed the man responsible for her brother’s death. DOCO appeared out of the blue to make a collection on the devil’s behalf. It fit together so neatly. She was perversely proud of climbing the ladder of the world top list of assassins. In her strange world, it was her challenge to become the best at what she did. She had the right to achieve little else in her life. The bounty on her head from foreign governments and terrorists exceeded that of the scum she took off the streets. She considered it poetic justice.
Constant evaluations had been the side of the coin she’d never been comfortable with from the beginning. At first after each training session, the interrogation was by three shrinks that over time lead to five. After six months of intensive therapy, as they called it, she hated the sight, sound and mention of a psychiatrist. So much so, she’d held one at gunpoint to make it clear to her handler and anyone else who ignored her warnings that enough was enough. Ignoring her request not to undergo any more ‘counseling’ would have deadly consequences. Her outburst and threat worked. However, they continued to evaluate her and her actions in the field from a distance. As far as she was concerned, she was no longer capable of being anything but a killing machine. Machines didn’t need a conscience and she epitomized that creed by making emotional baggage outdated. If anyone came within a foot of wanting to help her with her issues, she’d shoot them between the eyes and not even blink.
She had to admit that her mission portfolio was impressive. Ten single assassinations and five in a bombing raid were the things that made legends. Except the last mission had gone wrong–one of her team was killed due to a faulty plan and all because her handler didn’t have due diligence concerning the plan. He’d sent them into the mission zone without all the facts. Grainer hadn’t a chance in hell of getting out of the rigged building in time as the exit plan took them to a wall–it was built a year earlier.
Her handler John Herald was luckier than the dead Paul Grainer was. Herald was still alive but just. It had taken three agents and handcuffs to prevent her from killing him with her bare hands and she’d growled at not having that feral satisfaction. After she calmed down, her superiors agreed that it was time for Olivia Santos to have a new handler.
Olivia’s jaw clenched and ground as she waited for her new handler to arrive. If she didn’t like the person or the way they prepared her for missions, they could screw themselves for she didn’t care. She would keep requesting handlers until they came up with someone that would match her skills. Besides, what could they possibly do to her that she hadn’t already done to herself a hundred times over?
She had no family or friends. The only personal possession she had was her audio equipment in her room. Her life was as cold and barren on the inside as it was on the outside. Everything she treasured was gone or she’d instigated its demise it in one way or another. Her mind flashed back to the only conversation they’d allowed her a month after she’d gone to bed with DOCO.
+ + +
“Hey David it’s me Olivia, how are you doing and the family?” Olivia smiled briefly as she recalled the man who had been her brother’s best friend and like another brother to her.
A muffled incredulous sound was the first thing heard then in an astonished tone, “Olivia? Is that really you Olivia? My god, are you ok? Where are you? What are you doing?”
Olivia chuckled. It was the first time since killing the DA that her lips had moved into anything other than a straight line. “Yeah David it’s me. Look, I don’t have much time. What I need to sayhas to be fast with no arguments, ok?”
“Sure, anything you know that.”
Yeah, she knew that and it made her smile last a bit longer. “My lawyer will be sending you a letter soon…maybe even by tomorrow if everything holds together. I need you to accept what’s in that letter without argument and know that you’ll be doing me a favor…the Santos family a favor.”
A puzzled voice asked, “What’s going on Olivia? I don’t understand…you’re making it sound as if you’re dead.”
Olivia let out a dry chuckle. “As close as David…as close as. I’m in a dark place right now and where I am is the best place for someone like me to be. I just wanted you to know that you’re the closest thing left I have to family and I need you to accept this for me and be ok with it.”
There was silence for a few moments then David asked, “What about Parker surely she’s…”
“No! No, don’t you mention her name to me ever again. As far as I’m concerned, Parker is dead to me. What she intended to do or even did means she went too far. I can’t forgive her for that or understand why she did it. I would have given myself up at the end. She always said she understood me but she didn’t because she sure as hell didn’t trust my judgement.”
The forceful words had David sighing heavily. “She didn’t tell us where you were Olivia. The Captain, had her followed. She’s not doing so good maybe if you called…”
“No! This is my only call and I wanted to use it on the one person I know I can trust. You’ve never lied to me David and because of that it’s important you understand that the Olivia Santos you knew isn’t ever coming back.”
“Why…because they won’t let you? If those bastards…”
“David, please stop. You always did look out for me just like Nicky.” There was a quiet silence as they both brought up their own memories of Nicky Santos. “The Olivia you knew can’t come back because she doesn’t exist anymore. When I shot the DA I killed her with the same bullet.”
David let out an anguished cry. “Olivia, you did what you thought was right. I would have done the same in your place. Maybe we can work things out if we find the proof that shows he was corrupt.”
Olivia closed her eyes for a few seconds then blinked back the tears. If they had proof she’d never had to take the matter into her own hands. Instead, she was a cold blooded killer and there was no turning away from that fact. “I hope one day you do David…for Nicky rather than for me. I have to go, take care of your family…it’s the most important thing in life to ensure your loved ones are safe and they know you love them.”
As she was about to replace the receiver she heard him mutter, “One day Olivia I’m going to prove you right and get you back I promise…” She set the receiver in its cradle and stared at the wall.
