Stories from the War-First Meeting: Part 5
First Meeting, the first short story in my new WIP Friends of my Enemy continues with Part 5! If you haven’t been following along with Monday Reads, you can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 by clicking on the links.
The help Arinna and Michael need to determine what is happening back in the USA comes with thorns. How much is information worth?
Friends of my Enemy
Stories from the War
First Meeting: Part 5
“You don’t look like you’ve taken a break since I last saw you,” Byran said, appearing beside her desk.
“You are back. How did you get in here? Only US Embassy staff are supposed…”
Byran waved her question away. “I told them we had a meeting. No one cares. So you knew I was gone?” Byran asked with a suggestive smile.
“Don’t be too pleased. I wasn’t looking for you. Ambassador Eldridge sent me a note in response to my thank you for his entertaining us. He mentioned you and his son were in the UK at a funeral. The sick uncle?”
“Yes, Derrick’s uncle. David’s, Ambassador Eldridge’s, brother-in-law, not that he bothered to come. I wouldn’t trust him too much,” Byran added, frowning. “I’ve known him a long time and he is hardly the nicest of men.”
“Yes, and I could imagine what he’d have to say about you, having watched you grow up with his son!”
Byran coughed on an embarrassed smile. “Perhaps you have a point.”
“So what are you doing here?”
“I came to take you to get a good cup of coffee. I can imagine the pathetic crap they serve in here.”
“I drink tea, Byran.”
“Well, then I know you are suffering. Americans cannot make decent tea. Come on, get your coat. It is raining.”
Byran wouldn’t leave. Curious eyes watching their exchange convinced Arinna to go with him faster than any promise Byran could come up with. He was full of chatter as they made their way to a cafe and ordered. The funeral, Derrick’s new title, and the slight to Ambassador Eldridge that the title went to his son rather than him: the information meant little to Arinna, washing over her without sticking.
“You’re not going to ask what it is?” Byran was grinning.
“Ask about what?”
“I said I had information for you,” he repeated.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. Information about what?”
“The FLF,” he said, sipping his coffee. Arinna’s focus snapped into place. She stared at him. The sun had come out and slanted across his face, brightening his dark curls. He had brown eyes, a soft sable. She hadn’t noticed that before. “Ah, now I have your attention. They formed in response to the military rule, I think.”
“It might have been due to the quotas on personal weapons and limits on ammunition,” Byran said with a shrug. “The beginnings are a bit murky.”
“So they are US based,” Arinna mused.
“They are the US. From what I read, a quarter of the government is part of it. You haven’t been asking about them, have you? It looks like a witch hunt over there after the bombing. Anyone with suspected ties has been detained.”
“No. I haven’t. Michael,” Arinna shook her head, wanting to race home to warn Michael and rejecting the idea at the same moment. He’d promised to be careful. “How did you find this out?”
“I told you, people do not ask questions. Even in my embassy. I have friends in intel. I went in and asked, they showed me. No one cares what I hear. I know what my reputation is. They don’t believe I’ll do anything with the information.”
Arinna smiled into her teacup. “I don’t know what to say. You’re sure you won’t get into trouble?” She almost said that his friends probably thought he’d use the information to impress a girl. Then she realized he just had. Damn him.
“No. That is the beauty of it. I can learn things for you, take you places that you would not be able to go because they would consider you a spy. But if you are with me? No. They think you are with me. I will help you with the real reason you are here.”
Arinna leaned against her chair, eyes locked in his. “I’m just a political liaison, one of the newest assigned to the embassy.”
“Of course. You belong to a militarized country and are a tactical expert with recognized field leadership that became a low rung political liaison in a key ally embassy. I’ve been doing my homework,” he added.
“I’m here to promote ties and secure food. We need to rebuild our country. You know very well your agriculture and industry has been less impacted by the changing weather patterns.”
“Probably because we prepared. And by industry, do you mean weapons?”
Arinna gritted her teeth. “Who have you told this theory to?”
“No one. I like you, Arinna. I want to help.”
She shook her head. “Everyone has a motive. I’m not going to be blackmailed into…”
“Yes, I realize that. As much as I’d thoroughly enjoy a relationship with you, a mutually agreed to one preferably, that isn’t why I’m doing this. Certainly not to force you into one. I have nothing better to do. After all of these years, you’ve actually gotten me interested in politics, even if it is just to scare myself with what your country is doing. We are friends, yes?”
“Yes,” she answered, taking an easier breath. “Some days, I don’t know what to think of you. What else did you learn?”
Bryan grinned. Then he told her.
Read Part 6 here.