Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chapter Seven

 

Robert watched as Angeline pulled her broken body across the cobbled street, blood dripping from her wounds, creating a smeared trail behind her as she painfully strove to reach the shelter of a doorway, clutching each stone to drag herself closer.

'Angeline!' he cried, but she could not hear him. He strained to run to her, to pick her up from this filthy street, but his body refused to move. He could feel his hands clenching and the knuckles whitening. 'Angeline! No!' What was it that would not let him move?

"Angeline!" Robert realized suddenly that he had shouted aloud. He found himself sitting up in bed, breathing raggedly, and covered with a patina of cold sweat. Swallowing painfully through a dry throat, he looked around the dimly lit bedroom and realized Angeline was sitting upright beside him, watching silently. Her eyes were wide with concern and he realized her hand was resting on his shoulder. "Oh, darling…what a nightmare!" Robert collapsed on his pillow and pulled Angeline down against him. She snuggled her face between his neck and shoulder and curved her naked body against his.

"Are you alright?" Angeline whispered against his skin. Robert pulled her tighter and realized he could not relate to her the details of this terrible dream. There was no point in fostering hesitation and second thoughts in her, especially this morning. This was the day of Angeline's first attempt to work her way back into the mainstream of IRA politics. At Robert’s suggestion, she was not going to use her reputation as ‘Angeline Quinn,’ but would assume another identity. Control had gotten her some fake bona fides from a mole in the IRA terrorist cell in Ulster. "What was the nightmare about?" she asked, draping her arm across his chest and hugging him.

"I-I don't know," Robert began, looking for some way to describe the horror without giving her any details. "All I can remember is that I was running…or something, and there was…there was…um, I-I lost it, I guess. I can't remember." He turned to the woman beside him, straining through the fading darkness to see if she would accept his story. Images of her agonized struggle across the street still flickered behind his eyes.

"Well, perhaps it's best forgotten," Angeline remarked, turning her head to watch day breaking over the tops of the buildings through the window. "It's just a hell of a way to wake up in the morning. I feel for you." Robert took a deep breath and willed himself to relax. Come on, man, he told himself, get a hold of yourself. Think about something else. Angeline had raised her upper body to look back at him, the blankets sliding down to pool around her waist. She looks lovely like that, he thought, her small breasts still showing the distinct tan lines from their honeymoon in the Mediterranean. We made love morning, evening, and whenever I could manage in between on that wonderful vacation.

"Feel for me, do you? If you really felt for me, you would let me make love to you on this fine morning," Robert affected an Irish accent as he finished the sentence. Angeline chuckled softly and swept her hand across his groin to caress his rising erection. Tingles of excitement raced through his groin. "Oh, darling, I love your hands on me." He reached out and gently teased the hard, erect nipple of one breast. "You're cold. Let me warm you." Robert turned on his side toward Angeline, pulling her into his arms, and kissed her throat, nipping lightly as his lips traveled toward her chest and breasts. Robert lightly rubbed his face against the skin of her chest, drawing gasps as the stubble of his beard chafed against her.

"Oooh! Not my idea of pleasure, sir," Angeline exclaimed as she held his face still against her chest. Robert laughed softly and captured the nipple of one breast in his mouth, sucking on it and running his tongue around the areola. He ran his hand down across her stomach and pushed it between her legs to caress her groin. Before long, her pussy was wet with excitement and Angeline was moaning softly, moving her hips slightly as his fingers played over her clitoris and thrust into her cunt. Robert felt her tense, indicating her excitement was building. He knew from many extremely pleasant and exciting experiences that the increasing tension meant her climax was close. She shuddered and gasped. Yes, he thought, she's ready. Robert released Angeline's breast from his mouth and lifted his head to watch his lovely wife's face as pleasure surged through her and abandon ruled her body. Watching her orgasm was so exciting, and it was very satisfying to know he could give her so much pleasure. Seconds later, as she calmed, Robert watched her open her eyes to gaze happily at him, her mouth curving into a smile.

"Ah, yes," Angeline said, the lilt in her voice coloring the words, "I'm quite a bit warmer, now. Thank you, husband." She stroked Robert's erection as it lay against her thigh. It always thrilled him to hear Angeline call him 'husband.' It was like a reaffirmation of their wedding vows each time she said it. That had been such a wonderful day, a day to remember. Robert smiled softly as he thought of the tears in Angeline's eyes when she had said, 'I do.'

The insistent tingling in his groin brought Robert's mind back to the present, however, changing the flow of his thoughts toward burying his hard cock into this wonderfully giving woman's body. He moved quickly to cover her body with his own.

