ONE LAST JOB

Bodyguard Sam Wylde is back. Coming soon is the e-book of NOBODY GETS HURT, with paperback to follow later.  Sam is searching for her daughter Jess, who was taken by her ex-husband at the end of  SAFE FROM HARM. Having depleted her bank account criss-crossing Europe, and desperate for money to pay experts to trace Jess online, she agrees to take a job from Colonel d’Arcy, the man who run’s Europe’s premier Personal Protection agency. It might be her last.

This is an extract, where she learns what she’ll be up against. Or thinks she does.

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Eventually the Colonel took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. ‘So, the good news is, I can advance you the money for a job. This one is right up your street. I mentioned it last time you were here, but it wasn’t greenlit then. PPO needed. Client has to be in Luxembourg for an emergency board meeting. Client lives in New York. And is afraid of flying.’

I  remembered now. ‘So what am I meant to do? Row across the Atlantic?’

He put his head to one side and gave me a quizzical look. I suspected he thought I should be more grateful. ‘They’ll come by sea.’

‘Not that much of an emergency then.’

‘The fear of flying dictates the transport. It means time will be of the essence once the client reaches this side of the Atlantic.

‘Why do they need a PPO?’

‘Well, apparently there are parties who would rather the Luxembourg meet didn’t take place.’

‘What kind of parties?’

‘The unpleasant kind.’

‘The armed and dangerous kind?’ I asked.

He showed me his palms in a what-can-you-do? gesture. ‘You could say that.’

‘Surely the client could bring their own home-grown muscle?’

‘Apparently not.’

I thought for a moment. ‘Even if I liked being an armed guard – which I don’t – I’m not licensed to carry a weapon in France. And I wouldn’t be approved in the current climate. Nor, it went without saying, with my SIA suspension. ‘I don’t want to end up doing five years in a French prison because I had to carry a pistol. Just on the off chance there’ll be trouble.’

 

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‘That’s not your problem. We have a FITLO.’

A FITLO was yet another of the acronyms the world of close protection loves. Firearms Trained and Licensed Operative. ‘French?’

‘Hungarian.’

I had a mental flash of a bullet-headed thug like Bojan, the Serbian who once tried to stab me in what was his idea of a fair fight (although only he had a knife). ‘Who is he?’

‘George Konrad.’

Europe is awash with gorillas with guns. They were mostly hitmen. That was where the easy money was. Offing someone’s rival for cash, no questions asked on either side except who, where and how much? But the real thing, the FITLO, was a rare bird, because his or her job was to stop the hit. Some did it because it was morally more attractive than mere assassination, others because it was more of a challenge. And then there was the attraction of it being a less crowded field. ‘George Konrad? I don’t know him, do I?’ I asked.

‘Unlikely. He’s good, so I am reliably informed, and that’s all you need to know.’ His eyes flicked to the screen. ‘Very good, so they say. You’ll be in charge of driving and choosing the route. He’ll be there in case a situation arises.’

The PPO world not only loves an acronym, it loves a euphemism, too. A ‘situation’ in this case meant some bastard opens fire on us. With real bullets. ‘I have control of all transportation? Right? No arguments?’

‘I’ll make it clear to him.’ You might think that two professionals assigned to look after a Principal would agree on most things. It was rarely the case. Even deciding which road to take could cause disagreement. It was much better if tasks and responsibilities were assigned beforehand. Compartmentalisation was the key to the harmonious and safe transport of a client.

‘Where is the client now?’

‘Somewhere in the Atlantic aboard a private yacht. They’ll be dropped off in France in a couple of days.’

‘Where in France?’

‘Do you want the job?’ he asked.

I was intrigued, but I gave a noncommittal shrug. ‘I assume a landing as close to Luxembourg as possible?’

‘Well, no. Don’t assume that. The coast towards Belgium is still very tightly patrolled, thanks to the refugee problem.’

A few tumblers clicked into place in my still-addled brain. I found a little cubicle for Jess and parked her there. There was something else he wasn’t telling me. It made no sense not to land close to the destination. Unless . . .

‘What’s the PoFU?’ Potential for Fuck Up.

‘A Red Notice.’ Colonel d’Arcy said this as if it were a golf handicap. But his eyes were darting about. I’d never seen him look properly shifty before. He usually stopped at mildly evasive.

I found myself wanting it spelled out. ‘An Interpol Red Notice?’

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‘Yes.’

‘Anything else?’

He cleared his throat. ‘The client is also carrying an outstanding EAW.’

‘A Europol Arrest Warrant?’

‘Yes,’ he snapped. ‘So it will all have to be under the radar.’

It would be best under the fucking ground – tunnelling to Luxembourg. A Red Notice was only a request to detain a suspect. The EAW was trickier. That required the police force of a member state to arrest the suspect. So if we came up against a cop with a computer, there would be an instruction to detain. And then what have I got – a Hungarian willing to shoot his way out?

‘What’s Konrad’s OD when it comes to the police?’ The Operational Directive established any ground rules. I just hoped there were some.

‘I’ll make sure he knows it’s the same OD that applies to all my people. To put his hands up and go quietly. He’s not there for cops. He’s there for . . . any others.’

That was something at least. A gunfight with cops was never a good idea.

‘And before you ask, we don’t know who the said “any others” are.’

Not so good. ‘You had time to prepare any fake documents?’

‘No, but that will be the first port of call after landing.’ He knew what my next question would be. What was the EAW for? Rape? Murder? There are some things that are beyond the pale even for a PPO.

‘The warrant is for bribing a trader at Deutsche Bank to rig the Euribor rate.’

The needle barely gave a jerk. Insider trading and market manipulation was the norm with many clients. Few of them got extremely rich and kept clean hands. Every yacht in Monaco harbour was built with somebody’s tears. Or somebody else’s money. I didn’t know much about finance, but knew the Euribor as some sort of exchange rate set between European banks. Like the better-known Libor, it could be manipulated to give traders an edge. And a big profit. ‘How serious is it? The offence?’

He tried to sound dismissive, as if it were nothing. ‘It’s an unsubstantiated historical allegation.’

‘How long ago?’

‘Four years.’

‘How seriously will the cops take it?’

The Colonel shrugged. ‘You can never tell. At the moment, as you know, bankers and investors are pariahs to some sections of the press. But in the scale of banking offences that have been committed in Europe? Small beer. However, there is always a risk of running across a policeman who thinks he is Eliot Ness reborn.’

‘Did he do it?’

The Colonel’s wrinkled visage gained a few more crevices as he frowned. ‘Who?’

‘The client. The man we’ve just been talking about for fifteen minutes. Did he bribe someone four years ago?’

The glint in the Colonel’s eyes illuminated the garden path I had been led up. ‘Didn’t I say? Why you are perfect for the job? The client isn’t a “he”. It’s a “she”.’

 

To be continued. A short story linking the events in Safe From Harm to Nobody Gets Hurt will also be available soon.

 

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