This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 738 words.
“After that dance, we walked back to my flat. Desi pulled me into a small alleyway and kissed me passionately. To this very day, that was my best kiss, ever. But she left me at the door, saying she had things to do the next day and had to get home to bed. As she walked away, she stopped and turned. She said she was going to take a week’s holiday in Sozopol, from the following Monday. If I could get the time off, she would love it if I could accompany her. She said it was a beach resort on the coast, popular with influential Bulgarians, East Germans, and Russians. She had already booked a room in a modest hotel away from all the grand places. Then she took a pen from her handbag and wrote her phone number on my bare arm, before saying ‘let me know soon, sweetie’. Early the next morning, I got the Foreign Office types to send Hendricks in Burgas a coded message. I think they were using short-wave radio, but I cannot be sure. Would you like anything, Martin? I am a poor hostess”.
I said I would have a cup of tea, and she returned carrying a small tray. It contained my cup of tea, a plate of Garibaldi biscuits, and a refilled tumbler of vodka. When I didn’t pick up any of the biscuits, she leaned forward. “If you aren’t going to eat those, I might as well have them”. She proceeded to demolish the whole plate of currant biscuits, each one washed down with sips of vodka.
“Hendricks was keen for me to go. He replied that I should quiz her about anything to do with naval movements, and promise to extricate her from Sofia. It was a four-hour drive from the Bulgarian capital to the border with Greece. They would conceal her in the boot of a diplomatic car that couldn’t be searched, and take her to Athens. From there, they would fly her back to England on a military flight, and give her a new identity. I was excited. I was going to be involved in repatriating my first foreign spy, and it didn’t hurt that I was crazy about her, into the bargain. I phoned Desi, and told her I would go to Sozopol with her. She picked me up in her tiny car on the Monday morning. It was a Fiat 500, with an open roof at the top. There was just room in the back seat for my case, and she kissed me openly before we set off. It was only a thirty-minute drive, but the roads were terrible. Full of potholes, and clogged with slow-moving trucks. It took over an hour, but then she stopped the car in front of a lovely small hotel overlooking the beach. Would you like anything, Martin? I am going to finish the rest of the packet of Garibaldis”.
I shook my head, making some notes as she went to get the biscuits.
“Of course, the room had a double bed. But in those days, nobody thought anything of two women sharing. We had a deal for bed and breakfast, and Desi assured me that she knew great places to eat in the evenings. She said we would fill up on a big breakfast, skip lunch, rest in the heat of the afternoon, then enjoy dinner and drinks when it cooled down in the evening. As you might imagine, there wasn’t too much resting for us in the afternoons. I won’t go into detail, but the love-making was nothing less than spectacular. That first evening, we went to the beach for a swim before changing for dinner. Desi was cagey. She said we had to keep our backs to the town at all times, and look at the sea. She said they used lip-readers with telescopes to see what we were saying. And we had to avoid any families with cine-cameras. They would appear to be filming their wives and children, but would really be filming us. Shaking her head, she said, ‘This town is full of KGB and Bulgarian Security Services, Helen. Don’t forget Bulgaria fought with the German Nazis in the war. They don’t trust us, those Russkies’.
I was making some more notes as she carried on speaking.
“To be honest, I was past caring. I knew I was in love with her by then”.