Let’s get caught up, in this following excerpt you’ll learn more about Kenneth and his I like Toni, but I don’t saga. More is revealed about Kenneth to the point you might understand his apprehension about being with Toni. Kenneth and Toni met in London, he was Theodosis of course, but something went down and their lunch plans didn’t quite work out. Now we’re in chapter 5, it is seen from Kenneth’s point-of-view – happy reading!
Five – Kenneth
“Jamie, I’m going to kill you.”
“Why, what did I do?”
“You encouraged me to go out with that girl,” she’s laughing. “Man, I’m at a lost.”
“Ok, wait a minute, you cannot blame me for what you’re heart wants.”
“No, but I can blame you if she gets hurt.”
“Hmmm, well, what are you going to do? Because there is no way you can stop yourself from being near her.”
“I know. I just don’t want her to get hurt, there’s no way I would be able to live with that; she’s not skilled like that, if she…” Jamie cuts me off.
“Hold on, don’t put the cart before the horse. How about you see where this takes you before you get all out of whack. I mean, if she’s not into you then walk away, but if the sparks are flying like you say then you have a decision to make. Director Phillips isn’t going anywhere for another year and you know your name is at the top of the list, so if this is love then you have some time; otherwise, walk away now.” Jamie is making too much sense, again, but I can’t walk away not from this girl and her kiss; her damn smile haunts me in my dreams. “So, did you get everything for the next assignment?” Jamie says changing the subject.
“Yes, I got all the specs; I’m beginning to hate traveling overseas there’s too much that can go wrong like that mess that happened in London last month.”
“I know, but think this is the last one for a while, so take care of it and get back to your Miss Sheridan.”
“All right, I’ll see you soon.” After Jamie’s lecture about Toni, I finish overlooking the information on the assignment and got ready. I decided to be a few minutes late, I cannot let Toni know how much I want her and need her in my life. Its drinks I keep telling myself—just drinks. This convincing myself that this is only drinks is really sad.
When I get to TePheJez, I don’t see Toni anywhere; there are some beautiful women circling me, must be women’s night or something. A few, I wouldn’t mind taking home and doing my famous love ‘em and leave ‘em act, but that woman there is the one that has me rethinking my theory on loving ‘em and leaving ‘em.
“Evening,” I say and Toni turns around. She’s wearing a white dress showing off her left shoulder and her legs. Her hair is draped over her right shoulder leaving the bare one exposed—she’s stunning.
“Evening,” she says and plants that I got this smile on me. “I found us a little table over there.” She gets up, and I realize that dress is showing off all her assets. And those shoes with the red soles makes her backside sing to me. Toni has my complete attention. “So, did you have a hard time parking?”
“No, I parked a few blocks away, I know better.” She giggles and our server takes our drink order. “I’ll take a Ciroc Ultra and the lady will have?”
“An Apple Martini,” she says. “So, Kenneth how’s work?” She’s trying to talk about anything, but her leg is bouncing again like at lunch. I knew I had her, her nerves are in overdrive.
“Work is going well, back on the road in the morning.”
“Really, I guess I didn’t realize FBI agents travelled that much; I thought that was the CIA.”
“Yeah, well, remember I told you I can’t tell you what I do,” she looked at me like right, smiles, and her leg bounces even more. “Toni, are you all right?”
“Hmmm, what,” she says and licks her lips—damn it, she’s getting me worked up.
“Your leg is bouncing like it did at lunch. Are you all right?”
“Oh, umm, yes, I…” she stops talking and within minutes her leg stops bouncing. “Sorry, I’m nervous, you make me nervous.” I make her nervous that is an understatement. I’m glad I have been trained to hide my nerves because if she knew…I swallowed hard.
“Oh, well, you don’t have to be nervous, I won’t bite.” She lifts her left eyebrow and parts her lips. “Ok, so, just relax?” She leans her head forward and her hair falls over her face. She brushes it back and I see a red spots on her neck. “So, did you get a cut or something?” I move her hair away from her neck; she blushes, looks away, and clenches her teeth—it looks like she’d rather die than tell me what happened.
“Oh, no, it’s a bite—I think.”
