“This is Cessna Charlie Apple Seven Six Two calling Nantucket tower. Mayday! Mayday! The instruments do not respond. Cannot stabilize the plane. Over.” Only static was Steve’s response. “Anybody hear me out there? This is an emergency. Need assistance. Over.” Again, no answer. Steve dropped the radio and grabbed the controls as a last-ditch effort to prevent the small Cessna from crashing into the ocean but his efforts came to a naught. Seconds before he hit the water, he cried out: “Cassie!”
At that moment I jolted out of sleep, panting and drenched in sweat. I sat in bed in a complete panic, trying to regulate my breathing. Tears gushed to my eyes at the thought of Steve trapped inside his plane, unable to eject before hitting the water with a crashing force. I ran a hand against my face to wipe the beads of perspiration and eased my head back onto my pillow. I turned to my side and hugged my other pillow. “Steve, I miss you so much,” I sniffed, unable to hold back the tears that flew freely down my cheeks to wet my pillow. As I closed my eyes, images of my nightmare began taunting me, making me nauseous. I hauled myself out of bed and shuffled down to the kitchen to fix myself a glass of hot milk. Three months had flown by since the tragedy and I knew I had to get my life back on track but as hard as I tried to put it behind me, it would sneak back into my dreams and set the memory ablaze.
In mid morning, Richard stopped by the apartment on his way to the OSI to bring me freshly baked muffins from the delicatessen down the street. I hated for him to see me all dishevelled with bag under my eyes, as my wretched appearance would raise suspicion about possible recurring nightmares, which I was not in the mood to discuss. I plastered a coat of makeup on my face but couldn’t achieve the desired result. My haggard expression was a dead giveaway.
I gasped at the knock on the door. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror pondering whether or not I should go answer. The second knock prompted me to make a quick decision and I finally yielded in favour of getting this over with.
“Richard, come on in.” I bade him enter then closed the door behind him. No sooner had I turned around that he was kissing me. When I didn’t return his kiss with the same passion he pulled back and stared at me quizzically. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s nothing. Just had a rough night,” I explained through a yawn.
“Those nightmares again?” he asked with a tinge of annoyance in his voice that pricked me.
“Yeah. Only this time he cried out my name just before he….” my voice trailed off as the memory of the vivid nightmare came flooding back. I closed my eyes to suppress the emotion gushing to my throat. Richard stepped over to me from behind and enlaced me in his arms. Something about his warmth repulsed me, which never happened before. I always welcomed those comforting strong arms around me, but somehow they felt different.
“I think you ought to take Rudy up on his suggestion to go consult with Dr. Harrias.”
“No!” I snapped, wrenching myself free from his clench. For a brief second I found myself resenting the man that had become my trusted confidant. It wasn’t long before repentance set in and I lowered my head in shame of my reaction. “I’m sorry, Richard. I know you mean well but I just can’t see myself in a psychologist’s office pouring my heart out on a subject that I take to heart. Don’t ask me to do it, I can’t.”
“I might help you get rid of those nightmares. They are killing you. Look at you! You’re a mess! And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen you like this since Steve’s death.”
“I will put this behind me eventually. It just takes time. Steve and I were…”
“Yes?” Richard quickly interrupted, curious as to how huge a part of my heart Steve Austin had a hold of.
“Steve and I were the best of friends. It’s hard to think of him dead.”
“Life goes on, Cassie.”
“You insensitive bastard!” I lashed out at him, miffed by his heartless comment. “Get out of here!” Get out!” I shouted angrily. I was numbed with grief and obviously not grasping at the impact of my action.
With a conceding sigh Richard looked downcast and turned to cross to the door without uttering a single word. He twitched the doorknob and stepped out of the apartment without so much of a glance back at me. No sooner had he set foot out the door that I dissolved into tears. I grabbed my head in despair and stared heavenwards. “What’s happening to me?”
Richard drove to the OSI to meet with Oscar. He entered the office to find the boss sipping his morning coffee while browsing through an agent’s report on shady activities occurring in an underground nuclear facility located in Bruxel.
