High-Caliber Concealer

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Authors: Bethany Maines
Tags: Espionage, Mystery, Action, CIA, spy, heroine, feminist, Action/Adventure, carrie mae
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running.”
    “I notice you didn’t comment on the
bacon.”
    “I try not to lie,” he said, as she unlocked
the door, letting it swing open with a bang, waiting for a
welcoming yell from further inside. “Any word from Z’ev?” he asked
as if anticipating her next thoughts. The apartment remained
echoingly empty.
    “No,” said Nikki. “I got a letter last week.
Forwarded from work, which meant it had half the letter blacked
out. I suppose it’s better than nothing. At least I know he’s
alive.”
    “Still thinking of breaking up with
him?”
    When Nikki thought of her boyfriend the last
thing she wanted to think about was breaking up. On the other hand,
it was becoming increasingly difficult to lie to him about what she
really did for a living.
    “Mr. M, you’ve got to stop bringing this up.
I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
    “I know, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to pester
you. I just think it’s a shame to throw away a good
relationship.”
    “I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m pretty
sure your wife, my boss, thinks I should break up with him.”
    “Miranda is not as romantic as I am,” he
said matter-of-factly. “She doesn’t trust Z’ev not to expose Carrie
Mae to the CIA and I, as a romantic, think that you should take the
risk.”
    “If it were just me, I’d probably chance
it,” said Nikki with a sigh. “But it’s not just me. A lot of women
could be arrested, or worse, if Carrie Mae gets exposed. The CIA
doesn’t take too kindly to others playing in their sandbox. At
best, they’d probably call what we do ‘industrial espionage,’ at
worst they’d call us traitors. And what about all the women we
help? I’d be risking a lot on the chance that Z’ev loves me enough
not to blab.”
    “I fully understand what’s at stake,” said
Mr. M. “But as someone who was in the CIA and loves a Carrie Mae
agent, I think that maybe Z’ev could be trusted and that breaking
up with him seems unnecessary.”
    Nikki sighed. She didn’t want to have this
argument again. She didn’t want to point out that Mr. M had been
retired from the CIA by the time he’d married Miranda. And she
didn’t want to point out that he was assuming an awful lot about
how much Z’ev cared about her. “Well, don’t worry, I’m not throwing
anything away. And seriously, he has to be home for more than
forty-eight hours before I think we can consider it a
relationship—good or otherwise.”
    “I see your point,” said Mr. M. “What are
you going to do with your time off?”
    “I was thinking about going to see my
grandma. Mom’s been pestering me about going, which means Grandma’s
been pestering her.”
    “I thought you got along with your
grandma?”
    “I do! I’ve been meaning to go. It’s just
that all the holidays end up being with my mom too, and you know my
mom.”
    “Drives you nuttier than a Christmas
fruitcake,” agreed Mr. M.
    “And getting vacation time hasn’t exactly
been easy. Clearly, I should have thought of unpaid leave
earlier.”
    “And how would you have arranged that?”
    “I would have told Jane she had to go on
vacation, which would obviously have resulted in a fistfight in the
front lobby.”
    Mr. M laughed. “Obviously.” There was a
tiny, far away noise from Mr. M’s side of the call. “OK, that
sounds like Miranda. I’d better go pretend I’ve been in the
recliner the whole time.”
    “Mr. M! You should be in the recliner.”
    “Miranda took my phone,” he protested. “I
had to go get a burner out of the garage. Gotta go, bye.”
    Nikki set down her phone and purse and
looked around the kitchen. There had been a time, between college
and this job, when she had lived with her mother and an empty house
sounded like heaven. Now, she missed having someone to talk to. She
thought about calling her mother, realized that she wasn’t that
lonely, and dialed her grandmother while reaching up into the back
of the freezer for some ice

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