Daddy’s Deadly Girl
- Romanian spy goes on a hunt for her missing scientist father and finds out she is the key to a deadly compound that he was being forced to create.
Katya finished going through the duet with Nicolae and she was flushed from more than the exertion of the dance. He was a strong partner and a very gifted dancer, but he had also begun to flirt with her over the past several months. Her uncle thought it best if she were given a partner on this assignment, so he had paired her with Nicolae. It was not that she didn’t like him, but his stolen kisses and caresses made her uncomfortable. After five months of it, she was ready to scream. She could not wait for this assignment to end so she could get away from him. She would also tell her uncle, in no uncertain terms, exactly what she thought of this particular partner.
“That was much better,” the Director beamed as he came towards them. “This shall be the best Nutcracker ever with dancers like you in our midst.” He smiled and patted Katya on the backside. This man was a bit free with his hands but it was nothing she was not used to. If it wasn’t the Director, it was the other male dancers seeking to prove their masculinity, or the backers thinking they owned the dancers and had a right to touch them. She stepped out of his reach and he smiled and shook his head. He clapped his hands and the dancers went to attention. “You will go to the costumer so she can take your measurements, and then we will break for the day.”
“One of these days,” Nicolae hissed as he leaned his cheek against hers, “I am going to slug him. You should not let him touch you like that, Katya.”
“Such things happen,” Katya shrugged. “This is your first time in a ballet company, Nic. Follow my lead?”
“I would follow you anywhere, Katya,” Nicolae smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “I adore the way you blush. Still such an innocent.”
“And I mean to stay that way, Nic,” Katya smiled and pushed him away. “There are any number of dancers here who would adore your attentions. I am not one of them.”
“You wound me, my little love,” Nicolae replied. “We dance so well together, I had hoped…”
“I can imagine what you hoped,” Katya broke in and moved away. “It is not going to happen.”
Nicolae spread his hands and laughed as he backed away. The last Katya saw of him he was escorting the girl they were here to investigate off into a corner somewhere. She still found it hard to believe that the girl could be allowing herself to act as a drug courier, but she had seen worse in the past three years.
She went to be measured so that she could get to her rendezvous with their agency contact in the park. Gheorghe Zeklos, a short thin gnome of a man with silver hair and goatee, always sat feeding the pigeons for the same four hours every day. She left the theater and entered the park, stopping to buy herself something to eat and drink. She would join him on the bench and they would talk about the birds. An innocent looking rendezvous that only the three of them were aware hid something more.
“Good afternoon, pretty dancer,” Gheorghe tipped his cap to her as he always did. “How go the rehearsals?”
“Fine, Uncle,” Katya smiled and opened her soup cup. “Your birds are looking quite well today.” She sighed. “I wish I could get mine to sing like yours do.”
“Patience and the right feed,” Gheorghe nodded his head, acknowledging the information that their target was not giving them anything to investigate. “Don’t wait too long, little one. Time is not infinite.”
“I am always glad for your advice, Uncle,” Katya smiled. She watched him pack up and leave her alone. So they were running out of time. That meant another shipment was about to take place.
She finished her soup and drank her tea slowly, enjoying the solitary moment in the park. It did not last long. Two street toughs walked up to her bench and one of them sat next to her and put his arm around her shoulder. The other put his foot on the bench on the other side of her, hemming her in. She could not leave without making a scene.
“Tell your boyfriend to leave Ileana alone, little one,” the man seated next to her said, his breath heavy with tobacco stench, “or he will regret it.”
“I don’t have a boyfriend,” Katya protested. She tried to get up and the man standing pushed her back gently but firmly. “Please don’t hurt me,” she whimpered as she looked into the cold eyes of the man seated next to her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The one who is partnering you, little one,” the man frowned. “The one whose apartment is right next to yours?” He ran his hand along her jaw line slowly, smiling nastily. “He is a fool to overlook you, pretty girl.” He leaned in closer and Katya nearly choked on the tobacco fumes rising from his clothing. “Perhaps you and I…”
“Leave me out of this!” Katya whimpered, feigning terror at the mere thought. “I will tell him to leave your girl friend alone, but please stay away from me. I don’t want any trouble.”
The man nodded and his friend backed off. Katya grabbed her things and fled like any other terrified girl who had barely escaped assault would. She headed directly to the apartment and made herself some tea. Then she sat down to transmit the photographs of the two thugs who had threatened her and the recorded conversation. There was a knock on the connecting door and she opened it for Nicolae. He saw her pale face and she told him what had happened.
“They really thought I was your boyfriend?” Nicolae laughed and helped himself to some tea. He grew serious. “So our time is running out. I am going to have to push harder.”
