Ingrams & Assoc #2: Retreat
Copyright© 2015 by Jezzaz
Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 1 - April goes undercover, searching for potential bank robbers at a private island retreat, among lots of couples, exploring their sexuality.
Caution: This Action/Adventure Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa Fa/Fa Mult Consensual Lesbian BiSexual Heterosexual Fiction Cheating Slut Wife Wife Watching Group Sex Oral Sex Anal Sex
April Carlisle sat down in the expensive leather chair and gave her companion, Raphael Colson, the most enticing smile she knew how to give. She was dressed elegantly – cocktail dress, some jewelry, but she was very well turned out. Her hair was under control, and, for the first time in a long time, was her natural red color.
The Maitre 'D pushed her chair in and Raph sat down, after doing the half bob thing that men often do when women are seating – half standing up and half sitting, to show respect, but not push their chair out.
"You look ... stunning," said Raph, breathlessly.
It was all too bad. It was going to make what he had to do that much harder.
"Why thank you, kind sir," she whispered back. She took one of his hands across the small intimate table and squeezed it. "Let me be clear on one thing, Raph. I'm very very easy. For you, anyway. Take the pressure off. You are going to get lucky."
Raph eyes flicked away for a split second and in that instant April knew where this was going. She had microseconds to decide what she was going to do, and in that instant, she just decided 'to hell with it.'
"So, were you planning on telling me now or later?" She spoke in a conversational tone, taking a sip of water and waving off the wine waiter.
Raph's eyes blazed for a second and he looked directly into her eyes. She was non-threatening, but closed. And then he just shrugged and smiled ruefully.
"I dunno. Honestly, hadn't thought it all through, apart from the part where I was going to tell you we are done."
April sat back, playing with the water glass with both hands, and just looked at Raph, and then she said, "Can I ask why?"
"Do you really have to? April, I like you. You know it. I've used the L word twice so far, and all it got me was a blowjob. A great blowjob, to be fair, but that's it. We both know you won't use it back. And we both know you heard me, or you wouldn't have swallowed."
April's face didn't move a muscle. She wanted to see how he would do this.
"Right. From the look on your face, I can see that word isn't likely to come out of you anytime soon. The fact is, where are we going? Where is this relationship going? I wanted to take you to meet my mom, in Sacramento, and then you had this thing to do and I've not seen you in what is it, eight, nine weeks? I get the occasional call and email once in a while, and that's it. What the hell did you expect?"
Guilt trip, then. She put the water down and leaned forward.
"I expected you to be happy. When I'm here, I'm all yours. You know the deal. I explained all that when we first got together. I won't lie to you, but there is a lot I can't tell you. You knew that going in. That was the deal."
"Well, that deal might work when you are just casually dating, but we aren't. At least I'm not. I love you, April. I have since the moment I met you on that bus."
They'd met on the rental bus at O'Hare airport. She'd just finished her assignment – dealing with a high court judge who'd been dumped by his wife for the court stenographer, of all people – and was on her way back to DC. She'd got on the rental bus back to the terminal and seen him immediately. He'd had the gumption to actually smile at her, genuinely, and she'd shivered. In her line of work, she saw all sorts of pick-ups and come on's, and this was unusual. Someone who put themselves out there and just smiled, opening themselves up. She decided such audacity needed to be rewarded and she'd smiled back, then sat down.
She was aware of him staring at her the whole time, and she didn't return his stares, but allowed a smile to play on her lips. If he was any good, he'd know what the smile meant, and he'd come after her. And sure enough, as they were standing in line at the United check-in desk, somehow he managed to be next to her.
She decided to have some fun and she suddenly turned to him and said, "Excuse me, do you have a smart phone?"
He looked at her, holding his ticket in his mouth, a garment bag over one shoulder, a roll on bag at his feet and another backpack – the kind with laptops in it – and, realizing he couldn't speak, he nodded. Then he put all the bags down and fished around in his pocket and handed her a brand new iPhone. He said, removed the ticket from his mouth. "You aren't going to call anywhere expensive are you?" His voice had a very sight southern twang.
She just smiled at him, got the camera app loaded and took a self picture – what the kids were calling a 'selfie' these days, and then handed the phone back to him.
"There," she said. "That should be enough for you, and it'll never go away. Now you can stare at that, instead."
They all shuffled forward as he looked at the picture and then hemmed and hawed and then he said, "No, I don't think that's enough. I need several. In different outfits. A bikini shot, for example. No, I think what's needed here is a number of dates, in different outfits, and we can take a picture at each one, and then I'll have a collection."
April actually laughed at that and said, "Pretty sure of yourself, aren't you, slick?"
He spread his hands and said, "Honestly, what have I got to lose? You are about to get on a plane and fly out of my life, most likely. Might as well go for broke."
April considered for a moment then said, "Where is home?"
"Ok then, consider yourself reprieved. I live there too."
"Alrighty then!" he said, in the manner of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura.
She raised an eyebrow and said, "Seriously?"
"Oh, you'll love my Jim Carey. I do a good Jack Nicholson too."
"Hmm. I can see why you aren't married."
The guy got a shocked and hurt expression on his face.
So she said, "I take it back. We can't date if you don't appreciate good movies."
[Insert a line of dialogue from Raphael here.]
"Oh, I appreciate them as much as the next girl, Mr... ?" she waited for him to fill in the blank space and he did.
"Raph Colson. Raphael, if you are my mother. Which you aren't. Thankfully. Going on dates with her would be awkward. She's just not that cute any more."
"Well, Mr. Colson, I think I can safely say that I both like movies and I will not be emulating anyone's mother any time soon. I'm April, by the way."
The banter had gone on. They'd ended up on the same flight – not sitting next to each other, but the person she had sat next to had realized very quickly that Raph was interested in her, and offered to switch seats, and she got subjected to his sense of humor the entire way home, which wasn't the worst thing; he did make her laugh.