Then she sucked in a deep breath as a picture of Parker came to mind. One of her laughing with the sexy sparkle in her eyes–yeah that was one image she’d gladly take with her. After all, it was the picture of how love could go completely array and you never saw it coming. Silently she made a pact with another devil…the one that chained her heart–never to fall in love again. The love her father talked about, the one that ruled the head and the heart, could never happen now.
The door to the briefing room opened and Olivia dragged her thoughts back to the present as a woman walked confidently into the office.
“Hello, I’m Kate Edstrom, your new handler,” Parker said holding out her hand. The new face, name and the British accent she learned in training seemed somehow strange to Parker. She schooled her demeanor as her blue contact eyes gave the assassin a once over.
Olivia refused the handshake and eyed the woman slowly going from her spiky bleached blonde hair, to the deep set intelligent blue eyes. At first glance, the eyes appeared to have a familiar glint but she ignored the feeling as she let her gaze take in the accentuated high cheek bones that puffed out like a gerbil fully stuffed with food. The pastiness of the complexion in keeping with someone not used to sunshine, which figured if the British accent was anything to go by–it mostly rained in the UK. Then her eyes moved lazily and with a hint of pleasure over the toned body that meant this woman worked out–hard. “You may think you’re going to be my handler but can you prove it,” Olivia said cynically.
It wasn’t the first time she saw Olivia but it was the first one on one encounter and Parker found that disconcerting. She longed to reach out and touch her but that wouldn’t be in keeping with DOCO’s plans for either of them. Right now, she needed to reign in Olivia. With a sly smile she said, “If I must I will. The choice is yours.” She took a seat at the desk and laid several file folders on it.
“Lady there isn’t any choices unless you want to end up in a body bag. You’ve read my file therefore you know I’m good for that threat. What do you bring to the table?”
An imperceptible flash of fear at what Olivia had become seared Parker’s heart. “You do have choices Ms. Santos and I know you are aware of those. As for me proving that I have the stuff to take you on…I must warn you that I too have a history that will match yours event for event.”
Olivia heard the bravado in the woman’s voice but she’d seen the fear too and that made her smile cruelly. “You and I are hardly a match, Ms. Edstrom. In fact, how many people have you killed since you began working here–I’d wager my reputation it’s a fat zero.”
Parker hesitated for a moment as she considered her reply. The folder on Olivia and the reasons for their superiors assigning her as the handler were clear. Now she had to give an answer that would be plausible but at the same time give nothing away. “It is not my job to murder but to ensure the safe return of all operatives I handle…and you are one of them.”
“Is that what they told you to tell me? You do know I hate people I can’t trust they’re better off dead than alive in my book.” Olivia languidly watched the woman’s body language as she settled back in the chair and began to rock.
With a shrug of indifference, Parker focused squarely on Olivia’s blue eyes. She found it difficult not to melt into them as her focus went to the place where she knew a camera was recording their actions. “Look, I’m in a position to keep you alive and you can hate me all you want I really don’t care. What I do care about is completing a mission with the as little fallout as possible.” She held the assassin’s eyes in hers. “Your choice–you can play nice or…well you know what happens if you don’t. As for me I don’t care one way or another.”
Cool under pressure. Olivia liked that. “What was your last mission?”
“That‘s none of your business…it has nothing to do with you Ms. Santos. All you need to know is that it was for the greater good which is how I like to view anything I’m associated with.” Parker shook her head. “Why don’t we quit this little dance we’re doing and get down to business? Like it or not I’m your new handler and from now on what I say goes.” The thought of being in complete control over Olivia gave her such a rush that she felt the tightness of sexual excitement begin to grow–always had and always would.
“The midnight mission, tough terrain, virtually impossible to retrieve a clean slate unless you had the perfect tactician at the helm. It was a clean slate. Mission accomplished with no casualties except for the ones we wanted. The greater good, well only God can say for sure, if that’s right. I guess there’s no harm in giving you a trial,” Olivia said with a blank expression. She was silently pleased that she hacked into the DOCO database and knew all about the woman. She also looked at her file and was pleased that they had no idea about her outside curriculum activities.
“I think we can leave God out of this,” the handler said. “You are in no position to give me a trial Ms. Santos. It is what it is. In this case I am the one in charge and I say whether we continue to work together or not.” She eyed Olivia and added, “Granted you are very good at what you do but harbor no doubts, there are many more that fit that bill too.” Parker shuffled the folders and looked away. “Shall we get too it then?”
“You bring my people home safe and we’ll never have any trouble.”
“Shouldn‘t that be I’ll bring you all home safe?”
Olivia gave a feral smile. “As you pointed out, I make my own choices Ms. Edstrom. It was good to meet you. Is that all or do we have a mission to discuss? ”
“That’s all for now, we’ll talk again soon.”
With a wink of her left eye Olivia replied softly, “I’m sure we will.” She held out her hand for the other woman to take and was surprised at the hesitation.
The sexual charge that sparring with Olivia brought out in her had Parker balking at any physical contact. Finally, she held out her hand and the feel of Olivia’s hand in hers sent all her emotions reeling. “Good evening.”
Olivia whispered so low that even the microphone in the room couldn’t pick it up. “Oh and if I were you, I’d go out and get laid or you’ll do yourself an injury keeping all that tension bottle up. It isn’t good for you.”
