Graeme Smith - Books
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Shadow Child - Shadow Dance (Coda - Primo Movimento)
1971, Washington D.C.
The White House is one of the most secure residences in the Western world. That had become even more so under Richard Milhous (‘Lucy’ to her friends – not that she had any) Nixon. There wasn’t a door could be unlocked, never mind opened, without lights somebody was always watching starting to blink and alarms someone was always listening for starting to ring. Which didn’t seem to bother the owner of the hand unlocking this one. He twisted the pick – and the lock released. Somewhere in a distant room, lights didn’t blink and alarms didn’t ring. He might have grinned, but he wasn’t big on grins. This wasn’t fun. And it wasn't just another job. He stepped into the room, followed by the figure behind him. The sleeper was extremely well trained, her senses fine-tuned and her reactions hair-trigger. She was good. Better than good. But the man wasn’t just good. He was the best there was. He stepped silently over to the sleeper’s bed. His hand didn’t seem to move, but now it had a gun in it. From behind him something wrapped tight round his arm, pulling it down. Or trying to. “Do we have to? There’s got to be another way.”
The man shrugged. “Only two, P. Only two.” He waited.
The tentacle released from his arm. Not that it would have made any difference. The gun hadn’t moved from its position over the sleeping woman’s mouth. The second figure sighed. “You’re a bastard. I hate it when you’re right.”
Jack Shadow’s gun settled on the woman’s lips.
Shadow Child - Shadow Dance (Prologue - Sixteen with a bullet)
You know how it is. New girl, new school – and the cute hunk in the third row over was giving me weird looks. I figured if I gave him so much as a smile, in ten minutes I’d be finding out how his Dad had a mysterious underground lair and was gonna take over the world. That was how it was in my last school, anyway. But the afternoon was double History, and it had been a bitch of a day. Not only that, Mom had made me memorize faces my first week. Then what the hallway scuttlebutt hadn’t told me, her files did. And Cute Guy hadn’t been one of the faces she gave me. Surprises like that aren’t generally good news. So I made sure he was toast by lunchtime. Well, not toast so much. But he was sure history.
School Farm is great. Every school should have a compost heap.
Perhaps I should explain.
See, Mom works for – well, if I told you, I’d have to kill you. Which was mostly what she did for them, before she got kicked upstairs. Kill people, I mean. But it was OK. They’re government. Well, sort of. That was why we were on our own. The wrong sort of people were always trying to find things out about Mom. That was why my most recent Dad left us. Mom found him sleeping late. Thing was, he wasn’t alone. Like Mom said, she could live with him doing his secretary, just that he couldn’t. It wasn’t that the skirt Mom found him in bed with was his secretary so much. More that her vodka and rye was kinda short on rye, if you know what I mean. So Mom gave Dad a 357 express ticket out of town and the secretary got to show some of Mom’s friends she could sing more than ‘Несокрушимая и легендарная’. But there it was. Dead Dad, newspapers sniffing round. It wasn't like it was the first time. The Organisation's got a whole Department for it. So here I was, and this was me. New name, new town, new school.
Of course, that one wasn’t my real Dad. Mom burned through men like an AK on full auto. Me, I was the one time some guy burned her. Back in the day she was on Presidential Protection. Tricky Dicky. Thing is, something smelled wrong. So she was doing what she does best, and digging. One night she wakes up, there’s a gun in her mouth. Which is strange, because nobody sneaks up on Mom. The guy tells her to stop looking. Tells her she’s stirring things up, and that’s his job. So she smacks the gun out of his hand, and they get to fighting. That’s how Mom said it started anyway. One bust room later they’re sweating rivers and somehow it ain’t fighting any more. Nine months later there’s me. And Mom got transferred. Up. To people who think ‘Rules of Engagement’ are for wimps. So I asked her where Dad was, my real one, I mean. It was the only time I ever saw Mom look scared. She said she didn’t know, and she didn’t look. I got mad, told her I deserved to know my real Dad. She said “You don’t know jack, girl.” But it worked out. She got me my first Glock to make up.
So that’s how it is. New girl, new school - oh, and a dead jock. Well, a girl’s gotta keep in practice, right?