Giada: Widowmaker Ch. 02byWuddaWad©
Giada DeLaurentis kept crouched inside the doorframe of a small basement apartment, pressed as closely as she could against the door and out of plain sight. It was below street level, and she could see the occasional pedestrian passing her by; they were unaware that the Food Network star was hiding half naked inside the doorway. The soles of Giada's feet were dirtied and darkened from the gritty and dirty concrete of the city streets. Adrenaline flowed through her, mostly from her encounter with Diane, but also from her nude dash for three city blocks. Her heart was still racing inside her chest. Her plump breasts, which heaved with oxygen grabbing breaths, remained the place where the syringe filled with Infarctine X-3 remained nestled in her cleavage. Giada kept her head on a swivel, constantly checking the coast for tails that may have followed her from Thirty Rockefeller Plaza, and also to keep watch for her ride.
A black Mercedes rolled slowly down the street, tinted windows concealing the driver's identity. As soon as Giada saw the familiar car, she sprinted from her cover and bounded up the small flight of stairs, waving the luxury sport car down. The Mercedes came to a halt. Giada quickly ducked into the car, where a familiar face greeted her. "It's a little cold out to be running around in just a bra, isn't it?" the driver quipped.
"Very funny, Lisa." Giada checked the clothes that were on the floor of the car near her bare feet, finding them adequate. Giada put the syringe of Infarctine X-3 in the center console.
"I got here as quickly as I could," Lisa Ling told her. She was a former co-host of the popular daytime talk show, The View. Lisa still did work for news organizations and she was a long time operative of The Asian Consortium, the AC, as it was known to its' operatives. Lisa glanced over at the syringe. "Is that it?"
Giada nodded back, "yeah."
Lisa kept the car pulled to the side. "Where are we headed?" she asked, noticing Giada's clean-shaven snatch.
Giada picked up the pair of black panties Lisa brought her, sliding them over her smooth thighs that still burned slightly from lactic acid buildup from her mad dash through the city. She wriggled them over her hips, making sure they were positioned well, around her narrow waist. "Central Park West."
Before pulling the car back into traffic, Lisa held out a small plastic packet. "There are some baby wipes in here," Lisa handed it over, "if you need them." She glanced over at Giada, a cell phone in her right hand. "I guess you made the call to see if he's okay?" Lisa referred to Giada's husband.
"Yeah, they released him already. He sounded out of it, so I guess they used the memory cleaner on him." Giada had been in hostage situations before where people were used as leverage, and she had been one of the abductors. Under ordinary circumstances, SOP (standard operating procedure) would be for the hostage to have been administered, "Windex", so called because it was a blue liquid that looked identical to the glass cleaner and because it wiped the mind clean. Then to be released, back in their home, unharmed, when the objective of a mission was complete, where they would sleep for six to eight hours. When they would wake, they would have no memory of the abduction, their memories would be of previous activities leading up to it. However, this was far from standard operations. Diane Sawyer was sent to assassinate Giada, so Giada was deathly afraid that her husband might be killed. She also worried that they may hold him longer, on account of the special circumstances. But The Board had kept mostly to SOP in the handling of her husband. Giada was thankful for that much.
"You should have seen the face of the guy I took the cell phone from," Giada told Lisa. "I don't know if he recognized me, but he was so stunned to see a half naked woman snatching his cell phone, I don't think he knew what to do." Giada took the wipes. She pulled one foot up, crossing it over her knee, wiping the dirt free from them. Spreading her toes apart so she could wipe in between each one. Giada finished one foot, and then did the same to the other.
"You're lucky she didn't kill you."
"She's lucky I didn't kill her. That knife slipped out of my hand. I was trying to hit her in the chest with it," Giada told Lisa.
"Where did you hit her?" Lisa asked.
"In the right hip," Giada went on. "I still can't believe that bitch got my custom made Berettas," Giada grimaced. "And one way, or another, I'm going to get them back, even if I have to sneak on to the goddamn set of Good Morning America to get those guns back. I'll give that asshole, Chris Cuomo, a good swift kick in the dick, just for good measure, that dumb prick. Man, I can't stand that guy!"
Lisa chuckled a bit. "So what's going on at Central Park West?"
