A secret agent living a secret life.
“Oh, shut up,” I snapped as I dug my heel a little further into the back of the guy’s neck. He squeaked in protest as his air passages constricted. But I made sure he could still breathe, at least a little bit, before I grabbed my phone from my handbag to see why it buzzed.
Where you at?
Last door down the hall.
“Jeezus Tess, you got ‘im all tied up ‘n everythin’ already! How do ya do that?” Gannon exclaimed a minute later as he walked into the garishly decorated bedroom.
“Try to keep up next time and you’ll see,” I teased.
“In here boys.” He yelled down the hall, then yanked the overweight and balding man from the floor by his paracord tied wrists, standing him on unsteady feet. “Don’t ya move a muscle mon, or I put ya back on the floor.”
The man looked over at me, eyes narrowed in hate and anger, then flicked back to the large Jamaican man who had a hold of him. He clearly wanted to say something, but just the effort of breathing had left him gasping.
“I think he was enjoying the cold floor tile up until my heel was in his throat.” I put my phone back in my purse and walked past Gannon and the weapons dealer we had just taken down, Frankie the Flirt he was called. Well, I had been the one to take him down and tie him up, but Gannon had been my partner in this mission and had been an invaluable help getting me in the house. Gannon was a beautiful man, just not my type. Women flocked to him, and he got invited to every party around.
“Oh, and by the way, maybe button up your fly, Frankie? No one here wants to see that.” Then I turned and walked out of the room, down the hall and out of the lavish summer house Frankie had bought with his arms money, hearing “good job, Tess” from several agents on the way.
My phone buzzed again as I climbed out of the black Jeep that had brought me to the café that was to be mine and Gannon’s rendezvous point. The agent who drove me here sped back off towards the crime scene.
Good job Agent Colt. Debrief will be back at home base. Have a safe flight.
Thank you, Colonel. I replied.
I knew my handler, Colonel Shelley King, hadn’t been on the island when we arrived. It looks like she stayed on base in the States. Odd not to have her nearby, but we had worked this one just fine without her. I had been with Colonel King in command the longest, several years now. It was all starting to be too comfortable, too familiar, and that meant it was probably about to change.
My name is Latesse Colt. For now. I've been known by several different aliases over the last eleven years. But this one has been with me since before I started with Colonel King. I've been waiting for that call to come down from the top to move my team and me elsewhere. It hasn't happened yet. Maybe it was about to. I’d find out tomorrow.
I am a special agent with the CIA. My current mission here in Jamaica was just finished up. It may seem odd to send a white girl to Jamaica on this kind of secret mission, as I didn't fit in with the locals. But the perv of an arms supplier we just took down had a thing for white chicks. My partner in this mission, Gannon Brooks, was a temporary partner since this was on his home turf. I’ll be sad to leave him behind, but mainly because of his genuine disinterest in me. And I’m comfortable with him because of that.
Uncomfortable was me playing ditzy dumb girl, aroused by a wealthy man with lots of jewelry and pools and cars. All I had wanted was his guns. The cold steel ones. His other “gun” would stay locked up with him in prison now. Thank goodness. I'm sure some girl somewhere would be unhappy about that. But they would just miss his money since he had tended to be quite loose with it. And that had made him easy for us to track down.
Having Gannon as a temporary partner had made a nice change for me. I hoped when I did get moved somewhere new, I would finally get a new permanent partner who wouldn't be a total pig. Okay, my current partner Isaiah isn’t totally a bad guy, he just doesn't get me. I'm not into him! But he keeps trying, and I keep ignoring most of his attempts. At the times he persists, I threaten his manhood, and that seems to push the message across. Such behavior just makes me look like a cold-blooded spy and assassin, which is a great cover on the outside. But it wears a girl down.
No, I don’t hate him too much. He is the best backup I have ever had, and I can see what his interest is in me. At five feet and nine inches I am usually intimidating to most men, but not to a top rated spy like Isaiah Turelli. I think it was the first thing about me he noticed, and he seems to stare even harder when I'm sporting four-inch heels. I'm not small by any means. I'm pushing one hundred seventy-five pounds, and most of it is hard toned muscle. I keep my nails and my jet black hair short, and I don't wear a lot of makeup. Unless the mission calls for it. Like today did. And I couldn't wait to scrub it off.
My specialty is hand to hand combat, but I prefer to take out the bad guys from a distance. Easy in, easy out. That's how I roll. But sometimes you have to play dirty and get in real close and personal. I am damned good at that, too. Not that I always like it, but it’s all a part of my job.
Gannon cleared his throat as he approached me from behind, announcing his arrival to the open air café. I came out of my thoughts to see beach blond Isaiah roll up in front of the cafe in a bright red Jeep, tropical-flowered shirt unbuttoned and smoking a cigar. I didn't even know he was on the island. Figures he would be my “exit plan”.
Sighing, I stood and grabbed my sunglasses and wallet.
“'Twas a pleasure working wit’ ya, Tess girl. Any more bad guys come across our radar I let ya know,” Gannon said in his thick accent. He patted me on the shoulder and walked out of the cafe, tossing a peace sign Isaiah's way. Why couldn't all men be more like Gannon and just be happy with a pat on the shoulder?
I exited the cafe after leaving a few bucks on the table for the cola I hadn’t even touched. Putting on my oversized sunglasses, I braced myself as I headed towards the Jeep. I was still in my ruby red cocktail dress from the mission, and I tuned out the whistles that came my way as I crossed the patio and sidewalk. I couldn't wait to put on some pants.
Sunglasses perched on the tip of his nose, Isaiah looked me up and down. “Oooh Tess, that's a good color on you. And good job taking down Frankie the Flirt. Though in that dress you'd have any guy on his knees.”