By the time they touched down, he had her number and a date, and she was wondering if she was really going to go through with it.
They'd dated eight times before she had to inform Ingrams of her status, and instigate the background check.
April worked for Ingrams & Associates, a semi secret private group that indulged in clandestine aid – usually of a sexual nature – to people who would never accept the help openly. They were available for hire for governments, agencies, large corporations; anyone who could afford their rather high rates. They worked behind the scenes, gathering profile information on the target and the situation, then they injected a field agent into the lives of the people who needed their help, to work behind the scenes and help repair the damage they were there to fix.
Usually they were hired by top level execs, looking to prop up a VP whose marriage had disintegrated and who was questioning their own position in life, or by agencies like the CIA, who were bringing in agents from longer term deep field assignments, who returned only to find their spouses pregnant with some one else's baby, or by governments, whose chief scientist had just discovered his own bi-sexuality and was completely confused about what to do about it, bearing in mind he had been married for twenty years, and was therefore ripe for blackmail.
The assignments were varied, and usually there was a large degree of investigative elements involved. Ingrams was secret, the field agents very well trained, and it completely fucked the social lives of the employees, and the company made no bones about it.
Generally, field agents lasted four to five years in the field before burn-out occurred, or, worse still, godhood was declared by the agent in question, who was so used to manipulating others around them, they couldn't do anything else.
Lies and deceit were the order of the day, and it made being part of normal society very difficult. April had been with Ingrams almost two years at this point, and was still a relative newbie. She had four operations under her belt and was feeling good about her performance in the last one, which, for once, had gone off without a hitch - and she'd met Raph in that high and decided to go for it. He was cute, he was smart, he made her laugh, why not?
She sat across from Dermot McDonald, Ingrams operations manager and second in command, at lunch one day and told him she was in a relationship and she needed them to do the first background check. Dermot was a large bluff man, with a kind face and a red nose, white hair in a tonsure [what is that?], and he still had some degree of his original Scottish accent, despite being in the US for almost thirty-five years now.
Ingrams had strict rules about relationships that developed while employed by them. What Ingrams did was more than flirting with the law. They broke it with an axe on occasion. Part of why they were so secretive was because of this, but it was also because the work they did, by definition, was clandestine.
They had rules for the field agents – no photos on the facebook page, no blogs, in short, be as off line as they could realistically be in the 21st century.
And if they dated, Ingrams had to know about it. There were three levels of relationship status, each with their own set of policies. The first was a casual relationship that was moving into exclusivity status. At that level, there was a positive vetting of the prospective partner – Ingrams basically reviewed the public knowledge of a person's life and attempted to prove that what they said about themselves was, in fact, so. Where they went to school, where they lived, who their family was and so on.
When told of this stage, April had been surprised to learn that almost twenty percent of prospective partners failed this part of the process, to a greater or lesser degree. As Doctor House says, "everybody lies."
The second stage was a declaration of intent – a marriage proposal, or moving in together. At this point, they'd do a deeper vet of the proposed spouse, looking for all the dirt that most people like to keep quiet. The bitter ex's, the drug charge, the illegitimate child in the shadows.
The third stage was an ongoing every other year vet – looking for changes in the status.
Ingrams did all this to protect everyone — themselves, the field agent, their charges. What they did more than skirted the law and a field agent could find themselves compromised easily due to blackmail of a spouse or if the spouse himself either discovered what went on at Ingrams, or had his own agenda.
It was a shitty thing to do to any employee, but it was clearly indicated before an new worker came on board; this is what we do and you know about it and accept it.
What was more interesting was that even though Ingrams told their employees what they were doing, they did not share the results with them, unless the person they were dating was considered to be a direct threat to Ingrams, and the relationship needed to be terminated. It was considered to be a huge invasion of privacy and while they had to do it, the employee would not be given all the inside scoop on their partner that Ingrams found. It was thought to be too much of an unbalancing situation, where one partner would know everything about the other, but not vice versa.
So far, in all the years that Ingrams had existed, they had only once asked an employee to break off a relationship, and that was because they'd discovered that the man in question was in actual fact Naval Intelligence. The Navy knew of Ingrams. All the major agencies did, and they were obviously attempting to penetrate it via the Captain, and he was succeeding. Ingrams needed to send a message back, and the employee was only too happy to send that message, once she realized she was being used.
In fact, Ingrams had only had to do a second background review six times in their entire history – one had failed outright and the others, while passing, the relationship had failed either just before the intended betrothal, or just past it.
Ingrams even had a specific set of protocols in place for what operatives could tell their intended. While it was a nice idea that the spouses be brought in and have everything explained to them, as a company it was just too dangerous of a possibility. What person could handle suddenly finding out that their intended was a trained sex counselor, and was often out in the field, applying those skills to try and bring resolution to other people's relationships? What relationship could survive that? Worse still, what might happen once that spouse knew what went on at Ingrams? Ingrams would have no leverage, and they'd have one pissed off spouse spoiling to get back at them. As a company it made no sense for anyone to be told the realities of what Ingrams did – and they just had to trust their field agents would understand that and not reveal themselves without authorization.
When asked, if a field agent was not on an operation or had a cover identity constructed, they informed whomever was asking that they were therapists, working with high profile clients, and as such they wouldn't talk about it – therapist / client confidentiality. And as such, it wasn't a lie – Ingrams, like most other clandestine organizations, knew that the best lies were the ones made of some truth. Some degree of truth was necessary here, and as such, what they revealed was enough to deter most people from going too much further. As such, April had explained to Raph that she was a psychologist and therapist, and that she couldn't talk about it much, both because of who some of the clients were, and also because discussing it just wasn't either legal or right. Raph had accepted it, or seemed to.
