My shoes squeaked as they touched the sparkling floor of the Space Station. I felt clumsy for a spy – after all it wasn’t often that I couldn’t help drawing attention to myself.
A tall, handsome officer, a few years older than me, made his way down the corridor. In his arms rested a little bundle of blankets.
I tried to relax. It was just an assignment after all – a punishment really. I had to learn to take better care of those on my team, the headmaster had said. I still thought that was quite unfair of him. He didn’t get it. I would care for the team, if he for once placed me in a group with students actually worthy of the sacrifice.
“Adeline Russo,” the man’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Marcus O’Donnell.” It wasn’t much of a reply but the intense way we evaluated each other for a moment said all there had to be said.
Inside my head, it sounded something like this.
“So, you’re the new golden boy, most promising young officer and, may I add, dashing as hell?” I envisioned myself asking this with a daring smile and I was almost sure I let that sneak onto my lips.
“So, you’re the dangerous mix of ninja skills and quick brains that drew the short stick?” his husky voice said inside my head.
What a juicy moment it could have been. I observed him with some pleasure. Then, I noticed the ring on his finger and the sassy exchange inside my imagination was thrown out into the cold.
“I received the legal guardian agreement. Thank you for taking care of it so quickly,” O’Donnell said.
I was momentarily confused. It had taken more than a month to sort it all out legally. That was anything but speedy by my standard. Looking at the protective way he’d wrapped his hands around the little pink creature though, I felt an unfamiliar pang in my chest.
“Has she grown on you?” I asked, serious and nothing like the dumb flirt I had fancied myself to be.
“Quite a bit,” he answered, letting the necessary formality drop. “I have one myself. He’s about a month younger than her.”
“You and your wife must be very happy,” I offered the expected cliche.
Pain flashed across his expression for a second. Then he continued in his business tone. “We still have no information about how she was abandoned. It would be wise to stay alert.”
My mouth hung open for a second before I pursed my lips hard enough to draw blood.
I had been trained since a child. I had infiltrated not one, but three of the most notorious drug gangs in Russia. I had crashed networks in place since the Quakes. And I wasn’t even eighteen yet. Who was he to doubt me?
“She’ll be protected,” I managed to squeeze through my teeth.
He nodded, but he didn’t hand over the baby just yet.
“I’ll be in touch, if anything else comes to light,” he added, shifting the little one in his arms.
I motioned to take her to me and he finally gave in. “You may have trouble finding us,” I warned him. I wasn’t hostile now. “I do have to keep my identity hidden for assignments and I move a fair share.”
“Noted,” was all he said. There was no denying what a catch this man was. Shame I wouldn’t hear from him ever again.
His noble, blue eyes were still fixed on the sleeping baby.
In my arms, she was light as a feather and as tiny as I could have imagined – by far, my oddest assignment to date, but no matter. I would excel at it all the same. If this little girl needed to stay off the radar and be protected, then so it would be.
The baby blinked the sleep away and opened a toothless mouth into a yawn.
I paused, biting on my lip. Oh, no. I could already feel it. The difference.
The mean girl, who always whispered in my ear, that sassy temptress I owed most of my achievements to. The pink baby dimmed her light, forcing her out.
I was losing her already.
But if she left, who would be there to replace her?
Author’s Note: Thank you all for reading and keeping up with the story.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into Adeline’s side of the story!