Washington, DC – Monday, Feb. 24, 12:00 noon EST
Anna was dying to confront de Jeanbourg. For the last couple of hours, she had been consumed with her obligations at the crime scene. She had watched with satisfaction as the hand-cuffed assassin was shoved into a squad car, and regret had washed over her as Jean Claude placed a cloth over Giovanni’s face and comforted Sara. Giovanni had probably not realized how literally he would end up protecting Sara, Anna figured. But he had redeemed himself in a most honorable way.
An officer had approached Anna and asked about her version of events. She discussed the attack with her, and pointed out its connection to the earlier one in College Park. When the questioning was over and the authorities deemed her free to go, Anna had emailed Tanner with an update, and she had been relieved to find Sara with steady nerves urging her to pursue the story right away, so she ordered a car. All the while, she was racked by de Jeanbourg’s apparent betrayal.
Now whisking down Massachusetts Avenue, Anna finally had her chance. The moment de Jeanbourg answered his phone, she shouted, “What is wrong with you?”
“Nice to hear from you again, Anna,” he replied.
“You almost got me killed!” she spit out.
“Luckily, you were able to handle it, Jones.”
“You left half the story out!” she exploded. “Did you think I wouldn’t find out?”
“At least now you have more of the pieces.”
“You must be kidding me! Why didn’t you tell me about Salazar? And why didn’t you stop him?”
De Jeanbourg’s line sounded dead.
“Charles!” she shouted.
He still didn’t answer.
“Charles! Evy only knew about the embezzlement and the arms deals, because Giovanni Salazar told her! And she would still be alive, if you had stopped him!”
“Exogenous factors are never…”
“Bull shit!” she yelled.
“Oh!” she interrupted. “Wait.” A switch had flicked in her mind. “You didn’t know about the Chinese scheme! And that’s why you really couldn’t have been Evy’s killer. You had no reason to target her, because you were clueless!”
“I am afraid so, Jones,” he admitted.
“But what the hell? Why didn’t you tell me that either?”
“No one wants to broadcast their mistakes, Jones. The CIA failed to detect a Chinese mole. But, now that you figured it out, at least it should convince you that we didn’t kill Evy.”
“Here’s another news flash, Jones: No one knows everything,” de Jeanbourg said. “Not even the Chinese—with all their data collection and number crunching. In particular, they didn’t know that Sasha was onto Evy. Which is why they didn’t protect their asset better. They didn’t predict anyone would go after her.”
“When did you figure out Giovanni was working for Chinese intelligence?”
“If I say anything, it has to be on deep background.”
“We didn’t figure it out until after you called Garrett Zarribe. When Zarribe began snooping around, I caught wind of your investigation. That’s why I called you to meet at Union Station. At that time, I told you the truth: I didn’t know who Salazar worked for. All I knew was it wasn’t for us. Until then, our algorithm had flagged Salazar for his unusual behavioral patterns, but his forex business was legit. We couldn’t pinpoint anything else. Then, you told me he claimed to be a CIA agent. And that was it. We talked to a few more people on the ground in Thailand, tweaked our computer model. And bingo. We realized Salazar was working for Chinese intelligence. We also discovered who his handler was—a Chinese national living in Bangkok named Li Fang. Code name Mr. Gold. Turned up dead in Bangkok’s red-light district. But Evy was not on our radar screen.”
“That’s incredible,” Anna said. “You wouldn’t have known without me—and Sara, and Evy. But…if you had known, you would have wanted Evy dead too. After all, it would have been bad for you, if she had been this whistleblower, this source or leak or whatever.”
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that, necessarily. We could have worked with her,” de Jeanbourg said. “But she should have stayed in her lane.”
“That’s not fair. Evy thought she was working with you, helping the American side. The more I think about it, the more it makes me sick, de Jeanbourg. She is dead, the Chinese almost got away with it, and you were bumbling around in the dark!”
“You’re rubbing salt in the wound now, Jones.”
“What the hell, de Jeanbourg! How does this relate to Channarong?”
“We’re done here.”
Copyright © by Wolf Bahren. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher with “permission requests” in the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.