"I need to get over to Tavern On The Green. I was supposed to meet Connie Chung after I did The Today Show. She has my dossier outlining my next assignment." Giada buttoned up the green blouse and pulled on the dark brown pants. "Wait 'til she sees that," Giada directed her chin to toward the syringe filled with the clear liquid. She straightened her blouse and then worked on getting into the skirt, her hips thrust forward, back pressed back against the seat, lifting herself up so she could get the skirt on.
Lisa drove down Fifty Third Street, turning the black Mercedes left down Sixth Avenue on their way to Sixty Sixth Street. "What's going to happen back at The Today Show?" she looked at Giada briefly.
"I don't know. It's really not my mess to clean up."
"They're going to be freaked out about what happened to you?" Lisa said quite certain.
"Yeah, they will," Giada admitted. "But The Board has many connections and they're going to have to explain what happened in that dressing room. I'll wait until I can get in touch with my agent and see what NBC executives have said about it. Then I'll take it from there." She slipped one foot into the over sized heel from Lisa's personal collection of shoes. "Jeez, Lis, do you water ski in these things?" Giada said, sizing up the other black high heel shoe that she held in her hands.
"You can always go barefoot, if you like."
Giada slipped the other shoe on, "no, thanks. Just thinking about the things that have been on the ground out there makes me itch." Giada flipped down the passenger's side visor, checking her hair in the mirror. "You have a brush?"
"In the glove box."
Giada leaned forward, brushing her long auburn hair from her neck, down and out. She sat back up, flipping her hair back, letting her head fall back, her hair seemingly flying in slow motion, falling back and cascading down her shoulders. She brushed it out until she was satisfied with how it looked. "Do you have any...?"
Lisa handed her the purse. "There's mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, lipstick, and concealer in there."
Giada smiled at her. "A real life saver kit." Giada looked inside and saw a nine-millimeter semi auto pistol. "This for me too?" she held the gun down low.
"I thought you might need a replacement," Lisa said.
Giada checked the gun, made sure the safety was on and then put it back into the purse. She did her make up with the dexterous speed of a repetitive act repeated so many times that it came as second nature.
"You know," Lisa said matter of factly, "I never did get the whole story on how you ended up with, The Board," Lisa said. "How did you end up as an agent for them in the first place?" Lisa asked, keeping her eyes on the road.
Giada finished fixing her face. "It's probably pretty much the way you ended up with The Asian Consortium, I suppose," Giada answered.
"Listen, if you don't want to tell me, it's..." Lisa started to say.
Giada saw the sign for Fifty Fifth Street pass by. Her stare got caught in the smearing stream of cars, people and buildings that flowed past her eyes, carrying her mind back along the stream of linear consciousness. Her memories flowed along, blurred through time, slowing and steadily drawing focus on a place in her past, anchoring her mind there. On a sultry night in New Orleans, Louisiana, Giada was lending a hand in the kitchen at her friends' restaurant, Emeril's, owned by world-renowned chef, Emeril Lagasse. Mardi Gras was in full swing. The city was alive with music, libations, and a sinfully good-natured vibe that only the Crescent City herself could invoke from the French/Cajun soul that sustained it and the mystical voodoo spirit that fueled it.
As fate would have it, sitting at one of the tables inside Emeril's restaurant was ABC News reporter, Diane Sawyer. Giada herself prepared Diane's meal, as she did the meals of the other members of Diane's dinner party. Diane, being a relatively unpretentious celebrity, asked if she could have one of her favorite meals made especially for her and her fellow diners, which were meatloaf sandwiches.
The sandwiches were a huge success. Diane requested of her waiter to meet with Giada. She wanted to tell her how much she enjoyed her meal. The two got to talking and learned that they had mutual acquaintances. Giada was still working in the kitchen, so the conversation between the two was fairly brief. Giada had walked away from the table with an unambiguous liking for Diane and the feeling was mutual. It wouldn't be the last time the two would cross paths.
"That was the first time I met Diane Sawyer and I liked her immediately." Giada remembered. "Diane later told me that she never forgot our meeting each other in New Orleans and had known that night that she was going to mention me to, The Board, as a perspective agent." Giada looked over at Lisa. "It was fate..." Giada said, "at least, that's what I had thought. Especially when I crossed paths with Diane a few other times; once in, Los Angeles and another time halfway around the world in, Hong Kong." Giada looked back out her window, seeing the street sign for Fifty Ninth Street. "But it wasn't until we crossed paths right here in New York four years ago, that she recruited me."
