The story so far:
Pierce sat on a canvas beach chair, watching waves crash onto white sand. He decided that if he was going to be exiled that this was the way to do it. He raised his rum punch up to his mouth and drank deeply, the waves the only sound for miles. Until the outboard motor of a speedboat approached. Pierce looked up and to the south. A white speedboat with red detailing was tying off on the dock, right next to Pierce’s forty foot yacht. Pierce slipped his sandals back on his sandy feet and walked down the beach towards his visitor.
Ash waited for him on the dock. On his shoulder he carried a messenger bag and on his face he wore a focused scowl.
“Ahoy!” Pierce yelled, smiling.
“We need to talk, Pierce,” Ash yelled back. Pierce slowed his gait.
“Let’s go to the house,” Pierce finally said. The two men turned and walked up a rickety board walk to a massive house. It was all white stucco with a red Spanish tile roof. Pierce led the way through the all glass front door. Inside was a large sitting room with a full bar. To the left was a well stocked library and to the right there was a custom chef’s kitchen. Right off the sitting room was a covered porch that housed an antique billiards table. Pierce sat down on a soft cloth arm chair and placed his feet on the coffee table. Ash sat across from him on a matching sofa.
“You want a drink? A cigar maybe?” Pierce offered.
“Pour a drink for yourself and get me a beer,” Ash said. He still wore a scowl. Pierce stood uneasily and walked to the bar. He made himself another rum concoction and pulled a bottle of Newcastle out of the mini fridge. After popping off the top he walked back over to the sitting area and handed Ash the bottle before sipping his own drink.
“What’s going on?” Pierce asked. Ash drank deeply from the bottle and then studied the label, picking at it where it was loose.
“Your father asked me to look into your girlfriend,” Ash started. He set his messenger bag on the table and opened the main flap. Inside was a large file. He plucked it out and set it on top of the bag. Pierce leaned forward for it but Ash pulled it away and put it on his lap. “I haven’t talked to him, yet, Pierce. I wanted to give you the chance to deal with this on your own.”
“Deal with what?” Pierce asked. Ash opened the file.
“Trisha Waggoner was born on May 13, 1986 in San Jose, California. She has no criminal record, pristine credit and perfect rental history. She has a degree in journalism from Stamford, where she graduated with honors in 2008, and a second degree in photography from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. She’s never been married and has no children,” Ash said, setting a picture of copy of a driver’s license photo on the table. Pierce picked it up and studied it. It was the girl he knew.
“Okay, so what’s the problem?” Pierce asked.
“On a lark, I ran her picture through a face recognition program. I found this,” Ash said, flipping to another section in the file. He pulled out another picture and set it on the table. This one showed Kate as a brunette. “This is Adrienne Brown. Born in Toronto on October 14, 1983. She was arrested for breaking and entering in 2000 and served six months. Her credit is dismal and she’s been evicted twice. She has never been married and has no children.”
Pierce picked up the photo. It was identical to the first, save for the hair color. Blood began rushing to Pierce’s head.
“Then I found this. Melissa Walthrop, born in Plano, Texas on August 26th, 1986,” Ash tossed another photo down. This one was still brunette but the hair was brutally short and spiky. “And this, Rebecca Chandler, born in Stamford, Connecticut on July 30, 1984,” this photo was blonde again but it showed Kate in wire-rimmed glasses. “And, finally, this,” Ash tossed down a final photo. It showed Kate as a blonde with jaw length hair and a Marine uniform. “This is Katherine Mitchell, born April 20th, 1983 in Roseville, California. Moved to Washington DC when she was fifteen, and joined the Marine Corps when she was eighteen. After that she fell off the face of the planet. No records of any kind.”
Pierce took another gulp of his drink and set it down roughly on the table, splashing the surface. He picked up all five photographs and studied them each minutely. There was no question that it was the same woman.
“Why would someone have five identities, Ash?” Pierce asked, his voice shaking.
“That’s quite simple, boy-o. She’s either a con artist or she’s an operative. For your sake I hope it’s the former,” Ash said, taking a sip from his bottle. Pierce kept his eyes on the pictures.
