Tag Archives: intrigue

The Voice of the Vixen

This is another Grant & Teagan adventure episode for this week’s #blogbattle, with the theme word of “voice.”

From the Adventures of Grant McSwain, Man of Mighty Endeavors, Discoverer of Ancient Treasures, and Explorer of the Farthest Reaches of the Planet 
…accompanied as always by his hapless assistant, Teagan O’Daire, the Ginger of Galway.

Arms crossed, Teagan paced the barren holding room and glared at her reflection in the one-way mirror. No doubt the FBI agent watched her every move and noted every word she said. 

So what if the Navy rescued Grant and Teagan from the waters off the Florida coast? They might have been better off taking their chances with the leviathan.

“You should sit down, Teag.”

Like a docile sheep before the shears, Grant had taken the chair offered, promising full cooperation with the Bureau’s investigation. He leaned back, hands behind his head, fingers buried in his thick, black hair. Had he not spoken, Teagan might have checked whether he was awake.

“How can you be so calm? They might lock you away. That agent had a pretty thick stack of evidence against you.”

Grant laughed. “I’ve played this game before. Trust me. They’re not interested in us. They’re after what we found—what the Germans know, what sort of weapons they’re developing. Nothing I need to keep to myself.”

Teagan strode past the one-way mirror and suddenly leaned close, hoping to see her observers through the reflection. She couldn’t make anything out, but she heard a chair scrape across the floor, moving back from the window.

She stuck out her tongue and whirled back toward the desk.

The door opened and Agent Shay returned, carrying a beverage tray. Long midnight hair framed her thin face, reaching to the bust of her petite navy blue suitcoat. A matching skirt hugged her thighs and revealed her calves in what Teagan deemed a decidedly improper fashion. Shay’s heels clicked on the floorboards with each purposeful step. She ran a slender finger across Grant’s back as she passed him, and her almond eyes didn’t even glance at Teagan.

Shay set the tray on the table with practiced grace, and Teagan sighed as soon as she saw the selection. A thick glass held two fingers of whiskey for Grant. For Teagan, a small metal box and an empty teacup sat beside a steaming kettle.

“For someone dressed so… progressive,” Teagan said, “you presume much about my taste in drinks.”

Shay smiled, and her eyes narrowed. “Miss O’Daire, I brought only the best oolong leaves. I doubt you’ve ever had the pleasure of such luxurious flavor.”

Grant’s eyes seemed glued to Shay. Teagan debated whether to smack him or scold him. Naturally, the United States government would take advantage of Grant and Teagan for whatever useful information they could provide.

But Teagan had been in enough binds and seen enough dangerous situations to recognize a growing sense of danger. Something about this whole arrangement felt like a trap.

“Your accent is intriguing,” Teagan said. “I can’t quite place it. You’re from the Republic of China, yes?”

Shay nodded. She slid the box lid open and scooped three spoonfuls of loose tea leaves into the cup with deliberate and familiar precision.

“I spent a few months between Peking and Tientsin,” Teagan said. “I didn’t get to travel very far, with Chiang Kai-shek’s men fighting against the government.”

“Then you have never been in Kwangtung,” Shay said. “I am from the south. Cantonese is my mother tongue, Mandarin my second. Perhaps my English is not as skillful as I should like to think.”

Once she added the boiling water, she lifted the teacup in both hands. Her wrists barely moved, and the liquid swirled in the cup. She repeated this twice, watching the amber color spread beneath the surface.

Teagan found herself mesmerized by the obvious respect and sense of tradition with which Shay prepared a simple cup of tea. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. I just–“

Shay extended the cup to Teagan and gave a hint of a bow before straightening. “It is nothing.”

Teagan lifted the tea and savored the unique aroma, then took a long drink. At first, it revitalized her. But then exhaustion settled like a heavy burden on her shoulders.

Shay handed Grant his glass then unrolled a map of the Atlantic. “Mister McSwain,” she said in that exotic and melodious voice, “I am ready to hear your account.”

Grant sat up and took a swig. “You want to hear about the leviathan? That thing is on the loose somewhere off the coast between the Bahamas and Bermuda.” His finger traced a rough triangle over the area.

Shay laughed. “I am not interested in fanciful tales.”

“I’m just saying, bad things are gonna start happening there,” Grant said.

“Mister McSwain, you did spend many days in the sun. Perhaps you were dehydrated and hallucinated this event.”

She folded the map to display South America only. “Tell me all the details about the German sub base—its location and size, what sort of vessels you saw there, what intelligence might remain.”

Teagan reluctantly sat at the table and took another drink of tea, hoping to regain some energy. Fuzzy thoughts floated through her mind, and dissipated like mist every time she tried to grasp one.

Then sudden sleep overtook her and she dropped her head into her arms on the table.

* * *

She awoke when the door opened. Two agents stepped in, both male. “Alright, McSwain, O’Daire, let’s get to the bottom of this. We’re ready for your account.”

Teagan’s head pounded and recollections faded in and out. The exacting method Shay used to make tea resembled a Japanese style ceremony. And Shay’s almost unconscious bow fit Japanese culture.

Grant asked the question on Teagan’s mind. “Didn’t you talk to Shay?”

The agents froze. “Who’s that?”

Teagan’s minimal grasp of Mandarin came to mind. ‘Shei’ isn’t a Chinese surname. It means ‘who?’

Her fists balled, anger clearing her head. “I don’t know, but we’re going to find out.”