The Cryptographer's Romance
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Luann Lewis
Word Count :20496
Publication Date :2022-06-17
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-3561-5
Can a simple crush actually be love? And how does one tell the difference?
As a seasoned operative for MI6, handsome British agent Thomas Hartman is used to working with sophisticated professionals. Suddenly Nora Janson, a brilliant twenty-two-year-old cryptographer from the USA, is thrust into his world. He is charged with keeping her safe as they travel around the globe on an international mission, but he begins to wonder who will keep him safe as her obvious crush on him spins out of control. What he doesn’t know is that she has a secret, one that will change his view of her, and maybe change their entire future.
“You have to get this one done, Thomas, it’s important.”
“They’re all important, Featherwell.” Tom flashed a sardonic smile as he glanced up from the file. He supposed he had leeway to give his boss a little grief. After six years with the bureau, all supposedly stellar, one of the fringe benefits was being able to annoy his superiors whenever possible.
A British operative didn’t receive annual reviews as was the practice in regular businesses. If one lived for another year and remained contracted by MI6, one could tell one’s value by how far they could push the people that handled them. Tom could push his handlers quite far, and he often did. After all, his work during the Cold War, as it was labeled, could be grueling, dangerous, and disheartening. Several years ago, when he welcomed in 1960, he had thought things might change, but the assignments kept coming—often more complex than ever before.
Featherwell sighed. “Don’t be exasperating, Thomas. You know my intentions.”
“Certainly.” Tom spread mock seriousness across his face.
Featherwell sniffed. “Really!” Then shook his head and added, “We’ve gotten you some help with this one. You’re going to need it.”
Tom glared at his handler. “I work alone, Featherwell. You know that.” Sitting straighter, he slapped the file down on the short table in front of him.
“Not this time, old boy. There’s too much for you to do. You’re going to be obtaining information, and she’s going to be at your make-shift offices deciphering it.”
“She?” Tom narrowed his eyes, wary of working with a partner, much less a female.
“Yes, indeed. We got you a crackerjack cryptographer. Imported from the colonies.”
“That’s the United States, Featherwell. They’re not the colonies anymore. Haven’t been for a while.”
“Yes, well…whatever.” Featherwell cleared his throat. “Her name is Nora Janson. She’s just arrived. She has been a top-notch cryptographer with the Secret Service in the United States for four years, started with them when she was eighteen.”
“She’s only twenty-two?”
“Mm-hm,” Featherwell looked down at his papers. “Says here she is rather a genius at this sort of thing…since she was eight. The government used her for various projects starting when she was thirteen, then on permanent payroll at eighteen.”
Tom let out a long breath. “Interesting.” He shifted in his seat. “Well, maybe she can be of some assistance, then.”
Featherwell nodded and looked up at him. “Glad you see it that way.” He pressed a button on his desk. “Show the girl in.”
A few moments later, the door opened. Featherwell’s rather attractive secretary, Alice, smiled at Tom as she escorted a young woman into the room and introduced her as Nora Janson.
Tom smiled back at Alice, then stood up and extended a hand to Nora. He figured he wouldn’t have much of a problem with this girl. She looked like the studious type. Her short curly hair was an unimpressive mousy brown. Sporting thick glasses and sensible tie shoes, she was a little too well padded to fit into the dull-colored sweater she wore, which was complemented by the too-long black skirt. A bulky purse was slung over her arm. It was hard for Tom to believe she was only twenty-two. More like twenty-two going on fifty-two.
Nora shook his hand energetically. “It’s wonderful to meet you, Mr. Hartman.” Her smile was bright. “I’ve been hearing all sorts of terrific stories about you. I think I’ll learn a lot.”
Tom chuckled. “I shudder to imagine what they’ve told you, young lady. Likely none of it is true.”
“Oh, I’m sure it all is.” She threw back at him. “You lead a very exciting life. Very exciting.”
She had not let go of his hand and was still shaking it.
Tom gently extricated himself. “Well, you’ll soon be a part of that, Nora. May I call you Nora?”
“Oh yes, Mr. Hartman, certainly.” She nodded so hard he was afraid she’d hurt her neck.
“And you may call me Tom.”
“There.” Tom bowed slightly, then turned toward Featherwell. “I shall be ready in the morning for our six a.m. flight to Morocco.” He swung back toward Nora. “Until then.”
Nora giggled. “Until then.”
He opened the door to leave the room, turning back one more time to nod at Nora and to pin Featherwell with a telling look.
Upon his arrival home, he got on the phone. “What are you doing, Featherwell? That girl is little more than a child. And she can barely see, I think. She’s not ready to go on a dangerous assignment like this.”
“Well then, it’s up to you to keep her safe.”
“You are out of your mind.”
“Listen, Tom, deciphering those lists is out of your league. Do you understand me? You are a novice when it comes to cryptography. This girl is an out-and-out genius. She was deciphering code at ten years old that you couldn’t make sense of now. You will be taking her, and you will make sure she is kept safe. At the same time, you will be getting the information we need for her to decipher. And…”
“Yes?” Tom hissed.
“If you choose not to take this assignment, tell me now, and I will find someone who is more willing.”
“I’ll do it.” Tom hung up the phone without waiting for Featherwell’s response.