DISCLAIMER: The Bond universe is the creation of Ian Fleming. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Jane reached into her evening bag and extracted the silver fountain pen she had recently been issued. It was an ingenious little device that could not only transmit a short range laser beam but was also capable of acting as a powerful magnet. Neither of which suited Jane's purposes at that moment but she did find the fluidity of the ink wonderful for writing her telephone number on the back of her latest conquest's program.
She loved the opera. It was always filled with the beautiful and rich, all bored out of their minds, and desperate for the kind of sexy excitement for which the Bonds were infamous. Not that Jane had any interest in being a distraction for a bored housewife, however rich or glamorous, but the mere appearance of interest was often enough to guarantee a new contact or alibi.
With slow deliberation Jane turned to survey the source of the enquiry. She had known the voice instantly, despite the years since their last meeting, but she still found it almost inconceivable that the face before her really did belonged to Harriet Kent.
"Harriet? It's been a long time." Jane thought it unseemly to mention her old flame's supposed death. "You look wonderful."
Harriet's smile was flirtatious, just as Jane remembered, although the years apart had added an extra layer of mystery to the sultry smile. "So do you," Harriet complemented, "but then you always did."
The crowd surged as the last of the opera-goers made their way toward the exits and Jane found herself pressed, intimately, into Harriet's welcoming arms. The hold was fleeting but it was enough to reawaken Jane's memories of their time together at Cambridge. They had been so young and enthusiastic, both eager to experience all the world had to offer and conquer the expectations of their peers. Nights spent swatting over textbooks had turned into nights of exploration and mistaken love, neither of them quite prepared for the ramifications of their hidden desires.
"Quite like old times," Jane quipped.
Harriet stiffened and quickly moved out of the embrace. "I should be going."
"Wait, Harry, we need to talk." Jane closed her hand around Harriet's and used it to pull the other woman towards the now empty entrance to the dress circle. "Where the hell have you been for the last ten years?" Jane demanded.
"Jane, please, don't."
"Don't?" Jane felt her composure slip. "I attended your funeral," she pressed, "and held your mother's hand as she wept over the coffin and blamed herself for your death."
At twenty-four Jane had been to a smattering of funerals, mostly for aged relatives and distant acquaintances, but none of them had prepared her for watching Harriet's body being laid to rest. It had been a cold morning, the frost heavy on the ground, and the mourners lined up in matching black suits to pay their last respects. She had stood, her skin pale and eyes swimming in tears, with the few university friends who had stayed in touch, before being sought out by Mrs Kent and made to endure the torture of other people's grief.
Ten years later death was no longer a stranger and Jane had long since forgotten what if felt like to truly grieve for another living soul but the memory of those days, spent crying into her martini, were still fresh in her mind. It didn't matter that their affair had long since passed or that she had an appointment with a microfiche reader and the Iranian Ambassador's secret files in an hour. She couldn't just let Harriet flit back out of her life.
"It's complicated." Harriet tried to pull free but Jane wasn't about to let go. "Please, Jane, don't get involved. It's too dangerous."
"I need to know." Jane pulled her close. "Harriet, whatever it is, I can help."
As Harriet parted her lips to speak a movement just outside Jane's line of sight caught her attention but before she could raise a hand in her own defence the world went black and she collapsed, unconscious, to the floor.
To Be Continued
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