It was common knowledge that traditional relationships were all but impossible to maintain, given what the field agents were required to do as part of their duties – quite apart from the sexual aspect, agents were expected to be self sufficient in the field and that also meant they couldn't maintain any external relationships. You can't pretend to be a secretary named Martha Jones if your boyfriend was calling the office and calling you April. However, almost all agents tried at least once; it's human nature to want the companionship of another. From where Dermot was sitting, hearing April announce she was in a relationship and needing to make them aware of it, was his first indication that she was hitting this wall.
He took a sip of his diet coke, looked around from where they were sitting in the brew pub April had selected, and said, "Ok. I understand. I'm going to tell you this now April and I don't expect you to believe me, nor do I expect to change your mind, but I've got to say it, if only for my own conscience. This won't work out. You might want to think about doing yourself a favor and walking away now, because it'll end badly. These situations always do. Now I don't expect you to understand that; you'll need to go through this and come out the other end with more respect for the emotions. But just know I'm looking out for you and I'll – well, we'll all be there for you at the other end.
"Now, give me his details and I'll get started. Enjoy it while you can."
April had sat there and looked at him and not known what the best response was. She knew he was just looking out for her, but she also considered it too much. It was too much judgment. Too much parental advice. It was just too much. She was going to do it, she was going to prove them wrong and she was damn well going to enjoy it in the process. In the end she just smiled brightly, masking her thought processes and gave him the details she had.
A week later, while she was working operations for a mission Megan was on, Dermot stuck his head around the door of the operations room – a large room with monitors and computers and people looking busy all the time – and said, "April, got the background. Go ahead. He's exactly what you think he is. One manager of a mall jewelry store, nothing more."
Dermot didn't even wait till she responded – she was squinting into the light from the doorway after being confined to the dim light of the operations room; he just popped his head around the door frame and was gone.
That had been five months ago. And now, here they were, having dinner after April had just returned from an operation in Seattle, where she'd been second string to Desiree Richardson, who had been the principle player in their little drama. April had been required to concentrate on pulling a twenty one year old out of his depression, following the revelations that his mother had been abusing him for years. His mother had attempted suicide, after his father had discovered what was going on; how she's had a sexual relationship with her son for the past three years. This kind of situation was more common than was believed and as such, they would have been left to fend for themselves, had not the father in this situation not been the lieutenant governor of the great state of Washington. What was worse, what was not commonly known was that the actual governor was a figure piece – someone who looked good that people could vote for, but was actually utterly incompetent. His team knew it, he knew it and it was the lieutenant governor who actually did all the work.
When this situation was discovered, there was frantic scrambling to figure out what to do, and Ingrams had been approached.
The task had taken seven weeks to get everyone back on an even keel, and she'd been out of touch for quite some time. And that's when the rubber had met the road.
This was the second time she'd had to leave Raph, with barely any explanation. She'd made the decision that she wasn't going to lie to Raph barefacedly – she may omit a lot of what she should have told him, but she wasn't going to make things up, unless absolutely forced to.
When she left the first time, for a five-week operation, she'd just told him she had a high profile client that wanted to be treated in his own home. She couldn't say more; she just had to go – this is what her job was.
The second time, in Seattle, she'd said virtually the same thing. She could see Raph was less accepting the second time and she knew she'd have her work cut out to make him happy on her return but she didn't mind that. She knew how, and she really did enjoy making him happy. It gave her something she didn't get from the professional engagements she had. She knew she wasn't in love, but she knew she was getting more from this relationship than she was putting into it. She also knew she had to do something about that. Balance was very important to April and she knew she was short changing Raph.
When she'd gotten back, she'd made a vow to herself to make it up to Raph, to give him a few nights he'd never forget. She was even considering asking Megan to join in. And then they'd sat down for dinner and she could see it all coming to an end.
"Where do you see this going, April?"
She was sitting there, trying to decide how to answer.
"I don't know. Somewhere, I don't know. I mean, we are happy, right? What we have now?"
"See, that's just it. You won't look to the future because you know there isn't one. You go off on your secret little jaunts and do god knows what – April, you are a therapist, not the CIA. What are you doing for eight weeks? Where the hell were you? I understand there's stuff you can't tell me, but to get nothing out of you for weeks at a time? How am I supposed to deal with that? What happens if we get married? Am I supposed to have a wife who just vanishes for months at a time? What if we have kids? What then, April?"
April knew she had no answers. She'd deliberately not thought about this, or when she had, she kidded herself that the relationship would just chug along, as it had done, and everyone would be happy. This was her job. This is what she did. Why couldn't he accept that? When she was here, she was his, unreservedly. When she was gone, well, she had things to do. It was what her job required. He would never know, so what difference did it make?
But it did, and she knew it.
"Kids? You've got us married and with kids, and we've only known each other six months, Raph?"
"No, we've known each other three and a half months April. You've been gone for the rest of the time."
She knew it was done. She wasn't going to change her job. She liked Raph, but in a show down between her job and him, he was going to lose. And she knew that she'd have to do it, just like Dermot had said.
She took a deep breath and decided that she had to let him off the hook easy. This could go quite nasty and she'd rather it ended in a way that he didn't absolutely hate her.
"OK. I understand. I think you need more than I can give you right now Raph. I'm sorry, I just ... I don't think I can give you what you need. I guess I was just hoping we'd maintain the status quo, but I can see why you want more. I get that for you, a relationship is a series of levels and you want to progress to the ultimate one. For me, it's more of a background thing. It's what it is, and it's there to support me in my goals and things I want to do." She acknowledged the elephant in the room.
"See, even that April, it's vague and unclear. 'Goals'? 'Things I want to do'? What are those? You've never shared anything like that with me. I have no idea what your goals are, what you want to do. We don't talk about stuff like that. And I don't think we can. I think that whatever it is that you do won't let you. I'm seriously starting to think you have some second life that needs to be kept separate from the first, the way you behave."
