Agent Provocateur Ch. 01byAlexandra©
'And the money will be transferred in fourteen days?' Danielle spoke into her mobile phone.
Danielle's smile widened as she listened to the reply.
'Excellent, thanks for the call and I'll see you tomorrow.' Her smiled had settled into one of self-satisfaction as she flicked the phone closed and settled into the plush seat of the limousine taking her home.
The call had been from the finance manager of precision engineering software producer JetApps, a company she owned. He had, finally, received the facsimile from India that she had spent most of the day waiting for. It confirmed that AAI, a software company with which she had formed JetAAI, a joint venture based in New Delhi, had agreed to increase their stake from 25 to 49 percent. It was a deal worth almost $7.5 million to her but left her in majority control of JetAAI. The cash would be used to continue her company's expansion into Asia, and would silence her critics once and for all. At the age of 31, Danielle's business acumen had been questioned by many who saw her riding on the legacy of her father, whose sudden death had given her JetApps, at that stage a small engineering design company of twelve employees with business exclusively within Australia.
Three years on and now that had all changed, with JetApps valued at $25 million with offices in India, China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Her smile widened at the reception she would get from her husband Jeff when she arrived home. As senior sales manager in JetApps he would now have the boost in advertising revenue that he had been long pressing for. Tonight would be a night for celebration, she thought, reaching upwards to release her dark hair from it's tight bun. Her hair was not long, barely touching her shoulders, but was straight, thick and healthy.
A glance outside the limo told her that she had almost ten minutes before getting home. She snapped open her briefcase and fished out a small make up case, quickly touching up her lipstick and mascara before settling back again to watch the lights of the city roll by.
The minute Danielle walked in the front door of her home she knew something was wrong. The absence of Jeff's country music, his preferred method of unwinding after a day in the office was the warning cue. Placing her briefcase on the small table near the front door in the foyer, Danielle called Jeff's name.
'In the living room,' he called out in reply.
Entering the room Danielle immediately regretted touching up her make up and letting her hair down. Two other men were in the room with Jeff, both wearing crumpled suits. They stood as she entered and she sensed their surprise at her obvious femininity when expecting to meet the CEO of an international company. It was a common occurrence but annoyed her now no less than the first time it had happened.
'Hello,' she said putting on her best smile while raising her eyebrows at Jeff.
'Hi darling,' Jeff replied, trying to respond with a smile but barely managing a grimace. 'These men are from, ah, Canberra.'
'Clarke,' the older of the two offered his hand. She accepted it and ensured her grip was strong. Clarke's palm was sweaty and his ruddy complexion and unkempt grey hair told her that he was a senior bureaucrat.
'Paul,' said his companion, probably an up and coming twenty something assistant.
'And what brings you to my house?' Danielle asked, deliberately adding the location to ensure that they knew she was not happy with being disturbed at home.
'Ah, they're here because, well, because...' Jeff began before trailing off.
'May we sit down?' Clarke asked.
'Let's,' Danielle responded, hiding her impatience and fighting to quell the rising sense of unease in her stomach. 'Why don't you start by telling me where you are from?' Danielle directed the question at Clarke.
'The Department of Foreign Affairs,' he replied. 'Our section specialises in handling delicate issues with other countries.'
'My dealings with AAI are hardly delicate...'
'That's not why they are here,' Jeff interrupted.
'You know Stuart Fosdike,' Paul stated. Danielle nodded, turning her attention to the younger man. Stuart was a long time friend of Jeff and he and his wife Naomi were regular dinner companions. 'He has been arrested in India and is being questioned in relation to a matter that the Indian government has described as espionage.'
'Espionage?' Danielle failed to hide the surprise she felt. 'Apart from Stu being our friend, what does that have to do with us?' An uncomfortable silence fell as the three men waited for each other to answer the question.
'Stuart was undertaking some work for us...'
'So he is a spy?' Danielle interjected.
'Well, we'd rather not comment on those allegations.' Paul coughed before continuing, 'however at this stage his work for us has not been compromised and we would rather keep it that way and extract him as soon as possible.'
'How can we help and why should we?'
'Because the Indian government thinks that he is me.' Jeff's voice sounded flat as he spoke.