“Come on in, Agent Hayden,” Oscar greeted with a wave of the hand. He closed the folder and removed his glasses.
“Oscar you got a minute to spare? I’d like to discuss something with you.”
“Certainly.” He glanced down at his wristwatch. “I have a few minutes before I meet with Agent Harris. Something on your mind?”
“Yes and it’s been nagging me for quite some time.”
“It’s about Cassandra?”
“Anything wrong?” Oscar queried with a worried frown.
Richard let out a heavy sigh and sank into a chair. “Kinda. I wasn’t working at the OSI when Cassie and Steve first met so I wouldn’t know how they got to be such good friends. But you know them pretty well. Wasn’t there a romance between the two at some point?”
Oscar chuckled at the question. “That is a clearance nine classified information around here.” He crossed to the front of his desk to stand before the perplexed agent.
“Meaning no one knows. They both swear up and down that they were never romantically involved.”
“But you don’t believe it.”
“I have my doubts but I’m not pushing the issue.”
“It’s just that…well…she’s a wreck. She has trouble sleeping because of recurring nightmares about Steve’s accident. She won’t eat properly; she barely sets foot outside. Her face is drawn. She’s irritable, moody. One minute she cries and the next she yells at me. This morning she threw me out of her apartment after calling me an insensitive bastard.”
“What did you do?”
“I told her to get her life together. Three months is a long time to mourn the lost of a friend. I’ve had pals dying but I never grieved that long,” Richard said with an edge of annoyance.
“You have to understand that Cassie and Steve are not your typical best of friends. They are more like brother and sister. You haven’t known Steve Austin as long as we have. He can grow on you something fierce. Losing him scarred her for life.” Oscar paused briefly to swallow the emotional lump growing down his throat. “I also have a hard time believing he’s dead.”
“Then I guess Cassandra’s right: I am an insensitive bastard.”
“Don’t think that. She was just upset. That’s nothing compared to what she often hurls at me. Give her some more time. She’ll come around.”
“I hope you’re right.” He stood from his chair at the sound of the buzz.
“Cassandra Miller is here to see you,” came the muffled voice over the intercom, prompting Oscar and Richard to exchange puzzled glances.
“Send her in.”
With a brisk pace I entered the office and briefly acknowledged Richard’s presence with a loving smile as I marched up to Oscar’s desk to state my request. “Oscar I want to get back on assignment.”
The boss was momentarily stunned by my request. He flashed me a scrutinizing stare with an eyebrow raised in a question mark. “Are you sure?”
I swallowed the lump caught in my throat before croaking out, “Yes, I’m sure. I need to get back on the field.”
“Seeing how you were indisposed I was going to send Emma Winslow, but I much rather have you on this particular assignment.”
“I’m your man.”
“Okay, meet me back here at one for the briefing.” Oscar stood from his chair, grabbed his jacket on the coat rack and crossed to the door. “I have a lunch date with Agent Harris. He’s to pass me along some crucial information for the success of your mission. I’ll see you then.”
I gave an acknowledging nod of the head and waited for Oscar to exit the office before turning to Richard with apologetic eyes. “I’m sorry for what I said to you, Richard. That was uncalled for.”
Richard’s lips curled up in a teasing grin as he edged up to me to enlace me in his arms. “Don’t worry about it, Cass. Oscar explained everything to me.”
Startled by the word, ‘explanation’ I quickly pulled back and shot him a quizzical look. “He did? What exactly did he say?”
“He said that you and Steve were like brother and sister, hence the reason why it’s taking you a while to get over his death.” He drew me back into his embrace and buried his nose in my hair. “I’m the one who should be sorry for making light of your grief. I wasn’t aware the extent of your friendship with Steve. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, Richard. I fact I thank you for snapping me out of my torpor. I needed to shape up. I can’t grieve forever. It’s not healthy. Steve is in a better place now,” I ended with a light quiver about my voice and a tear stinging my eyes. I flashed a faint smile behind which I tried to hide my true emotion, but my eyes would not belie them.
