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The texter had withheld their number, but Sally clicked on the URL anyhow, in case the message was from an informer. What came up instead was a video of some elderly bloke talking.

Correction: the PLO chairman addressing the United Nations, with some earnest young female translator droning about his plans. Till she announced, in a suddenly familiar posh voice: "No-one's really watching this channel, are they, rather than Al Jazeera? Nor is this speech full of coded messages to sleeper cells in Milwaukee, which the official UN translators, in league with Obama Bin Laden, are covering up. But someone high up is panicking that it is, so I'm stuck here doing a translating job rather than at home with my girlfriend."

Sally scrambled for her laptop, and pulled up the BBC 24 website. There was Mahmoud Abbas giving his speech, and a translator faithfully reciting its boring clauses. So how was the other voice doing it? She didn't need to ask why, now.

"I've had a week in New York," Anthea's voice went on. "Seven nights fondling my own pale nipples, not her cafe au lait ones. My damp hand between my thighs, not hers."

The BBC cameras were scanning the Assembly Hall now. But though Sally strained her eyes, she still couldn't catch a glimpse of her favourite brunette.


Anthea's postcard from Rome arrived at Sally's house the morning after she'd heard her at the UN, because Anthea was officially on holiday there. She'd scrawled a cheery message wishing Sally was with her, telling her to get her leave booked promptly the next time Anthea had a holiday planned.

All lies for public consumption, of course; Anthea would never be allowed to take Sally with her on a mission. Inevitable, but it hurt all the same. Still, at least Anthea was missing her. Maybe time to make her miss Sally even more? She phoned the London contact number she had. Anthea's voice on the answer phone, but who knew who was listening? Well, time to wake up the grey suits of MI5.

"Good morning, Anthea," Sally purred. "I've got a late shift, so I'm still in bed. And you know what I've found? Your missing pair of knickers. Chinese silk, you told me, handwash only. But I haven't bothered to wash them, just put them on. They still smell of you, but pretty soon they're going to smell of both of us, my juices as well as yours."

The thing that Anthea needed to realise about Sally Donovan, she thought, as she put the phone down five lascivious minutes later, was that she would never allow herself to be beaten.