Read Edge of Tomorrow Online

Authors: Wolf Wootan

Tags: #thriller, #assassin, #murder, #international, #assassinations, #high tech, #spy adventure

Edge of Tomorrow (10 page)

“I’ll tell you this much: at times Sara’s
assignments require her to request data or reports from Triple Eye.
Being a Triple Eye manager makes such requests routine—no special
procedures have to be put in place.”

“That makes sense. I’ll leave that set up the
way you have it, but I assume she won’t report to me.”

“Right. Thanks, Jane. You’ll still get all
the required management reports as before. Anything else?”

“Not now.”

“OK. I don’t want Gramble to hear about this
second hand. I’ll see if I can reach him now and let him know,”
said Hatch, producing his Blue Phone.

“I hate that little fucker! I’ve never
understood why you helped him become DDI,” she snorted. “He’s such
an asshole!”

“But he’s
my
asshole!” he chuckled as he
dialed.

Jane had often wondered what the true
relationship between those two was. Gramble always did Hatch’s
bidding. She wondered why. She never asked.

“Gramble,” was the gruff reply in Hatch’s
phone.

“Lincoln here. How are you, Jim?”

“Listen, Hatcher, I’m busy! What now?”

“Don’t
ever
call me that, Gramble! Not even on a secure
phone! Understand?”

Jane smiled and thought,
I love it when Hatch gives him hell! I’d love to
be able to talk to him that way!

“Sure, sure.
Mr. Lincoln
.”

“I just wanted to give you a heads-up. In ten
minutes, I’m stepping down as CEO of Triple Eye and I didn’t want
you to read it in the press. I’ll still be Chairman of the Board,
so I’ll keep my hand in. Your new day-to-day contact will be Jane
Forbeson.”

“That bitch? Thanks a lot, Lincoln!” snapped
Gramble.

“She feels the same way about you, Jim.
However, it is in the best interest of the Company and Triple Eye
that you two take care of business in an efficient and seamless
manner. I would hate to have to break in a new DDI,” said Hatch
softly, menace in his tone.

Gramble felt fear grab him, the first time in
a long time. Things had been going so well. Lincoln had used his
considerable influence to help him get the DDI job. This was the
first implied threat in quite awhile.

I’d better force myself to get along with
that cunt! She’s not worth dying over!

“I agree, Lincoln.”

“Here she is. She’d like to say hello,” said
Hatch as he handed the phone to Jane, winking at her.

Jane eased back in her chair, kicked off her
green pumps, and swung her silken legs up on the desk and crossed
her ankles. This action hiked her short gray-green skirt up her
legs above mid-thigh. She winked back at Hatch.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Gramble. I’m sure we’ll
get along just famously,” she cooed into the phone while Hatch took
in the beauty of her perfect legs, wondering if her pubic hair was
really red, as he reassessed his no fraternization policy. Then he
shook his head.

No. I was right. She can never doubt that
she got this job on her merits. If I’d given in and screwed her,
she would always have doubts. So would I.

“Yes, we will, Ms. Forbeson. Just famously.
At least, you are prettier to look at than Lincoln,” chuckled
Gramble. Jane could hear the sarcasm in his voice.

“Why, Mr. Gramble. It’s a good thing this is
a secure line. I would hate to think that sexist remark was
overheard,” teased Jane, enjoying herself. “But I’ll let it pass
and assume you were just trying to pay me a compliment.”

After another minute of similar patter, Jane
hung up and handed the phone back to Hatch.

“It’s hard not to needle that little prick.
I’ll have to concentrate now that I’m the boss and I have to deal
with him all the time. Shit! That sounds good! ‘The Boss.’ You’ve
been training me for this job for a long time, haven’t you, Hatch?
Sent me to school to get my MBA. A stint as president of every
division. Why? It obviously wasn’t for my body.”

Hatch continued looking at her legs as he
said, “I did the same for the other division presidents, too, if
you remember. You never got any special treatment.”

Her face started to feel warm as she saw
where his eyes were, but she did not move her legs. It pleased her
that her soon-to-be forty-year-old legs still looked good enough to
hold a man’s attention.

He went on, “Besides, it was your idea that
made Triple Eye what it is today. I owe you for that.”

