Lost Luggage

One of the worst things about travelling by Air these days, well apart from the hassle of seemingly endless security before you even get on the aircraft, is standing at the baggage carousel looking expectantly at the seemingly endless stream of bags arriving in the hope that yours was actually put on the flight in the first place. As the last bags appear you have that heart rending moment when you realise that yours is not there.

How, in these days the sophisticated computer systems that are used by the airports and airlines, can it be that about one in a million bags go missing.

Doesn’t the airline industry keep promising us that errant bags are a thing of the past. Yeah right.

My return flight home was not only more than two hours late because they couldn’t shut the hold doors, but well you’ve guessed it, my suitcase was not on board. In the end there were just two forlorn figures standing at the carousel waiting in hope for bags that were obviously never going to appear that night at least.

With a feeling of inevitability, I headed for the handling agent. The other person in the same boat, a woman was already they’re giving her details to the agent.

While I waited, I took my chance to have a good look at her. She’d been travelling in Business Class whereas I was in at the back in ‘steerage’ or as the americans call it ‘coach’. I’d noticed her when I was boarding the aircraft some ten and a bit hours earlier.

She was frankly stunning. Not very tall but obviously slim with very good-looking legs. She was wearing a black and white two-tone cape. The part over the shoulders was black whilst the rest of it was white hide. Black tights and patent flats adorned her feet. It was just possible to observe that she was wearing shorts but I didn’t want to appear to stare.
What made her stand out, if she needed it was her Electric Blue hair styled in a very neat ‘bob’ with a very shapely fringe that matched the arch of her eyebrows. Her distinctly foreign accent made her even more attractive.

Stunning was the only way to describe her both visually and from the expert way she was wrapping the handling agent around her little finger I’d say that she was pretty smart as well.

When she was finished it was my turn with the agent. Her ‘sweet talking’ had obviously had an impression on him and my encounter was calm and controlled. A big difference from how it is 9 times out of 10.

“Hello,” I said to the man behind the desk.
“It appears that my bag didn’t make the flight from New York.”

A little over 20 minutes later I walked out of the now almost deserted terminal into a cold Friday night in late November and caught a cab home feeling not that annoyed that my suitcase had not accompanied me on my journey home. I was double annoyed that it was so late that taking public transport was not really an option and the cab fare was going to cost me a small fortune.

I spent the weekend as I normally did, cleaning, cooking and generally doing stuff around my home. Before I knew it, Monday had arrived and I had to go into the office my holiday over for now at least.

By the time I returned from work I’d almost forgotten about my missing luggage. It wasn’t until I answered a knock at the door that I all came back to me.

“Is this your case?” asked a totally disinterested driver.

“It looks like it,” I replied.

“Sign here.”

I signed for the case without really looking at it in any great detail and took the case inside my flat.

I only realised that it wasn’t mine some time later when I tried to open it. By then the delivery driver was long gone.

The combination I normally used just didn’t work. This prompted me to look at the baggage tag and the one that was attached to my boarding card. My heart sank as I realised they were different. The difference between them was just one number but it was enough. Enough to matter.

My heart sank as I realised that someone else had my case, and what was worse, that someone was able to see all my underwear, my very private underwear.

The ringing of my front door bell temporarily halted my descent into a state of total and utter despair.

I wandered down the stairs to the door, my mind a complete blank I was not expecting to see her standing at my front door.

I opened the door and immediately did a double take. It was the woman from the plane but…

“Hello,” I said.

She gave me a small smile.

“I do believe that you have something of mine?”

“I’m sorry?” I replied slightly confused.

“I have your suitcase and I think you have mine?” she argued slightly impatiently.

Then I understood.

“Oh. I see. I guess that as you are here you had better come in?”

She hesitated for an instant before saying,

“Thank you. I will. It is very cold out here.”

I stood aside to let her in to my home. As she passed, I got a whiff of her perfume. Delightful.

“Please take a seat, I’ll go and get your case,” I suggested

“Thanks.”

I ducked into my bedroom and returned with her suitcase.

“I knew as soon as my combination didn’t work that I’d got the wrong bag. I’ve lost my bags before but to have two identical ones go missing on the same flight is a new one for me.”

“Anyway, here is yours.”

“Thank you.”

She sat still for a second.

“You didn’t lock you case.”

The implications of her words went right to my heart.

I gave her a little smile.

“Ok.”

“I can understand if you don’t want to talk about it…”

“Eh?”