"Angeline…my wife," Robert growled against Angeline's cheek as she guided him inside her. He felt his penis glide into those tight, warm tissues, so exciting, so good… Her long, long legs wrapped deliciously around his waist. Her slender body moved beneath him as her pelvis met his, driving his cock deeper and deeper inside her. As he continued to thrust against her, Robert could hear Angeline softly moaning, her voice rising in pitch as her excitement grew, and again, he could feel her tension building. Feeling her cum beneath him was one of the most rewarding experiences Robert had ever had. Feeling her climax now brought Robert to the brink of his own, and soon he was gasping excitedly and grinding his groin against her, emptying his seed into her body. Then, as he relaxed his body on Angeline's, Robert reflected on how much he loved her and what an integral part of his life she had become. It was going to be very hard to let her go on her own today, making contacts and attempting to learn of any plans in the making for further IRA uprisings. Damn that Control! This was a hell of a lot different than the ‘consulting or investigating’ she was supposedly recruited for. If she were killed, or captured, he didn't know what he would do. Just don't think that way, he told himself, don't even consider the possibility. Don't hamstring her with your own insecurities!

"Well, I suppose its time to get moving," Angeline whispered as she ran one hand through Robert's hair.

"Yes, I know. Be careful today, darling." Robert said softly against her ear.

"I will, and I know you'll worry, but I will be especially careful to feel my way through things today, and won't jump to any conclusions. They’ll be looking me over quite carefully, as well." Angeline met Robert's gaze as he lifted his head and smiled at him. "Please don't worry too much." Robert returned the smile, but his heart wasn't in it. Don’t let this morning’s dream be another premonition, he prayed, please!

 

 

Six weeks later, Control looked carefully through the pages of the report he had received from Angeline McCall. It was obviously her writing and phrasing, being not quite as brief and to the point as McCall's would have been. That was understandable since she did not have the many years of experience her husband had. It did seem that Angeline had received Robert's blessings on the report, though, as a note appeared to have been secretly slipped in among the numerous pages. It was from McCall and briefly covered Angeline's activities and his concern about her safety. She had been late several times and had more than once returned with fresh scrapes and bruises, as if she had been in a struggle or a fight. She refused to explain, saying she must have bumped into something, or had fallen. McCall was concerned it was some sort of initiation into the terrorists' cell, compelling the new members to accept beatings without complaint to demonstrate their loyalty to the cell, it's mission, and it's members. Since he couldn't do it himself, McCall asked if there wasn't someone who could be placed with Angeline as a potential cell member. It's too bad, Control thought. I don't have anyone I can put close enough to her to deny or confirm his suspicions. It would definitely be worth it, if there were someone I could send. This information is infinitely valuable. It would be worth the extra expense and manpower to be sure this type of information kept coming in. Angeline's report indicated a plan was forming to bomb a Protestant church service in the city of Derry, where she and McCall were currently located. She had a lot of information, dates, times, identities of cell members, types of explosives to be used. Angeline was either extremely successful at reprising her old role, or she was being fed a lot of bunk. If she could get information about local skirmishes to him before they happened, he could check against official reports after the attack was over and confirm the veracity of her information. But Control would have to be in Northern Ireland himself for that to happen. Long distance phone calls just weren't fast enough. Well, he would look into the details and see if he couldn't make it happen.

 

 

At least there are no new bruises, Robert McCall thought as he watched his wife emerge from the shower and towel herself dry. Angeline had returned at a very late hour from a meeting with the group she had joined and had felt the need to shower before going to bed. Robert had walked into the bathroom purposefully while she was nude and unaware of his scrutiny to be sure she hadn't been beaten again. Now he felt better, although a burning anger resided deep in his heart. There would be a reckoning some day, he promised. Robert had been following Angeline to and from these meetings with the terrorist cell, but was never able to get close enough to witness any activity inside. They tended to meet underground, whether it was an abandoned home or some type of empty warehouse. Occasionally, they would meet in the city’s municipal building, indicating support from some high level official there.

"Anything new, love?" Robert asked as he watched Angeline towel her hair dry. Angeline looked at him through the wet hair in her face and smiled.

"Fine time for a debriefing, spymaster McCall," she chided. "Couldn't you at least wait until we got in bed? I'm freezing!"

"Ah, debriefing in bed. Now there's a thought." Robert put on a tough looking face. "Tell me what you know or I won't make love to you!" Angeline laughed at his performance and moved closely to him. She put her face against his cheek and whispered.

"You think you can refuse me?" Angeline reached into his bathrobe and caressed his testicles. Her touch almost instantly accomplished a 'rising' effect on Robert's anatomy. He felt rampant desire race through his body. "Do you really think you are in control here?" She softly grasped his quickly hardening erection and stroked from the head of the base, pressing kisses to Robert's cheek.