Following an intimate dinner with my charming romantic partner, I drove back to the OSI to meet with Oscar. Being a few minutes early Callahan was kind to let me into his office where I sat on the sofa waiting for the boss’s return. Alone in the room with the occasional honking of cars wafting from down the street below I stared into nothingness. Plunged into a world of despair that I had forbidden myself to visit again my mind roved back to the day I learned of Steve’s death. The raw memories sent my heart began throbbing at my throat, my stomach twisting in knots and my eyes stinging with tears. I was trapped in the abysmal world of grief, so deeply that Oscar’s entrance didn’t disturb my trance.
“Cassandra, punctual as usual,” Oscar remarked upon entering the office with a folder in his hand. Not getting a reply he stopped, tossed the folder on his desk and stared worriedly at me. “Cassandra, are you okay?”
“What? Oh yeah. I’m okay. I was just daydreaming.”
“There’s still time to change your mind if you’d rather…”
“No,” I interrupted with wave of the hand. I stood and briskly stepped up to him with an unwavering stance. “I’m ready for this, Oscar.”
“Okay. Let’s begin.” He sat in his leather chair and put on his reading glasses. He flipped open the folder and began thumbing through its content. “Agent Harris was successful in stealing this confidential information from the covert nuclear plant based in Bruxel.”
“That’s right? How’s your French?”
“Un peu rouillé mais je peux me débrouiller (A bit rusty but I can manage),” I answered with a strong accent. “I take it that nuclear facility hasn’t been approved by their government.”
“Oh, it has. And they pass inspection every month.”
“But not all that glitters is gold. Agent Harris was our undercover mole who infiltrated the organization. He was successful at getting hired as a computer technician. During his three-month stay he was able to retrieve top-secret data from their mainframe with them being none the wiser. When he sensed that he was beginning to arouse suspicion, he quit. What he found is mindboggling.” He handed me the file and pointed to a particular document.
“Cybernetics?” I exclaimed in shock.
“That’s right. Apparently they are working at perfecting Rudy Wells’s theories on bionics.”
“Does their government know about this?”
“No and we can’t breathe a word to them until we have sufficient tangible proof of our findings. That’s where you come in. We have a second mole inside the organization, one that is more an observer than a doer, hence the reason why he can go as he pleases without drawing attention on himself. He will be your contact there. You will proceed with extreme caution when you meet for exchange of information. These people have eyes and ears everywhere. One false move and you get the axe, literally.”
“I see,” I sighed heavily, uncertain of my skills to perform the job satisfactorily.
“Still up to this?”
“Absolutely,” I replied unconvincingly.
“I wouldn’t want you to jeopardize this mission and ultimately, your life.”
“I’m perfectly capable of casting my personal feelings aside for the sake of a mission, Oscar.”
“Okay. If you say so.”
“I say so,” I answered resolutely.
“Agent Harris told me they are working relentlessly at creating a prototype that will pave the way for an army worth of cyborgs. We have reason to believe these human robots will not serve their government purposes like Steve or Barney, but rather help them control the world. That’s why we must dismantle their operation before it’s too late. Paul Hannigan is your contact. He managed to convince the head honcho to try you out as a computer engineer. You’re scheduled for a brief interview with him on Thursday morning. We padded your resumé and provided them with fake phone numbers so that when they called to check your background they’ll ring our men instead. As I said earlier I was planning to send Emma Winslow instead but I much rather prefer sending you since you’re privy to Steve’s and Barney’s existence. She’s not.”
“Your name will be Jeanne Coslow.”
“Why that name?”
“Jeanne was the name of Gilles Dansereaux’s late wife. I can’t hurt to play that first ace,” Oscar hinted with a devilish grin.
“You don’t actually expect me to flirt with this man?”
“Not flirt. That wouldn’t be proper and that might actually get him suspicious. But that could allow you to worm your way into his good grace. The man might confess things to you that he wouldn’t normally divulge to his regular employees.”
“I’m not at all surprised that other countries are experimenting with bionics, but I doubt they’ll come close to achieving what Rudy has.” This blunt statement knocked open the Pandora box of my emotions that I had managed to lock deep into the recesses of my mind. Bionics was forever associated with my dear Blue Eyes. I hung my head low, burying my chin in my chest to hide the tears gushing to my eyes. I was helpless at repressing the overwhelming grief I could feel jarring the very core of my being.