“A bite,” I ask with a smile on my face; she’s a freak—I should have known.
“Sorry, my, ah, I don’t know what he is did that,” she says and is blushing really brightly. Bright red against that mocha skin makes her even more pretty. She’s not use to anyone being so observant.
“Oh, it’s no problem, so what does he do?” I ask trying to act real cool.
“Ricky is in medical school; he’s about to leave for his residency.”
“Oh, and what does he want to specialize in?”
“Plastics, ear nose and throat, you know, like Mark Sloan on Grey’s Anatomy.”
“Sorry, I don’t watch too much TV,” lying I said. I won’t admit that I watch that show not even to Jamie.
“It’s no biggie; it’s a good show, you should check it out,” she says smiling. And finally our drinks arrive; she takes a nice little sip, probably trying to keep her mind about her. I, on the other hand, drink my Ciroc Ultra in gulps looking for another. “This is such a great song, you know it?”
“Sure do, Wayman Tisdale, I own everything he did; even compilations he was a part of, I’ll miss his music. He was good basketball player, but a greater musician.”
“Yes, he was! I tried playing the drums one day last week. I embarrassed myself. I haven’t played in so long; I think I’m going to stop,” she says and sips her Martini. I begin to worry since her leg is bouncing again.
“You shouldn’t stop; music calms the mind. I wish I could play an instrument,” she smiles and gives me that tight eyed look like she doesn’t believe me. “What’s with that look,” I ask her.
“Nothing, I’m trying to figure you out that’s all.” Funny, I’ve already figured her out; a girl, a woman, I can become disheveled over.
The rest of the evening we talked about her job and this Ricky guy came up too many times. I kept wondering when he was leaving town.
“So, Kenny, I need to get going; I’ve got a lot on my plate in the morning,” Toni said being stronger than I am to end this night. I pay for our drinks, leaving a few more dollars than I should have, and I walk Toni to her car. I completely missed it when she called me Kenny.
“This is your car—really?”
“Yes, why’d you ask?”
“I just never thought it was you riding around Dallas in something like this; that night at 7-11, I didn’t get a good look at your car—my mind was busy with other things.” She gives me this look like why shouldn’t I drive around in this.
Toni’s car is white with pink racing stripes, just tricked out, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. I have seen this car all over the city flying around on the all the major highways; she likes living on the edge.
“Well, it’s very nice, and I like that you parked in a well lighted area, your father would be proud.”
“He taught me well,” she says and then she leaned into me and kissed me—hard. I have lost all control of who I am. I held her, but she was the first to let go; she’s done this before—this someone taught her well. “Goodnight, Kenny.”
“So, I’m Kenny now?” I asked, she smiled, and I walked away.
When I got back to my apartment, I stood at the door for a moment and replayed Toni’s kiss back in my mind over and over. I wished her lips were here with me now.
I turned the lights back off and grab my gun; moving through my apartment like the man I am.
“Panther,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Kitten, my cohort on this next assignment. “I hope you didn’t mind, but I got in early.”
“No, I don’t mind; next time send me a message or something, I could have killed you.”
“I did send you a message, but when you didn’t respond, I thought you were giving me the green light. I apologize. You ready to do this or what,” she asked.
“Yeah, let’s go over this before we head to bed, you can sleep in the spare room.” I told her, and we went over the plans.
We were posing as a couple taking in the sights while looking for a new home in Lyon, France. I was tired already, I wanted to stay with Toni; the urge was heavy on me.
“Kitten, what’s up with you? The last time I saw you, you were, what, getting married—what happened?”
“Alonzo found out what I did for a living; he saw a picture of you and me, and thought I was cheating on him. I told him the truth; he walked out the door, and I’ve never heard from him again.”
“Damn, I’m sorry to hear that; well, you’ll find someone else—I’m sure! Besides, this is your last assignment—time for you time, right?”
“Yes, it is, and I already have my eye on someone in Phoenix.”
“Figured you would,” I said and smiled at her. Sandra Hall, aka Kitten, is a stunning woman: dark brunette hair, with blue eyes, and a body that would make me undress her in a blink. “So, what do you have lined up for the future?”
