Chapter 26

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The sight of Nathaniel and Liam running past the door knocked the wind out of Alexa the second time that night.  As she got to her feet, her knees threatening to buckle beneath her, Alexa ran to the door.  It was impossible, she thought, even though she knew she’d heard his voice just minutes earlier.

But hearing a familiar voice wasn’t the same as seeing a ghost run past the door, seconds after one shoots a man about to kill you.  Alexa watched them disappear through the back door of the deserted office building, calling after them.

Outside, Nathaniel kept going but Liam stopped, having heard Alexa call out his name.  He was scared and confused.  He’d just left his father back in the room by himself to fight the bad man with the gun, he thought.  

Just then, the door opened and Alexa emerged.  Liam ran towards her, clinging to her as best he could, but Alexa seemed as if she hadn’t heard him.  She looked towards the fading darkness after Nathaniel.  

As if snapping back to the present, Alexa looked at Liam and grabbed him by the shoulders.  “You stay right here, Liam,” she whispered.  “And don’t move till I come back.”

“But mummy--” Liam protested but Alexa just looked at him, her eyes blazing with anger.  

“Just stay right here, Liam,” she whispered again, her voice suddenly softening as Liam’s eyes filled with tears.  The boy was trembling.  “I’ll be back, I promise.”  

She planted a kiss on his forehead and without turning to look at him again, ran after Nathaniel.

>>><<<

Harry saw Nathaniel running ahead of him, heading towards the abandoned refinery, the masterpieces spray painted against the steel and metal surfaces cast in a psychedelic vision from yesteryear by the rising of the sun.  Nathaniel’s tall form was unmistakable, Harry thought, even after all these years.  He was still as wiry as ever.  And though Nathaniel’s thick blonde hair had been replaced with gray, Harry would never have mistaken him anywhere.

Nathaniel George was indeed alive.

As Harry rounded the corner of the main building, he saw Alexa hunched over Liam.  But before he could call out her name, she turned and ran after Nathaniel.  Harry cursed under his breath, torn between running after Alexa and staying behind to be with Liam.  

“Liam,” he called out.

Liam, his eyes wide as he turned to face Harry, ran towards him, bringing his arms around him tightly.  Harry bent down and held the boy, hearing footsteps behind him and for a moment, Harry thought it was one of Nathaniel’s men.  He reached into his coat to pull out a gun but heard a familiar voice.

“You should have brought back-up, Harry,” Jools said as armed members of CO19 kept running ahead.  “I never realized you had a death wish.”  He turned to look at Liam, smiling.  “Oh, hello there, young man.”

“Oh, shut up, Jools,” Harry muttered, his hold on Liam tightening.  “Maybe you should return to Baghdad.  I hear they miss you.”  

At the mention of Baghdad, Jools stiffened.  He’d been stationed there years earlier after being expelled from Washington for committing a lewd act during a Wagner play.  How he’d managed to get back to England and commandeer MI6 again was beyond anything Harry could comprehend, though he suspected it had something to do with his wife being a powerful barrister.

Everyone knew how upset she’d been having Jools stationed in Washington, and after that Baghdad.  With their children, Hillary Siviter stayed behind in London, keeping her position in court, even heading the prosecution of one of Harry’s own operatives, Zoe Reynolds, for conspiracy for murder three years earlier.

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