“Those men were not fooling around, Nic,” Katya warned him. “If you keep pushing her, they are going to push back.” She thought it over. “Maybe we should try something else…”
“You’re worried about me?” Nicolae smiled and came towards her. She moved away from him and shook her head.
“It is going to be hard to get a replacement,” Katya scolded him, “if you are taken down before we have the information we need.” She took a seat cross-legged on the couch. “Hopefully the photos will at least tell us who we are dealing with.” She shuddered as she remembered the foul man. “You can let yourself out, Nic. I need to take a shower.”
“I could scrub your back, Katya…”
“On second thought,” Katya broke in, laughing. She took the cup out of his hand and yanked on his hand so he was on his knees. “Leave now, Nic. I’ll lock up behind you.”
“Spoilsport,” Nicolae frowned. He went back into his apartment and someone struck him down as he entered. Katya ran for the phone and someone grabbed her and slammed her head into the table. She whirled and drove her fist into her assailant's face and he fell back with a curse. He backhanded her and she was not where he had been aiming for. He went off balance and she hit him across the back of the head with a paperweight. She left him where he lay and went to check on Nicolae. A quick scan of his apartment showed her he was alone.
“Ow!” Nicolae hissed as she got him up and examined his head. “Did you see the truck that hit me?”
“He’s out cold in my apartment,” Katya told him. She got the first aid kit and tended the cut on the back of his head. “They’re playing for keeps now, Nicolae.” He pushed her away and she caught his arm. “You need to sit still, Nic…” She followed him and the man she had taken down was gone. “No!” she hissed as she stamped her foot. “There is no way he should have been able to walk out of here!” She looked for the paperweight. “I hit him with…” The paperweight was gone. “Oh damn! They took the paperweight with them!” “It’s a good thing your fingerprints aren’t on file then, isn’t it?” Nicolae moaned and she made him sit down. “Sit still!” She got out her aid kit and checked his eyes. “You don’t appear to have a concussion. She held up four fingers. “How many?”
“Eighty three,” Nicolae replied tightly. “I’ve been hit on the head before, Katya. This was a love tap compared to some of those other blows.” He saw her worry. “If it makes you feel better, you can kiss it.”
“Do you ever stop?” Katya laughed and went to get him some tea. She handed him the cup. “Here. Sit back and relax while I get you some aspirin.” She turned to go and he caught her hand. “Nic?”
“We are going to have to become boyfriend and girlfriend, Katya,” he told her bluntly. “Separate quarters are not going to work from this point on.” He saw her shaking her head and he looked at her seriously. “You know I’m right. If we are going to succeed, we need to live through the assignment.” He ran the fingers of his free hand over her lips gently and felt her shiver. “I promise I will only go as far as I need to in order to maintain the fiction. Inside these walls, we will be as chaste as nuns and monks.” He patted her lips with his fingers. “Unless you choose otherwise, that is.”
“How are you going to flirt with Ileana,” Katya asked him tightly, “if I am your girlfriend?”
“You and I will have to fight when you catch me, yes? And then we shall kiss and make up.” Nicolae laughed. “You really are an innocent, Katya. How did you get to be twenty without knowing these things?”
“I’ve had more important things on my mind, Nic,” Katya shrugged. She saw that he was serious. “Oh, all right. Move your things in here. You can sleep on the couch.”
“No,” Nicolae shook his head. “I will be sharing the bedroom with you.” He laughed at her look. “Not the bed, little one. I have a very good air mattress I can use. Until this is over, we need to stay close.”
Nicolae moved his things into her apartment and the next morning they began the fiction of being boyfriend and girlfriend by arriving at practice hand in hand. Katya saw the open disappointment on many of the girls’ faces at this, but Ileana looked relieved. Nicolae had made a dent there and it was up to Katya to keep prodding at it now. She walked up to the girl now and smiled at her sadly.
“Nic likes to flirt to make me jealous, Ileana,” she said to the other girl. “I hope he did not make you think he actually wanted you?”
“He is very good at flirting, Katya,” Ileana replied, “but I have a man of my own and he gets very jealous.” She looked over at Nicolae now and he winked at her. “Please tell him to leave me alone.”
“I’ve tried, Ileana,” Katya sighed. “It is like asking a dog not to bark, or a bird not to sing.” She laid her hand on the other girl’s arm. “Just slap him if he gets too fresh. I do.” She leaned in to whisper confidentially. “If you stay close to me he will back off. He never goes after girls who I consider my friends.”
Ileana nodded and looked very relieved. So for the rest of the day, she practically clung to Katya. Nicolae was very amused by this tactic and congratulated her on her resourcefulness. No one could object to Ileana having a new best friend. They danced their duet five times that day, and spent their breaks and lunch hour with Ileana. She was far more relaxed now that Nicolae was not hitting on her. Katya was the one who was nervous as Nicolae took every opportunity to steal a kiss or stroke her arm or cheek or lips. It was almost more than she could handle to act like she wanted him to do these things to her.
