Bucharest, ROMANIA (aka “Little Paris of the East”)
Time: 1800 hours
Mission: Surveillance of a known Middle Eastern arms dealer
The rain came down in a drizzle, enough of a nuisance to interfere with their mission. Griffin Bradley III positioned himself in an old abandoned brick building which had probably been an architectural treasure before years of damage from earthquakes and war had ravaged it. From the twelfth floor window, he focused his army-issue digital binoculars on a small corner café across the street.
A quick sweep of the area assured him his team was in position. Tyler Jackson, the younger of the two, manned a post in a more modern building catty-corner from him, snapping pictures with a lens the size of a movie camera.
From this vantage point, Griff could only see the back end of the non-descript black car parked around the corner, but he knew Ryan Fitzpatrick, his second in command, was there with his binoculars also trained on the café about a hundred yards away.
Talking into his headset, Griff said, “Target out of view.”
“I got him,” Ty said. “He just sat down at a table in the back, up against the wall.”
“I’ve got eyes on him, too,” Ryan chimed in. “He’s a big son-of-a-bitch.”
“The bigger they are...well, you know the rest,” Ty said before reciting a play by play into his headset. “Waitress just took his order. He’s looking around. Seems a bit nervous, fidgety.”
“Wonder if it’s going to be our lucky day?” Ryan interjected.
Griff slammed his fist on the worn and rotted window sill. “Damn umbrellas. I can’t see a thing.”
“Wait. What do we have here?” Ty’s voice rose an octave. “A man just approached the target, and he’s taking off his raincoat like he’s staying. Hang on, I’m zooming in.” He paused. “Jesus! It’s a woman. I’ve gotta refocus to get a better close-up.”
“What’s he doing with a woman?” Griff lowered his binoculars. “I’m moving in for a closer look, too.” He grabbed his equipment and hauled ass down the unstable corridor, reaching the stairwell and bounding down the steps three to four at a time. An easy task for his six-foot-two frame.
“Christ! What a woman. Tall, blonde, and calling my name. Damn shame she’ll never get to see first hand what my real expertise is.” Ty whistled. “Would you look at those legs?”
Though Griff could no longer see him, he knew his hyper-testosteroned comrade would have that shit-eating grin all over his face. He should have that look copyrighted. Oh, to be young again and still that naïve about the opposite sex.
“Oh, yeah. What a waste to hide them under those baggy pants,” Ryan added. “I’m thinking a short skimpy skirt, maybe black leather.”
“When you two are done critiquing the chick, would you mind telling me what the hell is happening?” Griff mumbled, as he made his way to the first floor.
“Yes, sir. She just sat down in the booth with the target,” Ty radioed.
“Don’t take it personal, kid. Bradley’s screwed up when it comes to women,” Ryan said, unable to hide the tease in his voice.
Slightly out of breath, Griff said, “Screw you, Fitzpatrick. We’re here to watch our Middle Eastern guy, not judge a beauty contest.”
Ty pressed on. “She handed him a piece of paper, sir, just as the waitress served them two cups of coffee.”
“Two cups? Then he was expecting her.” Griff cursed. “And quit freakin’ calling me sir, Jackson.”
“Yes, sir. Bradley. Griff, sir,” Ty answered as if he was saluting his boss over the radio.
Ryan laughed into his headset. The whole team knew Ty had a lot to learn and was overly eager to please. “Lighten up, Griff. I can think of a lot worst names he could call you.”
Ty continued. “He’s leaning in toward her. They’re either intimate or whispering.”
“Are you looking at the same ugly mug I am? Did you get a load of those scars on his greasy terrorist face? Jesus, that’s a face only a mother could love.” Ryan focused back on the woman. “My money’s on whispering.”
Griff positioned himself on the main floor and looked through his binoculars. “Fitzpatrick, will you keep your head in the game? We’re here to nail the scumbag, not speculate about his non-existent sex life.”
“So you agree?” Ryan chided.
Griff rolled his eyes, not bothering to respond.
After a few moments of silence, Ty finally reported in. “They’re still talking. And for the record, there’s no way that babe is dancing with him under any sheet, not unless there’s a helluva money exchange. Even then...” His voice trailed off.
“Think she’s a pro?” Griff asked.
“No way. She’s way too hot. The only way that ugly dude could pop her is in his dreams.”
“The kid’s an expert. A genuine lady magnet I’ve personally seen in action.” Ryan sounded proud, as if he’d taught the kid everything he knew.
Griff stifled a grin and attempted to locate the target, as he scanned the cafe. “For the love of God, would you two.—”
Ty interrupted, “They’re getting up, sir. He’s helping her with her coat.”
“Fitzpatrick, move. I want you on their heels,” Griff ordered, scrambling to his feet and heading toward the front exit of the old building. “Go! We can’t lose him now.”