Giada thought about the dinner party at Regis and Joy Philbin's, Central Park West apartment. It was a virtual who's who of some of the talk show and entertainment industry well knowns. Giada had her television show on the Food Network at the time, though she couldn't help but be a little star struck. Former Entertainment Tonight co-host Leeza Gibbons was there. Along with Giada, there were the likes of, Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford, Kelly Ripa, Charles Grodin and his wife, Bob Gelman and his wife Laurie, and of course, Diane Sawyer.
It was a buffet style affair, kept very informal and similarly casual. Guests gathered about the Philbin's living room, where windows gave a panoramic view, looking out over Central Park, itself. The conversations, by and large, were light in nature, flowing between persons and small clustered groups, which themselves shifted, as the guests floated in and out of those groups, forming other groups, and then melding and merging as a collective.
Diane, Leeza, and Giada were in their own group. Their conversation touching on the times that Diane had crossed paths with both women in their travels. However, Diane let it be known to Giada that their crossed paths were not coincidental at all.
"After we met in New Orleans, I had brought your name up to members of an organization that I belong to." Diane motioned to Leeza, "an organization we both belong to." Leeza smiled slightly.
"What kind of an organization?" Giada asked.
"It's a group of like minded individuals who believe that there are certain matters that should benefit the masses, as opposed to a select few," Leeza stated.
Giada looked a bit perplexed. "Meaning?"
"Meaning," Diane answered, "that we use our professional status as a way to make sure the playing field is kept level and fair for each and every person in the world."
Giada looked from Diane to Leeza, and back to Diane. "You're like the Free Masons, or something?"
"No. We have a more broad approach to our efforts," Leeza told. "We try to influence matters that bring transparency to areas of world affairs, that would otherwise operate in the shadows, with impunity."
Giada turned down the corners of her mouth, lifting her brow, intrigued by the concept. "So, you're kind of like watch dogs that keep world governments honest?"
"Yes. Only, we take a more, hands on approach in our methods and we delve into other organizations that operate on the other side of the law." Diane knew this was the moment to make the pitch. "And we think that you have the kinds of innate qualities that would make you a valuable addition to the team."
"Me?" Giada checked.
"Absolutely," Diane assured her. "You get along well with others and have a way of putting them at ease. You're pleasant, incredibly attractive and you enjoy physical activities. Your job allows you to travel abroad."
"It almost sounds like you're talking about spy work!" Giada said a bit excitedly. Then she ducked her head, fearful that the other guests would overhear the conversation. "It sounds like you're talking about spy work," she said in a voice just above a whisper.
"Pretty much," Leeza answered. "And it's okay. Everyone here, to one degree, or another, is part of the team."
"Really?" Giada said. Both Diane and Leeza nodded assuredly. "Even, Kathie Lee?"
"Yes," Diane said. "That whole mess about the stewardess who supposedly seduced Frank Gifford," Diane reminded Giada. "That woman worked for another organization that was trying to get information from Frank about our organization. Frank wasn't actually cheating on Kathie Lee. He had been drugged by that woman and was manipulated into the situation that was captured on camera."
"And the whole, child labor sweatshops fiasco that played out in the media over the manufacturing of Kathie Lee's clothing line? It was an attempt by the same organization that went after Frank, trying to extort information from Kathie Lee."
"No, kidding?!" Giada said, unbelievably. "This sounds like real cloak and dagger stuff. Is it dangerous?"
"It can be," Leeza said. "But every precaution is taken to keep agents safe. And our status in the media gives us a bit of a cover and security from rash actions from those we encounter." Leeza smiled widely, and then broke into a laugh. "When Geraldo Rivera was involved in it, that security as a known news reporter kept him alive when he dogged John Gotti for that infamous walking interview," Leeza recalled. "Or the non-interview, since Gotti wouldn't talk."
"Holy shit," Giada marveled. "I heard that the Mob put a hit out on Geraldo."
