Madam X Exposed

Madam X Exposed

Status: In Progress

Genre: Mystery and Crime

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Mystery and Crime

Summary

A mother of three has a mysterious guy as her lover. He comes and goes on assignments and then he disappears on a major operation with a young woman posing as his wife. They comfirm the target is indeed Madam X but she's viciousously assaulted when released on bail and a shoot-out occurs. The police clampdown on details as the request of the Prime Minister's Department. Meanwhile the mum's boyfriend emerges from the shootout unscathed to help her out on a big public issue and she triumphs.

Summary

A mother of three has a mysterious guy as her lover. He comes and goes on assignments and then he disappears on a major operation with a young woman posing as his wife. They comfirm the target is indeed Madam X but she's viciousously assaulted when released on bail and a shoot-out occurs. The police clampdown on details as the request of the Prime Minister's Department. Meanwhile the mum's boyfriend emerges from the shootout unscathed to help her out on a big public issue and she triumphs.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Madam X Exposed

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 31, 2017

Reads: 230

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 31, 2017

A A A

A A A

Chapter 1

The new day began tentatively for the couple possessing the legacy of alcohol excess from the previous evening’s celebrations that now seemed so distant.

Birds sang just beyond the opened windows at the first rays of sun journeyed around the blocking big oak tree to penetrate the bedroom just before 6:00.

Shaggy-headed Rod (Rodric) Macrae was staring at the ceiling, skull thudding as if the rest of his body was berating his liver and brain for being host to excessive alcohol.

He began thinking of Priority One but sensibly decided not just yet.

Focusing his light blue eyes on his cuddly companion, he cuffed Brenda’s bare ass and said, politely, “Black coffee – two sugars this morning if you please.”

Divorcee Brenda Shapiro was his standby girlfriend when he was between dates with hot females, although he had to admit for a 40-year-old, Brenda was hot.

‘Gladly’ was the word attractive Brenda used the first time they met, colliding in the supermarket. She’d accepted his offer to coffee where they chatted as if they’d known one another from a previous life. Rod, eyeing her boobs, had said should they go to bed when he’d meant to say should they go somewhere for lunch, but then realised she’d said gladly.

He’d just returned from a boring mission and Brenda was amid some sort of crisis. He found out later she was amid post-divorce ‘romantic depression’.

No suitors were calling which was scarcely surprising because the 40-year-old had her three children living at home (Todd (20), Linda (18) and Paula I6).

With that confession given during post-coital recovery, Rod’s unhelpful comment had been that the kids should be out flatting, allowing their mum to get on with her life.

He got away with that. Brenda recognized, though would never admit it, that his uninvited opinion for the reason for her woes was fair comment.

 

On this sunny morning that had arrived far too soon for her comfort, Brenda struggled to her feet, wincing with head pain and rubbed both breasts. Although flattening the rounded mass against her chest, the movement caught Rod’s attention and he reached to pat her butt.

She looked displeased.

“You…you fornicator. I saw you all over Cindy Ryan last night.”

“Me, Cindy Ryan?” cried the accused, those blue eyes becoming enlarged.

“Any thought of casting an anchor beside hatchet-face with those small puppies to engage in hi-jinks, would never have cross my mind and everyone in that room knew it, but you.”

“Really?”

“Exactly, truly.”

The happy voice sounded: “Coffee with two sugars coming up, your majesty and then we can have a cuddle and perhaps…?”

Rod thought of leaping into a cold shower and splashing his groin with ‘Blue Ice’ aftershave but fell asleep and awoke to find cold coffee on his bedside table with a note that said it all: “You bastard. I’ve go to visit my mother who appreciates me. Please get the kids organized.”

He sighed, thinking okay, you miss out on one occasionally, but it’s not the end of the world; there will be plenty of satisfying opportunities to come.

He grinned, brushing a hand over his chin and thinking he better shave otherwise he’d be in danger of missing out the next opportunity after nightfall.

He shaved and sat filing his finger-nails, knowing that would be appreciated. Oh yeah!

Thirteen hours later, he was as his athletic best, with Brenda under him groaning, “The bed-head banging; it’ll wake the children.”

Reacting as if injected with an aphrodisiac, Roddy almost sent the bed-head into the next room that fortunately was the living room, some distance away from her sleeping and maturing offspring.

There was a knock on the door and Linda entered, switching on the light.

“Are you guys okay? Paula and I were in the lounge watching TV when we had the fright of our lives, hearing those big bangs. I thought a drunk’s car had come through the fence and into your bedroom.”

“Nah, it was just Roddy doing Pilates,” her straight-faced mother said calmly.

“Pilates? I know he goes to the gym but Pilates?”

“I was just teaching him some moves,” Brenda fibbed.

“Oh God, I know what you were doing. How can you embarrass me like this? Goodnight!”

The door slammed; Rod came out from under the sheet.

“At least she didn’t catch us at it.”

“Shut up and pass me the towel; can’t you see how embarrassed I am?”

“No,” he answered truthfully.

Linda remembered to turn off the light as she left to sulk on the swing in her garden.

 

Rod was ambivalent about sex: if Brenda snuggled up feeling for it she got it; if she held back she missed out. They were both aware that Rod’s ‘open all hours’ libido seemed to have taken slide since they first came together two years ago, and Brenda was relieved about that. Sometimes when he stayed overnight they didn’t even do it but both were satisfied to have someone to cuddle.

Brenda returned an hour later after her comforting sulk, shook him to tell him it was time for him to go to his own home and kissed him.

“I’ll have a heart-to-heart with Linda in the morning, suggesting that if she’d embarrassed that her mother still has sex then perhaps she should consider leaving home.”

“Not a good idea.”

“Huh?”

Rod chose his words carefully.

“She’s about to start university and intends taking part-time work to boost her income to minimize the money she draws as a student loan. Being cast from her home could throw her into a financial crisis.”

“Cast out? Don’t be absurd. I was simply going to raise it for discussion.”

“And I say don’t. She probably was watching a scary movie and became confused. And she’s guilty.”

“Guilty?”

Rod kissed her neck and whispered into her ear: “I’ve seen her friend Simon Jones sneaking from her room on a couple of mornings when I’ve been leaving on my run.”

“The little strumpet!”

“She’s turned eighteen.”

“But I’m worried – she’s so young and could get pregnant.”

“You said you were engaged at eighteen. I bet her father wasn’t left to wait until the marriage.”

Brenda sunk her teeth into his arm.

“Ouch!”

“You just alleged I wasn’t a lady.”

Using a menacing tone, Rod said she’d better place a pillow behind the bed-head because her Vampire bite had sent his testosterone into frenzy.

 

An hour later, still awake, Brenda put on her beside light and returning from the bathroom sat, knees drawn up and arms clasped around them, looking down at him and thinking: You handsome bastard.

She wished he’d stay in her bed forever, to escort her at her children’s weddings and – if he felt like it – to marry her. He was one of the finest males she’d known – and that didn’t necessarily mean carnally as that wouldn’t cover many comparisons.

Surprisingly, she knew little about him.

They’d met two years ago, just after her divorce came absolute and she was in the phase of looking hopefully in the direction of any male between the age of thirty and fifty-five. They’d collided in the supermarket – she stepping from behind her trolley to reach for dishwasher powder across the aisle and he, checking his shopping list, walked straight into her.

Somehow her handbag burst open and some of the contents dropped out. She went on to her knees to pick up coins and lipstick, Rod joining her and picking up two credit cards, another lipstick and her keys while apologizing to her for his failing to be ready to stop within half the clear distance ahead.

“That’s the Road Code rule for driving a vehicle,” she’d laughed and when he laughed at her his strong white teeth almost took her breath away. She realized he was sexy, very sexy.

As he helped her to her feet he said, “They’ll lovely” and she automatically said thank you before realizing he was staring down her dress top.

For the first time in many years, possibly twenty, she blushed and blushed hugely; her face was on fire.

“Oops, sorry to have embarrassed,” he said. “It’s just that I’m between dates at the moment so one thing’s on my mind.”

Not risking to guess what that was, Brenda played it safe, saying: “I know the feeling, I’m between marriages.”

“I’m sorry.”

Brenda clasped her trolley for support as her knees almost gave out on her. It had been rather a long time since a male had expressed tenderness to her.

“Look, care to join me for coffee when we re-enter the mall?”

Brenda smiled and said no thank you. She didn’t know the guy.

He smiled and said some other time them and walked on with his basket which, she thought, indicated he was living alone and she precociously waved slightly when he turned to look back at her before turning the end of the aisle.

She smiled, wolfishly she thought as a huge image of a penis seemed to fill her mind. 

“Oh God,” she whimpered.

Unbelievably, she shopped at the same time the next Friday, 4:30. It was unbelievable because she always shopping randomly and not every day and at any time between 7:00 in the morning and 7:00 at night. And unbelievably she didn’t think about him while avoiding collusions with people who’d never should be allowed to push a trolley; nor did she think of him when lining up at the checkout.

Only when she emerged into the mall and saw the back of his head in the coffee shop did she think of him. She decided to hurry off to the car park but her mind decided otherwise and she found herself wheeling her trolley right up alongside him.

“Hello again,” she said, curbing her smile.

“Hi,” he said, leaping to his feet. “I’m so glad you’ve found me – I decided not to look for you in case I drew you headlong into an affair.”

“What?” she said weakly.

“My thoughts occasionally have a habit of jumping through my sound box.”

“What?” she whispered.

His blue eyes locked with her darker blue eyes and she felt the little blonde hairs on the back of her neck – her hair was in a French roll – tingling in anticipation. She heard him say take the risk and sit down and have coffee.

She sat.

And now, two years on and with him in her bed frequently and her children seemingly regarding him more affectionately than what they had in later years displayed for their father, she knew so little about him whereas he knew everything there was to know about her, including likes and dislikes and secret desires – well, they were secret until he wheedled disclosure from her.

Brenda knew little more about him than his parents were alive and he had two sisters who lived in Scotland, as a boy he had a dog called Rufus and that was about it. He told her he was engaged on hush-hush work for the Government, had never married and the disruptive nature of his job meant broken relationships with females lay in his wake like confetti.

She believed him. His gaze had looked so sincere.

Brenda tried wheedling. “What sort of Government work?”

“Hush-hush work.”

“After what you have been doing to me you surely can trust me and take me into your confidence.”

“No.”

“Please Rod, I have given you my trust implicitly.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because if I did they might decide you are a threat to the State.”

“Oh God, you’re a hit man for the Government.”

He didn’t smile but told her not to be so melodramatic.

“Then you’re some sort of spy.” At that she saw his eyes flicker and her toes curled and huge sexual desire swept through her.

“Oh God, I’ll try not to probe again.”

“Thank you. Now what should we do?”

She knew the answer to that, passionately, but thought it best to wait and said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

 

He took a call on his mobile that evening when they were all watching TV and within two minutes had left them, unable to say when he’d return.

“Where does he live, mum?” Paula asked.

Bile rose to Brenda’s throat. She could feel the three of them were looking at her. The moment she’d dreaded had arrived. Actually, it had taken much longer to confront her than she’d anticipated.

Sighing, to indicate her dissatisfaction, Brenda said: “I don’t know.”

Her youngest daughter brushed aside her blonde fringe. “Then what does he do?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Brenda said, locking eyes with Paula, the dogmatic one, until brunette Linda squawked, “What, you let him fuck you and don’t know anything about him?”

“Shut up Linda,” Todd drawled. “Mum is not critical about who you fuck.”

“Come on guys, watch your language,” Brenda said, controlling her temper and the temptation to half-throttle Linda. “If any of you don’t want him back in this house then he’s out of here.”

“No, he’s one of the best things that’s happened to you,” Paula said, eyes glistening. “Your itinerant lover stays.”

Brenda was astounded that her youngest could speak so logically and knew what the word itinerant meant and could use it so effectively in a sentence. God her youngest had grown up before her eyes.

“If you don’t want him can I have him?” asked Linda, and hastily said “Sorry” when catching the changed look on her mother’s face. “I very much want him calling – when he leaves you are always in a much better mood and he’s good company and I like the complimentary way he eyes my breasts, if only he would!”

“Todd?”

“I reckon he’s a shadowy figure because he’d either an undercover cop or else works in special services within the military.”

“What!”

“Don’t be alarmed mum; someone has to do those jobs. Out on the back lawn the other day we were taking the washing off the line for you there was one piece left but he moved so fast that I was left grabbing at the space where it had been and already he was turning to put it in the basket. I shouted give it to me and went to grab it but found myself on my back – he didn’t hurt me.”

“But you attend Judo classes,” Paula said.

“Yeah and so I shaped up to him and said that I wouldn’t hurt him but I wanted to show him who was boss.”

“And?”

“I’d rather not say except the he’s a Master.”

“At what?” asked the near breathless Linda.

“Top of the tree – I was unable to contact him and there were times when I knew he could have brutalized and then killed me had he so wished.”

“Omigod,” Linda gasped, both hands pressing into her stomach, her breasts jutting forward and her breathing reducing to tiny pants. “Mum and you have that guy between your legs.”

“Don’t be so foul,” snapped Todd, earning a grateful look from his mother.

Brenda told them the little bit she knew about Rod and answers she received when attempting to probe for more information.

“Broken relationships trailing behind him like confetti – oh mum, the guy’s a romantic,” Linda sighed. “Marry him, please.”

Brenda said almost bitterly, “What, marry Mr Who?”

The newly discovered intellectual one of the family, Paula, also the most sensitive when anyone was under stress, darted over to her mother and said, “Don’t turn down a good opportunity if you see it that way, mother. It’s the only one you have.”

 

An hour later Brenda, feeling drained, slid down into the hot water of her bath, the fragrance of the salts dissolved in the water reaching her nostrils and, she hoped, permeating her skin with goodness – an inducement for relaxation if nothing else.

Brenda, youngest daughter of two college teachers, retaining at home all of her kids and into her second year as chief executive of the local government council administering the region of 878,000 people, lacked for nothing… except a kindred mate.

There was only one in prospect and he’d not indicated any interest in ramping up their association and, until he did reveal that desire, she would remain loving and undemanding to his requirement that, if one wished to put it crudely, focused on one of her orifices.

She could toss him out, but then what?

She’d be left without a sex partner.

“Ouch,” she groaned in despair.

At least she had him beside her on average for ten nights a month. Ten nights wasn’t much, but at least it was better than thirty or thirty-one nights of emptiness. When he was around, her whole being inflated with softness like a balloon. One had to have experienced that embracing emotion, and sense of being in tandem, to understand that serene feeling of completeness. There was nothing like for a divorcee to feel like being jettisoned into Space when bemoaning her state of sexual neglect… and for that matter, absence of adult male companionship.

Brenda, halfway through her fortieth year, had no wish to pass beyond mid-age alone.

What was mid-age?

 

That same question also troubled Rodric, who was on the phone to Brenda.

She’d answered in the bath. He could hear the water splashing and wondered where her hand had wandered upon hearing his voice.

After the pleasantries, he told Brenda the truth, making her wish he’d lied.

“I have this assignment with a woman that could take ten days, perhaps two weeks. She’s gorgeous and I imagine she’ll become another piece of confetti will be left in my wake – perhaps even before the end of this assignment. I’ll call when it’s over to see if you wish me to visit you.”