Robert brushed Angeline's hand aside from under his robe and pushed her quickly out through the bathroom door.

"Robert!" Angeline squealed in surprise. "What are you doing?"

He continued propelling her wordlessly across the room toward the bed, where with one final push, Angeline landed on her back. Robert pulled her knees apart and thrusting his face between her legs, fucked her bare little cunt with his tongue. He felt her hands run through his hair as Angeline moaned and arched her back. After a few seconds, Robert stood and threw off his robe, revealing his erection jutting rigidly away from his body. He moved quickly between her legs and felt Angeline's hand guide his cock inside her. He pounded silently against her, losing himself in this wild, primordial pursuit of lust and pleasure. As he felt his cock expanding and knew his climax was close, he heard Angeline cry out softly and felt her quickening responses to his thrusts. Her breathing became gasps as her orgasm passed through her, and as Robert felt his seed burst from him, it seemed everything in the world was right, if only for the moment, for just the two of them.

Robert opened his eyes and regarded Angeline, who was smiling up at him.

"Were we talking about control, darling?" she asked, laughing softly and caressing his face with her fingertips. Robert kissed her, lightly moving his lips from hers to press kisses against her cheek, her forehead, and then her eyes.

"Control?" he murmured against her forehead, "What's that?" They chuckled together quietly and lay still for a moment, enjoying the closeness. Then a thought crossed Robert’s mind. "Angeline, speaking of control, our Control is here in Derry. He wants to speak to you early tomorrow." Robert heard Angeline's sharp intake of breath and raised his head to look questioningly at her. "Is something wrong?" He waited as Angeline glanced away from him for a few seconds. "Angeline, what's wrong?" She finally looked back at him.

"Robert, I just have a hard time with Control. I feel he's always trying to find a way to discredit me, looking for an excuse to turn me over to the authorities." Angeline furrowed her brow. "I have never come to terms with what he did to me before we were married, as hard as I may try." She grimaced. "I'm not trying that hard, either. I have not been able to get over his high-handedness in dealing with me, regardless of his motives." Robert lifted his body off Angeline's and stretched out beside her, pulling the bedcovers over both of them. He turned off the bedside lamp before lifting his arm in invitation. Angeline moved into his embrace, laying her head on his shoulder.

"When Control came to speak with me this evening, he mentioned that he's quite pleased with the information you've been sending. It is quite consistent with information other operatives have been collecting. Now he wants to see if he can get information on short term plans to be able to stop the small skirmishes and round up the conspirators." Robert imagined Angeline frowning as she spoke.

"Why doesn't he leave that up to the local constabulary? That's what they're for. I thought the Company operated in a larger theatre than this."

"Control feels that if they can stop the small operations, it will follow that the large ones will have no success. The leaders will be reluctant to plan them." Robert ran his fingers through Angeline's hair before turning toward her to kiss her face and eyelids. She moaned softly as his lips moved over her. "Come, let's go to sleep. Don't let this keep you from resting. I have a feeling we're going to need all the rest we can get over the next few days." Angeline raised her head to look piercingly at her husband. Robert saw her expression in the muted glow from the streetlights and thought she would continue questioning him about Control, but she lowered her head and sighed softly. Robert felt her snuggling her face against his neck and welcomed her arm as it draped across his chest, her hand resting on his other shoulder. He brought the hand of the arm around her up from her waist to caress her breast and gently pinched the nipple. Angeline laughed softly and Robert knew, as he had hoped, that his gesture had caused Angeline to let go of the tension about Control, and start to relax. He ran his hand back down to her waist and hugged her briefly.

"Goodnight, my darling."

"Rest well, husband. I love you." Robert closed his eyes and thought about the situation between Control and Angeline. She was right. It did seem Control was always looking for a way to find fault in Angeline's motives. He wondered when Control would see the deep commitment Angeline applied to her mission here. Control just had to come to know Angeline better, he realized. Maybe once that happened, Control would relax his intense scrutiny of her motives and be easier to work for. Sleep was catching up with him quickly. Maybe……maybe……

 

 

The next morning, Control stood in the living room of the boarding house where the McCalls were staying and waited impatiently for their arrival from upstairs. The information he had received concerning a possible IRA attack on a Protestant business owner needed to be investigated quickly. It was nine o'clock! Where were they? Control paced the room for the twentieth time. Then he heard footsteps on the staircase behind him. He turned to find McCall and the woman descending the stairs, looks of concern and curiosity on their faces. Control motioned them quickly into the room as he closed the door and they sat facing him. McCall put his arm around his wife's waist and pulled her closely against him. What was that, a show of solidarity? Damn, he sure as hell didn't need McCall questioning his orders on the basis of his concern for his wife's safety. Who took care of her all those years she was a wanted terrorist?