'Why would they think that?' Danielle was becoming more confused and more irritated by the cat and mouse these men were playing with her.
'Because he has a passport in my name and is posing as me as his cover.'
'Posing as you?' The enormity of Jeff's words was now starting to sink in. 'You mean as senior sales manager for JetApps?'
'Yes.' His voice had become quiet.
'To conduct espionage work using my company as a cover?'
'Yes.' Jeff shifted in his chair, his discomfort evident.
Danielle held down the fury she felt. Everything she had worked so hard for was now at risk. She wanted to explode but needed all the information she could get. An overt display of emotion would make the three men clam up and at this moment she needed to retain control to ensure she could do what was needed to protect her company.
'How long has this been going on?' She sensed Jeff's relief when the tirade he had expected failed to materialise.
'Six months,' Clarke spoke. 'I apologise now for the inconvenience this has caused, but an opportunity arose that we had to move quickly to capture and it was felt that you may not agree to what we needed to do...'
'You're right there,' Danielle interjected with a tight-lipped smile. 'As for the inconvenience as you called it, I would like to know what that would be? Also, I would like to know what Stuart was after and why he needed Jeff's identity as a cover?'
'Ah, we would prefer not to disclose too much to you...' Clarke began.
'If you want any cooperation from me you had better tell me everything,' Danielle spat out. 'Or else I will contact the Indian government and inform them that the man in their custody is not who he claims to be and that he has no connection to my company.' Paul and Clarke looked alarmed at the outburst.
'Don't think you can waltz in here and expose my company to further risk, without fully disclosing what is going on. I have worked my butt off to build this company to where it is today, yes worked,' she snapped at Paul as she caught her eyes wandering to the round contour of her buttocks. 'Don't be fooled by the fact that I have a nice arse and cleavage into thinking that you can manipulate me like you obviously manipulated my husband.' Jeff squirmed in his seat again and Paul blushed.
'So what will it be gentlemen?' Danielle lowered her tone as she sat back in her seat.
'Well Mrs Price, we will need you to sign the Official Secrets Act.' Clarke's tone had sharpened now and Danielle allowed him to continue as Paul opened a leather binder and rifled through papers to extract a single A4 sheet.
'This binds you by law not to disclose to anyone what we are about to tell you,' he stated as he handed it to her. His words were almost comical but Paul's delivery was flat enough to suppress any humour she felt. After a cursory glance she scrawled her signature and dated the document.
'A year ago, an Indian scientist contacted your husband while at a cocktail party. The scientist offered to pass on details of a weapons program in return for monetary reward. Jeff passed this offer on to Australian High Commission officials. Being aware that he could not directly expose JetApps in attempted espionage, he initially refused to become involved. Eventually he allowed us to use his identity as cover for Stuart's trips to pick up the information on offer.'
'Why Stuart?' Danielle asked.
'He has worked for Foreign Affairs on prior occasions,' Clarke replied.
'What was the weapons program?'
Paul paused, before meeting her stare, 'Nuclear weapons.'
'Oh.' It was all she could think of.
'Stuart would travel to India, pass on paperwork to JetAAI's sales manager on behalf of the real Jeff and then pick up the documents from the scientist. He would only remain in the country for 48 hours and would meet no one other than those two people.'
'Are you saying that my sales manager in India is involved?'
'Oh no, Stuart didn't...couldn't, pretend to be Jeff. He was simply a courier, Jeff's identity was simply used to gain access to the country.'
'Why couldn't he use his own identity or some bogus one that you created for him?' Danielle knew that her questions couldn't change the situation she was in, but she wanted to know why it was that Jeff had been targeted.
'Stuart can't obtain a visa for India for reasons we will not disclose.' Clarke sounded firm on this point. 'And it takes considerable time to develop a cover, and time was something we didn't have. Besides, the Indian party had contacted Jeff and so it was easiest to keep that facade going.'
'So what went wrong?'
'We don't know,' Paul said with a frown. 'At this stage Stuart has been detained, his passport confiscated, however the Indian police allowed him one call to the High Commission. They clearly don't know what is going on and so the quicker we can get him out, the less likely they are to find out what he is doing.'
