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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 33


Chapter 43

By the time they had finished dinner that evening, Alexander seemed to feel much more comfortable around Elaine. Still nervous, but the excited type of nervous.
While they ate, Kathy spoke very little, listening to Alex rattle on as Elaine asked him about his school work and how he liked each subject.
By the time dessert was served, the boy seemed exhausted from all the stress and excitement of having a new person around and asked if he could go up to his room.
“You certainly may,” Spyro said, and gave him a playful slap on the behind as he left the room.
Kathy excused herself, too.
When they were alone in the dining room, sipping Greek coffee, Spyro spent a few minutes filling Elaine in on the general way the household functioned, Alex’s study schedule, along with his music and sports lessons times.
“Other than those activities, you’re free to do whatever you want—use the gym, sauna, pool, watch TV in the living room, walk down the steps to the beach. If you want to drive around the island, we have a nice ‘guest car,’ a Porsche convertible.”
“Thank you.”
“Also, we have wifi throughout the house—I’ll give you the password for your phone and laptop.”
“I don’t have a computer.”
Spyro looked astonished. “You don’t have a computer?”
“No—is that a problem?”
“Of course not, we have plenty of computers here. I’m just surprised you don’t have one, especially being a teacher. You said you were good with computers—”
“I am good with computers, but I think children spend far too much time on them and on their phones these days playing games and so forth. I don’t want to set a bad example—it’s better to use the clients’ equipment for teaching and then stay off of them otherwise.”
From Spyro’s expression, Elaine thought she’d scored big points again. The real reason she had no computer with her was that she thought it was too risky. She would have had to buy a used one and pack it with information that Patricia Carter was likely to have accumulated over a significant period of time, which was too much trouble. And a brand new one might raise suspicion. The only electronic device she had with her was the phone she had been supplied with in London. She had set it up with a dozen fake contacts in England, France and the USA, the places she had supposedly lived.
“But you will need a local SIM for your phone,” Spyro said, and he pulled a small plastic bag from his shirt pocket. When he handed it to her, she saw that it contained a SIM card, but it was completely blank, with no printing on it. “We use our own private cell tower, not the public ones—the signal is too weak here.”
“Thank you,” Elaine said, and started to put the little plastic bag with the SIM card in her purse.
“Why don’t you put it in right now so we can make sure it works?”
Elaine smiled, pulled out her phone, and handed it to him. On the inside, she tried not to show how caught off guard and vulnerable she felt. She and Luna hadn’t planned on this—before she left London, they had assumed she could at least get away with sending a text message to and from her phone. She had little doubt that this wonderful free SIM card would allow Spyro to monitor every phone call, text message, and email she received.
After he inserted the card and snapped the cover back into place, he smiled and handed the phone back to her. “All set now. And here’s your old SIM card.”
Elaine had to figure out some way around this. Nothing would be secure on that phone now. She would have to sneak off to the airport at the first opportunity and buy a disposable phone like the one she’d had to leave behind in London. She had noticed at least one kiosk selling them when they had passed through the airport lobby.
 Spyro leaned back in his chair and, after thinking for a moment, said, “I guess the only other thing you should know is that there are no cameras in the house on the interior of the property, inside the rock walls. You may have noticed that there is a lot of security equipment around the exterior, but there is nothing at all on the inside, anywhere. I’m a big believer in personal space and privacy.”
“Nice to know,” Elaine said. She had learned the truth about this lofty-sounding policy from Kathy. At one time Spyro had packed nearly the entire interior of the house with hidden cameras and microphones, but had learned, through experience, that the more paranoid he appeared to his staff, the more they were tempted to snoop. Now, even his library/office was unmonitored. Supposedly.
“Do you enjoy reading? I assume you probably do, being a teacher...”
“Of course. I love to read.”
Spyro nodded approvingly. “We have an excellent collection of both fiction and non-fiction in English in our library. I’m constantly adding books for Alex to read ‘someday.’ The only thing I ask is that you limit your time in that room, just to go in and browse and take what you want—the space doubles as my office.”
“I understand,” Elaine said. She knew that’s also where his safe happened to be.
He finished off the rest his coffee, looking lost in thought.
Elaine wanted to speak again, but hesitated.
“What is it?”
“I assume I have the job, then?”
Spyro laughed. “Oh yes, of course you have the job, I should have said that right off! It’s obvious that you meet my son’s exacting standards.”
“Whew,” Elaine said under her breath. “Thank you, Mister Leandrou.”
Spyro chuckled at this, and he motioned to her with his prosthetic hand. “You have a lot more charm than our last governess, I have to say, although she was an excellent teacher and sports companion for my son. No complaints about the standards of her work.”
“Well I hope I can match them.”
“My instincts about people are rarely wrong—I’m sure you’ll exceed them.” Spyro glanced at his watch. “I’m also sure you’re exhausted, too, and so am I.” He stood up. “See you at breakfast in the morning? We eat at eight-thirty sharp, which in Greece, means about nine or so.”
Elaine laughed. “Kaliníhta, Mister Leandrou.”
He chuckled at her use of the local language, but looked pleased that she made the effort. “Kaliníhta, Patricia.”