“I can understand if you don’t want to talk about it…”

“Eh?” I answered hoping that my facial expression would put her off.

“I’m sorry, I should go. Thanks for the case.”

I just stood there trying to remain emotionless as she stood up, picked up her case and left. It wasn’t until she slammed my front door closed that I moved. I’d changed my mind.

By the time I reached the street, she’d gone. I really wanted to explain to her why I had a collection of dresses in my case.

—0—

[Four months later]

I’d put that incident well behind me and got back to life, as I knew it. I went back to my job as a paralegal at a London Chambers. The long days and competition kept me very busy. I could only indulge in my habit of dressing in women’s clothes on the odd weekends I was not buried in legal texts trying to find all sorts of precedents and other tricks so that the Barristers in the Chambers could get all sort of slime-balls acquitted of what ever charges the legal system threw at them. I told myself that dressing up got my mind off of work but the reality was that I just felt so good wearing simple clothes and a little makeup. I felt as if I was being who I was meant to be.

At least I would get a chance to indulge my dual passions for dressing up and writing over the holidays. I’d booked a cottage in Andalucía for ten days. I’d had one book published the previous year and it had been pretty successful. That was the reason I’d been away in the USA. I’d been sort of showing the flesh at a book signing tour. Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Philly and New York in a week. It had been very tiring especially as I didn’t like flying especially in ‘cattle class’.

As a result, but flying to Malaga or Seville with a bunch of other Brits intent on getting drunk as quickly as possible really didn’t appeal to me so I booked a flight to Madrid and thence a train to Seville where I’d arranged to rent a car before heading to the cottage that was near the historic town of Ronda.

With everything all packed I set off to the airport and my flight to Madrid and the journey south. Everything went perfectly until I was just settling down in the Train at Madrid Atocha Station when I felt that someone was watching me. I looked up and was surprised to see ‘her’ standing there.

It was the same woman that had her luggage mixed up with mine.

“Hello?” I stuttered.

“I think that is my seat?” she said quietly as the held out her ticket.

“I thought this was mine,” I responded frantically trying to find my ticket.

After a few seconds fumbling, I found my ticket.

We compared reservations and discovered that we’d both been allocated the same seat. The wonders of computerised systems.

“I’ll move and sit somewhere else,” I volunteered and began to get out of my seat.

“No. It is obviously a mistake. It does not seem that the train is all that busy. I’ll sit here,” she replied smiling as she sat down opposite me.

I sank back into my seat resigned to sitting opposite her for the next few hours at least.

I went back to reading the book that was on my tablet.

As the train pulled out of the station she stood up and took off her coat and sat back down again.

Even though I looked rather different from our last meeting, I felt sure that she recognised me even though that was the last thing I wanted to happen at this point in time.

It was late afternoon by the time the train arrived in Seville. I’d managed to keep my eyes off her for most of the trip either by pretending to sleep or looking at the countryside that was flashing by at close to 200mph. I tried reading my tablet but my mind wasn’t on it for obvious reasons.

I managed to escape the train without having to speak to her again. For that I breathed a big sigh of relief when I stepped down onto the platform.

Twenty minutes later, I was in my rental car and out of the station on my way to Ronda. The winding nature of the road as it climbed up into the mountains gave me a chance to put her out of my mind but I did keep an eye out for anyone following me but as far as I could see, the road was clear.

I did allow myself a bit of a chuckle as I recalled that at least this time, our luggage was very different in style and colour.

At a small village en-route, I stopped at to pick up some supplies from a small supermarket for the night and for breakfast the following day. My plan was to go into Ronda for Lunch the next day and buy enough food to last me the rest of the week.

My Sat-Nav did its job perfectly and directed me to the place I’d rented without issue.

The keys were exactly where the Letting Agent had said that they would be. That bought a little smile to my face. It had been a long day and all I wanted to was have a glass or two of wine, something to eat, a shower and sleep in that order.

The pestering of my Agent for the all so important ‘Book 2’ in my career was the reason I was here in the first place. Still being away from home for a short time would allow me to get the core of the book sorted out.

I’d love nothing more than to be able to give up working as a paralegal for a bunch of lawyers who seemed to only represent those who were only ever on the wrong side of the law.

After breakfast, I went into the delightful town of Ronda. In peak season the place is a tourist trap but at the end of March? It was just about bearable in my opinion.

I picked up some bread and a few ‘essentials’ including some local chorizo sausage before heading to a Café for a coffee and a bit of people watching.

