Madeline Spruce, certified CIA seductress and assassin, and her protégé Cecily Branch infiltrate a secret sabotage operation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Sacrificing her turned Russian Federation agent Gregory Thorovich is only the beginning of Madeline’s complex, worldwide operation to entrap shadowy spymaster Boris Borisovitch and extinguish the threat to US national security. Working directly for the Deputy Director of Operations with her crack Agency team, Madeline must make every orgasm count to perform her mission and return to the embrace of Daniel Porter, her friend and lover.
Madeline’s dress was closely modelled on the famous forest green gown used in the movie, Gone with the Wind. Her hair fell in auburn ringlets like a belle of the ball in the Old South.
As the orchestra struck up a Strauss waltz, a tall, ruggedly handsome man with a full moustache, long sideburns, and a string tie approached and asked her to dance. As he was the contact she was waiting for, she nodded her assent.
The couple floated over the polished oak floor as others gave way to their graceful command of the dance floor. He had no problem leading as she made things easy for him.
“There’s nothing like a night full of the smell of magnolias,” he said in a thick Russian accent as they twirled effortlessly.
That was the code phrase Madeline had been waiting for.
In perfect Russian, she replied, “As long as you’re not allergic. How many magnolia trees are there in Gorky Park?”
He smiled and edged her toward the back of the floor where, without skipping a beat, he led her through the double doors onto the veranda overlooking the Potomac. The scent of magnolias filled the air. Fireflies winked in the evening light.
“I’m taking an extraordinary risk meeting you in the open like this.”
“That makes two of us. Why did you signal you wanted to meet face to face?” She looked left and right to be sure they were not being overheard.
“I want an extraction immediately. They know. At any minute, they’ll close their trap. I’ll be called home and shot.”
“Do you have the package you promised?”
“Yes. I’ll bring it out with me on a memory stick. But I must be extracted.”
“Please keep calm. Can you give me a sample of the product, to reassure my people?”
The double agent handed Madeline a thumb drive, which she quickly placed between her breasts. She took him by the arm and raised her head for him to kiss her as another couple came through the double doors of the Army Navy Club.
“Gregory. There you are. Why have you been hiding from us, you naughty man?”
The middle-aged woman was imperious, treating the man as if he were her little boy. Madeline knew from her CIA file she was the man’s superior within Russian intelligence.
Gregory was involved in codes and cyphers, privy to the most secret documents in the Russian Embassy. Even more important than those, he had access to priceless codes and cyphers, including one-time pads. Madeline had cultivated him as her clandestine agent for three years.
“Natasha, I can see why Gregory would want to keep his conquest secret. This woman is a veritable beauty.” The woman’s dance partner, the embassy’s cultural liaison for the Russian Federation, could not keep his gaze off Madeline. “Aren’t you going to introduce us?”
Gregory rose to attention to address Madeline. “Lara Rabinovitch, this is Boris Borisovitch, Cultural Liaison.”
The man took her extended hand and kissed it gallantly.
Turning toward the woman, Gregory said, “And this is Natasha Fedorov.”
The two women locked eyes with a mix of hatred and malice.
“Why don’t we all return to the party. It won’t be at all seemly for us to appear like a cabal.” Natasha said the word cabal with venom. “Our security people might become suspicious. Speaking of whom, Gregory, we’ll be meeting them tonight at eleven o’clock at the office. Don’t be late. They’ll want a contact report on your meeting Ms. Lara Rabinovitch. Let’s hope this is your only contact with her.”
As Gregory led Madeline back to the dance floor, he whispered, “So the trap closes. I’ve given you what you need. Now it’s up to you.”
When the waltz ended. Boris bowed to Madeline and asked for the next dance. Meanwhile, Natasha stepped within Gregory’s personal space. She took his arm possessively and scowled at her supposed rival. When the music started, she locked him in her embrace. She meant to keep a close rein on him for the rest of the dance.
Madeline hoped Gregory’s story would hold up under Natasha’s questioning. Meanwhile, she had to endure questions from Boris as he awkwardly led her in the waltz. Only when she had taken control of their movements did they appear to be competent dancers.
“You dance divinely—almost as well as you speak Russian. Was your mother Russian, by chance?”
“She was Russian, from St. Petersburg. And in your accent, I detect unmistakable notes of the Arbat.”
Boris was momentarily surprised. “That’s a very good guess. I’ve come up in the world since my youth. As in America, the new Russian Federation is full of opportunity for the daring.”
“And for the lucky. Do you like your posting as cultural liaison with the embassy?”
