Read Cobalt Online

Authors: Shelley Grace

Cobalt

 

CHAPTER 1

 

The Greyhound bus terminal was quite busy for a Monday morning. Sarah and Henry had had little time to themselves since they opened the doors at seven a.m.  There was a constant flow of passengers, and not only for the inter-city service. The interstate services had attracted quite a large number of travellers, also. As the crowd died away - the next service was not due for fifteen minutes - Sarah flicked her bleached blonde hair from her face, retrieved a file from her counter, and began working on her nails. It was a tactic she used to avoid conversing unnecessarily with Henry. Like Henry, Sarah was dressed from head to foot in the company’s drab brown uniform. A jacket tailored to not exactly fit any body type, straight leg pants and a non-descript shirt of a lighter hue made up the greyhound uniform. A matching short tie was also supplied, but after altering the uniform to allow the pants to cling tightly to her lower body, and the shirt and jacket to reveal a fair amount of cleavage Sarah ditched the tie, preferring her own style to the ensemble issued.

 

           Henry was the exact opposite of Sarah. His uniform looked to be large enough for two of his medium-height, wiry frame to fit into. While the greyhound uniform was hideous, at its best, in Sarah’s mind Henry epitomized the typical bored, brown employee, often found behind the 8
th
Avenue Greyhound counter.

 

          Sarah glanced around the bus terminal assessing the clientele, an action that took all of ten seconds, as only one passenger remained, and he seemed to be content waiting, reading his newspaper. Something about the man caught Sarah’s attention, and she couldn’t help but stare at the handsome forty-something year old dressed immaculately in a tailored navy suit. She had never seen him before, and she had not sold him his ticket.

 

     ‘Hey, Henry, did you serve that guy over there?’ Sarah called to the other attendant.

 

Henry spun from the window, as if he had been caught doing something illegal. ‘What?’

 

     ‘I said see that guy over there, the one in the suit? Where’s he going?’ she said, motioning towards the passenger seated, reading his paper, with his black bag on the chair next to him. As if sensing he was the topic of conversation the man looked straight up at Sarah, and winked. The gesture, in Sarah’s mind had a devilishly alluring quality about it. It made her blush slightly. Sarah mentally laughed at herself amused by the way an attractive man could make her feel like a schoolgirl again. Being a thirty-six year old single mother of two Sarah relished the feeling. It was not often that she had a chance to feel that way, working where she did, and with Henry. She looked from Henry to the man, and back to Henry and wished, for the fifteenth time that day that her life was different. That she wasn’t sitting behind a greyhound bus counter, next to Woody Allen, that she was off on a romantic weekend with the man in the navy suit. Any man, she thought. She looked at Henry again. Well, any man but Henry… Sarah was snapped out of her daydream as Henry responded to her previous question.

 

     ‘I don’t care where he’s going,’ Henry said flatly. ‘Have you seen those three over there?’ He pointed out the window and across the street at two men and a woman. ‘I noticed them arrive about twenty minutes ago, and they’ve been filming the terminal ever since.’

 

    ‘They’re probably just foreign tourists. You know the type who have to video everything they see for the relatives back home,’ Sarah commented, still focusing her attention on the man in the navy suit. After his initial wink, he had returned his attention to his newspaper, but Sarah refused to budge her focus in case he should pursue her obvious interest in him. Sarah wished he would. The man just read.

 

    ‘I don’t know.’ Henry replied, adjusting his black-framed glasses. ‘Their equipment looks too good to be tourist. The camera is hooked up to a lap-top computer.’

 

    ‘Just means we’ve got rich ones, whose family can’t wait ‘til they come home, to see the pictures. Puts a new spin on travel though, doesn’t it?’ Sarah said, keeping her voice in monotone to dissuade Henry from further discussion. 

 

The flow of passengers began to arrive again for the ten thirty shuttle to Manhattan, and Sarah and Henry served them in silence, while the man in the navy suit sat reading. The tourists on the other side of the road kept filming. Slowly the last shuttle bus pulled from the terminal, taking with it all but one passenger. Sarah looked for the man in the navy suit, but he had gone. Her disappointment was replaced by hope as she noticed the remaining passenger, a well-dressed man in his thirties. He walked into the ticket desk and placed a black bag on the counter in front of her. She immediately recognised it as the bag carried by the attractive man in the navy suit. Sarah’s hope built. He left his bag, so he will have to see me again to collect it, she thought happily.     

 

‘Excuse me, ma’am, someone seems to have left their…’ The man never finished his sentence as the black bag exploded in his face, killing him, Sarah and Henry, instantly, and levelling the terminal.

 

Across the road all but one of the tourists left the scene, blending into the crowd. The remaining one, a big man of six foot six inches retrieved from his pocket a small mobile phone, and placed a call.   ‘Sir, we have his attention now.’

