Conard County Spy

By: Rachel Lee


The hotel room was opulent, befitting an important man, one on a diplomatic mission for his country. But there was not a diplomatic discussion taking place within its confines. Deadly business was on the table.

The gray-haired man sitting near the window in a very expensive tailored suit looked at the dossier in his hands. He appeared to be extremely fit and when he moved, did so with fluid ease.

The man who faced him was decades younger, dressed in much less expensive garb suitable to a government clerk. He was also a little nervous, no matter how calm he tried to be. He was the cover for the people helping the older man. They both knew it. They both also knew it could end badly for this young man if this meeting became known to the wrong people.

The gray-haired man had a lot of experience judging people, and he knew that this one knew only what he needed to in order to complete this task. “So this is the one who betrayed me? Trace Archer?”

“Yes, sir,” said the other. “We told you that several months ago.”

“Where is he now?”

“We sent him on his way to recuperate away from here. We’re tracking him.”

“So you know where he is?”

The younger man nodded. “What he did put you in great danger, General. My superiors understand.”

“My man did a poor job of taking him out in Bulgaria. It will be harder here.”

“It will be cleaner here. You know we value you highly. But if something happens to him on his trip, no explanations will be needed from anyone. That’s how we all want it.”

The general put the dossier aside and went to stand at the window. “In Ukraine, the situation is very delicate. Now it is even more delicate because of this man.”

“I know.”

The general doubted the younger man knew even that much or had any real understanding of the complexities here. He was simply doing his job. “I will not trust this to anyone else. That failed last time. So this time you will get me close to him.”

The younger man hesitated. Apparently this had not been in his brief. “General, the risk...”

“There will be no risk. I am here on a diplomatic mission, yes?”

“But that won’t protect you if...”

“There will be no if. This man has threatened my life, my family, everything I have worked for. I must know he is taken care of, see it with my own eyes.”

After a moment of hesitation, the younger man agreed. “As you wish.” Clearly he had been told not to disagree with the general.

“I would expect no less. I have worked with you for many years, first from my position in the Russian army, and now in Ukraine. You owe me.”

“Yes, sir.”

The general smiled for the first time. “Soon we will resume our mutually beneficial relationship. Once I remove the traitor.”

Chapter 1

Trace Archer hesitated on the porch. The address was correct, but he hadn’t been expecting such a large house. It rose two stories on a street that would be shady in the summertime, but on this cold March night boasted leafless branches. Probably close to a hundred years old.

In fact, he didn’t know what he had been expecting and wasn’t remotely certain what he was doing here. And even though an old friend lived here, he doubted he’d be welcomed.

As he was standing there hesitating, a woman popped out the front door. Covered by winter clothing, her figure was obscured, but in the porch light he couldn’t miss the long, shiny auburn hair, and when her gaze settled on him, he could tell her eyes were an unusual green, undimmed by the poor light.

“Well, hello,” she said, pausing.

He must be at the wrong place. John Hayes had shown him a photo of his wife once, and Ryker Tremaine had married her after John died. This woman didn’t match the photo at all.

“Sorry,” he said automatically, shifting a little to ease the everlasting pain in his arm and hand. “I must have the wrong house.”

He couldn’t mistake the appreciation in her eyes as her gaze swept over him. He wasn’t sure what she was appreciating, considering that, like her, he was wearing a heavy winter jacket.

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” she said. “I don’t live here. Who are you looking for?”

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