“Madame, you are very well informed. I like it very much since I have access to culture on a level I never would have experienced at home. I never dreamed I would know all the members of the Bolshoi by their first names as I do.”
The music stopped. Boris bowed. He took his Madeline’s hand and firmly escorted her off the dance floor to her table. He gestured for her to pick up her shawl and purse, then he led her to the front entrance.
“Madame, it is late. I believe you have people to see and things to do. I certainly do. Tell me before you go that you’ve never seen the gentlemen who was dancing with you before this evening.”
“Mr. Borisovitch, I’ve never seen him before, and I don’t expect I’ll see him again—ever.”
He smiled in satisfaction.
Over the man’s shoulder, Madeline saw Natasha berating Gregory in public. His head was bowed contritely.
Madeline raised her head and stepped quickly down the front steps of the club. She went to a waiting car and climbed in. As the black Mercedes pulled into traffic, she removed the thumb drive from her bodice and slipped it into her chauffer’s extended hand.
“Well? How did it go?” Don asked.
“If that thumb drive’s contents are what I think they are, we’ll have a hostile extraction to do by ten thirty tonight. We’ll stage at the safe house so you can do the verification and we can both change clothes.”
Don used his cell phone to contact what he termed ‘the boffin works,’ to arrange an immediate meeting at the safe house. By the time they arrived there, three men and three women met them in the living room. One of the men took charge of the Mercedes, and the two others raced upstairs with the thumb drive to the third-floor computer room.
While Madeline changed clothes behind a folding screen, Don, Shirley, Mandy and Cecily listened to her play-by-play account of the evening’s activities at the Army Navy Club, whose facilities had been rented for use by the Russian Embassy.
In closing, she said, “So Gregory gave me the thumb drive as his bona fides. He has a meeting with Natasha and the security goons at eleven o’clock tonight. If he survives that meeting, he’ll be sent home forthwith to be shot.”
“Could the whole incident have been staged, including their providing a fake file?” Don asked.
“I don’t think so,” Madeline replied. “Gregory’s hand was moist. His reactions to Natasha were genuine. Boris definitely gave me the bum’s rush.”
Mandy said, “If he hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have had the time to arrange the extraction.”
“Mandy’s right. We can’t rule out Gregory’s having been turned as a triple agent.”
Madeline thought this idea through. “Hold that thought, Don. How long will it take the boffins to vet the product on the thumb drive?”
She emerged from behind the folding screen dressed in a black leather pants suit that matched the suits worn by the other three women and the man on her team.
“The techies should be finished now.”
As if on cue, one boffin came downstairs and nodded once to Don. “It’s pure gold, Sir: ciphers for the last month with one long Putin’s-Eyes-Only message in both clear and coded text.”
“We’re in business!” Don said.
Shirley, Mandy and Cecily smiled and looked at their boss.
Madeline raised her voice and said, “All right, people, I’ll make the call to the DDO. Everyone do what you need to do to be ready.”
As her team sprang to action, Madeline called the Deputy Director for Operations, or DDO, on her secure cell phone to report.
“Ma’am, Gregory has given us a sample of the crown jewels. The rest will come when we extract him. I have no time to give details. Do we still have the green light to go?”
“Yes, green to go. Good luck to all. I’ll look forward to a hot wash up briefing from you afterward.”
Madeline breathed a sigh of relief as she terminated the call. She dialed Gregory’s number and, in Russian, said, “Twenty-two thirty-one.” Everything had been arranged for the final meeting but the time. Now that was set.
The five CIA agents went to the safe house garage and unveiled three black Harley Davidson Hogs. Madeline, Mandy, and Cecily climbed onto the motorcycles and kick-started them. Don and his wife, Shirley, took the Mercedes outside the garage door.
They rode in tandem to the Wild Turk Coffee Shop just off DuPont Circle. Don and Shirley parked ahead of a black Chrysler Imperial with Russian diplomatic license plates. The three biker girls pulled up behind the Russian car.
While Madeline and Mandy waited with their motors running, Cecily went into the coffee shop to buy lattes.
Gregory sat at a table with two goons as his minders. Cecily caught his eye and flashed him the two-fingered sign of the drag. He nodded in acknowledgement without arousing the suspicions of his two bodyguards.
As she walked by the table, Cecily feigned a stumble and splashed the two goons in the face with the scalding hot lattes. Gregory dashed for the door. The goons recovered to see their charge escaping and started off after him, but Cecily tripped them both.
While the goons flailed on the floor, Cecily coolly walked out the door. The two men regained their footing and followed her to the street.