"Quinn…" Control started as he paced back and forth in front of them.

"My name's McCall, Control," Angeline interrupted. "But you can call me Angeline for simplicity's sake." She smiled at him and Control saw the venom behind her eyes. He forestalled his anger at her interruption and started again.

"There’s a rumor that there will be a raid on a Protestant owned construction site sometime today or tomorrow. It's the new building going up three blocks from here, over on Twentieth Street. I want you to find out all you can, as quickly as you can, and get it back to me immediately. I want to be able to squelch this raid before it begins."

"Where will you be?" Angeline asked after considering Control's words for a moment.

"At the police station, ready to send out whatever manpower is needed to stop the raid," Control said impatiently.

"I'm watched constantly, you know, being new to the group," Angeline stated quietly. "It would be quite difficult to explain a telephone call immediately after meeting with anyone who is familiar with the plans for the raid. Is there someone you can arrange to meet with me so I can pass on the information a little more discreetly?"

"No, I don't have anyone else in position. You know, this accent you and your fellow IRA gangsters have is very hard to copy. I don't have anyone who would pass." Angeline looked penetratingly at Control for a moment. Robert saw her mulling ideas over in her head. He understood what Control was talking about. He had heard Angeline conversing with the local Derry townspeople. The accent was so thick it was almost impossible to follow the conversation.

"Well, how about yourself, lad?" Angeline had allowed the brogue to color her voice again, evidently using it to irritate Control, Robert thought. He chuckled silently. "I would be under less suspicion taking up a casual conversation with an American tourist, than with someone who appeared to be a resident or an official of some sort. Robert wouldn't even work out. His accent would give him away immediately." Robert openly nodded in agreement and looked speculatively at Control.

"She's right, you know. I think you're the only one who could do it. That is, of course, unless you have a host of operatives disguised as American tourists who could step in immediately for you. Did you bring any along?" The sarcasm in McCall's voice cut deeply into Control.

"No, damn it, you know I don't travel with an entourage of 'just in case' operatives. Very well. I will meet you in the shopping district on Marlowe and James. There's a coffee shop on the corner that I stopped at this morning. Meet with me there if you have any information before two o'clock this afternoon. After that I'll go to the bar just down the block. It's called Flaherty's. I visited there last night. But I expect to hear from you before late afternoon. I can't stay in one place too long without attracting attention. If I'm not exactly where you expect to find me, be patient. I'll be watching for you." Control stopped his pacing and looked down at the seated couple. "You had better get started." He watched Angeline exchange glances with Robert. Robert nodded and Angeline left the room quickly, heading back upstairs to the room they shared. Robert knew she went to retrieve her weapon and get a jacket. The fall weather was damp and cold. He turned to contemplate Control.

Control endured McCall's stare for as long as he could.

"What is it?" he asked caustically, turning toward him. McCall glared back at him.

"I just wanted you to know that you could be sending my wife, whom I value greatly, into a trap. You, one of my oldest friends, Control, could very well be sending her into great danger, or to her death." McCall's voice dripped with sarcasm. "I wanted you to realize that."

Control's voice was strained with the effort of keeping his voice down and marshalling the anger that threatened to overwhelm him.

"Robert, you have to understand lives are at stake here! Many lives." McCall nodded his head at Control.

"Yes, lives." Control shifted uncomfortably under McCall's gaze. "One life in particular."

"You never had any problem with other operatives you were involved with being sent on missions. Manon, Carla, even Lauren Demeter…you knew they were often in danger and you had no problem with that."

"But none of them were ever my wife," McCall grated. "That's the difference. It was never my wife."

Damn you, McCall, Control cursed silently as they both turned to watch Angeline descend the stairs with a knapsack hanging from her shoulder. Angeline walked silently in front of Control to face her husband and give him a quick kiss. McCall searched her eyes as they parted and Control watched him caress Angeline's arm as she left. He waited silently as McCall's glare returned to him, then left quickly with no words of goodbye.

McCall watched Control leave and sat heavily on the living room couch, leaning forward to hold his head in his hands. Be careful, Angeline my dear, be so careful, he thought. I feel so helpless. I can only follow her so far. Dear Lord, please take care of her.

