Chapter 16

August 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm (The Job)

The drive to Paris was mostly quiet. They talked very little. It wasn’t like a date where you were trying to get to know someone. Neither one wanted to give away too many details about themselves. Parker could only trust Simon so far. In the end, he was still assigned to kill her. At any point he could choose to take the job. Still, she enjoyed letting someone else lead for a bit.

She’d resisted the temptation to contemplate her job once she got through this mess, but now with so many hours ahead of her and little to occupy her time, she couldn’t get it out of her head. There was definitely no going back to the old ways. A quick and dirty job in Vegas suddenly lacked appeal. Flying around the world, being chased by other hitters, getting shot at and trying to decipher her organization’s plans wasn’t exactly her ideal career move, but it sure as hell was exciting. She felt alive and, even though events were a little out of control, she still felt as though she was in control.

She could admit, to herself anyway, that her previous life had been safe. As safe as killing people for a living could be, true. But the challenge had long left the job. Lately, the most interesting part of the whole thing had been the disguises she would use. Who would she be this time? Choosing the method had gotten boring. In a hotel room in Vegas, your options were surprisingly limited. Guns required silencers, which weren’t all that silent. She hated working with poisons. Mostly, she worried she’d accidentally stick herself with the damn thing and that would put one hell of a damper on the rest of her life. She liked knives, but even that got boring after repetitive use.

She had started taking longer and longer vacations. The time away from the job had been a sanity break. Initially, she’d thought she was losing her touch and couldn’t stomach the work anymore. Now she realized she’d just been bored. Like anyone working an office job or a city job, too much of the same thing would drive you mental. Maybe she wouldn’t have shaken up her world quite so drastically, given the choice, but she was honest enough with herself to realize she’d needed the push.

She only hoped she could salvage her career when the smoke cleared.

***

“What the fuck is Seth trying to do, create an international incident?” Leland demanded.

The Amsterdam police had several videos of the incident in the canal. They’d been posted all over the internet. One had apparently gotten a partial image of Seth on the rooftop. It wouldn’t be enough to identify him, but it was still very damaging. Forty-one people were killed in the explosion and another fifteen died from wounds resulting from the explosion. Another thirty-three were still in hospital, but were expected to recover. And at the very edge of one of the videos, Ingram had spotted Parker getting hauled out of the water, alive and well.

Ingram shrugged. Seth was Leland’s problem now. The board had seen fit to place Leland in charge until they could decide what had become of Donovan. They’d even gone the unprecedented step of putting him 100% in charge, meaning that in three days when the board met on the island to vote, Leland would be there to act as the deciding vote in the event of a tie. Their plans were falling into place. The only person who could screw with them was Donovan and no one seemed to know where he was.

Ingram had an idea about that. He had a few very loyal men who had infiltrated most of the major departments in the agency and one of them had just come to him with some very intriguing information. His man, Willis, had taken over a mid-level position in the tech department. He had the skills for higher, but Ingram wanted him to blend. He’d begun doing sweeps through the computers of all of the techs, trying to find out who was assisting Parker. It wasn’t until recently that he’d even been able to gain access to Petrillo’s system. The guy slept at his desk.

Willis had come to him that morning with two names that may or may not be the ones Donovan was using. It was their source that had convinced Ingram they were legit. He had no idea how Petrillo had successfully hacked the CIA, but he was both impressed and annoyed. Annoyed, only because he now worried how secure the data on his own system was. He’d considered getting Willis to back it up and remove it, but he didn’t have time for that now. Things were coming to a head and he had to be ready to move quickly.

“What can we do about him?” Leland asked.

Ingram closed his eyes and prayed for patience. Leland was turning into a spineless leader. He was fine in the number two spot, because any decisions he made would ultimately fall on Donovan’s shoulders. Now, with that buffer gone, Leland was turning into a weak-willed figurehead who didn’t want to jeopardize his own job.

“There are only two things we can do with Seth and you know what both are,” Ingram replied. They could either let Seth continue to muddle through this job and hope that he finally caught up with Parker and eliminated her, or they could send someone after him to clean up that mess and find another hitter for Parker.

Deciding that it might be a good idea to have another hitter waiting in the wings to act, Ingram pulled out his iPad and started scrolling through the short list of hitters who were at or above Seth’s level. Mr. Chu was out of the question. This job called for some discretion and Mr. Chu didn’t know the definition of the word. Besides, Leland already had him booked solid for the next few months. Jasper Lane was an option, though the files indicated he was in the middle of a job that was scheduled to run another two weeks. That would be too long.

“We could send Simon Halsted after him,” Ingram decided. He would have little trouble stopping Seth and his level of discretion had never come into question.

Leland wouldn’t meet his eyes. Ingram immediately became suspicious. He double-checked that his files were updated before standing and walking over to Leland’s desk. Resting his hands on the edge, he leaned across the desk until he was too close for Leland to ignore.

“What have you done with Simon?” he demanded.

Leland sighed. “I gave him a job, off the books.”

“Why is it off the books?”

“Because I figured if Parker had someone inside who was watching her back, they would see it the second I put it on the books.”

“You ordered Simon to kill Parker?”

“Initially he was supposed to watch her, then he was supposed to follow her, gain her confidence, hook up with her if he could and then, when the time was right, he’d take her down. I told him that if she had any leads on Donovan, to follow them first.”

Ingram was surprised. Leland had actually shown some foresight with that order. Petrillo would certainly have informed her of Simon’s orders if they’d been on the books.

