Thali Ramjan’s sunglasses were incredibly dark, with thick frames, and huge lenses. Tol Agarutha glanced at her, and decided she looked like a long, brown insect. He felt it would have been even more appropriate if she’d sported a stinger, or resembled a Praying Mantis.
They sat, side by side, on a park bench in the circle of concrete surrounding the Washington Monument. It was Tol’s idea. He’d explained to her that it was a marvelous, dirty thing, to make deals where so many acts of espionage had taken place through out history.
She was suspicious, to be sure, but his promise of inside information was too tantalizing to resist. Her future success hung on the possibility of breaking a huge government scandal to the public, and if this man could help her do it… well, it was worth the trouble to hear him out, at the very least.
“What can you do for me, Mr. Agarutha? Don’t waste my time.”
It unnerved her, how he laughed, and didn’t stop smiling. She was also unsettled by how beautiful he was to look at—ethnic, but not in a way she could specify—and how confidently he carried himself.
“Well, Ms. Co-conspirator,” he drawled, “I can give you all the information you could want on the recent events in the White House. In fact, I could give you enough to crack a conspiracy at the highest levels of power in this country.”
“That is a large promise.”
“Indeed, it is. You could easily topple the current regime, if you knew what I know.” He stopped smiling. “I will make one suggestion before we go any further. Be prepared to hire bodyguards and increase your security measures if you move forward.”
“Because, Ms. Co-Conspirator, if you poke a scorpion, it will poke back. I assure you, this is a world-striding scorpion that you may tangle with. Your death would only be the most recent in a long, long, list of similar assasinations.”
She knew he wasn’t exaggerating. It frightened her, but it felt exhilarating—almost sexual—at the same time.
“Thank you for your advice.” She said, bowing her head slightly to acknowledge the importance of his suggestions.
“May I give you a token of my sincerity, Ms. Ramjan?”
Thali was surprised to hear the change in his tone of voice. It was gentler now, and almost dripping with sincerity. For a moment, she wondered why someone with his physical charm, and obvious knowledge of how to use his voice for effect, wasn’t in front of a TV or movie camera every day.
“I would be pleased to accept a token of your sincerity, Mr. Agarutha.”
“Two Secret Service agents were killed on Saturday morning. Their names were Marcus Lane and Harold Brewster. There were no entry or exit wounds on their bodies. The current cause of death, in theory, was poison.”
Thali scribbled notes on her iPad. This information would give her a place to begin research, and prove whether or not Tol Agarutha had anything of value to trade.
“If I were you, I would do your research on these two gentlemen. I expect you will hear they died in a training accident of some kind.” Tol said, hands resting on his knee. “This way you can confirm my value as a source.”
He smiled, catching a glimpse of the whites of her eyes behind the dark sunglasses. She was hooked, whether she knew it or not.
“Now, if you decide you want to make a deal, wear a teal scarf. I will be watching your show, and will contact you the next day. Does this meet with your approval?”
Thali nodded. Her heart was trying to pound its way out of her chest from the excitement.
Tol pointed over her shoulder.
“Do you see that man over there in the black suit?”