“We’ve been down this road before,” Brenda said, her throat becoming tight. “I guess our extraordinary relationship will continue but call me first in case something has changed.”

“I told you at the outset that I was seeking an expedient relationship that could be switched off at any time.”

“Agreed and I accepted that, at the time.”

His voice seemed to deepen. “At the time?”

“That’s all I wish to say at the moment.”

“Has something happened? Do the kids think I’m bad for you, blocking opportunities for you and want me to disappear?”

“I really don’t think so. In fact, Linda has inadvertently revealed she’s got a huge crush on you.”

“She’s young and sexy; that’s to be expected. I swear I’ve done nothing to encourage her, in fact quite the reverse but there’s no need to go into that.”

“Omigod, she’s made a pass at you – her mother’s boyfriend.”

“Understand her, Brenda. Her hormones are jumping; she’s about to enter university which is a huge life-change. Nothing came of it and nothing will, I promise you that. We remain good friends.”

“Right, I accept that and will not discuss it with her. Now, about this other woman; care to tell me about her?”

“No, as it won’t serve any useful purpose. All I can say is we have to work as a team, posing as man and wife. It’s not part of a book plot or a film script that can be conveniently changed; this is how it must be if we are to have success with this mission.”

Brenda splashed the water, her hand nowhere near where Rod had fancied it would be when she asked, “Success for whom?”

“I’m not at liberty to say. Goodnight my sweet. As this call is bound to be monitored, don’t be indiscreet.”

“I want you between my legs, this instant, darling,” Brenda shrieked.

She heard Rod’s throaty laugh before the connection was cut.

Brenda pouted, believing that was better than crying and anyway who’d want to cry over HIM the dumb ox!

Who was this woman? Would she sleep with him – of course she would. Would the Dumb Ox compare this presumably sexy and compatible woman picked for his pretending wife with Brenda’s ability in bed – of course he would. Would he also compare Brenda’s other attributes, her lovely family and the total environment she surrounded him with against what Goldilocks had to offer – of course he wouldn’t. Men at his age don’t think beyond their dicks. Research has proven that, hasn’t it?

 

Chapter 2

Rodric Duncan Macrae, 39, had served in the nation’s military special forces, reaching the rank of lieutenant, know worked as a field operative in a special unit referred to as ‘a mop-up task force’ attached to the Prime Minister’s Department.

The role of the unit was to deal with matters potential embarrassing to the Government and particularly the Prime Minister that fell under the surveillance/remedy responsibilities of the SIS (Security Intelligence Service) and yet were considered inappropriate to be handed across to the Police to deal with.

The special unit’s activities were never described or even hinted at in Government reports to Parliament and its personnel were so divorced physically from the PM’s department that the unit received its instructions by secure phone calls or via emissaries who would also deliver field operatives’ written reports to the head of the PM’s department.

That secrecy was why Brenda, with her woman’s instinct ‘to need to know’, had been denied any details about Rod’s work and its structure. Security within the unit headed by former Army intelligence officer Buster Noakes, was taken very seriously indeed because absolute secrecy was paramount for the unit to work effectively.

Rod fancied had he told Brenda everything and that disclosure leaked out, they both may vanish - or perhaps be forced to undergo some sort of deprogramming that left them as virtual Zombies incapable of remembering and even recognizing one another. A more benign and perhaps rational alternative would be for the PM’s department to deny the existence that such a clandestine offshoot operation to the SIS existed.

*  *

Rod had been briefed by Buster about the woman he’d work with on this assignment. Police constable Nellie Drake who’d been dismissed from the force for insubordination and two very wrongful apprehensions resulting in expensive compensation paid to the victims for being denied their liberty plus a hushed-up assault of a female parliamentarian who’d been sniping at the Police in Parliament during Question Time.

“A loose cannon like that being recruited into the Unit? Fucking hell,” Rod had muttered.

He was aware that sometimes rightful arrests could be judged politically inappropriate; and berating Cushla Sims for making unsubstantiated allegations against the Police in the House and then decking her when Miss Sims said she hated Police harassment, had required the PM’s intervention to settle quietly.

Rod grinned when reading his briefing paper that the dismissal was described on Nellie’s record as ‘elected to take leave the force due to irreconcilable differences’.

Bugger, the boss had been talking to him.

“What?”

“Are you going deaf?”

Rod grinned and worked a forefinger round his ear lobe.

“No chief, I understand creative wording from administrators in writing out reports including service records. Who on earth would name their daughter Nellie?”

“I’ve warned you before, Rodric – don’t call me chief,” frowned Buster Noakes, chief operations officer of the Undercover National Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT), whose civilian cover was being chief executive of Action Air Freight International, based at the airport. Action Air Freight actually did handle cargo shipping, the profits from which almost covered the operational costs of UNIT. Rod was engaged as one of the eleven freight handling personnel.

“Chief, I apologize for insubordination,” Rod said, turning the face before him turned puce.

“Watch yourself Macrae. Nellie may well ask what the hell is a name like Rodric spelt without an ending ‘k’. Incidentally, why doesn’t have a ‘k’?”

“It’s the Scottish form, sir,” Rod replied stiffly.

“Well, Scottish, eh? I suppose that makes it legitimate,” the chief nodded.

“Look after Nellie, Rodric. She’s hurting as her father, a former police superintendent, is ashamed of her for being ejected from the force and is not speaking to her and she’s lost her fiancée over this. You’ll be masquerading as man and wife for up to two weeks and I don’t want any irreconcilable differences arising between you two and blowing this operation.”

“Providing she respects her superior she won’t have any trouble, sir.”

Buster sighed and said it had been suggested that Nellie be teamed with a younger man. “But I over-ruled it as you are our best operative. Our target is Madam X.”

“Madam X sir!”

“Yes, SIS has located where she lives. You and Nellie have two weeks to blow her cover. If you succeed, I’ll get to have morning tea with the Prime Minister so she can thank me personally. If you fail, we’ll get our budget cut and should that happen I’ll personally nail your left testicle to my office desk.”

“Ouch. That’s incentive to succeed chief. How old is Nellie?”

“Twenty-four but looks thirty,” replied Buster who rather liked being called chief. He also had a soft spot for Rodric – Buster, actually Brenton, was the kid brother of Brenda’s former husband’s mother.

“You want me to work with a child and live with her?”

“On your way, Macrae. Meet her tomorrow at noon at McDonald’s on Luke Street for lunch. She’d be wearing a blue beret.”

“McDonald’s, but sir…”

“Back to your work, Macrae. Take your briefing document and shred it before you leave here this evening.”

“Right, chief.”

 

Before Rod had time to complete paperwork on the arrival of a shipment of Guinness beer flown in from Dublin for an upcoming State banquet in Parliament Buildings for the Irish international delegation on disarmament and anti-whaling, his phone went.

“Hello Rodric without a ‘k’,” said a honeyed voice using his contact code.

Rodric was suspicious as he didn’t recognize the voice, so decided to stall. “Who the fuck are you?”

“Ooh, bad language on the phone. That could be punishable.”

“What?”

“Are you deaf?”

Rodric refused to be drawn on that, so remained silent, scratching his ear and knowing it was the ex-policewoman calling.

Eventually she broke the silence.

“I’d prefer pasta with a white wine – so instead of McDonald’s let’s meet at noon at Alberto’s. I’ve already booked. I’m told you are an older man so steak and beer are available there. Is this change of plan okay? I’ll pay.”

“Well, I…”

“Good,” she cooed and terminated the call.

Rod was ready to wring her neck.

The term ‘an older man’ was female-speak for ‘an old man’. The cheeky bitch and why did she have to bring up age? That’s discriminatory, contrary to the code of practice for operatives working together; he could have her brought up on a charge for that.

Angrily Rod pulled out the operation briefing, glanced at the photo of ‘the older man’ and flicked over his CV to the start of hers and blinked – she looked gorgeous and suddenly he welcomed her irrelevant attitude towards regulations. That suggested she might flaunt the big no-no and have emotional hot sex with him instead of just going through the pretence!

He did the math – the age difference was fifteen years; no way could her thinking about sex be prejudiced by her being worried he was old enough to be her father. Fifteen year olds were almost never fathers! It may be necessary to point out that to her.

Never before had Rod experienced sex with a fellow operative, that being understandable – all others except the gay Trudi were males.

He hummed tunelessly as he read her extremely impressive CV, noting she’d ‘retired voluntarily’ from the police before commencing her training with UNIT’. With relief, he noted in her personal profile she’d selected the option ‘males’ to the question of sexual preference for operational teaming, wondering if she would raise an approving eyebrow when reading he’d nominated the female option.

Perhaps over lunch tomorrow they could test their sexual compatibility in the restroom at the restaurant?

*  *

Rod sauntered into the restaurant at 12:15 to demonstrate he didn’t operate by the clock but sat alone until she arrived at 12.30. The bitch!

He watched her walk towards him…hips were a little wide, the right-hand breast seemed to hang a little lower that the left and she didn’t walk with the foot coming through swinging in to align perfectly with the leg it was overtaking which was good, suggesting she swam and ran well and would jump to land athletically.

She looked swell and had pouting lips that he imagined where ideal for working over his body. As she came closer he noted the coldish green eyes and warm smile, deciding she looked even better than her photo.

“Hi, your photo must have been taken some years ago,” the bitch practically sniggered. “Do you dye your hair?”

He’d stood up to be polite and ignored her appalling greeting. As she held out her hand he brushed it aside as he went moved in and kissed her on the lips.

“Get your hand off my breast or I’ll knee you,” she hissed.

Rod gave her his debonair smile, squeezed the right boob he’d palmed and stepped back out of range.

“It’s appropriate for us to maintain our cover for the entire duration of the operation. Did you skip training school?”

She growled, “No I didn’t it but we don’t commence field duties until arriving at the apartment tomorrow.”

“We commenced our relationship the moment you picked up the phone yesterday to call me.”

Nellie looked at him fearlessly.

“Well, that wasn’t one of my memorable phone calls of the year.”

“Mine neither and you broke a regulation by making that call.”

Bingo!

The kid turned pale and bit her lip. “Oh God, I’ve left an electronic trail to you, where you work and to our undercover HQ.”

Wearing the smile of an accomplished seducer, Rod said he’d called on an electronic whiz-kid in SIS to crack in and remove that call from the phone company’s database.

“Oh God, thank you,” she said, pressing against him, albeit lightly, and kissed him on the cheek.

Rod beamed, patted the plush seat of the booth beside him and invited her to put her lovely arse down there.

“Lovely arse?” she said frowning. “It’s too wide.”

“All the better to hold on to,” he ventured and as she sat down – opposite him. He observed her face remained impassive but the green eyes seethed; this babe was going to take some work to bed lushly.

He itched to rub his hands in glee because one of the reasons why Rod had fallen for Brenda was she was no pushover, not like these younger dames of today. He had to prime Brenda to obtain her and this babe was of the same ilk.

Nellie would be bright enough to know the general meaning of the word ilk, rarely used these days, but he doubted if she’d know it’s usage in the traditional Scottish context even though she had a master’s in psychology.

He knew if it tried the word to test her, she’d smile coldly and say something like, “That’s a rare use of that word – I guess it shows your age.”

The time had come to spin her around his way.

“I had a pal get a copy of your personal file from police archives. I understand what you did, why you did it and how deeply hurt you must feel by your senior officers who betrayed you. You are a besmirched heroine of truth and justice in this country.”

He waited for her eyes to glisten and emotional warmth to reach her soul.

However, her mouth twisted and her eyes turned furious.

“How dare you, you bastard, prying into my confidential files. I was told you are immoral but at least I thought you’d possess some deeper ethics.”

“Was that all you were told about me?”

She turned crimson and tried to smother the reflex response ‘No’ in an embarrassed cough.

“Err, I was also told you are our most successful operative.”

“Well, I guess that provides balance so don’t get your tits in an uproar.”

“How dare you speak to me like that.”

“Wouldn’t a husband speak to his wife like that?”

“I wouldn’t know, certainly not if he were couth.”

Rod looked at her coldly, and that made her eyes flicker.

“I need you to knuckle down to this assignment and act the part of a married woman, at all times. Emotional outbursts like that could label you as a phony and blow our cover. The briefing calls for you to be a loving wife, eager to make friends with her neighbours and who is very proud of her husband who’s tossed in his job to settle in and achieve his ambition to be an author. You are acting as if you wish to castrate your husband.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Look at me – are you?”

The sorrowful eyes meet Rod’s.

“Thank you. I needed to read your file and accompanying notes and reports to understand why you were tossed out of the police force before I objected officially at being teamed with a reprobate on such an important assignment.”

Her eyes widened but her mouth remained closed, um actually her lips were slightly apart, because her breathing rate was accelerating.

“I’m basically a careful operative, assessing the facts before acting, unless quick response is deemed necessary. I believed it was little use asking you because you wouldn’t know all the reasons behind your dismissal.”

Nellie squirmed.

“That’s true; I don’t. It seems so unfair. I’ve been unfairly treated by arseholes who ruined my career and created a gulf between me and my father.”

Rod smiled and provoked her: “In order to ensure the most bullet-proof cover possible, have you consciously and sub-consciously committed to have sex with me during this assignment?”

“No and that’s a very big NO.”

“Are you adamant about that?”

“What, are you deaf?”

Rod smiled and thought she was ready to whack him.

“Then due to your staunch attitude, what I am about to tell you won’t be considered a bribe to gain access to your feminine charms, as the Victorians would have put it.”

Her head lifted back slightly, as if that comment surprised her.

“I have the total transcript of your file in a safe place. When this is over, I’ll unencrypt it and print it out and you can take it to your father and read it with him. After reading it and the report on our mission success, he’ll be so proud of you.”

Nellie looked at Rod like Bambi, her eyes soft and trusting.

She excused herself and went to the restroom and returned, a little red-eyed.

“T-that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me since I was a child.”

Rod squirmed and hardened his face.

“Well, it’s our little secret and is behind us now, at least until this is over. What’s your choice of pasta and where’s the fucking wine waiter?”

Nellie straightened, and waved her arm aggressively and two wine waiters hurried to them.

*  *

The next day Nellie drove up in her leased red sports car with the personalized number plates ‘Melba’ and parked in the no parking area immediately outside the main door. An overweight woman bulging out of her black one-piece swimsuit came from the pool enclosure carrying a lapdog and said frostily, “Can’t you read.”

“Yes, and good morning to you. Isn’t it a lovely day?”

Nellie couldn’t believe it. Here she was, just arrived, and already making contact with the woman whose photo she’d studied as strongly suspected of being ‘Madam X’, the anonymous correspondent to the morning newspaper who was leaking embarrassing incidents about the Prime Minister’s past and even present times.

The claims were checked out by the newspaper before publication, being accompanied by anecdotal evidence as dates, times, witnesses with their names and contact details. A number of those damning letters had been promoted and turned into front page or page three stories by the newspaper.

Although officers from Internal Affairs had visited Maeve Trigg and questioned her, they left empty handed and later the police were issued with a search warrant and went through the apartment systematically but found no evidence of any connection between Mrs Trigg and Madam X.

Nellie wiggled from the car, displaying very long legs and a bared midriff between her tennis shorts and colourful short top.

“My, you’re very modern,” said Mrs Trigg. “Most of us around here are very conservative.”

