"Be careful, Paul," she said.
Her eyes are so damn dark and inscrutable. Like drops of black onyx.
You'd think by now that I would be able to read her, to translate her cryptic warnings and smiles. . .but all I've learned to do is play the game. The game that she made the rules to decades ago.
I enjoy parts of it. I enjoy shaking her up. . .issuing threats left and right. . .growling at her and ordering her to the Tower. Not because the power arouses me--although that's what many people think--but because it brings me closer. Closer to the woman she used to be. I blackmail her into my bed. . . but she's never left my heart. And sometimes, in the throes of sex, her eyes open for me. . .and tell me she knows. She remembers.
Two green operatives. . .reckless. Section One was new. So was our love. I'd left the war and the prison camps and my life *before* behind. . .and she'd left behind horrors of her own and we'd embarked on some ludicrously wonderful spy thriller together. I would lead a team. . .she would be on point. . . we'd execute like a perfect dance. And then tumble into my quarters after debriefing with Adrian. We'd breakfast together, much like we still do, and then make love again. . .and as many times as possible before the next briefing.
Times were different. Somehow easier. Too easy.
I know now that it was meant to blow up in our faces. Now that I'm eons older and only somewhat wiser. Now that I see Michael and Nikita mirroring our past.
Things changed. I took Section away from Adrian and made Madaleine my second in command. Sometimes I think it was the biggest mistake I ever made. I should never have left the field. Should never have let the position of Operations seduce me. Once Section One became my mistress, I lost Madaleine's heart. She withdrew. . .
Do I blame her? No. Although I fight her decision every single day, I know she was right. Even twenty years later I'm biased about her. I'm unreasonable and immobile when it comes to her. When she was ill. . .I shattered glass to get to her. When she was kidnapped, I threw aside every other mission taking place just to make sure she would be returned safely. I even ordered our men to hit Michael. Michael. . .who's done nothing but try to follow in our footsteps. I suppose I should regret that. Should try to prevent his success. But I can't. He's too valuable an operative.
If Madaleine still loved me the way she used to. . . there's no telling what I would do for her. To keep her safe. And so she pushes me away. To keep Section One safe. Her most effective strategy yet. She's brilliant.
And beautiful. And maddening. And the very best and worst of me.
So I play. She offers a kindness or a glass of wine or a night. To inspire me. Then, I betray her so she grows cooler. After which I lash out at her for her snub. To bring things back to status quo, she succumbs to me. . .and the dance begins anew.
I'm a petulant child. An arrogant boss. A lovestruck puppy. And a man who won't let her go. She's a mother. A steely co-worker who takes my abuse. A caring lover. And a woman who refuses to back down.
But I can't give it up. Not when there's the slightest chance that I may see love in her eyes again. Even if it drives me to the basest of behavior. . . to the brink of insanity. . .to Death's door. I'll keep playing her game.
"Be careful, Paul," she said.
Its too late for that.
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