Gil rapped on the door of Victoria's cottage, but got no answer. Strange, he mused, thinking that they had planned to go out for a walk that afternoon. He'd grown to really enjoy her company, and had been looking forward to spending more and more time with her. He knocked louder, noting her car in the drive, and then tried the door. Wondering if she was around back, Gil walked around to the back of the house, but she wasn't there, either. On impulse, he walked up the wooden steps to the deck on the back of the cottage, and peered through the sliding glass door. The curtains weren't drawn, and he was about to go away, when he saw what appeared to be a leg on the floor of her bedroom which opened into the living area of the cottage. Seconds later, he'd broken the window to her bedroom and pulled himself through the now open window. Kneeling over her body, he touched her throat, feeling for a pulse, and finding that she was quite dead. His heart aching for the love that might have been, he sat down beside her, only to notice for the first time, that her fingers were still on the mouse button of a state of the art laptop computer.
For a few seconds, he just sat there, staring at the scene, when he realized that the computer was still running an internet program. This was more than a little strange, he decided, finding that he was suddenly thinking like his lead character, Travis Hope. A defense mechanism? he wondered. He'd genuinely liked Victoria, and here, now, when he should be crying, he was questioning the scene before him. It didn't make sense to him, not in the usual sense of things. One didn't usually use the laptop on the floor, on one's belly when there were desks nearby. It was a damned uncomfortable position for that sort of thing. No, it appeared that Victoria had been...sending a message? Yes, the internet mail program was open and on instinct, he quickly clicked on the sent folder, checking out the last message. In a second, it was on the screen, and when he saw it, his eyes opened wide. "Murder?"
At the airport a few hours after leaving the restaurant, Lucy and Kevin were ready for their final scene. "Be careful, Lucy," Kevin warned from within the limousine, grateful for the darkened windows that shielded their tender kiss. Their passion spent only a little earlier, they were ready for the final breakup.
"Break a leg," Robert cracked from his front seat vantage point.
"You ready, Doc?"
"Ready. Let's do it."
The door to the limo was opened by the aged chauffeur as Lucy stormed out in high dudgeon, her head held high, and her stance that of a woman obviously aggrieved. "Robbie, see to the luggage."
"Lucy, wait!" called Kevin, scrambling out of the automobile. He started after her, calling, "Don't go!"
Lucy turned to him, her eyes flashing. "Don't go? Give me one good reason to stay, you duck-eating......eunuch!"
Kevin's eyes snapped open, and his jaw dropped. He stood there, sputtering, as Lucy strode off with the most provocative wiggle he'd ever seen. Then, recovering, he yelled after her as onlookers watched. "Then, good riddance, you nympho-manical ......dingbat!"
From her vantage point a few yards away, Angela watched with interest. So that was Lucy Coe. She'd seen Stuart watching her from outside the restaurant and had followed Lucy to the estate. So far, she'd been unable to learn who owned it, but that didn't matter at the moment. Lucy was leaving and Angela wouldn't be far behind. She had to put an end to this fascination that Stuart had for her and the quickest way to do that was to put an end to Lucy Coe. It was simple, really. Angela was beginning to appreciate the perks of power, and had no desire to let any of it slip through her grasping fingers. This would be easy. So easy.
He looked furtively around, feeling more alone than he'd ever felt in his entire life, and considering that he'd been alone for most of it, this was really strange. There was something going on, going down, yet he'd been unable to get more than a few tastes of what it was. Oh, he'd gotten hints, clues which made no real sense, and he'd managed to save the life of one man, though if that life would ever be more than a shadow of what it had been remained to be seen. He hadn't found Tom Hardy until it was nearly, if not, too late, and he'd done it on orders from Frisco Jones who had told him not to tell their mutual boss, the WSB, until he gave the word. Frisco had suspected that the home office had been compromised and now, with a sinking feeling, the man known locally as Scott Drake, agent of WIN, was afraid that his old friend was right. He'd just heard that Frisco's plane had gone down somewhere in the Middle East following an in-air explosion. There were no survivors.
"Scott?" came a voice from nearby. That tone sent frissons of fear down his spine, though he was perfectly calm when he turned to the woman who had been giving him orders. "I'm going to be out of town for a day or two."
Before him stood the innocent looking Angela, clad in white that gave her the almost angelic appearance, but which hid an evil mind. He'd been in the cleanup crew that Victoria had dispatched to deal with Thomas Cameron's body, and he knew that she was responsible for his death. It had to stop, he told himself. He couldn't have prevented the first killing, but he couldn't allow her to do more, and from the glitter in her eyes, he sensed that Angie was planning something. "Fine. Do you want me to give anybody a message as to where you'll be?"
"No message," she smiled, and he noticed that her fingers were curved inward like claws. "I'm just going shopping."
And I'm the Pope, he thought grimly. He couldn't let her do whatever she was planning, he decided suddenly. Then, realizing that he was a free agent, no longer answering to Frisco or the WSB, he determined to do things his own way. Maybe he couldn't save the world at the moment, but he could take care of this one thing and maybe in doing so, crack the mystery surrounding the case. "Okay, then have a good time."
"Count on it," she promised, entirely too gaily. "I'll have a wonderful time."
Watching as the young woman walked away, Scott thought about the clues he'd gathered. There were drops that killed, and those that saved, though he'd had to sacrifice one of the only samples he'd managed to gather to try to save Tom. He'd passed on the word "TIMORIA" to Tom, hoping that it would get to Jared Andrews, and he thought that it might have, but he'd been unwilling to break his cover to find out. Now, given what he was about to do, he decided to call the man that Frisco told him had once been a top agent.
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