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John was not used to his heart beating this hard, at least not when someone wasn’t coming after him with a weapon. His blood raced through his veins as his car raced down the open road. He was headed into HQ to tender his resignation, only “tender” wasn’t quite the right word for it. There was nothing tender about the way he was feeling concerning M9 right now. As a matter of fact, he was finished. Even if he didn’t have a better way to spend his life, he would have made the decision to quit. The assignments he had recently pushed him over the edge. His relationship with Laura simply sealed the deal.

He was feeling an edge of excitement as he anticipated his and Laura’s time coming up in Austria. He hoped she would be game to consider his plan for a tropical vacation. He wanted to discuss a more permanent future with her then. Maybe she would consider some sort of life together… maybe even marriage.

John realized he might be tough to live with. He liked things to be a certain way. He didn’t consider himself to be obsessive-compulsive, but he liked things orderly. He preferred his clothes hung with the hangers all facing one direction. He liked the forks in his kitchen to be lined up nicely in the fork section of the silverware holder and the knives to be in the knife section, and so on. What if Laura found his quirks tiresome? What if he found her free-spiritedness trying? They needed to consider these things seriously. Or did they? Maybe he should, for once, throw caution to the wind.

His thoughts were interrupted as he pulled through the gate allowing him entrance to the M9 garage. There was satisfaction in this moment and the heels of his shoes echoed as he paced through the hall confidently. By the time he reached the doors of his handler, he was at storm-temper level. He pulled the resignation letter from his jacket and slammed it down on the desk. His well-rehearsed speech slipped from his mind and, instead, a tirade burst from his lips regarding dishonorable directives given to him and unethical requests sent his way over recent years. He didn’t care. He just didn’t care anymore. He needed peace. Glancing down, he noticed he had somehow broken the fine china saucer sitting under his handler’s teacup. Well, too bad. He left the office, feeling free for the first time in a long while.

The drive home was slower than the drive there. He was contemplating how he would give Laura the news… and should he buy a ring before leaving to Austria? No, he didn’t want anything to delay him. Besides, maybe she would want to pick it out. His arms ached for her, his body had a palpable pain, a longing, as he thought of her. He was going to go back to his flat to grab a few things, then head straight to the airport. There should be a plane he could catch tonight.

John moved up the stairs swiftly, he thought that if he was the whistling type, he might even be moved to start a chipper little tune like some sappy fellow from a film. He opened his suitcase and grabbed the brochures for the vacations he wanted to share with Laura. He wondered which places would take her fancy. They would just lie back on a chaise-lounge and sip drinks from glasses with little umbrellas. He stared into the distance for a moment then realized he felt a bit lightheaded. Something was in the air. Before he could get his wits about him, he was down.