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Chapter 13: The Future’s So Bright

Dear Adrian W. Griffith, I’m sorry to bother you like this, but my name is Marlene Griffith. I am your daughter. You died when I was a baby. I don’t blame you for leaving me, my mom, and my sister alone for the rest of our lives. God called, and it was your time to go. I work for Section Seven now. I was recruited over a year ago. I was drafted as an agent under the Understudy program. I’m not cleared to know the details of your final mission. Maybe someday I will, but not now. I don’t know whether to thank you or hate you for my new life. Should we hate the dead for their effects they would have on future generations? I want to, but I can’t. You gave me half my DNA. At any rate, it’s something to think about. I wonder why you never…

Chapter 12: Always Get the Bad Guy

“This is not a difficult decision!” Aurora said impatiently. “Freelancing is the way to go. Section Seven will betray you. They betrayed me. Your father was ordered to abandon me when my contacts within La Rivoluzione were rooted out and murdered. And Adrian did. He left me there ALONE!” Aurora screamed, her voice echoing off the walls. David stirred from beside Marlene at the sound. “I had to fight for nearly a year to prove to those bastards that I wasn’t a government agent. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t a tough part to play.” Aurora cocked the weapon and Marlene braced herself for the impact of the bullet. “So now I will take the two things that mattered most to Officer Griffith,” she continued icily. “Because he and Section Seven took my freedom away from me.” Marlene prayed silently to St. Jude for a miracle. “Drop it,”…

Chapter 11: Naïveté

It had been almost seventy-two hours since David was kidnapped. Grandma Annie was worried. David promised to have dinner with them on the second night he was missing. “He’s never late, you know,” Grandma Annie said dejectedly. “I know, but David works very hard. I’m sure he’ll make it next time,” Marlene fibbed. She knew how every single fictional spy character felt now. Lying to the people that mattered to her the most was agonizing. To: loredie.santos@roussodevelopment.com From: sleepingbeauty@goodriddancemusic.com.au Subject: (none) If you want to see your brother alive, go to 650 Cavendish Crescent South in Nottingham at 9 o’clock tomorrow night. Tell no one. Marlene stared at her Section Seven cell phone, lying in her left palm quietly. She looked at the mouse attached to her computer, gripped by her right hand. Oliver. Oliver would know what to do. He always had the answers and always knew just what…

Chapter 10: One for the Other

Richard Murphy kissed his wife and their two children goodbye. “Don’t have too much fun,” he warned them playfully. His family would be visiting his wife’s extended family, but Richard could not attend because he would be processing tax returns for temporary American expats at the “accounting firm” he worked at. His family was used to his excuses and didn’t question it. He sighed, swirling his brandy in the Waterford glass, sipping the strong liquor slowly and channel surfing lazily. Without the screams and joyful laughter of his two children Nola and Devlin ringing in his ears, the Murphy family’s lonely Irish abode made everything seem gloomier than it should be. He was an American sent to Ireland to work for the Section Seven branch there. Richard met and married his Irish wife Moira while undercover. He hadn’t told her the true nature of his job, but he was comforted…

Chapter 9: Take It Outside

Marlene drove in her borrowed Mini Cooper S to the Radcliffe Camera section of the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Posing as an academe from America, the head librarian granted her reference-only access to the library. Scrolling through the heavy tomes, Marlene selected one and compared it to the part of the cipher text she had cracked so far. It seemed to be correct and she worked dutifully in silence for a few hours to get the last few digits revealed. “Excuse me?” inquired a light Italian accent from her elbow. “Do you work here?” “No, I -,” Marlene began, looking up to see who has spoken. She was staring directly into the cold, dark eyes of Aurora Pagano. She hadn’t changed much from the surveillance photos Section Seven had of her. “I don’t. I’m just working. Thanks.” Her eyes diverted quickly back to the book in her hands, wondering how…

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