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“Don’t try nitpicking on me!” she screamed. “I won’t like you for that.”

I shrugged. “You already don’t like me. In any case, you don’t have to.”

She stared at me wordlessly and swallowed hard.

“But if you insist I’ll start getting ideas.”

“What ideas?”

“I know you’re not a child. I don’t need charts and diagrams to hammer that into your mutinous head.”

A contemptous look swept across her face. Her eyes looked dangerous with rage. “You bastard!” she shouted. “I wouldn’t imagine it even if you were the last man on earth.”

“OK, Jane. Don’t waste your time trying to like me. Let’s just work together as a team.”

I needed Jane’s help. Spying is not a one-man game. She had insulted me but I had to watch my anger. The job at hand came first. Grudges and settling scores came last.

In spying, you have to play with others if you want to win. Newcomers like Jane didn’t know this. They downplayed the importance of establishing a rapport with comrades and recoiled from the idea of intimacy. Consequently, cases assigned them and their mates took longer to solve.

CID HQ paired off novices and veterans of different sexes and shipped them off to the field. The men and the women formed many spy teams of two that sometimes, most times, ended up in hot sizzling relationships. Intelligence gathering worked better that way.

I had worked on different cases with quite a number of women. I never resisted a good one, and they were always good. HQ never took anyone who wasn’t a stunner onto their payroll. If they did, they would assign her a permanent desk-job. She would never venture into the interesting field-work of spying, where shooting and ducking bullets while trying to get killed at the same time was real.

You get back to the hotel alive and fall into your mate’s arms, to console each other. Risk makes people horny.

HQ didn’t approve of relationships between field agents. It was in the rules and regulations. They, however, turned a blind eye to it. It is better to have your field agents having it off with each other than running after hookers and ligolos.

Jane was new to the trade. I knew she liked me. She was just pretending. It was only a matter of time before she seeks me to sort her out.

It didn’t take long to dawn on her that unless she cooperates with me, she would end up dead before she got anywhere. She had gone out twice at night, stalked some goons, got noticed and exchanged fire desperately. Both times, I had covered her back secretly and shot down her would-be killers at the crucial moments where a fraction of a second mattered a lot.

Working for the anti-narcotics wing of the CID is a death wish and trying to solve a case on your own is suicide. It could have been too late for Jane to realise this principle.

Jane came to my room the night of her second narrow escape. “I’m sorry, Jack,” she said sincerely, standing in the middle of my room like a lost sheep.

I lit a cigarette. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. It wasn’t your fault.”

“I feel very bad that I ever said those words to you. I wish I could take them back.”

“Come on, Jane! I’m not a 19-year old and this thing about past disagreements doesn’t do me much good. I like forgeting and moving on.”

Jane wasn’t that gullible. She knew I was lying. “I wish I could believe that.”

“It’s the least of my worries what you believe.”

She was confused. She hadn’t expected this reaction from me. “Jack, at times you choose to be very difficult to yourself and to the people around you.”

“Really?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“That sounds like a beautiful compliment.”

Jane turned on her heels and stomped out of the room. I knew she would be back.

Ladies believe that grudges end in bed. Men, on the other hand, believe that gratitude start there, to rest the consience of ladies and to make men forget.

Jane’s consience wouldn’t rest. She re-appeared in a flimsy negligee that left nothing to imagination, one arm clutching the low neckline together over her firm breast.

“I want us to talk,” she said standing right before me.

“About?” I asked staring at her through cigarette smoke. This was going to be interesting.

She drew in a deep breath and exhaled loudly. “About us.”

“I don’t reckon there’s anything we can talk about ourselves. Not when we’re working on a serious project.”

Jane sunk down on the coach beside me and threw an arm over my shoulders, a gesture of too much confidence, if you ask me.

“You don’t have to do this to me, Jack. I’ve sacrificed every little bit of my pride as a woman. Believe me, I’m not always like this.”

“Then why?”

“I feel indebted to you. You saved my life twice and now I want to give it back to you.”

“I’ve my own. I don’t need an extra one.”

“I need to clear my conscience, Jack. For insulting you.”

I was bursting at the seems with desire but I said:

“I’m not good for you, Jane. I’ll only break your heart. If you knew what’s good for you, you would be in your bed, snoring away the night.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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