“Ileana, I…” Katya froze as she walked into the dressing room and saw the man who had accosted her the day before with Ileana. He was handing her a backpack, like the one the dancers used to carry their personal clothing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.” She turned to go and the other man closed the door, keeping her inside. “What’s going on here?”
“You are not just a dancer, pretty girl,” the man sneered as his friend held Katya’s arms behind her back. “You’re here investigating Ileana, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Katya protested and winced as the man holding her tightened his grip. “You’re hurting me!” She looked over at Ileana in distress. “Please tell them they’re wrong…”
“Nice act, pretty girl,” the man said as he looked around for a handkerchief and rolled it to make a gag; “but I don’t believe you. I have some friends who are very good at finding out the truth. We’re going to go visit them.” He laughed as Katya tried to pull free and his friend yanked her arms up so she was on her knees, whimpering from the pain. “If you are telling the truth about being innocent, you will be returned to the company unharmed. Otherwise,” he drew his finger across his throat and then ran his fingers along her jaw line. “It would be such a waste to have to destroy you, pretty girl.” There was a knock on the door and the man holding Katya took her into the closet and clamped his hand over her mouth. The other man opened the door and saw the Director standing there. He looked at Ileana and frowned.
“There is a call for Katya,” Mihai Stelea said, a puzzled expression on his face. “I saw her come in here a moment ago…”
“Came and went, Director Stelea,” Ileana lied to him; knowing Katya’s life depended on her saying this. “Perhaps her boyfriend can help you locate her. If they’re even speaking to each other at the moment.”
“Trouble in Paradise again?” Director Stelea frowned. “Those two are on and off more than a light switch. If they didn’t dance so well together, I would have one of them leave the company.” His eyes narrowed on the man. “You should not be in here, Serban Fidatov.”
“I was just about to leave, Director,” Serban nodded his head. He leaned over to kiss Ileana on the cheek. “I will see you tonight, Ileana?” Ileana nodded. “Tell Anatolie to leave that package for later.”
“I will tell him, Serban,” Ileana nodded. She watched the two men go in separate directions and opened the closet door. “You’re to leave Katya alone,” she said to the man holding Katya captive. The man nodded and left the dressing room. Ileana took the sobbing girl into her arms and stroked her back. “I’m sorry, Katya. Serban can be very paranoid. Did he hurt you badly?”
“No,” Katya whimpered. “I am more frightened than hurt.” She looked at Ileana with tears glistening in her eyes. “You’re not doing something illegal, are you, Ileana?”
“Of course not,” Ileana laughed a little too quickly. “I’ll go get you some water.” Katya nodded and the other girl left.
Katya saw where she had stowed her bag and locked the dressing room door. She slipped the package out of Ileana’s bag and took a small sample of the contents. She planted a tracker inside the center of the package, and then put the bag back where Ileana had put it. She put her sample in a vial and stuck it into her bag, then unlocked the door and sat down, dabbing at her eyes as the other girl returned.
“I think some fresh air is what I need,” she said to the girl. “Come take a walk with me,” she laid her hand on Ileana’s shoulder. Ileana looked uncertain. “Just to the park?”
“For a few moments,” Ileana said as she grabbed her bag. “I have an errand to run before we begin evening rehearsals.” They wandered out to the park and Gheorghe was sitting there feeding his pigeons as usual.
Ileana was introduced to the old man and she listened as Katya and the man made small talk about the birds. It was rather boring, but sweet. She excused herself as Katya asked if she could feed them and did not see Katya slip the vial inside the man’s seed bag. “The bird has been tagged,” Katya whispered to the man as she kissed his cheek.
“It is always nice to see you, Uncle. You care about the birds as much as I do.”
“Someone has to care, little one,” Gheorghe said as he patted her hand, “or the predators will gobble them up.”
Katya squeezed his hand and left the park. She prayed Ileana would get back from the delivery safely. She appeared to be an innocent dupe in all of this and Katya would hate for her to come to harm. She entered the costumer’s area and saw her costume waiting. Ivona Stelea, the Director’s sister, smiled as she saw who came through the doors.
“Katya, dear,” she smiled and nodded to the costume. “Could you try it on for me? Mihai wanted to see it on you before he approves the design.” Katya nodded and took the costume with her to the dressing room. She slid it on and admired herself in the mirror. It was quite lovely and not at all like the other village maid costumes she had seen in productions of the Nutcracker. This one had a long skirt that swirled around her knees instead of a stiff tutu. It was the loveliest thing she had seen in a long time. She headed out of the dressing room and ran right into the Director’s chest. She looked up and blushed.