“I’m fine,” I sighed, trying hard to regain my composure. “When do I leave?”
“Tomorrow afternoon. I’ll have a limo pick you up at four. If everything goes according to plan you should be there for about two weeks tops. You have plenty of time to pack. The driver will give you your plane tickets and itinerary tomorrow.” Oscar rose from his chair and came to stand by me. With a hand on my shoulder he wished me luck with the mission. “He’ll be watching over you, girl. I’m sure of it.”
I looked up at him with wistful eyes. “I know he is.”
Later that night, I was inexplicably drawn to Steve’s guestroom where I spend a greater part of the evening putting away his personal belongings; an arduously emotional task I couldn’t bring myself to doing before today. Time had come to ‘bury’ him.
I cast one last look around the room and with a mournful sigh, I bade a final farewell to my best friend. “Goodbye Blue Eyes,” I whispered quaveringly as I closed the door behind me.
It may have been a bumpy flight to Bruxel but being numbed of all sensations, lost in a world of blissful and painful memories, the constant jostling hardly disturbed my stream of consciousness. Soon the plane landed and I was driven to the hotel where I met with my contact. He offered to play bellboy and carried the luggage to my room, all the while keeping a detached attitude for the benefit of any shadow that might have been assigned to spy on his every move. For security measures he thought best not to tarry and left me with a knowing grin and a small note that he slipped in the palm of my hand during our handshake.
“I will come and pick you up at around one thirty. Your meeting with Mister Dansereaux is scheduled at two. Don’t be nervous. I’m sure you’ll land that job. You have all the qualifications.”
“I greatly appreciate your vote of confidence Mister Hannigan. I’ll see you later then.”
He gave a small nod of the head and pressed a finger against his lips in a stern warning to keep quiet in the event the room was tapped for listening devices. I smiled my understanding and waited for him to leave before I began sweeping the place for any hidden microphone. When I deemed it safe I sat on the bed and unfolded Paul’s note that read: 12- 555, Downey Street. We are not to meet. Just leave a note in the mailbox and I will have the desk clerk deliver my answer to you. Welcome aboard, Cassie.”
Paul had sugar-coated my abilities as a computer engineer, so much that one look at me and Dansereaux was convinced I was the best man for the job. I sensed in his handshake that he was interested in more than my technical skills. I felt a little uneasy in his presence but keep a straight face to avoid jeopardizing the mission before it even started.
Following a brief tour of the facility I settled behind my desk in an open office area. Luckily Paul had been assigned to teach me the ropes, which proved very convenient for the relay of confidential information.
“The mainframe is protected with a secret code. Only Dansereaux and his assistant David Loomis have it,” he informed in hushed tones, leaning forward over my shoulder and all the while keeping a straight face to avoid arousing suspicion.
“Can we break it?” I replied in the same manner, keeping my eyes on the monitor to give the impression I was absorbed by his instructions.
“I haven’t tried it. Too risky. No doubt it’s linked to a security system.”
“I only need the serial number on the panel. That’ll enable me to shut it down without their knowledge. I’ll copy the files and reactivate the system. No one will be the wiser.”
“I’ll try. I have access to that room. I can’t promise it will be done today.”
“The sooner the better so we can both flee this snake pit.”
He acknowledged with a barely noticeable nod of head and resumed an upright position. “Very well Jeanne, you seem to have the hang of it pretty good,” he spoke aloud for everyone’s benefit. “If you need further instructions, my office is down the hall to your left.”
No sooner had Paul left my side that I began studying the system without venturing into forbidden territory and risk blowing my cover. Minutes later out of the corner of my eye, I caught Paul walking back to me with what was likely a co-worker.
“Oh Jeanne, I would like to introduce you to our supervisor, David Loomis.”
Horror stuck me the second I set eyes on that dark-haired man. All the blood drained from my face. I was rooted to the spot, unable to move or speak. Lightning had stuck me down.
Paul’s eyebrows knitted in both confusion and concern at my stupor. “Jeanne, you all right?”
