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Shaw had to admit, it did feel like the universe had a mildly twisted sense of humour. She was looking for Michael’s CIA contact, and it turned out to be Veronica Sinclair. Shaw knew that name.

She’d had it on her arm for as long as she could remember.

Darkly amused, Shaw found the hotel room where they’d arranged to meet. She knocked. A few seconds later, it swung open.

“You must be Sam. Veronica Sinclair,” a brunette offered a hand.

It was about that instant Shaw knew she was lying.

She was one of the lucky ones, so people said. She’d known friends whose tattoos had been woefully generic: and most people just had to go on relying on blind luck. Most had no way to predict when they’d hear those fateful words.

Whereas her arm said, exactly, you must be Sam. Veronica Sinclair. She had a name: she knew who to look for. In a curious few free months, she tracked down every Veronica Sinclair in whatever country she found herself in.

She’d not expected much. She didn’t love, she didn’t expect much of a soulmate. It was morbid curiosity, more than anything: which poor fool was unlucky enough to be bonded to someone who couldn’t care back?

She hadn’t been very bothered when none of the Veronicas had tattoos matching her first words.

Why would she be? She wasn’t one of those soulmate-seekers she’d seen on the news.

But it did mean she’d recognize anyone called Veronica Sinclair. This wasn’t one of them. Shaw smiled, and didn’t say a word.

Given she needed to talk to the real Veronica, this couldn’t be good. She lashed out: punched. ‘Veronica’ stepped back, and ducked, looking mildly surprised.

Then there was a taser, and burning paralysis. Shaw slumped to the floor.

‘Veronica’ dragged her by her wrists, bringing her over to a chair. Shaw twitched, trying to shake off the paralysis the moment she came back to awareness.

“I read your file,” she was saying. “And I’m kinda a big fan, so I really don’t want to hurt you. I just need the name.”

Then she started explaining herself: something about a project called Northern Lights, something about leads. Shaw tuned it out. That sort of thing rarely interested her.

Part of her wondered though. It was moments like this she felt certain the universe had a sense of humour. Similar to her sense of humour too, for that matter. Whether that was worth anything, she couldn’t say.

But sooner or later she’d have to speak. Then, she’d know for sure. She wasn’t completely sure she wanted to.

Then ‘Veronica’ lifted up the iron, heating it all the way up. She bent over, almost straddling Shaw, a bizarrely endearing smile on her face. Still, her eyes gave Shaw a slight chill.

She ripped Shaw’s shirt open, ostensibly to give the iron better access. Still, she caught a glimpse of Shaw’s tattoo, curling over her heart, under her top. You must be Sa-

“So you’re going to tell me the name of his contact,” ‘Veronica’ said. She tilted her head, curiously.

She held the iron close to Shaw’s face: she could feel the heat emanating from it. Shaw couldn’t help a smirk.

“One of the things I left out of my file,” Shaw said. “I kind of enjoy this sort of thing.”

And there, that near-imperceptible moment when not-Veronica’s eyes widened. She knew those words.

“I am so glad you said that,” ‘Veronica’ said, her beaming smile spreading until it lit up all of her face. “I do too.”

And then a phone rang, and the people with guns burst in, but all that was rote. Shaw never lost that smirk.

She’d never had a high opinion of soulmates, but this? Oh, this was going to be fun.