The waiter had just bought my coffee when a figure slid into the seat opposite. I looked up and it was her!

“Hello, we meet again,” she said with a smile on her face.

She offered me her hand.

“Isn’t it time that we were properly introduced to each other as we seem to be running into each other so much. I’m Arancha Fernandez.”

I just glared at her. The last thing I needed in my life at the present time was someone new in it. It was already more than complicated enough.

“Sorry. But I must be going,” I said as I placed a five Euro note under the coffee cup and beat a hasty exit.

“Where are you going? We have only just begun to get to know each other?”

I turned to her and said,

“Sra. Fernandes, I do not wish to get to know you. In fact at this moment, you are the last person I wanted to meet. I came here to work not to socialise. Now if you will excuse me, I have things to do.”

I didn’t wait for her to answer before hot footing it out of the Café and town.

When I returned to the place I’d rented, I sat in the car for several minutes just staring into space.

Why was the most beautiful woman I’d ever met following me around? And at this particular time in my life. It was the last this I needed at the moment.

As I was sitting in the car I realised that there was no way I was going to finish the Novel No 2 while she was close by. Apart from the danger of running into her all the time, I’d started thinking about her even when she wasn’t around. My creative juices were in danger of drying up and the fear of having to pay back a very considerable advance to my publishers spurred me into action.

It didn’t take me long to re-pack my things. I hurriedly penned a note to the letting agent and after loading up the car, returned to the town.

Thankfully, there was a parking spot right outside the Letting Agents office. I hurriedly gave a startled clerk the letter and the keys and left the office.

As the car was facing south, I decided to carry on down to the coast and pick up the Autostrada and head for the airport at Malaga. I just couldn’t face the drive to Seville, the train and everything if I were to retrace my steps home.

Returning the rental car wasn’t a problem which pleased me no end. Deciding where to go was another thing entirely.

It was obvious that the flights to Luton, Gatwick or Stanstead were going to be full from the crowds of people checking if for flights to those destinations. On a whim, I went to the ticket desk of a budget airline.

“I need to fly back to the UK preferably to London and today if possible. Do you have any seats free?”

“Let me check,” replied the clerk.

A minute or so later she was ready with her reply.

“The soonest we can accommodate you is the first flight tomorrow. Departing at 04:30.”

She saw my look of disappointment.

“We have plenty of seats on the Dublin flight. It leaves in an hour.”

I thought for a few seconds. I knew the perfect area to hole up to do my work.

“That is perfect. Just the one way please.”

Three hours later, I was on the ground in Ireland. Naturally, it was raining but it didn’t matter because I was away from her!

Two days later I was all setup in a cottage on the Atlantic Coast with a stunning view of the Arran Islands. I’d been to this part of the world as a child. The ‘Burren’ was just a mile or so away as well as some fantastic seafood on my doorstep made this a perfect place to get down to work.

A week later, I called the office and gave notice. I wasn’t going back to work as a paralegal again. I’d received news that my first book was being reprinted for the fourth time in the US and the EBook sales were going very nicely. I’d made the decision over a very nice lunch of smoked salmon and crab salad followed by an excellent Pint of Guinness at Moran’s Pub on the edge of Galway Bay. For once, the weather was perfect which combined with the good food and beer I took the plunge and decided to go full time as a writer.

Later that day, I phoned my agent.

“No more hiring a standin for the next book tour,” I said cheerily.

“Yes, I’ve gone full time and I’m about half way through the first draft.”

“No Jacob. I’m not in Spain but I’d rather not say where I am at the moment.”

“I’ll be back in town in two to three months.”

[Three months later]

“Well Sean, you have a winner here,” said my agent, Jacob Samuels.

“Good enough for the ‘Second Book’?”

He chuckled.

“Yes.”

Then he paused.

“Man-booker quality if you ask me.”

“You must be joking.”

“I’m going to put my best editor on this but from what I’ve read it is pretty close to perfect already and no I’m not joking. This is bloody good.”

“Worth that huge advance?”

He grinned.

“I knew you could do it. That’s why you got it.”

Then he looked at me oddly.

“You are different from before. Calmer, more relaxed. Mind you, you could do with a haircut. Where’s the tan? I thought you were in Spain?”

It was my turn to grin.

“I was for all of one day. Didn’t like it. I ended up on the west coast of Ireland.”

He sighed.

“Well, Sean it certainly agreed with you. Apart from the editing, which by the way I want to get done ASAP so we can hit the shelves before October so that it can be entered for this years competition.”