“Yes, yes. I’m okay,” I gasped out, trying hard to recover my countenance.
David laughed at my reaction. “I’ve been known to turn a few heads, but never have I had this reaction before,” he joshed.
That voice resonated in the walls of my mind; its sound was deafening. I panicked. I was screaming to get out but my feet wouldn’t budge and my mouth wouldn’t articulate. I was trapped. What to do? Can it be?
“Well it was nice meeting you, Jeanne” David said as he shook my hand. “I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you often around the office.”
“I expect you will,” I choked. My heart sank to my stomach upon seeing that trademark lopsided grin. How could it be? Was I imagining things? I watched him walked away with Paul, rooted to the spot. I finally drew a deep breath to recollect my thoughts and resumed my place in front of the computer.
“Oh she likes you, David,” Paul enthused.
“You think so?”
“Did you see the impression you made on her? You should ask her out,” he egged on.
“It’s too soon. We just met. Besides she may be spoken for.”
“I can guarantee you she isn’t.”
“You know her that well?” David’s question bore a hint of suspicion that Paul was quick to sense.
“We’re just business acquaintances but I know she’s not going with anyone.” He nudged David playfully in the side. “Go on, ask her.”
“I don’t know,” he sighed, shaking his head irresolutely.
“I tell you what. I’ll put in the good word for you and let you know what she said. That way you’ll know where you stand.”
“Okay. But be discreet about it.” He turned to me with a musing expression. “There’s something familiar about her.”
“That’s just it, I can’t say. It’s just a feeling.”
“I see that she got to you, hey buddy?” Paul teased.
“Maybe. Remember be tactful. Don’t scare her away.”
“I won’t. See ya later.” Paul returned to my side wearing a smirk on his face. I played it cool, heedful of likely prying eyes and ears in the close vicinity.
“We’re in luck,” he informed in a whisper. “David would like to date you.”
“What?” I exclaimed in shock.
“He’s smitten with you, girl. This could be our ticket inside the complex’s brain. I told him I’d put in the good word for him.”
Baffled by my straightforward answer, Paul turned to me with a quizzical frown. “What did you say?”
“I can’t date him,” I shuddered.
“You mind telling me why?” Paul asked on a somehow irritated tone.
“He might recognize me and right now we can’t afford a mistake.”
“What do you mean he can recognize you? Hey? You’ve met that man before?” Silence was his answer. “Cass, answer me.”
“Not here, Paul. Too many ears and eyes about. We’ll have to meet somewhere. On second thought, maybe it’s best you don’t find out. It may jeopardize your very life.”
“Dammit Cass, you’re scaring me.”
“Shuuuuuuuuuuuuu, keep your voice down,” I chastised between clenched teeth to avoid arousing suspicion.
“Let’s meet tonight somewhere inconspicuous.”
“Let’s not. We are not to meet under any circumstances, you said so yourself. It could blow our cover. I’ll speak with Oscar first. I’ll let you know what I decide about David tomorrow.”
“You might as well know he told me there was something familiar about you.”
“Yes,” Paul nodded “There’s something nasty in the woodshed Cassie and you’d better tell me what it is before we both end up in hot water.”
“Tomorrow Paul,” I spoke resolutely with an edge of annoyance.
“All right. I’ll hold you to it.” Paul slipped away quietly to return to his workstation. He kept glancing my way, concerned about my obvious lack of concentration.
I returned to the hotel to sweep my room for any concealed microphones as a precautionary measure. I then headed downstairs and across the street to a phone booth to contact Oscar on his private line.
“Boss, it’s Cassie.”
Oscar’s inner alarm sounded at the name. He yanked his reading glasses off his nose and sat behind his desk. “Cassie, where are you?”
“Don’t worry. It’s safe. I’m in a phone booth.”
“Anyone watching you?”
I gave a quick sweep of the area. “All clear. Oscar, I just got to know. Any word on the body recovering?”
“Why are asking now?”
“Just answer the question, please,” I insisted.
“No. Nothing. They have yet to find the cockpit.”