Speechless, Parker watched Olivia leave the room as she felt herself erupt in pleasure.
A tall dark figure loomed in the doorway of the noisy bar and then proceeded to scan the interior. It must have satisfied the curiosity for the figure moved lithely through the throng of Friday night revelers to a woman seated at the bar. She slid into the surprisingly free seat next to the woman.
Without looking up the woman said, “Glad you could make it. Everything work out to plan?”
“Of course. Did you expect any less?” the sultry voice said.
There was a faint chuckle then the spiky haired blonde said, “Nope, it was my plan after all. I expected to see you at least two hours earlier. Is there anything I should know about?”
Olivia Santos heard the tone of carefully controlled interest. She’d spent the last hour with a whore to release the pent up tension that missions always created. The submissive Japanese woman, who was sent to pleasure her, had been taken on a wild ride that always manifested in Olivia when she finished a mission. The tiny woman begged for mercy from the passion rather than any fear. When she’d left, the young woman gave her a card with ‘call me privately’ scrawled on the backside. As with all the women she bedded, the card found its way into the trash–‘never bed the same woman twice’ was her mantra.
“Are you going to answer me?” Parker was seething with jealousy.
She knew exactly where Olivia was, she always did. However, this time something had snapped inside her. Normally they met at DOCO for the debriefing, but this time she suggested Olivia meet her at a bar. The meeting place was a bar only two blocks away from the place where she knew Olivia went to relieve the sexual tension the missions always created in her. She knew of Olivia’s penchant for bedding whores and the vision of a naked Olivia in the arms of a stranger sent her on a roller coaster of emotions. She was the one that Olivia always turned to when they lived together. The idea of another woman filling that role created intense jealousy.
Olivia waved for the bartender to bring her a drink and cocked her head on one side indicating that he should refill Kate’s drink too. “I always figured English women drank Pimm’s or gin. You never cease to amaze me Kate, a beer drinker no less.”
“God you’re aggravating sometimes. It’s like talking to a brick wall.” She gulped down a third of her beer and sighed heavily.
Olivia smirked as she sipped the soda water and then, with her eyes capturing the ones of her handler, she moved her hand and with the tip of a finger wiped away the froth on Kate’s upper lip. In a low sexy voice she said, “Hmm, brick walls can be useful sometimes.” Then she winked and grasped her glass with both hands and continued as if the moment hadn’t happened. “Nothing important just needed to take some exercise. Why are you here anyway? You usually wait until I get back to the headquarters.”
Parker managed to remain upright on the stool. Olivia’s gentle touch to her upper lip was so sensually exciting that she had a hard time keeping her emotions in check. It would have been so easy to take the finger into her mouth and suck it deep inside. Instead, she swallowed hard and was able to maintain her cool even though it was wavering on shaking ground. Even the scent of sex that Olivia hadn’t managed to totally eradicate had turned her insides upside down and she knew the only way to release her own tension was to do some ‘exercise’ of her own. If Olivia touched her again, she’d be running to the bathroom. “I wanted a change of pace. I thought it was time we interacted socially.”
“Really…what makes you think I want that?” Olivia lazily replied as she sipped her drink.
Parker tried to gauge Olivia’s reaction but she couldn’t read the eyes that heavy lids hid. “I’ve found in the past it helps to maintain a good working relationship.” She smiled before taking another swig of her beer.
Olivia remained silent as she listened to the rumble around her. Someone who couldn’t sing was at the karaoke machine wailing like a cat in heat. Then she returned her gaze to the woman at her side. She was attractive in an odd kind of way, although Olivia thought the woman really needed to cut back on the bleach. The one word that always came to mind when she was in the personal space of Kate Edstrom rang loud and clear–repressed. The woman obviously needed to pay a little more attention to her own personal needs on occasion, as she did with the missions.
“Is this what you’re always like after a mission…deathly silent?”
“Some call it the calm before the storm. I’d call it normality. You and I should stay on a professional basis Kate. You’ve turned out to be a great handler and an excellent tactician. You remind me of…” the memory of Parker invaded her thoughts for a few seconds then she banished them.
Parker took the lead and with the fluttering of her eyebrows asked, “Remind you of whom?”
Olivia felt disinclined to speak about her past for it was all over, or that’s what she kept telling herself. “Churchill, yeah you remind me of Winston Churchill.”
With a dumbfounded look on her face, Parker reacted with a splutter. “Churchill, are you bloody blind Olivia. I’m not a tubby cigar smoking egalitarian.”
This time Olivia laughed aloud. It was enough to cause a couple of interested looks from two men to her right. She gave them a wink and turned back to Kate. “I meant the tactical side of your many talents Ms Edstrom. Although, if you drink too many beers, tubby might be in your future…I’d keep that in the back of your well ordered mind.”
When Parker saw the twinkle in Olivia’s eyes it tore at her gut as her mind worked overtime with memories. She couldn’t help herself. She reached out, placed her hand on top of Olivia’s, and unconsciously began to stroke the warm soft skin. “You and I could have some fun Olivia.”
Olivia watched the movement of Kate’s fingers on her hand in contemplative detachment. Then she plucked the fingers away in a swift motion. “Sorry Kate, professional status only. Do you want anything more from me tonight? I’m tired and need to go to bed.”