 

On one of the yellow, Manhattan bound buses the man in the navy suit answered it. ‘Well done Comrade Teslovich. I’ll contact you in a couple of days. Soon Mother Russia will be free of the restraints brought about by the U.S./Russia treaty. I will see to that!’

 

As the emergency services vehicles pulled up to the burning heap of rubble that used to be the Greyhound bus terminal Teslovich ended his call and moved off, taking with him his camera and computer. By the time police began questioning the crowd for witnesses, Teslovich was nowhere to be seen, and no-one remembered the group of tourists who stood by, filming the last minutes of the 8
th
Avenue bus station.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

‘You confuse me Madeline. If you don't want to enjoy my company on a more regular, social basis, why did you start things up again?’ Richard Glazer said to the woman standing opposite his desk.

 

     ‘I didn't start anything up. I slept with you, there's a difference!’ she responded.

 

    ‘Okay, then why? Why did you sleep with me? Why did you initiate another tryst, if you had no intention of ever going any further?’ Rick focused his dark brown eyes on her clear blue ones, forcing eye contact. Madeline didn't even hesitate with her next response.

 

It was meant to chide him, and with her voice like ice as she spoke, it did exactly that. ‘The foreplay was becoming a distraction, to both of us. It was affecting your work, your decisions, and in turn affecting mine. Now it's out of the way. You got what you wanted, and...’

 

     ‘That's especially cold, Madeline. Even for you!’ Rick cut her off.

 

Madeline’s voice and expression were void of emotion as she replied, ‘How can you say that? You don't even know me!’

 

Rick thought for a minute. He had worked with the thirty-five year old woman for fifteen years, and over the past twelve they had had what most would consider an on and off romance, but he didn't really know her. It infuriated him. She knew everything about him. His likes. His dislikes. His favourite shirt. Everything. What he hadn't told her she'd figured out for herself. She had quite a skill at doing that, getting inside another person's head and discovering how they thought, felt and it was exactly what she had done with him. She's probably doing it now, he thought. Rick looked into her waiting gaze and answered quite smugly,  ‘What's there to know? You're my partner. You're beautiful. You're intelligent. And you're willing to have sex with me, whatever the reason. What else do I need to know? So long as you keep having sex with me…what more do I want to know?’

 

Amusement flashed across her face. It was only a flicker, in her eyes, but he saw it. Rick smiled, maintaining her gaze. He was about to continue when the intercom buzzed beside him.

 

     ‘Madeline, the directors on line 1. He needs to see you in his office.’ Emily’s voiced echoed into the office. ‘He told me to stress the urgency to you.’

 

     ‘Tell him I'll be right up.’ she answered as she left the office she and Rick had shared for the past nine years. She didn't even give him a second thought as she strode confidently out the door and down the white-washed halls of the fortieth floor, to the lift. Rick watched her leave, furious at the interruption. Silently cursing the Director for interrupting. It seemed that anytime he began discussing their relationship with Madeline something or someone - usually Marcus - interrupted. He silently cursed the CIA for the mission they were no doubt about to brief Madeline on. He cursed Marcus again, for briefing Madeline before himself. He was the Deputy Director, yet Marcus always chose to brief Madeline first. It annoyed him. He called to Emily. The older, silver-haired secretary poked her head through the door.

 

     ‘Something troubling you, Rick?’ she asked, smiling, knowing his annoyance at Madeline’s summoning. She had been with the two of them long enough to know Rick’s moods and the faces that accompanied them.

 

     ‘How’d you know something was wrong? Do I need to have something wrong to want to talk to you? Rick questioned, amused that Emily’s first thought was always to the worst of every scenario when events involved him and Madeline.

 

     ‘Let’s just say, you’re not wearing your happy face.’ Emily smiled as she entered the office and went to stand opposite where Rick sat, in the position  Madeline had occupied moments before.. ‘So what’s up?’

 

     ‘Do you know what Director Shaw is telling Madeline, doing with her right now?’

 

     ‘No, I don’t, but don’t worry she’ll tell you as soon as she knows something. She always does.’ She glanced around the room briefly, from Rick’s oak desk to Madeline’s in the corner, to the goldfish tank Madeline kept in the bookshelf along the far wall. She smiled as she noticed the tidy, organised contrast Madeline’s desk offered against Rick’s war zone he called a work space. She looked back at Rick, noting the defeated look that crossed his face. ‘Why don’t you take Madeline out to dinner tonight. Seduce the information from her. I see the way you look at her. I know you want to…’

 

     Rick cut her off. ‘Emily, that’s enough. You know as well as I do that Madeline and I are only business partners. Purely platonic. Besides I don’t think dinner would be her thing. Rather a stake out, or a shootout don’t you think.’

 

     ‘You know, I think you’re right. She’s very committed to work…’

 

     ‘She ought to be committed’ Rick commented gaining a laugh from Emily as she remembered Madeline saying something very similar about Rick a few days before. They work well together, why can’t they see the benefits of each other socially? She thought.

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