“This is payback for Sausalito isn’t it?” her partner asked.
“Damn right it is.” She told him moving the phone handset from her left shoulder to her right. “I’m packing up. This has to work. I can’t stay here another day.”
“Not the sorority type Peggy?” he laughed.
“Three months is too much.” She said as he continued laughing. “And by the way you do not get to pick the names for missions anymore. Ever.”
“I’m going to pay for that too aren’t I?”
“Oh yeah you can count on it.”
“Not this time?”
“Not this time.” she repeated and she began laughing.
She heard him sigh heavily on the other end of the line. This just made her laugh harder and smile all the more.
“The signal?” she finally said while catching her breath.
“You’ll know it.”
“Come on Phil what did you decide on? So I can get upstairs.”
“You’ll know when it’s time.”
“You might like undercover but it’s not my thing. Besides we haven’t really been able to talk since this assignment started. What have you cooked up?”
He didn’t get to answer as there was a knock at her door and she told her partner she’d see him later. Closing up her duffle bag she went to the door.
“Peggy are you ready?” Babs, their mark’s daughter, asked.
“Just finishing up my packing. I can’t wait to see my brother. It’s been so long.”
“Qiang is flying in from Hong Kong right?”
Melinda shook her head yes and gave the room one last look. She went to the bed to grab her bag. The room had been cleared of all signs of Peggy Leung. All she needed to do was grab her keys by the nightstand and wipe down the phone. It was all part of her plan and would help with her story when she would have to step out of the party. She took an engraved handkerchief from atop her bag and went towards the nightstand. With her back to the other occupant of the room she quickly wiped the phone down while picking up the keys. Then turned around wiping at her forehead.
“Are you all right?” Babs asked.
“I think it’s just the excitement of the party and seeing Qiang.”
“Do you need to sit? Mandy’s waiting downstairs but we can wait a few minutes if you need.”
“Oh Babs we can’t have you late to your own party.”
The two women walked down the stairs to find Mandy pacing.
“You two were taking forever.”
She listened as Babs apologised and made a remark about Peggy’s fragile state. She hadn’t lied to Phil that the last months had been torture. Meek was never her style but to get to their mark she had to become something so foreign to herself she was sure this mission would fail. But getting accepted was easier than she thought it would be. Once it was discovered Peggy’s father was a wealthy Hong Kong industrialist she was welcomed with open arms. It seemed the only colour this sorority saw was Green.
She was quiet as they drove on to Bab’s family home. Going over the layout of the den in her head while the other two women discussed Bab’s upcoming wedding. Shield had received Intel that Bab’s father was more than just a high profile criminal attorney. He had taken to some criminal activity of his own that had proven quite profitable for him. His secretary had made contact, after a crisis of conscience, and was going to deliver up all the arms shipments he’d made for the past five years. It was to be on a microchip that she would leave at her employer’s home. Shield’s best idea had been to have her make contact with the daughter. So for the past three months she’d been living in the same sorority as Babs Jansen and hating every minute of it. She paused in her reflection to laugh along with the other two women at something Mandy said.
“Did Babs tell you I’m going out with a history major?”
“A history major? I didn’t realise you liked the brainy type.”
“He’s really great. I think he wants to be a teacher like his father.”
“A teacher?” Mandy said clearly in shock as she stopped the car suddenly. “What will your father think?”
“bàba won’t care as long as I’m happy.”
“Honey,” Babs asked her as the other woman began driving again, “where he’s from?”
“Oh my God Peggy. Wisconsin? A teacher? Your father will have a stroke.”
“What? Phil’s a good guy.”
“Phil? Peggy really. He’s here on a scholarship isn’t he?”
“He has no money Peggy. How is he supposed to take care of you on a teacher’s salary?”
“We aren’t getting married. It’s just been a few dates.”
"My first date with John it was foremost in my mind. As soon as I found out he had aspirations for the senate I knew I would marry him.”
“What about love?” Peggy asked.
“That’s what the nanny and tennis instructor are for.”
Melinda laughed along with them despite the disgust she felt in the pit of her stomach. Phil really was going to owe her for this mission. It was one thing to have to be fake for the cover story but these people lived fake every day of their lives. Yes her partner was going to owe her big time.
Mandy stopped the car and waited for the gate to Bab’s family home to open. Only a few more hours Melinda told herself and Peggy Leung would cease to exist. You can do this.
There were already around fifteen other young women there. The drive was filled with cars and Melinda made certain of any potential threats when she was to make her exit. She held her duffle bag close and waited for the Jansen’s housekeeper to show her where she could freshen up. Fragile Peggy was having a bit of a headache. Lucky for her the room she was shown to was three down from the den. It would be easy to retrieve the microchip and leave via the balcony off the den.
An hour passed and she made the rounds waiting for the distraction to show. The planned distraction better show up soon Melinda didn’t know if she could take one more conversation about house staff, nannies or shoes. Checking her watch she excused herself to the downstairs bathroom. Looking in the mirror she couldn’t wait to ditch the pastel blouses and skirts she’d been wearing for these past months. It would be back to black and she couldn’t be happier.
It had gotten quite loud out in the siting room. Now would be the time to grab the microchip but she wanted to make certain he was here. She walked back in to find Mandy standing in the doorway with her partner and it took all Melinda’s training to not break out in the biggest grin possible. There he stood in a police offers uniform holding a CD player.
“Excuse me ladies,” he said, “I’m officer Roger Stevens and we received a noise complaint concerning this residence. I need to speak with Babs Jansen.”
The group of women began giggly madly while pushing Babs to the front. Phil was saying something else but Melinda found she wasn’t paying close attention. Leave it to her partner to come through in a big way. By this time he had set the CD player down and pushed play. She backed out of the room slowly as she heard the beginning chords of I’m Too Sexy. As he began unbuttoning his uniform shirt while shaking his hips she decided this time around she’d let him off the hook. Undercover might not be that bad after all.