“Oh, I’m conservative but my husband likes me to dress like this. Hi, I’m Melba Jones.”

“Good morning, I’m Maeve Trigg. I love the name Melba – there was a famous Australian opera singer named Nellie Melba; very much before your time.”

“I know. I’m Australian, born in Melbourne where my parents still live. My maternal great-grandmother was Melba, named before our great diva was born.”

That was basically the truth except the maternal great-grandmother had been named Nellie after Nellie Melba came to prominence.

“Oh, how wonderful. Do you like opera?”

Time to lie or tell the truth; deciding on the later, Nellie said, “Not really in their entirety but I have several CDs of excerpts from operas.”

“I’m rather like that myself. But back to the present; you can’t park here.”

“Look, I need to ensure this space can be cleared when our removal van arrives.”

Mrs Trigg looked surprised.

“Oh, what a clever idea. I had thought you were a visitor. So, you have bought apartment six?”

“No, only occupying it temporarily while my husband and I search for a house. It’s the second marriage for him and his former wife rather fleeced him.”

“Oh, the poor darling. What does he do?”

“He’s some sort of consultant in sports administration.”

Mrs Trigg looked shocked. “You don’t know what your husband does?”

“Well, we haven’t had much time together to talk. We only met last month and we married two days ago.”

“Oh, my goodness – a new bride and no honeymoon. When do you leave on your honeymoon?” asked Mrs Trigg, her face wrinkling with concern, pulling her white towel tighter around her shoulders.

“That’s on hold; we thought we should first sort out our accommodation.”

“Very sensible. I’ll phone later to see if you both will honour me by coming up for afternoon tea. I’m up too levels directly above you.”

“That’s rather nice of you, Mrs Trigg. I’ll try to get Eric (Rod) interested – he’s rather off women at the moment after what that bitch Ellen did to him but miraculously I’ve managed to woo him back into sex in a big way.”

“Oh, that sounds dreadful and so interesting as well, I must confess. What does your Eric intend to do, stay in doing something in sports administration?”

“He’s thrown in his job to write a novel. I’m a legal executive and will do the proof-reading for him. Be warned – he’s old, more your age I should think. He’s thirty-nine.”

“Oh, you delightful girl,” beamed Mrs Trigg. “It’s many years since I swanned around as a 39-year-old beauty.”

 

Eric arrived, driving in ahead of the movers, already having phoned ahead to ask Melba (Nellie) to shift her car. Within the hour, the couple, driver and his assistant had moved everything into the ground level apartment and as the movers left Rod said, “Um, we should have discussed this earlier; what sleeping arrangement do you prefer.”

Melba whispered, “Do you promise to behave yourself?”

“Possibly.”

“Then move our suitcases into the master bedroom. You are on trust you know,” said the unsmiling Melba. “If anyone comes in and found we were based in separate bedrooms it would raise questions, and we don’t want that to happen. Have you ever slept beside a female other than a relative and not had a go at her?”

“That’s an impertinent question; I gave you my tentative assurance.”

“Ooh, are we having our first row since our ‘marriage’?” she giggled.

Quickly licking his top lip Rod decided to push boundaries which might wipe away that smile. “Any objections if I watch you dress and undress and squeeze past you when we’re both in the nude – with me perhaps a little aroused at sighting your nubile body?”

“No objection whatsoever,” Nellie said icily. “In fact, that common sense approach will allow us to relax more quickly. I will not expect your eyes to dwell excessively on my body.”

“Then try to make yourself look unattractive,” he snapped, and wondered if he caught a slight smile before she turned away, went into the bathroom and closing the door locking it noisily and ramming the bolt home.

The toilet flushed, the tap ran and after a little pause the bolt quietly slipped open and she came back into the room.

“What? I thought you would have unpacked – but at least you made the bed.”

“I was waiting to ask which side you prefer?”

“How polite. Just in case we ever do have sex, which side do you prefer to roll over to engage?”

“What?”

“Are you deaf?”

“The right side,” he said, sullenly wondering why he was undergoing such an intimate cross-examination. He watched her walk to the left side of the bed and remove her necklace and place it on top of the dresser. She looked up at him defiantly. “Let’s get it over with and have sex now.”

Excitement rocketed through him, tightening his testicles. However, he thought why the rush? With years of training and maintaining deceptive roles he was able to look at her calmly and say, “No thank you; I think you’re too young for me and don’t look flexible or fit enough for the work-outs I prefer.”

He turned and walked out to the living room, hearing hear spit expressively, “You bastard!”

Rod went through the door with a bit of a swagger, fingers tucked under the front of his belt as if the new gunfighter was in town.

He sat quietly waiting. The drawers slammed and the wardrobe door thudded against the window surround. But gradually the noise decreased so he relaxed. The phone went and Nellie called, sweetly, “I’ll take it in the bedroom.”

She called out: “That was our target Mrs Trigg, inviting us up for tea as I told you she had offered to do. I said fifteen minutes.”

“Great.”

“Come and watch me undress.”

In three bounds Rod was moving through the door. Too late – he should have strolled slowly. She was looking at him with a triumphant smile on her face; figuratively, she’d made him shoot himself in the foot.

He silently swore never, never was he going to touch her.

She pulled off her top and appeared to fumble. “I’m butterfingers – could you unhook my bra?”

He hesitated, his hands hanging at his side helplessly.

“Let’s stop playing like children,” Nellie said softly. Come here you big chump and set my boobs free and play with them. We may as well get some personal fun out of this tedious mission. We’re declaring truce, right?”

Rod licked his lips wondering if she could be trusted. The he thought if he gave her the working over of her life she’d follow him around like a puppy.

“Truce,” he sighed, reaching for the back of her bra but she was already holding it in her hand. He went in behind her and slipped hands on to her warm, firm and surprisingly substantial breasts. She turned her head around and they kissed, he feeling her nipples firm against the ends of fingers not needing for the palm-cupping action.

“This is nice,” she cooed, sounding as if she meant it. “What’s that stiffening against the back of my thigh?”

“Your best friend,” he croaked, and she giggled delightfully as if she’d never heard that unoriginal line before.

“It seems a very nice friend. I wonder how I can treat him.”

Rod’s ears with roaring and blood was surging to his midriff. Oh boy.

“Come on, we better spruce up and go.”

Rod shook his head, wondering if he were going deaf. Had she just said they’d better go?”

“I’m sorry to have to do this to you sweetie, but duty calls. The Government is not paying you perhaps three hundred grand a year and me one hundred, plus dislocation allowances, just to fuck our lights out in lieu of going and saying howdy to our suspect. I don’t make the rules. Just squeeze my breasts hard.”

Pouting in frustration, Rod did as he was told.

“Ooh, that’s it. Now I have something to think about while we are on our way back to our pad after coffee and sandwiches. What a lovely day I’m having as a rookie operative.

*  *

 “Darling, please meet Mrs Trigg.”

“Maeve please,” their hostess said, clutching her breast and saying, “Oh my, what a handsome man you are; little wonder you swept Melba off her feet.”

“I took one look at her boobs and I was a goner,” Eric said, the confession causing Maeve to hastily remove her hand from her ample bosom and turn pink.

“I’m already finding him a handful to cope with in public, Maeve. He has little respect for others and politically is a reactionary.”

Eric, surprised that his ‘wife’ had given him a prompt so soon and so expertly, turned serious. “The Government’s been in power too long and has become arrogant and complacent; it needs to go.”

Maeve looked at Eric wide-eyed. “You really mean that, Eric?”

“Of course, but I won’t bore you as everyone knows women are not particularly interest in politics.”

“Don’t be too sure about that – now please be seated; there was no need to change into a dress, Melba, although it’s more appropriate clothing to wear around here.”

Eric knew what to say, tactically: “You ought to see her stripped Maeve – beautiful curves and a really hard body.”

“I’m almost had that pleasure when Melba was struggling to climb out of her little car with dignity,” Maeve said dryly.

 They laughed and that set the tone for the ninety minutes they were together. Before serving afternoon tea they toured through the apartment – Maeve suggesting it after the surprise expressed by Melba that although the layout was exactly the same at their apartment it appeared a little smaller.

“It’s the exterior frontage – it slopes back a little – I’m surprised you haven’t noticed Melba.”

“Oh yes, so the loss of useable space continues incrementally the higher one goes – the top floors would be perhaps fifteen square foot smaller than our apartment.”

“At least fifteen squares, probably more,” Maeve said.

Melba pressed on delicately. “The finish to this apartment is beautiful – far better than ours.”

“Yes. my dear, I had it renovated last year and all manner of changes made to really make it my home. Would you like to see through?”

“No. Thank you but it’s an intrusion.”

“The hostess in my novel would insist,” Eric said, and laughed easily, saying of course that was inventive fiction.

“No, you’re quite right, Eric. It’s just Melba’s touch of shyness coming through. Follow me you two, and no arguments. We are going on an inspection tour.”

 

They sat eating delicate finger food – Maeve preferring tea, her guests chose coffee.

“You have a beautiful home,” Eric said. “It’s a real credit to you. Now that it’s completed, right down to the last tasteful small furnishing, how do you fill in your time? I take it there’s no Mr Trigg.”

“Eric!”

“No, leave him Melba. Mr Trigg lives in Italy with his former secretary, the swine. I occasionally have a gentleman caller and three girlfriends come twice a month for bridge. I also belong to an organization called Ginger Inc that has a particular inspiring vision for the future of this country if and when the voters decided to remove this current obsolete Government.”

“That sounds an interesting group, Maeve,” smiled Melba. “Actually, it sounds like my kind of outfit – people motivated to kick political butt to achieve some real progress to advance nationhood.”

“B-but I gained the impression Eric was the one interested in politics.”

“That quite correct,” Melba said smoothly. He is interested in political theory and policy reform; my interest is in doing something to chip away at the Government, helping to collapse it at the next election. I’d stop short at physical assault or throwing rocks through windows – doing small stuff just to be a nuisance is me. When we buy our house I’ll probably do something about it if I can make suitable contacts. But enough of that – I best take my man home and get him busy.”

“Oh, what he you planned for him – hanging pictures I suppose?”

“No, I’m not very experienced sexually; I’m lining him up to teach me some new moves.”

“Oh goodness,” Maeve said, giggling and blushing. “You young people are so open these days. When Mr Trigg and I married we, like most people we knew, only ever talked about it in bed with the lights out.”

Eric stood up and held out his hand to pull Melba to her feet. “This young lady needs to be doing something else to occupy her mind. At present, it is focused on only one thing but it won’t embarrass you by saying what that is.”

“I can imagine what it is, young man, what with you two just married. I suggest diverting now and again – like swimming in the pool or going for walks. I can recommend some excellent local restaurants.”

“That very nice of you,” Melba said, going in close to their host and smiling. “You have been so kind; I must invite you out for a girls’ lunch one day, giving err, Eric – I almost called him the author – time to get on with his novel. Do you write?”

“Not really, only letters to, um, relatives.”

They parted, all smiles, the suggested lunch outing acknowledged as an excellent idea.

 

Chapter 3

Nellie took Rod’s hand. they raced headlong down the stairs like two out-of-control teenagers.

Sex was hugely on their minds and as the apartment door clunked closed behind them and their bodies slammed together Nellie almost chocked on it: “She’s Madam X.”

“Looks like it.”

Nellie grabbed Rod’s shirtfront with both hands and shook him, unable to control her excitement. “Don’t be a typical cagey man – of course she is.”

“Not necessarily.”

“Is so.”

“Perhaps not.”

“Aaaarrrgh,” she squealed, biting into his shoulder, causing him to pull away with a silent yelp of pain, forehead furrowed.

“Do you want sex or a debate,” she demanded.

“Sex but let’s talk; this thing looms large on our minds.”

Nellie looked confused as if his retort had surprised her. She checked the time, 4:30. “Shouldn’t you be reporting in to Brenda?”

They stood motionless – he looking stunned; she with that me-and-my-big-mouth look painted across her handsome face, although the lip coating required rejuvenation.

The tension was broken when she said, “Sorry.”

“How do you know about Brenda?”

“Because I told Mr Noakes that I wasn’t going on assignment that required me to sleep in the same bed as an old unmarried man who’d be sexually deficient.”

Initially Rod looked shattered and said he’d never thought the chief would breach a confidence like that. But when Nellie said the Unit was aware of twenty-three women who would attest to Rod’s sexual prowess including Brenda whose relationship with Rod had been described to her in some detail, Rod looked decidedly cheerful.

“Heh-heh,” he chuckled. The Unit thinks it’s so clever monitoring us when we’re off duty for security reasons. They’d missed two of them.”

Nellie asked missed two what and looking at the stupid grin saw the answer and snapped, “You pig. You use women just to get your rocks off.”

Dealing with that risk to his current welfare, Rod said smoothly, “Brenda came to mean more to me than just someone to hump, and now that you have appeared on the horizon like a beautiful dawning my wayward ways have slithered to an abrupt halt. My respect for you and desire to help you succeed on your first assignment consumes me with passion.”

Nellie looked at him suspiciously and throughout that scrutiny he remained straight-faced.

“Oh really.” she sighed. “Oh God!” and rushed him.

He was too slow to move completely aside with matador finesse as he was still admiring the echo in his head of his eloquence.

Pink-faced with protruding tongue flopped sideways clamped by her teeth, she arrested her charge by hooking fingers under his belt and almost toppled him. The momentum flung her against him and in the now soundless room the noise of a wildly jerked zip sounded.

Run, stay and be brutalized or clip her over the head to knock sense into the rampaging woman? At that Rod’s brain went dizzy and refused to work properly and was then overcome with rising lust. He received a firm push in the chest and cooperatively fell to the carpet, conscious of the flash of bared thigh as a leg swung over him before the dress fluttered to rest over his chest as she was facing away from him.

“Come here my friend,” he heard her gurgle, feeling his briefs being pulled down. “Oh, aren’t you a handsome guy.”

For a brief instant as her lips wet the head and collar, he almost disgraced himself, but rolling his eyes back under closed lids, mouth opened as if praying, the crisis eased – though it still felt tough and go. What was that? Then he knew – his nose and her arousal had connected.

Desperately, he thought about one of his greatest humiliations – when a youth playing in Round One of the club tennis champion and his opponent grinning idiotically as he beat the crap out of Rod.

Oh, the humiliation, far worse than premature ejaculation.

Rod left tennis and took up training in unarmed combat with the aim of one day breaking the wrists and ankles of his tennis opponent. That cowardly act became unnecessary as the idiot impregnated the girl who’d left Rod for the tennis hero and their parents forced them to marry. Heh-heh.

She was talking to him.

“Can I have some action here?”

Ohmigod, she was sliding up and down on him: where had he been?

Her dress was around her waist but the elastic of her knickers appeared to be clamping his left testicle and her bra was handing off the small chandelier. How did that get up there?

Rod grunted and moved his arse, prepared to get into synch and reached up with both hands and squeezed two very hard nipples. She squealed and jerked and squealed again and feel back against him, almost breaking her friend in half.

“Omigod, omigod,” she panted. “You are the sexiest man I’ve ever known. I’ve came in two waves in a flood. So quickly and so hugely. Usually it takes me half the night before I spurt.”

“Anything for you baby,” Rod sighed, patting her belly. “Ready to go again?”