That alarmed April a bit, since he was pretty much spot on.
"So what do you suggest?" she asked, trying to pull the conversation back on track. If he was going to break up with her, might as well lance it now.
"I dunno April. What do you suggest?"
She took a sip of her drink and said, "Mexican standoff, then?"
He laughed. It was a phrase with them – anytime she wanted to do something and he didn't, and vice versa, they had called it a Mexican Standoff. She'd even bought them big mustaches and sombreros one weekend and dressed up while making breakfast.
"I guess. I suppose I came here looking to see if there was a higher direction for this relationship to go in. You're right, I do want more. You are awesome and I want more of it. But from your demeanor and reaction, I don't think it's on the cards, is it?"
April bit her lip. "Raph, you are such a great guy. You really are. But this is what I do, and I love it. I trained hard for it, and now I have it. We don't have the kind of relationship that will enable me to give it up right now. I do see that this is mostly my fault though; I just wanted to say that. We can't have the relationship you want because it would mean me giving up what I do, and I'm just not there yet – in terms of our relationship, nor doing what I set out to do. I've only been at this eighteen months and I'm just getting into my groove. I see the catch 22 of this, but I don't really know what to do about it. I'm sorry."
Raph sighed and his eyes dropped to the table.
"I figured. Well, worth trying. No hard feelings April, ok? I hope that one day you find what you are looking for."
He held out his hand over the table to April who just looked at it. She pushed her chair back, got up and came round the table and grabbed Raph, pulled him and up and crushed him to her, kissing him hard.
"You are very special, Raph. There will always be a place in my heart for you. I'm here if you need me."
Raph hugged April tight, then gently disengaged himself, stepped back and said, "We could have had it all. I just don't think you are ready for that. Be happy April. See you."
And with that, he turned and left, not looking back. April sank back into her seat and then the tears did flow.
A week later, April was sitting in her office, finishing up the expense reporting from the last mission, when Dermot knocked on the doorframe.
"Knock knock," he said, smiling in on her.
"Hey Dermot. What's up?" said April, looking up from the mess of receipts on her desk.
"Got a live one for you." He held up a folder bulging with documents.
April sighed internally. Since her break up with Raph, she just didn't seem to have the same zest for life. She knew she'd made the right decision – she simply didn't have the feelings for him that he had for her - but in doing so, it had made her face some realities in a way she'd never had to before.
It's one thing to sit in a meeting and be told, "This will destroy your social life", while you are still very excited about the opportunity being placed in front of you. In that situation you generally aren't thinking about what you are giving up, just what you are gaining. But eighteen months later, when the true cost of what you have given up is made clear to you, it sucks more than most will admit.
April knew she was feeling sorry for herself, and she also knew that perhaps a new mission was what she needed. If she did have to give up a normal relationship, perhaps what she needed was a reminder of what she gave it up for.
"OK!" said April, artificially brightly. She could see Dermot pick up on it as a cloud covered his face.
"You ok? I know that break up must have been tough..."
"Yeah, I'll be fine. You were right. I just ... need something to focus on, you know? What have you got for me?"
Dermot came into the room and sat down in the chair opposite on the visitor side of the desk. He put the folder down on the desk and pushed it towards her, trying to avoid all the little clumps of receipts April had arranged.
"Interesting one. South Pacific seas. Know much about Fiji?"
April made a face. "Coconuts? Diving? A volcano?"
Dermot laughed and said, "Not far off it. But I'm jumping ahead of myself right now. You are going to need a bikini for this one, but let me get back to the beginning. Ever heard of Northwestern State Bank?"
April thought hard. "No, I don't think so. Should I?"
"No real reason you should. They are based around the Pacific Northwest – Seattle, Portland and so on. They were originally a merchant bank who then got into regular banking when a bunch of banks went bust in 2010 in that area. They have about sixty or so locations now, which is fairly big. Lots of expansion in the past two years. Anyway, they do this ... thing. It's a reward thing for the managers of the top eight performing branches. They've been doing it for the past four years.
"The CEO and majority owner of Northwestern has his own private island down in the south pacific. It's anchored in a bay at Kadavu Island, which is just south of Fiji. So once a year, he lends it out to the top eight performers to go down and spend a week soaking up the rays, do some snorkeling and so on. The island itself – it's built by an Austrian company called Osoros – has four levels, houses eight luxury cabins and five cabins for the staff. There's a cook, a butler, two maids and a masseuse on staff. This thing is awesome – the details are in the packet. It's got solar power cells all over it, batteries in the bottom for storage, a backup generator – it's even got its own desalination plant built in, so there is no lack of fresh water."
April pursed her lips, sitting back and listening to the details. "Sounds awesome. What's our involvement?"
"I'm getting to it. So basically, this get away has pretty much devolved into a sex free for all over the past couple of years. All the managers there know what goes on, and there's fierce competition to get on the island."
"Ahhh," said April, starting to see the angle. "But ok, what are we fixing? What is going wrong?"
"It's complicated. There are two things. The first is that several of the marriages of people who've been on these jaunts have disintegrated. I mean, to a certain extent, you go to a sex orgy on a private island and you aren't prepared, well, that's to be expected. But coupled with that, several of the branches of this bank have been robbed over the past two years. There's a large overlap of those banks being robbed and those where marriages of the managers have disintegrated. The CEO - Tom Patterson – is convinced there is something going on at the event at his Island in connection with the marriages breaking up and banks being robbed. He's convinced that these are inside jobs – all of the robberies went smoothly, the robbers knew exactly where everything was, how much money was on hand and so on."
April was slightly taken aback. She said, "Well I guess I can buy that, but this isn't really us, is it? We fix relationships, not hunt down bank robbers."
"True," replied Dermot, "it's kind of complicated though."
"Where did this come from? Who's hiring us?"
