Read I, Spy? Online

Authors: Kate Johnson

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fantasy, #Thrillers, #General

I, Spy?

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transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

512 Forest Lake Drive

Warner Robins, Georgia 31093

 

I, Spy?

Copyright © 2007 by Kate Johnson

Cover by Scott Carpenter

ISBN: 1-59998-434-2

www.samhainpublishing.com

 

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

First
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: March 2007

 

I, Spy?

 

Kate Johnson

Dedication

To Alysia, without whom Sophie would never have been written, and Amy, without whom she’d never have been published.

 

Chapter One

Okay, I can do this. This is not a problem. This is what I’m trained for. I can stay calm in a crisis.

Only, the crisis was I switched my alarm off and now I had twenty minutes in which to get out of bed, washed, dressed, up to uniform “neat and tidy appearance” standards, gulp down some coffee, find my keys and get to work.

It takes me twenty minutes to find a frigging parking space.

I hit the first hurdle when I couldn’t find my uniform shirt. Not by my bed. Not under my bed. Not in the laundry basket. Not in the washing machine. Christ, I only took it off yesterday, where the hell could it have gone? I found myself looking in the most insane places—under the sofa, in the shoe cupboard, the oven—
everywhere
—before I finally found it in the first place I’d checked. Stale and creased in the laundry basket.

I sprayed some Febreze on it, shook out the creases—I couldn’t even remember where my iron’s
supposed
to be, let alone where it might actually have ended up—and slung it on. I nearly strangled myself with my scarf before I got it right. Making some heroically quick instant coffee with half cold water, I nevertheless scalded my tongue and the roof of my mouth gulping it down.

Tammy, my little tabby cat, watched with a total lack of interest as I hopped around, swearing and moaning at the pain.

“Keys,” I slurred, and she blinked at me. There was no logical place for my keys; why would there be? I was nearly crying by the time I found them on the kitchen counter. A quick check of my watch told me it was ten to five—even if I raced up to the airport and left my car on the front concourse, I’d still be late.

“So why am I rushing?” I asked Tammy.

Tammy didn’t know.

Finally, finally finding my shoes, gulping down some mouthwash as an alternative to toothpaste (and nearly choking myself in the process), I ricocheted out of the house. Seven minutes to. This was not going to be possible.

At least the roads would be quiet—but no, against all reasonable laws, I got stuck behind some ancient grandpa doing two miles an hour in his Rover. Finally leaving him behind as I took the back road to the staff car park, I skidded up to the car park barrier—and realised I’d left my security pass at home.

Shit, fuck and bugger. With a side order of bollocks.

Slamming the car into reverse with no thought for who may be behind me—thankfully no one—I zoomed back home, startled Tammy by grabbing said pass from the back of my bedroom door—well, where would you keep yours?—and left again.

I parked up at quarter past five. T plus fifteen minutes. By the time I made it up to the terminal, breathless, red and wheezing, it had gone twenty past and the queues at checkin were hitting the desks opposite.

I slunk up to the office, ready with an excuse about my car breaking down—hoping no one would remember it’s physically indestructible—and found it deserted.

Ha. I grabbed my time sheet and signed in on time. Hell, they weren’t going to check.

Probably I should stop being this late every day, though.

 

You know, when you think of airline staff you think of cute uniforms and bright lipstick and glamour. You don’t think about getting up at an invisible hour of the morning, wearing a bright turquoise shirt and polyester scarf, covered in cat hairs and so tired you could fall over mid-stride. The reality isn’t checking in celebrities on first class flights to New York. It’s surly businessmen and drunk girls on hen weekends to Prague.

Within five minutes of me sitting down at a desk, one of several things will have happened: the computer will have broken down, the bag tag reel will have run out, the boarding card reel will have run out, the flight will have been delayed, the passenger in front of me will refuse to pay their excess baggage, the passenger behind them won’t have the right visa. The Norwegian guy I fancy will have got chatted up by a woman with condoms on her veil. Or all of the above.

Within thirty minutes, I’ll feel like curling up into a ball under the desk, sobbing hysterically.

So, why did I do this job? Why demean myself daily, prostrate my exhausted body in front of the baying masses clamouring for my blood because their lives have been disrupted by five small minutes? Why work longer hours than the sun for worse pay than a supermarket shelf filler?