The dismissal rekindled her previous anger and Parker had to draw on every bit of self control she had. “No, not tonight. I’ll expect you in the briefing room tomorrow morning at six sharp.”
Olivia raised her eyebrows at the early meeting but said nothing. She nodded her head, threw a tip on the bar and left with a casual wave.
Parker watched as the dark figure melted into the crowded room before she was gone. She downed her beer quickly and contemplated how she could get back at Olivia for the rejection. It would take some doing but she knew with the proper planning she could devise a scheme that would not alert Olivia or anyone else. All she needed was time. When a woman a few years younger asked if the seat next to her was free, Parker indicated it was. Since the last encounter with Olivia after the murder of the DA, she remained celibate, which was something Olivia obviously wasn’t. Since all Olivia ever bedded was prostitutes, Parker took solace knowing it was only for relief until her lover could return to their committed relationship. Why else would she reject Kate’s advances? Nevertheless, she would get back at Olivia and the woman next to her was a perfect way to start. Within seconds, she’d begun flirting with the young woman.
Parker actually thought she wouldn’t have to be alone in her bed until a man sat on the other side of her. She looked at him and sighed before looking back at the woman on the other side. “Give me a minute so I can get rid of him,” she said before she shrugged. “He has a crush on me and every time I come in here he makes a pass. I say I’m not interested and he just keeps coming on to me.”
The girl smiled and said, “Don’t you just hate that? I’m not going anywhere.”
With a nod and a smile toward the girl, Parker turned back to the man. “What do you want Dan?”
“That was a very dangerous game you were playing with Santos.”
“I’m off the clock so get lost.”
Dan grabbed her wrist and said, “Haven’t you figured out by now that you’re never off the clock.” Once he knew, he had her complete attention, he let go. “Trying to seduce Santos is strictly against policy. You could have blown everything or didn’t you think of that?”
Parker sucked in a breath deeply then shook her head. “I wasn’t trying to seduce her I was testing her.”
Dan cast a critical eye on her. “Testing her…I find that hard to believe.”
With a shrug, Parker said, “Believe whatever you want. The fact is that if she had allowed herself to give in to her baser instincts with me she would no longer be useful to us. She is content with whores and that is what I wanted to know.”
“As Kate or as Parker you can never be with Santos on any level but as her handler.”
“And that is exactly what I am.”
“It didn’t look that way earlier.”
Parker shrugged. “Whatever.”
For a long moment, Dan searched the woman’s eyes for deception–he saw none. “I’ll let you get back to it then,” he said nodding toward the woman next to Parker. “Remember we meet at five-thirty.”
“How could I forget,” Parker said before she turned her back on him. As sure as she was that Olivia trembled when she covered her hand, she was equally sure they would be together again–it was only a matter of time. With a dazzling smile, she moved closer to the young woman. “What do you say we get out of here?”
Parker paced the floor as she waited for Olivia to arrive from her latest mission. She had given her ex-lover more and more challenging and dangerous assignments and much to her surprise, Olivia took to them like a duck to water. The red light above her door began to blink–Olivia was back. A smile curled around her lips as she thought of the next hurdle that she’d make Olivia jump–the target was in Portsmouth. “I wonder how you will react. Will you balk at the possibility of meeting me again?”
The door to the debriefing room opened and Olivia Santos and Dan Estevez walked in. They looked tired but otherwise there was no outward sign of the deadly mission they’d undertaken at least to the casual eye.
Olivia cast her eyes over the bleached blonde head of Kate Edstrom that peered at a file on her desk. The woman’s refusal to look up caused irritation to cross Olivia’s features as she snarled, “Another dirty deed complete.”
Parker lifted her head and cocked it to one side. “Dirty deed you say…that is a curious expression considering what you do for a living.” She looked at Dan and said, “Leave us.”
“Don’t you speak to him like that you cold bitch…he deserves more respect. What gives you the right to order him about anyway?” Olivia flashed Kate Edstrom a malevolent glare and sank down on one of the chairs wearily.
Irritated, Parker had to remember to use her British accent as she replied, “Excuse me…exactly who do you think you are Santos. I am the one in charge of your missions and I am the one who takes the heat if anything goes wrong.” She sucked in a breath. “Never speak to me with that tone again. Do I make myself clear?”
Dan chose that moment to vacate the room as the friction in the room became almost palpable. He didn’t want to be the middle of the sandwich between the two egos. He could monitor their discussion from a distance to make sure Parker didn’t blow her cover.
Olivia felt the heat of her temper rising as it did with all her missions. This time she hadn’t had the luxury of releasing it in the usual way. “Yeah and whose army is going to stop me from doing anything I damn well please. Let’s face it lady, you’re hardly in a position to chastise me. When was the last time you pulled a trigger and a person died.” Her fingers drummed the table as her frustration increased so did the tempo. Her eyes indolently took in the great shape of Edstrom’s body–it would be so easy to take her.