"The CEO I mentioned, Tom Patterson. But it's come to us via Pinkerton."
There was silence as they both considered the impact of this statement.
Pinkerton, the famous private detective agency, knew of Ingrams existence, of course. They could hardly fail to. However there was a distinct lack of inter agency good will flowing from Pinkerton to Ingrams. Pinkerton regarded themselves as the premier agency and looked down on Ingrams as amateur bumblers. There was no love lost between the two agencies, and every time they had encountered each other professionally, things had not gone smoothly or well.
The first time they had come across each other in the middle of a mission had been when April's friend Megan was working a case, where the wife of a prominent author was cheating, but in the course of her affair, no one involved could figure out who with – much less the wife. The man always used a different mask. Eventually, after investigating the situation, Megan had settled on a particularly new friend of the husband, who was acting suspiciously and whose background story did not check out.
After picking him up and pumping him – literally – for information, it became clear that the individual concerned was, in fact, a Pinkerton agent. While Ingrams had been engaged by the husband's management team, Pinkerton had been engaged by the man's publisher. Both working on the same case, but independently.
After some back and forth, the two agencies had agreed to work together, only for Megan to find that the agent she had encountered was not overburdened with experience, smarts or basic field craft ability. In the end, Megan had figured out who the mysterious interloper was – in fact it was three people, swapping in and out, using a new pheromone spray to induce a lack of awareness in the wife – and she was forced, at the end, to turn them over to the Pinkerton agent.
Pinkerton had taken all the credit, not mentioned Ingrams at all, and Megan was pissed beyond belief. As Dermot had said to her, "You knew we'd never get credit. You know we are secret. It's a pisser, but get over it."
About the only revenge Megan could extract was that she managed to slip into almost every communication with anyone from Pinkerton the fact that the agent – one Jason Conrad – had a very small penis and was possibly one of the worst lovers she'd ever had. It was all she could do, but she did it with gusto.
"Oh," said April.
She was about to open her mouth to ask more, when Dermot said, "Well, to be honest, I think Pinkerton is better for this job, but it's not within their jurisdiction – they are purely US based. They are above board and have to get all sorts of clearances, and us ... well, we don't. They can't do anything about it if they do discover what is going on – not that we can do a lot either, but, in terms of the skills required to uncover what is going on, for this specific situation, I think we are probably not a bad group to come to.
"But, and I have to say this upfront, I am a little uncomfortable with this. You'll be out of touch, in the South Pacific. There won't be any help around you – we'll put a support team on Fiji, but it's at least three hours away. And these are people who rob banks. They haven't hurt anyone, but people probing into this stuff ... well, it could go pear shaped."
April considered what Dermot said and then, after a while, replied, "Let me read the mission profile first. I gotta admit, everything you just said is the first thing that occurred to me, too. I mean, this isn't what we do. I'm a little uncomfortable about it too."
Dermot sighed and then said, "Yeah, well, it kinda gets worse. The fact is, if we do this – and our illustrious leader, Jessica Ingrams very much wants us to – then the only way we can put you in there is as the masseuse. And that means..."
April's shoulders deflated. "Let me guess. The masseuse is the fuck toy, right? For everyone?"
"That's about the size of it. That and the two maids. The bottom line is that for the past two years, they've basically been the entertainment for those managers who get invited. Managers do bring their significant others, by the way, too."
"So, let me get this straight. I'm going to be gang fucked over the course of a week, while trying to find bank robbers among a bunch of bank managers. I'm going to be out of contact and backup will be three hours away, if I can contact them and they hear me? Is that about the size of it?"
Dermot nodded unhappily, but then said, "On the plus side, we'll have handled something that Pinkerton could not."
"Oh great," replied April, "assuming I survive it. And no one will ever know."
She sighed again.
"I need to read the mission report, look at what they actually want us to do and I'll get back to you, ok Dermot?"
Dermot looked even more unhappy. "They need an answer by tomorrow. You are the only spare field agent we have right now, plus Jessica – and I – feel you have the ability to handle this. But I can't say I like this April, I really don't."
"You and me both Dermot, you and me both. How long we have before this little junket kicks off?"
"Five weeks. Should only take you a couple of weeks to get the skills you need to pull off being a masseuse, and we can spend the rest of the time doing profiles on the other people attending and coming up with plans."
April just sat there, staring at Dermot and wondering if he often had to ask field agents to do what he was asking her.
"If I do this, I want one HELL of a bonus."
Dermot grinned back at her, for the first time in ten minutes. "You'll get it."
That night, April went through the information packet with a fine toothcomb, staying late to do it, since Ingrams had a strict policy of not allowing documentation like that off the premises. She ended up leaving at 2:30am, her mind swirling with everything she had read.
She had to admit, what Dermot had said about the Osoros Island didn't do it justice. The island was almost fully self-contained. All it needed was a self-propulsion system...
It had a large freezer section – with storage space for enough food for a month. It even had a small workout room, with a treadmill and a multi-gym. Every room had a balcony, except those for the help. The kitchen was large enough to cook for everyone – it even had a media room, complete with 8 terabyte hard drive with every movie imaginable on it. The only thing missing was an Internet connection – it was apparently offered on this model, but the owner had specifically said he didn't want it. When you were on his island, you were cut off from the world.
The packet included details on how the lucky winners got to the island – they flew to Fiji, via private jet, then took a smaller puddle jumper down to Kadavu Island, three hours south. The island itself was moored in a cove in Ono Island, just north and east of Kadavu. Once at Kadavu, the visitors were taken via fast zodiac inflatable watercraft to the artificial island. Luggage was limited, and they were usually sharing space with food supplies. Everyone was warned to bring what they needed, because once they were there, there was no calling down to reception to get a new tooth brush or shampoo. In particular, they were told to bring sunscreen. The sun around Fiji was fierce and unrelenting and people got burned very quickly.
