Just Another Christmas

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Part 1

Just Another Christmas

A short story (draft) from the Mata Hari Series

December 23, 9 p.m.

Alone in the Christmas season, I toast the empty air in front of me with my wine glass, take a sip and wonder, not for the first time, if I should have done things differently. In my left hand, I hold a crumpled photo of a beautiful, baby boy.

The stagnant smell of rushed humanity, of sweat and toil, frantic love making, and failed business deals permeate my hotel room.  My Gucci stilettoes lay scattered by the door, where I kicked them off ten minutes ago. On the bed lay my overnight bag unopened, my prized possession, a chocolate-brown, leather coat I bartered for in at the Mercato Centrale in Florence and my real American passport. I toss my long hair behind my shoulders. I shouldn’t whine. Living a double life—international fashion model by day and CIA operative by night—is fun, but complicated. I can’t expect to feel normal at any time of year, least of all during the yuletide.

I shake my head. The Michael Bublé tape playing in the taxi got to me. That’s all it took, one handsome crooner singing about the joy of going home. Home. Get a grip Sadie. It’s just another Christmas.

I touch the baby’s face and smile, remembering his sweet, newborn smell. This would be his first. I exhale slowly.

Jeremiah should have called by now. Taking an assignment seemed like a good idea yesterday, when I was losing at Texas Hold’em in a private, poker game in Venice. I thought it would be a good way to get my mind off of being alone, but I should have known better. There are many things you can run away from, but aloneness is not one of them. It follows you everywhere.

I pour another glass. What the hell am I doing here? With my luck it will snow.

My cell phone rings. Jeremiah’s code, 956, shows on the screen

“Sadie honey,” he says in his distinctive, honey-dipped drawl.

I imagine him sitting in his glass office, in the CIA headquarters in Langley, dressed in a black, Wall Street suit with no tie, surrounded by three large computer monitors, his vintage chess set in mid-game, and several cups of half-drank, Earl Gray tea. A master spook in his younger years, he now manipulates a sea of spies. I’m about to say something, when he continues.

“How are you, darlin’?”

Jeremiah Cole never asks about my health unless I’ve been shot. “Jeremiah?” I say.


“Why Vancouver?”

“Like I said yesterday, this operation is off the books.”

Interesting, but that’s not new. Most of my assignments are covert. My status as an international model gets me into a lot of places easily, that other people can’t get into, and I’m good at acquiring information. Long legs and high cheekbones have their advantages. My code name is Mata Hari. I wait for him to say more. Perhaps it has something to do with the Russians again.

“It’s personal.”

“How personal?” I ask.

“A member of my family has been taken.”


Part 2 – soon





Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

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