The story so far:
Meanwhile, Fran found herself summoned to a part of MI6 headquarters she had never been to before: Simeon Quinn’s office. She entered the spacious office and gasped, the far wall was solid glass, looking over the River Thames. Simeon stood facing it with both hands on his hips.
“You asked to see me, Sir?” Fran asked.
“I’ve heard that my granddaughter is not who she says she is,” Simeon said in a cool voice. He was tall, broad-shouldered and bald with short grey hair around the sides of his scalp. Even with his back turned to her Fran could feel his presence radiating.
“How do you mean, sir?” Fran stalled.
“I mean that my granddaughter is not in the profession she claims to be in, making her a liar. Now why do you think that is?” Simeon asked.
“You would have to ask her, Sir,” Fran said. Simeon finally turned and fixed Fran with a cold stare. Fran gasped again; Simeon’s eyes were the exact shade of sienna as Iris’, though vastly more intimidating.
“I asked you, Frances,” he said. There was no change in tone or inflection but Fran felt the weight of an order behind his words.
“Because she believes it’s the right thing to do; to serve her country the same way her father and grandfather did before her. She was born to do this, sir. She’s quite good,” Fran said.
“Care for a drink?” Simeon asked abruptly. Fran nodded, shocked. Simeon walked over to his glass sidebar and poured himself two fingers of whiskey before glancing up at Fran.
“The same, if you please,” Fran replied. Simeon gave a quick nod of satisfaction while pouring her drink.
“Do you have any grandchildren, Fran?” Simeon asked.
“Yes sir, a grandson. He’s three,” Fran replied.
“Do you worry about him?”
“Not as much as I did with his father,” Fran said, taking a sip.
“I envy your relationship,” Simeon smiled. He walked over to his seating area and settled into a leather arm chair, motioning for Fran to do the same. “Not many people know this but I raised Iris on my own for a time. She lived with her mother until she was six and then came to live with Bram. Bram being exactly like me, much to both of our chagrin, he was constantly out in the field, so Iris lived with me. I’m not at all surprised that Iris is in our line of work; it’s what she was bred to do after all. What surprises me is how she went about it. She knows the way up the ladder is in the public eye and yet she still decided to go black ops… You were her supervisor, right?”
Fran took another drink and swallowed.
“Yes sir. And yes, I presented the offer to her about the team. But I wasn’t the one who requested her, that was Kelly Nixon with CIA.”
“Whose sister is the team leader as I understand it,” Simeon said. Fran nodded. “Don’t you think that’s a bit unfair? A bit of nepotism, perhaps?”
“No sir, Kate Mitchell is the best suited person for team leader. She has the most experience in the field,” Fran said.
“I see, how many operations has Ms. Mitchell performed in the UK?”
“None that I know of, she was mostly stationed in South America and the Middle East.”
“Does she have any viable contacts in country?” Simeon asked.
“Not that I know of, but I haven’t asked,” Fran said.
“Has she even been to the UK before now?”
“She’s been to London many times, sir. I really don’t know her travel history outside of that,” Fran said, getting confused.
“Let me make sure I have this clear; Kate has no knowledge of British intelligence on the ground and she’s running operations in my country. Iris has a vast, neigh encyclopedic knowledge of the UK and she’s sitting on the sidelines. You’re telling me that there’s no nepotism?”
“The only way there would be nepotism, sir, is if you demote the team leader in favor of your granddaughter,” Fran said. To her surprise, Simeon tossed his head back and laughed and then raised his drink to her.
“Well said! That would be rather unfair to Ms. Mitchell, especially if she is the crack agent you say she is…”
“She is, by far, sir,” Fran said.
“So let us compromise; Kate can have North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Iris is team leader in the UK,” Simeon said.
“And if I decline…?” Fran asked.
“If you decline then the whole British intelligence network will shut you out. No satellites, no intel, no safe houses.”
Fran finished her drink and stood.
“I need to talk with my team, sir,” Fran said.
“But of course, call my receptionist by the end of the day with your answer,” Simeon said, standing. “And give my best to my granddaughter.”