Crown and Harp

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A discussion in the middle of the Celtic Sea.

Submitted: January 11, 2013

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Submitted: January 11, 2013

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Alex Iscar walked begrudgingly through the finely furnished halls which led to the manor’s boardroom. He was accompanied by his two companions, his new secretary Jennifer and his second-in-command, Abigail. Seeing as Alex was the head of G6, Ireland’s most covert anti-terrorism unit, he wasn’t one that experienced fear too much. But walking these halls in a manor on a tiny rock in the middle of the Celtic Sea, Alex was afraid. Afraid of the person he was about to meet. Afraid of what she represented.

‘’Breath, Alex’’, Abigail said. ‘’You’re sweating.’’

‘’Well why wouldn’t I be?’’, Alex replied defensively. ‘’Alyssa and I don’t exactly have the most spectacular of histories.’’ He turned his head to look at Jennifer. He hated dragging new recruits with him, but severe cutbacks forced him to make do with who he had. She looked calm and relaxed, carrying a briefcase which contained the laptop she would use to take notes.

‘’How are you doing?’’, he asked.

‘’Fine’’, she said with a smile. Ignorance, Alex thought, truly was bliss.

After some time spent navigating the winding corridors, the trio arrived outside a pair of heavy-set oak doors. Alex stood rooted to the spot for a moment, but after an encouraging pat on the back from Abigail, he took a deep breath, seized the ornate door handles, pushed open the doors and walked in.

Instantly, a heavy air of defiance permeated this intensely formal occasion. At the end of an elongated wooden table sat a young woman of around 23 or 24. Dr. Alyssa Thornwood. The only person who had the talent to elicit fear in Alex. As head of the MI6’s Special Operations in Northern Ireland, Alyssa had achieved more than her elder superiors, despite her age. Holding joint doctorates in both psychology and political science, Alyssa knew how to manipulate her allies both mentally and with the cogs of the British political system, something she was exceedingly proud of. This was only the bare kindling of the fuel which fed the flames of her arrogance. She had curly blonde hair which framed what could only be described as a cherub-like face, her baby-blue eyes intently observing her visitors. To those who didn’t know her, Alyssa Thornwood seemed to be the perfect embodiment of innocence and gentleness. To those who did know her, they knew that her beauty concealed an inflammatory personality within.

‘’Hello’’, she said in her clipped, cut glass English tones. She sat in a luxurious chair, flanked by two intimidating bodyguards. She gestured for Alex, Abigail and Jennifer to take the three vacant seats opposite her.

‘’So how are we all doing?’’, she asked kindly as they sat down. ‘’Alex, that really is quite the dashing suit.’’ Alex grunted something in response. ‘’And Abigail, you’re looking as stunning as ever.’’

‘’As are you, Miss Thornwood’’, Abigail said with a curt nod. Alyssa changed the focus of her attention to Jennifer, who had as of yet, not said anything.

‘’And who’s this?’’, Alyssa queried. ‘’Not another person you’ve snapped up for your collection, I hope?’’

‘’Her name’s Jennifer’’, Alex said, ignoring the bite of Alyssa’s words. ‘’She’ll be acting as secretary for the proceedings.’’

‘’Wonderful, wonderful’’, Alyssa said. ‘’Now down to business. I assume you know why I called you here.’’

‘’I have an inkling’’, Alex replied.

‘’More than an inkling’’, Alyssa countered. ‘’You purposely sent your agents into the North, fully aware of the illegality of your actions, and the fact that it’s my territory to police.’’

‘’In my defence’’, Alex said, ‘’my agents were perusing a bomb-maker from the capital into the North, and it was our responsibility to do so. I would think that the safety of innocent people would be paramount over a line drawn through a map.’’

Alyssa sighed. ‘’Unfortunately Alex, that line means a lot to me, and those above me. Now, I have been inundated with calls, letters and dreadful personal visits from members of Parliament accusing me of not keeping security tight around the border. And how can I take responsibility for the actions of another country?’’

‘’What do you want from me, Alyssa?’’, Alex said exasperatedly. ‘’Do you want me to say I’m sorry? Because I’m not going to apologise for keeping people safe. I’m not going to apologise for upholding the standards and decency my government demands.’’

Alyssa snorted, an uncouth move for someone of her stature. ‘’Government?’’, she said with a soft laugh. ‘’I’d hardly call that gathering of apes a government. You Irish, you put on suits and think it’ll allow savages to run a country.’’

