***As I wrote this scene and even now, I’m wrestling with Nicole staying with Sean. Yes–I hear your collective gasps! Nicole and Sean are very intelligent people–not ruled by their emotions. In the back of my mind I hear “Stockholm Syndrome” and the odds of relationships withstanding and morphing beyond that is slim. There is still a pull to Jenkins within my Nicole. With every denial, there is a part of her that screams that she would know her role and be more comfortable in Jenkins’s world. With that said, have a good read of the rest of this scene. Remember it is a free write and this scene most certainly can change or be cut. Well, that’s the fun of reading the free write—it explores all the possibilities!***
Moscow, USSR – UK’s Embassy Residence
Meanwhile, Sean tried to finish a few messages on their new electronic mail system. He found this part of his job to be the hardest—his lack of trusting a computer system and his doubt about its security was always present. The distraction of Nicole’s accusation regarding Katrina didn’t help his concentration. He wrapped up his last message sending his report on to the home office, shut down his computer and decided it was time to find Nicole. He wanted to clear up a few things and hopefully put this whole Katrina affair behind him.
He told Stewart that he would be in residence and dismissed him for the day. He walked to the residence, mentally rehearsing what he wanted to say to Nicole. He was trying to select his words carefully, knowing certain words would invoke an instant comment from her. He arrived at the residence door, unlocked it, and called to Nicole upon entering. The residence was dark. Sean found that odd and flipped on the foyer light. He started down the hallway. “Sweetheart?” He called again as he reached the master bedroom. He flipped on the light, finding the room empty. He searched the remaining rooms with no luck. He walked back to the living room and picked up the phone.
“This is Captain Delaney,” Alistair answered.
“Alistair,” Sean began. “I’m looking for Nicole. Is she at the firing range or maybe she left the embassy with Duncan?” Sean was hopeful if Nicole did indeed leave, that she took her bodyguard with her.
“No sir,” Alistair replied. “Duncan is in his office, and we haven’t seen Nicole. Is there a problem, sir? Do you need us to search the grounds?”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” Sean snapped. “I’m sure I misunderstood what time she said she would be back here. Thank you for your help.”
“Yes sir,” Alistair said, hesitating. “It would be no problem for the two of us to have a look around discretely,” Alistair sensed Sean’s embarrassment. Alistair had experience dealing with delicate matters between ambassadors and their wives. He looked at it as an unwritten condition of his job.
“I’ll call you if I need you,” Sean replied abruptly. His mind was on finding Nicole. He hung up the phone and left the residence in search of Nicole. He started in the garage, checking that all cars were present—which they were. He hoped that she wouldn’t be foolish enough to leave the embassy on foot. While standing in the garage area, he remembered where he had found her after she told him about Katrina. He immediately left for the ballroom. He was puzzled and disillusioned when he did not find Nicole there.
Searching every room he could think of, Sean spent the next few hours in somewhat of a panic. He sighed when he acknowledged to himself that he would need Alistair’s help locating her after all. As he was walking back to his office, scratching his head, he came upon the mainframe computer room. He stopped and looked at the door. He cocked his head, wondering if Nicole would hide inside. He had to admit to himself; he would never look for her there. He scanned his badge and typed in his code. He opened the door to find the desk lamp on and Nicole sitting up, wiping her eyes.
“There you are,” Sean said as he closed the door and turned on the overhead lights. Nicole could hear the relief in the tone of his voice.
“Here I am,” Nicole responded, blinking from the harsh lights. “Do you need something?”
“Yes,” Sean replied. “I think we need to talk.”
“So do I,” Nicole confirmed. “I think that it might be best to take a break for a while.”
Sean was stunned. He blinked his eyes, not sure he comprehended what she was saying. “Can we not talk about this in here?” Sean asked, hoping that he would have the time walking back to the residence to adjust to the curveball Nicole just threw at him.
“I don’t think there is much to discuss,” Nicole said as she stood up. She started for the door. As she walked past Sean, she added, “You can talk to me while I pack.”
Sean expelled a breath as if stabbed with a knife to his chest. He didn’t try to touch her or stop her. Her words were biting, fatal to his thought process. He tried to quell the angry responses that were filling his brain. How could he keep her from leaving? As Nicole reached to open the door, Sean turned and said, “Is there anything I can say that will change your mind?”
Nicole saw the hurt in his emerald green eyes. She swallowed hard, hoping that there was something he could say. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out.” She opened the door and left the room.
Sean stood for a moment in the loneliness of the computer room. He knew he only loved two women and he was about to lose the one still alive. He walked out of the room. When he reached the residence, Nicole was in the master bedroom, suitcase on the bed, and she was walking from the closet with some clothes in her arms. Sean followed her to the suitcase. Before she could put the clothes into it, Sean reached over and closed it. His hand remained on the case, his eyes locked on Nicole’s face. “I can’t talk to you while you are doing this.” He paused before he added, “Please.”