They both thought back to the momentous
event, though, at the time it did not seem so earthshaking. Triple
Eye had started out as a service company, processing intelligence
data supplied by the CIA and the DIA. The speed, efficiency, and
presentation of the results had been their main product. Triple Eye
tried to portray itself as a “value-added” company, but the claim
was weak. One day in the coffee room, Jane had mused that if they
could gather data which the CIA did not have—say, data which would
improve a political or economic profile report—then they could
really claim that they had added value, and charge more for the
reports which included the new data. Hatch agreed, but said that
getting new data to the system in any meaningful volume would be
prohibitive: he needed a global network of computers and
communications to achieve that. That’s when Soup Campbell had told
him about the network which one day would become the Internet. Now,
Triple Eye was the largest intelligence gathering organization in
the world, thanks to Jane’s passing comment years ago, and the
process which had handed Triple Eye control of the world’s
intelligence functions had happened so slowly and smoothly that the
intelligence communities were unaware of what was happening until
it was too late. Their budgets were gradually cut back and
redirected so that the major portion of their budgets were
pre-allocated to go to Triple Eye for needed intelligence
functions.

“You’ve repaid me for that a hundred times
over—even before this,” replied Jane softly.

She looked at her watch and saw that it was
5:55 P.M. He nodded.

“I guess your time in the spotlight has
arrived. Shall we go on down?” asked Hatch, rising. “And remember,
don’t try and drag me into a lot of pictures.”

“I know. The reclusive and evasive Mr.
Lincoln.”

She removed her feet from the desk and
slipped into her expensive shoes. They had been died to match her
suit. She stood and smoothed her skirt and tucked her blouse in
until it was smooth over her chest. She retrieved her suit coat
from the coat tree. Hatch helped her into it, then she turned to
face him.

“How do I look?”

“Delicious.”

She punched him lightly on the shoulder and
laughed, “I meant CEOish.”

“That, too. A regular iron ass.”

They went to the private elevator and Hatch
pressed the Down button. The door opened immediately and they
stepped into the small car.

“I’ll be leaving right after
this
soirée
, Jane. First stop
Florida,” Hatch said as the car started its descent.

“Tell Sara that I’ll stay out of her
business, whatever it is. I’m jealous that she gets more of your
attention than I do. Is she under the No-fuck Rule, too?” chortled
Jane.

“Of course. At least
I
follow my rules,” he laughed.
“Where are you going for your birthday weekend?”

“I have nothing planned. Not much time to go
anywhere. I have to be in the office early Monday morning to deal
with my new crew,” she groaned.

“Start thinking like a CEO
now
, not Monday. Grab the GS-IV and
go somewhere and relax for the weekend. Get a baby sitter and take
Jeremy somewhere for a romantic getaway. Show him how sexy his
40-year old wife can be,” he laughed.

“Can I do that? There’s all the paperwork
…”

“What paperwork?
You
control the GS-IV now. Just call Flight
Operations and tell them what you want to do. You can be on the
beach in Maui in the morning. Or if you don’t want so much flying
time, you can try Miami, San Diego, the Caribbean.”

“It still needs justification of some sort,
doesn’t it? For tax reasons?”

“As CEO, you’re required to be on call—on the
job—24/7. Anything you do is during your working hours. Besides,
there’s a section in the Policy Manual—for tax reasons—that states
that relaxation is a required and legitimate company business for
the CEO. Also, there’s a Triple Eye office close to any place you
might go. We’ve had no trouble with the IRS over this. We pay too
much in taxes as it is.”

“Shit! I can’t believe this! It all hasn’t
sunk in yet!” she glowed. “I might do that! I’ll plan something
right after the party. Maybe drop the kids off in Chicago with my
parents first. They’re always complaining they don’t get to see
their grandkids enough.”

“Now you’re cooking! Take a big breath. It’s
time to make your entrance, CEO Forbeson.”

• • •

At 7:01 P.M., Hatch boarded a company
helicopter on the roof of the building and was whisked to the
Richmond International Airport where his personal Gulf Stream V was
waiting for him. Hatch had stepped down as CEO of Lincoln Computers
and Lincoln Communications some time ago. He could now apply his
full concentration to the daily operation of Lincoln Research and
Development, a place where his heart had been for some time.
Version five of his super-stealth helicopter—Shadow-5—was
undergoing operational testing at the Florida compound, and he was
anxious to see it. He no longer received any excitement from the
mundane administrative duties of running one of the top companies
in the world. Jane would find great excitement in the job and bring
new enthusiasm to it. He could now concentrate on many more
interesting things. Very interesting things.

