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Undercover secrets, p.3

Undercover Secrets, page 3


Undercover Secrets

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  In those majestic surroundings, the Institute was like blasphemy. A huge, white building perched forbiddingly on top of a small hill, it peered down threateningly through blackened windows. As Anna approached up the long driveway, the first bud of nervousness popped open inside her. There was nothing welcoming about the Institute at all; in contrast to the open-armed tone of the newspaper ad, the architecture bluntly said, ‘Keep Out’. The complex was surrounded by a tall, barbed-wire fence with closed-circuit cameras on every corner. Their beady, prying eyes swept around in all directions, both into the compound and out into the grounds. Anna hoped the cameras weren’t quite so rife inside; they would hamper her investigation.

  Someone was watching her approach from within the building. A gateway opened up in the fence to allow her inside. Following the track up to the front of the building, Anna parked Mike’s Golf with the other cars. Hugging her coat around her against the bitter wind, she rang the bell by the Institute’s front door.

  Inside, it was a different matter. Despite the blackened windows, the interior was flooded with light. The large hall was bright, sunny and airy, and filled with smiling faces and gentle, friendly voices. A young, strikingly handsome man in a white lab coat greeted Anna with a perfect smile.

  ‘Welcome to the MS Institute of Research. We’re very pleased to see you. In a few minutes you’ll meet our founder, Dr Galloway. In the meantime, please help yourself to refreshments and make yourself at home.’ He motioned to a table in the corner of the hall, where a very pretty girl, also dressed in a lab coat (although hers was short and a little too tight), was serving drinks. She smiled sweetly as Anna approached.

  Mike’s information had been correct. Every staff member, both male and female, was good-looking. It was a feast for the eyes — at least, it would have been, if they hadn’t all been so deliriously and suspiciously happy. Real people didn’t walk around beaming like that.

  There were a dozen or so ‘real’ people in the hallway too: the open day’s applicants. Mike’s information about them was accurate as well. If you could judge by appearances — and in this case Anna suspected she could — then they were all drifters and loners as predicted. There were a couple of men with long, straggly hair and grubby clothes; student types with pierced faces and dyed hair; and others, who wouldn’t fit neatly into categories but whose vacant stares and slumped shoulders suggested they were either on drugs or running away from something.

  The drinks-server poured Anna a fruit juice and asked for her name. ‘We’re very pleased to meet you, Anna,’ she simpered, as she wrote her out a name badge. ‘And what is the reason you’ve joined us, today?’ Her smile was blank. Anna thought she looked like an extra from The Stepford Wives.

  I’ve come to blow the lid off whatever’s going on here, Anna thought. I’ve come to wipe that vacuous smile off your pretty face. ‘I… things haven’t been going too well for me,’ she murmured. ‘I’m looking for a new start.’

  ‘A new start for a new year,’ the woman said chirpily.

  ‘Well, you’ve come to the right place.’

  The man who had opened the door clapped his hands. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if you will follow me please…’

  The motley crowd of visitors shuffled behind him through the double doors at the far end of the hallway. They were shown into a small conference room with rows of chairs facing a low stage. Anna took a seat in the front row and glanced around her. Again, this room was bright and cheerful, decorated in sunny yellows and with plenty of fresh flowers and soothing greenery. Was this all fake, like the grinning welcoming committee; a ploy to make the outsiders feel at home? Or was Anna reading too much into the pleasant surroundings?

  Her attention was diverted by the arrival of a middleaged man, the first person over thirty she had seen so far. From then on, her attention — and that of everyone else in the room — was transfixed.

  He stepped up on to the dais. ‘Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am Dr Galloway. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the MS Institute of Research, and to thank you all for coming.’

  Anna took a slow, deep breath. Already her pulse was quickening. Jane was right; he was mesmerising. Everything about him reeked of control. His gestures were slow and deliberate, as if they had been carefully planned out and rehearsed before they were executed. His outfit was immaculate: a slate-grey suit beneath an open lab coat, the grey matching his piercing eyes. His hair was dark brown with hints of silver at the temples, the streaks so perfectly placed they almost looked unreal. He was of medium height for a man, just a little taller than Anna, but he seemed to dominate the room with his presence as he spoke. And his voice… his voice was deep, rich and slow. Anna wanted to coat her body in that voice, and then have him lick it off.