She said no, apparently having received satisfaction and became grossly graphic: “It’s like a swamp down there. Perhaps later.”

Well, there’s a first for everything, thought Rod, now patting his now freed and under-used working gear.

 

While they were preparing to leave for the restaurant, Maeve phoned to say there would be drinks in the foyer next evening organized by the chairman of the management committee, Mrs Lomax, so everyone could meet the new occupants.

“Drinks in the foyer tomorrow evening at 6:00,” Nellie called from the bedroom dresser, after answering the landline phone.

“That’s nice, we’ll be on show and able to act like a couple that’s having sex,” Rod called, having had his shower, shave and had dressed while Nellie had been waiting for her bath to fill. He turned up the digital music player for privacy, picking up his phone and making two calls.

The first call was to a monitor where his message would be downloaded anonymously and the recording hand-delivered to Buster Noakes as a security measure.

“Hi chief – your favourite guy calling,” grinned Rod, in his element. “Excellent progress being made; my PA is a little ripper. Hoping you and the missus have resumed sexual relations again after the tiff after your last indiscretion. Talking of satisfying sex, I really think when I’ve finished this appraisal you ought to assign my little helper to an executive of her generation, someone she would adore. My recommendation is Moncrieff. That’s it.”

Rod then called Brenda.

 

Nellie swept into the room in a multi-colour strapless summer dress and multi-strapped 6-inch-high heels, teeth gleaming and a lilt to her voice. “I always feel so energized an hour after sex,” she cooed. “You clever boy.”

God, she was great, Rod sighed.

“Oh sweetie, tired from your great performance. Shall we cancel going out?”

“No, I’m fine.”

Nellie looked at him apprehensively. Are you sure, you’re red in the face and almost forty. You know what that means.”

“That my next birthday after that will be my 41st?”

“No, it means the mid-age crisis will consume you, tolling grimly that it’s now all downhill.”

“Shut up,” he grinned, his stomach churning. What the hell was she talking about?

She blew him a kiss, picked up her keys and said she’d drive, because he’d feel like celebrating his thoughts that he could still satisfy a woman.”

“What?”

“You’ll ultimately loose that ability to get your rocks off as well. I’ll talk to you about your male crisis over dinner.”

Rod slunk out the door after her almost like a dog dragging on a lead.

*  *

Brenda put the phone down gingerly, very uneasy as Rod had never contacted her while on assignment before – he said it was because of security. What this his way of saying goodbye - Au revoir, Adios, Auf Wiedersehen?

She’d got such a shock when picking up the phone and finding it was him that she sat down and emptied her lungs.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, just immensely surprised.”

“I’m missing you Brenda.”

He was somewhat dismayed by her reply.

“Oh yeah, and how many times have you had your saucy little companion squealing?”

There was a brief silence but she could hear him breathing with loud music in the background. They were probably drunk, doped to the eyeballs and his fellow spy, was away at the toilet douching.

“You know I don’t talk about my work but to ease your mind I’ll say this: She’s verbally aggressive and is as tall as I am. She won’t give an inch.”

“Ha-ha,” Brenda laughed, not at all bitterly. “I bet she gets at inch or two.”

“Brenda.”

“Oh, sorry. I wish I hadn’t said that.”

“It’s fine, apology accepted. I know this extraordinary relationship must be difficult for you. I’m only calling because we are both aware this is the first time I’ve been teamed with a female and you might…well, women can be troubled by this sort of set-up, imagining all sorts of things.”

“Oh really?”

“You don’t?”

“I didn’t say that.”

He hesitated. “How are the kids.”

“Great – I’ve persuaded Linda to have her boyfriend come and leave through the front door but told her I don’t want to see him in the house. That excited her and she kissed me and arrived home that evening with an expensive box of chocolates for me. It overwhelmed me.”

“If you like that reaction then tell her to invite Simon to a family dinner. Then you’ll have her back as you pal again.”

“What?”

“You heard – she’d a young woman now and if you treat her as such she’ll more than appreciate that and do anything for you.”

Brenda momentarily fell speechless.

“How can you of all people know that?”

He laughed and said because he’d been around and he knew women.

“I bet,” said Brenda. “I’m bored and missing you.”

“Then put more effort into you job.”

“The job is boring with no big new issues at the moment.”

“Then recommend to the mayor of council they vote to put the rates up 40 percent to upgrade various services.”

“But that would raise a rumpus from those who pay local taxes.”

“Then with that going on, being the person pilloried, you wouldn’t be bored, would you? And in the end with your agreeing to compromise with the community and cut back the proposed increase to 30 percent, you’d be regarded as a hero.”

“I would?”

“Absolutely.”

“What illegal substance are you on?”

“Nothing – we’ve getting ready to go out for dinner when my PA for some reasons wants to lecture me about something she calls a mid-life crisis. She’s only twenty-four by the way – I’m old enough to be her father.”

“Oh God, you’ll be forty next year and the worry is gnawing away at you, isn’t it? Oh, my poor darling.”

There was a moment of shocked silence from both of them.

Brenda had never used that word on him.

“Worry, me worry? Forty’s just another birthday.”

“Oh, my poor man – you’re in denial, aren’t you?”

Rod considered the phrase ‘my poor man’ before answering and decided that was very possessive of Brenda to emote like that.

“No, there’s no need for me to be in denial. I’m still somewhat youthful, fitter than most guys my age, can kill with my hands…um…I mean I excel at self-defence and no woman has ever complained about my performance.”

“Indeed, but I do point out that forty is half way to eighty.”

“Halfway,” Rod said weakly. “I…oh here comes my PA. Must go. Love talking to you,”

 

Linda walked into the lounge and said to her mom, “Are you okay? You look in shock.”

“He’s just said he loved talking to me.”

“That’s dinky but who’s he?”

Linda looked at her mother reaching for the gold chain around her throat, the hugely expensive gift last Christmas from Rod.

“Oh God, he’s called you, when on assignment that’s something he never does. An operational no-no he terms it. He’s called because he’d in love with you, or at least realizes he’s falling in love. Don’t look shocked and scaring him with mid-age crap – enjoy the moment. Be thrilled, even if it’s only a passing phase enjoy it while you have it. This is life, mum.”

Brenda burst into tears and Linda took her into her arms.

“That’s the way mum – enjoy it.”

*  *

When the waitress arrived with their drinks and left with their food order, Nellie kicked off a shoe and slipped the stocking foot between her dinner date’s thighs until it could go no farther. She then wriggled it, harder and harder until she saw him wince and then eased back with the foot-play.

“Someone will see you misbehaving; there’s no table cloth to conceal your inappropriate dinner manners.”

“My what?” she giggled.

 Regaining her composure, Nellie said to Rod: “Look around, do you know anyone in this room.”

“The only person I know in this neighbourhood is Maeve and she’s not here because I can’t hear her loud voice.”

“So be brave and let my foot work on you.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“You’re not brave.”

“Half the people in this room probably will be at drinks tomorrow evening; this restaurant is the closest one to our apartment.”

“Oh, you stupid cow,” Nellie said lecturing herself and hastily withdrawing her foot and sitting up demurely. “You could have warned me.”

He smiled.

*  *

Nellie thought, that smile, it just melts one’s heart, and coming from a sex fiend old enough to be her father she needed her head examined for becoming emotional attached to him.

As he picked his nose – well, probably he was attempting to snag a wayward hair – Nellie examined the face. She’d term in ruggedly handsome although losing the softness and smoothness of youth unquestionably but still pretty good for his age and amazingly good actually for a guy without a woman permanently at his side supplying him with cleansers, moisturizers and skin conditioners.

Perhaps he had the nous to care for his skin himself, knowing he’d have to look a top model if he were to continue to pull in the babes at his age.

Hmm. When it became clear she’d be sleeping with a 40-year-old, she’d almost died, although knowing sex even between mutually consenting operatives was a no-no. Now she felt she would have died had he not allowed her to have her way with him. Was he something!

She loved his hard, muscular body and the graceful way he moved – light-footed and all timing; not doubt he’d be a wonderful dancer. His mouth had a slightly cruel drop to it but that figured, after all he was the Unit’s top operative. She’d admired how easily he’d backed her up when talking to Maeve, pushing it and yet appearing to be ever so disinterested and almost yawning.

Best of all she loved his wide-spaced eyes – so light blue she’d call them summer day blue. Talking to her, she knew those eyes were often telegraphing he wanted to seduce her and yet when he was chatting to Maeve they were telegraphing ‘I’m your friend’ and whenever she confronted him they simply switched off, very neutral, very non-revealing.

He was like a snake ready to strike perhaps.

A snake – she shuddered as she had a thing about snakes, rodents, frogs and yuk, spiders.

“You okay; you shivered.”

“No, I’m fine, it’s warm. I was mentally seducing you and almost had an orgasm.”

He looked around quickly but conversations at nearby tables had not stopped and nobody was staring at them. She wondered if beads of sweat were punching through his brow. She smiled internally, knowing she’d found a weakness – perhaps there were more. He found it difficulty dealing with impropriety in public. Ooh, how sweet.

He was saying something to her: “We went amazingly well with Maeve.”

“Do you think so?” she asked, using a wee bit of academic training to coax him along.

“Yeah, you were cute stringing her along about how nice the over-furnished and over-colourized room was; women like that kind of talk, it seems to assure them that the nest is okay.”

Nellie blinked. Was that really him talking? That was far too profound for him; perhaps he was being used as a ventriloquist’s dummy.

“What’s the joke,” he asked.

“I’m trying to imagine Maeve’s face change if I revealed who we were,” she lied.

He apparently bit back a rebuke, smiled and said that was a good one.

“Although we rehearsed several times the things we would introduced conversationally, I thought me slipping in the bit about you being a political reactionary was a bit too early.”

“No,” he said. “It dropped it so smoothly, as smooth as that skin over your breasts.”

At that Nellie felt her fingernails turn and bite in her palms. She coughed. He asked ‘water’ and handed her his glass. She drank, thanked him and said it must have been a bread crumb.

“Our bread’s only just arriving now,” he said curiously but fortunately the waitress diverted his attention.

“I apologize for the wait,” she smiled. “One of my blasted suspender straps came adrift and was hanging down in view because of these ridiculously short dresses management makes us wear.”

“Perhaps I can attempt a repair?” Rod offered gallantly.

“That’s kind of you but I’ve sewn it back on,” said the waitress, and looking at Nellie said, “Isn’t he cute; no wonder you’re with him.”

Rod resumed the conversation without apparently having to recollect his thoughts, as if that diversion was an everyday occurrence.

“You were masterly when declining Maeve’s invitation to see through her apartment. You were so laid-back your comment was almost saying you’d seen enough already thank you.”

“Yes, I thought perhaps I should have dithered. But you came in so smoothly – almost like the skin…”

She countered with a frown and like a snake he struck: “Another glass of wine, sweetheart?”

“Sweetheart? But before Nellie could enjoy the flutter sweeping through her, she noticed two people sitting down at the nearby table, looking at them. They were the couple from the apartment coming in from the pool as they were leaving for the restaurant.

Their trainers had emphasized the need to keep cool, calm and collected at all times. These people were not any immediate threat to them providing she and Rod stopped talking about their target.

“Yes, more wine thanks darling. Now about this mid-age crisis of yours.”

*  * 

Rod wasn’t having a mid-age crisis. What was wrong with Nellie and Brenda attempting to force a mid-age crisis on him.  Had those two managed to make contact and this was some sort of conspiracy to force him to retire and seek employment more suitable for the elderly, or were both women just overly influenced by universal stereo-typing?

“There is no place in my life for a mid-age crisis,” he told Nellie firmly. “You are far more interesting when you’re yapping on about your interest in sex.”

Nellie didn’t dare look up as she knew everyone nearby would be looking at them.

“Lovely wine,” she muttered.

When she felt settled again, a long fifteen seconds later, Nellie offered: “I am intelligent and informed, err Eric. I know there are more important things to think about – employment security, attempting to remain debt free, concern about ‘P-labs’ and home invasion, abominable TV programming, the unreliable weather, local government charges and filing tax returns accurately and on time, to name a few.”

“But there are people who truly believe you are over the hill at the forty, facing the prospect of no more boozing, no more sex, walking sticks and the pension.”

“Then I best booze along tonight and be in for heaps of sex, eh? Rod laughed, in a voice much too loud for Nellie’s comfort.

“I can talk to you about mid-life with authority, my father is a health psychologist and I majored in psychology at university.”

“Talk away,” he said kindly, refilling her glass.

Nellie took a wee sip from her glass and began: “Mid-life is usually the period when you have job security, life has become almost too routine, the challenges you have faced have faded and the stress you had of trying to manage problems and get where you wanted to be are now mainly behind you.”

“I reached that stage when I turned thirty and decided not to get married,” Rod laughed.

He was ignored.

“The next stage is having worries about mortality, depression about your failed ambition and shame at your sagging midriff – either being weighed down by disillusionment or just giving up and accepting your fate.”

He was grinning again.

“Think about what you’ve just said – none of that is me, nor is it likely to be. Right?”

“I admit that pattern does not seem to fit comfortably with you. But the metamorphosis of mid-life change will hit you eventually. There will no longer be such an intense neurological demand to seek excitement which would stimulate brain chemicals.”

Rod participated in an exercise guaranteed to kill brain cells by emptying the remains of the bottle of wine into his glass and ordering a replacement bottle.

Glancing at the couple sitting rather close to them, he appeared to recall they were on a million.

“Melba, if what you say it meant to apply to me, all I can say is I have no plans of giving up sex and the exciting way I approach that activity places me at risk at over stimulating my brain chemicals. Any more pearls of wisdom to cast in my direction?”

“Yes, just this one and think about it seriously, please. Mid-life will take you into new and dangerous territory, according to one authority we were referred to who believes that reaching such an apex in life presents you with the opportunity of becoming the person you were meant to be, achieving your full potential of spiritual and psychological wholeness.”

Waiting for the wine delivery to top up Nellie’s glass, Rod thanked her for the sermon and said he’d think about what she’d said seriously but he was bound to disappoint her because no way was he prepared to be driven into a wacky feeling of mid-life crisis by head shrinks.

“I think you misrepresent the situation by…”

“That’s enough, Nellie. It’s my view and I’m sticking with it. I’m concentrating on keeping healthy, at peak fitness, drinking my share of booze and getting more than my share of sex and doing my best to ensure the world is a better place to live in.”

At that, applause broke out from the tables around them.

Nellie fled to the restroom.

She returned, smiling, carrying her shoes and said, “Let’s enjoy life and what we have, darling. I feel famished. I think I’ll have to cut back on sex.”

Conversation at nearby tables subsided and Nellie winked at Rod.

 

Chapter 4

Nude, Nellie emerged from the bathroom with a huge smile of expectation and carrying a large towel and two hand towels.

Disappointment showed when she saw that Rod was on his back, mouth open, fast asleep. He appeared to be acting out his mid-age crisis like a veteran,

She sighed, pulled out the training manual, ‘The Art of Non-Violent Successful Interrogation’ and read herself asleep. Seven hours later she slowly emerged from sleep to feel a delicious sensation; her clit was the subject of delicate finger-tip manipulation.

“Is that you, Rod?” she asked dreamily.

“Yeah, you like this?”

