About the Book
While the rest of the Canary Islands celebrates Carnaval, British secret agents Ashley Blade and Jemma Jacobs try to unravel a Libyan terrorist plot against the United States. If they don’t succeed, it’s goodbye to Boston and the U.S. eastern seaboard. Then the Libyan terrorists launch a new nefarious plot in Brazil, and Ash and Jemma scramble to save the world from a deadly sarin attack.
Ash and Jemma finally return home to London for some much needed rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, where Ash and Jemma go, trouble is not far behind.
Ash woke to the headache from hell and a mouth like the Gobi desert.
I must have really tied one on last night! She tried to rub the grit from bleary eyes and found she couldn’t move her hands. What the—?
Her wrists were strapped down. Her ankles too. She twisted awkwardly—something round her neck was restricting her movements—and tested her bonds, but found no give in them at all.
Ash’s surroundings were unfamiliar. The shuttered windows didn’t belong to her casa’s bedroom, and that trolley full of wires and gauges and other equipment certainly wasn’t hers. As for the unyielding surface beneath her . . . Definitely not my bed, she thought with trepidation. More like an operating table.
Memory returned. Remington.
A door creaked open, and the light footsteps that followed made her tense up.
Jemma Jacobs walked into view. She was carrying a tray on which sat a single plastic cup, a clipboard, and a folder. She placed the tray on the table and brought the cup over to Ash.
“Here.” A straw poked out of the cup and she held it to Ash’s mouth. Ash had the devil’s own thirst, but she pressed her lips together. “It’s just water.”
They had drugged Ash once already, and she was damned if they were going to do it to her again. As though divining her thoughts, Jemma put the straw to her own lips, and sucked. Her Adam’s apple bobbed. If she was pretending to swallow, she was a good actress.
This time, when the straw was offered, Ash sucked it greedily. Cool water slid down her gullet, revitalising as it went, and almost at once her headache eased. When rude sucking noises signalled the cup was empty, she released the straw. “Thanks.”
With a nod, Jemma retrieved the empty cup. While she returned it to the tray, Ash took the opportunity to observe her. Her hair was cut a little shorter than she remembered. Aware of her scrutiny, Jemma’s cheeks reddened.
“You always seem to be ambushing me. Why is that?” Ash flexed her arms and legs, and winced—the bonds were tight enough to cut.
“Don’t,” said Jemma, noticing. “They’ve got a two-hundred pound breaking strain. You’ll only hurt yourself.”
“Remington’s taking no chances, I see. Didn’t know the bastard had it in him. Was drugging me his idea too?”
“That was my contribution,” said Jemma. “My instructions were to find a way to bring you in for questioning without hurting you.”
Ash stared at her nemesis. “Might’ve guessed,” she muttered. “So, what am I supposed to have done this time?”
Jemma regarded her gravely. “Gone over to the enemy.”
Ash snorted. “What crap!” The door creaked open and heavy footsteps approached. Jemma’s reaction told her who it must be. “You’re barking up the wrong tree, Remington.”
“We’ll see, won’t we?” His tone was smug, and as he moved into her field of vision she saw he was smirking. Damn him.
“Miss Jacobs, will you do the honours, please?” He gestured at the trolley and its hi-tech cargo. Obligingly, Jemma wheeled it over to Ash then plugged in the machines and began to attach electrodes to her.
“Let me guess,” Ash joked, though she had recognised the equipment. “Electric shock treatment?”
“Polygraph test,” said Jemma.
“Fucking waste of time.”
Remington sucked in his breath. “Language!”
She didn’t resist as Jemma attached metal plates to the index and ring fingers of her right hand. She’d thought about putting up a fight, but decided against it. A polygraph test wouldn’t hurt. More importantly, it would show she was innocent and then she could be on her way.
Giving her a smile of thanks for her co-operation, Jemma threaded two rubber tubes around Ash’s chest and abdomen. Then she inflated a blood pressure cuff round Ash’s upper arm and stood back.
Remington, meanwhile, had positioned himself by the polygraph. Already, the print head was moving up and down, inscribing a jagged line of black ink on the unscrolling paper.
“All set,” he pronounced.
“Finally,” muttered Ash, attracting an amused glance from Jemma.
Jemma fetched the clipboard and folder she had brought in earlier and pulled up a chair. No doubt Remington had left her to come up with the questions too. She cleared her throat. “Is your name Ashley Blade?”
As good a calibration question as any. “Yes.”
The print head scribbled, and Remington annotated the entry.
“Do you own a flat in Albert Terrace, London?”
“Are you a seventy-year-old, male American?”
“Do you like Marmite?”
Ash regarded Jemma with approval. You’ve done your homework. “No.”
“Thank you.” Jemma looked at Remington. “Is everything working okay?”
