Silenced: Chapter 20, Part 2: (Silly) Spy Games
The morning after his “incidentals and courtesies” conversation with Jae, Paul is called (presumably on his skull this time) by Lothair, the French Leiutenant. ChappellShow is still so upset by Random Woman’s death that he doesn’t want to see Paul or be part of the plot to catch Magnor. Paul berates Lothair, but Jenkins makes sure to let us know there is “a whine” in Lothair’s voice.
“You know, Lothair, I wish we were all still teenagers and that this was some silly game.”
Speak for yourself, Paul. Your games are not silly, just stupid. The games I played as a teenager were way more fun.
Turns out that the problem, and thus the reason for the stupid word games, is that ChappellShow is right there, listening in on the skull phone call. So Paul and Lothair do the old routine that always happens when someone is listening in on a call.
“Listen carefully. Yes or no. Can you tell me categorically that Magnor has not tried to call Chapp?” [said Paul]
“You understand me?”
“So he has called.”
“I understood you.”
Yeah, Paul is totally not into silly games. And neither is Jerry Jenkins. Not into stupid word games at all.
On his way out to meet with the zealots, Paul sees Karlis Grosvenor’s car.
Was he being watched? Followed? He didn’t dare proceed to his rental. He had to either get in the car issued to him, keep walking as if just sightseeing, or make his way back to the hotel.
Paul chose the latter…
Damn good thing, too. I can’t even believe that the second thought crossed Paul’s mind.
Grosvenor: Good morning, Paul. Hot on the trail of the terrorist who killed hundreds and destroyed national treasures?
Paul: Nah, just sightseeing.
Grosvenor (who, remember, hasn’t had any time off since the bombing): *punches Paul*
Nah, that’s just what I wish would happen. Instead, Grosvenor was ferrying in Bia Balaam from the airport.
Grosvenor is none too pleased, since this is the second American he has had to play host to in as many days. He asks Paul to take her back to the airport in the morning, and Paul acquiesces, more because he doesn’t want to make waves than because he wants Grosvenor to actually have an hour off.
Paul meets up with Bia in the lobby of the hotel.
As usual, she seemed overdressed, over made-up.
Yeah, she was only travelling on international business. How weird of her not to just wear jeans and a tank top.
God, Bia is such a bitch. I mean, just…just everything with her. What a horror show:
Balaam was as intimidating as she looked, with her silver hair and eyes, the unusual height, the coldness she tried to hide with the occasional toothy smile. She creeped Paul out in business settings, but the social thing never worked at all for her.
Well, let’s be clear—the social thing is not working for Paul. Bia, actually, seems fine. And I wonder if Jenkins even realized he used the word “intimidating” there—that is the true crux of the matter. Paul is intimidated by Bia—she’s smart, worldly, knows what she’s doing, and is not impressed by Paul.
James Bond logic: the one woman who does not immediately offer to fulfill Bond’s every desire? She’s the villain’s girlfriend. There is no other possible reason why Our Hero would be looked upon as a Mere Man. I mean, we know that Paul is handsome and witty and charming. We know because Jenkins keeps telling us so. Therefore, all people should love him immediately, and if they don’t, we know there’s something wrong with them.
“I’m representing USSA NPO at the ceremonial announcement in Bern tomorrow. Thought I’d come early and see the Eiffel site.”
Paul nodded. I’ll bet. “What did you think?”
Her smile died. “Tragic. Tragic.”
Well, there was some insight for you.
Screw you, Paul. At least she didn’t come to Paris and immediately disparage the national monuments and call it an honor to see the site of the loss of hundreds of lives, like some people.
Exactly what “insight” did you have about the bombing, Paul? I mean, other than the fact that it was sad that believers died, but not so much that atheists died. Asshat.
Paul was antsy, wanting to get going, hoping he could figure out a way to elude her, to get to his rendezvous without being noticed. But she was saying something about her son. Her son? Paul didn’t even know she had a family.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You have a son?”
Our witty, charming, superspy hero, everyone! Unable to keep up with two minutes of small talk.
But remember, Bia is the one for whom “the social thing never worked at all.”
Because Jenkins said so.
“And a daughter,” she said. “I’m long divorced. Not a happy story, though the kids are good. Leya is a professor. Taj goes back to Georgetown tomorrow. He’s doing well.”
Hmm, yet another son that we never heard about in the first book. Doesn’t bode well for poor Taj.
And the “not a happy story” part—maybe I’m reading too much into this, but that sounds like something pretty bad, maybe even abuse. Most people I know who simply fell out of love or otherwise divorced amicably, they’re more casual about it, will say things like, “it just didn’t work out.”
But “not a happy story“? That seems serious. Yet Bia has once again persevered, successfully raising two very accomplished children while rising in her own career.
Damn, but Bia rocks.
Not that Paul cares.
Paul studied her. She actually did seem to soften when speaking of her children. Who would have guessed?
“I mean, a woman that I’m not attracted to actually loves people! Inconceivable!”
And Paul doesn’t even need to figure out a way to blow off Bia—she has actual work to do. Because she takes her job seriously and isn’t here to sightsee.
Unlike Paul, who wanders around the city, “enjoying a pastry in a fountain square,” before finally heading to his meeting with ChappellShow.
Hot superspy action!