“Just shut up and get me out of here. I need to change.”
“Good thing I picked up your bags for you. We’re heading straight for the strip. You can change on the plane. Just let me know if you need help.” Isaiah winked at me as I strapped on my seat belt, then chuckled like it was funny.
“Ugh.” Was all I managed to say as we sped off down the street. It was going to be a long trip back to base.
Colonel Shelley King greeted us in the Debriefing Room when we made it back. The current location of our base right now was in Dallas. Texas wasn't a bad place to be everyone was just so nice. And so traditional. It made me totally uncomfortable.
“Good work down there, Agent Colt. You made that mission look easy as quickly and quietly as you carried it out.” Shelley spoke in her usual clipped tone as we walked into the well-lit room and took seats at the oval table in the middle. Colonel Shelley wasn't mean; it was just her manner. She had spent thirty-one years serving her country in the CIA. She had given everything for her career. No marriage, no kids, just work.
“Thank you, Colonel King. Gannon was a great partner, and the mission would not have been as easy were it not for his help,” I said.
Isaiah snorted at that. “How come you never praise me like that, Colt?” You know... I think he actually thought that would sting me somehow.
“Gannon is a complete professional, and treated me with courtesy and respect, and I never had to doubt whether his mind was on the mission or the leggy blonde sunning herself next to the pool,” I replied in a calm voice. I was proud of a mission well done and didn't want to ruin the moment.
I could tell by the lewd look on his face, he wanted to say something else. It was obviously not something he would say in front of the Colonel, though. I was almost thrilled when Shelley spoke again.
“Agent Turelli, you’re dismissed for now. I need to have a private word with Agent Colt.”
Staring at me while he got up from the chair he had just sat down in, Isaiah walked over to me and bent down to whisper in my ear. “It would have been you in that red dress I would be staring at, not some blonde bimbo who gives herself to whatever rich man throws a party.” He straightened up as I rolled my eyes at him, gave me a wink and walked out of the room. I'm sure he thought his comment was a compliment.
When I looked back up at Shelley, I saw she was eyeballing me pretty hard. I was now worried that I had done something wrong. Maybe I shouldn't be such a cold-hearted bitch? Whatever, if people already think it of me then I will just keep it as my calling card.
“Special Agent Colt,” Shelley addressed me formally as she moved around the room, typing commands into various computers. “Do you know what the central part of my role is here at Base?”
“Well, to oversee the mission operations and to ensure the timeliness of execution and completion of the missions. Not to mention keeping the Base Intelligence updated and filing all the reports back to Headquarters.” There was way more she did, I realized, but to detail all the minuscule things would take a while.
“The central part of my role here is to watch my Agents, as their handler. Make sure they are functioning at full potential. To understand what makes each of my agents unique and to utilize those specialties in their missions. I also keep an eye on my agent's personal lives to make sure that what happens on the outside does not interfere with what we do here on the inside.” Shelley shot me a meaningful look before she went on.
“But sometimes having a personal relationship on the outside can benefit an Agent by being an emotional stabilizer. Something that keeps an agent grounded. Now I have never known you to have anything like that, and I don't think for you that it's necessary quite yet. But all I am saying is, don't be afraid to reach out. Don't end up like me, close to retirement and no kids or grandkids to spend it with.” I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding while Shelley then powered down the screens and computers she had been working with.
“I know you've been waiting for your next transfer, Agent Colt. And getting out of Texas may be a good thing for you. You and Agent Turelli will be heading to Venice in the morning. There you will meet your new Missions Specialist, and another new member of your team; a communications and technology specialist. We are expanding this team because you two have proven yourselves ready for bigger missions. The two of you have come a long way since training with Agent Koslov.”
I hadn’t heard that name in years and wondered why she was bringing it up now. Special Agent Kat Koslov was a Russian immigrant who had been one of the most decorated and successful spies in the agency. And she had trained both Isaiah and myself. We had both taken her teachings to heart but in completely different ways.
Agent Koslov was carefree and rowdy, and willing to do absolutely anything it took to accomplish a mission. Isaiah had taken the carefree bit more seriously than I had. I’d been picked up by the agency at a young age, barely eighteen, and had worked my tail off to prove I was everything the CIA needed me to be. Between my stubbornness and Koslov’s training, I was a perfect agent. If a bit stiff at times.
I had boundaries I never crossed, though. Agent Koslov took ‘down and dirty’ to a whole new level. Intimacy was never an issue with her, and I think she truly enjoyed it all. But she had been one hundred percent successful in every mission. So was I, so far, but certain lines remained on my never to cross list.
“So, go now. Pack up. Plane leaves tomorrow afternoon,” The Colonel directed, snapping me out of my thoughts. She stood at the other side of the oval table now, leaning on her hands, waiting for my acknowledgement of her order.
“Thank you, Colonel King,” I said, standing. “You won’t be accompanying us?”
“No. I am moving you and your team over to a new supervisor, Colonel Lyon. He’s a retired army drill sergeant, and well, very direct in his manner. I’m sure you will have him sorted out in no time, though. As for me, I’ve only a few months left before I retire, and that will be sufficiently wrapped in paperwork to finalize cases. You are ready to move on and prove yourself to the international branches of the CIA, without me. Take care, Agent Colt.”
We saluted one another, and Shelley turned to leave the room.
How would it be without Shelley King as my handler? I had gotten pretty comfortable working with her. And Venice, Italy? I was kind of numb. Not prepared for everything she just laid on me. But I am confident that I am ready for a change. And maybe Italy would accept me both inside and out.