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This is another part of Chapter 1. I skipped over some parts, so it wouldn’t end up being too long, but I wanted to give a glimpse at some other characters besides Mia. 😀 Enjoy! And if you find any typos, please let me know, because I have read over it countless times, but I’m finding that I’m not very perceptive when it comes to typos. 😀

M.I.A.

Chapter 1: Part 2

As I sprinted through the front door at five minutes past the hour, I ran through the options in my head. But somehow I couldn’t figure out how I was going to talk my way out of the verbal assault I knew I would receive as soon as I crossed the threshold to George Byrne’s office, late.

Before I could even knock on the door, Byrne’s loud voice commanded me into the room. “Come in, Yardley.”

I nudged open the door and there he sat, completely still, watching me. “Sit.”

The room, which was tucked deep within the recesses of CIA Headquarters, was as cold as the man himself. Nothing was out of line and though every furnishing was massive, they were plain and unembellished.

I put on my brave face and did as I was told, sliding into a stern chair across his desk from him. I sat up straight and worked to appear calm. I had learned over the past two years that with George Byrne, if you didn’t at least try to appear confident, he would eat you alive.

“Alright Mia, debrief.” He said, and reclined back in his chair, studying me with one eyebrow raised. I took a moment to look at him and noticed how weary he looked, as if he hadn’t slept in days. His hair was ruffled and a small piece of it was hanging onto his forehead. But despite his appearance, the fire in his eyes was unwavering. Never had I found him so terrifying.

I resisted the urge to fuss with my skirt and met his intense stare. Ignoring my nerves, I told him everything that had transpired during my visit to Italy. I didn’t flower up any of it; I knew he’d see through it. He had a knack for knowing the truth whether I said it or not.

When I had finished, he said nothing. He sat with his hands folded on his desk like he had all day for this. I wished he would get on with it -I was getting more and more nervous by the second. I wasn’t a nervous person, but I had an intense fear of displeasing him.

He sat looking at me for about sixty seconds before he stood up and went to the window. “I’m not often proved wrong, Yardley. For some reason, when I gave you this mission, I honestly thought perhaps you would impress me for once. I was sorely disappointed.” He turned to look at me. “You disappointed me.”

I reminded myself to keep eye contact. “I’m sorry to hear that sir.”

“I’m not finished.” He interrupted me sharply.

I nodded, trying to appear penitent.

He didn’t speak for what felt like ages. He was circling me, like a shark wanting to devour its prey. My eyes followed him, waiting for him to shatter the silence.

When he spoke again, it was with a raised voice. I grimaced; I knew that when he wanted to be, his voice could be plainly heard all the way in Washington DC, or at the very least by everyone in headquarters. “What you did was stupid. Plain stupid. Honestly, that brace on your neck tells me you don’t deserve to be here. There are plenty of other agents who would die for an assignment like this.” He stopped and pinned me with a glare to make sure I hadn’t miss his word choice; I hadn’t. “Except with them,” He went on, “they wouldn’t pay that price because they didn’t happen to like some comment made by their target. They wouldn’t have allowed it to set them off.”

I again nodded. Of course he was right, but it stung to hear my stupidity spoken aloud, as if the neck brace wasn’t enough punishment.

When finally he had finished, he didn’t wait for me to answer. He simply marched out of the room, refusing to look at me. Then, when he was almost out the door, he turned to me and said “Option Room. Ten minutes. Don’t be late this time.”

——-

Hours later, after he had given the two of them their assignment, George Byrne was beginning to second guess his judgement. He rested his head in his hands and sighed. Sometimes he wished he could just fire the girl; it would certainly relieve some of the pressure he’d been feeling.

He glanced through his papers, fingering them in indecision and muttered to himself. If anything happened to her, he would blame himself. She had no idea the firestorm she was walking into.

Over the past few years he had lagged in his professionalism, come to see her as more than just an agent, he cared for her like a father would for a daughter, and it killed him what he was doing to her right now. He just wanted to be honest with her, but that wasn’t a liberty he had while with the CIA. He knew he couldn’t try to reason with her anyway, she was too stubborn for that. He knew she has shrugged off his warning that she was to trust no one but her partner. She would go on as she always had, trusting no one but herself.

He straightened his tie, attempting to smooth down his thoughts. His office, a space that usually comforted him, made him feel boxed in. He stood up and strode to the door, feeling an intense craving for fresh air. Once he got it, he was sure he would feel better about all of this. This was for her own good. He knew she would thank him later. In the end, it would all be worth it. It would.

————————————————————————————–

The airport was unexpectedly busy the day of our departure. Because of the crush of people surrounding us as we checked our bags, neither of us spoke more than a word or two.

I didn’t know much about Tom Selfriege other than that he was a smug, self-absorbed jerk who only cared about his own accomplishments. This was fully displayed after our first meeting when he leaned over to Byrne, thinking I was out of hearing distance and muttered, “So, if she breaks my neck during all of this, I’m not taking the mark on my record for it.”

Even still, I had tried to lighten things up. When I was a kid, my dad and I had always had a safe word. It was a secret word that we could always say to the other person to let them know something was wrong, without curious bystanders knowing.

“We need an alert word.” I declared, trying to warm him up. He was busy directing his attention toward the crowds of travelers rushing past us. I sat forward in my seat and leaned into his line of vision. “Something we can say when there’s something wrong, but other people are listening.”

He raised an eyebrow at me.

“You choose.” I remarked, working to sound chipper.

He sighed stoicly, “Sprain.”

I immediately  away, ignoring the first grin he had given me.

What do you think? I would love comments! And if anyone feels like giving a good (respectful and constructive) critique, I am always open to advice!

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