Madeline and Mandy were already pulling away from the curb. Gregory sat on the back of Madeline’s bike. The scene unfolding behind her made Madeline swell with pride.
The goons raced to their car and would have followed except Don pulled the Mercedes out simultaneously to cause a crash. The goons backed up to drive around the Mercedes, but Don got out. He stood directly in front of the Chrysler and waved one clenched fist while using his cell phone to dial 911.
Cecily climbed on her bike and started it with a roar. She pulled around the two crashed automobiles. The two goons gesticulated wildly, and one goon reached to pull her off her Hog, but she swerved and raised her middle finger as she sped away.
Madeline and Gregory rode to a second safe house where a medical crew was standing by. Once Gregory gave her his package, Madeline consigned him to the medics for thorough analysis and processing. She then rode alone to the original safe house and met up with her team.
Madeline heard how Don and Shirley had escaped the scene of the accident leaving the two Russians to face the DC police when they arrived. Madeline gave Gregory’s package to Don for conveyance to the boffins.
“Does this contain what I think it does?” he asked.
“Have our techies verify that it does, ASAP.”
Madeline called the DDO to report. “Ma’am, we’ve successfully extracted Gregory Thorovich. I’ve obtained the product from him, which Don will deliver to the boffins later this evening.”
“Please relay my hearty congratulations for a job well done to your team. Do you have anything else to report?”
“We’ll need a new Mercedes. We’ll also need whatever smoke you deem necessary to calm down the District police.”
“As for the new Mercedes, please use the customary requisition form and attach it to your written report. I’ll have liaison place a call to the DC police chief. I have to sign off now as I have other fish to fry. Sometime early tomorrow try to reach me on my secure cell phone with a rough analysis of what Gregory brought for his defection.”
When she terminated the call, Madeline saw her team awaiting the verdict.
“The DDO relays her hearty congratulations on a job well done to the entire team. So take a bow.”
The team did high fives all around. Then they looked up at Madeline expectantly.
“That’s all for tonight. We’ll regroup tomorrow at Langley in the conference room for a post-mortem. Don, call me as soon as the boffins know what’s on Gregory’s thumb drive.”
“You’ll know it when I know it,” Don said.
As they filed out of the safe house, only Cecily and Madeline remained behind.
“Madeline, you look disappointed. Why?”
“I’m coming down from an adrenaline high. Don’t worry about me.”
“I’m sure I won’t be coming down until I’ve had my first scotch of the morning.”
“I don’t know how you managed to do your magic inside the coffee shop, Cecily. We’ll all look forward to a full rendition from you tomorrow.”
They followed the others out the door and went to their separate homes.
During her drive through the orange-lit streets, Madeline recalled her history with Gregory Thorovich, a genius cryptographer whose misgivings about the Putin regime had given her an opening to exploit the code man as an agent-in-place for the CIA.
She used her charm as a certified seductress to elicit the first flecks of gold dust in what soon became a mother lode of intelligence.
Gregory kept his cards close to his vest, retaining the best for his last delivery. The information he gave to the Agency through her was so good it was bound to be the means of his discovery in any inevitable witch hunt.
When the Russians became convinced they had a mole, he was not among their chief suspects. He had only divulged what would be traced first to others, starting at the top of the Embassy staff.
They worked together on every move in hotel rooms all over Northern Virginia. Whenever he flagged or became discouraged, she was there to set him straight and give him courage.
As the Russian mole hunt intensified, Gregory’s products as well as his movements had to be increasingly guarded. She felt the pressure as much if not more than he did. Finally, they knew he was one of three agents who had been entrusted with all the documents he had stolen. The others were Natasha and Boris. The three figures knew they were suspects, and each made every effort to deflect blame onto the others.
Was tonight’s scheduled meeting at the Russian Embassy really the end of the witch hunt? She’d never know. She’d also never know whether Gregory was the target. Natasha and Boris thought he was the mole, but they might have been guessing.
Madeline’s reverie was interrupted by Don’s secure cell phone call.
“Madeline, you’re not going to believe what our friend brought us. It surpasses all our expectations. I’ll give you the whole picture tomorrow. I also thought you’d like to know our medical team is putting our friend through implemented interrogation as I speak. We should have the results of that exercise tomorrow by close of business as well. Have a good night’s sleep. Congratulations.”
Madeline terminated the call and adjusted her position in the seat. She turned the vanes of her car’s air conditioning system to cool her face and arms. She was about to play Puccini’s La Bohème on her sound system when she received a welcome call from her long-time lover.