“Microsoft, gaming division; I’m going to be the boss over development—perfect for me.” Sandra always loved a good video game; she could beat most games within an hour of playing it.
“Well, good luck with that. All right, enough of that,” I said thinking of Toni and how she’d react if I told her the truth. “Ok, let’s look at this; we’re going through London and then over to Lyon. The function is here at the Villa Florentine, we’re here at the Hilton; so this should be easy, and do you have your tools?”
“Got it and you have yours?”
“Jamie said it will all be in the suite. I need to finish packing and then we’ll be all set. Any questions,” I asked.
“Nope; only one—what’s that perfume on you, and her name is?”
“Damn it; Toni is her name, and that’s all I’m saying. Goodnight,” I said, and I left her with a half smile on her face, locked my bedroom door, took a shower, and grabbed my Blackberry.
Hey, Kenny, I decided Kenneth was too formal. I hope you don’t mind me calling you Kenny. I, also, hope you didn’t mind me kissing you; I couldn’t help myself anymore, but you just walked away. You didn’t say anything, so if you don’t want to see me again I understand—but you have nice lips. Anyway, have a safe trip call me if you want to get together again. Toni
I thought about writing her back, but I needed to focus on my work. I cannot get any more distracted than I already am. Toni and my feelings are starting to become very real, too real, for me.
Sandra and I head to the airport; she’s constantly asking me questions about Toni. I figured, if I didn’t answer her that would be the end of it, but I knew better.
After about ten minutes of silence, she got the point. I haven’t even bothered to reply to Toni’s text; her lips still bothered me, and I’m finding it hard to not imagine the things I would do to her.
“Good morning, Mr. Anderson, Miss Hall,” Julia said. “What you need is in the overhead compartment,” we looked at her and went to our seats. I took the pillows down and gave one to Sandra, and I sat next to her.
“It’s all here,” Sandra said.
“Good, looks like the phones are here as well. Honey will join us at the hotel once she’s done with the plane,” I said and Sandra shook her head. “Sandra, I want to explain what’s going with Toni,” she turned her whole body to look at me. “I, umm, I have feelings for her; we just met, and I don’t know if I can involve her in this.”
“Oh, I see, I understand, but Ken does she really have to know? I know I made that mistake with Alonzo. I didn’t allow myself to have another relationship until I knew I was almost out the game; that way I couldn’t lie, or feel compelled to tell the truth.” I stared out the plane window, listening to her every word. “I know you don’t want her hurt, but what about you? When are you going to allow yourself to be loved again, and do you think Zariae is happy with the choices you’ve made in your non-existent love game?”
“No, she wouldn’t be, but…I just don’t want Toni to get hurt.”
“Then you play the hand you were dealt, you love her or leave her alone; but if I were you, I would make up your mind and quickly.”
“What,” I looked at her puzzled.
“Jamie told me about her; I begged her for Toni’s picture. Be mad at Jamie later—that girl is beautiful; she’s smart and love sports, women like that just don’t come around often—just like a certain man I know,” Sandra said turning away from me, reclined back, and went to sleep.
Before we had to turn off our phones to depart, I reread Toni’s message, but I only focused on the words–you have nice lips. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do; the pros are beginning to outweigh the cons, but none can outweigh death.
When we got to Lyon, Sandra and I had our story all set. We were vacationing from Egypt looking into vacation homes in France.
“Kitten we’re good here. The room is very clean.” From here on out, she is Kitten and I am Panther.
“Got it, let’s move,” Sandra said and she got to work tapping into Villa Florentine’s security and printed out her and Julia’s ID badges. “Panther you set?” I walked out in my tux on, and my eyes were now coal black. I looked like a rich man would if he were from Egypt. “Damn, you look good. Ok, here, is the room on the third floor, to the left second to last door.”
We both put our hands on our piece.
“Hello, it’s Honey.”
“And,” I said.
“And the last time I saw you; it was dark, very dark, and you said that you’d love only me,” Honey aka Julia said. I opened the door and she laughed at me, “why did you come up with that line,” she asked me.
“Because only you could deliver it that would make anyone believed you were wanting the man on the other side of the door as much as he wants you.” Kitten shook her head and they both went to change.
