Social Engineer - Chapter 13

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Seven Days Ago

Brody felt the need to reciprocate, but couldn’t bring himself to say the words, not while he was still trapped within the deception of his own making. He supposed that it wouldn’t actually be lying for him to respond with a simple, “I love you too.” He really did love Mel and desperately wanted to tell her.

They were lying in her bed; her body spooned into his, both naked and sweaty from their sexual exertions. She had just uttered the words he most wanted to hear. But Mel had declared her love to Brody Taylor, location scout and adopted child of loving foster parents in Jersey, his ‘real’ parents having died in a car crash with his sister when he was eight years old. But the truth was radically different. His parents were alive and well in nearby Hertford. He had a sister and nephew in Australia. And his profession was ‘white hat’ computer hacker, hired by large companies to carry out penetration tests.

The silence from his lack of response was as loud as a gong. He hugged her closer and kissed her on the back of her neck. It was the only answer he could give right now.

He felt her tense in his arms. She had expected him to reply with the same endearment. Mel had dared to declare her love first and he had failed to reciprocate.

He resolved to come clean. But the lies of the last seven weeks had slowly piled on top of each other, like twigs carefully laid on top of other twigs to make kindling, each supporting the other, but all precariously balanced, ready to light up in flames at any moment.

How could he tell her the truth without hurting her? And risk losing her completely? It was an impossible situation. He should have come clean the morning after they had first made love. But he hadn’t. Spinelessly, he had said nothing, allowing the sham to continue.

To fester.

He needed to demonstrate how passionately he loved her. So that, when he finally told her the truth about his life, she would understand and accept, overcoming the treachery of their first six weeks. He knew he couldn’t avoid hurting her, but perhaps, if she saw real evidence of the depth of his affection, then maybe their relationship could survive this hurdle.

As she lay in his arms, an idea began to form.

He willed it to gain shape. And, as it crystallised, he realised it might work on more than one level. Not only would it provide the evidence of his devotion and proof of the lengths he would go to in her name, it might also help her see how his craft was ethical. Brody couldn’t allow Mel to ever hear the words ‘computer hacker’ and automatically deduce that he was some kind of cyber-criminal, like the common perception of hackers in the media. He knew her well enough to sense that if she ever formed an impression that what he did for a living was in any way illegal, she would have nothing more to do with him.

The idea became a plan.

The plan became a detailed list of actions in his mind.

He played out the likely scenarios.

And all outcomes led to her accepting the truth. And, once their relationship was on a solid foundation, then he could reciprocate his love for her with complete integrity.

He would execute the plan, beginning tomorrow.

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