“They won’t find Steve’s body.” I paused briefly to inhale deeply in order to summon my courage to spring the news on the boss. “Steve’s alive and he’s here, working for that organization.”
Oscar bolted upright. “What?” His shocked expression swiftly turned to incredulity. “Cassie, if you want out of this assignment, I can…”
“Oscar, for God’s sake!” I interjected waspishly. “Don’t you dare believe I’m losing it! I saw him. The eyes, the smile, the voice. Oscar I’m telling you that was him, but he didn’t recognize me. Obviously they brainwashed him good.”
“He didn’t recognize you owing to the fact that it’s not him,” the boss argued forcibly, but I wouldn’t waver.
“I have to bring him back.”
“Cassandra, don’t do anything that could jeopardize this mission. Now it’s crucial that we get that inside information to dismantle the organization.”
“Oscar I’m a professional agent first and foremost. I know my duty. He goes by the name of David Loomis. He’s Dansereaux’s right-hand man. No doubt he’s wired into everything on the complex.”
“Are you actually listening to yourself?” Oscar snorted.
“Oscar I’m telling you, it’s Steve. I’ve gazed into those mirrors of the soul often enough to know. They shook me to the core. And no I didn’t see a look alike,” I quickly defended.
“Then what happened to him? How did he get from Nantucket to Bruxel?”
“That’s what I intend to find out. According to Paul he is interested in dating me. I might just say yes.”
“If you’re right about this, jogging his memory now might prove dangerous. He could betray your trust.”
“He won’t. I’ll be subtle.” I inhaled deeply to suppress the emotions gushing to my throat. “God Oscar. He’s alive,” I cried. “He’s alive.”
“I’m having a hard time believing you but if you say it’s him, I have to concede. You know him as well as Rudy and I do, maybe more.”
“I’m not wrong about this, Oscar. I guess now I have two assignments.”
“How is the first one coming along?”
“Paul is going to try to get me the serial number of the main frame so I can tap into the network core without triggering the alarm. And if that doesn’t work I can always worm the information out of Steve.”
“Cassandra,” he paused to swallow his emotions, “be careful. One false move and…”
“I know. Thanks for caring, boss. I’ll keep you abreast of the developments as they unfold. If I sense trouble, I’ll dodge out of the way.”
“I’ll have some of men on standby over there, just in case you and Paul need reinforcement.”
“What about the apartment I’m supposed to rent? Dansereaux might find it suspicious if I remain in a hotel.”
“It’s all set. You’ll be moving in at the end of the week. I’ll fax you the address at your hotel.”
“Okay. Thanks.” I hung up the phone and gave the area one last sweep before making my way to my hotel room. Still reeling from the shock of coming face-to-face with a supposed ghost, I found it hard to concentrate on devising a plan to get Steve back. I couldn’t lose sight of the true purpose of this mission, which was to crack the code that would enable me to tap into their secured main frame. Could I do both without triggering the alarm? I flumped down on the sofa and heaved a sigh thick of desperation. “You do work in mysterious ways,” I said, glancing up at the ceiling. “You just can’t throw this bombshell in my face and forsake me afterwards. Tell me. What should I do?”
Barely had I set foot in the office that Paul treaded on my heels. Out of the corner of my eye I could see David looming in the background, watching me walk to my workstation.
“Paul, careful. We’re being watched,” I warned in a low tone.
“I know. He’s waiting for your answer.”
I settled in my chair and casually switched on my computer. “Tell him yes.”
“Okay. Now for my next question…”
“David Loomis is Steve Austin,” I blurted out plainly without hesitation. “And please, close your mouth. People will stare.”
“You can’t expect me to swallow that?” Paul scoffed, careful to mask his emotions to avoid drawing attention to himself.
“I don’t expect you to believe anything I say. You wanted to know why I looked familiar to him. Well there you go.”
“He’s dead, Cassie.”
“They never recovered his body. I’m absolutely positive it’s him, Paul. Listen I don’t think this is the proper place to discuss this. Tell David that I’m willing to get better acquainted if he’s interested. I have to find a way to get through to him. They obviously did a great brainwashing job and I assume it won’t be any easy task.”
