LILA Episode 2 – Short Story for the Coffee Break

BLURB:

Agent Lila Banks’ original mission was to get under the skin of Andrey Jones, a suspicious high profile broker. It turned out he was a step ahead of her in every way, and forced her hand to infiltrate the Jinx Enterprises as his own spy. She has to use her F.B.I. privileges as well as her skills as a financial tracker to discover who the Jinx are paying for medical experiments that seem to result in DNA modification. But she also discovers that Andrey Jones is far more dangerous than she or even her F.B.I. superiors have anticipated. This scene depicts the pivotal moment.

(the first episode is available here)

***

There is no dinner or cozy fireplace when I next meet Andrey Jones. It’s at a conference in the lobby, the place swarming with financial crooks in expensive suits, drinking champagne. Greed seeps out of their predator grins, and their eyes are glassy and cold. All I can see in them is numbers and ego.

When Andrey appears my heart jumps – a face too handsome for this place, his worked-out body outlined in a dark quality suit. A millisecond later my spirits sink. There’s a swan-like woman on his arm, slim and tall, a toned leg emerging from the split of her dress with every step she takes. Ebony-black hair in a chignon, striking powder-blue eyes. Probably in herself a label of the New York modeling business.

Despite this glamorous adornment I can’t help glancing at Andrey too often. Champagne in hand, I decide to keep on my new boss’ tail with a smile, resisting the urge to adjust the tiny headphone in my ear that Chief Schwarz equipped me with. I have to move like a stuck-up diva myself in order to keep it in place. It doesn’t threaten to fall out, but to slip into a position in which it would become useless.

My boss is in a fervent discussion with the Head of Operations when I hear Andrey’s voice behind me.

“Miss Lila Banks, what a pleasant surprise.”

A wave of heat floods my cheeks as I look up at his face. Masculine features, dark brown eyes and a cunning expression. The man is mighty attractive. I swallow hard. “Mr. Jones, yes. Pleasant indeed.”

He takes my hand and kisses it. Something stirs in my belly at the sensation, but my boss steps in and spoils the feeling, demanding to be introduced. He’s a big and protective presence, in his early fifties, cleanly shaven and serious-frowned, salt-and-pepper hair. He’s the no-nonsense type of guy, but soft-spoken and well-liked.

“Andrey Jones, this is my direct superior, Mr. Boyd.”

Dr. Boyd,” the boss corrects and holds out his hand, palm downward like any domineering animal. But Andrey’s no less of a predator. With elegant moves he walks just slightly to the side, forcing Boyd to subconsciously rotate his hand, and only takes it when the palm faces upward. Boyd doesn’t realize his mistake until it’s too late, but he takes it with dignity.

“Doctor,” Andrey slurs in that voice of his that electrifies me. “I’m impressed. And in what field?”

“I’m the head of finance at Jinx Enterprises,” Boyd declares, swollen with pride. “What field can it be?”

“Please forgive my ignorance. Lila hasn’t told me she worked for the Jinx.”

“I only started a few weeks ago,” I say, my voice breaking with anxiety. Acting is not my forte, never has been. I’ve done what Andrey wanted, I’ve sent him the data from my most secure account at the F.B.I. It wasn’t easy to track down Jinx’s payments, but what the heck, I’m excellent at it – false modesty isn’t my forte either.

Andrey holds out his arm and invites his lady companion into the picture. She flashes a perfect, dashing smile at Boyd.

“Monique Maurette,” Andrey says. “She’s the latest cover on Vogue.”

That he labels her as “cover” without any hint at her being human doesn’t bother the diva. Yet Boyd reacts unlike anything I expected. He straightens up and makes a point of being unaffected by her charms. He draws near to me, his hand covering the small of my back. I start with surprise. I don’t understand him.

As not to affect the egos around I’m wearing a little black dress, a vintage hair-do that goes with the white-blond hue of my hair, and slight make-up. I’m just one of the many blondes around, consciously keeping a low profile, and not even close to Monique’s league. Still, Boyd completely ignores the diva, who pouts in disbelief.

