Enticements & Entanglements

The raindrops slammed into the fourth storey windows, driven by the fickle, gusting winds. Or perhaps by a desire to escape the misery of the outdoors and join me in the warm comforts of the indoors. I sipped my tea and gave that thought time to steep before pushing it away and returning my focus to the task at hand.

On bare feet I moved across the sparsely decorated hotel room, my navy blue bathrobe whispering along the hardwood floor. I lowered myself into the white chair facing the mirror which just fell short of the ceiling. I liked to monitor my expression during business phone calls - if I could see the emotion on my face, they could hear it in my voice.

I used the room phone to make the call, knowing the name I had registered at the front desk could never be traced to me should the fool make the attempt. Alfred Milton was just the tip of my iceberg and there were a multitude of false names to sink through before reaching anything of real substance. One did not survive in my line of business for long by being careless.

“Hello?”

“Good evening,” I said with no warmth behind the greeting, “you know who this is.”

“What are you doing calling at this hour?” Panicked, scared. Good. “I can’t talk to you now!”

“Actually, dear friend, we speak whenever I decide we should speak. Or would you rather I have a chat with the BBC?” The sharp intake of breath was deeply satisfying but I killed the smile on my lips before continuing on. “I thought not. Do not forget your place in this relationship - I tire easily of impudence. You may be used to commoners grovelling at your pedicured feet all day long but when I call you bow to me.”

“Yes Alfred. I’m… I’m sorry.” It was so hard to get those words through those pampered lips. “What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to thank you for the information you so kindly supplied - I’m really not sure how I would have done it without you. It was like having my very own tour guide.”

“You’re… welcome?” Off-guard, hopeful. It was difficult to not enjoy myself. “If that’s all, I really must be -”

“No, not quite all my friend.” I inspected my eyes in the mirror, allowing the silence to drag on. I always did like my eyes - the brown made them seem so warm, so trustworthy. I rarely failed to make good use of them. “It has occurred to me that since you were so adept in your previous role, it would be a terrible waste if I were to make no further use of you. I hate being wasteful, you know.”

“No, absolutely not.” Self-righteous, confident. Full of the belief that our bargain would be complete once the first job was done. I allowed the smile to stay a little longer on my lips this time. “We had a deal Alfred. This is over.”

“Oh good, you haven’t forgotten about our agreement. I was getting concerned that you had, the way you were carrying on. Concerned that these pictures of mine had slipped from your over-priced head. That you had forgotten that the recordings of every single conversation we’ve ever had could arrive on the Telegraph’s doorstep in a matter of minutes.”

“What… what more do you wish from me?” Shrunken, defeated. “What must I do to be rid of you?”

“That’s hurtful, dear friend. I will overlook the insult this time, though you’d be wise not to provoke me further.” I studied my thin lips as they parted and were reunited, over and over. “Consider this an extension of our original agreement, under the same terms. Provide me the information I require and the press will never hear of your indiscretions. Fail me… and I will serve them your head on one of your precious silver platters. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Now listen carefully - I will not be repeating myself. It has come to my attention that a rather famous individual is investigating the events of the previous evening. I want to be made aware of his movements; I want to know what he knows; and I want to know what he’s thinking. Keep me one step ahead of Bond until the money is safely in my hands and you will hear no more from me.”

“How am I supposed to do all that? I’m not privy to the inner workings of the secret service!”

“How is none of my concern. Just see that you do.”

I ended the phone call and rose slowly to my feet, watching my reflection as I did so. The pain in my leg did not alter the movement in the slightest but I still felt the shock waves move through my body. I allowed myself to consider the possibility that the Tower would be my final job, that I had earned my retirement at last. After a few moments more I picked up the phone and called room service.

“Another pot of green tea.” I paused for a moment before making my decision. “Have Christine bring it up this time.”

I moved to the freestanding bath and turned the hot water tap on to full. I always enjoyed having a relaxing night after business was taken care of.

The End

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