With the sharp sound of a chair scrapping across the floor, Parker stood up and rested her hands on her desk. In case you’ve forgotten Ms. Santos, we own you. If you would rather, we can arrange for you to live permanently in a high security prison. As for pulling a trigger…I am responsible for every target’s demise.” Her eyes blazed at Olivia before adding, “I am also the one that ensures that you and every member of your team go undetected. Thereby, as far as anyone knows, none of you have any culpability in the assassination.” Parker forced down her anger and returned to her chair as she matched glares with the woman across from her.
“We, we? Last time I checked no one owned me and I’ve certainly paid my dues over the last five years, in particular the last three months. How many fucking missions have you sent me on that the outcome didn’t have a reasonable chance of success? All of them in recent months! You call that taking responsibility…I call it madness. It would be the same as my team, in particular myself, involved in suicide missions!” Olivia exclaimed as her fingers drummed louder on the chair arm.
“Did all of you survive those ‘suicide mission’? Yes! So what is the real problem Santos? Are you not up to the job anymore?” Parker said through clenched teeth. A sense of déjà vu filled her mind as she remembered the many times she and Olivia had similar fights only to end up in bed as the heat of passion overtook them.
Olivia left the words hanging in the air as she considered them seriously for a few moments. An element of truth rang out in her head as she tersely replied, “You might be right Edstrom.”
Parker nodded and drew in a calming breath. “Do you want out? Would you rather be in prison? That can be arranged within the hour…your choice.”
Placing her head to one side Olivia considered the proposal. “It has merit going to prison at least they might grant me parole someday. From what you say I’m never going to be released from this place.” The words resonated from the walls as she caught Kate’s eyes.
Parker reached for the phone. “I’ll arrange it. I’m sure the girls in the prison will just want to eat you up….literally.” She rapidly pressed the numbers before waiting for an answer. “This is Edstrom. Olivia Santos prefers prison to working for us…what’s available?”
Olivia laughed and the sound became almost maniacal as she thumped her hand down on the table and goaded. “Well it would sure be better than the meetings I have with you. Besides, I’m getting used to the variety of sex partners at least there I won’t have to pay for it…literally.”
Silently eaten up inside with jealousy, Parker shrugged. “You’ve got it,” she said before returning to the phone conversation. “Yes, I think that a maximum security prison with no hope of parole is the best choice.”
Listening to the verbal sparring between the women, Dan wasn’t surprised when his phone rang. “Calling her bluff was brilliant, but she is calling yours now. What are you going to do?” he said to Parker.
She listened then added, “I don’t know how we can keep the other inmates from finding out she was a police officer.”
“Enough of the bullshit Edstrom we both know I’m not leaving…not yet anyway. You need me, and god help me, at the moment I don’t have that many choices. What do you want me to do next?” Olivia resigned herself to the prospect of death in the physical form. The way Edstrom’s missions were panning out these days it was only a matter of time.
Parker nodded slightly and said, “Put that on hold. I’ll get back to you if we need to transfer her.” She turned her attention to the other woman and let her eyes take in the vision that she loved. Olivia was everything she dreamed of and more and if the next assignment worked as she hoped they would be together again. “There is a big drug trafficking ring that’s set up shop in Portsmouth. There is to be a meeting with the head of that organization and a prime player within the Russian mafia in two weeks. They both need to be eliminated.” She held her breath as she watched Olivia’s reaction.
“Are you completely out of your mind? I’m not going to Portsmouth and don’t give me all that crap that I’m the only one for the job. I mean it…I won’t do it.” Olivia held out her hands in a gesture that indicated the handcuff stance.
Parker studied the woman as she considered all the ways she could manipulate Olivia in to taking the assignment. “You really don’t have a say in this and I don’t owe you any type of explanation but…I will bend the rules this time.” When she saw that she had Olivia’s undivided attention, she continued. “The man, Caesar Cruise, was directly responsible for your brother’s death. The other man Dmitri Vladlena was the one who put out the hit on your brother and his family. I should think you of all people would want them eliminated.”
Olivia’s head shot up as her nostrils flared and her eyes widened. “You know who was responsible for my brother’s death? When did you know that…what do you know? Tell me! Are you saying that Nicky was wrong and Reeves wasn’t the one?”
Closing her eyes to hide the foible she made, Parker chose her words carefully. “We recently came by the information. As you know, our operatives are everywhere and the one in the PPD alerted us to the meeting. It seems that your brother’s old partner is hot on the heels of the man who actually killed Nicky…we are hopeful that he will be apprehended soon. However, the kingpins are who we want eliminated now. Once we learn the identity of the man who actually murdered your brother he will be all yours.”
“Are you telling me David’s in danger?” Her mind strayed to the monthly letters she received at a box number from David. They were all about his family, the job and old friends. He was her only true link with the outside world and reality.
“At the moment no, but the closer he gets to uncovering the truth the more danger his life and that of his family will be in. That is why we need to get these men now…to give Tourney more time and provide a distraction for him so the wrong people aren’t monitoring his investigation.”
“If I do this you have to promise me that I won’t be seen by anyone who might know me and I mean anyone!” Olivia’s mind began to fill with memories and some were more painful than others were.
Parker shook her head. “Sorry, I can’t promise that. We’ll go incognito but there’s no guarantee that someone won’t recognize you by your walk, accent…eye color. We can do our best,” she said shaking her head again. “I wish I could assure you that no one will recognize you but I can’t.”
