“As to why I am here, I should tell you that my former employer grew tired of my borrowing his computing resources and satellite communications time for personal gain, and so my tenure there was abruptly and unfairly terminated. I was barely given the time to clean out my things before the government secret service agents showed up to arrest me and take back my winnings that I had worked so hard for. Alas, my 401-K savings were confiscated as well, modest as they were.
“I would likely describe myself as under-employed at this stage of my career and looking for new employment opportunities where my talents will not be under-utilized and under-appreciated. Tell me, is any of this story finding favor with you?”
Dante interrupted, “You got caught milking the corporate cow and are now on the lamb. Is that what you are telling us? You have soiled your nest, and are now looking for a new home? We don’t need clumsy computer hackers with the secret service after them!”
Carlos maintained his gaze on Zara as he asked, “So, how does one get to be the head mistress of the Dteam? I am understandably interested in hearing how people rise to powerful positions in this part of the world.”
Zara provided a disarming smile and asked, “So, bronze one, you suspect that to be the head mistress I must be giving head?”
He was taken aback with the forward question and said, “Madam, if I gave you cause to be offended, accept my apologies! No disrespect was intended for a lady such as yourself. I avoid any disrespect of people I am only meeting for the first time.”
Dante was now even more agitated and interrupted, “How dare you infer she has climbed to a preeminent position with the Dteam merely by deep throating those who would promote her! Moya Dushechka does not need to buy her way up because she has earned that status!”
Again, without moving his gaze from her eyes, the man said, “But for your bodyguard I could easily make an exception at disliking someone on first meeting. That is, of course, unless you are with him, madam.”
Zara quickly dismissed the statement. “Oh, no, of course not. I am not with him!”
This only served to infuriate Dante even more. “You’ve become rather tiresome, Westerner, and when people in our world wear out their welcome, we…..”
As Dante was about to completely lose all restraint, the man suggested, “Tell me, Moya Dushechka, is Adagio, I mean Allegro non Troppo. Sorry, I meant the Andante person. Is he better at music, as his music tempo handle might suggest, or is he just disagreeable all the time?”
As Zara tried to suppress a smirk, Dante was already reaching for the bronze stranger to prove a point between two powerful males as they decided the pecking order of dominance. However, Dante didn’t count on the stranger being so quick as to securely grasp Dante’s hand, wrench it over and then bring it up behind Dante’s back, forcing Dante to stand and face the wall with his nose firmly pressed against it.
Turning his gaze back to Zara, while still holding Dante pinned against the wall, he said, “As for my name, Moya Dushechka, it would please me if you would use my handle, Dakota.”
Zara smiled sweetly and responded, “You’re an interesting man. I’m sure we will meet again. Unless of course your former employer or the secret service finds you first.
“Just so you know, I don’t do business on the spur of the moment. So you will forgive me if I take my now chastened associate and depart at this point. I will send word when we have more to discuss, Mr. Dakota.
“Dante, are you alright, Hon? Did the big bad bronze mongoose-fast unified communications specialist hurt my AnDante?”
Dante felt the grip on his arm loosen and stepped away so that Dakota was out of reach. Dante slowly turned around and, rubbing his arm, he snarled, “Be careful you do not think that you will get to do that again. You should count yourself lucky that Moya Dushechka has let you leave unharmed this time, Dakota!”
Carlos smiled at being called by his new name, Dakota, as he informed Dante, “My friends get to call me Dakota, but you can call me Mr. Dakota.”
Once outside, out of listening range, Zara said, “Dante, I want to know everything there is about this Dakota. Don’t stop digging after the first lie because clever people usually have more than one lie, and he is obviously a very clever person.”
Dante vehemently protested, “Moya Dushechka, you cannot be serious about this charlatan! It is obvious he has an agenda that we do not yet know. I was going to research him anyway even if you hadn’t asked because my nose tells me something is wrong.”
Zara struggled to suppress her giggle then instructed, “Yes, I am sure your nose told you something was wrong as it was pressed up against the wall. I agree with your instincts on this one. For some reason, the school girl in me hopes he is only what he says he is. Let me know what you find out, please. And yes, start planning his exit strategy in case I am disappointed. Do you understand?”
Dante beamed, grinned and said, “With much joy, and goodly gree, Scheherazade! We will add another story to the nights! Leave it to me!”
Zara suppressed a smile at Dante’s enthusiasm. “For the time being, don’t get within reach of him.”
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