Home > Kiss Me While I Sleep (CIA Spies #3)(15)

Kiss Me While I Sleep (CIA Spies #3)(15)
Author: Linda Howard

When they reached the airport, she walked calmly to the British Airways desk to check in. Her passport said her name was Alexandra Wesley, British citizen, and the passport photo matched her current coloring. She was flying first class, she wasn’t checking any luggage, and she had carefully built up this identity, over several years, with numerous stamps on her passport showing she visited France several times a year. She had several such identities, prudently kept private even from her contacts at Langley, for just such emergencies.

Boarding for the flight had already been called by the time she went through all the security checks and got to the designated jjate. She didn’t look around her, instead carefully studying her surroundings with her peripheral vision. Yes, that man there; he was watching her, and he held a cell phone in his hand.

He didn’t make any move toward her, just made a call. Her luck was holding.

Then she was safely on the plane, effectively in the hands of the British government Her designated seat was next to the window; the aisle seat was already occupied by a stylishly dressed woman who looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties. Lily murmured an apology as she slid past the woman to the window seat.

Within half an hour they were in the air for the hour’s flight to London. She and her seatmate exchanged pleasantries, Lily using a public-school accent that seemed to put the woman at ease. The British accent was easier to maintain than the Parisian one, and she almost sighed with relief as her brain seemed to relax. She dozed briefly, tired from all the airport walking.

When they were fifteen minutes out of London, she leaned over and pulled her carry-on bag from underneath the seat. “I’m sorry to disturb you,” she said hesitantly to the woman beside her, “but I’ve a bit of a problem.”

“Yes?” the woman said politely.

“My name is Alexandra Wesley, perhaps you’ve heard of Wesley Engineering? That’s my husband, Gerald. The thing is-” Lily looked down, as if embarrassed. “Well, the thing is, I’m leaving him and he isn’t taking it at all well. He’s set men to following me, and I’m afraid he’ll have them grab me. He’s a bit abusive, set on having his way, and… and I really can’t go back.”

The woman looked both uncomfortable and intrigued, as if she didn’t like hearing such intimate details from a stranger but was fascinated in spite of herself. “You poor dear. Of course you can’t go back. But how can I help?”

“When we leave the plane, will you take this bag for me and go to the nearest public loo? I’ll follow you and take it back. It has a disguise in it,” she said quickly, when the woman’s face showed alarm at being asked to take a stranger’s bag in this age of terrorism. “See, look through it.” She quickly unzipped the bag. “Clothes, shoes, wigs. Nothing else. The thing is, they might think of that-that I’d disguise myself, I mean-and pay attention to the bags I take into the loo with me. I read a book on how to evade a stalker and it mentioned this. He’ll have men at Heathrow waiting for me, I know it; as soon as I step out for transportation they’ll take me.” She wrung her hands, hoping she looked suitably distressed. It helped that her face was still thin and drawn from illness, and that she was normally lanky anyway, making her look more frail than she was.

The woman took the bag from Lily and carefully went through every item. A smile broke over her face when she examined one of the wigs. “Hiding in plain sight, are you?”

Lily smiled back. “I hope it works.”

“We’ll see. If not, we’ll share a taxi. Safety in numbers, and all that” The woman was getting into the spirit of things now.

If her seatmate hadn’t been a woman, Lily would have improvised, taken her chances, but this gambit slightly increased her chances, and at this point she was willing to grab at the least advantage. Agency men could be waiting for her, as well as Rodrigo’s goons, and they wouldn’t be as easy to fool.

Depending on how they wanted to play it, they could have her arrested as soon as she stepped off the plane, in which case there was nothing she could do. They usually played it much closer to the vest than that, though. If they could avoid involving the British government in what was essentially a housekeeping chore to them, then they would.

The plane landed and went to the gate with a minimum of fuss. Lily took a deep breath, and her cohort patted her hand. “Don’t worry,” she said cheerfully. “This will work, you’ll see. How will I know if they’ve spotted you?”

“I’ll tell you where the men are standing. I’ll look for them when I go into the loo. Then I’ll leave before you, and when you come out, if they’re still there, then you’ll know it worked.”

“Oh, this is exciting!”

Lily really hoped not.

The woman took the carry-on bag and exited the plane two people ahead of Lily. She walked briskly, looking at the signs but not staring at the people waiting at the gate. Good girl, Lily thought, hiding a smile. She was a natural.

There were two of them waiting for her, and again they made no particular effort to disguise their interest. Glee rose in her. Rodrigo still didn’t suspect anything truly unusual, didn’t think she would notice she was being followed. This might really work.

The two men trailed in her wake, staying about twenty or thirty feet back. Up ahead, her cohort went into the first public restroom. Lily paused just outside at a water fountain, giving her followers time to choose their positions, then entered.

The woman was waiting just inside and handed over the bag. “Is anyone there?” she asked.

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