  His speech was innocuous. He reeled off fact after fact about the Institute, without actually telling his small audience anything. But he did it in such a way that the listeners felt they were being given a privileged insight into a new world. He made the Institute sound like a secret, wonderful club, which had been built on his pioneering vision. And they could all share in that vision, if they chose. He almost sounded like the high priest of a religious cult, except that Galloway didn’t worship a god. Galloway worshipped science and progress, and, Anna suspected, power.

  He was certainly enjoying holding the audience in his thrall. His words were empty, though. Anna was more interested in his eyes; they told a lot more. As he talked, making vague allusions as to what the scientists actually did there, his eyes were never still. They darted restlessly around the room, pausing for a moment to stare at a member of the audience before moving on again. He was searching for something. What?

  Whatever it was, he found it in Anna. Eventually, his attention worked its way from the back row to the front. Without faltering in the flow of his speech for an instant, his grey gaze drifted quickly down Anna’s stockinged legs to her strappy, black, fuck-me shoes. Then his eyes bored into hers, and they stayed there until, five minutes later, he finished talking. Unflinching, Anna returned his attention. She might have been imagining it, but she didn’t think so; by the time his speech ended, there was a slight, knowing smile playing at the corners of his eyes and lips.

  She felt his eyes still following her as she was ushered with the others into another room. Watching her all the time, Galloway trailed behind the small group as one of the staff took them on a tour of the ground floor. What they were shown was wonderful: an Olympic-size pool, steam rooms, indoor tennis courts, a small cinema, television rooms and a reading room with a huge window providing an awe-inspiring view of the distant lake and mountains. But the more Anna saw, the more strange it all seemed. Why did the Institute need to attract outsiders? Why was it trying to impress a bunch of strangers with its superb facilities? And why weren’t the visitors shown the parts of the Institute in which they would be working — the kitchens, the laundry, and most important of all, the labs?

  The tour ended, and the group was taken to yet another light, tastefully designed room. This, they were told, was one of the Institute’s cafés. A buffet was laid out for them. They should help themselves. The staff would be on hand to chat and answer any questions they may have.

  The visitors began to pick at the food, separating into twos and threes as people always do in unfamiliar situations. Anna purposely remained aloof. Standing alone, she hugged her coat around her as if she was cold.

  ‘Would you like something to eat?’

  She turned. Dr Galloway was smiling at her side. But unlike the vacant, emotionless smiles of his staff, there was meaning in his expression. His eyes echoed his thoughts, and Anna’s heart jumped as she realised her first objective had been completed. Galloway was obviously attracted to her.

  ‘I’m not really hungry,’ she said quietly.

  He motioned to her arms, wrapped tightly across her waist. ‘It’s warm in here. Are you cold?’

  Anna shook her head and laughed shyly. ‘I feel a
bit silly. I came straight from a party.’ She opened her short black coat slightly, revealing her short black dress beneath. ‘I’m not really dressed for a research institute.’

  Galloway’s eyes slowly, greedily moved over her. As with his speech, he took his time. It was the perfect dress to show off Anna’s good figure, and Galloway’s reaction confirmed it. He savoured the thinness of the straps on her bare shoulders. He savoured the beginning of her cleavage and the shape of her pert breasts, tantalising beneath the clinging fabric. He savoured the inward arch of her slender waist and the feminine generosity of her hips.

  Raising a hand, he touched the collar of her coat, moving it so he could look at her name badge. ‘Well, Anna, would you like to tell me why you came here, straight from a party?’

  ‘It’s…’ She dropped her eyes momentarily. ‘It’s a bit personal.’

  ‘Tell me anyway,’ he urged, his voice so smooth Anna wanted to bathe in it. ‘I like to know why people come to the Institute.’

  Anna sniffed with the memory of the ‘party’. She had thought about it so often since Mike had given her the story, she almost believed it. ‘It wasn’t a very good party. Not for me, anyway. My ex-fiancé was there, with his new girlfriend. She was going to be my bridesmaid,’ Anna said bitterly. ‘To cap it all, I went into the kitchen, looking for my new boyfriend, only to find him…’She hesitated, biting her lip with the memory. ‘He was fucking someone else. Under the kitchen table.’

