LOVE’S FINAL SPRING
Kathy Bennett sat in the small break room reading the Charlotte Observer. She wore a blue Henley shirt under a khaki vest with lots of pockets on the front. Her blue jeans were worn over her boots and she had minimal makeup on. A single carry on bag sat on the table with a floppy brimmed “boonie” hat laying on it. She looked like a photographer, which was the role she was playing today.
She wished she could go to Montreal with Greg, but was thankful for the excuse not to. She’d been raised in a military home with military discipline. Greg’s father was a sociology teacher and their standards were looser than her father’s.
Greg could be a very demanding fiancée but Kathy enjoyed the attention. His interest in her body could be overwhelming, but on the upside they’d probably have a large family. Her other dates had always taken place in the living room with her parents. Greg was her first relationship out on her own.
Of course her work was another issue entirely. Greg didn’t like the travel and long hours. Kathy had a sneaking suspicion he’d like to put her in a tower and spend all day … with her. Someday this might be constricting but right now Kathy enjoyed the undivided attention. He was pushy, but always backed off when she said no.
The Company was being cooperative with her and had promised her a desk job once she got married. Five years of field work had given her real world experience they needed at Langley. And identities can only be kept secret for so long. Sacrifices were sometimes necessary but there was no reason to volunteer for a sacrifice.
Her iPhone buzzed and she answered it.
It was Chuck, another Company employee with the Technical Division. They had worked together before ago and got along well. They ran into each other and occasionally they’d have lunch together. They took turns paying for it.
“Hey Chuck, what’s up?”
“Kate, I was in Montreal on … business when I spotted your fiancée.”
The concern in the back of Kathy’s mind grew. Why would another employee be calling about Greg? She could think of no good reason. Company employees took care of each other. If something had happened to Chuck’s wife she’d let him know. Or…
“Chuck, what’s wrong?”
There was a pause. “Kate, I’m sending you some pictures I took. I’m sorry but its better now than later. I’m so sorry.”
Then the line went dead.
Kathy waited, almost forgetting to breathe. The phone buzzed again. The twenty seven year old brought up the photos and now she didn’t breathe. Finally a ragged gasp filled her lungs.
She recognized Greg’s hotel, the best one in Montreal. She recognized Greg. Her fiancée was looking incredible, like always. And she recognized the well-endowed blonde in the restaurant with him. And in the hallway with him. And in the room with him.
Three years ago a job had gotten out of hand in Indonesia and she ended up with a Kalashnikov slug in her left thigh. The lives of two informants and their families had depended on her ability to keep going in spite of the pain. It was that same training that prevented angry, hot tears from rolling down her cheeks. She was numb now, an automaton.
She dialed a familiar number and waited. After much too long a familiar voice answered. Greg had just woke up.
“Hi, Sweetheart. What’s up?”
Company training held her steady and Kathy didn’t miss a beat. “I want to know why.”
Five years of field experience let her catch that inaudible change in his voice.
Thank God no one was in the room with her.
“I understand Jenny. I mean, she’s been drooling over you even before we dated. But it wasn’t her idea, was it Greg?”
There was a pause.
“What are you talking about? Did something happen to your best friend? Is she okay?”
Kathy resisted the urge to send one of the photos to Greg. That could compromise Chuck and whatever was going on up there. Plus send her to prison.
“I know Jenny is next to you right now. But you’re the one wearing the ring. This is on you. I hope you enjoy your ‘quality time’ with her.”
“Wait a minute, what are you talking about?”
“Greg, its over. The wedding is off. But ‘sweetheart’ I’ll hang on to the ring. I’ll consider it a ten grand consolation prize.”
Then she hung up.
Kathy Bennett hated men. All they wanted was a woman’s body. She blamed Jenny, but it was Greg who wore the ring. And she was sure he had made the first move. Ironically she felt grateful to Jenny. Her best friend had saved Kathy a painful marriage and a messy divorce. No, this was squarely Greg’s fault.
She resisted the urge to bawl her eyes out. She was on the job. Suddenly the door opened and a tall guy with a shaved head and thick moustache came in. He wore jeans and a black pocket t-shirt under a red flannel shirt. He looked directly at her.
Great. Her escort into Mexico was a guy. Wow, today was his unlucky day. Wordlessly she stood and put away her phone. “Yeah, that’s me.” Her face was neutral.
He held out his hand. “John Parker.”
She ignored it and picked up her bags. “Are you ready to go?”
He paused for a moment, considering. “Yeah, lets roll.”