Prologue

Evergreen Files Counterplay cover

February 14, 2015
Kiev, Ukraine

The light was quickly fading on a brutally cold day as a woman emerged from a side door of an office building onto a side street. She covered the hundred feet to the main thoroughfare as quickly as she could. Once out of the protective cover of the buildings, the wind seemed to blast through her and the bitter sting of hail began to pelt down on her exposed skin. She took a moment to pull at the bright orange and red wool scarf around her neck, lifting it up to cover her mouth and nose. Hailing a cab, she climbed in and settled back in its warmth and tried to relax.

She glanced out the window to her left. Someone was following her now. She could not see him yet, but she felt it.

Ten minutes later, she paid the cab driver and stepped out onto the street outside her apartment. As she did so, her phone began to vibrate. Pulling it out of her coat pocket her heart sank as she recognized the caller.

“Da,” she answered. “What is wrong?”

A deep male voice resonated in her ear. “I’m done,” he said.

“Where are you?”

“I am at the river. It won’t be long now.”

“Let me come to you,” she insisted.

“No,” he said. “It’s too late.” Then clearing his throat, he added, “We knew it would end like this. Remember our time together.”’

Then he was gone.

Leaning on the railing which led up to her front door for support, she closed her eyes. The phone nearly slipped out of her hands.

I must be getting old and sentimental, she thought to herself. She had been waiting for this call for nearly two weeks. It hit her harder than she expected.  But, it was no time to give in to raw emotion. Boris had managed his time well. She needed to do the same.

Gripping the phone firmly, she straightened up and typed a number she had memorized into the phone. A voice mail system answered and a recorded voice began its greeting. She immediately ended the call. That one call would send the CIA scrambling, aware that their asset was compromised.

She next opened the contact list on her phone and clicked on the entry for the Randall Foundation headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A moment later a familiar voice answered.

“Hello, Emily,” Alyona Hubba said in English. Her Ukrainian accent was deep and pleasingly husky. “Is he in? Put me through.”