“About that…”

He saw the concern on my face.

“What? Don’t you want to get all that free publicity for your book?”

“Only if it is shortlisted but that is not the issue.”

“Well?”

“It is my penname.”

“I wondered if that was it. Don’t worry lots of authors use different names. What’s wrong with Donna Fielding?”

“There is nothing wrong with it….”

I looked him right in the eyes before saying,

“It is actually my name now. You should know I’m a Transsexual and I’m transitioning. Soon I’ll be the woman I’ve always wanted to be.”

“You what?” He exclaimed.

“Are you serious?”

“Perfectly. I’ve been on hormones for the past six months. All the time I was away writing I’ve been living as a woman. Now I’m back, Sean is about to be consigned to history.”

I took a breath.
“Sean is only back for today. I didn’t want to surprise you by appearing as her today. I’ve already changed my name and a new passport is on its way. If all goes well, I will have the job done this time next year.”

“You… you make this seem so cold and clinical.”

“I have to do it that way. I’ve wanted to do this since I was eight. If I don’t do it now… then I will never do it. Besides, the hormones are having an affect on me in many ways. I’m not stopping now so don’t even try.”

He didn’t say anything.

“Besides, didn’t you think is strange that a man could write so eloquently from a woman’s point of view?”

He just shook his head.

“I never saw that coming.”

“That was the plan. I’m sorry for that but there was no other way. Once you’d obtained such a nice advance on my next book and the sales figures for the first one were looking good, I went right in and did it.”

“So it’s all my fault?”

“Not at all. You were just the enabler. The advance enabled it to happen sooner rather than later.”

“What are you going to do then? Any ideas for book three?”

I smiled back.

“I have a few ideas that I’m working on.”

“Great. Just et me have a draft of a chapter soon eh?.”

With my agent out of the way, there was nothing more for Sean. I returned home and stripped off and let my almost ‘A’ cup breasts free. No more hiding them from the world.

I spent a couple of days getting rid of the last signs of Sean in my home. No more hiding it from anyone anymore.

One afternoon, I had quite a bit of rubbish to take out. My neighbour got a surprise when she saw me taking a couple of bags of ‘Sean stuff’ out one morning.

“Sean?”

“Hello Mrs Seaward. It is not Sean any more. I’m now called Donna Fielding.”

“Donna? Wait a moment. Isn’t there an author of that name?”

My grin must have given me away.

“You? I don’t believe it.”

“Sorry Mrs Seaward, it was me. If you have a copy of my book, then I’ll gladly sign it.”

This made her day.

“Any more in the pipeline?”

“End of September. I’ll get you an advance copy.”

Then she came over and gave me a hug.

“I always rather liked you. Now I know why.”

Her comments made my day.

A few days later, I was out for a walk on Wimbledon Common. It was just short bus ride from my home in South Wimbledon and one of my favourite places to visit. The weather was beautiful so I took a picnic to have near one of the ponds that are dotted all over the common.

At the end of a delightful day, I took the bus home. As soon as I arrived, my good mood disappeared.

‘She’ was waiting for me.

“Nice to see you again,” she said with a beaming smile on her face.
“Well, I can see that you have changes a lot. If this the new you?”

“Why are you stalking me? Didn’t I make it clear that I didn’t want anything to do with you that day in Ronda?”

“I looked for you but you’d left. I’m sure that we would have had some fun together.”

“Look! I wasn’t there to have fun. I was there to work.”

She grinned.

“Ah yes. ‘The Wayward Girls’ is a delightful read.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

“H… How did you know about it?”

That grin again.

“I am going to the be editor of it,” she replied.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“Aren’t you into women? Your writing makes me think otherwise.”

“Why you?”

She grinned again.

“In your luggage. Not only were your dresses in that case but the outline for the Novel. When it came into the Office I knew instantly that I had to edit it. It was easy to connect the dots and realise that Donna Fielding was your ‘Nom de Plume’.”

“It is not just that. It is my name.”

“What is it about me that you dislike so much?”

I sighed.

“Isn’t it obvious? Have you not looked at yourself in the mirror lately?”

She didn’t react.

“It does not matter. I will get my agent to find another editor. I really do not want you in my life.”

I could have added, ‘otherwise I will not be responsible for my action’.

Before she could argue any further, I went into my Apartment and quickly shut the door in her face.

My lovely day had been ruined.