“Yes. Continue, please, Miss Jacobs.”
She looked at her clipboard again. “Is the name Khaleb Abdusamad known to you?”
So this is about the Libyan. “Yes.”
“Have you ever met him?”
“No,” said Ash.
“Have you ever seen him?”
“Is the name Minyar al-Akhdar known to you?”
Ash had to think about that one for a moment. She had a suspicion she’d heard the name before. “Yes.”
“Have you ever met him?” asked Jemma.
“Have you ever seen him?”
The smile on Remington’s face gave Ash a nasty feeling. When Jemma extracted a photograph from the folder and showed it to her, her unease intensified.
“Is that you sitting in the coffee shop?”
“Yes.” The photo was quite a flattering one of Adriana, Ash noted.
“Do you know that man?” Jemma pointed to the tourist who had interrupted their conversation to ask for directions.
Remington snorted in disbelief.
“I don’t,” protested Ash. “He just wanted to know the way to the museum.”
“Please,” chided Jemma. “Stick to yes or no. That man is Minyar al-Akhdar.”
“And who the hell is he when he’s at home?”
“We’ll ask the questions,” said Remington.
Ash tried not to grind her teeth.
“Has Minyar al-Akhdar ever given you a bottle of honey rum?” asked Jemma.
What is she talking about? “No.”
“The casa you are staying in,” continued Jemma, her voice neutral. “Do you own it?”
The apparent change of subject made Ash blink. “No.”
Her answer prompted another opening of the folder, and she found herself staring at the title deeds to the casa, her signature prominent on the dotted line.
“Is that your signature?” asked Jemma.
“It looks like it but it isn’t.”
“Yes or no.”
“Look, I can’t . . . It’s not that simple.”
Jemma’s brows knit then smoothed. “I’ll rephrase the question. Did you sign this title deed?”
“No.” The confinement was beginning to get to Ash. “Can’t you
let me up? I’m getting cramp in my leg.”
“I’m sorry.” Jemma’s gaze was sympathetic but unyielding.
“Whatever.” Ash sucked in a breath and exhaled, repeating the exercise until she was calm.
“Okay?” asked Jemma.
She gave a weary nod.
“Are you aware that one-hundred-thousand pounds was paid into your current account a few days ago?”
Ash blinked. “No!” Her mind reeled at the implications.
“It came from a Swiss Bank Account.” Jemma showed her a photocopy of a bank statement and pointed. “Do you know whose account that is?”
“Have you ever received money from a Libyan terrorist organisation?”
“No.” The situation unfolding before Ash was making her nauseous, or maybe it was an after-effect of the drugs. “Look, I don’t know what the hell’s going on, but clearly someone’s out to undermine my credibility. I must have stumbled onto something. We have to—”
“We have to do nothing, Blade,” interrupted Remington. “You have to answer our questions.”
“So please do so, or I’ll get the answers out of you another way.” He gave Jemma an impatient nod.
“Right.” Jemma looked at her clipboard again.
Piece by piece, Jemma laid out the evidence against Ash for her inspection, stoking the anger growing in her gut. Ash strove for detachment. The frame was overly elaborate, in her opinion, but the implication that Sam’s death had driven her back to her cat burgling ways was a nice touch. After all, a thief would think nothing of taking money from terrorists, right?
While Jemma asked her questions, and Remington annotated the charts spooling out of the polygraph, Ash’s mind ranged back over the places she had been and the people she had met since her arrival in the Canary Islands. She had got too close to something or someone. But what or who?
“Are you working for the Libyans?” asked Jemma.
“Are you thinking of leaving the Organisation?”
Ash hesitated. This unjustified interrogation had soured her against Security, but as for the rest . . . “No,” she said at last.v
Jemma put down her clipboard and stretched, the gesture eliciting a pang of envy from Ash. She leaned back in her chair. “That was my final question, Mr. Remington.”
“Well done, Miss Jacobs.” He switched off the polygraph and stood up.
“Thank God that’s over,” said Ash, as Jemma detached the tubes and plates from her and unwrapped the blood pressure cuff. “Now can you release me?”
Remington gathered up the charts. “We have to analyse the results.”
With a ripping noise, the cuff came free. Jemma placed it with the rest of the equipment and wheeled the trolley back to its position by the wall.
“But—” Ash struggled against her bonds. “This is ridiculous!”
Remington gave her a hard glance. “No more ridiculous than the blind faith certain people have placed in you for far too long, Blade. Come with me, Miss Jacobs.” He moved out of Ash’s sightline, and with an apologetic glance Jemma followed him. Seconds later, the door creaked open.
“The sooner we analyse the results,” Ash heard Remington tell Jemma, before the door swung close again, “the sooner we can get Blade back where she belongs . . . behind bars.”