This is the sequel to THE RADICAL and promises to be explosive, action-packed, full of romance, intrigue and surprises galore!
To buy THE RADICAL… GO HERE!!!
READ ON FOR THE INFORMANT PROLOGUE…
Mine was a life unlike all the others’. How bold a statement, you may say. Yet quite true. The rest thrived off reputation and hearsay whereas me, Camille Honoré, needed no reputation to prove how much of a threat to Officium I was. Nothing they had thrown at me had killed me. They had tried numerous times. I had kept my head down yet they knew of my conquests. My name was still synonymous with threat.
I sat in a bedroom in Paris, with these thoughts all swirling around my head. I looked out over the expansive rear gardens of Seraph’s new purchase: a house. The place needed a great deal of work and the gardens were more junkyard than recreational space, but I could see she believed in a possible transformation. I’d complain about the seals, the safety locks, the roof and she would smile and return, ‘It has potential.’
I loved her enthusiasm. Even after all that had transpired, she saw something good in everything. I knew it was because she had been to rock bottom and come back again that she didn’t take anything for granted. I had learnt that same lesson myself.
The strain of the past few months had driven me to the odd cigarette and I puffed on one out of the window so she wouldn’t see my vulnerability. Me, yes, me Camille Honoré, who was meant to be beyond all these earthly pleasures. Yet the past nine months had nearly killed me. Why? I could admit the reasons but only to myself. It knew it would take more than retrospect and reflection before I would be able to digest it with anyone else.
Seraph and her “condition” put a spanner in the works, let’s say. A touch of nausea on a certain Dakota apartment balcony was the whole damn reason why nine months had nearly killed me…
I was digressing. Getting sloppy. Allowing emotions to get the better of me. How crass. I forgot Camille Honoré does not admit she has the potential to die, when in fact she has more than the potential. I was just as fallible as the rest, if not more, though I was better at hiding it.
We thought Ryken had successfully paved the way for a resurgence. When in actual fact, no.
“Fuck him,” I whined to myself.
I blamed Eve for teaching me swear words. I blamed her for a lot of things actually. She had passed on and left me with a shit load of problems to mop up, sweep away, tuck under the carpet… (insert other archaisms here).
I was dealing with a mountain of logistical nightmares in fact and no amount of swearing would make me feel any better. Nothing was going to sway me from my feeling that the proverbial was going to hit the fan before long.
He damn well forgot to wear a prophylactic. Nothing but mayhem would ensue because of that one, silly, neglectful action.
I finished the cigarette and took out a mint, spraying myself with scented water too. Perfume would have her licking my face with the heightened sense of smell she had.
A ding from my xGen arrested me and I inwardly recoiled. What now? I told them all to leave me alone. I am not in the mood.
I had retired myself, I suppose, to a certain extent. I had left my no.1 in charge at the shop and had come to Paris with Seraph in a bid to start fresh, breathe away the cobwebs and reconnect with who I used to be. That thought made me chuckle inwardly: who I used to be…
I recalled a little French girl, treated like a princess by her parents, strolling the streets with her mamma, seeking shoes from stalls that would inscribe your name inside and make it all the more magical to have something that was entirely your own. How fantastical. How whimsical. How nothing of that little girl remained in the powerful machine that had replaced her.
I picked up my xGen and saw a message. I saw the sender and heat flooded my body. Heat rose in my cheeks. She still had that affect on me. It read, ‘Got time for a chat? Only a quick one.’
‘Sure,’ I replied, unable to help myself.
She called within a minute and I froze when I saw her. She was all blackness and I loved it. The darkness within her contrasted with the lightness in me. Though what she knew, and only she, was that my depths ran darker and deeper than most others’ – and in that respect we were a perfect fit.
‘How are you?’ she asked with concern.
‘Shit,’ I replied. I never swore. She knew that meant it was bad.
‘He is on his way?’ she asked tentatively.
‘Yes, he is,’ I mumbled.
‘Do you want me to come over?’
‘No,’ I told her, my lips pursed.
‘I don’t like the way you look,’ she argued.
‘How should I look? Pleased?’
I was more miffed than I had ever been.
There was a very valid reason for Ryken’s disappearance off the face of the planet and now I feared all this sacrifice, all this struggle, would be for nothing.
‘You can tell me what is going on in that head of yours. If it will help to unburden you, you may as well.’
I sniffed. I shook my head and rambled quickly in French, quicker than even she could understand. I went into my roughest dialect, my street tongue, and she gawped as I reeled off a lot of jargon.
‘Don’t be such a child and just tell me,’ she chastised.
‘Huh,’ I harrumphed, sitting down on my bed with her on my lap. I had to think of Seraph and her talk of piles earlier… anything to take my mind off the beauty of the woman opposite me.
I cogitated and twisted my mouth before admitting, ‘You haven’t been here when she cries in the night. You haven’t seen her…’ I paused, my mouth twisting uncomfortably while I tried to combat my emotions, ‘…talking like she is happy when she isn’t, not really. She is only pretending… when really she is so sad, she can barely get out of bed in the morning.’
‘Camille, you always knew it would be this way.’
‘Oh, yes, yes,’ I laughed in a trite manner, ‘oh that’s right. Camille follows orders, that is what she does.’
‘This is not you speaking, who is this creature?’ she demanded, her eyes narrowing.
‘I am so tired of this,’ I moaned.
‘You cannot let emotion get the better of you. Not when we have a traitor amongst us.’
‘Ha, a traitor! That is a laugh, is it not? We are all traitors to ourselves. We are human and still we convince ourselves we have no feelings… just to get the job done.’
‘If you don’t bloody tell me what is wrong, right this instant, I am going to come over there to knock some damn sense into you!’
‘That traitor as you term them… that thing who proclaims to be a person, well… my spies tell me things I don’t like to hear. Things that mean this whole sham could have been for nothing! Nothing!’
‘I am coming,’ she warned.
‘No. I don’t need you adding to my problems as well. I already have too many people on the watch list, thank you very much.’
‘A few more days, Camille,’ she comforted me, ‘and Seraph will not be so vulnerable. Just a few more days.’
A few more days, a few more months, a few more years… they had piled up and robbed my life, those “calculations of time” that meant shit. This fight felt like it would never be over.
I wanted to tell my counterpart that she had no idea of the real legacy the Operator had left behind. Secrets nobody but me knew. Some so terrible… some days I had to break skin on the punch bag to rid myself of the guilt I sometimes felt. Me, Camille Honoré, breaking skin. Oh Jesus. Who was I kidding? I was just a woman too. No plan, no motive. Just a woman.
‘I will come if you want me to,’ she added. Oh I bet you would…
‘Non, I don’t want you here,’ I insisted in a harsh voice.
‘Well, chin up. You never know, you might get to kick some more ass before long.’
I looked into her eyes and couldn’t help but crack a wry grin. That had me perked up. She was never easily offended, never gave up on me. She knew just how to appeal to my sense of humor.
‘She’s back, there she is, Camille is in the room again,’ she beamed.
I heard the door to Seraph’s room open after her nap and nodded towards Mara, whispering, ‘Got to go.’
She mouthed, ‘Okay.’
We ended the call and I heard Seraph yell from the corridor, ‘My back’s fuckin’ killin’!’
I chuckled inwardly. Seraph didn’t know how alike she and Eve had been. I had to hope she would never know the extent of the truth in that.
The Radical revealed her place in this tale, now I will unveil mine. Maybe I was the Principal first and foremost, in the eyes of the world. But there is/was so much more to me, too.
I was the Operator’s right-hand woman and you have yet to discover the extent of our former leader’s skills… prepare to be driven deeper into the murky abyss.