Chapter 1: I ALWAYS WILL...NEED YOU
Reade paces his office, first deciding to go ahead and go home, then
changing his mind and staying to wait for Zapata's call...ten minutes
into his vigil, the screen on his iPhone lights up: TASHA ZAPATA!
"Goddamn...Tasha, where are you? Are you okay?!" His emotions are in absolute
conflict: fury at Zapata for disappearing, and relief that she finally made contact.
"I'm going to Switzerland, Reade...I'm going after Madeline's hidden stash. I know
where it is-I can get there and be back before anyone's the wiser."
"Come back here, to the office. We'll figure it out; just come here-to me."
"I can't...Reade, listen..."
"You can't just take off on your own! You need help, I can get it to you-I'll send
"Reade, READE!! Listen-just LISTEN for a second-Marry me."
"What...ok, WHAT!? Marry you? Did you say...?! Ahhh...WHAT, now?!
"Right now. Tonite."
Chapter 2: MARRY ME
"Ok...ALL-right...you said: Marry you...MARRY YOU."
"I have Rich on another line-don't worry, he's muted...if you can believe it, he's
ordained in New York...he can do it right now. Over the phone."
'Tasha, don't misunderstand, ok? I have to ask: are you DRUNK?"
She laughs. I FEEL DRUNK. I feel nervous, and...HOPEFUL, and scared that you'll
say NO-I'm warning you, though; I'm not taking no for an answer."
"This is crazy! But...bring Rich on-Let's do it."
Relieved, Tasha presses *conference*, (saying to herself OH, THANK GOD) before
Rich dot com enters the conversation. 'Alright, Alright, Alright, Party People! Let's
Get it STAR-TED: What's up?!"
Edgar, understandably, is skeptical. "I'd like to see your actual credential, RDC-face time
Once he does, Reade asks, "And this is legal? It won't get over-turned or invalidated?"
"Aw, COME ON, Guys! Are we doing this or not? Chop Chop!"
Tasha chimes in. "Yeah, Chop Chop, Reade!"
"A'ight...do your thing, Rich..."
Rich recites the legally required passages, before asking: "Do you, Natasha del Carmen
Zapata Garcia, take this Man, Edgar E. Reade, as your legal Husband, to have and
to hold, blah blah blah, blah?"
"And do you, Edgar, take this one who shan't be named aloud, as your legal Wife-same
thing, same thing, blah, blah, blah blah, etc, etc?"
"Igual." (same here)
"Then by the power invested in me by the State of New York, or vice versa, you're married.
Kissing a the Bride, consumation, etc, etc, TBA. Congrats, gotta go."
ER: "Yes. Wow!"
NZ: I'm almost at the airport. I love you, and I'm so happy to be your Wife."
ER: "Igual" (same here)
Chapter 3: BECAUSE I LOVE YOU
After the call
TZ: You understand why it was so important for me to do this now, right?
ER: You always accuse me of 'over-thinking'; all I know is that I'm glad that we
did. A little unconventional, granted...and I will 'pull' on Rich if this isn't legal.
TZ: (in a sing-song voice) Over-thinking...
ER: OK, yeah. Tash, you don't have to go through with this. I can be there in...40
minutes. Wait for me."
EZ: I'm on a path, Baby...I can't go back-I can only move forward. I'm going to tell you
something that you HAVE TO KEEP QUIET. I MEAN IT, Reade...revealing this could get us
both tossed into a CIA dark site, BEST case scenario. And you can't get angry-Promise."
ER: I don't like this shit already...promise...spill."
TZ: I'm not fired by CIA. Keaton's been running me this whole time. I can still get what we need
to bring Madeline down. She's running for the biggest rock she can find to hide under, and this is the
perfect opportunity. We can GET HER Reade. We have to get her. And I'll explain it all: why I had to
deceive everyone-This is all under Keaton's orders. I had no choice. I'm telling you this now because
I trust you implicitly, and in case...
ER: NO! No 'in case'.
TZ: (gently) You know it's a possibility, My Love. What we do; it always is. Are you mad?
ER: I love you.
TZ: Yes you do. I love you more, and I will come back to you, because of that. You trusting me
now, that's HUGE, Reade. I Thank you, and I love you. Bye."
Chapter 4: STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH MADELINE
Tasha asks to be extracted, now that crazy-ass Madeline
Burke has murdered 13 people in one fell swoop. She's 'in'
(for the moment-the old bitch is PLENTY CRAFTY, and she's
already suspicious. Deputy Director Jake Keaton denies her request,
prompting her the contact Reade for support and advice.
JK: Zapata...where the fuck have you been?
