Piwitti’s phone began to ring on the bedside table next to her, the files on her lap no longer holding her attention. She was working late at home, again, cup of tea to her left on the queen sized mattress.
She picked up the buzzing rectangle, knowing exactly who the blocked number was. No one else blocked their number on this phone, which may be an oversight for plausible deniability in future, she thought to herself.
“They lost me.” She was panting on the other side of the line, anger making her voice more breathy.
“What do you mean they lost you?” Piwitti leant forward. No one just lost the Duchess like that. She was the best they had in the business.
“They pulled a brilliant and almost non-counterable maneuver, go into a cab, and they are gone. I can’t get a cab because there are none on this street.”
Piwitti sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.
“They have to be headed back to the airport. There’s no way they are going to leave me alone after I’ve killed one of their friends here. Get yourself to the airport and on a plane if you can’t find them. Your work there is done anyway.”
“Ma’am.” Duchess sounded desperate. “If you give me a couple days and some resources, I could find them. It will just take…”
“No, Duchess.” Piwitti said firmly. “Come back. Get out of Russia and come home. They’re gone. You lost that round. You can regain the advantage better here.”
“And they don’t have an advantage on their home turf?”
“They have comfort here.” Piwitti smiled. “And that will make them sloppy. They don’t have the advantage there, which is why they played you so well. You thought you had the advantage and they took it away from you in your arrogance.”
“I can’t help but notice that your using the words “you and “your” instead of “us” and “our”. This suddenly becomes my fault when things go wrong.”
“This is bureaucracy, Duchess. Best get used to it.” Piwitti hung up the phone and tossed it onto the foot of the bed.
The Duchess should be the best in the business, she used to be the best in the business. Her spy craft and wet-works skills made it so. But it looked like she was going to be passed by the younger half of her generation.
She knew that the fugitives weren’t that young, they were college aged, most of them. But they felt young, maybe because she’d known Alex since she was barely sixteen. She would never be anything but that hopefully sixteen year old, ready to save the world with special operations. Willing to send as much of her money home as she could, to help her parents, she said.
Piwitti took a sip of tea and closed the files on her lap. The tea was cold, she’d left it too long. Time for bed, time for her to shut off her brain and not be here anymore.