Monday, April 24, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 26

Chapter 31

When Kathy returned to the villa, she was so shaken up she went straight to the bar in the living room and poured herself a scotch.
That kiss was the last thing she had expected!
She was wracked with guilt for what she had almost done up on that ridge.
Had she lost her mind?
Signs from God?
The stars lining up perfectly?
What on earth had she been thinking?
She had almost murdered this poor girl who had apparently, without one grain of Kathy’s knowledge, fallen madly in love with her.
When she finished the first drink, she poured herself a second, her hands still shaking. The ride back on the boat, and in the limo, had been extremely awkward. After Gwen had kissed her, Kathy had been so stunned she had merely wiped her mouth and continued along the trail after Alexander, not knowing what to say or do. After that unexpected turn of events, it had been hard for her to even look Gwen in the eyes. Apparently, because she hadn’t resisted, Gwen thought that the feeling was mutual and that Kathy wanted to have an affair, or at least have a sexual relationship.
Kathy couldn’t believe it.
Now she realized that she probably had seen someone peeking at her from around the door frame last week when she had gotten out of the tub. Not Alexander—it had been Gwen!
And those lingering gazes she’d gotten from Gwen at dinner last night. Not driven by suspicion, but sexual attraction.
When she finished her second drink, she looked down at the empty glass, trying to resist the urge to pour herself a third...and all at once, everything became as clear as the ice cubes in the bottom of the glass.
She let out a little, girlish laugh.
All she had to do was give the girl what she wanted!
The stars had lined up perfectly, after all.

* * *
At exactly twelve midnight that same evening, Kathy heard the faint squeak of her bedroom door slowly swinging open in the darkness.
Kathy was lying in bed, almost naked and waiting.
When the door closed again, she heard the lock twist shut.
Kathy sat up and turned on the nightstand light.
Gwen padded across the floor towards her, smiling self-consciously. She was wearing a rather frumpy-looking nightgown that came down to her knobby knees.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” Kathy whispered. She offered Gwen a crystal flute of champagne that she had poured a few minutes earlier.
“Me, too,” Gwen whispered back. Trembling with excitement, she sat down on the edge of the bed and sipped the champagne as Kathy sipped from her own glass. It was Dom Perignon, which Kathy thought was suitable for the occasion.
Two sleeping pills had been stirred into Gwen’s glass.
The young governess glanced down at the breasts that her host presented—Kathy was wearing a see-through negligee that left little to the imagination.
“Are you sure this is okay?” Gwen whispered, glancing at the door. “What if Mr. Leandrou—?”
“I’ve taken precautions, honey, don’t worry. The last thing I want is for Spyro to find out.”
 Gwen nervously finished off her champagne and set her glass on the nightstand. Smiling lustfully, she bent down and began tenderly kissing Kathy’s shoulder.
Kathy leaned back and closed her eyes, feigning a satisfied moan, trying not to think about that ugly mole on the back of the girl’s neck. The only way she could tolerate the thin, cracked lips exploring her body was to imagine they belonged to Hakim, the handsome gigolo she’d picked up a few days ago to make her trick phone call.

* * *
Kathy woke up very early the next morning, just as the sun’s rays struck the curtains.
They were all tightly closed—she had made sure of that before Gwen had fallen asleep.
Now, the lanky governess was sprawled across the bed, stark naked, her pale, bony butt and hips exposed, her head on Kathy’s stomach, a dreamy smile touching her lips.
The door was unlocked now—Kathy had slipped out of bed and taken care of that.
Soon, Kathy could hear the faint thumps of Fenia and the cook moving around downstairs.
Gwen was still sleeping like the dead, and Kathy allowed herself to doze off again. It was only a matter of time now. Spyro, Kathy and Alexander attended the Greek Orthodox Church in Fenia every Sunday morning, and the service started at seven o’clock.
After a while, Kathy woke up again, hearing voices out in the hallway. She glanced at the clock on the nightstand, Gwen’s head still resting on Kathy’s stomach, her mouth open, taking long, deep breaths.
“I knocked on the door,” she heard Fenia say, “but she do not answer.”
There was a loud rap on the door. “Darling?” Spyro called, and he tried the handle.
As the door swung open, Kathy hugged Gwen a little tighter, and lightly stroked the back of the girl’s neck.
Spyro squinted into the dimly lit room, then flipped on the light switch. Alexander was standing right behind him, looking on inquisitively.
Kathy sat up a little in the bed, and Gwen finally stirred, raising her head and looking up at Kathy’s face with sleepy but contented eyes.
“Do you mind?” Kathy said to Spyro, pulling the sheet higher up over her breasts.
There was a moment of stunned silence.
The bomb finally exploded.

