Sample Chapter

Where Mystery and Thriller Meet

     Kat woke up caressing the blade of her polycarbonate partner lying under her pillow and stared at the ceiling, relieved Pantera didn’t try to push into her bed. She wasn’t ready for him, physically or emotionally, with Nyssa dead and the fear of the Katsa Killer fresh in her mind. Despite her issues, it didn’t stop her from thinking about what sex would be like with those washboard abs.

 

     Unless his frat-boy perception of courting extends into the bedroom, ugh. She shivered as she got up. Oh well, he is still a guest after all, despite his boyish intentions.

 

     Pantera jumped up when he heard movement from the other room. He stayed awake all night with Grit’s words ringing in his ears – “honey trap.” If she was going to honey-trap me wouldn’t we have slept together last night? This shit is so confusing.

     He threw on his clothes, ran over to the kettle, and turned on the heat. He rearranged all the sofa pillows to their original position, unloaded his backpack, and repacked it – refolding all of his clothes. Clothes that were used were turned inside-out for easy identification and all his equipment was rechecked to make sure nothing was lost in the last twenty-four eventful hours.

 

     Kat heard the sound of the kettle and knew it was about to boil. Okay, maybe you are trainable.

 

     She put on her robe and entered the living room as Pantera was putting his GPS locator in his backpack.

 

     That looks like a Magellan NAV 1000, recently released to the civilian market. She recalled him using a map yesterday, not the GPS. Probably a tracking transmitter, likely next gen. She was thankful hers was implanted.

 

     “Good morning. Sleep okay?” she asked, trying to picture a man of Pantera’s mass sleeping in the fetal position on the two-cushion loveseat.

 

     “I did, thanks for letting me stay. I’m sooo sorry for the imposition,” he said, with a sly grin.

     She flashed her Cheshire cat smile. “Just because you spent the night does not mean you can go all soft on me. You are still not getting any. I like big breakfasts, prepare for an expensive tab.” Are you really going to continue with that fake humility, or has learning taken place?

 

     She prepared the morning black Irish Breakfast tea and opened the cupboard to retrieve a couple biscotti to place on the saucer.

     “This is a morning tea … which takes milk.”

 

     After setting down the teacups and saucers on the table, Kat opened the door to retrieve the newspaper. Not deviating too far from her normal Sunday schedule, she sat down to read it.

 

     “Is there a section you would like to read?” she asked.

 

     “Yes. There is.” No time like the present. Where’s my gun again? “I’d like the part of the paper that talks about you being a Mossad Officer and NOT a secretary,” he said, leaning forward slightly in case of an immediate attack.

     The gears in Kat’s mind whirred. Wow, manly. Caught off guard she was not ready to have this conversation. Then again, when is there a good time to have this talk? She contemplated reaching for the knife on the counter, but stopped.

 

     “So you know? Who told you?” You figured this out on your own?

     

     “My boss, at the ball, he saw you last year and the weapon under your cocktail dress this year confirmed it.” He leaned back, keeping his hands comfortably ready in front of him.

     “He looked up my dress?” She knew it was normal procedure, but didn’t want to lead on. Damn dress. I told them the cocktail dress would not work.

     “Stop. You know that’s normal. You also know we work security for these events. Are you going to answer my question?” His mannerism stiffened as his temper grew.

     “If you tell me about you and your unit, I know you are not a simple Navy Corpsman.”

     “Deal. We trade one lie for one truth.” Pantera, the interrogator, sprang to life. If you think I’m giving you the whole damn enchilada, you’re crazier than a loon. “You first.”

     “Okay, I am a security officer at the embassy. All security officers in all Israeli Embassies are Mossad.”

     “And ...” He spun his finger in a forward x-axis rotation.

 

     “What do you mean by ... and?” Kat snapped.

 

     “I mean, what do you do for Mossad, exactly?” he asked, pushing further despite envisioning her jumping up and grabbing the knife behind her.

     “Not much really ... just standard intelligence gathering activities. Not any different from your CIA people at your American Embassies. You are familiar with the CIA, you are, are you not?” That better hold him off, not that he has ever heard of Kidon.

 

     “And what about you?” She pointed back at him.

 

     He ignored the CIA comment. She’s holding something back, she has a ‘tell’. I better stop pressing for now. “That’s fair. Me? Just a li’l ol’ simple medic, working for a covert team.”

     “Al ta'atzben otti!" ("You are pissing me off!") So help me, I am going to stab you in the neck! She raised her hand. “Just stop. We agreed to be honest, for once. Okay, for the second time. I know you are not – just a simple medic. Your unit down there does not employ – just simple medics. You do not walk or act like any military guy I have ever met and you definitely looked uncomfortable at the ball, despite your little ‘I am just happy to be here’ act. This makes me think you are definitely not an intelligence officer, either. What … who … are you?!” she asked, clenching her jaw.

     “Okay, okay. I really am a corpsman—and an interrogator—for the U.S. Navy under contract to the United Nations.” I looked uncomfortable? She could read that?

 

     “Interrogator, huh? I already knew about your unit,” she said, waving her index finger at him, “the UN Special Operations Group. Your unit has done work for us in the past. In reality, your unit has done work for almost everyone. We call you guys ... Shadow Warriors.”

     

     “We have? You do? Well there. You see, you know more than me.” Damn that was close.

 

     Kat switched gears in what appeared to be her natural racecar fashion, and asked, “Ready for breakfast, Navy Boy?” She tossed the last bite of biscotti in her mouth. Though still pissed at Pantera for not coming clean after being outed, her own hypocrisy notwithstanding, she thought, hmm, you might be useful after all. “Sorry, I do not mean for Navy Boy to be insulting. If you want me to stop calling you that, I will.”

 

     Pantera looked over the edge of his teacup and expected to find a grin on her face. What he found was a straight face that was cooling. He slowly leaned over to make eye contact, close enough to kiss her.

 

     She froze.

 

     “Well, Miss David,” he whispered, “I’m not insulted, for one. And two, if anyone else even thinks about calling me by that nickname, pain will quickly ensue. Am I clear?” He leaned back and crossed his arms.

 

     “Yes, sir,” she replied in her best mock-military tone, adding a salute while slightly aroused by his gesture of authority. “Guess we got all that out of the way.” She jumped up heading off to the bedroom to change.

 

     Pantera stared after her, and thought, such pleasure, such pain. He cleared the table and returned everything back to its original state. There is a place for everything ... and everything in its place. His grandfather’s saying came to mind.

 

The bastard.

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© 2020 by J.D. Wallace