The three were silent as they drove back toward Cancun . Their thoughts were filled with what they had just seen and the implications of it. What did it mean? Dr. Cruz had mentioned there were other anomalous excavations found deep under Mayan territory.
Suddenly John remembered what ‘Andrea’ had told him earlier. “Oh, doctor, if you could drop us off at the Hotel Coronado, we’ve made arrangements there for the night.”
Ten minutes later the two were watching the archaeologist’s car vanish into the night. Once it was gone she led the way along the rows of parked cars. Her car remote elicited a bleep-bleep from a few rows over. The tan Ford was waiting with the keys under the driver’s sun visor.
Following her lead, John put his bag in the trunk then the two got in the front. Kathy drove across Cancun into the rough part of town. The streets that they drove through were mostly deserted this time of morning. Occasionally they passed a group of young men who just stared at them as they went by. John had spent just enough time in this part of the world to realize where they were.
Soon she turned into an alley and parked halfway down it.  ‘Andrea’ pulled out two notepads, one red and one blue and laid them on the dashboard. Then they waited.
In an alley across the street lights came on. A Chevy S-10 pickup crossed the street and pulled through the alley. It squeezed past them then stopped about two cars lengths back. ‘Andrea’ got out and walked back to it. After a moment she walked back to the car as the truck pulled out of the alley and vanished into the night. After five minutes later she started the car and pulled out of the alley.
As they drove toward the airport John thought about the part of town they were in and the poverty in the tropics. Suddenly a thought hit him hard. He turned to the woman behind the wheel.
“You were doing a pickup.”
“What?”
“You were doing a pickup with a contact. You’re a agent for the DEA or something.”
There was a long silence. Finally ‘Andrea’ spoke. “Or something.”
John crossed his arms. “We could have been killed.”
“Comes with the job.”
“Yeah, but not my job. Pull over.”
She kept driving. “What?”
“I said pull over before I pull you over.”
“Why?”
“You’ve made me a moving target. I want out.”
“In this part of town you’d be dead in a block. Or worse.”
He was silent. She was right. But he still didn’t appreciate the situation he was in. “Alright, but at the airport you go away. I don’t want to see you anymore.”
Now Kathy was concerned. This was not going according to plan. Why hadn‘t she thought of this? “Why? Because I’m putting you in danger?”
“Yes, and the fact you lied to me. And my family.”
Kathy was quiet a moment. He was right. She had lied. Of course there really wasn’t any other way to do what she had to. Drat! She should’ve refused to go in the house, shouldn’t have gotten to know his family. But whatever had happened in the past he couldn’t leave her here. “Look, you’re right… but I’m not the one you should be upset with. And you can’t leave me here.”
“Really?  Why can’t I leave you here and who should I be upset with.”
She swallowed. “I work in the United States secret services.”
“You protect the President and stop counterfeiters?”
“No, the secret services. I work in another branch.”
“Okayyy? And your point is?”
“We give favors to the media all the time. Things get leaked, special access gets given. Well, occasionally we call those favors in. Media Content had some favors from my group and we called them in.”
“So you could get laundered in Mexico.”
“Yeah.” She glanced over at him. “And you’re right, I am putting you danger. Hopefully not much, but some. But somebody in your office hates your guts. That’s why they had me tag along with you.”
John’s silence told Kathy she was right. Internally she gave a sigh of relief. Somebody did hate him. It was dangerous to tag along with her. Mexico had been the graveyard for many American secret agents. Finally he spoke. She thought his voice was a little less annoyed and resentful.
“So why can’t I leave you in Mexico? Call the Men In Black or whoever you work for and get laundered out.”
“Well, that’s the thing. Officially I’m not here. My contact was so important we can’t risk any chance of a leak. So without you I’m dead meat.”
Now John gave an internal sigh. Over the years he’d been approached many times by intelligence services. Reporters had special access and agencies coveted that. He’d always refused to play spy. As a journalist he had a duty to remain neutral. Besides, spying was a great way to get killed, kidnapped or worse.
Still, the girl had a point. If he abandoned her she was dead meat. His credentials meant hers weren’t given a second glance. Alone they might not pass muster. Besides, if he abandoned her the government would come gunning for him.
“You lied. You lied to me and my family.”
The uncomfortable pause told him he’d scored a direct hit. Finally she nodded. “You’re right, I did and I’m sorry. My job means I have to lie to everyone, those I care about included. Its not fun and I don’t like. I am sorry.” After a minute she went on. “But I meant when I said you have a great family. And they’re lucky to have you.”
Another uncomfortable moment passed as they turned toward the airport. Finally he spoke. “Alright, you can come along. But no more spy games. We part ways as soon as its safe for you to. And I call the shots. Its my story we’re here for, after all.”
“Agreed.” Then Kathy realized what he’d said. “Wait a minute, we’re not going back to the States?”
“Nope.”
“Where are we going?”
“China.”

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