Katia did not know what she had expected. If she was virtually unrecognizable as the curvy, brunette virgin she had been almost five years ago, he looked virtually the same. Perhaps a few tiny lines about his mouth and eyes. She stared at Zane Rogers’ mouth. She could almost taste his sweet kisses that had drugged her mind as much as the hormones had her body.
Her knees felt like they would give way. She used all her former espionage training to keep her face blank as she covered the fifteen or twenty feet between them. She reached into the oversized bag that contained all she had packed for this trip.
Her fingers trembled as she pulled out the metal box. The external drive contained Brent Jacob’s original model forecasting a series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that would herald a new ice age. The more conservative one that his wife Lauren Masters had come up with reflected only the severity of the impacts of the Iceland eruptions. Of course, that one was already out of date with the most recent eruption of Vesuvius.
Katia tried to calm herself, slow her heart rate, and clear her mind. She did not have time for old memories, and certainly not former lusts. ‘Give the man the files. And get out of here.’ She had things to do. Save her children. His children. Their children. Before as she feared, Brent Jacobs was proven correct.
She kept her eyes down as she approached the man that had taken her virginity in a frenzy of hormone-induced stupor that had been her own fault. She dared not speak as she held out the disk drive. Just one simple thing, then she could be on her way to finding her babies.
Hand him the files and walk away. Take a cab to Anya’s house outside Washington, in rural Virginia. The agency had scored a significant coup when her former friend and colleague had managed to hook a Senator for a husband. The older man was so intrigued by his beautiful, young, and intelligent trophy wife that he readily shared national secrets with her.
He had been more than willing to indulge her when she pleaded that they adopt her young ‘cousin’s’ baby boy. Zander would be the easy one. She was only hoping that she could convince Anya to help her locate Zoya and Yana. Otherwise, she had no idea how she would find her daughters in time. Before Cumbre Vieja erupted. Before a megatsunami took out much of this area.
Katia held her breath and waited. And waited. Her hands began to tremble even more. Finally, in desperation, she lifted her face. She almost dropped the disk at what she saw in his eyes. She shook her head. No, it could not be. There was no way.
Her heart stopped. She held her breath as his large hand covered hers, taking the computer drive, as his other hand captured her elbow, almost painfully. She attempted to shake it off, but his grip only tightened.
“Let me go,” her voice was barely more than a whisper as panic began to bubble and boil in her gut. “Please, just let me go,” she pleaded, her voice a bit stronger this time.
He shook his head, “What’s the rush? Too old lovers catching up over statistics. As the world comes to an end. If your friend is to be believed.”
“Brent’s right,” was all she could manage.
She tried to clear her head, but his hand on her elbow was distracting. She was so aware of his touch that it almost burned. That made no sense. None of this did. Last time it was drugs. That was why she had been attracted to this man. All the hormones she had megadosed on had made her body ripe, not just for conception, but for the sex they had shared. The only sex she had ever had.
“Then you won’t mind sticking around. This time.” His eyes seemed to bore into her.
She could almost believe that they held the same heat they had that afternoon. But she knew that was not possible. Men like Lieutenant Commander Zane Rogers did not even look at mousy, non-descript women like Katia Alexandroff, Katie Alexander, or Kate as she had once lied to him.
She shook her head, “Nyet. No,” she corrected.
His dark head turned a bit. His eyes searched her face. “Oh, no. Not this time, Kate. Or whatever your name is. You, at least, owe me an explanation. Of what happened that day. Why you ran from my apartment after we made love.” He used his hand on her elbow to turn her, practically dragging her across the tarmac towards a car she had not noticed sitting near the hangar.
“Let me go.” Her voice rose louder, took on a more commanding tone as she felt her fear imbue her with new strength. Not now. She did not have time for this. She had to get out of here. Had to get to Anya…and Zander. She had to get to her son, their son. “I need to go. I have somewhere to be.”
He opened the passenger door, “No. Not this time. You are not getting away. Not until I have some answers.”
“Please,” she begged as that fear seethed inside. She had to get out of here. She had to get to Zander. Zoya. Yana. She had to. Before it was too late. “Please, just let me go.”
“Why? What are you running from this time? Hell, what were you running from five years ago?” He almost shoved her into the car as he practically slammed the door.
She tried the handle as he walked around the back of the vehicle. It was locked. “Where are you taking me?” Her training gave her the presence of mind to at least ask that relevant question.
“My place. I need to go over this data before my meeting tomorrow. I need a better understanding of the situation before putting my neck on the line for some kook scientist. We can talk then. Your plane needs to refuel and file new flight plans anyway.”
She shook her head, “I’m not going back on the plane. I have…” She could not tell him the truth. But lies had always come incredibly hard for this spy. So, she stuck to the truth, as much as she could. “I have people I need to warn.”
“So, you believe this shit?” He started the car and drove away.
Katia stared out the window, trying to look for landmarks. She needed to get her bearings. She had to escape. Find Anya. Convince her friend to help her. Save her babies. “Yes,” was her only response as they merged onto a major freeway. The sign said Alexandria. At least, he was taking her in the right direction.
She considered praying, but it had been decades since she believed in her Babushka’s god. And she certainly had no right to ask for help. Her whole life was a lie. It had been since she won the chemistry contest as a teen. Taken from her family, placed in a special school, trained first in her field, then as a spy.
“Please,” she tried once more. “Please, I need to get to my friend before….”
“Before what, Kate? Before the world ends?” He took his eyes from the road for just a moment. “Sorry, you won’t get much sympathy from me on that one. My world ended five years ago. When the woman I love ran half-naked from my apartment after I took her virginity on the couch.”
Katia’s lungs burned at his words. Whether it was the vitriol she heard, the pain, or the very fact that he felt that way and said them, she was not sure. She shook her head, trying to clear it. But she had not been able to since that day. Nothing had made sense since her brief sojourn in this man’s arms. “Please, Zane. I beg you. Let me go.”
“Why? Why should I, Kate?”
In all the years that were to come, Kate never knew why, what possessed her, but the words were out before they even registered in her befuddled brain, “I have to get to the children. I have to save them. Keep them safe.”
“What children, Kate?”
Her hand flew to her mouth. She stared out the window as she contemplated her answer. Perhaps she could deflect the question; maybe she could escape. But that would waste precious time. Time she might not have. Time her babies might not have. “Our children.”
Silenced filled the small car. She watched him. His hands tightened on the steering wheel until his knuckles shone white. She saw his jaw twitch just a moment as he took the next exit. Once they were off the main highway, he pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store.
“No more lies, Kate. Or whatever the hell your name is. I want the truth. The truth about what happened five years ago. About who the hell you are. And if you are telling the truth, why the hell is this the first time I hear about my children. Don’t give me any shit either. I specifically told you I would do the right thing. Take care of you if anything happened. So, start talking, Kate, and it better be good.”