Chapter 32

When Elaine Brogan drove into work the following Monday morning, she was more depressed than ever. Now it had been almost a week since Kathy had left. She was sure something had gone wrong.
As she turned down the narrow Rue Armény to park in her paid spot near the American Consulate, she was thinking of buying a plane ticket to Santorini Island to go and see what had happened.
Her cellphone started ringing.
She expected it to be Tony or Nick, but when she saw the BLOCKED NUMBER message in the display, she slowed the SUV to take the call.
Her pulse was racing as she answered. “Yes?”
“It’s done.”
Elaine instantly recognized her mother’s voice. She was more relieved than she cared to admit to hear that Kathy was alive and well. “The governess has been fired?”
“Yes,” Kathy whispered, as if in a hurry to get off the phone. “The interviews for her replacement will be held next week in London.” Elaine had told Kathy not to use any names when she made the call. “A search firm has been hired to screen applicants and narrow them down. The firm will shortlist three people for him to interview in person.”
“Do you know which search firm?”
“No, but the ads will appear today or tomorrow in the classifieds sections of some UK papers.” Kathy paused. “I have to go.” Now Elaine thought she sounded more exhausted than nervous.
“How did you manage to get her fired?” Elaine asked.
“You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through.”
When Kathy failed to elaborate, Elaine said, “It might be important for me to know, for the interview.”
Kathy hesitated. “Okay, let’s just call it sexual misconduct.”
The line went dead.

Chapter 33

As soon as Elaine arrived at her office, she turned on her computer and started searching for the ad. It took her less than a minute to find it in the Jobs section of The Guardian:

 GOVERNOR/GOVERNESS wanted, €1200 per week. American/Greek family living in Greece needs live-in tutor for gifted eight year old boy. Duties include all home-school teaching and co-participation in extracurricular outdoor sports. Some travel required (all expenses paid). Full room and board, with private separate bedroom/bathroom. Five  days per week, seven hours per day. Requirements: native English speaker, college diploma, high degree of ethics/integrity. Must be intelligent AND athletic.

Elaine read the last line twice. It matched exactly what Kathy had told her. Spyro Leandrou sounded like a hard man to please indeed, and finding someone to meet his exacting requirements must have been a challenge. But based on everything Kathy had told her about Spyro, Elaine thought she and Luna had come up with the perfect cover identity and ‘“legend” to go with it, a woman with the perfect background who he would not be able to resist hiring as a replacement.
Elaine couldn’t wait to flesh out all the details.
She picked up her desk phone and punched in a number.
When Luna answered, Elaine said, “Good news, girl. We’re on!”
Two hours later, Elaine was aboard an Air France jet bound for Lyon.

* * *
Luna picked up Elaine at the airport. By noon, they were both working feverishly in Luna’s office in Interpol Headquarters, hoping they had enough new information to convince Martin Valdez to sign off on an official investigation that would involve undercover work.
Luna had been given the perk of a private office rather than a cubicle in the Secret Service’s section, but the space was stuffy, cramped, and windowless. It was filled with an odd combination of martial arts equipment and case files.
Elaine set up her laptop on Luna’s worktable and the two of them clicked away on their keyboards back to back, talking to each other over their shoulders. Elaine focused on the finer details of the cover identity and legend, and Luna continued to fill in the UOA form that they had to get Valdez to sign. Luna had briefed Valdez after Elaine had called this morning, and they had a meeting set up with him for 4:30, his last appointment of the day.
The meeting with the new director would be tricky. All the new information for the case had been supplied by informants—there really was no hard evidence, nothing concrete. But taken in whole, it was a juicy case. One bit they planned to use, which they had held back before, was the fact that Leandrou was suspected of orchestrating a contract killing on one of his criminal associates in Pittsburgh fifteen years ago. Of course the name of the victim would not be revealed to Valdez.
The trickiest part was that some of the information had been supplied by Kathy, listed as, “Informant #1 - wife of Spyro Leandrou,” and some had been supplied by “Informant #2,” known only to Luna and Elaine as the notorious Giorgio Cattoretti, still the Secret Service’s most wanted criminal. There was no way they could share the name of the latter source with Valdez. Nor would they utter a word about the Panacea clinic, because if the facility catered to the elite clientele that Cattoretti said it did, Valdez might get cold feet. Anyway, neither Luna nor Elaine had any idea how Spyro was connected to Panacea—the clinic might be irrelevant.
They did have a “secret weapon,” as Luna called it, and they planned on using it on Valdez if necessary.
As they were printing out the final copy of the form and steeling themselves for their meeting with the director, Elaine pointed out that there was one significant downside to her having Raj Malik ousted from his position. “When the Director of European Operations is a crook,” she said in a low voice, “you don’t need to worry much about trivialities like ethical codes of conduct or undercover operations guidelines.”
Luna laughed. “Yeah, it’s all one big party...until said director decides to put you in a black site and torture you for a few weeks.”
“Touché,” Elaine muttered. She gave a small shudder at the memory.
It was now 4:25 p.m. Luna picked up the final copy of the printout and they both went over it one last time while nervously standing in Luna’s office side by side.
“Do you think he’ll go for it?”
Luna glanced at her watch. “There’s only one way to find out.” She buttoned up her suit jacket, which was a tight fit around her shoulder holster and bulging service pistol.
Elaine did the same, and they headed out the door.

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