 

 

It was a long morning for Control, waiting to catch a glimpse of Angeline McCall looking for him in the shopping district. He couldn't stay in the coffee shop all morning, so he browsed the other shops nearby, keeping his eye on the entry to the coffee shop. He bought the local paper and later, postcards, stamps, and writing materials to make it look as if he were actually a tourist. He wrote nonsense letters to imaginary acquaintances, just in case someone were to look over his shoulder. At two o'clock, his patience severely worn, Control retired to the bar. The owner and the bar's patrons looked him over carefully as he entered. Control gave them a cheery wave and found a booth that was viewable by whomever entered through the bar's front door. He ordered a dark beer and sipped at it gratefully, feeling its warmth and alcoholic effect begin to sooth his frayed nerves. He opened his newspaper again and casually paged through it, thinking all the while of Angeline Quinn and her damn terrorist friends. She'll always be Quinn to me, he thought, even though McCall had the insanity to marry her. Angeline Quinn and her black little IRA heart. I sure as hell hope she doesn't double cross me. I don't know how I'd handle McCall if I had to kill her.

Two hours and three beers later, Control noticed a woman dressed in a brightly colored dress enter the bar. She sure didn't look like Quinn, so her returned his attention to the newspaper. At the periphery of his vision, he saw the woman go to the bar and order a drink. She conversed with a couple of the men standing at the bar, running her hands suggestively over their shoulders and arms. Just another woman in the trade, Control thought to himself. Suddenly, he became aware that she was standing at his table, looking down on him. Control skeptically raised his gaze from the newspaper and glared at the woman, prepared to order her away. It was then he realized that under the garish makeup and the loud clothing, it was actually Angeline Quinn. Oh, thank God, he thought feverishly. Control smiled broadly and extended his hand to seat Angeline beside him.

"Ah, that's good of you, boyo," Angeline said loudly, her brogue thick and scotch heavy on her breath. "Say, you're a likely looking lad. You wouldn't be so rude as to drink alone in front of a lady, would you?" Good job, Control thought. He waved at the barman, who instantly poured another glass of liquor and brought it quickly to the table. He wondered briefly at the attention of the barman. Well, he was probably comparing notes the other patrons, imagining what it would be like to get laid with this particular tart. He put his arm around Quinn as she picked up her glass and sipped at the drink. She put her arm on the table and leaned lazily on it, supporting her head with her hand and turning her face completely away from the barman and his lusty company.

"Midnight tonight," Quinn said quietly. "They plan to blow up the office trailer, that’s my job…and run a piece of heavy equipment through the structure. It doesn't have walls up yet, as you may already know, so they'll knock down the framework and whatever supporting studs they have up for interior walls. That's all I could get. Is it enough?" Control nodded slightly. Time for her to go, he thought.

"React," he whispered and put his hand on Quinn's knee. She slapped him under the table.

"Stop it," she squealed loudly. Control reached for her again and pushed his hand under her dress. The image of the smooth, hairless mound and cunt he had seen and touched ran through his mind. He had thought often of the night in McCall's apartment when they had broken down the door and discovered Quinn and McCall in the act, right there on the living room sofa. Physically, he envied McCall for his possession of this extremely attractive and exciting woman. He detested her devotion to the IRA, but he understood McCall's attraction. He pushed his hand further, seeking the junction between her legs.

"No…no, you bastard, not here! What’s the matter with you!" Quinn shouted, hurling herself from the booth and toward the door. The bar erupted in laughter, some of the men clapping their hands in glee. Control stood and walked unsteadily toward the door, as if somewhat drunk. Several of the patrons slapped his back as he left, congratulating him on his attempt with the woman and commiserating with him that she was evidently playing hard to get. Control had noticed that one of the men at the bar left immediately after Quinn, turning in the same direction from the door as she had. He quickly scanned the area, hoping to catch the site of her bright dress. Yes, there she was, walking slowly down the street. A man was definitely following her. Control quickened his pace, trying to close the distance between himself and the pair. After walking several minutes away from the more crowded areas of the city, Quinn entered a passageway between two tall buildings, not far ahead. The man following turned as well. Control looked around, seeing very few people on the streets and sidewalks. He broke into a run. As Control turned the corner between the two buildings, he heard the man who had been following Quinn shouting at her.

"Don't tell me you're not a spy,' the man fumed, clutching his hands into fists and striding toward Quinn. She was backing up, keeping her eyes on the man in front of her. Then the man realized there was someone behind him and he spun quickly to face Control, drawing his pistol out of his jacket. Control watched with shock as Quinn leaped to the side, raised a weapon, and sent a silenced bullet into the back of the man’s head. Blood and tissue spattered just short of his feet. Then Quinn raised the pistol again, the silencer on the barrel stretching out before her.

"No," Control shouted, reaching belatedly for his own weapon. The shot whizzed past his head. She missed, Control thought grimly, and raised his pistol to take aim. As he was about to pull the trigger, he realized that Quinn was looking past him, having lowered her weapon and relaxed from her shooting stance. He looked quickly behind him and saw a body lying at the entry of the passageway. He realized it was one of the men who had been loudest in his commiseration when Control had left the bar. A pistol lay in his slack hand. Control looked back in surprise at Quinn.