When I’d recovered some sort of composure, I opened up my laptop and began to compose an email to my agent.

“Jacob,
I understand that an editor, a Ms Fernandez, has been appointed for my latest piece. I have had some encounters with her and I do not want her anywhere near my work. I do not want anything to do with her.”

I dithered and dithered. In the end, I didn’t send it. In my heart, I knew it would not do any good.

Just in case, I saved the text as a file before shutting down my laptop.

The next day, I got an email from ‘her’ inviting me into her office to start the editing. There was no way on this earth that I was going to work in her territory.

I made a couple of phone calls and soon had the ideal location sorted for our work. Not in her place nor mine. Nice and neutral and no interruptions.

I replied to her email giving her the address of where we would be meeting. The nice thing for me was that it was just 10 minutes away by Tram.

I didn’t get a reply so I took it as being grudgingly fine for her.

The next three weeks followed a definite pattern. Every weekday morning, we would meet at at the Serviced Office I’d rented and work on my book. I refused to even talk about anything else.

At one point she tried to get me to put a lot more violence into the book. As a explained to her, that this book is meant to be a thriller, where the main thing was not the number of bodies but the plot and how the crime was solved. We were editing the bit of the story where two people were killed.

Then she suggested,
“Why don’t you decapitate them and get rid of the bodies in the river?”

There was something in the way she said it and the way she looked at me whn she said it that turned my stomach.

“I will say this only once. This is my book not yours. It is a psychological thriller not a gore-fest. There will be no adding of that sort of thing. If you want so badly to have a bigger body count may I humbly suggest that you write the thing yourself. Until then, keep your ideas to yourself.”

She started to say something but thought better of it.

After a few days of glares, she got the message and we got a lot of work done.

On the last day but one, I declared,
“I think we are done here.”

“Yes. It is good. We will probably have the proofs ready in a couple of weeks.”

Then she said,
“Come to dinner tomorrow night? Just to celebrate the end of a good job.”

“Thanks for the offer but no thanks. Work is one thing but anything else is out of the question.”

I didn’t wait for her to answer but left her too it.

It didn’t take long for my phone to ring.

“Hello Jacob. I think I know what this is about.”

“Yes I did say no. You know my feelings about her. The less said the better.”

“Oh very well. In that case, I’ll go but not this week. I need some time away from her. You can let her know that a week on Friday is fine with me.”

Any hope I had of getting out of it was soon dashed by my agent phoning me back 10 minutes later with the news that Friday was a ‘go’.

To put it bluntly, I was stuffed. I had to go to hers even though I’d would rather stand naked in the middle of Trafalgar Square for an hour. I did debate fleeing the country but realised that things needed to be resolved once and for all.

I twiddled my thumbs for a while before picking up the phone and calling someone who I’d largely kept out of my life when I was a Paralegal. After all, having a Detective Inspector for as a half-brother when I worked for a law firm that prided itself in representing scumbags was clearly a conflict of interest. Thankfully we had different Fathers and therefore different surnames.

“Detective Inspector Saunders please,” I said into the phone when it was answered.

“Hello Davy?”

“Yes its me.”
“Growing steadily,” replied smiling as I looked down at my chest.

“Look brother, I think I’m in a bit of a bind. Can I come and see you?”

“That will be fine. Are you still based on City Road?”

“Oh, I see. Can you text me the address?”

“See you tomorrow.”

I put the phone down with a smile on my face.

All the time I was a paralegal I’d had to keep quiet about David being my Brother. We’d never talked about cases but if any of our clients knew, they might get a bit shirty and that was the polite answer.

The following afternoon, I took a very circular route from home using the Train, Bus, Tube and Docklands Light Railway to his office which thankfully was in a nondescript office block in Canary Wharf. After a couple of minutes wait, I was shown into his office.

“Hi Bro,”

David grinned back at me. He’d known about my desire to become a woman since he’d discovered me wearing our mother’s clothes. I was just over six years old.

“Hi Sis. Well, womanhood certainly looks good on you.”

“Thanks Bro. It is nice to get comments like that.”

We both laughed.

“Now what’s bothering you?”

“I’ve just finished editing my second book. The editor is a piece of work.”

“This sounds interesting. Why don’t you start at the beginning?”

“It all began at the end of my US book tour. She saw that I was using an actress to play the part of me at the signings. Then somehow she arranged for both our luggage to not get put on the flight from New York. And…”

Thirty minutes later, I ended my tale by saying,

“I have to go to dinner at her place on Friday. I have a horrible feeling that she wants to do something to me.”