TZ: Madeline has gone 100% fucking MAD. I'm not exaggerating-She-
JK: HOLD IT! Are you IN?
TZ: Madeline poisoned the ENTIRE managing board of HCI-including BLAKE...I'm talking to you, and so I'm
'probationary in'...the game has flipped, Keaton-bring me out!
JK: Negative. You're "in" now-IN you stay. And by the way-I know you spend the night at Reade's, right
before I gave you the "go"-DON'T DEFY ME AGAIN, ZAPATA.
TK: You're leaving me in to PUNISH me?
JK: Don't be ridiculous-my focus is MADELINE BURKE, now that she took-over HCI. I could give a shit who you
(Zapata is 1000% ceratin that that last statement is utter horse-shit, unless she discounts the dozens of times
the (married) Assistant Director, CIA has propositioned her, just in the last two weeks)...
TZ: Keaton, PLEASE. Bring me out-let's re-group, re-strategize.
JZ: I said NO. Get me some actionable intel. Check in every 12 if you can.
tz: Yes Sir
"Baby. I'm so glad to hear your voice. You can't imagine." Tasha tries to keep her emotions from seeping into her
speech, but Edgar knows her OH SO WELL...
"Believe me, I can. You're okay?
Her instinct is to lie, to protect him from worrying- to say that all is fine-then remembers her recent marraige vows-
to love, honor and cherish her new husband. Lying doesn't fulfill any of the latter three.
"I am, but I'm maybe NOT. Madeline cooled the whole HCI board of D, Reade-13 FUCKING PEOPLE. Blake too. Keaton
refused to extract me, says now that I'm in, that this is the best chance we have to take down HCI. He's right."
"Bullshit. He won't extract you, shoot me your coordinates-I'll bring you out. OI promised to PROTECT YOU in those
and I will DO THAT."
"NO, Pa, she chides gently. You know that we can't. I WANT YOU TO, of course I DO, but Madeline is a mass murderer.
She's as dangerous as Sandstorm. You know that I'm right."
"Doesn't make me feel any better. PROMISE that you'll be okay, Tash. You HAVE TO BE. You..just HAVE TO BE."
"Just knowing that you are there, waiting for me, loving me-I can make it now. I WILL make it. I'm going now-
I love you madly. G'night."
"Same same. Stay safe. I miss you every minute that you're away, and I love you."
Chapter 5: THE COBRA COILS
Madeline Burke dispatches Tasha to NY to break-into FBI
computer systems-Part 1 of two chapters about that mission.
Rated for Language (cursing)
Feeling a little trepidation, Tasha Zapata responds to the news from Madeline Burke's minion that
the GREAT WOMAN wants to see her right away. "Come in, Tasha" (she must have a camera secreted
somewhere in the outer office; how else would she know that the Latina is out there?)..."Sit, please-Cara?
Bring us some refreshment, please-Scotch, neat, isn't it Tasha? You know what I like, Dear." Tasha nods
yes, and Cara leaves to fill their orders.
Madeline fills her newest 'operator' in on her next task: acquire access to the FBI data files,via the A.D.'s
access codes. "Long time acquaintance of yours, isn't he? " Madeline has a knowing smirk on her lined,
though still handsome, countenance. Tasha nods curtly. "I'm sending you and another operative, waiting
for you in New York, to secure the access I desire from Mr. Reade's home computer. Claudia, the operative,
will provide you all other relevant information. Claudia is former British Intelligence; her skills should prove
to be invaluable. One more thing: I'm not concerned how the data is retrieved, nor whether The Assistant
Director survives ...or doesn't. She smiles, somewhat evilly. "You think me a monster? I only
mean that if it isn't necessary to "remove him permanently", then that is acceptable-or if it IS, so be it."
"Understood." The smile on Tasha's face might be mistaken for that of a sadist relishing an opportunity
to inflict PAIN (or DEATH)...inside though, her stomach roils. BI is known for their ruthlessness and skillcraft; if anything,
she expects in "Claudia" a very formidable adversary.
The private plane she'll be flying on departs at 1700hs; Tasha risks a call to Jake Keaton, to relay these new
developments-and to AGAIN request an extraction:
"Keaton-MB is making a move-I'm to meet an ex-BI asset in New York-tomorrow, midday. The target is READE."
She ignores this jibe. "Assistant Director Reade, CIRG-NYO."
"DM (Data Mine): FBI and joint task force-INCLUDING US. PULL ME OUT."
"Negative. We let it play out. But under NO CIRCIMSTANCES do you allow the asset to cool Reade."
(That's one fucking thing we agree on fuck-nuts, Tasha says to herself.) "Of course."