"You thought I was shooting at you, didn’t you?" he heard her say, derision heavy in her voice. "When are you going to realize that I’ve made my decision, that I will do everything I can to stop the IRA wherever possible when it comes to death and destruction? Didn’t the validity of the information I been sending mean anything to you?" The disgust on her face became even more apparent. "Evidently not. You think I’ve simply come back to join my old friends and wreak havoc once again." She strode past him, speaking over her shoulder. "From what Robert has always said about you, I thought you were a better judge of people than that. But then again…" Control watched her stop and turn back to face him. "And," her face contorted with anger, "if you ever touch me again like you did that night at Robert’s apartment, or like you did in the bar, I will…kill you." And then she was gone. Control stood rooted in the same spot for a moment, replaying the scene in his mind. Maybe I can trust her, he thought to himself. Maybe I have been a poor judge of her character. Holstering his weapon, Control strode quickly toward the street. He looked quickly up and down the street, seeing no one either way. Lucky, he thought, damn lucky. He started walking down the block, planning a circuitous route back to his hotel. When he reached the first intersection, a hand reached out from around the corner and seized his shoulder, pulling him to the side. Control resisted and reached for his gun before realizing his assailant was Robert McCall.

"I’m surprised at you, Control," McCall said with an obvious sneer. "You fell for that old game quite easily. Angeline could see it coming, why couldn’t you? Are you losing your touch?"

"McCall! How did you know where we were?" Control’s eyes were wide with shock.

"I’ve been following Angeline all morning. I saw that little exchange of yours in the alley there. You fool, you really thought she was shooting at you when she was actually saving your life!" McCall shook his head, anger and worry evident in his glare. "Let’s just hope neither of those two bodies you just left had a chance to notify someone in the cell of Angeline’s meeting with you!" McCall turned quickly and walked away. Control watched his departure with growing despondence. McCall just doesn’t know the pressure I’m under, Control thought, shaking his head. But it doesn’t appear he heard Angeline’s threat to kill me if I touched her again. Thank God! He hurried back to the hotel.

 

 

Robert watched his wife rid herself of the costume she had donned to make her contact with Control. It had been his suggestion to leave today’s meeting with the cell disguised, but he was disappointed that the two men Angeline had ended up killing had seen through the ruse. It probably wasn’t Angeline’s fault. She just didn’t come across too well as a whore. Either that, or these two knew all the ladies of the night in the area. Within a few minutes, Angeline was dressed and looking normal again—beautiful again, he thought.

"Did Control tell you when he would be in contact again?" Angeline asked Robert as she slumped down in a heavily upholstered chair alongside the bed. He joined her to sit on the edge of the bed.

"He didn’t say anything to you?" Robert found his anger growing substantially at the obvious holes in this plan. What was going on? Control just doesn’t do things like this.

"No, he didn’t. I should not have left him there with two bodies, but I was so angry, I had to get away before I found myself tempted to shoot him. I don’t understand why he can’t see I’ve chosen sides." Angeline thumped the arms of the chair with both hands. Robert laughed under his breath. That action was very typical of Angeline when she was frustrated. "Well, I imagine he’ll show up before long," Angeline said. "We still have to coordinate where I will be and where the police will enter to stop the raid tonight. I got my instructions this morning. My job is to dynamite the trailer. I just hope that Control has identified me well enough I don’t get shot or beaten up too much when the police come in."

"You just keep your head down and don’t do anything to overt," Robert advised. "Don’t run or try to defend yourself if you’re confronted by a police officer. That’s only asking for trouble. Even if you’re arrested, I would think Control would have you cut out of the group before too long." He reached forward and stroked Angeline’s hair, considering the look on her face. She wasn’t afraid, he could tell, but there was something she was obviously working through. "What is it, darling?" he asked, watching her carefully.

"I was just thinking that for this particular group, my not being arrested, or not appearing to be killed, might be a mistake. How would I go back to anyone and explain that they just didn’t want me after I had such a big part in the plan to level the construction site? Maybe it would be better if it looked like I was killed. Emily O’Hara would be dead, of course, but I could always infiltrate under another name and a different appearance in another city. Or, it might be time to bring Angeline Quinn out from under wraps." Robert saw Angeline narrow her eyes and regard him. "What do you think?"

She was right, he realized. Robert thought again that Control’s plan was not really mapped out as well as it should be. What was the matter with the man, he asked himself again. Was someone pushing him to perform faster than was prudent? He shook his head.

"We’ll have to ask Control when he gets here. It shouldn’t be too long. It’s five o’clock now. He’ll have to contact you soon to let you what’s going to happen. Come here, love." Robert rose to extend his hand towards her. Angeline took it and he pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. He could feel her heart beating as her chest pressed against his. "Relax, darling, it will all come together soon enough."

