Rowan’s way: 12 Revealed

We caught a taxi from Liverpool Street station to the address near Soho which Ryan had texted me. Irina squeezed my hand: “tell me that it is going to be okay.” I smiled at her and told her that it would be, squeezing her hand back. It wasn’t, I reflected to myself, as though Ryan was going to do anything bad while I was there, and we had discussed the various eventualities.

We stopped off on the way at the address Lynne had given me to pick up the piece of “kit” we needed. The pill that Irina swallowed would give those monitoring us twenty four hours during which they would always know her whereabouts, and the ring I gave her would do the same thereafter for another forty-eight. I did not want to think about what would happen if we needed longer. That would mean something had gone wrong, and we would be having to improvise.

We got to Greek Street in time, and I rang the bell and gave our names.

“Come right up,” said a female voice. The door opened onto a flight of stairs and we went straight up and found ourselves in a receptionist’s office. A pleasant-looking young woman smiled at us and asked if we’d like a drink. She buzzed and told her boss we were here. Ryan opened the door and smiled broadly.

“Great to see you, Rowan,” and then with rather less warmth, “and you Irina, glad that you were able, finally, to make it. Do come in. Fiona, bring me a coffee too.”

His office was spacious. I loved these Victorian terraces, they adapted themselves well to modern use. Once Fiona had brought our coffees, it was, Ryan said, “down to business.”

“I take it, Rowan, you are aware of the services Irina offers our clients?” Looking pointedly at me he was clearly expecting some protest, so he overrode it by adding swiftly. “It’s regrettable, but she knows the culture with which we are dealing, the Russians expect sweeteners, and what she provides helps us materially. You could look on it as oiling the wheels.”

I knew full well that if he knew how I regarded the farrago of nonsense he’d just emitted, we should get nowhere, so I played the ingénue:

“I can’t say I approve, darling”, I stuttered, “but I know nothing about these things. And yes, I was a bit upset at the start, but accept your explanation, and of course, if Irina is now happy, that will have to do.”

He looked so smug that I wanted to hurl something at him – preferably something heavy and blunt, but he turned to Irina:

“And I take it you are?”

She crossed her legs, showing a generous expanse of thigh.

“Of course, sir, I am sorry I panicked. I hope you can forgive me.”

As she said the last words in a suitably apologetic voice, she crossed her legs again. I could follow his eyes. He had got, he thought, what he wanted, and leaned back in his chair, content that the women in the room were both complying with his wishes.

“Irina, I am glad you are here. I was not looking forward to having to postpone tonight’s meeting with our clients. Here’s the address, oh, and get yourself something nice to wear – you know their preferences. Fiona will give you the cash. You can spend the night at the hotel and someone will meet you in the morning. All clear?”

I was struck by the change in his tone. Now he was getting what he wanted, he’d both relaxed and gone into dominant male mode. Seeing she was dismissed, Irina thanked him, and me, and left. As she shut the door, I suddenly, for the first time, felt a frisson of fear. We had expected something like this, and Irina had said there would be other women involved, so it should be possible for a police raid to begin the process of rounding up the men – and tracing the women. She was content to take the risk, but now it was down to me.

He smiled broadly:

“Darling, thank you so much for being a good sport, I don’t expect you to approve, but I am grateful to you for taking the time to calm her down. I am afraid these foreign fillies don’t have the pedigree and take fright easily.”

I had to conceal both the anger his words aroused, and the fact I was concealing the anger, so I resorted to the Irina tactic. I had worn a short skirt and duly crossed my legs nervously, hoping, successfully as it turned out, that he’d be distracted.

“It’s okay,” I reassured him, “I know I don’t understand, and you know I don’t approve, but what do I know?”

He laughed.

“You take it in excellent part, and I think you are owed a swanky dinner somewhere nice. Look, it’s four o’clock now, why don’t we meet at Maxim’s at six for drinks, that’s where Irina will be with the clients, and I need to make sure they are happy. You and I can go on to a little club I know and then, well let’s see. If you really need to get back, I’ll pay for a cab. How’s that grab you.?’

I confirmed it “grabbed” me just fine.

“I am so hoping,” he added, “that finally, I shall be able to uncover the secret of those legs of yours. Fiona has some hospitality funding, and I think this calls for a new dress – see you soon darling.”

He leaned forward and kissed me. Somehow I contrived not to shudder. The die was cast.

About JessicaHoff
Church of England. Survivor. Grateful. Rabid feminist lefty, according to some, wishy-washy liberal according to me.

7 Responses to Rowan’s way: 12 Revealed

  1. Nicholas says:

    Suddenly I feel like the fantasy I write in my spare time is less grim. My heroes have griffins, manticores, and attempted human sacrifice to contend with – but your fiction is, well, reality.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. the unit says:

    Ah, the pill. Knowing where I’ll be the next 24 hours. Ex-Lax.
    48 hour ring? Not familiar with.
    Wring my neck…then they know where I’m at permanently. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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