Ono Island, like Kadavu, was right on a barrier reef, which meant the snorkeling was amazing, and the island had three jet skis and a two outboard motorboats moored; there was no lack of things to do. The island itself actually boasted a very small village and resort, which meant there was a communications portal available, which was something.
But more interesting to April were the people, and the entire situation that she was getting involved with. In the past two years, there'd been five bank robberies at various Northwestern Bank locations, and in each case, the robbers had the good luck to attend on a day when the bank was most swollen from incoming monies.
The banks had a complicated schedule of moving money around and the days of the robberies just happened to coincide with when each bank was holding the most in liquid funds for weeks. This was obviously too much of a coincidence. Furthermore, the robbers knew exactly who had access to the vaults, where the panic buttons were – their attention to detail was staggering. They were in and out in about eight minutes. No one saw their faces because they were all wearing masks and only one man spoke. They carried weapons but had never used one. They were reported to be calm and collected.
April's investigative instincts were immediately aroused – cool bank robbers meant lots of planning for contingencies and also lots of inside intel. This was obviously a career choice for them, not a spur of the moment thing as lots of robberies actually were. She read the police reports, and noted there were no obvious clues – this was a new crew that even the FBI had no leads on.
But what was really interesting was the corresponding marriage break-ups there had been. In fact, over the last two years, almost 5 marriages had self destructed – all couples who'd been to the island over the years – and one single man had quit his managerial position and moved to Vermont, to live alone. All the marriages had dissolved under 'irreconcilable differences' and in some cases the managers had carried on their careers, although almost always at different banks. Some had just left the profession entirely.
All of the marriages, save one, that had ended, had been at banks where robberies had taken place. The implication was obvious.
The state police had interviewed and re-interviewed everyone involved, asked about the marriages and everything else and come up empty handed. Either the people who instigated this were very very good, or there really was no correlation. In each case, the ex spouses had pointed at the bank robberies as the reason for their marital discord – which was hardly surprising. The pressure of being a potential suspect for a robbery on your own bank would push anyone to extremes.
In the case of the one couple who had split, where the bank branch was not robbed, they'd claimed that things had gone too far on the island; that the events there had been not what they'd expected – things had happened with other people and neither one had been able to handle the fall out, and so they'd split, as amicably as they could.
It was at this point where Tom Patterson had gotten Pinkerton involved – they'd re-interviewed everyone and while they hadn't come up with anything new either, they drew the same conclusions that everyone else did. Something was going on on the Island, and someone would need to check it out. In actual fact, their recommendation was simply to shut down those yearly trips. It was their thinking that would end the activities and everyone would be happy, but that was not enough for Tom Patterson. He wanted to catch these bastards, and know how they'd done it, and know they would never do it again, because they were behind bars.
Since the location was a problem for Pinkerton, and because of the marital discord involved, Pinkerton had reluctantly recommended Ingrams as a potential way to get to the bottom of it.
And here it was, on April's desk.
She'd looked hard at the reports of the actual robberies, trying to gauge what kind of people these were. They planned, they weren't violent, they'd never injured anyone and they'd made it very plain they didn't want to; they were there just for the money – although what they'd do to someone actively trying to stop them wasn't clear. In that situation they might get violent, or they might just walk away.
April's initial thinking was these people were not violent, at least no more than they had to appear to be in order to rob a bank in the first place. And she also figured that unless everyone who was on the Osoros Island was in on it, she'd be relatively safe.
After reading all this, she'd taken a look at this year's winners of the Branch Manager competition.
There were four couples and three solo men – all of whom had bumper years in their branches. Of the couples, two of the branch managers were women.
She skimmed over their names – Bridget and John Fleischman, Paula and Mike Woods, Brenda and John Roaker, and Kim and Rashid Patel rounded out the couples and the single guys were Mark Roschgord, Sal Girodano and Kevin Smith – she did smile at the same name as the renowned movie director.
She then checked up on the support staff of the resort. Each year, they were different. The main contact and the chef had full time year round contracts – they were different every year, but they were resident on the island full time for the duration of that contract. The masseuse and 'wait staff' were brought on a few days before the lucky winners arrived, so they could be settled in and to understand their duties. All were new every year, although she did note that the same agency was used in all cases. She made a note to do a background check of them, although she also noted that Pinkerton had mentioned they had already done one and found nothing. She didn't find that report included. She made another note to see if they could get that.
By the time she'd left, April had already made the decision to accept the case. It scratched her investigative itch and while the sex was going to be a challenge, this was one of the reasons she came to Ingrams in the first place.
She'd already started in on a research plan – she wanted permission to hack the computers of the marriage counselors, in order to get background on what went wrong and what she should be looking out for. Such hacking was strictly illegal and definitely unethical, but she justified it to herself that she was the one putting herself potentially in harms way – she wanted to be as forearmed as could possibly be.
She'd also wanted full background checks on the people she would be sharing time with on the island. What was in the packet was the internal HR documents from the Astrid Bank HR. She would want more detailed documentation, so she could build up a profile on each of them, and see if anyone had any skeletons in their closets that could open them up to possible blackmail. While they were doing that, she'd also get the same profiles on those who'd been there before – see if there were any telling overlaps.
She did wonder a bit why Pinkerton hadn't already done all this – after all, this could all be done from their offices in the southeast. Maybe they had and just didn't want to turn that information over; she could see them doing that. Either way, she'd feel more confident if Ingrams' people did the work. She trusted her researchers. They'd never let her down in the past.
She came in late the next day and went straight to Dermot's office, knocking on the doorframe, like he'd done to her the day before.
He looked up, putting down the iPad he'd had in his hands and smiled at her, genuinely welcoming her.
"April. You look bright eyed and bushy tailed!"
"It's all makeup and cocaine," she said, facetiously.