My brother sat looking at me for several seconds.

“She sounds like a piece of work all right. All those years of associating with Criminals has rubbed off on you a bit.”

I laughed.

“Possibly but… am I making this all up?”

“I don’t think so but it won’t hurt to do some checking now will it. That stalking of you to Ronda is not good.”

“What do you suggest?”

“As you know we have a representative of the FBI attached to us. I’m sure a little bit of sleuthing would make his day.”

I smiled back at my Brother. He always had an answer for everything.

A couple of phone calls and twenty minutes later, a tall man who could not be mistaken as anything but an American right down the the FBI issue beige raincoat and a ‘buzzcut’ hairstyle came to join us.

“You know Mr Frazier from the FBI?”

I stepped forward to shake his hand.

“Mr Frazier.”

“Hello again. David told me that you would have changed a bit. I didn’t expect this.”

“I’m Donna by the way. Donna Fielding.”

A flash of recognition came over his face.

“I read your book. It was very good.”

“Thanks. Number two is coming out soon.”

“Can we get down to business?” asked my Brother slightly impatiently.

Over the next hour I re-told my story and my concerns.
“Why do you think that she is a person of interest to the FBI?” asked Heath towards the end.

“She came over from New York on the same flight as me. Then she stalks me around London and the followed me to Spain. I get the impression that she has done this before. It all seems like a game to her.”

Heath nodded his head.

“Do you have anything that we could use to identify her?”

This was where my work as a paralegal came into play. We’d gotten a good few cases tossed out because the evidence was tainted. I knew I had some ‘good’ evidence.

“I have this. Her fingerprints are on it,” I said pulling out a plastic folder.

“They are in the inside. It contained the manuscript to my next book. We worked on it together. Both of our prints are on it. Mine will be in the system. I had a little run in with the law when I was a student. I got a bit drunk and took a swing at a Police Officer.”

My brother laughed.

Heath looked at him.

“He took a swing at my Chief Inspector of the time. Pretty well everyone under his command wanted to do the same. He got a lot of kudos in the squad for doing it.”

The meeting broke up a little later. The fingerprints on the case were going to be run against the UK Police National Database as well as the FBI one.

As I left the office, my brother took me to one side.

“Sis, I trust your instinct. You did exactly the right thing coming here today. Just be careful eh? I have some news for you. Kerry is pregnant and we’d like you to be one of the Godmothers? Are you game?”

I hugged him. He was everything that I could have wanted in a big brother.

I made myself scarce the following day by taking the train to Weymouth. It was a bit windy but the change of scenery made all the difference to my mood.

My good mood didn’t last very long when I returned home. My brother was waiting for me outside my flat. His grim face told me everything I needed to know.

“You’d better come in,” I said as we got to my front door.

“Thanks.”

Once inside I put the kettle on. My brother was like a lot of Police in that they only functioned when fed copious amounts of Tea at regular intervals.

“Thanks,” he said quietly as I handed him a mug of Tea.

“Where is ‘she’?”

He smiled.

“Don’t worry, she’s at a Gallery Opening. One of my guys is on her.”

He patted his phone.

“He’s under strict orders to let me know everything including if she makes him and does a runner.”

I relaxed a bit.

“So? What’s the bad news?”

“Our American friends have come up trumps. She’s apparently a prime suspect in at least three Murders. In two of them, she was the last person to see someone alive. The victims were found days later in the local rivers. They had been dismembered. Hacked to bits more like. The FBI profilers seem to think that the person who did it enjoyed the cutting up more than the killing.”

I sank back into my chair.

The situation I was in was something straight out of a ‘Thriller novel’ or an episode of C.S.I. A beautiful woman wanted to do bad things to me.

“I think I’d better make a hasty exit then. I hear that Barbados is nice at this time of year.” I said half joking.

“We actually, we’d like you to trap her. The at least she’d be off the streets here if we can’t get her off our hands and extradited to the USA. The FBI case against her is pretty weak at the moment. If there was something that we could charge her with… well it would make the extradition seem like a way out of some very serious charges.”

“You can’t be serious?”

“Oh, but we are. Don’t worry, we will have her home bugged with both sound and vision. In fact my tech boys are doing it as we speak.”

“But… what if she comes at me with a knife or something?”

My dear brother shook his head.

“We don’t think so. The evidence from her other victims seems to indicate that they were alive when she started cutting.”

