Everything’s so normal in the office. She’s working hard, as usual, maintaining her calm. Her shoulder-length mousey hair is brushed tidily but not in any manner that might attract the opposite sex. Just like normal. Her trouser suit is smart but not in a way that might draw attention to her. She’s pretty, but she hides it behind a pair of glasses and a fringe, not to mention a borderline miserable expression. Just like she does every other day, too. It’s not exactly a thrill a minute working for the government.
She’s pretty, but she makes herself so invisible, no one in the Department even notices. She’s desexualised, like a spinster librarian. She’s a faceless civil servant among all the other faceless civil servants here, and it’s just like nothing ever changed.
“Anne, you have those figures?”
“Uh… yeah. Hang on.”
But though it’s like nothing ever changed on the surface, underneath the frumpy outfit everything has changed for Anne Thomas. Under those librarian’s clothes, hidden from the surface normality, her pussy still tingles with memories of his touch. Everything has changed.
“That bloody journalist’s asking questions again. Tom’s seriously pissed off.”
“Here,” she says, handing an innocent sheet of paper to Piers, a sheet containing all the bad news the Department was hoping to keep to itself. Poor naïve Piers, who is being slowly but surely brought under the tainted influence of Party Politics.
“God knows how he found out,” Piers who hasn’t quite grasped the need to keep certain things to himself even among people supposedly on the same side. “Tom said if there’s a leak in the Department there’ll be hell to pay.”
“Tom’s paranoid,” she said, acting cool, dispassionate, like nothing’s changed. Low profile.
“That’s Tom’s job!” Gullible Piers, who doesn’t get that civil servants aren’t here to cover up the Labour Party’s mistakes to make the Party look good in government. Scampering off to deliver the statistics to his political master to massage before passing over to the Press.
Only she’s already given the unmassaged figures to the Press.
Her heart beating powerfully inside her as the adrenaline burns inside her veins. She’s never leaked anything before. He said he’d go to the Press Office, ask them officially for the figures to make them think there was no leak. She’d asked him if she could trust him – even after that incredible night in which he’d made her come so many times she hadn’t even counted. He’d said of course she could trust him. He’d said he wanted to see her again as he’d stroked her cheek, kissed gently under her ear. He’d said he’d call the Press Office, ask for the Department’s official figures. Calling the Press Office was proof she could trust him if she still needed it.
So there it is. He’s clearly phoned the Press Office now to put her in the clear.
But still, she’s nervous. Her heart thumping like it had ten minutes before every single piano lesson she’d had until she had been given the blessed permission to give it up at the age of ten. It’s not like she’s betrayed the nation. She may have signed the Official Secrets Act, but on the scale of things, the Press isn’t like a foreign power. In the light of the complete failure of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition to stand up to the Government in the House of Commons, the media has become the only faction to hold the Government to account. She’s only letting the British people know what’s going on.
But is that what she’s nervous about? Really?
She can’t concentrate. The text on the screen of her ludicrously old computer is swimming about, dancing away from her focus. The truth is, she’s more nervous about whether she’ll hear from him again. Though they’ve met a few times, it was only the one night. Maybe he has sex with a lot of women only once. Takes what he needs, no big deal. But it was a big deal for her – a major event. She’s opened herself up for the first time in years.
She shouldn’t feel like this, it’s only been one night. She shouldn’t be trembling all over, craving him like this, like some desperate addict gone Cold Turkey. How could she be addicted to something after such a brief exposure? But she is, she cannot deny it. She’s sitting there holding a pencil, tapping it so rapidly against the desk someone might think she had some kind of condition. For some reason, she feels slightly drunk, as though she had so much booze last night, it’s still affecting her. But she’s stone cold sober.
It was only one night, but hope is a powerful emotion: right now, her life could have finally turned flipside, her future could now be one of sheer ecstasy, every waking day so bright and thrilling. Or, it could all have been a dream and her future will be the same lifeless nine to five grind, every waking day a tireless slog from flat to Tube station to Westminster before getting back to the lonely flat again at the end.
She’s in limbo – it could all be so great now, or it could all be so terrible. She’s tasted happiness, and she can’t face another sip of anything else. The uncertainty is agony.
She’s been like this all day, though she’s quite impressed that she’s shown no sign of it whatsoever on the surface. No one in the entire Department has guessed – no one could. She was history if she did, moral high ground or not. No one in the Unit has guessed, either, which is good – those who’ve been working most closely with her. They can’t guess she’s a leak. Not if she keeps like this. She’s been working here for ages – ever since leaving college and completing the Fast Track training. The recent promotion doesn’t matter – she’s like furniture now at the Department.
How long does she have to wait? How long are you supposed to wait for a man to call? Can you call a man? Might it make you seem desperate? Might he think you’re scary, stalking him or something? Jagged Edge. She should calm down. Chill. It’s only been a matter of hours since he kissed her goodbye.
But what if he doesn’t want her? Surely it would be better to know early on. She’d lose that wonderful sense of possibility, but at least she wouldn’t be kidding herself.
He’s a great reporter. She’s read his stuff, he knows what he’s talking about, bar the odd speculative misdirection. He’s no doubt got plenty of contacts other than her, plenty more giving him way more useful information on a regular basis. Now she’s played her only good cards. She may not get anything she can offer him for a while. Has he any use for her now?
A tear slips down her cheek, and she quickly mops it up with her sleeve, dabbing rather than rubbing so as not to make her eye red. God, she’s got to control herself. Piers might be a moron and Tom a self-obsessed prick, but anything out of the ordinary at a time when the word ‘leak’ was being banded about might alert them to her.