“Best laid plans of mice and men,” Olivia mused absently as she glanced at the manila folder next to Edstrom on the table. “Is that the mission folder?”
“Yes,” Parker said. “I was running through all the scenarios deciding which is the most expedient and that will keep our operatives safe.” She eyed the woman as she debated on whether to share the information or not–she handed Olivia the folder.
Taking her time, Olivia read the location and frowned before quietly remarking, “I was born in that neighborhood.” Then she flicked over the possible scenarios and the planning that had gone into each possibility. Unconsciously she said, “God this reminds me of Parker. She used to drive me nuts with all the trivia. Some people never get to the point…they always go around the house a hundred times first.” She closed her eyes briefly as she realized she was talking aloud and about whom. It had been a long time since she’d spoken Parker’s name–it hadn’t hurt as much as she expected.
Parker was doing cartwheels in her mind. Olivia did remember her and Parker was certain she heard a note of love when Olivia said her name. “Plans are essential. Without them, discovery of you and your missions wouldn’t have gone so smoothly.” With a shrug she said, “Be prepared to leave within a week’s time.”
“I’ll be ready.” Olivia stood up and walked towards the door. Then, glancing back, she said, “Remember one thing…you don’t have a job without me.” Then she opened the door and left.
Parker laughed. “Right and you think you’re in charge. That’s so rich.” She picked up the phone, dialed a number then said, “Did you get all that?” Then she frowned. Did DOCO hire me to control Olivia?
The steps to the church entrance were dimly lit by an overhead lamp that dimmed every twenty seconds or so, a testament to the age of the equipment and its neglect. A booted foot crunched on the graveled surface of the pathway to the churchyard, the sound echoing with each step accompanying the sound of the wind whistling eerily through the trees leading to the steps. As the figure came under the dim spotlight of the lamp, it projected a dark foreboding mass against the stonework of the religious building as the person read the name, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
The figure mounted the steps, pushed open the creaking door, and for a split second, she hesitated going over the threshold. Then she entered the equally dim interior. From left to right the pews were empty, or if someone was there, they were lying on the wooden benches rather sitting or kneeling. A cursory glance to the front of the church, indicated that the pulpit was empty but there was a figure kneeling beside the statue of the Virgin Mary. As the figure moved forward into a more receptive area that shed a little more light on the scene the figure, apparently praying was clothed in a black garb–a nun.
As the figure moved a step or two closer to the nun a voice gently echoed from the left of the figure.
“May I help you child?”
The figure’s back straightened imperceptibly as the voice triggered memories that were long since buried but not destroyed. Swinging towards the voice, the figure’s features came into view.
A hand went over the mouth of the man who had spoken. “Bless my soul. Am I seeing things? Is that you Olivia?”
Olivia felt her lips tug into an involuntary smile of acknowledgement as she nodded. The man had recognized her and the one thing she didn’t want happening didn’t seem to matter now. “Yes it is Father Johansson; I’m surprised you remembered me after so long.”
The priest moved closer and shaking his head held out his hand. When she placed hers in his he pumped it hard. “I’d never forget someone like you Olivia. You’re a hard one to forget. Besides, I remember when your parents brought you to your first mass, you cried the whole service.” He chuckled as he saw her frown of consternation.
“Well I’ll take your word for that Father.”
The priest gave her a long steady look and then smiled cheerfully. “Aye, I’m sure you will. Now what have you been up too my child. Are you here for confession?”
Olivia vehemently shook her head. “No. I’m afraid any confession I take will be with God when the time comes.”
“Ok, but confession is good for the soul.. So you’re here to pray then, well we can accommodate that no problem.” The old man pointed to the empty pews.
Olivia glanced at the empty seats and then at the woman still prostrate beside the statue. “Maybe another time.” The mission had been successful and she added two more notches to her belt. Including the bodyguard it was three but she didn’t consider the man important enough to add to the list of those she’d assassinated. She looked at the nun again and wondered how praying beside a nun would absolve her of her crimes?
The priest had heard all the stories about Olivia and then some. He suspected that the truth was inside many half truths and he preferred to think the better rather than the worse of the young woman. As he gazed into her face, he saw experience etched heavily into her face and the depths of her eyes. Experiences he suspected weren’t happy ones. If she needed a safe haven, this was the place–the house of god never turned anyone away no matter how far one had fallen from grace. Olivia probably had tumbled from a high mountain. “I was going to light some candles. Why don’t you light one for the family Olivia.”
Olivia looked at the bank of candles and sighed softly. “Sure.”
Moments later, she was standing staring at the four candles she’d lit. One for her Mom, Dad, Nicky and the fourth one for Parker–it was time to let it all go. Her family would be good memories from now on. The disappointment and anger at the woman she had once loved could join the past and become a memory too. She would remember all the good ones and not the bad for Parker deserved that.
Turning away, she saw the Father speaking quietly to the nun, whose face she couldn’t see. With a swift backwards glance at the candles flickering vigorously, she began to walk towards the exit.
“Olivia you will be back won’t you?”
Olivia turned to gaze at the priest who was standing at the foot of the alter. She moved closer until he was within a foot of her. “I’m not sure this is the right place for me anymore Father.”
“Nonsense. If you feel unsure then it’s the perfect place to be. God won’t judge you Olivia he’ll listen and if you allow it, he will heal your wounds and restore your faith.”