Nicole put the clothes on the bed. She turned to look at him. Before she could speak, Sean took her by the hand. He led her to the living room without saying a word. Nicole provided only a slight bit of resistance to his gentle guidance. She remembered back to the time they first met in that noisy disco back in Washington. He had manhandled her to the dance floor to try to save Carol’s life. His tug was gentle and his touch was that of a man who cared deeply for her. He stroked her hand with his thumb.
“I’ll make us a gin,” Sean said, stalling for a few more minutes as he gestured to the couch for Nicole to sit down. He was still trying to adjust to the fact that Nicole had made her mind up to leave him. Nicole moved reluctantly to the couch and sat down. When he finished making their drinks, he joined her, handing her a glass. “I have so many emotions running through me right now. You’ve caught me completely off guard.” He took a drink. “Can I ask you not to say anything or interrupt me before I finish?”
Nicole placed her drink on the table before her without taking a drink. “I think that depends on whether I need to defend myself or comment on what you have to say.”
Sean smiled. “Think of it as closing remarks.” She was a lawyer through and through.
“Funny,” Nicole chided him. “Closing remarks because I’m leaving?” She questioned him.
“I hope not,” Sean replied. “I hope they are closing remarks so we can put this behind us.”
“Katrina,” Sean responded. “Put Katrina behind us.” Sean cleared his throat, took another drink and watched Nicole fold her arms while waiting. “You didn’t let me finish my comment in the office when you asked your question.” Nicole’s eyebrows furrowed with confusion. “About whether I fucked Katrina.” Nicole looked away. “Nicole, look at me,” Sean demanded albeit with some patience. When their eyes met, Sean said, “I did not fuck her. That is what I started to say.” Neither of them blinked. “Yes, you caught me in a moment that was tempting, but I was in full control. You have to trust me when I say I was leading her on as much as she was leading me on. It is a game, and I had no intention of ever being in bed with her. She was placed her to keep me off balance, and the information you uncovered confirms that. I was truly trying to get beyond the obvious. If I could have turned her, we might have learned more than what that report told us.”
“May I speak now?”
“No,” Sean replied. “The fact that you think I could hurt you like that tells me that our relationship isn’t as solid as I thought. I didn’t like that you were with Bobby in the White House alone.”
“We weren’t alone—“
“You really can’t do it, can you?” Sean asked. “Please, let me speak.” Nicole huffed a disapproving sigh with her arms still crossed. She glanced away for a few seconds before she turned her scornful look back at Sean. “I need you to understand that I would not have taken Katrina to bed. I am committed to you and our relationship. I don’t want you to leave, but if you are no longer happy with me or committed to our relationship, then maybe it is better you go.” Sean paused, not believing the words that he just spoke. “I’ve heard from Geoff. I never said anything, but he rambled on about how comfortable and a part of the Washington scene you were. He said it was as if you never left.”
“How would he know?” Nicole shot back. “He never saw how I interacted with people there before you.”
“I suppose that is true,” Sean confessed. “I’m sure if you left me, you’d take that job in Bobby’s administration.” Sean took a breath. “If there is unfinished business between you and Bobby, I understand. But Nicole, I won’t be someone you bounce back and forth to because the relationship gets complicated.”
“Excuse me?” Nicole asked, insulted by Sean’s accusation. “You have a lot of nerve. I gave up everything to be with you. I no longer have a home.”
“Don’t be ridiculous—“
“I’m not,” Nicole pressed. “I’ve sold my condo. I gave up my career as an attorney. I thought we were partners here at the embassy only to find out that we are not. We said no secrets, and yet you are keeping things from me. Were you ever going to tell me Katrina looked like Sarah?”
Sean stared into Nicole’s eyes as his mind raced. Was he ever going to tell her? “When the time was right…”
“Oh, really,” Nicole said. She slapped her thighs and stood up. “You say you had that whole situation under control. Well, I don’t believe you. Why? Because I was the one watching you relive Sarah’s death every night.” She walked to the door of the room as Sean stood up. “Personally, Sean, I think you are still committed to Sarah and haven’t dealt with the guilt of her homicide. There’s no room for me here if that’s the case.” She started to walk to the door. “If Sarah and Kate can still be used against you by Kent, then I’m no worse off being out in the world alone. Kent knows your blinded by the guilt of their murders.” She turned and looked at Sean who was now standing. “It’s a bit crowded in our relationship. There is you, me, Sarah and Kate. I can’t compete with a dead woman and child.” She paused. “I shouldn’t have to.” She turned and walked back to the master bedroom.
After a few moments, Sean walked into the room. “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know yet,” Nicole replied.
“Take Duncan with you,” Sean said.
“Then go to London and stay with my dad,” Sean offered. “He’d love to have you stay with him, and you can listen to all the family stores you can handle.”
“No,” Nicole said as she folded clothes and placed them in the suitcase.