“All right, Panther, we will see you over there, fashionably late is good in this case,” Honey reminded me.
“Ok, here is your invitation and we’ll be listening,” Kitten said and they left. I took the time to send Toni a message; she’d been on my mind as much as I didn’t want her to be.
Toni, I don’t mind you calling me Kenny. I apologize for responding so late, but work is hectic right now. I hope to see you again too, and your lips are nicer than the first time.
When I got to the Villa Florentine cars and drivers were everywhere, I walked from around the corner, click my phone to simulate a car alarm, and headed to the front gate. The music was blaring, and I handed my invitation to the beautiful Bohemian woman.
“Oui Monsieur,” she said. I smiled and entered the party. I saw Honey and turned and saw Kitten.
“Monsieur,” Kitten said to me, and I took the glass of champagne. “The guards are on a five minute rotation and you have three minutes to get up to the second floor; there are no guards on the third floor.” I nodded gave her a look and she headed to the restrooms. Sandra is a computer genius; she’d monitor mine, and Julia’s movements.
I made my way up the stairs and saw the next set of stairs that headed to the third floor. I walked quickly hit the stairs, turned, and ran into the biggest man I’d ever seen—and for me, that’s saying a lot.
I hit him as hard as I could right in between his legs, took his ear piece, his weapon, and continued up the steps. I put his ear piece in my left ear with Kitten in my right.
“Kitten, one down; I have his communication. They’ll be looking for him soon I’m sure. Honey,” I asked.
“Is everything good on your end?”
“Yes, the relay is set. I’m headed out now. See you on the flight home. Kitten, I will stay in voice range until I’m completely clear. Oh, Panther, good luck with TS,” she laughed and went silent.
“Damn it, I hate you women.” I got to the door took out my 9mm and peered around the corner. I listened to my left ear piece. “Kitten, they’re looking for that guard, get back out on the floor; Honey, you clear,” I asked.
“Clear, in the taxi. Be safe.”
I entered the room and found the computer. I tapped on the fourth cell phone and got Jamie. The third phone was left under the mouse pad, if anyone found it they are better than I am and deserved to kill me. I need to get Masterson some Cuban cigars for that one, but I knew they’d never find the phone. Like James Bond’s Q, Masterson is a technical genius, where he comes up with this shit I don’t know. I’m glad he plays for the good guys. Masterson made these cell phones, or transmitters, that are rail thin and can fit just about anywhere, adapt to anything like a chameleon; they were rarely found.
“Jaime, you receiving this,” I asked her.
“Yes, download has begun; now, get the hell out of there.”
“All right, I’m out; and thank you for putting me and TS on blast.”
“TS and you needed to be put on blast. How else am I going to get you to see her more? You are the opposite of most people, you on blast means your curiosity is peeked; you’re wondering if what we see on paper is really what you see in front of you. Now, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Man, tomorrow then. Kitten you out.”
“In a minute, they’re looking for you; pick up your damn feet.” Damn. “Panther, one sec, ok, I’m good, keep going, see you at the airport.”
“All right,” I said and went down the back stairs and out the kitchen, stepped in and around a few cars, and onto the sidewalk. I found a little flower shop just as Interpol officers started to raid the hotel. “Une douzaine de roses rouges, s’il vous plaît,” I smiled to the older gentleman; he looked at me, and asked if I wanted the roses in a vase or wrapped in paper.
I told him wrap them for me and paid him. I took off my jacket and walked out with the flowers, took out my contacts throw them in the street near water, and watched them dissolved instantly. I took off the mustache and wiped my face clean, found a taxi a few blocks away from the hotel, and went to the airport.
At the airport, Sandra had my bag and we saw Julia pass by in her flight attendant uniform; she winked at us, and I went to change. Once we were on the plane, Sandra was sad that our last mission did not involve guns blazing with her getting her hands dirty. She’d been in the game for thirteen years; it’s not easy to just give this life up. She said she’d have to play The Bourne Conspiracy video game to fill the void.
“Good morning, Jamie,” I said. Jamie spun around in her chair and reached her arms up to me to hug me.