“I’m sorry, Director Stelea,” she said softly. “I was in such a hurry to show Ivona how it looked, I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
“That’s quite all right, Katya,” Stelea smiled. He held her arms out to the sides and looked her over a bit more thoroughly than she felt was appropriate. “Come out here and go through your portion of the dance for me. Let us see how it moves.” She did as he asked and he clapped his hands and nodded. “Very good. You may tell Ivona that this will work just fine.” He caught her arm as she started to walk past him. “You are very lovely, Katya,” he whispered in her ear. “I would hate for you to get hurt sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. Stay away from Ileana; that one is trouble.”
Katya nodded and fled from the man. Why would he warn her about such a thing? Was he involved in the smuggling? Their initial reports had not suggested such, but they could be flawed and incomplete. She went back into the dressing room and changed. As she carried the costume back to Ivona, she saw Serban and his friend, Anatolie, lurking in the shadows. He drew his finger across his neck and Katya went pale and hurried on. That man was dangerous. Someone grabbed her around the waist and she did not have to fake her fright.
“Nic!” she hissed as he set her down. “You scared me, you troll!”
“I am not a troll, Katya!” Nicolae pouted. “I merely saw my beautiful girl walking by and thought I would give her a hug.”
“Am I your girl, Nic?” Katya asked him plainly. “How many girls have you flirted with since last I saw you?” He looked ashamed and she shook her head. “How can I trust you if you can’t keep your hands off the others more than a few hours at a time?” She turned away and he laid his hand on her arm. “No, Nic! I won’t have this!” She shoved him away and went to Ivona in tears. “Director Stelea says this will work just fine,” Katya said as she tried not to cry. The woman saw her distress and put her arms around her. “Why do I let him do this to me, Ivona? There are other young men out there.”
“He is a handsome devil,” Ivona nodded. “But he never does more than flirt, does he?” Katya shook her head. “And he always comes back to you,” she said as she raised Katya’s eyes to hers, “does he not?” Katya nodded. “Then you should not be angry with him. Some men are just born to flirt. It means nothing.” She handed Katya a handkerchief. “Dry your pretty eyes and go find him. He is the one you should be with, not me.”
Katya nodded and kissed the woman on the cheek. She decided to change before she went to find Nicolae and as she came back out of the dressing room she heard a scream out in the alley. She hurried in that direction and saw Ileana being held by Anatolie. Serban had his knife out and he was coming towards her. Ileana had already been cut several times and she was sobbing and begging him not to hurt her.
“What are you doing?” Katya snapped as she stepped out into the alleyway. “Leave her alone or I will call the police!”
“Katya,” Ileana shook her head. “Don’t get involved!”
“Why not?” Katya asked her. “Your boyfriend already thinks I am involved.” She looked around for something to use and saw the brick. She picked it up in her hand and made to throw it at Serban. Instead she whirled and threw it at Anatolie. He went down like a ton of bricks when it struck him in the center of his forehead. She moved before Serban was on her and found the other man’s knife. “Get inside, Ileana. Find Nicolae!” She waited until the girl was clear and then she faced Serban. “Let’s see how well you do when you aren’t ganging up on people, Fidatov!”
Serban backed away as he saw the hunter’s gleam in her eyes instead of a frightened girl and she followed him. They circled each other and she waited, her eyes never leaving his. The eyes, her uncle Andrei had told her in practice, always communicate intent. She knew the man was intending to slit her throat so she just needed to keep that from happening. She managed to keep away from his blade for the next couple moments and Serban was growing quite angry. Katya could hear whistles as the police moved in and smiled at him. Serban lunged and she parried and sent him to the ground. As he came up she drove her weapon into his arm and he cried out in pain. But instead of dropping his knife, he came back up and sliced it along her ribs. Katya hissed in pain and saw black for a few seconds. She looked at the blood staining her leotard along her side in disbelief. How had that happened? The police surged into the alleyway and Serban and Anatolie were taken away.
“You should have let me handle them, Katya,” Nicolae frowned down at her in the ambulance. “If you die, your uncle is going to kill me!”
“I didn’t have time to wait for you, Nic,” Katya replied. “He had Ileana cornered.” She moaned as a pothole made her bounce and pain surged through her. Nicolae grabbed her hand and she gripped it tightly. “He shouldn’t have been able to get through my guard like that, Nic. I’m going to have to go back into training.”
“Let’s just concentrate on your living through this assignment?” Nic said as he gripped her hand back. He was still holding her hand in the examination room when their superior officer arrived. He let go so Colonel Andrei Dragomir, Katya’s uncle, could take it.
“Go home, Iliescu,” he said tightly. “You
Verlag: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
Texte: M J Marlow
Bildmaterialien: M J Marlow
Lektorat: M J Marlow
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 11.01.2010
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