Chapter 44

The governess’ room was as magnificent as Elaine expected it would be, situated on the other side of a large bathroom on the same side of the hall as Alexander’s. It afforded a splendid view of the sea and the smaller volcanic island farther out. In the darkness, Nea Kameni Island was no more than a dim outline in the distance.
But Elaine was hardly in a frame of mind for admiring views. She was ninety percent sure that Spyro Leandrou did not suspect her of anything, but the damn “private” SIM card he had given her had caught her off guard. It was crucial for her to send a message to Luna indicating that she was all right, that this had not been a trap. In addition, Spyro himself would certainly be expecting her to send some text messages or emails to her friends and family telling them that she had arrived safely on the island, and to give them her new phone number. She had little doubt that Spyro or his security people were already monitoring the phone.
As she mulled over exactly how to handle this problem, she unpacked her suitcase and confronted another one—where to hide her pistol? Fortunately, her room featured an en-suite bathroom, and it was already equipped with a blow dryer. Borrowing a page from Spyro’s philosophy, she simply set the leather toilet kit containing the hidden, disassembled Sig on the top shelf of the closet, right out in the open. It was difficult to tell that it concealed a gun unless you knew what you were looking for.
Other than that, Elaine had nothing to hide except her own thoughts and knowledge about her host, and her plans to thoroughly investigate him and his businesses.
She hung all her clothes in the wardrobe, double checking the labels to make absolutely sure there was nothing she’d bought anywhere except in the UK or France.
When she finished, she pulled out her phone—she decided that one group text message would do to notify her “friends and family” of her safe arrival. Her phone’s contacts were already filled with a dozen names and phone numbers in the USA, UK, and France. Only two of the numbers connected with real people—all the others would reach voicemails of fictitious people who matched the names in her Contacts, set up by Luna and the Secret Service back office. This sort of backstopping was routine for undercover ops in case a suspect were to get hold of the operative’s phone and unlock it. The only two “real” people in her contacts were labeled Nick LaGrange, a former employer that would be reasonable for Patricia Carter to still have, and Luna Anderson, an American friend in the UK who was also a governess. The latter of course was actually Luna Faye. The number would forward to her Secret Service phone no matter where it was located, anywhere in the world.
Elaine thought for a moment and then composed a message that would accomplish the most important goal on the receiving end—letting Luna know about the fishy SIM card. She also included some words to stroke Spyro’s ego:

Hi, everyone it’s Patricia! Sorry for the group message but I’m exhausted—arrived safe and sound on Santorini Island, Greece. I’m so excited about my new job! The boy I’m in charge of is adorable, and seems so smart. And this house—it’s like something out of a movie.
My boss just gave me a new SIM card because they use a private cell tower here, and I’m texting everyone so you all have my new number. I’ll be super busy the next few days getting my feet on the ground. Talk to you soon!

She read it over. She was fairly sure the phrase “my boss just gave me a new SIM card” would clue in Luna that the number she had sent the message from was anything but secure.
She group-sent the message to five of the contacts: four of the fake people and Luna.
Then, she unpacked her charger, plugged the phone into it, and set it on the dresser, making sure the screen was off, which locked it.
By ten o’clock, Elaine was snuggled under the covers of the spacious queen-sized bed.
As she closed her eyes, she thought I did it!
Step One accomplished.
On to Step Two!


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