“Nicole, if something happens to you, I’ll never forgive myself.”
Nicole stopped and looked at Sean. “That’s the problem. You have never forgiven yourself for Sarah and Kate. From everything your father has told me, it wasn’t your fault.”
Sean looked away, biting his lip. Nicole could see his conflict. At least she thought she could. Angrily, Sean loudly blurted out, “I bloody hell know it was not my fault. You’re not a psychiatrist, Nicole, so don’t think you have all the fucking answers.”
Taken by surprise at Sean’s tone, Nicole threw the pair of slacks she was folding into the suitcase. “Don’t yell at me,” Nicole shot back. “Since I don’t know all the fucking answers, I suppose you do?”
“When it comes to my feelings about Sarah and Kate, yes, I do!”
“Then enlighten me.”
Sean stood in the doorway. His body language was showing all the signs that he was angry. He looked away from her and then back at her. He walked over to a chair and sat down. He couldn’t look at her when he started to speak. “It has nothing to do with Sarah and Kate. It has everything to do with,” he paused, his voice trailing off. Nicole waited as she watched his anger dissipate. Sean took in a breath and exhaled. He looked at Nicole and started again. “According to the shrink I did see—a friend of mine who is in the trade–it has everything to do with the fact that every female I’ve ever held deep emotions for has left me—been killed.” Sean looked away. “My mum, Sarah and Kate—all of them killed. I couldn’t help them. I couldn’t stop it.” He stood up and started for the door. “Well, I guess this is progress; you are very much alive when you leave me.” Sean walked out the door and returned to the living room. He downed his drink and grabbed Nicole’s untouched gin and tonic.
Just as he started to down that, Nicole walked into the room. Nicole walked over to Sean and took the drink from him. “I didn’t think of that,” she whispered. She set the drink on the table. “Can I ask if that is why you are so protective of me?”
“It probably has a lot to do with it, yes,” Sean acknowledged.
“Kent knows that is a weakness,” Nicole said. Sean nodded his agreement. “I can’t live with you not forgiving yourself for their deaths.”
“Logically, I know that,” Sean responded. “I thought I had put Sarah’s and Kate’s death behind me. I was surprised that the nightmare came back.”
“It’s not real,” Nicole said.
“What’s not real?”
“Sarah and Kate—your mother—anytime someone shows up in your life as them, it’s not real. You are being played,” Nicole said. “You have to tell yourself that it wasn’t your fault and you have to believe it.” Nicole looked at Sean, who was looking at the floor. “Sean, if you had told me that Katrina looked like Sarah, I would have worked with you. But you shut me out, and I saw you falling in love with a woman who looked like Sarah. My first response was to protect you and all that we have together. My instinct wasn’t wrong—misplaced a little,” she smiled at her choice of words. “I saw you as incapable of dealing with her and unwilling to let me help. If this relationship is going to succeed—if you want me to stay—then you have to acknowledge that we are partners and equal in all we do. You have to trust me as much as I trusted you when my life was in your hands. I can’t have doubts about that just as you can’t have doubts about me.” She paused as she studied Sean. “I can’t be shut out of things because you think I can’t handle it.”
Sean looked at her. “I know.”
“I know that MI-6 isn’t happy with me, but I can’t stay here if I don’t have something to do. I can’t stay this close to you and not be a part of your life. If that is how it has to be, then I’m not the right person for that kind of life.”
“I know,” Sean repeated. “I know ever since we returned from London after meeting with Jack, that I’ve kept you out of the loop. It was wrong of me when you consider our agreement. I couldn’t have MI6 take you away from me. I’m sort of stuck here.”
“What are we going to do?”
Sean realized that the question was Nicole’s way of telling him she was staying. Sean smiled taking her hand in his. “We go back to no secrets, but you have to agree that you won’t act on something without talking to me.”
“And you have to agree not to keep something from me that you think I can’t handle,” Nicole countered.
“And if Jack or anyone from MI6 is around, you’ll play dumb,” Sean added. “You need to act as though you have no idea what’s going on and you can’t be part of any meeting in his presence. If you do that, I promise to fill you in as quickly as I can.” Nicole nodded her agreement as a smile crossed her lips. “Now, tell me, where were you going to go if you left me?”
“I had no idea,” Nicole said. “The only place I know I could start over again is Washington.”
“At least I know where I could find you,” Sean said. “Would you have gone back to Bobby?”
Nicole smiled and looked down. She looked at Sean. “I can’t deny that I care for him deeply. You know that. But Sean, my love for Bobby is nothing like my love for you. Bobby is a good friend. If something happened to you, I know I can count on Bobby for help. There are not very many people in our lives that we can afford to trust to that degree.”
“That is true,” Sean gave a sardonic smile and added. “Well, at least I know you’ll be well taken care of…”
“He’s not your competition, Sean,” Nicole comforted.