Danielle looked at the ceiling as she thought through the implications of what she was being told. Her mind was already racing through the likely outcomes of the forced acquisition of her share of JetAAI, the loss of business through the rest of Asia and whether JetApps could survive.
'What do you want from me?'
'We need you to travel to India tomorrow, and facilitate his release.'
'We think that as the Indians don't know what is going on, they will eventually offer a release on some sort of bail or surety. We want you to speed up that process and meet that payment. We of course will pay the money.'
'A bribe?' She couldn't believe that her own government thought that they could pay bribes to get one of their agents out of a situation this serious. Bribes, or baksheesh as it was more commonly called in India, were a customary and normal part of dealings at all levels of Indian society. But nuclear secrets were not normal business dealings by any stretch of the imagination.
'Once he is out of police custody, we can get him out of the country, along with you...'
'If he disappears and breaks the law doing so, my company is ruined.'
'But you have influence in India...'
'Not that sort of influence...nuclear weapons, are you out of your mind?'
'But they clearly don't know that,' Paul retorted sounding exasperated. 'It may be a visa irregularity, or something of a similar nature. Your presence, as his wife and boss, will impress on the Indians to reveal what they are doing. You will have a contact in the High Commission who will act as a conduit to us.'
Danielle saw nothing but further disaster to be achieved by complying with their request. Already she was formulating an alternative plan which would involve her using her Indian contacts to find out what was known about Stuart and then if necessary exposing him as a fraud and strenuously and defiantly denying any knowledge about his actions. Some largesse would have to be spread around those with influence, but JetAAI and more importantly JetApps could weather that storm. However, an involvement in the attempted theft of nuclear weapons' secrets, in affect an assault on a cornerstone of modern India's national identity, could not be survived.
'Thank you gentlemen,' Danielle smiled as she stood up. 'I have no intention of accepting your request and if you will excuse me, I would like to freshen up after what has been a long, but gratifying day, meeting you notwithstanding. My husband will see you out. Farewell.'
She ignored their protests and the pleading look of her husband as she walked from the room towards the master bedroom, the click of her heels on the granite staircase masked the urgent murmuring of the voices of the men she had left behind.
The sound of the water streaming from the shower rose blocked out all other noises and let her concentrate on the situation in which she now found herself. She was absolutely furious at Jeff, not only for having allowed this harebrained scheme to take place, but to have not told her about it. The only regret she had about her plan was that it would leave Stuart totally exposed and facing a long spell in an Indian jail. But she now knew that he had done this sort of work before and she suspected that the government would work to get him free through a backroom deal of some description.
Sighing she shut off the water and stepped onto the thick bathmat. She blinked at her reflection and ran her hand through her pubic hair, noting that it was time to book in for a bikini line wax. She liked to keep herself neat down there. Danielle crinkled her small upturned nose at the slight droop of her breasts, one of the few signs of aging that she had noted. Her nipples, dark brown and the size of ten-cent pieces, still pointed straight ahead and her stomach was flat.
'Dani?' Jeff's voice sounded apprehensive from behind the door that he found to be locked. She had known that he would follow her to try and convince her to change her mind, so the unusual action of locking the door was a conscious one.
'Can you open the door please?' She remained silent as she wound her hair into a white towel and rubbed moisturiser into her arms. 'I'm so sorry,' he added.
Danielle walked across to the door, flicked the catch open, then turned and returned to the mirror.
'God you're gorgeous,' Jeff breathed from the open doorway.
'Fuck off,' she replied, placing one foot on the edge of the basin so she could rub cream into her calf. There was no malice in her tone, just a simple warning that he needed to do more than throw some compliments to placate her.
'I'm sorry, but you are.' She caught his boyish grin from the corner of her eye but refused to be drawn. 'Look Dani,' his tone became serious, 'we have to help Stu...'
'We don't have to help anyone except my company.' Dani straightened and turned to face him, her eyes blazing with the anger she had kept suppressed. 'You have placed at risk everything I, we, have worked for and the jobs of nearly one hundred people here in Melbourne alone. On top of that, you hid something of monumental importance from me, your wife! That's a bigger fucking deal than the fact that you agreed to this bumbling keystone cops plan...'
'Dani, Stu's our friend...'
