Kelly Nixon and Samantha Beck settled into the red leather booth and sighed in unison, bringing smiles to both of their lips.
“How are you Kelly?” Samantha asked.
“**** tired; they never tell you how exhausting kids are,” Kelly said, pinching the bridge of her nose.
“The baby keeping you up all night?” Samantha smiled knowingly.
“A bit. Not as much as his sister did. It’s not the crying, hell I’ve slept in sand during a mortar attack. It’s the fear.”
“Ah yes, the fear. That’s something else they don’t tell you about… And thank God, too, because no one would ever have kids if they knew. Knowing that if anything happens to them your life is over… I find that Ambien helps,” Samantha said, tipping her rocks glass to Kelly with a grin. Kelly smiled back. “How does Greg do with it?”
“Greg is a rock, you know that, Sam. In all the years we’ve known each other have you ever seen him flustered? Except in that adorable nerdy way that is.”
“No, you’re right. How is little Jessica taking to big sisterhood?”
“She’s good. Still wants to be in the limelight but Greg and I tag team.”
“You two make a very good team, like I said from the start,” Samantha laughed.
“Yeah, yeah,” Kelly blushed.
“Seriously, you two pined after each other for a year, one year, before you finally made a move and I practically had to push you on him!” Samantha said, her voice rising with mirth.
“You did push me on top of him!” Kelly accused. “During a training exercise!”
“And he asked you out to dinner the next day so quit complaining!” Samantha said, taking another sip. “Now, now that the pleasantries are out of the way can we get down to business?”
Kelly shifted in her seat and nodded, listening intently.
“Due to my recent and much deserved promotion,”
“Congratulations again,” Kelly interrupted.
“Thank you,” Samantha smiled. “Anyway, due to my promotion, I now have black ops clearance.”
Samantha’s voice had dropped to below a whisper but Kelly could hear her perfectly.
“I have received instructions from my superior, the director, to create a small team, completely black funding, on no one’s radar. Simple recon and acquisition only. The occasional wet work assignment. Good old fashioned spying, with one caveat. The team has to be all female.”
Kelly’s aquamarine eyes widened.
“Samantha, I’m not field rated, I haven’t been since I found out I was pregnant with Jessica.”
“Darling, I know that. I don’t need a mother of two to be hanging from the ceiling sniping at terrorists. However, I do need a senior officer to handle the team on the ground.”
Kelly swallowed a gulp of mineral water, wishing it a gin and tonic.
“I need someone I can trust, Kelly. Who better than my first protégé in the Agency? And no, you don’t have to move, and yes, you will get a significant raise. I can’t have my godchildren going to second rate colleges, now can I?”
“Of course, any good team needs good legal council…” Kelly mused, running her finger around the rim of her glass.
“I’m dropping in on Greg tomorrow if you want me to. I’ve seen too many marriages fail because of the Agency’s secrecy, I won’t have it on my team. I have a short list of ten women agents around the globe. MI-5, MI-6, NSA, CIA, FBI, the whole damned alphabet.”
“Sam, people are going to notice if spies start dropping off the face of the planet,” Kelly said. “Not to mention how in the hell do you expect other agencies to give you their top agents?”
“Well for one, as a deputy director it makes sense for me to hire a staff, which is where you and Greg will fall in. As for the other team members most will be from different agencies so no one will put two and two together, hopefully. The basic story will be that they were offered a private sector job and took it for whatever reason. And Kelly, I’ve garnered a lot of favors in twenty years. I’m just collecting on a few. My first pick is barely an FBI agent, just out of Quantico. Not field rated yet, so they shouldn’t balk too much when I ask for her.”
“Why on Earth would you use a favor up on a rookie, Sam?” Kelly scoffed.
“Because she’s a **** genius, that’s why.”
“And the feds are going to just hand her over? Why?”
“Well for one, they haven’t figured out just how brilliant this girl is yet…”
“And two?” Kelly asked, a sense of dread washing over her.
“She’s a bit of a pyro.”