John and ‘Andrea’ stood in line at the Cancun airport. He’d booked tickets for the flight to China on the way from his phone. Now they waited to board the plane for the fifteen hour plane ride west. Neither spoke to the other. Both were too busy with their own thoughts.
John liked the girl beside him. He had really enjoyed their conversations earlier. He’d hoped this would be someone he could get to know better. But she’d lied to him. He cared for her but didn’t even know if Andrea Litz was her real name.
Of course, he couldn’t exactly blame her. As a journalist he’d had to do the same thing at times. In many ways she was in the same business he was—information gathering. He didn’t know what agency she worked with but he knew she was right.
This was why Oscar had agreed to his plan. He’d hoped John would get killed in Mexico. This was why he’d been assigned the ‘intern.’ John remembered what his pastor used to say. There were people who wanted you dead but didn’t want to kill you themselves. Well, he knew one.
What could possess the man to do this? Of course he knew the answer. Susan Burgher.
Oscar was a lecherous scumbag. To listen to him you’d think the guy was the world’s biggest feminist. Women were oppressed, men kept them down. He was going to help them shatter the glass ceiling and get in the Old Boy’s Network. What was never mentioned was the price they paid for the ride up the ladder.
Oscar always had his eye on the latest female to enter the office. He made certain they owed him, then he’d show up to collect. There were a few who hadn’t paid up and they got tossed off — and under— the train. Most were willing to show their gratitude and he made sure they were taken care of.
Susan was his latest favorite. There were rumors she had been seen in Columbia house hunting and getting a feel for the area. If Oscar could install her in the South Carolina office the woman would only be two hours away. Yeah, Oscar wanted Susan to get the job.
Next to him Kathy Bennett was not quite as lost in her own thoughts. She was keeping an eye on their back. Just because they’d made it this far meant nothing. She’d learned never to take safety for granted.
But she was distracted. John’s words had cut her deep. She knew he was right. And it was her fault.
Kathy was the one who had played along at his parent’s house. She was the one who had chatted him up on the way across the mountain. Then she’d done it again on the way to Knoxville. She had used him and now they were farther apart than ever.
Perhaps the most annoying part was that she’d do it all over again. This was her job, it was how she helped make certain America was safe. When she’d joined the Central Intelligence Agency Kathy had taken an oath that she intended to uphold.
Mexico was a dangerous place. It was the source of most of the narcotics flowing into the United States. These drug gangs had already established networks inside America. They were a threat to the safety of her country.
They were also a threat to the safety of their own people. She knew the price the Mexican people had paid so far. These two factors alone were enough to warrant what she had done.
But she didn’t know if her contact was related to any of those. There were other players south of the Rio Grande. Terrorists could easily use the porous border to enter the States. And there were foreign powers active here The Company might be keeping tabs on.
Whoever the contact was it had been important to bring someone in from the outside to rendezvous with them. Important enough to call in a favor from Media Content. The Company wanted to make certain no one currently in contact — or even familiar— with the asset made the pickup. Even for the Company that was unusual.
Kathy let a piece of paper fall backwards and blow away. When she turned to pick it up she scanned the area behind them. She had the feeling someone was following them. Even though she saw nothing suspicious the agent was seriously concerned. As she tucked the paper in her camera bag she started planning for the worst.
Suddenly a ticket agent and two men in black suits approached the pair. “Are you John Parker and Andrea Litz?” The attractive Latin woman asked.
John glanced at his intern looking for any clue she could provide. Her face was as curious as his. He turned back to the trio. “Yes. Is there a problem?”
One of the men stepped forward. “Please come with us.”
John didn’t move. “Can I see some ID?”
Kathy was impressed. He was still really upset with her, yet he was seeking to protect her. His glance to her had sought her opinion on what to do. It was an acknowledgement she knew more about these things than he did and that she had more at stake here. Despite his disappointment and frustration he was still treating her as a friend. She was impressed and a little intrigued, too.
The men produced airport security identification. John examined them and glanced at ‘Andrea’ again. She was satisfied with the badges. As the ticket agent returned to her desk the two men led the way through a far door. The fact they both led the way and neither brought up the rear was reassuring to Kathy. It showed they didn’t have any reason to doubt the two passengers would follow them.
Past the door was a service corridor. They were led down it and through another one to the boarding area. As they were escorted onto the 747 they could see the other passengers still waiting to board.
On the plane the Captain was waiting. He greeted them and led them to the first class lounge on the second floor where flight attendants directed them to their seats. Ten minutes later the other passengers began boarding.