'He's a fucking spy Jeff, he knows the risk he takes.'
'We can't just leave him in prison.'
'Tell me this Jeff, will those pricks downstairs lift a finger to help JetApps as the Indians and every other Asian government dismantles us? Will they help protect us from destruction?'
Jeff didn't try to answer the question; its rhetorical nature was obvious.
'No, so I have to act first.'
'Okay,' he shrugged. He turned to go, then stopped and looked at her again. 'By the way, Naomi's downstairs, I'll let you tell her that Stu is stuffed.' He walked away before she could reply. An empty pit was opening in her stomach again.
It transpired that Naomi already knew what had been happening. The six-foot tall statuesque blonde with the strong, fun personality, quick wit and sharp intelligence now looked somewhat diminished as she sat on the sofa with her feet curled up underneath her. Red rings around her pretty blue eyes betrayed that she had been crying and the sight melted Danielle's resolve. Naomi was always strong and confident without a hint of arrogance. Dani liked her far more than she liked Stuart.
'Please Dani,' Naomi whispered, 'I know that you can get him out, I can't bear to think of life without him.'
'I don't know that I can,' Dani protested.
'Of course you can, you're Wonder Woman.' Under different circumstances the reference would have set Danielle into hysterics. This evening's events had robbed her sense of humour however. Dani sat on the sofa beside Naomi and was surprised when the other woman threw herself into her arms and began to weep. Dani held her tightly and was glad that Jeff had excused himself some time ago. She lightly kissed Naomi on the head and rested her face in the mass of blonde hair.
'Okay,' she murmured.
'What?' Naomi asked
'I'll do it.' Danielle regretted the promise as soon as she said it. Her golden rule was to never agree to anything without having a concrete plan. Right now she had none.
'Thank you,' Naomi said, lifting her face that was now lined with mascara smudges. 'How can I ever repay you?'
'You bring the wine next time we all have dinner,' Dani quipped.
Jeff looked relieved but just nodded when she told him that she had changed her mind. He telephoned Clarke and Paul and passed on their thanks and stated that she would be booked on the flight to Delhi that departed the next night.
They ordered take away and at her request ate it in bed.
'Do you have any idea how much you owe me?' Dani asked after dinner.
'A lot,' he said, cradling her in his arms.
'Mmmm,' she replied, pressing her back against his chest. 'And you had better start now.' Danielle injected a note of suggestiveness into her words. Almost at once Jeff's hands began to roam across her body creating friction between the thin cotton nightshirt she wore and her skin. Danielle felt her nipples harden in response and as she squirmed against Jeff, feeling him harden against her back.
'Make me come with your tongue,' she murmured and helped him as he pulled the nightshirt over her head. She was naked underneath and rolled onto her back as he slid down the bed. Jeff's hands gripped the inside of her knees and parted her legs. Danielle offered only light resistance before succumbing and felt a groan of anticipation as Jeff's hot breath fell between her legs. His tongue darted wetly across the right thigh left her skin, then made contact again on her left thigh. She shivered and resisted the temptation to grab his head and force his mouth onto her. His nose nestled into her pubic hair and pressed lightly against her labia, further stimulating the dampness that was seeping from within her body.
Then his tongue flicked across her lips before he again kissed her thigh.
'Yesss,' she murmured as the intrusions between her legs increased in pressure and frequency. Jeff's tongue began to part her lips and his upper lip brushed against her clitoris as it extended from its hood. Then, without warning, his mouth clamped onto her clit, sucking it between his teeth and making her back arch as waves of pleasure coursed through her. Danielle exploded into orgasm and Jeff was unable to keep his mouth on her as she twisted in ecstasy and rolled away from him onto her front, breaking the contact between them.
The crisp cotton sheet felt soft against her skin, which was still tingling with post orgasmic bliss when Jeff ran his tongue from the back of her knee to her buttock. He nipped at the rounded flesh sending sparks through her and again making her squirm. All the accumulated stress of the evening's events had disappeared as Jeff crawled up and along her body, Danielle parted her legs to provide access. She could feel the full length of his hardness push along her inner thigh, then against the entrance to her pussy. They both stopped moving, Dani enjoying the moment before penetration, Jeff seeming to ask for permission to proceed.