He raised an eyebrow and that and then gestured to the chair in front of his desk. He, like his boss, Jessica Ingrams, had an amazing view of the Potomac behind his desk. Like Jessica, April could never understand why both of them had their desks arranged so it was at their backs. If she had a view like that, she'd want to look at it all the time. Perhaps that was why – if they didn't close off the view, they'd never stop looking at it.
Perhaps Dermot was telepathic, or perhaps her thinking was written over her face, but as he sat back, the grin got wider and he nodded at April, to look behind her. She turned and noticed for the first time the long, wide mirror that sat on the wall beside the door entrance. Dermot got the view whenever he wanted, and still got to face the door.
"I'll do it. It sounds ... interesting. I need interesting right now."
"Ok then. What's the plan?"
"I spent most of last night going over the packet. I'd like to spend the day preparing a basic plan, then send it out and do a team meeting say on Friday?"
"Sounds good. So I can definitely tell Jessica we'll take it on, then? You sure about that?"
"Hell no I'm not sure about it. But I'm going to do it. I want a tan," laughed April.
"Fine," replied Dermot. "Just be sure you use sunscreen."
And so it began. Research and Development started their background checks, and April began an intensive course on becoming a masseuse. She found the work interesting – learning about the internal musculature of the human body and how it all fit together. She started each day looking in the mirror and naming each bone, and then at the end of the day, naming each muscle.
She learned about deep tissue massage, and how it was best done by those with a lot of experience, since it could do as much damage as it could repair when done incorrectly. She did smile when the instructor mentioned how we'd all had that one friend who thought they could massage, and they'd get on behind you and start kneading your shoulders to the point where you felt your arms would fall off, and them going on about having 'magic fingers.'
It takes a lot of training to do deep tissue and do it well – especially a sports massage, where it's possible to hurt someone if done incorrectly.
She learned about knots – what they actually were – blood engorged fissures in the muscle - how they felt, what you could do to relieve them, where they normally cropped up. She learned it was mostly in the shoulders, since it's the central point where lots of muscle groups come together, but it's almost a massive moving part on the body. Almost everyone had knots in that area. And she found that performing a massage well was actually quite a relaxing event. She obviously had no problem putting her hands on people, and after getting a very cheesy document awarded two weeks later – which she couldn't help putting in a frame and displaying in her office – she bought a chair and table, installed those in her office, and then offered anyone in Ingrams a free massage for the next three weeks, so she could practice.
She was quite popular and had almost everyone in the company in her chair or on the table at some point or another. Even Jessica Ingrams herself stunned April when she walked in, discarded her clothes and climbed on the table, just asking April 'to be gentle'.
She had learned where to concentrate on different people given then backgrounds – those in the R&D section she spent a lot of time on shoulders, arms and forearms, and the hands, since most people who work at computers only really tense them muscles in one direction – almost none of them have any reverse tensile strength in their forearms, since they spend all the time with their hands resting on the computer or using a mouse.
She learned how exotic and sexual a massage could be, done properly. She learned about oil usage, the use of aroma therapy during sessions, and how she could excite someone – or even quash that excitement - using her fingers and hands. When she was done, she was very happy with her new skill set. It was a hell of a seduction technique to add to her repertoire, and she ended up recommending to Jessica and Dermot that all new recruits go through this training, regardless. It was just too handy a skill for what they did as a company to not have it.
In the meantime, Ingrams and April worked hard on getting profiles built up of all the participants of the island's activities. April had specifically asked for profiles of all past participants, too. She wanted to know everything about everyone. It put the R&D group under quite a strain, since normally they didn't need to go into deep dives on so many people at once.
But, as April put it in the meeting where they protested about the amount of work, "It's not your ass in the middle of the Pacific, hours from any help."
That got them to stop whining and buckle down.
In the end she had her profiles, everything that was known about the individuals concerned and after reading them all, April was none the wiser.
She began to suspect that she had the same results that the Pinkerton agency had gotten, and this had played a part in them passing the case on to Ingrams; Pinkerton simply didn't have a place to start, any more than she really did.
She did smile when she thought about that, that perhaps this assignment would simply be her, relaxing on a private island, handing out massages, getting a tan and getting laid. Wouldn't that be nice, even if unlikely. Ingrams assignments never worked out like that.
Time moved on, contingency plans were laid, and eventually it was the week before she was due to leave. Before that happened, April was summoned to Dermot's office.
When she got there, she found Jessica Ingrams herself sitting in his office, in the easy chair net to his desk, waiting for her along with Dermot.
Jessica pursed her lips as April sat down. April gave her a tight smile and sat, looking at Dermot, waiting for whatever they had to say.
"Well, let's get down to it, April. I'm not wildly thrilled about this one. Being so far out of contact seriously worries me, particularly when we aren't completely sure what we are sending you into. I've looked over all the documentation and I can't see what is going on here, and my understanding is that you can't either. Which both worries me and reassures me. It's entirely possible that this is a wild goose chase, but then it's also possible that something very deep is going on here."
Jessica paused, looking intently at April for a moment, then continued, "So, given we are doing this – and yes, I heard all about that bonus Dermot promised you..." she threw a fast dirty look at Dermot who just smiled back, looking like a shark about to go for a seal, "we need to protect you as best we can. So here's what we propose. We will have a team on Fiji, and a helicopter on standby the whole time. You call and we are there, as soon as we can get there. We will also have a zodiac crew on standby, in case the weather makes the helicopter impractical. And in terms of contact, we have this."
Jessica nodded to the table, where some hardware sat. There was a tablet, several small black objects and what looked like a phone with a gun silencer on it.
Jessica nodded at Dermot, who leaned forward and started going through the items.