My stomach churned and the hairs on my arms stood to attention.

“But why me?”

“That’s the key that will get her. The others were all trans people. Her first was just someone who liked to dress up from time to time. Her last was like you, going the whole way.”

His matter of fact explanation didn’t make me any happier but it was nice to know that he was on top of things.

As much as I didn’t want to I was eventually persuaded to go for it.

I spent the next few days trying to be as normal as possible. My possible demise at the hands of a serial killer was not something you could put out of your mind easily. Every time I went out I was forever looking over my shoulder to see if she was following me, just in case.

In the end, it got so bad that I felt that I could not stay in London any longer so on Tuesday morning, I got up at 04:00 and took a Taxi to St Pancras and the first Eurostar service to Lille. I didn’t stop there but took the early TGV to Avignon and thence to Nimes. I spent the remainder of the day exploring the Roman Amphitheatre posing as a tourist. I stayed for two nights and returned on the first flight to London from Marseilles. The change of scenery and atmosphere had put me in a much better frame of mind.

The rest of the day was spent closeted with the Police being briefed on my role. The more I found out, the more I realised that ‘she’ was a very bad person. I already knew that I wanted nothing to do with her but the FBI briefing shocked me to the core. I wouldn’t have agreed to be the ‘bait’ without the knowledge that the Police would be watching and listening to everything that would happen during the evening.

At 3pm, I called a halt.

“Look guys, I have things to do before tomorrow. I need to get my hair done and I really don’t have anything to wear. I have to make an effort. You lot get off easy. But for us… She’d smell a rat a mile away if I didn’t put some effort into my appearance for tomorrow night.”

That caused some mirth with members of the team but they let me go but with a shadow in the shape of an undercover Policewoman. Actually, it was nice having someone with me. She helped me no end with choosing a suitable outfit for the following evening. It was also nice knowing that ‘she’ wasn’t suddenly going to appear and say ‘Hello’ when I least expected it.

Arancha had said to me over the phone that dinner was 7:30 for 8. I arrived at a little after 7pm. If there is one failing that I have and that is I am always early for appointments.

I rang the bell to her apartment and waited. It didn’t take long for my host to answer the door.

“Oh, you are rather early,” she said surprised to see me.
“A failing of mine I’m afraid,” I said with a fake smile on my face.

“Please come in.”

As I entered her home, I gave her the bunch of flowers that I was carrying.

“Thank you. They are very nice.”

“Please come on into the kitchen. I’m a little behind with the preparations.”

“Can I help?”

She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face.

“Can you finish laying the table?”

“Sure,” I said smiling.

I went through to the dining come living room and stopped dead. Then I afforded myself a small smile.

The table was partially laid but for two people. I shrugged my shoulders and finished laying the table.

When I was satisfied with all the preparations I returned to the kitchen.

“I’m nearly ready. Why don’t you go and sit down?”

“When were you going to tell me that Jacob wasn’t coming tonight?”

“Sorry about that.”

Her sincerity was so obviously fake. I knew that she was lying. Jacob had called me earlier asking why the dinner had been cancelled. I could only hope that I could play my part without giving the game away. There was no telling what would happen if she rumbled me.

“Can you pour us both some wine? I’ve opened a bottle of red.”

“Sure.”

She left me alone and returned to the kitched.

Five minutes later she dished up a lovely starter. That was the forerunner to a truly delightful meal. She was a skilled cook. The different Tapas dishes she produced were some of the best I’d ever tasted. Sadly, for her, I was not going to let it be my last.

The wine was certainly laced with something. I’d had a session with my Brother’s team earlier in the day. They’d taught me how to recognise a number of sedatives and non lethal poisons.

I’d noticed a slightly funny taste when after pouring us each a glass I took a sip to try it. I do like a nice Rioja and I’d had some from this vineyard before but this was slightly off. I let myself have the luxury of a little smile as placed the glass down on the table. The bitterness without the smell of Almonds indicated that it was probably a sleeping tablet and very likely that more than one had been added to the wine.

During the meal, I noticed that she didn’t drink more than a drop of wine. I made sure that whenever she disappeared into the kitchen to get another Tapas dish, my glass appeared to have less wine in it but I didn’t drink it. I had a plastic bag in my Handbag.

The game was afoot.

After the desert, I began to appear to be affected by the sedative she’d put in the wine.

“I don’t feel to good,” I said as I tried to stand up but sank back down in the chair.

She just grinned and stood up.