“Ooh yes.”

“Save some for me later.”

“There’s no problem; I’m one of those girls who generates multiple climaxes.

*  *

Brenda Shapiro was reading, new glasses perched on her nose and occasionally glancing at the sky losing colour from intense pink.’

She awoke hours later, enjoying the sight of a light orange dawn heralding in a new day.

She sighed, looking at the empty place beside her and tried not to think of a woman almost half her age being in bed beside her Rodric. Brenda found it incredible that whatever work they did required those two to actually sleep together. It sounded like they were working on a porn movie film but she suspected it was secret agent work – those night calls he received, usually just answered with a “Hi”, “Yes,” “Give me an hour.”

She hoped it was legitimate work for their own Government rather than a foreign government of it wasn’t industrial espionage.

Brenda read another few chapters of ‘Brent Majors – International Spy’ she’d borrowed from the local library, the intention being to get some understanding of Rod’s work.

She received some explicitly understanding in one direction – Brent Majors seemed to be impeded in his work by having sex with women on the good guys’ side, villainous women and those women involved in the middle on basic duties such as room service and cabin attendants on aircraft. There was even a woman cab driver who asked for it and got it, claiming she couldn’t give Brent Major’s change for his ten-buck fare when all he had on him were one hundred buck notes.

The fate of the nation teetered in balance while Brent performed his manly duties – just like a man, thought Brenda: sex before duty. She was just beginning a part where Brent Majors was actually doing something towards cracking the case when the door flew open in walked Linda, dressed only in panties, carrying a tray with two mugs and a coffee pot and two plump chicken breasts.

“You’re practically nude,”

“I put on briefs to avoid criticism; do you want me to go?”

“No, of course not Linda; jump in beside me. What has you awake so early?”

“Sex seems to energize me whereas poor Simon appears to be in a coma. Are you coping OK with your glasses?”

“Yes, I now see all the words and can read in dim light. It makes me feel old.”

Linda handed across the black coffee with two sugars and eying her mother said, “You have great tits, I know what he sees in you.”

“I’ll buy a nightdress if you are going to be personal like that. And please don’t use that disgusting word – call them breasts, or if you must, boobs.”

“You’re worried about the next forty years, aren’t you?”

Brenda jerked in surprise, almost spilling her coffee.

“What?”

“Now that you’ve turned forty you are looking for the spread of grey hairs, noting the wrinkles are becoming longer and deeper, the eyes are fading, the bones are beginning to creak, your navel appears to be coming up to your tits and…”

“For my bright, beautiful and vivacious older daughter you can become very depressing and disobedient. I said to call them…”

“Loosen up mum, it’s only a word and it’s the only life you’re going to get. I want him to give me away, and so does Paula.”

Brenda appeared to be confused. “Who, give what away?”

Linda grinned like a grey nurse shark.

“Our new father, that’s who.”

Brenda dropped her glasses on to the book in her lap.

“Y-you want me to go out looking for a new father for you? Oh God, what am I hearing here?”

The shark circled, showing teeth.

“Oh my, our devious mother is stalling for time. You know I mean Rod. It’s time to rope him in, mother – or at least go down trying. If you allow him to slip into some other women’s arms it would be a national crime. Paula and I would like him as our stepfather to give us away at our weddings and we want you to have someone to love when we leave home.”

“Todd is too self-centred to know it yet, but he’ll come to experience that concern as well. At present’ he’s totally focused on Mrs Daniels.”

“Oops.”

“What, that pretty new bride living with her grandparents three houses along from us while her husband completed his military training?”

“That’s the one.”

“How did you find out?”

“She told me at gym. Now, here’s the juicy bit – she says Todd is fantastic in bed. She says her younger sister is coming to stay and…”

“Linda, I don’t want to hear about such disgusting things.”

“…and Gwyneth could be very interested in Todd because, to quote Lucinda, he has all the manly attributes to appeal to her rather shy sister.”

Hand at her throat. Brenda looked appealing at her daughter: “Is that good or bad?”

“Who knows? But Lucinda showed me a photo of Gwyneth she has stored on her phone and she looks fantastic.  Lucinda’s pregnant and she…”

“Pregnant, oh God!”

Linda patted her mother and urged her to keep calm, saying Lucinda had the news about her pregnancy before Kenny returned to training and she took up with Todd because she became enchanted with his blue eyes. He dropped in the habit of talking to her when passing her grandparent’s house and she was desperate for young company.

“But now she’d made quite a few girlfriends through Todd and is having a rough time with morning sickness and has decided to give up sex and the gym for a while until her system settles down.”

“Ah, she’s calling in her sister to appease Todd?”

“Actually, I think Gwyneth is between jobs and has chosen to spend two weeks with her sister before she takes up her new job.”

Looking a little rattle, Brenda said that at least that left Paula likely to stay around longer time because she didn’t appear to be interested in dates, spending most of her time socially with her three best girlfriends.

“Mum, she’s rather focused on her girlfriends, but the right guy will come along, hit her button and she will be into a relationship that even you would approve of.”

Brenda rolled her eyes, deciding not to ask Linda what that ‘focused’ comment meant. “You seem to be so worldly, Linda, what do I have to do?”

“What, to snare Rod or to deal with your forties crisis?”

“Forties crisis – but I’m in not crisis.”

“You must be, mum – you’ve turned forty.”

“Oh.”

Linda went off to start preparing breakfast for everyone leaving Brenda uneasy.

She picked up her new glasses, looking at them as symbolic of her apparent mid-life crisis. She phoned Dot Robertshaw and arranged to meet for lunch to discuss a problem that had cropped up. Her friend Dot was a psychologist and would be able to tell Brenda what she had to fear.

*  *

Dot waved as she approached and as they kissed said admiringly, “God, you’re looking great – have you got yourself a lover?” turning Brenda’s complexion three shades darker.

“Someone is seeing me occasionally.”

Dot looked impressed saying that was the ideal arrangement for some people who liked keeping the house tidy, less hair on the bathroom floor and not so much laundry or shopping to do when the extra person was not in the house regularly.

Brenda said vaguely she and her occasional companion liked eating out after going to a movie or walking together, to which Dot said rather pointedly, “I bet,” as they sat at a table at the back of the restaurant overlooking the river.

Dot was ignored when she asked was the purpose of lunch, to invite her to join in a threesome. Dot was known for her quirky humour and was from a picture-perfect family and was building a replica one herself.

“How’s life been since your fortieth?”

“It’s been bubbling – oh God, I know what this is about; you’ve hit the wall?”

“Err, no – at least I don’t think so,” replied Brenda and was told when you hit a wall you definitely know you’ve hit a wall.

Brenda explained that her daughter Linda was trying to convince her she was either entering or about to enter mid-life change and it could be tough to cope with.

“Are you?”

“I’m sure I’m not.”

Dot touched her old friend on the wrist affectionately and then asked why were they having this conversation?”

“I really don’t know; I guess I felt that we should and I thought buying you lunch would be cheaper than visiting you at your consulting rooms.”

“You are a crafty bitch Brenda, and you always were.”

They laughed and decided to order wine instead of health drinks. They both stared at the backside of the waiter as he walked off.

“What are you thinking?”

“That men have their purpose.”

Brenda was told that was profound and a healthy attitude, that she should continue to look forward to having a man visit her bed, maintaining fitness and work at promoting good health and thinking positively. Dot said mid-age anxiety was just that – anxiety. Happy people have difficulty becoming anxious as do successful people and people busy in their life pursuing new goals and trying to improve on what they’ve got or coping with change positively.

“Those people tend to avoid staring down the barrel and in my opinion you are not one of those. It’s important to stay in touch with reality and avoid wishing you were young, wishing you had been more active, and worry about challenging things that you believe require fearless young minds and suppleness.

“It’s futile thinking you can no longer regard challenges as being achievable. Looking ahead with confidence and tempered expectations are the way to go as there is nothing anyone can do about growing old.”

Brenda smiled at her friend. “Thanks – that’s underpinned my confidence, I think.”

Dot looked a little worried.

“You think? Come on, Brenda, I don’t want to hear ‘I think’. Are you having an affair with a much younger person?”

“No, he turns forty soon. He’s never mentioned hitting the hump – that word has a different meaning for him.”

They giggled.

 

As they parted after lunch, Dot insisting on paying for it on her business card she said she had two final points to made: “Ensure both of you work on keeping your energy and fitness levels up and you’ll continue on like young lovers until the passion begins wearing off and by then you should have other mutual pursuits to maintain your interest. Remember Brenda, the so-called mid-life crisis is a psychological state.”

They kissed and Brenda suggest they should go out for dinner as a foursome but Dot and Terry would have to promise not to question her man about his background and definitely not about his work.

“Oh Brenda,” smiled Dot hugely. “A man of mystery who’s a tad younger than you. He’d probably a spy or big into supplying drugs or prostitutes. How exciting!”

 

Brenda walked off thinking what Linda had shouted as her some days ago: ‘What, you let him fuck you and don’t know anything about him!’

Small wonder she’d blurted that out – Linda wasn’t at all expressing disapproval; it excited Linda that her mother had found herself a man of mystery.

With her mind cleared and feeling rather pleased with herself, bolstered by Dot, Brenda went shopping after work and purchased four sets of sexy underwear and ten pairs of stay-up stockings.

She resolved to dump her panty hose because the night she wore her sole pair of fishnets Rod had gone crazy, throwing her on to the bed and licking all over the white flesh above her stocking tops.

At the time, she’d thought it was the alcohol driving him but when walking back earlier today it had dawned on her he had a stockings fetish but the tight-lipped devil had not disclosed that to her.

Brenda practically whistled as she went to the crisis meeting with the Mayor, chairman of the finance committee and the council’s finance director to discuss the proposal she’d sent out to all councillors without first having it approved by the internal policy and action committee chaired by the Mayor.

The incensed Mayor Cummings had warned her arrogance could cost Brenda her job.

“Come on Charlie – attack the message, not the message-carrier,” she’d giggled.

He definitely was not amused.

*  *

UNIT field operative Rodric Macrae awoke to find something soft closing around his nose and mouth – the scent of which forewarned this was not a life-threatening situation requiring emergency action. He explored with his tongue and instantly was greeted with a delightful soft squeal.

Eventually, Nellie panted herself into a climax.

Rod athletically flipped her on to her stomach and dragged her shoulders towards him, bunching her back on to her bended knees so her very moist cunt glistened at him. He licked, only once, and she convulsed and moaned, “Put it in, put it in.”

Obediently, Rod did as he’d been told, feeding into the very moist and muscular channel that already was clamping him firmly. He worried that her tightness was almost causing him to fire far too early.

He thought of Maeve Trigg and her unattractive folds of fat, presumably generated by thirty plus years of scoffing cream cakes with no remedial physical activity and/or a poor metabolism and the signals urging his nuts to do their job faded from the urgent ‘Fire!’ level.

Sinking into a steady stroking pattern and swaying his hips slightly, he leered as his feisty colleague became a hard-ball mass of bucking frenzy. He leant forward and reaching under just touched her nipples and she screeched and he felt the orgasm rip through her body.

Never had he found it so easy to get a woman off – she really was something, though admittedly she would have had sex on her mind and she was letting it rip.

He thought that before too long the guy who married her would be afraid at coming home at nights because her energy and ability to keep driving into another orgasm, would scare him a little.

“Coming?” he thought he heard her inquire and was wondering if that was what she said when she squeezed his nuts and one of her fingers tickled the sensitive skin between his ball bag and butthole.

“Whaaaaaaaagh!” he went, caught by surprise, firing off salvoes that that had her screaming, “Oh God, oh God!”

He wondered if the apartment sound-proofing would stop the noise reaching their neighbours who would be gathering for cocktails. Rod pulled back and Nellie rolled on to her back, holding out her arms for him.

Rod figured she wouldn’t like him racing off to the bathroom as soon as he’d disconnected and went into her arms and licked her breasts, amazed that this time they seemed liked swollen hard lumps of muscle.

“That was the best fuck I’ve ever had – I’m near exhausted,” she said sleepily, saying “Yes” when Rod nervously sought confirmation that she was on the pill.

Just as he was about to wriggle free she murmured something that sounded very much like ‘Marry me’. Rod stayed petrified, not moving until he felt her breathing slip into a very regular rhythm.

The thought of trying to match her passion in another ten years when he’d be fifty made him feel dizzy. He decided to go for a swim.

 

Maeve Trigg was in the pool, moving very slowing and showing amazing buoyancy.

She halted her slow-motion breast-stroking and said, “Your immediate neighbours are concerned about the obscene noises coming from your apartment. They realize you are newly-weds but suggest you get your wife to shout those obscenities into a pillow when she’d climaxing.”

Rod was riled. “Haven’t those old people got anything better to do than to complain?”

“No.”

Maeve smiled and Rod feeling guilty shuffled his feet and said, “Sorry, that was insensitive of me. We’ll try new positions.”

“What?” said Maeve, appearing to be very interested.

“Err, I shouldn’t be having this conversation,” Ron said, saying it was a lovely day.

Maeve replied yes and said he had a marvellous body and Rod dove in (to escape her inspection) and swam thirty lengths before his energy left him. Maeve called out he had a wonderful style and patted the sun-loafer beside her, inviting him to join her.

Rod couldn’t refuse; it was his duty to butter up the suspect. She handed him a container of mixed nuts and said he could have coffee if he didn’t mind using her cup – the cap of the flask.

“No, that will be fine.”

That non-rejection of her used cup seemed to please Maeve, who said he seemed to be such a nice man.

“What do you think of my body?” she asked, looking at him intently.

Rob tried to be diplomatic.

“You’re beyond my upper age limit, Maeve, who giggled and said he was naughty thinking like that and any how she had Mr Monroe; trying to appease a young man like Rod would kill her.

“You are grossly over-weight.”

“Ah, the truth. What can I do about it?” she sighed.

Rod didn’t pull punches.

“Have some of the excess removed surgically, eat less and more appropriately and then take up Pilates, employing a personal trainer if you could afford it, walk more and when swimming put much more effort into it. You could consult your doctor and a health fitness professional consultant.”

“The motivation, I lack the motivation,” she whined.

“Would a kick in the arse help? I’d volunteer.”

Maeve’s mouth twitched and she burst into laughter.

“You are a very rude man.”

Rod laughed and said an alternatively would be for her to make an appointment with her doctor and once she had the all-clear to proceed with a slow build-up to moderate exercise he’d find a suitable health consultant for her.

Maeve expressed her gratitude just as Nellie arrived wearing a dressing gown. She said Rod and Maeve looked cosy.

“We are indeed,” Maeve said. “You have snared yourself a very lovely man. There is no need to wear a dressing gown between your apartment and the pool for reasons of proprietary my dear.”

“I have to – my body is covered with red patches and finger bruising,” she said. “Himself here made a pig of himself today.”

Rod excused himself, leaving the two women talking.

The first thing that Maeve told undercover-agent Nellie was that the cocktail party for them that night to meet some of the other residents had been cancelled because of the obscene pandemonium. To say that some of the residents had been shocked at the extent of foul-mouthed screaming would be an understatement,

“What obscene pandemonium has been occurring around here?” Nellie asked innocently.