“Have you told anyone about this?” Pierce asked.
“Sam knows,” Ash said.
“God damn it, Ash! Why?” Pierce yelled. Ash fixed Pierce with a cold glare.
“Because your close friends keep ending up dead, Pierce, and I’d rather not. He has copies of everything and if I don’t check in later today then he’s taking them to your father. Now, what do you want me to do?”
Pierce stared at Ash. They had been friends since primary school; along with David, Sam and Daniel. Ash had always been the smartest of the five.
“Track her down. Find out who she really is and whether or not she’s a threat,” Pierce said.
“And how do you suppose I do that?” Ash asked. “There’s five women here, how am I to know which one she actually is?”
“Well, she’s obviously not Trisha Waggoner. Why would a photojournalist have four other identities?”
“Granted,” Ash said, taking the pictures back. He tossed the one of Trisha off to the side. “That leaves four.”
“She’s a natural blonde,” Pierce said. Ash opened his mouth to ask a question but then thought better of it. Instead, tossed the two brunettes to the side as well.
“That leaves Rebecca and Katherine,” Ash said. “I can work with this. It’s too bad we don’t have a contact at Heathrow anymore, it would be too easy to upload this photo and compare it to the security tapes…”
“Yes, quite,” Pierce said, staring at Ash. “Luckily, I trust in your abilities, Ash.”
“Oh goody for me,” Ash retorted, tipping his bottle. “You know she’s a spy, Pierce.”
“We don’t know that, she may just be a criminal,” Pierce said.
“Come on, Connolly,” Ash laughed. “The night you met her, your intelligence on Heathrow goes missing, scrapping an operation that took months to plan. The next time you see her Scotland Yard shows up and ends up rescuing your hostage without even realizing it. She has five perfect identities, and even though she left your house in handcuffs Scotland Yard has no record of her arrest. She’s a **** spy!”
Pierce slammed his drink on the table and stared at Ash. Ash stared right back until Pierce blinked. Pierce lowered his head in his hands.
“****,” he mumbled.
“Indeed,” Ash replied, taking another drink. “You, my dear friend, are losing your ****. In the past month you’ve killed two of our oldest friends and allowed a spy into your bed.”
“Technically you killed Daniel, Ash,” Pierce said. Ash gritted his teeth.
“Technically I shot him, along with Sam. The bullets killed him, though I’m sure the hours of beating didn’t help matters. That’s beside the point, Pierce,” Ash said. “Daniel betrayed us and he deserved to die.”
“Yes he did,” Pierce said.
“Dave didn’t,” Ash said. Pierce looked up at him. “You killed him because his intelligence failed but it didn’t fail, did it? It was stolen by this blonde slag you just had to ****.”
“Don’t call her a slag,” Pierce said.
“She lured you into bed, stole your intelligence and got our friend killed because of it. What the **** else should I call her, Pierce? I can’t call her by her name because we don’t know what her real name is!”
“Then **** find out!” Pierce yelled. “Do whatever it takes; just find out who she is and where she lives. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“You’re not allowed to leave the island, remember?” Ash snorted. “Daddy’s orders.”
“Leave my father out of this,” Pierce said. “This is my problem.”
“No, Pierce, it’s our problem. And be glad it is because if I wasn’t tied to this I would disappear and you never would have seen this or any other information I get on this girl.”
“Fair enough. Find out everything, then report back to me,” Pierce said.
“Yes sir,” Ash said with an eye roll. He slid the file back in his bag and slung it over his shoulder. “I’ll get to it then. I’ll call you when I find something out.”
“Right,” Pierce said, standing. Ash followed his lead and walked to the front door.
“Just curious, if we find out that this girl is in fact a spy what do you plan to do?” Ash asked.
“What we always do when we find a traitor,” Pierce answered.
“And the fact that you’re attracted to her won’t have any bearing at all?” Ash asked. “I’m just asking, Pierce, this one won’t be easy.”
“I’ll take care of my business, Ash. Just find out what I need to know,” Pierce said.
“I always do, don’t I?” Ash said before turning to walk down the boardwalk.