Candace Dare heard the knock on the outer office and knew that Warrant Officer Will Hutton would deal with it. When the two knocks sounded at her door, she was a bit surprised.
“Come,” she said in her practiced military voice. A voice she used only when their were “guests” in her office. General Fitzhugh always preached precise military etiquette when an unknown visitor arrived. One never knew who they reported to.
Hutton opened the door, stopped precisely three feet from the desk, saluted and announced,” Agent Ralph Watkins from the Federal Bureau of Investigation here to see you, ma’am.”
“By all means, Warrant Officer, send him in,” Dare replied. She did not like Agent Watkins at all. Their last meeting was particularly stressful. He wondered if he was going to be a pain again.
The agent entered carrying a file.
“Colonel Dare, nice to see you again,” he said with a smile extending his hand. Dare stood and shook his hand.
“Agent Watkins, what brings you to the Pentagon?” she asked, pointing to a seat.
He sat down. “Colonel Dare, I’m sorry our last meeting was not pleasant. I have been informed that perhaps I was a little too extreme in my conversation you. I hope we can work professionally in the future.”
“Is that why you are here, Agent Watkins?”
“No ma’am. I’m here to bring you this file.”
“File? What so important about that file?”
“Well, actually it’s a passport application.”
“Why should I care about a passport application?”
“The applicant has been flagged, Colonel.”
“Flagged? By whom?” Dare was curious.
“By you, Colonel.”
“What? Who have I flagged?”
“The applicant is Rogers, Emily Rogers, Colonel.”
Dare held out her hand to view the file. Watkins handed her the folder.
“Before you read this, I should give you some other information.”
“Such as?” Dare asked.
“We suspect a Soviet agent is working some sort of process in the Boston area.”
“It seems she is matchmaking students of MIT with low-level Soviet ‘sleeper’ agents.”
“How is this possible?” Dare asked.
“Easy, I’m afraid, Colonel. It seems you take a geeky guy and have a beautiful Russian girl that pays a little attention to him, and it’s ‘love.’”
“And what does that accomplish, Agent Watkins?”
“There is a possibility that one of these MIT graduates will find a high level government job. Then the young Russian wife merely relays the information to a collection agency.”
“And you suspect Emily is mixed up in this somehow?”
“Every since we have been alerted to this application, we have been tracking Emily. We also looked into the background of a Svetlana Grobrotsky. She owns the restaurant where this matchmaking takes place. More than likely it with the employees of this bar that the students fall in love with. Emily has been seen frequenting the bar. Here is a photo we took.” Watkins pulled out another file, took a photo and slid it across the desk to Dare.
She looked at the photo. Emily was in the photo talking to a young man.
“What is with the man’s skin?” she said pointing to Emily’s companion.
“We believe the Soviet’s painted him green. We think they are trying to lure her to Europe where they can kidnap her and run tests.”
Dare leaned into her hands and sighed. She sat silent for several moments. “I guess I have no choice but to bring her home. I’d hate to ruin her life over this.” Dare reached for the phone.
Watkins stood and held up his hand. “Wait, Colonel, I have a plan.”
“What kind of plan?”
Watkins put the folder on a the desk. “I know we had our problems in the past, Colonel. But we need your help in this. The bureau needs to pull in some spies, especially after the Rosenberg thing.”
“You are not going to use Emily as bait!”
“Hear me out, Colonel Dare. Please. We have it all worked out. We are pretty sure they want to leave via a cargo ship. We have some Russian type fellows making arrangements. It seems it will all happen during spring break.”
“Why can’t you break up this ring now?”
“All we have is speculation and rumors. Yes, a lot of Russian girls have married a lot of MIT graduates over the last five years. Yes, some of these scientists have found government jobs, mostly low-level at this point. Yes, the wives have sent numerous letters home. The letters that we intercepted have been mostly to the same address in Belgium.”
“The Soviets are using their resources well, Colonel. These letters go to the same groups spying on NATO.”
“I will not let you send Emily to Belgium!”
“Nor would I want you to, Colonel. I do not know the nature of Emily’s er, ‘condition,’ but there is no way we can take the chance on her leaving the country.”
“At least we are on the same page, Agent Watkins,” Dare admitted. “Who is this, ‘Svetlana?’”
“I have no clue. We assume a field grade officer of the GRU, or that new agency, the KGB,” Watkins pulled out a picture. “This is the only photo we have.”
Dare examined the photo closely. “Might I keep this? I still have contacts with the CIA. I started out in the OSS, you know.”
“Any help would be appreciated, Colonel.”
“What is in this for you, Agent Watkins.”
It was Watkins’ turn to sigh. Dare could see he was struggling to tell the truth or not. It seemed he would. “The way I see this, Colonel, is if we can pull this off, I could pull in a spy ring that would help the bureau’s image. You should be able to keep your girl at MIT. It will be a win-win for us both.”