“Does Oscar know?”
“Yeah I called him last night.”
“And what was his reaction?”
“Quite similar to yours.”
“I can imagine. Okay, I’ll pass the word along.”
“And DON’T stare at him.”
Paul walked back to David with an elfish grin. “You’re on, pal,” he said with a slap on the back. “She said yes. The ball’s in your court now.”
“Thanks Paul. I really appreciate it. I’ll ask her after the meeting with the boss.”
“Meeting? I didn’t get any memo.”
“It’s just Dansereaux and me. Something about security.”
“Funny, he didn’t say anything to me.” The agent in Paul sensed that trouble was brewing, prompting him to play it cool. “Something wrong?”
“Not that I know of.” David glanced down at his watch. “Got to go now the boss will have my hide.”
“Okay. See ya later.” Panic invaded him as he watched David made his way to Dansereaux’s office down the hall. Quickly he returned to Cassie to share his fear of having been spotted in the server room.
“Did they see you?”
“I was careful not to let on I was looking for that specific number but you never know. There might have been a hidden camera I wasn’t aware of.”
“You may be over reacting, but I wouldn’t dismiss your suspicion. Don’t go in there again. It’s too risky. I’ll try to work David…rather Steve…into confiding a few secrets.”
“I have a bad feeling about this Cassie.”
In Gilles Dansereaux’s office, David was pouring himself a cup of coffee when the head honcho’s most-trusted security officer walked in. “You wanted to see me, sir?”
“Yes I did, Stephane. Want a cup of coffee before we begin?” Dansereaux offered as he stood from behind his expensive antic oak desk.
“No thanks.” He took a seat in an armchair and watched David take his place beside him.
“I called upon this meeting because I suspect we might have a security breach or least likely to have one.”
Stephane and David exchanged worried glances before turning to their boss with raised eyebrows. “How do you figure that?” Stephane queried with a light quaver in his voice, though he knew he was in the clear.
Dansereaux resumed his seat behind his desk and put on his reading glasses. He flipped open a folder and started reading its content. “The hidden surveillance camera captured our friend Paul Hannigan entering the server room yesterday.”
David shrugged. “So what’s unusual about that? He has the password and access card.”
“It’s not his being there that was peculiar, but his behavior. He appeared to be searching for something.”
“Have you asked him what he was doing there?” Stephane asked.
“No, for it would revealed the existence of the concealed camera, which I am not prepared to divulge in case of future dubious walk ins. Instead I have requested that a new password be entered into the computer. Only you, David and I will have it.” He stretched over the desk to hand a piece of paper to each of his associates. “You memorize it and destroy it. Stephane I’m going to assign you as Hannigan’s shadow. You are to spy on his every move, mostly the ones that may be considered suspicious.”
“Be discreet about it. If he is indeed an infiltrator we want him to make a false move before we spring on him. Understood?” Stephane nodded in acknowledgement. “And David, I would like you to keep your eye on that new recruit Jeanne Coslow. She seemed very close to Hannigan. She could likely turn out to be another undercover agent.”
“It’ll be my pleasure, sir,” David drawled, relishing the thought of an easy and most rewarding assignment. “I’m thinking of asking her out on a date. According to her friend Paul, she is smitten with me.”
“Then be extra careful. Keep on your toes. She may be playing with you. No pillow talk if it ever comes to that,” Dansereaux warned.
“Don’t worry boss,” David assured behind a teasing grin, one that Dansereaux perceived as portentous.
“Begging your pardon sir,” Stephane interrupted, “but if you suspect her to be an infiltrator why don’t you fire her?”
“Easier said than done. She’s been here only two days and her work has been incredible. There no solid reason to justify letting her go. Besides if I give her her notice now it might look suspicious and I certainly don’t want to give whatever organization she’s working for a reason to charge in here.”
“But if she’s as efficient as you say she is, she might succeed in tapping into the main frame and retrieve confidential information,” Stephane added.
“No chance of that. You yourself said that the network was protected by an impregnable security system. You weren’t exaggerating, were you?” Dansereaux questioned with a hint of menace.
“No sir. It’s full proof.”