*  *

Back in the apartment, now being referred to be some fellow-residents as the House of Filth, he called the chief and asked to details on a possible new client, a Mr Monroe. He then waited for the reply to come back in coded email. Ten minutes later he decoded the reply. There was only one locally named Monroe in the district, the name Maeve had mentioned.

‘Alf Monroe lives two miles away from your apartment. Three convictions as political activist; apparently inactive these days – sounds encouraging and confirms you’re doing more than satisfying Nellie. Keep away from Alf – we’ll monitor his phones.’

Rod was astonished the chief had mentioned sexual connection with Nellie.

Buster Noakes always maintained that what operatives did when on assignment was their business so long as they attempted to keep inside the law unless it was in the best interest of the UNIT not to do so and their personal pursuits didn’t compromise their mission.

Either the chief was taking a fatherly interest in Nellie or he was jealous of Rod having possible access to that lovely body.

Rod sent a coded reply that would unravel to state:

‘Roger. Could crack this possibly within three days. Suggest Nellie be teamed with Moncrieff – similar ages and could team brilliantly.’

The chief knew about the existence of Brenda and so should get Rod’s drift. The chief was no thickhead. Moncrieff had also requested being assigned an attractive woman as a permanent partner, Moncrieff had told Rod that, baring his teeth.

Rod thought about Brenda, wondering how she was doing, hoping she was happy but missing him. He hoped that Linda was filling her life with sex while waiting for university to start the new year semester and that Paula was still managing to keep her secret from her mother about she and her three girlfriends.

According to Lisa it was becoming increasingly prevalent for young women to practice safe-sex with other females until they came across a male they felt comfortable with. Lisa was vague about how they would occur, saying “It will happen.”

Rod had not actually caught them at it, coming to the house ahead of Brenda, but their guilt on their faces told him something and then one of them dropped the box she was holding and out spilled a couple of ‘toys’ similar to what Brenda kept in the bottom drawer of her bedside cabinet.

Rod stopped that thinking with a jolt.

What was he on about? It was all about sex. What was wrong with him – there were a lot more things to life than sex?

Oh yeah, what were they, he grinned, then kicked himself for being so gauche. He thought that his life seemed fuller when he was with Brenda, doing ‘other’ things such as reading the newspaper together on Sunday morning, drinking coffee in a café, then walking along the riverside.

Brenda’s kids kept releasing tales of misery or being hyped up almost beyond belief. They would be gone within three to five years but one or perhaps two out of the three might stick around in the vicinity and drop in for a bit of family bonding, including him as well if he were lucky.

Perhaps he could be lucky in that direction and be considered almost as family if he treated their mother as something more than a convenient…whatever.

It dawned on Rod that he had something at his fingertips he seemed to desire. He…

Nellie came bursting in, highly excited, and from her handbag carefully handed Rod a small package – wax impression of Madam X’s front door key,” she chortled. “I made it while Maeve went to the loo leaving me to guard her handbag and keys. I said to her we were surprised that our apartment had no security system and she said there was no need as there were security cameras at the two entrances and both were alarmed.”

“We knew that of course. But we didn’t know whether she had installed her own alarm – which she hasn’t. I told her you were on a writing binge today so invited her out to dinner – and she accepted. And so, tonight is the night for you to inspect the suspected Madam X’s apartment at your leisure. Aren’t I brilliant?”

“You’re a little beauty, Nellie, congratulations,” he said, kissing her cheek and stepping back before she had the chance to start something. She cancelled out that rebuff when they were resting after a wine and salad lunch prepared by Nellie while Rod slipped out and had a key made by a shady-looking locksmith from the wax impression that Nellie had made while at the pool.

Neither of them had any compunction about their underhand activities under the apparent guise of friendship with Maeve; their training was to treat any suspect as the enemy at all times.

 

Rod entered Maeve’s apartment at 8:15 that faced away from the main entrance and the pool. He noted the positions of the drapes and after closing them turned on the lights and began his search. It didn’t take long to find the cache; he figured the most likely place would be the dressing room attached to the master bedroom.

Wearing gloves and a hairnet to avoid leaving clues that might be found under a careful forensic investigation, he noted the positions of the two racks of shoes on either side of the seat pad, removed the shoes and ran his fingers under the overhanging wood edge, feeling two steel pins about a meter apart. He pushed both simultaneously and the spring mechanism lifted up the whole top of the storage shelf: time 8:19.

Carefully he lifted out items, replacing them exactly where he’d found them and before closing the lid checked but found no piece of cotton that had been cunningly placed and would indicate if the cover had been tampered with. He used a special miniature camera to photograph

He closed it and left the apartment after readjusting the drapes and turning out all the lights bar the lamp that had been left on by Maeve. He entered his apartment, removing his gloves, at 8:57.

A couple of minutes later Rod called the chief and four hours later met Buster Noakes in a movie theatre car park across the city when he reported verbally and handed across the camera.

“Good work Rod, these exhibits probably establish Mrs Trigg as the malicious letter-writer Madam X. But she wouldn’t be working alone; it would require professionals or semi-professionals to collect the explicit verification data attached to those letters to facilitate quick verification. Madam X is unlikely to possess the wherewithal to gather that intelligence herself.”

“Agreed chief, but before I gave you the information about the leader of the group I want you to agree to push for Mrs Trigg to be treated lightly. She’s a bored, lively-minded woman who was seduced into writing those genuine letters under her own name, apparently in returned for being seduced occasionally – I guess after dinning out expensively.”

The chief bristled, telling Rod he was on dangerous grounds and was liable to be charged for attempting to negotiate with his superior when releasing classified information.”

“I’ll not warn you again, Macrae.”

“Sorry chief, but morally I feel I’m doing the right thing.”

“Look here Macrae, I’ve warned you before at calling me chief.”

With that outburst, Rod knew he’d have his request accepted.

“I’ll do my best to persuade the authorities to go easy on Mrs Trigg.”

Ron told him they would find Mrs Trigg’s diary under the seat in the dressing room that established her association with Jonathon Alfred Monroe. The diary contained Monroe’s address and the list of the other twenty-two people in ‘Silence!’ presumably the name of the underground anti-government group.

The cache included a print-out of politically critical letters written by Mrs Trigg and emails she’d received of information to attach to the letters as notes.

The chief said Mrs Trigg would be detained when she returned from dinner and the contents of the cache photographed and removed.

“You and your handsome lady get your arses out of there in the morning, leaving the place clean. Both take six days’ leave. I’m reassigning Miss Drake to work with Josh Moncrieff as they are of similar age and share similar interests. I trust you’ll approve of my suggestion?”

Rod merely smiled, thinking it’s amazing how some people will claim suggestions made to them as their own ideas.

 

A few minutes after the two women returned from dinner, the apartment of Mrs Maeve Twigg was raided by police ‘acting on information received’. Maeve was taken to her dressing room where the ‘secret’ cache was somehow detected and opened without any damage and in her presence every folder of documents was removed and photographed.

The police emerged from the apartment with Mrs Twigg under arrest and as they emerged from the elevator Nellie ran forward crying, “What has she done, what has she done?”

“Out of the way woman.” snarled a policewoman, pushing Nellie away.

Nellie pressed fingers into the side of the policewoman’s neck and she staggered back unconscious into the arms of a startled policewoman behind her.

Nellie almost reached the eye-popping Maeve when the sergeant in charge pulled out his pepper spray canister and ordered Nellie to back off or else she would be ‘restrained’.

Nellie backed off, arms held up passively and she called, “How do I contact your lawyer, Maeve?”

“Lil Smith, apartment 16,” she called over her shoulder.

Nellie immediately went to apartment 16 where Mrs Smith called Maeve’s lawyer and had Nellie speak to him. He said he’d go to his client’s aid immediately and that was Nellie off the hook, or so she thought.

Just before midnight Rod’s phone bleeped a Code 5 alert.

He called the message ‘sentry’ – a signal station that looked like a farm water storage tank on a hill overlooking the city, and punched in his code to gain access to the electronically stored message.

Buster Noakes used one of his aliases:

“Evacuate immediately. Somehow Madam or an associate who had her under surveillance got a warning message to those twenty-three others on the list for apprehensions. All birds had flown when police squads got to the nests.

“What is it?” Nellie said half-awake.

“Up, dressed and out of here in ten minutes. Keep your gun ready for possible action. Somehow Maeve sent an alarm to all group members. Perhaps she pushed an alarm button when asked to hand over her phone. A trace on her phone calls show she sent the photo she snapped of you poolside when you posed for her.”

“But I didn’t pose and I didn’t see a camera; oh hell, her cell phone camera. Am I in danger?”

“Possibly but regard it as probably. You’re to go to this address; you are to partner Josh Moncrieff from now on,” Rod said, packing his travel bag.

“Josh, oh I’m a lucky girl; he’s gorgeous. Did the Code 5 signal give that instruction?”

“Yes.”

“Will you miss me.”

“Definitely.”

“Ooh. What part of me?”

“Your brain; now hurry up and pack.”

“My brain? I can’t believe I’m hearing this. My regard for you now has no bounds.”

“Quit sugar-coating; it’s distracting us.”

Five minutes later he escorted Nellie to her car, arm across his chest to inside the left-hand flap of his jacket.

“Looks clear, but we may be under surveillance. Take full anti-tail measures. Call Josh when you’re in his neighbourhood and get him to come and sweep you and your car for bugs. Just a precaution; we’re really small cheese and so are they. But one never knows. Kiss me.”

“What? Oh, I thought that was part of your absconding instruction. No tonguing now – I want my lip gloss to look good when Joss sees me.”

“You’re a good operative, Nellie. You’ll do well. Consider this advice, hold back on Josh, tease him a lot and he’ll propose. I’d bet my last dollar on that as he knows class when he sees it. Now go!”

After waking up Lillian Smith and handing in the keys, apologizing for their abrupt departure and saying that Melba was so upset at the arrest of Maeve that she was going to stay with her parents, sixty-year-old Lillian backed herself: “Oh, you poor darling; would you like to stay here with me?”

Rod grinned and said no thanks, he was going home to his mother.

“We’re not asking for a refund. Make out a refund receipt and pocket that amount and have a week’s holiday at a luxury resort on us, Lil. Take a guy with you.”

“Oh, thank you,” she said excitedly. “I’ll do that.”

However, as Rod got to the door he looked back and saw Lillian was already on her cell phone, scowling at him heavily. He sighed, knowing he had to report her to the chief and his suspicion. Then it was over to the chief to decide whether to swoop in on Lillian,

Corruption was everywhere, smiled the corrupter, walking to his car, having suggested a deposit refund swindle. A couple of miles later, satisfied he wasn’t being tailed, Rod stopped and removing the spare wheel took out a scanner from a concealed chamber and swept the car for position locator or eavesdropping devices. The readings were negative. He sent off an encrypted message about his suspicion about Lillian Smith of Apartment 16, or whatever her real name was, and headed home to ‘mother’.

Brenda wouldn’t mind being woken this late when finding it was him!

He grinned; good girl Brenda was beginning to swing her tail. In the newspaper delivered to the apartment earlier that morning, her photograph was on the front page, pictured beside an apologetic mayor. ‘CEO Pushes for 50% Levy Rise’ screamed the headline and the secondary heading stated: Brenda Shapiro: “Money will be well-spent.”

Ooh, she’ll be a real goer tonight, thought Rod – all that adrenalin pumping. But as he approached the house he could see two police cars outside and all the front windows of the house smashed.

“What’s up officer,” he asked a policewoman.

“Drive-by’ brick-throwing at the home of our unpopular city CEO,” she laughed. “We nailed two of the bastards. We’ll be on front page in the morning. Move along now.”

Rod drove to his own apartment, yawning. The cop had said they’d pull out at daylight. He’d go over then and give Brenda her adrenalin release.

He didn’t do that of course, waking up and thinking how uncouth, how disrespectful that lovely woman would think of him. That rather shook Rod, thinking that sounded like his mother was talking through him, or his grandmother or others buried in his past life that had urged him to be respectful, nice-mannered and driven to do the right thing, though of course in those days no-one was into using ‘driven’ in that sense.

What word did they use: ‘correct’ perhaps?

The beep on his phone went, Code 1, disturbing him from his introspective that was slightly spooky – he never had listened too much to those voices buried in his head, considering them irrelevant, which they were. But now he was attempting to rationalize his thoughts about Brenda there they were whispering in the background, the principal message appearing to be do the right thing? Easier said than done.

He took the Code 1 – lowest priority call, fed in his code and heard Nellie’s sweet voice:

‘Arrived safely, nothing untoward. Took your advice; we’re in separate bedrooms. At 2 am I went for a glass of water. Kitchen light on and he’s drinking coffee. He dropped cup, making a real mess, me only in my panties. He scampered and looking over his shoulder ran into door jam. I stopped the bleeding and tucked him in. God, his eyes; I almost wet myself. Thanks for everything. You are a great guy, Nell.

Rod sighed, thinking Moncrieff had better build up his fitness level before she started banging him.

He called Brenda and Linda answered the phone.

“Oh, it’s you. Lovely to hear your voice. You best not come over here at present – mum is riled up and swinging. She had this goofy idea of increasing local tax and people are out to lynch her. All our front windows were smashed last night and the cops remained on guard till dawn – we’re moving to a safe house.”

Linda giggled. “On the other hand, you might be able to do something to her to calm her down.”

Rod said he was pleased Linda seemed so chirpy.

 “Why don’t you guys come over here – I have three double bedrooms; it’s okay to bring Simon.”

“Oh, you permissive beast. I bet if you were talking about your daughter you would pulverized any guy who pulled his zip within 50 yards of her.”

Rod knew how to deal with acid-tongued females.

“Okay, and you are right about that. Don’t bring him and you won’t be allowed to be away from my house after dark, on your mother’s orders.”

“I was only joking,” she shrieked. “You know me, a laugh a minute and anything said isn’t serious. May Simon accompany me?”

“Yes, providing he lays out his condoms for inspection.”

“What!”

“Who is it darling,” said Brenda. “You shouldn’t scream like that on the phone.”

“It’s for you, mum. Rodric Macrae.”

“Oh God, I can’t deal with two problems of this magnitude.”

“Go to him mum; he’s bound to be ready to unzip.”

“Linda! Give me the phone.”

Rod could hear Brenda clearing her throat.

“Hello, Rod. Brenda here. Nice of you to call. Finished your mission and after a freebie no doubt?”

“I’m offering you and your family a safe house during this crisis. I’ll protect all of you.”

The huge gasp pulled at Rod’s ear.

“Oh Rod, I’m sorry for speaking to you like that; you now it’s not like me at all. As Linda said, someone goofy persuaded me to raise our levy on property owners and even though it’s still to go before Council, the proverbial has hit the fan in huge dollops.”

“I’ve been the Mayor’s pet but now I’m his worst enemy; the chairman of the finance committee petitioning for me to be thrown out of my job and the news media is playing hounds and the fox with me. Our house was stoned last night and we slept under police guard.”

“So, you’re having fun; boredom swept away.”

“Pardon me?”

“You heard.”

“Well, the answer is a hesitant yes; I just have to keep the lid on it otherwise I’m gone. But saying I’m having fun is almost as bad as admitting I like sex.”

Rod said oh dear, she sounded like a depraved woman. He urged her to get 24-hour security at the council-owned house and come over to his place immediately – she’d find the address taped under the light on her beside cabinet.

