I turned, startled into betraying myself by the sheer unthinkability of this eventuality. I had been in this ridiculous little city in the middle of America less that twelve hours, having never been across the Atlantic before in my life. I had spent considerable care on my disguise at every stage, and Command had made it clear that this was a mission of the utmost international sensitivity, and therefore secrecy. So who on earth (literally) could be shouting my name (a name I had not used in nearly a decade) in the middle of the afternoon on what undoubtedly was passing for a crowded street in these parts?
She was waving energetically about thirty meters behind me, standing next to a parked minivan I had presumably just walked by a few moments before. It took me a long moment before I recognized her: the American student, in Ibiza on her Spring Break, what had it been: fifteen years ago now? I knew the protocol: I should ignore her, lose her in the crowd, report the potential breach on my next code-in. But I felt so stupid, staring at a woman (for she was certainly that now) I had known for three days half a lifetime ago; three days in which there had not been a lot of chit-chat. And really, there wasn’t nearly enough of a crowd to even attempt to lose anyone here.
So this is what it feels like to see your career evaporate in an instant. I finally get a top-level mission like this, and now I’ll be lucky to salvage a desk job. Assuming I even make it out of here alive.