11 Welcome Back, Prince
It had been several days since he saw Meaghan Torno at the waterfront, but Rickie was unable to dismiss her from his mind. Last year, when her parents disappeared during a covert mission to mainland China, there was a frantic scramble of BKN agents to determine their fate. The remains of the plane were found near the island of Hainan, but the waters were too deep to send an investigative team, and it was decided to announce that they had died in the crash, in order to keep their identities under wrap.
On impulse, he called his old supervisor at the department and invited her out for drinks. Since it was late afternoon on a Friday they swiftly made plans.
He arrived first at Bourbon's, a local bar that served good food and was currently one of his favorite hangouts. With his arms on the scarred wooden table, he contemplated the bottle of soju on the table.
"Still into high-class establishments, I see," A petite, dark-haired woman sat down across from Rickie, dressed casually in jeans and a blue patterned jacket over a white t-shirt. She reached out for the bottle and poured a shot into the extra glass, drinking it with the ease of familiarity. "So how's civilian life treating you?"
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Rickie smiled wryly. "The atmosphere here is great. I miss the buzz from learning each new assignment, but right now I'm where I'm most needed. How have you been? I'm sorry I didn't make it to your last performance."
Raine heaved a sigh. "I almost poked a guy in the eye with my bow. He had the gall to ask me if I liked playing the guitar. The guitar!" She forcefully set the glass down, rattling a plate of sweet potato balls. Other customers looked up briefly, and then returned to their conversations. "Stupid man, can't tell a cello from a damn hole in the wall."
Rickie laughed out loud. Raine was very passionate about her music, and very prickly about her Turkish-made instrument. She was also one of BKN's best agents, rising from field assignments until she became the head of the China division within the company.
Raine stabbed a sweet potato ball with a toothpick and popped it into her mouth. Chewing thoughtfully, she stared at him and asked, "So why did you really ask me to meet you?"
He cleared his throat and thought for a moment. "I recently bumped into the Tornos' daughter, and it started me thinking back to last year. Has there been any new development to the case, or is everyone still convinced they are dead?"
"There haven't been any rumours of any captured agents along my lines of communication," Raine said, "so as far as the command staff believes, they did die in the plane crash. Why the sudden interest?"
"Like I said, meeting up with their daughter made me wonder a bit, since it's been six months since I was there." She made a noncommittal grunt that made Rickie feel defensive. "And that's all."
"Well, I'm happy you contacted me, anyway. I was going to call you to ask if you would like to do some consulting on the side with us. Even though you're now caught up in your family's situation, you were still one of our most intuitive agents, and we would like to continue to use those skills. No field work is involved, and you would be compensated for your time." Raine looked up expectantly.
"Are you willing to help us?"
"Absolutely." Rickie smiled. "I would be happy to."
Raine beamed. "Welcome aboard again, Prince."
Rickie winced at his old moniker, created no doubt because of his illustrious ancestor, but secretly he was happy. It seemed he could still be involved in the business, even with his wings clipped by current circumstances.