“So, handsome you still are. You look exactly the same, how’d you do that? Tell me,” she said and I smiled really hard at her. I hadn’t seen Jamie in a few years, “Hey, good work in Lyon, looks like we got most of what we needed. We’ll be working on missions in the next few weeks, but from what I hear you’re going on vacation. Does a Miss Sheridan have anything to do with this vacation?”
“No, Director threatened me to take some time off—that’s all.” She smiled at me not believing any of that I just said.
“Well, if that’s what you say. Anyway, Director Phillips is waiting for you. Oh, and the party tonight is at 7:30 at Evo Bistro. Stop back by before you leave to sign her card, ok,” she said, smiled, and went back to her work.
Jamie Butler is my handler; she preps all my materials for my assignments and makes sure my ass survives them. Jamie would never say she’s beautiful, but those blonde curls, brown eyes, flawless make-up, and her designer everything makes her a woman that would make any man do a double take—wheelchair or not. Jamie lost the ability to use her legs, in her last field assignment, in Grenada 1982 when she was shot in the back twice—Jaime is the big sister I never had.
“Good morning, sir,” I said.
“Ken,” Director Phillips said with a smile. “Good work in Lyon. Now, before you leave us for some much needed rest, I wanted to make sure I got this right,” he says and hands me my application for Director. “So, you’re finally listening to me, huh?”
“Yes, sir, I think fifteen years of field work is enough, time for me to lead the next generation on their way.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that. As you see, I’ve already signed off on it for you; it’s just a technicality, but I know you will make a hell of a Director.” I smiled at him and he sat down. “Now, this particular position you can do anywhere, but I hear Dallas is on your radar?” I nod. “That’s good; no one would suspect a covert ops team would be based in Big D. Here are the documents about the structure and the budget, which is quite substantial; you can fill the team as you feel. Masterson has agreed to join you, and I’ve got about fifty candidates that I believe will be a great asset to your team,” again, I nod at him. “Now, on a personal note, I’m very proud of you and who you’ve become. I have a short list of agents that has impressed me over my long career and that list begins and ends with you. You do what you believe is right is the advice I’ve always given you and always will,” Phillips said like he was dying.
“Thank you, sir, but, ah, is everything all right” I asked.
“Oh, yes, Ken, fine; it’s just as I’ve gotten to this point where I know my career is winding down, it’s good to reflect. Anyway, I’ll see you tonight for Sandra’s farewell?”
“Yes, I’m going to get some rest. See you later then,” I shook his hand and I went back to Jamie and signed Sandra’s card; then headed to my hotel.
When I got to the Evo Bistro, many of my friends I haven’t seen in awhile were there, most of them have been married with kids for many years, but my roommate at the academy, like me, decided that once in love was enough for us.
Theodore Nichols worked out of the Los Angeles office; it’s been a minute since I’ve seen him. The last time I did he said he was getting married, and he retired from the field game. He’s now a Division Director in L.A. His wife, Lisa, is a doll, literally—she’s five foot three and Teddy is six feet four.
“Teddy, damn man, it’s been too long,” I said and we claps our hands and hugged. “Lisa, you’re more beautiful than I remember.” I said to her and kissed her on the cheek. “So, Ted how’s life,” I asked him. He took out pictures of his three kids, the two dogs, and smiled at me—that was my answer. “I see; you’re a lucky man. Hey, I’ve got some time off coming up; I’m thinking of heading to L.A. for a break. I’ll let you know when I’m out that way.” He smiles, nods, and we hugged again; later, I went to find the party girl.
Teddy and I shared a lot and nothing in public, he was my ace in the hole like I’m his. Even when I suspected him of being a traitor; he proved then that he was not, but I knew that’s why he got out the game. I wondered what it would take for me to get out of the game and settle down, with Toni, or anyone.
“Hey, you, happy retirement,” I said to Sandra.
“Oh, thank you so much, did you know about all this?” I shook my head yes, spoon her around, and found Jamie and her girlfriend huddled up in a corner.
I cleared my throat, “excuse me, but you two need to get a room,” I said and I smiled.
“Hey, there, handsome,” Jamie said, “Kenneth this is Margo.” She smiled at her, and I shook her hand; but something about her reminded me of Zariae, or my mind was playing tricks on me; it could be the light or lack of, there wasn’t much in here.