"Ok, so what we have here is a modified Chinese android tablet. We get these direct from the factory in Shen Zen, and they are extremely expensive because they don't make these, apart from our requests. It's got a much larger battery and also has a huge amount of internal storage. It's also got a radio built in, that talks to these." Dermot gestured at the small black objects. "Small wifi mikes. This thing will both record all of these mikes at once, at up to a distance of 100 feet, and then it has software loaded that will analyze the recorded samples, looking for whatever sample words you tell it to look for. The fact is that there's simply no way for you to record what is going on in other people's cabins without this; you'd just never have the time to go over all the samples you'd get back. We figured this would be the best way to be able to eavesdrop and not have you spend all your time with headphones on."
April picked up one of the mikes and examined it. It was small, black, had a small wire out the back and had what looked like a magnetic clip on it.
"So, I'd have to plant these?"
Dermot nodded. "Yes. The batteries I am assured will last for at least a month, so it'll cover the time you are there."
"Ok. Well, that's ... nice. Very cloak and dagger. Do I get something in the heel of my shoe too?"
Jessica shot a dagger look at April, while Dermot covered a smile.
"I had no idea you were familiar with the old Man from Uncle stuff, April," he said.
"Uncle Marcus loved all that old cold war spy stuff. We used to do weekend marathons. James Bond, Man From Uncle, Mission Impossible, we watched them all. Do I get a pen with a radio in it too?" answered April, blithely.
Jessica humphed. "April, I'm trying to ensure you have the tools you need. This could be dangerous."
"I know. I just don't think a bunch of clever bugs is going to make that much difference in keeping me safe. It'll help with working out what is going on, but it's not going to make me any safer. Quite the contrary, if anyone finds one of these bugs."
"We did think about that. We were wondering that if you put them in the same place in every cabin, like a decoration or something, they may get overlooked and assumed to be part of that decoration." said Dermot.
"Yeah, perhaps. Only takes on curious person to pull it off and realize what it is though, and it all suddenly becomes a witch hunt," replied April, putting down the mike she had in her hand.
Dermot nodded with his head on a tilt, the way people do when acknowledging a point.
"What's this?" asked April, picking up what looked like a walkie talkie with a gun silencer on it.
"Satellite phone. Besides the island radio, there is no communications from the island. I'm not happy about that, so you are taking this as well. Your own personal communications device, guaranteed to work. We are taking no chances here. Works just like a real phone, you just dial and it connects."
"Oh cool," said April, looking at it closer. "What area code is it in?"
"April," said an exasperated Jessica. "I don't think you are considering this with the seriousness we are."
April looked back at Jessica and for the first time, felt a little pissed.
"Look, I'm the one going. I'm the one doing this for you. It's not like you've said 'oh April, don't go, this is too dangerous' is it?" There was a hint of steel in April's voice she'd never let out to her boss before.
Jessica did at least have the sense to look away. She glanced over at Dermot, who cleared his throat and then said, "Yes, well, be that as it may, we do have something else for you."
He gestured to some parts - that looked like a disassembled camera - on the table.
"These are individual parts for a taser. There's no way you'll be able to travel with a fully assembled one – security would never let you on the plane. But these should go under the radar just fine. You reassemble like this..." Dermot picked up four individual parts and slotted them together easily, " ... and it's ready to go. They will fire four times when fully charged and can be charged either by replacing the rechargeable batteries, or from just plugging it into the wall. There are charger cables supplied with them. And you are getting three of them, just to be sure."
He passed the assembled taser across to April, who examined it.
"Now this is more like it. Love it. It's nicer than the original one you guys gave me. Nice feeling of weight to it."
"It has a range of thirty feet – way more than the 8 feet of the originals. That should be enough. Guaranteed to incapacitate an elephant. Well, a small one anyway."
Everyone smiled and the tension in the room slowly evaporated.
"Well, definitely liking the new toys, have to say it. Thanks guys," said April.
Then Jessica said, "One more thing. This is just for you."
She leaned down and picked up a bag under her seat. The moment she brought it up, the top opened a little and some very pungent smells erupted. They weren't unpleasant, just ... pungent.
April took the bag and peeked inside. Inside were the small round bath bombs that Lush had made popular. She knew that if she dropped them in a bath, they would start to fizz, distributing their scents and oils into the water over five or so minutes.
She looked at Jessica, puzzled.
"I have a friend who is both a bit of a mix wizard and also works part time at Lush as a mixer. These bath bombs are ... special. They are designed to relax and sooth sore genitals. They actually work great. I've used them myself." Jessica actually blushed at this.
"They contain special soothing oils. It's likely that this assignment might be a little rough in just how much sex might happen, and I wanted to give you something that might help. I don't know if there even baths on the island, but I figured if not, maybe you can drop on in the hot tub. Either way, they are for you."
April was touched by the gesture, and put down the bag and got up and went over to Jessica and gave her a hug. Jessica was obviously surprised, but didn't say anything, she just accepted the hug.
April leaned back out of the hug and said, "Thanks Jessica. That's a lovely gesture."
Then she stood up and asked, "Anything else before I get this show on the road?"
"Just, best of luck, April. We will be in constant communication with Simon the whole time. Be safe. And figure it out. You are one of the best agents we have; if anyone can figure this out, you can."
Simon Miles was her contact on Fiji. She'd be flying out with him in a couple of days, along with two large contractors Ingrams had hired to be muscle, if it was required. Ingrams did a lot business with contractors, most of whom weren't even aware of who they were actually hired by or what was going on at any given time. Simon Miles, though, was a full-fledged field agent. They'd worked together before, when April had to be his girlfriend, for an operation which required that. They'd operated well together, and he'd been free to run support for April's op at the time, so off he went. He was more than happy – it was a couple of weeks sitting in a nice hotel and at the beach for him. He couldn't exactly leave and go diving, but it still beat sitting in an office in Washington D.C.
The operation was about as planned out as she could make it, covering every angle she – and the rest of the staff of Ingrams – could conceive. Now, it just had to happen.