 

Chapter 10

 

Marco Island, Florida

Wednesday, August 1, 2001

12:15 P.M.

 

Hatch Lincoln's table on the patio deck
at
The Blue Grotto
restaurant
was at the railing and had an unrestricted view of the water. This
was his favorite restaurant in Marco Island, Florida, and he tried
to come here at least once every time he visited the Triple Eye
office in this area.

It was a comfortable place which catered to
both tourists and locals, many of whom were retirees; others were
“snowbirds” who came down for the winter months. The tables were
covered with sea blue linen table cloths, and the table setting
included cut crystal water and wine glasses. A vase in the center
of the table contained real flowers. The decor was more New England
sea coast than Hawaii, the latter being preferred by many of the
restaurants in the area. His wine glass was still half full of a
good White Zinfandel and he was enjoying a favorite here, crab
cakes with cole slaw and fries. The fries were always cooked at the
time of the order, so they were always crisp and fresh, not soggy
and greasy.

He enjoyed another sip of his wine and
looked over the other customers for the umpteenth time. He liked
people-watching. It was a habit left over from his spy days, a time
when he had to keep looking for people watching him. Or
obviously
not
watching him.
Also, thinking back to his unabashed ogling of Jane Forbeson last
Friday, he knew it was time to release his growing sexual tension.
Since Kat Klaus’s death, he had never found a new, lasting
relationship with a woman, so he seemed to drift from one sexual
liaison to another—terminating it if it started to get serious. He
normally preferred to use one of his many aliases when looking for
a quick sexual tryst, because he found that Van Lincoln’s bank
balance skewed how women viewed the relationship. Unfortunately, he
was rather well known as Van Lincoln here, so his chances of
picking up a beautiful woman for a short relationship were not
good. It was always fun looking, however.

He glanced from person to person, stopping
for a second to checkout the body of a short blonde woman. Her
breasts were way too large for her stature. He wondered how she
could stand up without falling over. He moved on, checking out and
rejecting several others when he saw the waiter ushering a tall,
black-haired woman to a table at the railing only two tables from
his.

Now, there’s a knockout! Her body is
perfect. And that face! Those legs! She is gorgeous! She can’t be a
model, her tits are too big, but she could be any magazine’s
centerfold!

She had long black hair tied back in a pony
tail that reached below her shoulders, and was wearing tan shorts,
a light blue, scoop-neck tee shirt that was tucked in—emphasizing
her breasts— and tan strapped-on sandals. She sat down and took the
menu from the waiter, who seemed to know her, and started looking
at it.

I haven’t seen her here before. But I
haven’t been here for a while. Maybe she is a tourist. Although,
the waiter treated her more like a regular. Hmm. Dare I pursue
this, or just look and suffer?

He took another bite of his crab cakes,
chewed for a moment, then had a sip of wine. He looked out at the
water for awhile, watching small white and multicolored sails in
the distance. Then he continued his scan of the customers. There
was a couple, both white-haired, sitting next to the black-haired
woman. They were drinking martinis—straight up, one with onions,
the other with olives—and smoking filtered cigarettes. It reminded
him of his parents and their peers. He remembered when he used to
come home from college, and they would throw a party for him.
Everyone would sit around and drink martinis and smoke. Today’s
generation had replaced straight-up martinis with gin or vodka on
the rocks. This reverie made him want a cigarette very badly. He
wondered if quitting was worse than going ahead and smoking. His
eyes moved on, and then he froze on two men sitting at the far end
of the deck. They seemed to be sneaking furtive glances at the
dark-haired beauty he had been watching. They also seemed out of
place here at lunch time. They were dressed in dark suits and had
dark complexions. All the other diners were dressed casually in
light, bright summer clothes. Although most of the customers had
tanned skins, none had the facial features of those two. He thought
they easily could be Arabic. The one on the left looked at her
again, then leaned across the table and spoke to his companion.
They both seemed nervous, squirming a lot in their seats.

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