7th November 2017: Mercy

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"I'm glad you accepted my offer." Audrey brings a rush of cold air into the back seat with her. "It's a relief having a regular driver again. I have no patience for having to keep explaining the same things to different people."

"What did you have to explain?"

"That I'm not someone's wife."

"You are someone's wife though." I glance at her in the rear-view mirror and I'm pretty sure she could split people down the middle just by looking at them. Gordon was right. I like her.

"I mean I'm not just someone's wife. They kept sending these men who called me 'dear' and didn't have any understanding of what I actually do."

"I hear you."

"They all know who my husband is, because of course they do, so they assume I'm just an accessory. Do I look like an accessory?"

"I don't know how to answer that. I don't want to insult you."

"Go ahead. Say what you mean. I respect people who do that."

"OK then, you don't look like an accessory. You look good, well put-together. But you don't look like anyone's accessory. How's that?"

"It's the truth." She smiles for real and I guess that's a rare occurrence. It doesn't look wrong on her though. It looks like a secret.

"So, we headed straight to the address in the text?"

"Yes. We're taking an associate for a short drive and a conversation."

A conversation. God. I start the car. "That sounds ominous."

"It is, for him. He needs to be reminded that he isn't smarter than everyone around him."

"How's he going to take the news?" They never take that sort of news well.

"Badly, probably. That's what central locking and tinted windows are for." Her tone suggests a level of experience and control that I don't see often, even in this profession.

"Where do want to go after we pick him up?"

"Head for the motorway, keep to the speed limit. I'll let you know if I want you to pull off and, assuming everything goes as planned, I'll let you know when we'll be bringing him home again."

"I know you're the boss, but please don't shoot him in the car. Or next to the car. Or anywhere near the car." I don't know if I get to expect that request to be honoured, but it's my car, so I at least get to ask.

"Is that what you think I'm going to do?" She looks kind of like she's fucking with me, like there's a sense of humour in there somewhere. She's layers of unexpected.

"I don't know, but once someone's got a gun pointed at someone else's head, it's too late to ask them to wait. I mean, you can ask, but usually by then it's going to happen regardless. And getting the car clean after one of those is a fucking nightmare."

"I have people for that."

Of course she does. I bet she has people for cleaning everything off everything else. "I'm sure you do, but still."

"And I'm not going to shoot him. I'm just going to talk to him."

"Everyone's just going to talk to someone and the next thing you know, there's brains all over the window and the whole thing gets really complicated." I'd rather be staring down her gun than her temper though. The frosty ones are the worst.

"It sounds like you're speaking from experience." She leans forward, making eye contact in the mirror. I'm getting used to it. I can see how a lot of people wouldn't. I like her directness. There's no bullshit and it's refreshing.

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