Washington, DC – Wednesday, Feb. 26, 11:00 a.m.
When Anna walked into the conference room at the DC bureau of the Daily Journal, it was already full. A crescendo of claps, cheers and hoots filled the room. “Whoo hoo!” “Congratulations!” “Welcome back!” She smiled at everyone.
Tanner's hands were in the air with palms springing up and down, as if patting an invisible pet. “Alright! Alright! Settle down,” he said. Marching to the head of the conference table, he left the chair that had been saved for him empty. He placed his hands in his pockets, took a deep breath and surveyed the room. Then he stretched his arms out and up. “It is my great pleasure to announce officially that our friends in New York finally see things my way—Anna Jones has been cleared of all accusations,” Tanner said, reaching out to shake Anna’s hand. “Welcome back!”
Beaming, Anna shook his hand. “Great to be back,” she said, standing next to him.
“Now,” Tanner said, making eye contact with as many of his reporters as possible. “This has been a trying nine days at our paper. And after four decades in the business, I venture to say the scale of this scandal was colossal, the lies epic. Amid this insanity, Jones lost her job—albeit temporarily—and she might have lost her life. But she did not give up. Instead, she took the lead in investigating the twisted scheme.”
Cheering and clapping flooded the room once again.
“Jones’ work was, needless to say, impressive. Also…,” he said, pausing dramatically. “Credit is due to Raven Garcia as well. Garcia, join us!”
Raven stepped up. Nodding affirmatively, Anna watched Raven approaching. Tanner was then flanked by the women.
“Garcia,” he said, shaking her hand. “You did some damned fine reporting out of Thailand over the last week! Glad to see you arrived from Bangkok safely!”
Eyes puffy but somehow as glamorous as ever, Raven smiled.
“Garcia, Jones, you make a marvelous team,” Tanner said, waving his hand back and forth.
“Together, you uncovered Sasha Bolokov as the rogue agent, the ultimate source of deceit, and the American and Chinese agents manipulating the situation. Really solid work! Your scoop on page one today was stunning. We, the citizenry, are all rewarded.”
Raven and Anna nodded as their colleagues offered them one more round of applause.
“And now!” Tanner said. “For those of you who don’t already know him, let me introduce Viktor Simonson from our Moscow bureau.”
Viktor stood up from his seat along the back wall. “Greetings. Happy to be here,” he said, looking around to acknowledge everyone.
“As you can see, Simonson has been released from the hospital. He’s been cleared of concussion dangers, and is ready to get back to his post. And finally—Jones has one last surprise,” said Tanner, waving his outstretched palm toward Anna.
“You must be wondering what happened to Jordan Green, the author of the infamous Mirror article smearing me,” Anna said. “You might assume I couldn’t stand her.”
Stifled laughter passed through the room.
“But you’d be wrong,” Anna continued. “Green is an aspiring reporter, a straight-A student with strong writing skills and some great clips. But she’s young—just started college. She was actively misled at the Mirror. There’s no way she could have known how she was being manipulated, and she didn’t deserve to be put in that position. So, today I am pleased to say, she has accepted an internship with us.” Anna smiled and gestured toward Tanner.
Tanner, who had walked toward the conference room door, opened it for Jordan Green.
Green, a petite Black woman wearing a smart red suit jacket, black pants and black shirt with chunky Chelsea boots, stepped up. Her makeup was plain, and her hair was styled in an intricate braided updo, which showed off large pearl earrings. “Thank you for the opportunity,” she said, scanning all the new faces. “I’m looking forward to it.”
“So, Tanner and I will be training Green,” Anna continued. “Because—and I understand this is through no fault of my own—Raven Garcia will be moving on!”
“And if you’d like details about that,” Tanner said. “Ask Garcia at Karl’s tonight!"
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