Chapter 4

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Thames House in London was the central headquarters for MI5 and second home to people like Harry Pearce, who headed the Counter-Terrorism department. Alexa had first set foot on Section D, as Harry called it, when she first returned from Moscow nine years before.

She was nineteen then, and when Harry had met her on the airplane that would take her home to London, she looked nothing like the girl he had remembered a year before. She had looked like a child in her oversized coat jacket, her hair disheveled, and her lip split from the last of Mikhael's beatings. Beneath the coat, he found her arm broken where Mikhael had kicked it and immediately Harry ordered something to one of the women who stood next to him, prompting her to run off inside the plane in search for medical supplies.

Without any hesitation, Harry had literally carried her into the first class cabin, her legs having given way beneath her at the realization that it was all real, that Lucas had succeeded in his unspoken promise to get her home. As she slept, Harry had bathed her wounds with warm compresses and brushed her hair that had been in knotty tangles around her thin face.

He'd provided her with new clothes to wear before the plane landed at Heathrow and informed her that he would have to take her to Section D where her father would be waiting for her. They arrived almost at midnight when thankfully, the lobby of Thames House was deserted except for the staff assigned to check employees in and out of the building.

Alexa's memories of stepping onto the lobby were hazy but she didn't mind. What had mattered then was that she was finally home, and her nightmare was finally over.

The man at one of the desks designated to check guests eyed Alexa suspiciously as she surrendered her purse, glad that she'd decided not to pack her gun inside. Since seeing Lucas last week, she felt safer knowing he was back in London - surely just a silly girl's thought - and she had since hidden her two guns in her closet, high up on the shelves where she was certain Liam would never have access to.

She'd made sure to empty the magazine, storing them in a separate shelf. Though Alexa knew she was a much better shot than she admitted herself to be, she hoped she would never have to fire the gun at anyone ever.

Alexa watched as the man behind the counter picked up the phone to call Harry and after a few words spoken in a low voice, he looked up, his creased brow smoothening. He hung up the phone and tapped a few buttons on the console. Within minutes, a man in a dark suit approached them.

"Visitor for Harry Pearce," he said to the newcomer and to Alexa: "He'll be escorting you, miss."

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 A few people were sitting at their desks when Alexa entered Section D and she was grateful to see that Lucas was nowhere to be seen. As people looked up, watching her walk past them towards Harry's office door, their curiosity was immediately replaced by whatever task they had at hand. Though it was unusual to see an outsider inside the Grid, everyone knew that Harry's business was entirely his own.

As the door to Harry's office opened, a tall woman with straight blonde hair emerged and Alexa stepped aside to let her through. She'd once met Ros Myers at the shooting range a few years earlier and admired the woman for her skill with a gun. She was an excellent shot and had even given her a few pointers. Cold, but excellent nonetheless.

"Mr. Pearce. Miss George here to see you, sir." her escort said and as Alexa walked into Harry's office, the man closed the door behind her.

Harry's office had a view of his employees through the glass window that faced his desk. The vertical blinds were open and though it gave Alexa a view of his team working at their desks or talking amongst themselves at various points of the room, she knew that it also gave them a view of her. As Alexa stood before Harry, her composure slowly crumbled at the realization at how much power Harry held, and how much responsibility he had to bear. Suddenly, the fear of her breaking down in front of him gave Alexa pause.

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