  ‘I don’t believe it.’

  Anna glanced up quickly. Was that it — her cover blown? How on earth could he tell she was lying?

  Galloway rested his warm hand on Anna’s cheek. ‘Why on earth would anyone cheat on someone as sexy and beautiful as you?’

  She swallowed with relief. Her lips parted, but no words came out. She looked up into Galloway’s eyes, knowing that Jane’s warning was right. Women could be drawn in by this man; made to do things for him. Made to feel helpless.

  But his questioning wasn’t over yet. ‘Why aren’t you with your family?’ he asked. ‘It’s New Year’s Day, a time for big roast dinners and walks with the dog, and falling asleep in front of the television.’

  ‘I don’t have any family,’ Anna whispered. God, her acting was so good she could even feel a tear welling up in her eye, right on cue. ‘My parents died in a car crash last year. I’m an only child.’

  ‘What about friends?’

  ‘Friends?’ she spat. ‘One of my friends stole my fiancé. The other one grabbed my boyfriend.’ Her jaw hardened.

  ‘I can do without friends like those, thank you very much.’

  ‘Calm down.’ Galloway stroked her cheek. ‘You’re safe here, Anna. You’re amongst real friends now.’

  She doubted it, but she smiled anyway.

  ‘Do you have a job, Anna?’

  She shook her head. ‘I’ve had loads of jobs. I’ve been a secretary, a receptionist, a waitress, a nanny… I’m afraid I never stuck at any of them. I just didn’t find them very fulfilling.’ Her eyes glazed. ‘My life’s come to a dead end. I need a change,’ she said wistfully.

  ‘Anna, I can offer you a fulfilling job, a beautiful place to live, and a new set of friends who will accept you for who you are. I can offer you the chance to change the course of your life for the better.’

  Anna looked unsure. ‘What’s the catch?’

  Galloway let go of her cheek. ‘You need to have an open mind,’ he challenged.

  Slowly, Anna let a faint smile show on her lips. ‘I already have an open mind.’ She flickered her eyebrows, ever so slightly.

  Galloway noticed, and put his arm around her shoulder in reply. ‘In that case, come with me,’ he purred. ‘We’ve a lot to talk about.’

  This room was different from the others: it was starker, more businesslike. The walls were white, and there were no pictures or plants. There was a big oak desk between two dark-red leather chairs and no other furniture. There were no windows, but there were three doorways: the one they had come in through, and two on the left-hand wall. Behind the desk, covering most of the back wall, was a gilt-framed mirror. It didn’t take much to work out that this was a two-way mirror. Cold fingers of nervous tension gripped Anna’s neck as she wondered how many people were sitting watching her in the adjoining room.

  Dr Galloway took Anna’s coat and hung it on the hook on the back of the door. Motioning her into the chair in front of the desk, he sat down opposite her and got a file out of the drawer.

  ‘Right, Anna. You’ve heard all about the Institute and what we do here.’

  She nodded. Oh yes, she thought, I now know exactly as much as I knew yesterday. The Institute conducts ‘ground-breaking genetic research, vital to the development of the human race’— whatever that means.

  ‘I think we have established that you are interested in a new life, here, with us. Now, we must establish whether we are interested in you.’

  He began to ask Anna questions, noting down her answers in his file. Name, date of birth, address, next of kin; Anna reeled off her answers from the file she had open inside her head. Galloway asked about the jobs she had done and her qualifications. He asked about her medical history, illnesses she had had, and vaccinations. He promised her she could never fall ill at the Institute. ‘We’re even safe from the common cold, here,’ he smarmed. ‘As you will see, there are many benefits to living in a controlled environment.’

  How controlled? Anna wondered.

  Galloway continued. Her height and weight were noted; her eye colour, hair colour, the condition of her nails and teeth. Whatever he wanted her for, he was leaving nothing to chance.

  ‘Right,’ he said, clasping his hands and leaning back in his seat. ‘Now, Anna, I’m afraid I must ask you some rather personal questions.’