 

 

McCall crouched uncomfortably in the dark, holding a pistol in his hand, and thinking about the blank cartridge he would fire at Angeline to fake her death. Control had seen the wisdom of Angeline’s thoughts about surviving the raid tonight and had agreed to make it appear that she had been killed in the action. Let me be the only one to shoot at her, McCall prayed. Memories of that terrible nightmare he had had weeks ago drifted through his mind. Suddenly, his headset crackled with sound.

"Now," Control’s voice whispered through the earphone. McCall carefully stood and joined the silent ranks of police officers that advanced quickly, circling the construction site. He moved in front of the police officer he had been following and made directly toward the trailer, located away from the main worksite. As he quietly approached from the opposite side, McCall could hear a man berating Angeline, using her cover name of O’Hara. Two other men had joined the pair to watch. The man was telling Angeline to detonate the charge immediately, but she was protesting quietly, insisting that because of the interior lights, there still might be someone inside the trailer. McCall took a position just to the left of the trailer, hidden behind a pallet of concrete mix, to watch the interaction between Angeline and the stocky man facing her. Suddenly the man struck out with his fist, hitting Angeline across the face and knocking her to the ground. McCall struggled to contain his anger, but knew he had to stay still and quiet in order not to give away the encircling police force. There was another heated exchange of harsh whispers while Angeline seemed to be struggling to regain her feet, shaking her head in defiance. The man pulled a pistol from his waistband and pointed it at Angeline. But before he could steady his aim and pull the trigger, Angeline lunged to her feet, the wickedly sharp knife he knew she carried in her hand. She moved so quickly! Before the man could react, Angeline buried the knife to the hilt in this throat, just under his chin. Angeline wrenched the knife across the man’s throat and stepped quickly out of the way. Blood sprayed sickeningly down the front of the man’s chest. The dying man stared at her with disbelief in his eyes and his hands clutching his ruined throat before he staggering a step forward and falling to the ground. She silently regarded the two awestruck men looking on, clenching the bloody knife in her hand, waiting to see if either would make a move toward her. Just then, a voice from a handheld loudspeaker sounded eerily through the darkness. The men she had been watching bolted away to the right.

"This is the police. Stop where you are, drop your weapons, and raise your hands. You are surrounded and under arrest!"

Of course, that meant no one would stop and everyone would run, except Angeline, he prayed. Stay where you are, love, please! McCall stepped out from behind the pallet of concrete mix, weapon pointed toward her.

"Stop, you IRA trash! You are under arrest!" he shouted, giving the signal for Angeline to appear to be running away. Angeline, looking cautiously all around her, started edging away from the trailer. Robert stepped in front of her, aimed his weapon, and pulled the trigger as they had planned. But Angeline fell toward him as if shot from behind. That’s not what she was supposed to do! Holding down a surge of panic, McCall quickly knelt beside her. Someone had shot her in the back! He could see the bullet hole in her jacket in the light glaring from above. Bloody hell! McCall raged silently at the fortunes of fate. As he scanned the darkness around him for movement, he keyed the mike on his radio.

"Control, Angeline is down. Some bastard shot her! We have to get her safely out of here!"

"Right, old son. Stay with her. I’ll have someone there as soon as I can." Control’s voice held little comfort for McCall, though. He carefully turned Angeline on to her back to look for an exit wound. Finding none and realizing the bullet must still be lodged inside, McCall returned Angeline to her original position. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it against the entry wound, from which the blood was seeping at an alarming rate. Hurry, Control!

McCall felt a presence above him and looked up to discover a Derry policeman standing a few feet away, weapon in hand, watching him suspiciously.

"What are you doing?" the officer asked gratingly. "What do you care if one of them is shot and not dead? I shouldn’t have missed so badly. I was aiming for her head." McCall felt rage ready to consume him and strove to hold it down. He let his hand move surreptitiously toward his weapon in its shoulder holster.

"This is the one who gave us the information. She was not to be touched! You were told!" He watched the other man intently, waiting for a response. The policeman only shrugged. In his anger, McCall almost missed seeing his wife open her eyes and raise her head to look blearily around her. The police officer saw her movement and immediately pointed his pistol at her, his face alight with anticipated satisfaction. Shouting his rage, McCall pulled the gun from his holster and fired it with deadly accuracy at the police officer, dropping him immediately. He looked down at Angeline. She was unconscious once again. Control suddenly appeared at his side.

"McCall! What happened?" Control said urgently, looking around to be sure there were no other Derry police close by.

