It’s indecently early when Special Agent Kris Harmon strolls into the coffee shop for our meeting. It’s a quirky café favored by upscale urbanites, where plain black coffee is kept on the menu mostly as a quaint artifact. The privileged ambience stands in stark contrast to Harmon’s ruthless reputation.
He flashes the barista a smile guaranteed to melt her panties off as he orders. It’s easy to see why Tessa fell so hard and fast. Stunning looks and a don’t fuck with me attitude suits him. He grabs his coffee, tips the girl and crosses the room to my table.
Pulling out a chair, he spins it around, throwing a leg over the seat like he was climbing on a Harley. He rests his arms across the top and looks directly at me. The smile I get is a lot less charming.
“Thank you for coming Mr. Harmon, I appreciate you taking the time to speak to me.”
He takes a slow sip from his coffee, his gaze measuring me. And finding me lacking, clearly. The stare down isn’t just intense, it’s an unexpected turn on. He’s married and I don’t play those games, but I’m not dead either. I want that charm thrown my way, if only for a few moments.
When the corner of his lip curls up, I can feel my face grow warm. I flip open my notebook and clear my throat. “Since we both have busy schedules let’s get to it, shall we?”
He takes another sip and shrugs. “Sophia instructed me to be here. I’m here. What do you want to know?”
I sigh. “I’m not the enemy. The Agency wants an assessment on your last assignment as a training document. So why don’t you do your job, I’ll do mine and perhaps we can both escape relatively unscathed.”
He sets his coffee down, turning the cup in a slow circle, watching me. A megawatt smile worthy of a movie star flashes my way. Part of me wants to glance smugly at the barista. Then I realize he’s playing me and my mouth is hanging open like a 16 year old girl with backstage passes to a concert for the rock hunk of the month club. If I had a shred of integrity I’d face plant myself right now. As it stands, I’m thankful I didn’t drool. Finally he takes pity on me.
“And your first question is…?”
I fumble again with my notes. “How do you feel about the way things ended in Mexico, any regrets, anything you would have done differently?”
“A coordinated strike with multiple targets is bound to result in casualties of some degree. The people I dealt with were deeply ingrained in cartel life. They lived hard and they expected to die hard. You can expect to have some chose a bullet over rotting away in some Mexican prison cell. Overall, I consider this to be a successful conclusion to the operation.”
“You spent ten years working under cover with the Agency and now you’ve moving into management. How are you settling in, do you miss undercover work?”
“The nature of the Agency is that everyone is undercover. Management just wears suits.” His gaze flickered over me. “Sometimes skirts. The reality is that deep undercover has time limits, stay in too long and you risk going rogue or being killed. It’s time for me to move on.”
Rogue. This was my best shot at getting the information the Agency wanted. “You nearly broke your cover for Miss Marshall. How do you justify that?”
Kris Harmon disappeared, replaced by the man responsible for the deaths of several cartel members. There was no mercy in his eyes and I leaned back, wary. A split second later he was back, his smile calm and pleasant. Hmm.
“I took this job to protect the innocent. How could I let things progress when I knew, for a fact, Tessa would be executed.”
I watched him, gauging the truth of his words.
“The operation was set up, all the players were in place, I had matters under control even with Tessa’s unexpected arrival. An agent should always prepare for the unexpected and embrace what luck comes their way.”
I gave him my most reassuring smile. “This will serve as training for real life situations. These are exactly the type of hard decisions and appropriate reactions the Agency wants to replicate for training.”
I made some quick notes. “I’d like to ask you a hard question if you don’t mind?”
He gives me a cool smile. “You can always ask. I can’t promise to answer.”
“I know about your background. Given the death of the man responsible for your parent’s murders, are you now able to put that behind you?”
He stared into his coffee, his jaw tightening. “I will always miss my parents but I think their souls are at rest now. That’s the best I can hope for.”
“What’s in the future for you and your family?”
“We’re starting a new life. One where I don’t live in a dark pit of deception.” He glanced at the doorway, giving an early morning customer in a suit a quick assessment. “There’s a lot I’ve missed out on, and a lot to make up for. But we’ve managed to get through the rough spots without incident.”
“It must be a nice change for you, finding someone outside of the life.” I smiled. “Someone you can share your life with.”
“I’ve spent years segmenting my life into Agency versus cartel.” His lips went flat. “There’s a part of my life that will remain with the Agency. The rest you have no business in.”
Ohhh-kay. Time for a change of topic. After several more questions I wrap up and stand, offering my hand. He slowly rises, cool blue eyes assessing me and, I suspect, seeing right through the façade. He knows this was not for a training manual. We shake hands, offer cordial goodbyes and he leaves.
My preliminary report will reflect that Special Agent Harmon is stable and fit to move up to the next level of testing and assessments. The background check into Mrs. Harmon will fall to another Agency investigator.
Recalling the look in his eyes when faced with questions about his wife, I made a mental note. Special Agent Harmon does have an Achilles heel after all.
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