Langley Air force Base, Hampton, Virginia
Twelve years ago
Sophie glanced up from her desk as her last two students sauntered into her adult education Spanish language class. She did a double take then shook her head as the two men sized up the room.
“God,” she murmured to her TA, Dana Long. “Does the CIA really think they’re fooling anyone when they send me their ‘spooky boys’ under the pretense that they’re,” she stopped, checked the class list and laughed, “US embassy clerks?”
“Must have missed the Subterfuge 101 class,” Dana said following Sophie’s gaze. “At least they could try not to be so obvious.”
Right. If these guys were clerks, Sophie was a tank commander. Just as it was hard to mistake the lingering scent of the disinfectant the janitorial service used to clean her class room as anything but industrial strength, it was hard not to recognize CIA operatives as anything but spies. More than anything, their eyes gave them away. Watchful. Vigilant.
She’d taught this adult Spanish language class in the same classroom with its gray walls, acoustical ceiling tile and metal desks for two years now. She’d gotten good at recognizing a student who wasn’t what he or she presented themselves to be.
“They’re pretty cute,” Dana said behind her hand as the two men found seats in the back of the small room. “Especially the tall one. What a stunner. What do you think? He remind you of anyone? Wait. I’ve got it. George Clooney – only with sharper, sexier edges. Man I’d like to see him naked.”
Sophie couldn’t stop a quick, bubble of laughter and intentionally misunderstood. “Clooney?”
“Well, yeah, him, too.” Dana grinned. “The way this guy’s looking at you, I’d say there’s a good chance you might actually get to see a grand unveiling.”
Sophie glanced toward the back of the room and sure enough, Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome had rocked back on two chair legs, tilted his head and was sizing her up with an openly appreciative grin.
“Now the other guy,” Dana continued, “he’s not exactly TD&H but he’s hot in his own way, you know. He’s got that crisp, clean cut all-American man-boy look going on.”
Another astute analogy Sophie thought with a glance at TD&H’s buddy. He was a few inches shorter than his partner in crime, a little heavier built. Not that he was overweight. No, he was rock solid, all muscle and while he wasn’t fair skinned, his buzz cut light brown hair bounced him out of the dark part of the equation. He wasn’t what she’d call strikingly handsome. Dana was right. All-American suited him better. And that slow conspiratorial smile he slid her way, well, what could she do but smile back when those dazzling and intelligent blue eyes caught her sizing him up.
Trouble. Both of them, she realized and decided it was time to earn her pay.
Sometimes, she felt so fortunate to be doing what she did, that she’d almost be willing to teach this class for free. And while she’d never get rich on her teacher’s salary, it was nice to know that as long as what she did made her happy, she’d never feel pressure from her family to ‘raise the bar’ in the aspiration department.
Not that she didn’t have goals. Lofty goals. Goals that included her own school someday, where she would teach children instead of adult. She had her parents to thank for that dream, too.
Her father was a high ranking US embassy official and her mother was a ‘proud and practicing’ socialite who had been dedicated to various charitable causes her entire life. Because of her father’s embassy assignments all over the world, Sophie had acquired a taste for exotic places during her globe-trotting childhood. She’d also developed a strong sense of service from her mother who Sophie knew, would continue her philanthropic work even after she retired.
Many of the impressions Sophie had taken with her from her childhood as they had settled and resettled around the world, had been of the poverty and deplorable illiteracy rates – particularly in many Central American countries where her father had been stationed. That’s why, at an early age she decided to make teaching her life’s work. Because she, herself, had received an excellent education in schools attended primarily by children of military families and children of U.S. Embassy employees, her personal goal was to someday found a school somewhere in Central America that would offer scholarships to local children so they could have the same educational advantages as the American children – like her - who were essentially visitors in their land.
All dreams started with small steps, however, and Sophie understood that she had to establish herself and her credibility as an educator in the right circles before she could see that dream to fruition. That’s why after graduating with degrees in both education and administration with a minor in Spanish languages, she’d taken this position with the State Department as a Spanish instructor for Embassy employees.
Employees like the cute ‘spooky boys’ who were sure to give her trouble before this three month class was over.
“All right class,” she said, addressing the room of fifteen students. “Glad you could all make it. I’m Sophie Baylor. This is my teaching assistant, Dana Long. My credentials are posted on the school’s website but I figure you already know what you need to know about me or you wouldn’t be here, right?”
She smiled to the room at large. “So, how about you tell me a little bit about yourselves and why you’re taking the class? Anyone want to start?”
Two hands went up at the back of the room. Of course it was TD&H and his sidekick; both men were grinning from ear to ear. Brother. She was used to the occasional flirt but these guys took it over the top.
She pointedly passed them by and smiled at a pleasant looking middle aged woman in the front row. “Let’s start with you, okay? Then we’ll work our way to the back of the class.”
It wasn’t the first message that Hugh Weber and Wyatt Savage hadn’t gotten during the three month crash course in Spanish. But those sexy grins were the first of many unmistakable messages they both sent her way …