“Come ready to be rushed out to engage in talk-back radio; we’ll catch the 7:00 to 9:00 early morning peak on KUO8FM if you hurry.”

Brenda said she really didn’t think so, that radio station since becoming Number One three years in a row was so far up itself it thought it was prime television.

“You only get on the Morning Show by invitation and it’s booked up ten months ahead.”

“I saved Jerry Yoho’s toddler from…well, never mind that. Jerry owes me; you’ll be on. Get your ass into gear and get over here, baby.”

Rod called the studio and asked to speak to Jerry Yoho.

“I’m sorry sir,” almost yawned the switchboard operator. We have twenty-six hours of callers stacked up waiting to talk to Jerry.

“Tell him Mr Dark of Operation Snatch Eve is calling.”

“I don’t think…

“Tell him, baby, let him make the decision. He’ll talk to me.”

“Putting you through, sir. This message timed at 6:40.”

“Rod you beauty. Glad to hear from you. What can I do for you – my autograph?”

Rod heard the thump of Jerry’s jaw hit his microphone as he was asked to replace his double 7 to 9 slot with Rod’s guest.

“Who do you have, Rod; the Pope?”

“Jerry, let me remind you; I went to Hell and back to get little Eve back to you and Miette…

“You’ve got what you want mate; it will blow our ratings to Hell but bring her on. With you it’s bound to be a woman, isn’t it?”

“Right-on, Jerry. CEO of the City, Brenda Shapiro. She’s under orders not to speak publicly or to the media. Introduce her as the fighting city official that City Hall has tried to muzzle. Handle this right and your ratings will soar; you’ll be able to treat her as rough as you like as she won’t be scared of you. I’ll tell her you were scared stiff of the sight of beaver until you turned twenty-two.”

“Bullshit.”

“She’ll believe me, not you Jerry. Don’t try to undermine her confidence if you want ratings to go through the roof. Tell your callers it’s their chance to tell her politely what they think of her proposal.”

“Politely?”

“Yeah, that ought to turn their hostility up a couple of notches.”

“Right Rod, get her here by 6:58 at the latest. Brenda Shapiro, you say?”

“That’s the one – here they are now. We’ll come on my Harley – no use getting snagged in rush hour traffic. Arrange secure parking.”

“Just ride up the front steps into the foyer to reception. Security will take over from there.”

 

 

Chapter 5

Blue-eyed blond with a very square jaw and a merging beer belly, Jerry Yoho (known to his parents as Gerald Smith) jumped straight into it, telling his listeners.

“I’m sorry folk, as we’ve been announcing for the past fifteen minutes we have cancelled our talkback with Petunia and Florence, the two under-cover male reporter and photographer who lived for 24-hours at the senior girls’ dorm at Freyberg-Smith University. Instead we have CEO of our fair city Brenda Shapiro who has got up the nose of many folk by proposing that the Millbrook District Council lift local taxes by 40 percent. Here’s your chance to praise or pulverize Brenda.”

“Shelley darling – do we have any callers?”

“The switchboard has more red lights flashing than down at Brothel Row, Jerry.”

“Wouldn’t have a clue where that is, Shelley. Let’s be having one of the hotheads.”

 

Hi, Frank T. Hull speaking: You’re a disgrace to city administration, young woman. Resign I say.

Brenda: Thank you Mr Hull; I say you are one of those heads-in-the-sand citizens who don’t even know what day it is.

Frank: Humph!

Marion Streeter: Ma’am, I’m worried about your proposal. I fear I will be forced from my home by these increased payments. I’m eight-seven.

Brenda: Rest easy Marion. My recommended program comes will measures to prevent that very thing happening provided there is full financial disclosure by alleged victims.

Marion: That is reassuring.

Cecil Wills: Have you gone mad?

Brenda: What ever gave you that idea?

Cecil: This is one of the most prosperous cities in the nation.

Brenda: According to my information that has not been released by the Mayor, Cecil, our road resurfacing program is five years behind the target schedule set eight years ago; our three main bridges are overdue for remedial works - the Hopetown Bridge $4.3 million estimate, two years behind schedule; Fraser Street Bridge $12.8 million to replace four cracked and unstable piers, three years behind schedule; our oldest and most used bridge, The Founders Memorial Bridge – total replacement, $33 million, 12 years behind schedule. If replaced twelve years ago, the cost would have been under $5.5 million. We have 118 miles of 100-year-old main water supply pipe overdue for replacement, the sewerage treatment plant has the Council coming up next month before the Environment Court because the plant is hopelessly inadequate and out of date, leading to river pollution and our water storage capacity is at crisis point.

Cecil: Jesus. Get on with it ma’am.

Irene Duff: Generations of we Duffs’ have lived in this settlement since 1844. Please explain why a latecomer like you has the right to squeeze money out of us to make us destitute?

Brenda: Baloney, Irene. You and your husband Toby own half of the stores in Strandon Street. Incidentally, my maternal multiple-great grandfather Jasper Elliot founded this city along with his two brother William and Arthur five years before the first Duff’s arrived. All of those people would be horrified to learn of its hidden neglect had they been alive today.

Jerry: I must say, Brenda, you appear very upfront about this. What is your main concern?

Brenda: That councillors will sit lifeless in their chairs and be led by their noses by our Mayor over this proposal.

Jerry: Is that fair comment?

Brenda: I don’t know – I called it my fear. For all I know Mayor Cummings may heed his responsibility to his forebears as well as to present and future citizens. I’m hoping he will be mindful that the Cummings were one of the first five families of settlers who arrived when the Elliot brothers opened their trading post. There are memorials in this city to both his father and his maternal grandfather who returned home as war heroes to become distinguished mayors of this city. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Jerry: He has a tough call to make. We’ve conducted a head count: six councillors could in favour of at least some increase in levy to boost Council income; four others will want no change; two others don’t wish to comment at this stage and Mayor Cummings and all other councillors refused to answer our poll question.

Shelley: I have Mayor Cummings holding.

Jerry: Put him through.

Mayor Cummings: Brenda, this is outrageous for you to appear on this program in defiance of my order that you are not to speak publicly on this matter.

Brenda: What are you going to do about it Charlie? Smack my hand or fire me?

Mayor Cummings: The appointments and discipline committee will decide what appropriate action to take, if any.

Jerry: But that really means you, Charlie. You are the biggest private mortgagor in this city and most councillors have mortgages held by the bank in which you are the biggest non-institutionalised investor; several councillors occupy leased business premises from one of your companies. Clearly, you and your extended family have controlled this city for umpteen generations, Charlie. The time has come for you to either step down or step up to lead municipal reform.

Mayor Cummings: How dare you.

Jerry: Half of this city is against you, Charlie, and fortunately for me that includes my bosses, our financiers, lawyers and accountants and presumably most of our advertisers. We don’t need you Charlie. The question is does this town need you?

Brenda: This is your big chance to step up and bite the bullet, Charlie. Forget about trying to maintain popularity. Push for improved city infrastructure and shout the results to citizens. We need to rake in finance to solve these outstanding problems while proceeding with borrowed money to meet the pressures of new development and annual maintenance of facilities. You are a shrewd businessman, Charlie. I notice the properties your family trust owns – and there are many of them – don’t seem to want for maintenance. I’d go as far to say that no other person in this city – current councillors and myself included –  possess your level of horsepower to pull this city from the bog into which it’s sinking. Make us proud, Charlie, take the lead. If a 40% hike is too much for the local property-owners to stomach, then perhaps a compromise is possible even if it means slowing down the rejuvenation program I’ve proposed but which has yet to be decided on and developed with properly dovetailed planning.

Mayor Cummings: This sort of discussion should have been behind closed doors, Brenda.

Brenda: But it isn’t. What’s it to be Mr Mayor?

Mayor Cummings: I shall maintain my silence until your report is presented to the combined meeting of the finance and works committee next Thursday and, if discussed, any outcomes will be reported to Friday’s Council meeting starting at noon. Any discussion on Friday will be open to the public.

Jerry: Come on Charlie. Give us a clue of your thinking now.

Mayor Cummings: Don’t be impertinent. I only phoned to make my no comment statement on the advice of our senior legal adviser. Goodbye.

Jerry: Well folk – there’s the stonewalling response of City Hall. Isn’t Brenda Shapiro, CEO of city administration, doing incredibly well? Hit us with your comments/questions. Make a call now.

Shelley: It’s no use inviting further calls, Jerry. Our lines are loaded to capacity. We haven’t had so many calls since our team the Riverside Rebels miraculously won the national finals five years ago.

While the great and largely vitriolic debate continued, Rod sat in the soundproof control room with Shelley the program producer, watching Brenda go about her business, confident, never losing her temper even when abused and dealing with nonsensical comments firmly. She looked to be a seasoned campaigner; he was impressed.

During an ad break. Rod thanked Shelley for her hospitality and went out and kissed Brenda, said she was doing a wonderful job, clapped Jerry on the back and told Brenda he was off – Shelley would arrange for her to be delivered to City Hall.

Brenda mopped for forehead and stretched to ease the tension.

Jerry – also a 40-year-old – had recently dumped his wife and family to live with a young mother sixteen years his junior. He’d just taken up flying, speed skating for veterans and clay shooting as well as dying his hair.

Sizing up Brenda’s figure once again he said: “You’re doing brilliantly baby. We’re letting the press and two TV crews in at the next break to photograph and film you at the microphone. Shelley will organise make up for you.”

 

Rod rode out of the foyer on his motor-cycle and headed for City Hall, asking to see the Mayor.

“State your name and business,” said the long-wrinkled neck male clerk with heavy framed glasses and a ridiculously looking bushy moustache above his weak chin.

“Tell him it’s his old newspaper delivery boy Rodric Macrae.”

“Sorry, that’s personal not Council business. Off you go.”

“Please, I want to see him.”

“Shove off, mister.”

“Okay, but not before I rearrange your face.”

The clerk pushed an alarm button and two security officers came running.

“Eject this thug,” cried the clerk, grandly.

The male and female security officers moved in but froze when Rod dropped into a mean-looking crouch.

“Oh shit,” cried the lightly built woman, stepping back and reaching for her side-arm. Rod ignored her, believing she wouldn’t use her gun. He was eying the big grinning guy pulling out his baton.

People had come out of side offices when the alarm sounded, including the Mayor.

“Back to your posts Mike and Elizabeth-Anne. Hi, Rodric.”
 

“Greetings Mr Mayor. This dummy at the desk wanted me tossed out on to the street just because I had the audacity to asked to see you.”

“Come through young man. Chambers – if you wish to act tough, pick on little weeds like yourself. Enrol with HR for a week’s training on customer liaison, starting tomorrow. Got that.”

“Yes Sir, Mr Mayor,” said the clerk, almost saluting.

Mayor Cummings slapped Rodric on the back. “You’ve grown into a fine young man, Rodric.”

“Pushing forty now, Mr Cummings.”

“Gee, doesn’t time fly. How are your folk?”

“Loving Honolulu as they always have, Sir. Both are well, playing golf most mornings ahead of the heat.”

“Good, good. You mother and my first wife were great friends, but I guess you know that. Are you here for money?”

Rod smiled and paused, causing the Mayor to cock an eyebrow as if knowing he was about to be told something he might not like.

“I’m Brenda Shapiro’s boyfriend. I want you to get off her back and support her. Logic should be telling you to do that.”

Charlie said the mayoralty was about politics, not logic.

“Look son, you were my paper delivery boy for a few years, lived in my neighbourhood and your mum was a classy lady. But that’s where it starts and ends. It’s imperative for the business growth of my family that I stay in power and managing affairs to our family’s best interest. The quickest way for a mayor to get booted from office is to murder someone; the second quickest way is to raise levies steeply.”

“Handle this correctly and you won’t have a problem.”

“What the hell are you talking about son?”

“Authorise Brenda to handle the selling of the concept to the Council and then to citizens. Give her a budget to bring in professional help. She had the brains and panache to be the front person on this big unpopular project. Approve her scheme on Friday and she’ll have the brains to immediately announce a makeover and extension of the sewerage treatment works. That will allow the city to apply to the Environment Court for a stay of proceedings.”

“Sorry son, that demonstrates logical thinking but it’s not political thinking.”

Rod scowled, looking for a lifesaver. One and then two sprang to mind.

“My mother won’t like it if you don’t support me on this.”

Mayor Cummings suddenly looked flaky.

Rod hit hard.

“If the main river bridge collapses in the next flood, the media will castigate you as being the person chiefly responsible to a disaster waiting to happen. You’ll be out of this office faster than a rat going down a drain pipe, besmirching the good name of the Cummings in this city.”

“That, my boy, is politics. Sexy Brenda has got herself a smart guy in her bed. We knew there was someone when she started arriving at work with those big fat smiles. I’ll do what you suggest.”

“Promise?”

“Get out of here. Your Brenda will now rise or fall on this single project. If her strategies and public wooing fail even I won’t be able to save her.”

“That means you support her program?”

“Get out of here; I didn’t say I did but logic gives the answer to your question as everyone knows projects don’t go ahead in this city without my approval.”

“Thank you Mr Cummings. Nice doing politics with you.”

Rod left the crusty old mayor with his yellow teeth feeling very satisfied.

Returning to his apartment he loaded his clubs and drove out to the golf club, intentionally leaving behind his cell phone so missed the call from the wildly triumphant Brenda being driven back from the radio station to her office where even more astonishing news awaited her when he was called to the mayor’s office.

It was all folding together nicely, perhaps too nicely.

*  *

Brenda came home early, catching Rod emerging from the shower. Eying his semi-erection – he always became half-inflated when soaping in the shower – she made mewing noises at the back of her throat, managed to say “Hi” and ripped off her shirt and lowered her skirt.

Rod’s eyes missed the sexy new underwear and the extra uplift of the bra – he was focused on the slightly bulging white flesh above the stocking tops; his cock rising towards full extension.

Rod licked his lips. “Hi.”

“I’ve missed you darling; I don’t mean only sexually.

He swallowed. “I wish to see a lot more of you and I don’t only mean nude.”

Brenda whimpered, her whole upper body turning pink.

“Fuck me then hold me, Rod – hold me tight.”

If Brenda was focused on the aftermath, it didn’t show. She dropped to her knees and held out her arms close together and Rod brought to her what she wanted. She licked the tip, playing a little tongue tip dance around and over the meatus, Rod’s hands fingering into her silken hair over her nape.

Because of their separation and the trauma of the house vandalism plus the day’s event over Brenda’s controversial proposed levy increase and just damn pleased to be together again – alone – this would surely be their most memorable coupling in their time together.

Leaning sideways he watched Brenda dribble saliva down the length of his shaft although he was still damp from the shower; he’d never seen her do this.

She then licked the shaft along the top and then on both sides and with surgical-like skill lifted up his cock and drew her tongue down its full length and down his ball-bag. Silently looking at this erotic preparation. Rod felt the nerve ends down the back of his thighs tingle and his abdomen muscles tighten, the later action giving Brenda a little extra to work with as his cock now extended like a battering ram though he had no such objective in mind.

Still fascinated, he watched her lips form into a huge ‘O’ and they slowly slid over the head and down the glistening shaft, tongue flicking serpent-like.