Olivia considered the words. They were hollow for she had no wish for redemption from God. Her acts were too barbaric to consider asking forgiveness. “You make it sound so easy. I’m beyond that Father. I guess you and yours,” her head inclined to the nun on her knees and praying, “Don’t have any problem with accepting that. All you have to do is ask God and it will be ok. Some of us in the real world don’t think it’s that easy.”
The priest gave Olivia a fatherly smile. “We each have our burdens to carry Olivia. Take the good sister there she has issues of faith. Can she be a good nun, will she disappoint God. Is she really in the right place at the right time? You’re not the only one who asks questions that God might not provide an instant answer for.”
Olivia shrugged her black leather clad shoulders and shook her head. “And if he doesn’t then where do we look for them?”
The priest laid a hand on her arm and smiled warmly pointing to the center of her chest. “Inside your heart Olivia…just as I’ve explained to the Sister, it’s all a question of listening to the heart and understanding that God resides in the inner recesses there where we love.”
Olivia glanced at the back of the nun and felt a tinge of sympathy for her. “I guess if I ever find that part of my heart again Father I’ll have that confessional. I have to go. I’ve completed what I was here for.”
Like a dog with a bone the priest continued. “I have a friend who needs some help if you have a mind to stick around. His name is Max Anderton, he’s a private detective… let me get his card.” The priest swiftly left her standing in the middle of the aisle.
Olivia didn’t want to get involved but it was easier to take the damn card then get out of town without offending the old man. At least she was attempting to be normal. Generally, she would have left as quietly as she’d arrived while not caring who got hurt in the process.
The priest gave her a beaming smile as he saw her still standing where he’d left her. “Here Olivia, who knows, this could be the sign you’re looking for.”
Frowning, Olivia glanced at the card and then at the priest. “Who said I was looking for a sign?”
The old priest chuckled. “We all are Olivia. We all are. You just have to know when it’s the time to accept it.”
He watched her leave before wandering back to the nun who turned and gave him a slight smile. He sighed nodding his head. “Now my dear Sister Amelia, shall we pray together.”
The roar of a motorcycle in the background was the only sound heard as they began to pray in earnest. If the priest had looked outside, he would have seen the she-devil herself leaving the church on her journey back to hell. It was the only path she knew how to follow.
The tall dark haired beauty placed her palms on the desk of the director and leaned in before her cold blue eyes pierced him. “I’ve paid my debt,” she growled. “I’m not going to be your assassin anymore.”
The gray-hair man with a craggy face lined by many years, closed his eyes briefly before he gritted his teeth and said, “Sit down I’m not finished with you.”
Something in the man’s almost black eyes told the woman it would be in her best interest to sit. “But, I’m finished with you,” she said as she retook her seat.
“Your choice as I see it Ms. Santos is to continue working for us or joining the ranks in a maximum security prison.” He let his eyes overtly evaluate her body before he said, “I’m sure you will be a favorite of many a butch there.”
Blue menacing eyes fixed on the man anger simmering dangerously in the orbs. “Ah, so that’s your game, why do you always use the prison card as a threat? It’s not going to work this time around. Let’s face it, I’m a trained assassin and have numerous means of survival. You think anyone inside can take advantage of me surely that would be the other way around.” She sneered as she watched his expression carefully. “Right now a lethal injection in jail is preferable to working here!”
“That can be arranged. Assassins are a dime a dozen these days.”
Feral eyes fixed on the man. “If that's the case then why are you so desperate to keep me here? Besides, now that you know how I feel do you think you can trust me not to really screw up the organization.”
Dark eyes became slits as the man set his jaw. “Try it and see how far you get. Remember we own you.”
Olivia bristled at the statement for no one owned her she’d worked that out all on her own. “I'll do exactly what is necessary to rid myself of you vultures. Do you want me to say, ‘opps sorry’ in advance before I go out the door?”
The man pressed his fingers against an earpiece and heard a whispered voice say, “You've pressed all her goddamn buttons, you need to reel her back in or we’ll lose her.” His eyes tracked to a dark recess in the room and gave an imperceptible nod. “Tell me what it will take to keep you.”
Olivia blew out a breath she’d been unconsciously holding and cautiously replied, “I know others have outside jobs and are called upon when needed. I think that would be a mutual compromise.”
The man closed his eyes and breathed heavily before he looked back at the woman. “If we agreed you understand you will be expected to drop everything when we call.”
With caution Olivia replied, “Sure, whatever it takes. I want something from you in return.”
“Reel her in gently we don’t want to spook her.” The man heard in his ear.
He gave a little shake of his head and captured the woman with his eyes. “You’re acting like I’m a used car salesman and you are trying to get a better deal. I assure you Ms. Santos what we are doing here is nothing like that.”
Olivia nodded and shrugged. “The way I see it you want my services and if you are to get them it will be on my terms.”
“Let her cool her jets a little before you concede…that way she’ll think she has the upper hand,” the voice whispered in his ear. The man played along with the ruse by rubbing a rough hand over his face and letting his eyes fall to his desk before he shook his head. “And what terms are they.”
“You let me test all the latest technology and weaponry as soon as it hits the organization. You don't want to have me killed by a stray bullet from a punk do you…or another assassin.”