Well…

I did look good in the uniform.

And the Norwegian guy was really quite cute.

And because when people asked me what I did, I had an answer for them that wasn’t “student”, “shopgirl” or “office junior”, which was what had happened to everyone I went to school with. Apart from Jason Miles, who’s a pothead and went to prison three months ago for ramraiding the post office.

And that’s about it. I suppose you could say there was the illusion of glamour. My job really wasn’t very glamorous, but people thought it was and I liked them to think I was too.

My name is Sophie Green, and I live a very small life
.

 

My alarm clock went off and I knew I had to get a new job.

The thing was, I’d been in this job two years and I’d been saying the same thing every day for the last… seven hundred and twenty-nine days.

I checked my roster sheet. Sven was in today, Luca too. Excellent.

Sven was the Norwegian. He was twenty-nine, from Stavanger on the west coast. He had hair that was like sunshine and eyes the colour of the Caribbean, and when he smiled, interesting things happened in the pit of my stomach, not to mention other places I’m not going to tell you about until I know you better.

Luca was new. Ish. I mean, he sort of crept into the schedule, like maybe he had his hours changed. I don’t remember him getting trained up with all the other newbies. He’s sort of Mediterranean-looking, dark hair and eyes, and he always looked like he knew what I was thinking and found it very amusing. And he had a very sexy rolling Italian accent. And fantastic cheekbones.

It was weird, because I don’t really go for Latin types. Ever since I went to Majorca with the girls and practically got stalked. I mean, don’t they have blondes over there? Generally I like men who are like me—blond, blue-eyed, tall and, erm, built.

Therefore Sven fit the bill. He was very sweet, too. He smiled at me and asked in that lovely accent which always sounds so serious, “Are you all right?” The first time I wondered what the hell was wrong with me that he was asking so seriously. Then I realised this was his version of “Hi, how are you?”

An honest answer would be, “Very warm now that you’re smiling at me,” or, “Slightly flustered because you’re leaning over to get to my bagtag machine.” But being a Brit chick, I always answered with a cool, “Yeah, I’m fine. How are you?”

Who am I kidding? I looked like a beetroot whenever he talked to me.

So when Paola, the little sweetheart, put me on a desk next to him I didn’t mind so much that I was checking in the biggest flight that day. Or even that it was full of skimpily dressed wannabes flying off to Ibiza. And DJs with their record bags that they always wanted to take as cabin baggage, but were always too heavy.

Every single girl flirted with Sven. And Sven flirted right back.

But then he would, right? If I was as brain-breakingly gorgeous as him, I’d flirt, too.

“Hey,” came a voice, shattering through my reverie (me and Sven on a beach in Ibiza. He was practically naked and I was a lot thinner). “Do you have an end-bag?”

I blinked up at Luca. “A what?”

“End-bag.” He stretched over the desk to look. “It’s the little bag we put a special tag on so the guys downstairs know there are no more to come,” he explained helpfully, because how would I know that? I’d only been there two years.

Ha ha. He was funny.

“I don’t see one,” Luca added.

“No one travels light to Ibiza. The guys all have record bags and the girls take twenty kilos of make-up. You want me to put my back out grabbing a huge end-bag?”

He gave me a look I’m sure would have worked on a more susceptible woman. “Come on,” he was almost pouting, “you can find me a little end-bag. Just, maybe, fifteen kilos?”

Ha ha. Fifteen kilos was a medium wheelie case. One of the hard shell ones. An end-bag had to be small, or there was no room for it behind the desk, and also it was easier to lob on the top of a dolly to drag out to the plane. Not to mention the heavy ones were hell on your back, and we weren’t insured to lift heavy things.

“Okay,” I said, “but I’m not promising anything. But just because I like you,” I reached under the desk and pulled out a bag smaller than something I’d take clubbing, “I got you this, for Venice.”

Luca gave me a look of adoration. “They always over-pack for Venice,” he said, taking the little thing with its huge end-bag tag. “You get me bags for Munich and Malpensa too, I take you to dinner.”

He sauntered off, and I allowed myself the luxury of checking out his fine arse. Hey, a girl can look.

The woman who was next to check in looked mildly stunned and very jealous, and it wasn’t until I saw her watching Luca that I realized why.

“He was joking,” I said.
I hope
.