"They did," Diane said. "But cooler heads prevailed and realized that it would bring down too much heat on them if they killed him. Geraldo was actually working on an assignment that involved, Victoria Gotti, John Gotti's daughter. She had inside information about some of her father's dealings that would blow the lid off of the New York City Mob, Mob contract killings and their drug and prostitution rings. Victoria's whole act of backing her father to the wall, crying about how he was a good man being mistreated? It was all an act so she wouldn't be suspected as an inside source of information." Diane chortled, "Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano was just a shill used in the courts and public arena to take the blame and heat for it all, as a rat."
"Incredible!" Giada said. "And you think that I can help with these kinds of things?"
"You wouldn't be at this dinner party, and we wouldn't be telling you all this if we didn't," Leeza said.
The black Mercedes rolled down Lexington Avenue, passing through the line of traffic lights that stayed green, doubling back on Sixty Sixth Street, and crossing Fifth Avenue. "That's how it really happened," Giada remembered. "The rest, as they say, is history."
"You mean, her-story," Lisa playfully corrected her. Giada smiled, as they drove to Transverse One, across Central Park on their way to Tavern On The Green. "And now you work for us," Lisa beamed.
Diane Sawyer stood inside the chamber room of the head Board Members, for the debriefing. They looked down upon her from behind a large semi-circle table, lights illuminating the area before the table, but not the members themselves, who sat as a mere mass of shadowy silhouettes in the gloomy darkness. She stood in the shallow alcove of the table, listening to Board members expressing their displeasure over the New York incident. They were not pleased about her having discharged her weapon, potentially blowing her cover. Not to mention endangering the lives of bystanders, which, they reminded her, "is an act in direct violation of Board field procedures." The favors that had to be called in to Mayor Bloomberg's Office, New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly and NBC executives, to cover up the whole incident, expended years worth of trust that had been built up by, The Board. Diane wasn't privy to all the details of just how it was all handled. But it was made quite clear to her that any such incidents in the future would not be met with the same vigorous unified efforts to neutralize them, if they should occur.
When The Board learned that Giada had made off with the syringe of, Infarctine X-3, they were stunned. They reminded Diane that in the wrong hands, the compound could be potentially synthesized to make more. "Infarctine X-3 could be used as a lethal weapon to carry out all kinds of assassinations, be them politically motivated, or otherwise." The Board was deeply concerned. "With the state of the world today," they chided her, "terrorism being a preferred means of political ideological expression, Infarctine X-3 could be used as a devastating terrorist weapon."
Being aware of these facts they laid out to her, Diane explained that she considered these things when she had decided to fire her weapon and risk blowing her cover. "It's not an excuse," Diane said, "it's just one of the reasons why I fired in the open." Even if it were her excuse, it still would be no excuse at all. Diane should never have let Giada obtain that syringe.
Diane received some of the worst rebukes, at least collectively before Board members, over the abduction of Giada's husband. Abducting Giada's husband was risqué, and quite bold, it was the kind of tactic openly applauded in times gone by. In today's spy game, the abduction method was frowned upon. It left too many potential loose ends that could prove difficult to tie down. Especially given the matters that unfolded the way they did in Giada's dressing room at The Today Show, in Thirty Rockefeller Plaza.
After she had faced them collectively, a few high ranking members secretly applauded Diane's tactics in making sure she covered as many avenues of unpredictability as she could, even the abduction of Giada's husband. It was something that made Diane one of the best agents The Board had ever known.
Diane did make certain that Giada's husband was returned home safely, and that he would never know he was abducted. His memory was indeed wiped clean using the concoction created by Board scientists, nicknamed, Windex. It had an eighty seven percent success rate, and it had worked in this instance. She always took great care to make sure that her operations on missions not only stayed within the parameters that were expected from Board field agents, but went above and beyond. That didn't happen when she faced down Giada DeLaurentis. Whatever the Board had said to her was never going to compare with the admonishments Diane gave herself over her own failures.
Diane also knew she was too personally involved; Gregor and his family being close friends did let her emotions get in the way, to some degree. She didn't want to think of those things now. Diane wouldn't let it happen again. Not only because she would make sure that she wouldn't let it happen, but because much to the surprise of Diane, the Board had assigned her a partner. It was a new agent who would go face to face with Giada in the field.