Rod straightened, threw his head back and closing his eyes to maximize enjoyment of the administration; that heighten further when fingers snaked around his ball-bag and began rolling the contents.

Finally, he gasped “Cumming!”, unnecessarily because he’d signalled it with his whole body stiffening and with the sudden rise in body temperature.

Brenda pulled back a little and stayed looking at his cockhead, eyes glazed.

That was the last Rod saw for a few seconds; his eyes closed and he almost blacked out in exquisite intensity and he blasted powerfully three times and then in smaller decreasing steams into mere dribbles.

He opened his eyes to see Brenda’s face in a mess; she’d never taken it on the face before – breasts yes, but not the face. She stared at him trance-like, he unsure whether her eyes had closed but it would have been miraculous if she could see out of her left eye.

She said something.

“Pardon me?”

“I said I loved doing that for you; for a few moments, I felt in love with your cock.”

Normally, immediately after shooting a load talking is not something that comes naturally to Rod, or probably any other guy for that matter. But he was in awe of this occasion and managed rather well: “I feel overwhelmed at the care and attention you gave me just then and feel I may have produced my biggest result ever.”

She giggled, he laughed and then she really messed him up by nosing in and kissing all around his crotch in unrestrained glee.

Rod grabbed a towel, cleaned Brenda’s face and the drips on her breasts, wiped himself and then carried her off.

“The bed,” she whimpered.

Rod strode on and placed her on the kitchen/dining room table and nose-diving after ensuring Brenda was comfortable he delivered a delicate tongue massage that had her squealing with delight as her younger daughter Paula and two friends stood in the hall doorway, gaping with eyes opened hugely.

Hands over mouths they withdrew giggling to the bedroom that had been allocated that morning to Paula.

After Brenda stopped writhing and screaming, her gasping reduced to heavy panting, Rod entered her slowly and with unaccustomed delicacy from him played her body like a musician until she’d had enough.

Raising her splayed legs on to Rod’s shoulders, Brenda began rhythmic clenching and unclenching her pubococcygeus muscle as she’d been trained to do at the university women’s health club years ago, concentrating on keeping her abdominal and thigh muscles relaxed.

It became all too much for Rod. He turned brick red, sweat beginning for run down him as their pelvic regions slammed together, he picking up the pace.

She was also sweating. Aware that he was on the way Brenda clenched harder and as he bellowed she squeezed her thighs and pushed on her abdomen then yelled triumphantly as she climaxed – expertly achieved, right in synch.

 

As the panting died, Brenda smiled as Rod clasped her closely.

He almost grunted, “That was something, really something.”

“Just marvellous; I really loved it – it’s sex at its best. I love you,” she said, feeling him stiffen just a touch as she mentioned that last bit. She felt released – at last she’d said it with real meaning and depth. It was up to him now.

“We better go and clean up before the kids arrive home.”

“Paula is already here with two girlfriends. They were standing in the doorway watching up – but there was nothing I could do.”

“What!” yelped Rod in horror but nevertheless she felt him stiffening inside her.

“Down boy – let’s move off with dignity to the shower,” Brenda smiled, sweeping his dangling hair back over his sweaty forehead.

“They are old enough to know what it’s about and so don’t get two embarrassed. You’ve met both of the visitors before. None of them is interested in males yet.”

 

 

Rod and Brenda were standing in the bedroom, dressed after their shower, hugging and kissing, when Rod’s phone bleeped a Code 5.

He dialled in his code and received the chief’s message from the sentry:

Madam X has been badly beaten – requires dental surgery, touch and go whether her right eye can be saved. Both upper arms pulled from shoulder sockets. I want the sadist whose done this. Meet Rio 4:45.

“A flap’s on. Must go. You’ll need to buy meat or fish but everything else is here, darling.”

Rod watched her eyes widen as he delivered that endearment. Then he was gone, grabbing a jacket as he raced from the door.

 

Seven other operatives including Moncrieff and Nellie were at the gathering.

“Hi chief, Moncrieff,” Rod said, nodding to the others and kissing a not surprised Nellie fully on the lips.

She surprised him, whispering: “You smell so fresh and clean; have you recently had sex?”

That went unanswered.

They discussed the likely suspect and which of the twenty-three of the group of suspects would have assaulted Madam X. The pick was ‘Sharpie Monroe’, head of Ginger Inc.

Buster Noakes asked: “You haven’t commented Rod; have you no interest in this?”

“Of course, I have but I believe she’s simply a stupid victim who was led astray. Basically, she’d just a bored woman fighting going into old age. What’s being proposed is not an intelligent approach.”

The chief frowned but admitted he rather shared that view. Others nodded in agreement. All eyes were on Rod.

“Madam X will know who did this to her. Send in Nellie.”

Everyone looked at Nellie, who blushed but didn’t lower her head or step back behind her partner Josh.

“Waste of time. The cops have been to see her; she refused to talk through her broken teeth or to write anything down,” Buster said. “She’s been sedated and my information is she’d terrified and will continue to refuse to point the finger.”

“Nellie wormed into her confidence; send her in. She may get a name. In fact, I know she will.”

Buster turned: “Nellie.”

“Rod’s right, she’s our direct route.”

“Right go and go with her Moncrieff.”

Nellie and Josh raced off.

“I’m going to wait outside the hospital, just in case,” Rod said.

“Just in case of what?” barked the chief.

“Just in case this is a set-up and those bastards are smarter than we believe they are. What if more than one person was involved and they figure the people who finger-pointed them will rush to Madam X’s side once the police have finished with her. Then once our guys leave the hospital they become targets for real retaliation.”

The chief exploded.

“Macrae, you’ve been watching too many cop shows on TV. Ginger Inc is simply a nuisance political organization, with no real thrust. Apart from their leader, none of the known other members have real form.”

“As far as you know.”

“I’m talking police records, Macrae.”

“No previous form, no finger prints. Are all twenty-three members of Ginger Inc the persons they say they are?”

“Backgrounds are being checked up but the police are rather busy right now.”

“And I say we must be astute and cover the risk, no matter how unlikely it is.”

“Do we have agreement on this”, asked the chief?”

There was a shuffling of feet and only one answer, a firm “Yes.”

The only other female operative, Nancy Rivers, with straggly brown hair, adult acne and a limp suffered when breaking her leg skiing the previous year, was in agreement.

“Right, your two are in cahoots over this, so off you go. Come out the back.”

The chief opened the back of his high-powered van and unlocking a side panel displayed an arsenal.

Nancy took a 9mm Glock 18 handgun and Remington 11-87 shotgun.

Rod had his S&W .357 magnum holstered under his arm and took a German HK416 carbine with a 10.5 barrel. After slipping into amour vests off they went, equal in height and with little difference across the shoulders – Nancy was no ‘Saturday night babe’.

She looked naturally mean, had hair on her upper lip and was the Unit’s unarmed combat trainer/annual certifier and arms officer.

Rod sped to the hospital, arriving probably only ten minutes after Joss and Nellie. They saw Joss parked illegally at the hospital entrance so slipped into a side car-park looking around carefully in case any thugs had done the same thing, but they saw nothing suspicious.

Using a two-way radio handset on an obscure frequency, Rod called Joss and said they would be tailing them a long way back as security and to keep a sharp look out.

“This could have been done for entrapment.”

“Right – over and out,” said Joss, suddenly sounding alert.

Nancy and Rod were unable to see the hospital entrance but fifteen tense minutes later Joss passed them, driving slowly, both he and Nellie looking relaxed and gazing straight ahead.

Waiting thirty seconds more and that’s a long time when anxious, Rod was about to switch on the motor when a blue Ford in the car park opposite drove off and out the gates.

“Those bastards were lying down out of sight in their vehicle; I say nothing untoward,” Nancy said.

“Me neither – we’ll know if they are the enemy or not within a minute or two.

He called Joss and Nellie answered. “A blue Ford carrying three heavies has just pulled out. What route are you on?”

“Kingston Avenue.”

“Right, keep it steady. Tell Joss don’t allow them to overtake as if they are scum it could be a drive-by hit attempt.”

“Jesus!”

“May he save you if we don’t.”

Nancy said the blue Ford had also taken Kingston and Joss confirmed he’d hear her state that. Rod instructed Nancy to look well ahead and beyond for any other suspicious vehicles and to tell Joss that. Joss replied Rod watched too many cop shows on TV.

Following Rod’s instruction, Nancy asked if they were carrying anything heavier that pistols. Nellie replied no; Rod didn’t swear as he’d expected that would be the case.

Looking ahead to see where Joss was Rod grabbed the radio handset and said, “Turn left into Eastwood Park, take the first road on the left. Go easy, show no signs that you know you’re been followed. Stop just short of the concrete leaf compost bins and lead off Nellie as if you’ve going to have some hanky-panky in the trees but double back behind the concrete bins.”

“We’ll come up behind them and catch them in crossfire if shooting you is their intention. Don’t worry if we seem long in reaching you; I want them out of their car and aiming shooters before we strike. Try shooting to disable but shoot to kill if necessary.”

“Right, understood. Nellie is cool – just told me to ask if she’ll have time to have a last one with me before we die.”

“Tell her get her mind off her slit. It’s five of us to three of them – just keep out of the way of bullets. There they go, turning in after you.  Be very, very careful; they may be professionals.”

“Go,” said Nancy, their car doors are opening. Go!” she screamed. “They’re armed – shotguns and are leaving their vehicle!”

Rod accelerated quietly then turned off the engine. “Oh Rod, oh Rod. I hear gunfire,” Nancy wailed.

They coasted up quickly and stopped.

“Position yourself behind the rear of their car; I’ll take the front. They’ll have an initial reluctance to shoot at their own car that will give us the advantage we need. Groin or thigh shots, right. We want survivors for the SIS to interrogate.”

“Behind us,” yelled one of the gunmen.

His two companions turned.

Nancy blasted twice and one went down, his gun flying through the air.

“Take the one of the left,” Rod called, ducking a hail of pellets that rattled into the front fender of the car.

“Take them both,” he yelled, spinning to face the oncoming brown car roaring towards them, a guy leaning out of the passenger window aiming at him.

‘Boom, boom’ went Nancy’s shotgun.

Rod ignored the guy aiming at him. Instead he planted a bullet into the head of the driver of the charging car. It swerved off the road and thudded into the trunk of a mature oak tree.

Suddenly there was silence.

“Three down over here, Boss.”

“Boss?”

“Take care, Nancy.”

Rod went forward to check out the carnage against the tree, turned, saw a movement and fired his compact rifle in a line virtually under Nancy’s right armpit as the guy just to her right was lifting his shotgun. Suddenly that assailant had no left eye and nothing much on that side of the back of his head; his weapon did not fire.

“You bastard!” Nancy shrieked, aware that shot had barely missed her body. As the adrenalin rush peaked and she saw the shotgun of the now permanently neutralized murderous villain pointed less than ten feet from her she turned to find Rod was already lowering his rifle as he approached the vehicle and could see that no threat remained from driver who’d come into contact with the tree through shattered glass in a big way while his passenger’s head lay through the open window at a very unnatural angle.

Moments later, Nellie was able to identify Sharpie Monroe, head of Ginger Inc. He had serious but not life-threatening gunshot wounds to both legs – Joss was already applying tourniquets. His companion, a Hollywood gangster look-alike would require knee reconstruction after two bullets from Nellie had rendered his knee-caps unsalvageable.

The foursome secured the site until a ‘housekeeping’ squad called by the SIS arrived to restore the park in pre-shoot-out condition, except that the damaged oak tree now had a car wrecked against it and it was to remain.

The Chief Superintendent of Police received a call from the Prime Minister’s department requesting that the car that hit the tree, be examined as a normal traffic accident but with its two dead passengers removed, with no mentioned being made of the driver having been shot through the head. In the interests of national security, the Police were to discredit reports of witnesses hearing shots being fired and to confirm reports from people hearing the smack of ‘a back-firing car’ crashing against a tree that killed the two occupants instantly.

 Cooperation between Government departments under such circumstances is normally thorough and immaculately accomplished.

 

Members of UNIT met for drinks and a meal three hours after the event for a ‘debriefing’.

The chief praised the foursome for carrying out a clean and effective operation and to everyone’s delight presented Nellie with her phone-radio and personal code to call up the sentry box.

That signified her probationary period had ended; it was a very proud moment for her and her two field tutors. When she was given the opportunity of picking a regular partner Nellie without hesitation picked Joss, and then gave a glowing tribute to Rod ending, ‘Alas as every female knows, sometimes the good guy misses out because of age differential.”

That pointed comment was a touch embarrassing for both Joss and Rod but that quickly evaporated with Nancy calling out wickedly, “What, can’t get it up these days, Rod?”

Rod was the first to step forward and congratulate Joss for being the chosen on and joked, “I can’t see Nellie accepting being given duties limiting action to checking on people lining up outside schools to pick up children.”

As Rod neared his home he heard on local radio news that two persons had been killed in the impact of losing control of their speeding vehicle and crashing into a 180-year-old oak tree in Eastwood Park.

The next item reported that the Millbrook District Council had voted 9-7 with the Mayor and four other councillors abstaining from voting to raise the annual rating level, also known as the local property tax. on all rateable properties in the district by 30%.

Although that increase was 10% less than the 40% increase recommended by the Council’s chief executive Mrs Brenda Shapiro, she’d hailed the decision a great step forward for the district to get on top of its alarming amount of deferred or pathetically slow remedial work on necessary expenditure on overdue maintenance or replacement of ailing essential council services to its citizens, amounting to multi-millions of dollars.

Mrs Shapiro was being hailed by thousands of right-thinking citizens as a visionary and tough administrator and that made her an obvious standout as a future Mayor of the Millwater District.

Rod yawned and said, “Congratulations baby.”

He also knew he had a worrying overdue decision to make that not be put off any longer. He’d turn 40 next month, notionally the half-way point of his allotted life span, and he was still without a wife and children. However, a certain Mrs Shapiro was front-runner as a prospective wife and she already had the children.

He called Brenda and congratulated her on her success in achieving a big increase in property tax. And said he was coming in and would be with her within 10 minutes.

Unexpectedly, Brenda chose to be picky.

Initially she sounded over the moon greeting Rod, but then: “What do you mean you are coming in; are you in a chopper?”

 “No baby, I’m driving.”

“Omigod, trust me to hook up with someone who can’t even talk like a normal person.”

Eh?

That called for shock tactics.

“I’m now less than three minutes away, driving recklessly. Get your panties off and on to your hands and knees, facing away from the door with your knees spread.”

She spoke like a person acting she was in charge.

“As I said moments ago, you don’t speak or even act like normal, predictable people, especially males.”

There was a sound of a struggle and Brenda cried, “Give me back the phone, I’m having a private conversation.”

And then Linda spoke strongly, as if she had control of the phone.

“Mum, get your knickers off and on to your hands and knees as he told you. If you keep opposing him and criticising him, how the hell will we get him to become our stepfather?”

“Thanks Linda,” Rod said. “That’s telling her. Take the phone, gather anyone else in the house and go to the park. I’m coming in and need to talk with your mum um after we have finished Priority One.”

“Priority One, ooooh that’s a new name for it,” Linda simpered.

Rod said authoritatively, as if taking command, “Over and out.”

The call was terminated.

 

The End


© Copyright 2017 Grigor McGregor. All rights reserved.

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