“Where is he now?”

“He’s driving her to Paris. She has a lead on Donovan she wants to follow.”

***

Simon drove into the heart of Paris some five hours later. He’d exceeded the speed limit on the highway once he’d left the Amsterdam city limits behind. Passing through Belgium, he’d kicked it up another notch. Once he’d come close to downtown Paris the traffic had forced him to slow down to a near crawl. Still, they’d made excellent time.

According to Google maps, the Hotel Saint-Honoré was slightly north and east of the Louvre. Situated on a one-way street heading east, Simon passed by it in the car before finding a parking spot further down on the opposite side of the road. The front of the hotel was fairly nondescript. The building jutted out slightly from its neighbor to the east. With four stories above the main floor, the hotel offered only twenty-four rooms.

“On-site surveillance put him on the second floor, back of the building, middle window,” Parker said. Petrillo had called in a two-man team to check the layout of the hotel and confirm that the room reserved for Yoh was indeed occupied. They couldn’t confirm that Yoh was Donovan, because the man never left his suite. Housekeeping said they hadn’t been inside the room since the occupant had arrived.

Simon brought up an aerial view of the block on his phone and saw that some businesses had inner courtyards. The hotel had a small patch of grass behind it that was completely cut off from street access. To get to it, they’d have to go through the hotel and out the back. The chances of doing that without being noticed by the hotel staff were pretty slim, given that the front desk was manned twenty-four hours a day. Just a few doors down was a pub with another small patch of land at the back. It wasn’t directly connected to the hotel’s courtyard, but it allowed them easier access to the back. With it being full dark, they could clamber, unseen, over the buildings to get to the hotel. A second storey climb to Yoh’s room wouldn’t pose a problem, but a quiet entry into the room might.

Simon led the way into the pub and took a table right near the back exit. Staff used the small grassy area to house garbage and unused pub furniture. Simon ordered a beer and Parker asked for a glass of burgundy. Conversation and music was loud enough to give them complete privacy. Parker leaned in to Simon and brushed her hand lightly over his arm. “That side wall isn’t more than ten feet high, I’d wager. Should be easy to scale it.”

A quick scan of the room showed that most of the patrons were tuned in to the TVs. The back area was poorly lit and most of the windows were blocked by stacked furniture. About the only thing that could screw with their plans would be the unexpected arrival of a staff member taking out the trash. As she thought of it, one of the serving girls stepped from the kitchen with two large bags and hauled them out the back. There was no motion sensitive lighting, just the flick of a switch to turn on a single bulb.

Parker sipped her wine, observing the crowd and the movements of the staff. After an hour, she had the system. All of the men and half of the women were so focused on the game playing on the TV that a troop of soldiers in full regimental attire could have marched through the pub and they wouldn’t have noticed. The servers did a pass of the tables every five minutes, unless a patron flagged them over. Food was served up from the kitchen. The servers, arms loaded down with plates of piping hot burgers and chips, passed by Parker’s table fairly regularly.

Simon finished off his beer, waited for the kitchen door to swing closed and then slipped out the back door. Since it was left open he’d opted to go first and, once he’d surveilled the area, he’d signal her. Parker’s seat allowed her an unobstructed view of him as he scaled the wall with ease. Flattening out on the top of the wall, Simon scanned the area. The wall extended another twenty feet, where the grassy area behind the pub took a slight jog east. Inching his way along the wall, he edged past the building next to the pub and saw that the hotel’s inner courtyard met up with the wall separating it from the pub’s. A quick gesture to Parker to get her moving and Simon slipped over the wall.

Parker watched as a server exited the kitchen with plates of food and made her way over to a table near the front of the pub. When she felt certain no one was watching her, she slipped out the back and headed for the wall. Scaling it, she followed Simon’s path along the wall until she spotted the grassy area on the opposite side. Dropping down, she crouched next to Simon in the shadows of the neighbouring building.

Parker glanced around the side of the building, to examine the back of the hotel. Settling back beside Simon once again, she grimaced at what she’d seen. The back of the hotel, on the ground floor, was all windows. She could see straight through the lobby area, to the reservations desk. The fire escape looked like it would squeak, if it didn’t just fall straight off the building the minute she put any weight on it. The only saving grace was that the back area wasn’t lit. She hoped that the hotel also didn’t believe in motion sensitive lighting.

“Nothing like providing us with a challenge,” she whispered.

Simon didn’t answer. He took another look around the inner courtyard, judging distances and estimating lines of sight. As long as no one looked out of their window while he and Parker were back there, they should be fine. The man at the reservations desk had a small TV tuned in to the same game that had been playing in the pub.

The back of the hotel was tiered. Off the main building, someone had attached a one-level shed made of wood. The roof was flat, though the structure looked a little weathered. Simon figured it would hold their weight. The shed didn’t extend out far enough to reach the middle window. The shortfall was close to five feet. The flower basket hanging below the window didn’t look sturdy enough to hang from. Still, Simon felt the job was doable.

“Shall we?” he asked, as he slipped from the side of the building and dashed across the courtyard, to the side of the shed.

Parker sighed, knowing she didn’t have much choice. Checking that the front desk attendant was otherwise occupied, she quickly joined Simon next to the shed. Looking up at the slightly rickety structure, she gestured for him to go first. The wooden shed only protested their weight a little bit. Edging up against the side of the hotel, Parker couldn’t see how they were going to silently get inside the hotel suite. She only hoped Simon had a decent plan.

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