Once again, he shook his head. “You do understand that if we agree your terms that we will need to know your whereabouts at all times.”
Olivia flicked a glance at her forearm. First thing she would do is get rid of the tracking device in her arm. “We both know you already have that ability.” Olivia searched the man’s face for any sign of deception. Satisfied, she added, “Is that all?"
The man clenched his jaw. “And it better stay that way. If we find you’ve altered it in any way you will pay.”
“Oh I'm aware of that. Now, I’m out of here to find work on the outside.”
The woman in the shadows smiled. She knew Olivia would take the device out of her arm–it was a given. What Olivia didn’t know was another device was under her scalp. She said, “Ask her where?” the insidious voice echoed in his ear.
“Exactly where do you propose on going? We will need to know if this arrangement is to work.”
“What the hell difference does it make to you?” Olivia didn’t want them to know what she was planning if indeed she had a plan. Finally deciding they’d conceded and maybe she’d do the same. Compromise was a two way street and she knew deep down she needed them as much as it stuck in her craw. “I’m going home.”
Pacing himself for the full effect he asked, “Do you mean Portsmouth? You know that some of the more intelligent fraction in the DA’s department not to mention the police still suspect you killed Reeves…even after that cock ‘n bull story they made up. You want that identity change or maybe cosmetic surgery.”
“I’ll take my chances. You know he was as guilty as hell…and I know you can make it right. I figure you owe me that much?” Olivia knew she was treading on thin ice but she needed to know exactly what lengths they’d go to, to keep her sweet.
“And what do we get in return Santos? We really don’t owe you anything…we saved you from a certain prison term and maybe even from death.”
Olivia considered one word in his reply–death. She quietly replied, “You think you saved me from death? Think again, I’m deader now than I would have been if they’d carried out a lethal injection. Death is my shadow. It will be for the rest of my miserable life.”
“Appeal to her ego to make the deal. She needs to know that she’s the best,” Parker told the man. The poignancy of Olivia’s words hit home hard. All she wanted to do was to take Olivia in her arms and say everything was going to be ok. “She may have gotten religion,” Parker whispered. “She went to a church…perhaps for confession.”
“There is no other operative I would do this for Santos…if you agree to the terms we will see to it that no one will ever suspect you of the murder. Just out of interest, why are you going back there? Atonement isn’t in our creed.”
“Assassins have a creed, wow they really brainwashed you Hurst. Although you did give me an idea though,” her hand went to the inside of her pocket recalling the conversation she’d had with the priest. Flipping the card on the desk in front of the man, she smiled cynically. “You wanted to know everything…that’s it. When my services are needed you’ll find me working with that guy.”
Parker said, “Gotcha,” and smiled before adding, “We’re done with her. The one thing Olivia does is keep her word.” Her mind flitted back the promises of undying love and forever and muttered, “At least to everyone else.”
The man turned his attention to a file on his desk then looked up at the woman. “You can go.”
+ + +
Once the door shut, a woman dressed completely in black emerged from the shadows at the edge of the room. “Great job Hurst, now I understand why they made you director,” she said as she moved to the window. “Of course she will only get the prototypes that we want her to have.” Her eyes traveled to the street below when she caught a glimpse of the Harley that held a lone rider.
“That’s a given,” the man said. “You know she’s going to alter that tracking device.”
When the motorcycle and rider were out of view, she turned and after she took several long strides, she stood in front of the man. “Of course she will. That’s why we gave her a backup.”
“She could prove to be loose cannon. I hope we made the right decision.” A smile that didn’t reach the woman’s cheeks was his answer. He tried to look away from her face but it was impossible. He felt his heart rate increase as the moments stretched into minutes.
“Olivia and I share the same demons. The difference is that I recognize them and she doesn’t. It is those demons that will keep her…” The smile on her face soured. “…faithful. She needs to excise them and her role as an assassin, is her outlet. We won’t need to rein her in…she’ll do it herself.” She picked up Olivia’s card from the desk and held it up. “I’ll take care of this,” she said before leaving the room.
Back in her own office, Parker fingered the card Olivia threw on the director’s desk. She picked up the phone and dialed the number on the card. When a man’s voice answered she said, “Mr. Anderton, this is Kristen Drake and I need your services.”
The man said, “Exactly what do you need?”
“I need to locate a person that I believe resides in Portsmouth.” Parker let a smile cross her face. “We have something in common…I’m a private eye too.”
“Why do you need my services?”
“It’s a long story…do you have the time?”
+ + +
Once the conversation was finished, Parker returned the handset and leaned back in her chair. Olivia had driven off satisfied she’d severed the stranglehold DOCO had on her. Some people never learn. There was no way she would allow her to break all contact. She whispered, “We will meet again Olivia…you can count on that.”
Keeping Olivia in the game would now be her only priority. To that end, she would do anything to make that happen. Eventually a case would come across her desk that would allow her to contact Olivia and renew their love. She knew fate would intervene and if it didn’t she’d make Olivia’s fate be a reunion of old souls in any way she could–even death. Until then, she would bide her time and keep out maneuvering Olivia with DOCO assignments.
If you like this story please let us know. It is through feedback that we improve. Thank you, Julie and Erin