A stony silence fell on the room, broken only by the intermittent clacking of Jennifer’s laptop keys.

‘’Alyssa’’, Alex began , ‘’I’ve long come to terms with this derogatory attitude of yours, but now you’re just being nasty. Why can’t you understand that I only went into the North to save lives, the lives of your people.’’

‘’Oh please’’, Alyssa said snidely, rolling her eyes. ‘’It was your bloody Catholic fanaticism which drove you to the North. You just couldn’t wait to establish some dominance over what you see as ‘’Catholic land.’’ The bomb maker was just an excuse to do so.’’

‘’Must we drag religion into this?’’

‘’We in comes to you Irish, everything has to do with religion. It’s bitterly divided your nation for hundreds of years, pushed you to civil war, and left you split in two.’’

At this point it, with the abuse Alyssa was spewing, it would have been easy for Alex to leave. But he wasn’t going to stoop to her level. He was going to see this through to the end.

‘’Alright Alyssa’’, he began wearily. ‘’It’s true that I can be a little...over-zealous in my beliefs, but does it not state in the MI6 motto that one of your duties is to ‘’uphold and protect the teachings and beliefs of the Anglican Church?’’ Now why would someone who is so clearly against strict religious ideology put such a blatant reference to it in their motto?’’

Alyssa, who opened her mouth but said nothing, narrowed her eyes and clenched her jaw. Alex did his best to try and mask his smile. Even Abigail, his usually stoic adjutant, bit her lower lip to suppress her smirk. Alyssa looked at them with smouldering embarrassment. If there was one thing she wouldn’t allow herself to do, it was be embarrassed by these troglodytes. Composing herself, she turned to the least experienced of the group, Jennifer.

‘’How long have you been working for Alex?’’, she asked with a sweet smile.

‘’Um..’’, Jennifer said, a little startled by the question. ‘’About a year now.’’

Alyssa nodded. ‘’You do realise don’t you, that Alex sees you as more of an asset to be sacrificed in his obsessive crusade against the scum of your nation. But he doesn’t see Abigail like that. But only because he carries a different kind of obsession for her.’’

‘’Alyssa...’’, Abigail said in a dark tone of voice.

‘’Did you know that Abigail lives with Alex? They assure me it’s entirely platonic, but I’m not convinced. I have to say Abigail, you impress me by wanting to stay there.’’ As Abigail began to glare, Alyssa turned with a grin to Alex.

‘’It must be so hard for you Alex, to live all alone in that big, empty house with the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.’’

‘’Don’t listen to her’’, Abigail whispered hurriedly to Alex. ‘’Never listen to her.’’ But Alex sat there rigidly, his expression blank and impassive. Alyssa looked at him with savage pleasure.

‘’How many nights, I wonder, have you crept down those hallways to her bedroom and stand in the doorway and watch her sleep? With so many ideas and thoughts running through your mind, you wonder what would happen if you just seized one and...pounced.

‘’Alyssa, that’s enough!’’, Abigail pleaded. But Alyssa merely laughed before turning to Jennifer again.

‘’You’re a pretty young thing, too’’, she said. ‘’I garner it won’t be long before Alex is sneaking into your bedroom too.’’ With that, Alex slammed his fist into the table, and was on his feet instantly.

‘’How dare you!!’’, he roared. ‘’You can demean me, treat me like dirt, but how dare you speak to my friends like that!! I came here hoping to settle this like adults, but you had to devolve into such horrendous abuse!!’’ Alyssa settled into the back of her chair, a victorious smile on her face.

‘’And you tell me the Irish aren’t savages.’’

Alex made a quick move for his holstered gun when Abigail placed a calming hand on his shoulder.

‘’Alex’’, she said quietly. ‘’Let it go.’’ Breathing heavily, Alex slowly dropped his hand from his waist.

‘’The talks are finished, Miss Thornwood’’, Abigail said politely. ‘’Thank you for your time.’’ Alyssa smiled and gave a gracious nod.

Alex was the first to leave, almost kicking the doors down on his way out, followed swiftly by Abigail. Jennifer, who had to bundle up her laptop, was the last to go. She took one last look at Alyssa, startlingly, gave her a wink, and smiled that smile of hers.

‘’So that was Alyssa Thornwood’’, Jennifer said as she caught up with Abigail.

‘’Yep’’, Abigail replied.

‘’I don’t like her.’’ Abigail scoffed and shook her head.

‘’Not many people do.’’


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