Whew, I never thought we’d get here – but here it is, the conclusion to the contemporary Irish thriller, Three Ghosts. Warning, just like yesterday, here be spoilers – but don’t worry – if you didn’t read along, and/or don’t like reading in serial format, the full novella – including all-new content – will be available to download on St. Patrick’s Day!
Catch up: Part 1
Dee came to with a nasty goose egg on the top of her head. Emmet had been hauled off to the MI5 dungeons, Pat was arguing with an aide about being taken to the hospital, and Aiden, God rest him, had been zippered up and sent to the morgue.
“It’s going to kill his mother – first her daughter, then Aiden.” She choked back tears. It could have been worse, she knew. At least Marley had the decency to look distraught, but it wasn’t helping – in fact, the sorrow on his face was just making her madder.
“Where were you – what happened in there?”
“I was trying to get to you – it took me a while to realize the phone Pearse tossed me wasn’t for me to use, but for me to listen.”
Dee glanced at the monitors now being dismantled by agents draped in protective white suits. “The monitors.”
“Indeed,” answered Pearse, who was lying on his back on his own gurney, wincing only slightly as the ambulance crew patched him up enough for travel. “Emmet had eyes everywhere – put that bloody IT degree to good use, aye?”
“But I thought you were working for Marley—“
“Not for me, he doesn’t.” Marley snorted. His cell phone buzzed and he put up a hand asking for their patience before taking the call.
Dee watched him leave the room with a small jolt of desperation. Don’t leave me alone with my ex-husband, she wanted to say. An ex-husband who, until two hours ago, she was prepared to kill.
Pearse made restless noises in his gurney and she turned to him. “So, I guess I should thank you for not letting Emmet put a bullet in my head,” he said to his hands.
Dee gritted her teeth against the blush that spread up her neck. “Yeah, well, if anyone was going to do that, it was going to be me.”
Dee shrugged and stared at the blanket draped over the edge of the gurney. This was awkward.
“I’m guessing you have questions.”
A tiny laugh escaped before she could stop it. Just a few. “How did you know – about Emmet, I mean? How far back does this all go?”
“It started when you and I got together. You probably weren’t paying attention, but he was a pretty big agitator – Pat wanted him on the Shadow Council until he realized what a horrible, self-righteous prig he was. That’s why we recruited you, instead.”
“Wait, you recruited me?”
“Well, you had that trust fund – of course, I complicated things when I married you, so there’s that.”
Dee rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I suppose there’s that.”
“Emmet wasn’t too pleased you left politics behind to play with the lads – didn’t like that you chose me over him. It turned something inside him, and I noticed him watching you a few times – why do you think I kept him from you?”
Dee cocked an eyebrow and he grinned without a hint of embarrassment. “Okay I might have been jealous too, but there were rumors that he was getting involved in girls and drugs – running a racket, like. If there’s one thing the lads don’t like, it’s that sort of traffic.”
“Especially when they can’t profit from it.”
Pearse smirked. “Yeah well, there was no point in you knowing. To be fair, things progressed so far beyond Emmet and his girls that I forgot about him until after Pat got me out of Donegal. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but something didn’t sit right.”
“So, what – you played him?”
Pearse nodded. “I had a suspicion he’d advanced his racket. I got closer to him, let him think I was hell-bent on revenge and still blinded by Republican fervor – which wasn’t terribly hard at the time, mind – and needed a financier.”
“Which is when you realized it went deeper than girls and drugs.”
“Very clever, Ms. O’Brien,” Pearse smirked. “And, it went a lot further than just the regular players in Ireland and England. That’s when I turned – I knew he was going to use me, use the cause, which didn’t seem to mean anything to anyone anymore, all for his cronies, and I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Still fighting the good fight, Mr. Finnegan?” Marley asked as he came back into the flat.
“Someone has to – within reason, of course.”
Dee looked between the two men, and over at Pat, who looked like he had reluctantly agreed to be carted off to the hospital – very reluctantly.
“Speaking of the good fight, what did happen at No. 10 – is the Prime Minister—?”
“He’s fine – the reports of those five deaths have been – how do you Americans put it? Greatly exaggerated. Looks like it was just a gas leak.”
“The London game, a fucking gas leak?” This was Pat as he was being wheeled out of the flat. “Hey there, Darlin’, glad to see you’re up and about.” He turned back to Marley “Oi, lad, we’re going to have to have a wee chat when I’m up and about – bloody gas leak.”
Marley spared Pat a look. “Look, you old hustler, it’s better this way – this way your empire remains, and so does mine.”
Dee waved Pat off – if he was truly angry about the outcome of the London Game, he was doing a good job of hiding it with cheerful bluster. Then again, Pat was, as Marley put it, an old hustler. He could make you think anything he wanted.
Pearse’s voice broke through her contemplation of Pat – or Rory Finley’s – tricks.
“So, Marley, what’s next?”
“Next, these people are going to take you to the hospital.”
“And after that?”
Marley grinned – and for the first time Dee saw just how much he loved his job. “Well, we need you to escape custody as soon as you’re able. I trust you’ll find what you need.”
Pearse saluted them with a wry smile as he was wheeled out of the flat.
As the door closed on her ex-husband, Dee turned to Marley. “So, if you didn’t know Pearse was an informer, why did you tell me your code name for him?”
“John Carol – there was an informer in Northern Ireland you lot called Agent Carol – wrote a book about it, yeah?”
“Two books, actually. I knew Pearse had been working for us–”
“But you said he wasn’t working for you.”
“And he isn’t. I’m not his handler – and he’s so deep undercover, I’m not even sure he remembers he has one. It’s one of the risks we run with informers. It doesn’t matter how long anyone has been the service – if the incentive is right, they can turn on you in a second.”
Cheerful thought. Dee grimaced and waited for the agent to answer her initial question.
“I told you his name to see if you knew – just testing the waters, Ms. O’Brien,” he added when she started to interrupt. “But, since you asked, Pearse picked out his own code name – from what I understand, it was a favorite Christmas movie. Speaking of which, you can stop spreading these around town.”
In Marley’s hands was a red, rectangular envelope. She took it and gingerly slid her finger along the flap.
Inside, the Mother and Child stared beatifically.
“This is the one I sent my mother. You promised—”
She opened it. There was a date scrawled on the inside and an address: December 27. 9:00 AM; 18 Park St London SE1 9EQ, UK.
“And before you ask, I didn’t send the other one either. You can tell her Merry Christmas in person.”
She closed the card and tried to keep the smile off her face. “How’s that, then? It looks like I’m going to be a bit busy over the next couple of days – research, you know.”
“Easy. Your family is booked in an entire floor at the hotel. Thought it might be a nice surprise, all things considered.”
“Who did – you, or her?”
Marley grinned. “If I say me, will you invite me to dinner?”
Dee gave him her hand and let him pull her off the gurney. “You’re a glutton for punishment Agent Marley—”
“That’s my real name. Jason Greene.”
“Oh. Well then, Mr. Greene. Let’s go have dinner. I’m starving.”