“If he offers you dinner, you take it,” she said, and I smiled.

“Do you have any bags?”

I checked her in and noticed she spent the whole time looking over at Luca. And his arse. The next passenger was Italian. I could tell as soon as he swaggered up, looking cool, still wearing his shades even though he was inside, in England, in April. He looked over his shades at me.

“Where are you flying to?”

“Roma,” he rolled the R. “Is Rome in Eenglish.”

I snorted, then realized he hadn’t been joking. “Right,” I said. “Can I have your passport, please?”

He spent the whole time looking at my chest, especially when I stretched over to tag his bag. But, hey, it is a rather impressive chest. I can’t really complain.

“You are ver’ pretty,” he told me as I handed him his boarding card.

“Thank you.”

“A Eenglish rose,
si
?”


Si
. Thanks. Here’s your boarding card.”

Now naff off, you’re creeping me out.

Halfway through my shift, I was pulled off the desk. “Can you board the Edi for me, love?” Paola asked, looking up at me, very tiny and adorable. Paola was seven months pregnant, and I swear, the baby was bigger than her. Apparently she was thirty, but I felt like calling a children’s charity on her, because she only looked about twelve. And then there was me, almost a decade younger and looking like her nanny.

I took a fresh gate report out of the drawer and headed off. So I was heading away from Sven the Sublime, but I was also getting away from checkin. Any respite was welcome.

I liked working at the gate because you got time to yourself. There was maybe ten minutes of frantic action when the flight boarded, but you had to be there an hour before departure. For quite a while, there wasn’t a lot to do but mess around changing the status of the information screens and making announcements that people rarely listened to.

The domestic departures satellite was quiet. There was a Ryanair flight boarding as I went past, but my end of the lounge was empty. The Edinburgh flight wasn’t very full and I didn’t need anyone else to help.

I messed around getting everything to my liking, seeing how many people had checked in, looking for funny names, changing the flight status to “open” and listening to the radio burbling away behind the coffee stand.

“Hey, sexy,” called Dino, the coffee guy. “You look hot.”

“You too, Dino,” I called back, rolling my eyes. See what I mean? They saw blonde hair and big boobs and some instinct kicked in. Must hassle female. Must make innuendoes. Must make her blush.

Okay, well, I stopped blushing when he did it in front of a flight full of people. Now I played along. He shut up faster that way.

I checked the status screen again. The plane callsign wasn’t quite right and I called up Ops to check.

“No, darling, it’s a Titan plane we’re using for Edi,” Kelly from Ops told me. “Got three off tech today. Just do them a little announcement so they don’t wander all over the tarmac, will you?”

Another Titan plane? I seemed to board more of them than Ace planes. Stupid piece-of-crap cheap planes.

I put down the phone and picked up the microphone. Learning announcements was a jump-in-and-swim experience, and most of us made them up. You put on the sing-song voice and repeat yourself over and over, hoping they’re listening and won’t start bleating in panic when they see the wrong logo on the wings.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a passenger announcement for all passengers traveling on the Ace Airlines AC109 flight to Edinburgh. We would like to inform you that, due to a technical problem, the service today will be operated by a Titan Airways aircraft. Please board as normal through gate eighty-seven and follow the Ace Airlines staff to the steps of the aircraft when you are called forward for boarding. We estimate this to be within the next twenty minutes,” I said, glancing at my watch.

It didn’t matter how long I thought it was going to take to start boarding, I always said twenty minutes. It was just long enough for people to forget how long ago you said it. “On behalf of Ace Airlines, we would like to thank you for choosing this service and wish you a very pleasant flight.”

I estimated that about five people heard me, and that two of them were actually listening.

More of them turned up after a while, and I did all the procedures on auto-pilot. I repeated the aircraft change announcement twice more, but by the time we came to boarding, I still had people asking me in panic where their plane was.

I mean, really. I’m sure these were very bright, sane, reasonable people. It was just that the second they stepped into the terminal they lost all their brains, not to mention manners, and started acting like angry five-year-olds.

“For the Edinburgh flight?” came a dark velvet voice from the other side of the flow of passengers. “Please form two queues, please…”

I looked up in surprise. Sometimes the dispatcher might help to pull cards if the flight is really full and we’re understaffed, but I wasn’t sure why Luca had come over to help. Still, it got things done quicker.

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