"This bastard was about to shoot her while she was down, only because she regained a bit of consciousness and raised her head. You said these people were told she was the informant and that they should leave her alone! This bastard would have murdered her!" McCall grabbed Control’s arm urgently. "Where the hell is the ambulance?"

"It’s coming, Robert, be patient!" Control nodded in the direction of the dead police officer. "I think I can pass this off as his being hit by one of the IRA raiders. Don’t worry." He turned to look behind them and pointed. "Look, here comes the ambulance. I’ll bring them myself." Control disappeared into the dark. McCall knelt beside Angeline, stroking her hair from her forehead and smoothing the dirt from her face. He prayed seriously, for the first time in years, asking for intervention and assurance his wife would survive.

 

 

After what seemed like eternity, the surgeon finally emerged and informed the two men that one Angeline McCall was out of surgery and would spend the next few hours in the recovery room, waking from the anesthesia and having her vital signs monitored before going to her room. He had been successful in removing the bullet and the damage was minimal. No major veins or arteries were affected.

"Thank God," McCall mumbled, passing his hand over his face. His premonition of a few months ago passed through his mind again.

"Indeed," said the doctor gravely, "it could have been a lot worse, being shot in the back like that. There’s definitely a guardian angel sitting on your wife’s shoulder." He reached to shake McCall’s hand. "You can see her in a few hours. We’ll have someone come and get you when she’s moved to a room. Sleep if you can, gents, we won’t forget you." The doctor turned and disappeared through the doors of the surgery suite once again. McCall and Control moved together back to the chairs in the waiting room.

"Control, this plan has not been thought out well from the beginning. It was done more by the seat of your pants, rather than as a competent, professional undertaking. Who is pushing you?" He watched Control sit back in his chair and ponder his response, evidently deciding how much to reveal.

"Let it suffice to say that the pressure is from high up. I can’t tell you exactly who, although I am fairly sure I know. They wanted to see something being done immediately to stem the number of IRA actions. Well, they got it, and now I’ve temporarily lost my best agent in the field. I don’t know what they expect me to do."

"Maybe you’ll be able to recruit another IRA mole," McCall said dejectedly, "someone else to use and abuse." He glanced irritably at Control. "Why can’t you just let go of Angeline? She’s not going to be of any use for at least a couple of months. Can’t you find someone else?"

"No, old son, I can’t. She’s the best I have. No one has been able to infiltrate into a cell as quickly as she did. Even if I have to delay a couple of months to let her recover, it would be faster than recruiting and training someone else. They’ll just have to understand. I’m doing the best I can with extremely limited resources. It may be better to see if I can find a way to limit the pressure. There has to be a way! These people aren’t perfect. There must be something I can use against them. Look, I’ll let you know." Control paused a moment and looked speculatively at McCall. "Would you be interested in helping me find some small, yet devastating detail about a few of them I can use to our mutual benefit?"

"Oh, I think you can count on me for that, Control," McCall said dryly. "It will be very satisfying to help arrange some pressure back on whomever is driving you, especially in light of the attempt on Angeline’s life. Yes, I will be happy to help." McCall frowned and regarded Control with a look of vengence in his eyes.

"Good, Robert. I will be in touch. I expect you and Angeline will be returning to the states within a couple of days. I will contact you at home." Control stood to leave, extending his hand. Robert took the proffered hand and shook it firmly. "Take care, old son, and take care of your wife. I will see you soon."

Control left and McCall rose to stretch out the kinks in his body. He looked sourly at the chair he had been sitting in for hours, wondering how such tortuous furniture could have ever been designed. Sleep, the doctor had said. Hah, in this chair! He slumped backwards, squirmed around until he was marginally comfortable, and decided to close his eyes for just a moment.

Two hours later, a woman’s voice gently woke him from his slumber.

"Are you Robert McCall?" Robert straightened in his chair with difficulty and he blinked the drowsiness from his eyes.

"Yes-yes, I am. May I see my wife now? Is she going to be alright?" Energy surged back into his body at the prospect of seeing Angeline.

The nurse nodded enthusiastically.

"She’s been asking for you all along, both before surgery and as soon as she woke up. Come, I know she’ll be happy to see you." The nurse turned to lead the way through the swinging double doors and toward the room where Angeline had been placed.

Thank you, God, McCall whispered under his breath as he followed the nurse to Angeline’s room. Then a surge of anger raged through him as he thought about all the people who had had a hand in putting Angeline here. There will be a reckoning some day, he vowed, these people will pay. And Control, what was he going to do about Control? He had never confronted Control about that night he and two thugs had broken into the McCalls’ apartment. He had been following Angeline’s lead in trying to normalize the relationship with Control as much as possible and keep the stress levels down. But he couldn’t keep letting Control put her in so much danger. Something had to change. It had to…

Back