“Don’t you just just love it when a plan comes together. You were a hard one to crack but I got there in the end. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that you were the hardest yet.”

She walked around the table and looked me in the eye.

“I knew from the day that I attended that book signing in Chicago that you were my next target. Do you want to know why I chose you?”

She laughed.

“I’m going to tell you anyway.”

“I read your story and knew it could have not been written by the woman you had employed to be you. She was good but not good enough. At first I didn’t twig but at the Boston event, there you were in the background always hovering. Then it all fell into place in New York. After the event, I saw the actress being paid off and there you were talking to your American Publishers. It wasn’t difficult to get the full story from your stand-in after a few drinks”.

Then she began to gloat.

“Once I had all background, it was very easy to discover what case you were using and a for a few dollars and a bit of flirting, and our bags were not loaded onto the flight. I also made bribed the delivery driver so that he gave you the wrong case.”

Then she laughed.

When I read the outline to your next book I was enthralled. However, it gave me the opening I needed. I’d worked for a publisher in Los Angeles so getting a job with your London Publisher was easy. My CV is a work of art full of lies but it did the job. Once I had the job I waited. The episode in Spain only served to wind you up. It was nice to see you get all riled up like that. But leaving like you did was a masterstroke. I’d underestimated you. When you left me in Ronda, I thought that you would head back to Madrid. Instead, you disappeared. No one knew where you were. That was a smart move. It didn’t matter. All I had to do was wait and you would return to the nest. You did and here we are. The end game is afoot.”

She laughed again. Her joy was obvious.

“So what is to become of you?”

“Well, my next victim, the sedative I put in the wine will soon make you nice and docile. Those hormones you have been taking will have made you a lot weaker than you were before so any resistance will be futile.”

She grinned at me again.

“My father was into Classic Rock. As a child, he played a Pink Floyd song called ‘One of these Days’ that contained the line, ‘I’m going to cut you into little pieces’. Oh god how I hated it at the time. But now, I love it. This is what gives me a real thrill.”

She paused for effect.

“’Cut you into little pieces’. Quite apt really. Well, that’s what is going to happen to you. I have to admit that it will be a bit of a let down after the excellent game you have played. When you are all nicely diced and sliced I’ll get rid of you into the river. That’s it, game over and by the time they find you, I’ll be long gone. I hear that Cancun is nice at this time of year. There is a direct flight from Gatwick the day after tomorrow. I intend to be on it.”

She stood up and went to a drawer whereupon she removed a length of thin but strong nylon rope.

She tested it in front of me.

“I think it is about time get started. All these weeks and months of waiting and it all comes down to the next 24 hours. I am going to really enjoy this.”

She appeared to luck her lips as she stood up from the table.

As she approached me, I sprung into action. I pushed her over and just sat on her while I took the rope from her hands and tied up her hands.

She kept struggling but with me on top of her and … well I won out.

“That will keep you quiet for a few minutes,” I said.

“I’ll get you for this. You and all the other fake women are all the same, weak and totally useless to society. You can’t make a go of it as a man. Do you think being a woman is any easier? If it is why do so many of you end up dead eh?”

“Really? I don’t think so. I’m making something of my life which is more than can be said for you.”

She glared back to me.

I smiled at her before saying,

“I’d better go and let my friends in. They will be taking really good care of you from now on.”

The glare I got from her was one that might have killed a lesser person.

I opened the front door to her apartment. Waiting patiently outside were three burly Policemen.

“Come in Officers. Ms Fernandez is all nicely trussed up and waiting for you.”

[Epilogue]

I didn’t get to see her again for several days. We met again at her extradition hearing. The FBI were really looking forward to getting their hands on her. They’d dubbed her the modern day ‘Black Narcissus’. There were at least six similar cases dotted all over the US where ‘she’ was a person of interest.

Thankfully, she wasn’t fighting extradition. From the look of glee in her eyes, she was going to enjoy her fifteen minutes of fame when she arrived in the USA. I felt really sad for a moment because she was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever met. It was just for a moment though.

She hadn’t taken kindly to being told that we don’t have a statute of limitations on any criminal acts. If she managed to escape justice in the US, the deal we had with the Americans was that she’d be returned here to face trial for conspiracy to murder.

A week later, I saw the reports of her being extradited to the USA on TV. As the report ended, I made a resolution. I was never going to fly with anything but hand baggage in future. If I wanted a change of clothes at my destination, I would buy them there. There would be no more lost luggage for me, EVER!



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