  What a surprise. ‘Fire away,’ she said.

  ‘How many sexual partners have you had, Anna?’

  Anna looked up at the corner of the ceiling, working it out. There was her ex-fiancé, the cheating boyfriend, the boy who had taken her virginity, multiplied by ten for good measure. ‘About thirty,’ she said at last. ‘Or maybe it’s thirty-one…’

  ‘My, my.’ The doctor seemed satisfied with her answer.

  ‘You have been busy.’

  Anna shrugged. ‘I enjoy sex.’

  ‘I’m pleased to hear it.’ A smirk twitched across his lips. He was liking her more with every minute. ‘And what is your favourite position for intercourse, Anna?’

  Anna’s lips parted as she pretended to be taken aback by the question. Galloway was testing her, just as Jane had said. And looking at him, feeling his eyes burn ferociously into hers, she thought she knew why. If she answered these deeply personal questions, she would show her keenness to enter the Institute and her willingness to be under Galloway’s control. There was no possible reason he could need to know about her sex life, other than to feed his depraved mind and test her tolerance. Galloway fancied her; she had given plausible reasons for wanting to escape life and begin again at the Institute. She had passed the initial tests and this was the final hurdle. If Anna faltered now, as Jane had done, she would have been gently guided to the door; she was certain of it.

  But Galloway didn’t know that she knew. She was one step ahead of him; she was in control of this bizarre game. ‘I like to be fucked from behind,’ she said, raising her chin defiantly. Sitting back, she crossed her legs high up. Her dress rode up over her thighs, and as she folded her arms she surreptitiously pulled it an all-important couple of inches further. Without looking, she knew the top of her stocking was now clearly visible, a black band in dramatic contrast to the creamy paleness of her upper thigh.

  Unlike Mike the night before, Galloway didn’t notice what she had revealed for him. Either that, or he was purposely ignoring the display. His gaze remained steadfast. ‘And why do you like to be fucked from behind? What makes that position so good for you?’

  Anna licked her lips. ‘The deep penetration,’ she sai
d slowly. ‘I like to feel… full with a man’s…’

  ‘Cock.’ Galloway finished the sentence for her. They stared at each other in silence for a moment. Anna’s breathing grew deeper. Beneath the low neckline of her dress she felt her bare breasts rising and falling, and swelling under his attention. ‘I’d like to see you touch yourself,’ he said at last. ‘Touch yourself for me, Anna. Show me.’

  Anna sat forward on the edge of her seat. Watching Galloway’s face, she slipped one strap from off her shoulder. The material covering her breast fell, exposing the pure curve beneath. Anna pushed the strap further down her arm until her breast was naked, peering out at Galloway. Then she began to caress her tender skin, smoothing her hand over the ripe mound of her flesh, cupping her breast, squeezing it. With one fingertip she circled the large, sensitive arc of her areola until she felt the soft skin stiffen. Bowing her head, she watched her nipple darken with desire. She pinched the protruding tip, as if she was punishing herself for her obvious arousal.

  ‘That’s very good,’ Galloway said. ‘Now, touch your pussy with your other hand.’

  Anna raised her head. Galloway was looking deep into her eyes, penetrating her soul — commanding her. She had never, ever been told what to do by a man before. In the past, if a lover had tried to dominate Anna, she would have turned the tables on him. She would have done the exact opposite of what he wanted, just to prove who was in charge. Now, she was faced with a situation where she had no choice but to play along, pretending she was willing to submit. If only he knew, she thought, slowly uncrossing her legs. If only he knew that she was the one who was really in control.

  Then Galloway began to speak, dousing her in the intoxicating stickiness of his voice. ‘That’s it, Anna. Lift your dress for me. Slide it up over those pretty thighs. Do as I say, Anna. Open your legs for me. Show me your panties.’ Effortlessly, it seemed, he kept his handsome features composed as Anna obeyed. It was as if he saw this sort of thing every day. He was totally cool. ‘It feels good, doesn’t it, to do what I say? You don’t have to think any more, Anna. Just do what I tell you. Let yourself go. Show me your panties. You know you want to.’

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