Greek Passions

By: Holly Rayner





He met every challenge with unflappable charm. No one had seen him so much as sweat in nearly two decades. Just before the Republic went under, she’d been trying to pressure him to comment on the insider trading scandal he’d gotten tangled up in. His guilt had been obvious to children, babies, and the more intelligent farm animals for months at that point. Anyone else would have been sweating bullets, but the Don, as some people called him, had simply smiled and denied everything. If he didn’t call her here to write a memoir, Kally wasn’t sure she wanted to know what she was doing there.



“Whatever you lied about, it better not be the money,” she remarked, taking a pensive sip of her drink. “It’s way too late for foolishness like that.” She eyed him as she said this, but Don only smiled and swallowed a bit of his bourbon.



“Would I be so devious, Kally? The money's as described, you don't need to worry about that; what I lied about was the assignment. See, I heard you’re working for a certain Mr. Alexandros Stratos.”



“What of it?” Kally asked, suddenly on her guard. How the hell had Don found out so fast?



“I’ve been trying to get the drop on that Greek for years. The man’s rubbed me up the wrong way a few times. Let’s just say I’d give anything to be the fly on the wall, if ya take my meaning.”



“I take your meaning all right,” said Kally, polishing off her drink, and considering the implications of giving Don the confidential details of Stratos' murky past. “It’s the job I have reservations about. What you’re asking for is unethical.”



For a second or two, Kally allowed herself to wonder if she would have bothered to argue the point before she met Alexandros.



“Depends on how ya look at it, Jones. Way I see it, you’d just be doing ya civic duty. The Greek’s a powerful public figure, and the things he does affect millions of lives. I think the public deserves to know what a man like that’s doin’ behind closed doors, don’t you?” the Texan queried, managing to sound almost magnanimous.



As Kally listened to his pretty bullshit speech, she wondered how much Don knew about what had happened to her. The tenor of his talk was hitting really close to home, and she wasn’t comfortable with it in the least.



If the Texan was indeed trying to tempt her with the idea of revenge, he was succeeding in grand style, because the thought was consuming Kally’s mind. What she was being offered was the ultimate chance to ruin the man who had destroyed her life. It would be revenge for Beth, for her baby son, for all the lives Stratos had bulldozed without the slightest thought. And more than that, if she played her cards right, she could actually walk away with enough money to help some of them. She was surprised she hadn’t agreed already, surprised at herself that she had any qualms about misleading Alexandros.



“I should have got to ya first.” he said calmly, as if reading her mind. “Now he’s told ya some sob story that’s gotcha in his pocket.” Kally turned to face him so quickly she nearly knocked over her glass, and Don struggled to hide a wry little smile.



“I am in nobody’s pocket, do you understand me? Least of all Stratos. I’m a journalist. Or, I used to be, and the code of ethics is still important to me. On top of that, I’d be putting myself at risk of legal action…”



“Which can easily be delayed by a pack of high-priced lawyers. Like the one that’ll be at your disposal if old Alexandros sees fit to make a big thing outta this.”



Kally had a choice before her at last: revenge or ethics, but even this, she knew, was really no choice at all. She was out of excuses, and she could almost hear the eager voice of her friend, Beth, cheering her on. What are you waiting for? the voice whispered in her mind. Now’s your chance to screw that bastard over. And get our pride back, the money…everything! Say yes, Kal. For heaven’s sake, say yes!



“Then I don’t think I can pass up the opportunity,” she said at last.



“I’ll drink to that,” the oilman replied, and refreshed his glass of bourbon.



***





At home, in her shower, as the water rained over her, Kally considered that her life really was turning into a spy movie. That morning she’d woken up a novice non-fiction writer, and somehow, in the intervening hours, she had become a double agent; it was now her job to pry secret information from an oil industry giant.



She had said that to herself at least dozen times so far, but repeating it didn’t make it seem any more real. The whole thing seemed no less absurd when she’d dried herself off, made herself a very, very late diner, and got into bed. Kally almost believed she would wake up the next day to discover it had all been a dream. But, practical as ever, she set her alarm, just in case.

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