If Oxford Jameson had his way, he’d have wooed her, determined what she knew, double-tapped her, and been done with it.
However, his assignment was to retrieve and copy the data, destroy the original, and do so without incident—if possible. This would prove to be a much more complicated mission because the Brits decided to send one of their top MI6 agents to the party.
This particular agent graduated at the top of her class at HMS Raleigh and had worked several years in British Intelligence, according to her dossier. Aisha Zewde was a standout in the MI6, with dozens of successful missions to her credit.
She was known within the international espionage community as the Secretary—named for the rare, and beautiful, African bird of prey.
As he walked through the throng of partygoers—a Cuban Cohiba in hand—he picked out ambassadors, foreign dignitaries, world leaders, and at least a dozen people at the top of the Interpol red list.
Jameson grabbed a cocktail glass of cognac from the serving tray of an elderly waiter as he brushed past him. He scanned the expansive ballroom in the palatial residence owned by their host, Bartok Varga.
Varga was a Hungarian national who was the suspected leader of the Shadow Legion, an international cabal dedicated to influencing foreign governments and manipulating world events. He had intel which he intended to use for manipulation of foreign energy markets and political influence. This could disrupt the balance of power across Europe and parts of Asia and was something the US could not allow to happen.
If MI6 had one of their agents there, it only made sense that the intel he’d been tasked with retrieving contained something the SIS wanted kept to themselves. The Crown obviously had similar objectives as the US, as they were cooperating nations. But some of their dealings with other European nations weren’t meant to be shared, even with allies. In this instance, whoever gained access to the intel first would share redacted intelligence with the other.
Zewde made her way up a large marble staircase; he followed. She made her way through the crowd, champagne flute in hand, and headed toward a balcony off the second-floor promenade.
Jameson studied her as she sauntered past the sparse attendees along the walkway to stand alone on the large mezzanine.
The flawless ebony skin on her back glistened in the moonlight. She wore a blue, backless, sapphire satin gown which accentuated every curve of her backside. Her hair was a series of tight, jet-black Bantu knots. Silver stiletto sandals gave her about an even six feet in height. A stunning diamond necklace hung around her long neck with a matching bracelet on her wrist. The Brits were selling her cover story as an African diamond heiress to the hilt.
She was elegant, regal, and absolutely gorgeous. The aroma of expensive perfume mingled with the salt water–tinged air, from the waves which crashed against the jagged rocks below them. The ample balcony of the spacious palatial structure built into a cliff overlooked the Mediterranean Sea.
“If I picked you out of this crowd so easily, Varga’s security detail certainly will, sooner or later,” Oxford said as he stepped up beside her.
She smirked as she avoided looking in his direction.
Zewde noticed the American as soon as he entered the residence.
He was tall with a fresh crew cut, a neatly trimmed moustache, and an impeccably tailored black tuxedo. His hazel eyes contrasted brightly against his onyx complexion. According to the intelligence report she had read on him; he was the top agent out of Langley.
Oxford Jameson was a former US Navy SEAL, cut his teeth as an FBI agent before he switched organizations and landed with the CIA as an analyst. A sudden change in his status and he seemed to disappear for five years. Shortly after, he popped up on the international espionage community radar as a field operative.
Jameson was extremely charming and handsome. He had an athletic build with a refined but rugged look. His reputation as a ladies’ man was well known throughout the intelligence community, especially amongst the female operatives.
She figured that he would attempt to seduce her and extract any information he could, all the while unsuspecting that she would actually be seducing him. If she had her way, she would bed him and dead him. All for queen and country, of course.
Zewde noticed the elderly server she got her champagne from roaming the promenade. He wore spectacles and carried a serving tray of assorted cocktail glasses, champagne flutes, and hors d’oeuvres. He appeared to be in his mid to late sixties and reminded her of Desmond Tutu.
“You Americans are so bloody arrogant. Your reputation precedes you, Mr. O’Kono, or should I say Agent Oxford Jameson. What’s the saying your country has about the pot and the kettle?”
A shallow grin crept across Jameson’s face. “Touché, Mrs. Erika Pennington, billionaire diamond heiress, or should I say Agent Aisha Zewde.”
Zewde gave Jameson a brief sidelong glance. Her body language was graceful and guarded.
“So, now that informal introductions have been made, I suppose we’ve reached the precipice of our mutual due diligence and now find ourselves at odds with one another,” Zewde said.
Jameson snickered, “A very astute observation, Ms. Zewde. However, I don’t see us being at odds with each other at all.”
Zewde turned and faced him with an incredulous glare. “And exactly what the bloody hell is that supposed to mean, Jameson?”
Jameson took a pull from his cognac before he took a drag from his cigar and set them both on the balcony rail. He took a step toward her, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her passionately.
“While we’ve been having this enlightening and entertaining tete-a-tete, I’ve been uploading Varga’s bank statements, personal ledgers, shipping manifests, and a lot more.” He pulled a small device with a flashing green light from his jacket breast pocket.
Zewde placed her right hand on his chest as she pursed her lips and sighed. “Perhaps MI6 underestimated the CIA and I underestimated you.”
She splashed the contents of her champagne flute into Jameson’s face, tossed the glass over the balcony, and aimed a vertical punch toward his solar plexus. He barely misdirected her aim to just beneath his right pectoral to avoid the effects of her strike. Jameson was taken off-guard for a split second, which was long enough for Zewde to grab the device from his hand.
“Or perhaps we had anticipated the US obtaining access to the data first only for us to take it from you,” Zewde taunted.
Zewde and Jameson stood several feet apart, both in fighting stances, muscles coiled like springs and a determined look in their eyes. Zewde had slid the device into her clutch bag, secured the wrist strap, and held it in her left hand in a defensive manner.
Zewde chuckled. “You Americans talk too much. Now I have the data and you have to report back to your handlers empty-handed.”
“Is that so.” Jameson smirked as he held his left arm forward and used his right thumb and forefinger to squeeze the sides of his gold Longines watch.
Two small barbs shot out of Jameson’s watch toward Zewde. She managed to catch them with her clutch. The projectiles were charged with enough electricity to stun an average adult male, she assumed. Jameson pressed his attack and grabbed her left wrist with his right hand in an attempt to wrestle the clutch bag from her.
Zewde took the opportunity to raise her left knee toward his groin, which he shifted his body to avoid. She grabbed the wrist of the hand that held hers and turned her body 180 degrees. Zewde used her ample buttocks to ram Jameson and dipped down to throw him over her back.
Jameson found himself going over the balcony handrail but managed to grab ahold of the concrete bottom rail with his left hand to avoid plummeting to his death from the three-hundred-foot drop down to the jagged, sea-soaked rocks below.
He watched as Zewde leaned over the handrail with a smirk.
“How’s it hanging, Mr. Jameson? Well, guess I’ll be going now. Feel free to drop in,” she said.
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