“And why don’t you have a drink in your hand, beautiful,” Margo asked me, again her smile, and slight tilt of her head made me wonder about her uncanny resemblance to Zaire. I need to get a grip, Zaire had no sisters. Once I came back to reality, I shook my head at Jamie and Margo thinking they needed to get a room. I told Jamie she owed me a dance.
When I left them, I found the bar and ordered a Heineken and then the speeches begun about Sandra as my phone buzzed. I answered, but I couldn’t hear a thing.
“Hold on one sec,” I said. “Is that better, can you hear me?” This smoky laughter came from the other end.
“Hi, yes, I can hear you now Kenny.”
“TS, how you doing,” I said.
“TS, you’ll have to tell me why you’re calling me TS sometime soon. Umm, I didn’t want to bother you, but I wondered if you’d like to go to the museum with me next week if you’re not busy?”
“Yes, I’m sorry for jazz at the Dallas Museum Atrium. I thought if you’re not too busy you may want to go.” Her words were slurred—she’s drunk. I smiled.
“Why don’t you call me back when you’re sober,” I said and laughed.
“Kenny, I’m not drunk, well, maybe a little,” oh, she’s a cute drunk, “I was thinking of you and thought I’d call you,” she said.
“TS, call me when you don’t have company,” I heard movement in the background I was jealous—Jesus. “Tell Ricky I said hello,” I hung up and thought if I was doing the right thing with this girl, she’s too young for me and…
“Ken, come on you’re missing her speech,” Julia said.
“I’d like to thank you all for your support and encouragement when I got out of training. I was very confused and young, but after thirteen years I can look back and find myself very grateful for everything that you all have done for me. I love you all very much. Ken…Ken where are you,” I waved my hand, “to my partner in good crime, I want to thank you for everything you thought me and know that leaving was very difficult because I knew you were not going to be there with me, but take care and always be the best. Love ya,” Sandra said and blew me a kiss. “All right, enough of that, time to party,” Sandra said as she wiped her tears.
After the party, I thought about my strange phone call from Toni.
The next morning, Toni calls me I thought about not answering, but I wanted to hear this.
“So, why did you call me like that last night?” I said answering, I didn’t even bother to say hello. I was upset with this woman; that’s not fair, I was upset with myself for being jealous for no reason—yeah right, I thought.
“Kenny, I’m so sorry! I was wasted. I feel so silly will you forgive me?”
“Why would you need my forgiveness, we’re not…” she cuts me off.
“Because I really like you, and I don’t think I left you with a good impression of me last night.”
“Oh, well, I like you too, but we’re not dating, right, you can see other people. So…” again she cuts me off. Lawyers, I thought.
“I know, but you were wrong Ricky wasn’t here that was Elise; she’s going on the road, and we drank too much. She dared me to call you and like a fool I did. Anyway, I’m really sorry, but I did mean it about the museum; if you’re not too disappointed in me.”
This woman is making it hard for me to think clearly, “I’ll think about it, listen, I have to get going. I’ll talk to you later.”
She hung up with this soft, “I’m sorry,” and I stood looking around the office wondering if I’m ready for all this emotional bullshit.
“Ken, are you ready? Can you come grab a box for me?”
“Sure thing, you sure you’re not going to miss all this?”
“I’m going to miss it like crazy, but I can’t keep doing this; there’s too much life left for me, and I want some kids and a damn dog—so for that I must go.”
“Kenneth have a good vacation, we’ll have everything ready for you soon. So, until then have a good time, and remember what I told you,” Jamie said. I looked at Jamie and Sandra who had more tears in her eyes. I knew what she was feeling. Jamie didn’t say anything to her, why bother? All I did was pick up her box of memories. Everyone said their goodbyes to Sandra, but she wasn’t ready to go; deep in her heart, I knew she’d regret retiring. The “real” world isn’t the world she knows; adjusting isn’t going to be easy for her.
Walking out of the CIA Headquarters, I thought again why I do this, why I didn’t retire; is country and freedom worth this much personal pain? “Actually, it is, Ken; now, get on with it,” that little voice of mine kept repeating.
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