“And how do you and Lila know each other, Mr. Jones?” he demands to know.

A russet flash crosses Andrey’s eyes. He looks like a challenged lion. “We go to the same gym.”

Boyd turns to me rather theatrically. “You never told me you knew the Andrey Jones, dearest Lila.”

“I don’t really know him,” I try for a smile, but my voice is still shaky.

“She applied for a job with me, before she decided to try for the Jinx.”

I wish the ceiling would fall down and squash me. Or rather Jones. My eyes convey a desperate, “What are you doing?”

“Is that so?” Boyd now turns fully to me, his gaze interrogative and crushing. “Did you keep in touch since? To be more exact, were you in touch as Mr. Jones maneuvered his way to the majority of shares at Beta Pharma?”

Andrey breaks out into a conciliatory laugh, and slaps Boyd’s shoulder, who raises an eyebrow in outrage. He’s too shocked to do anything else about it. “Relax, Dr. Boyd. Lila had nothing to do with it.”

“To achieve something like that one needs information, Mr. Jones. Some of it vital.”

“That is a fact. Yes, I knew the Jinx controlled the majority and effected major payments to Beta Pharma, but not from Lila,” he lies.

Boyd changes colors like traffic lights, and I must be doing the same. There’s no way I’ll come out of this clean. I should’ve never trusted Andrey Jones.

“You turn out to be some financial tracker,” Boyd grunts, his eyes hostile as they fix Jones.

“I have a great financial tracker.”

Can he get any more specific than that? I’m certain my cover is blown, blood pumping in my ears along with Chief Schwarz’s breath and staccato typing in the tiny headphone as he listens to this.

“It won’t bring you much gain, Mr. Jones,” Boyd spews. “If we only just delay payments, the company will go down.”

“Not with their as good as inexistent costs and blasting results they won’t,” Andrey defies. He looks at me as he continues. “I must ask, Dr. Boyd, if you knew how they optimize their expenses. If you knew their R&D costs include acquiring test subjects from corrupt countries. Mostly inmates without family, you’d be surprised what a good investment they make. Barely worth a grand each. There’s rumor even the scientists they employ are recruited against their will, and motivated by rather medieval means.”

“That’s preposterous,” Boyd exclaims, and the tone of his voice assures me he simply didn’t know.

Chief Schwarz’s voice pierces through static in the headphone, controlled but urging. “Agent Banks, get out of there, now.”

I freeze for a moment, my eyes darting from Boyd to Jones and back.

“Abort, now, Lila, or we’ll never see your pretty face again.” His urgency increases.

I excuse myself and turn on my heels, heading like a robot towards the elevators. I punch the button and act as calm as possible, eyes upward to keep the tears from breaking out with anxiety. I turn nervous and switch my weight from one leg to the other as I sense a dark presence behind me. I can feel Jones’ eyes on me. I do my best to ignore him, but it’s a hurdle.

That very second the elevator doors begin to open in their slow high-tech time, revealing the cabin like a safe haven. Yet as they grow wider two ominous figures in black suits step out perfectly synchronized. One of them extends his hand.

“Your phone Miss Banks. And make-up kit. No, make that your whole purse.”

I hesitate for a second, decide a struggle would only be pointless, then hand it over. The man passes my purse over to his partner, who begins rummaging, and extends his big hand again.

“And your wire.”

***

Liked this? Share your thoughts and feelings in a comment. Lila’s whole story will be published in a Christmas Story Book for Adults between the 15th and 18th of December, so stay tuned for Gift Promotions and other Goodies.

UPDATE: Lila’s whole story has been published in the Christmas Story Book for Adults.

Please enjoy the first episode here.

5 thoughts on “LILA Episode 2 – Short Story for the Coffee Break

  1. I enjoyed the tempo as things heated up for Lila. The doublecross adds some tension but that last line was a hammer blow to the noggin! Great work, now I’m sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what happens next. 😀

      1. Oh yes! It’s easy to become a voyeur in the scene and visualize what is happening and to feel Lila’s emotions and thought processes as things develop. I really felt that angst from the last paragraph.

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