Readers, be patient for a page or two. The scene must be set before Michael Westen can arrive. It is August of 1998. The Provisional IRA has established a ceasefire, but certain splinter groups known as dissident IRA groups insist that the violence must go on…

Fiona ran her fingers through Donovan's thick, black hair. It was dripping from the torrential rain they had just escaped. Planting bombs was an aphrodisiac for him, so as they had briskly walked away from the old post office in the heart of Belfast that night, Fi knew she would soon be faking passion for this brutal, callous man. Now, as they lay in his bed, with the mass of his six foot, robust frame on top of her lithe body, she ran her hands down his back. The tips of her fingers exerted just enough pressure to tell him she wanted it. Endorphins still coursing through his body from their recent excursion, he responded by lifting her right leg to hook around his waist, pressing his groin harder against her, and forcing his tongue deep into her mouth. He began to kiss her neck, and she sighed with feigned pleasure to encourage him. She didn't love Donovan. She didn't even like him, but he was good in bed, so this was not the worst part of her cover ID. Although a part of her resented having to give herself to him every night, another part of her loved the empty, emotionless sex.

*******

Engagement, for Fiona, was not a romantic term. She engaged the enemy. She engaged in hand to hand combat. She engaged the safety on her Browning 9mm pistol. She did not "engage" in romantic entanglements. So when orders were received from Cole Murray, Provisional IRA Director of Intelligence, to "engage in a romantic relationship" with Donovan Gallagher, she was irritated. Years as a volunteer for the IRA, an asset with more expertise in arms and explosives than many of the council members combined, and she had been enlisted to charm a man. She had given herself to men before, in order to get a job done. She never thought of it as sacrificing her dignity, because she had made those calls, whether planned ahead as part of an operation, or done spur of the moment when an opportunity arose to take advantage of a high-powered delegate. She had always been the one in control. Fortunately, it was also a brand of risqué sex that she sometimes enjoyed.

This assignment, however, would be different. Maintaining a long-term cover ID with Donovan Gallagher would require her to relinquish some of that control. She could still be hard. Aggressive. Violent even, but in her relationship with Donovan, she would also have to be submissive. Donovan was the leader of a unit belonging to a fledgling paramilitary group, one that had branched off from the Provisional IRA due to disagreement over the ceasefire. He was cold, and he had less regard for human life than any other operative she had worked with. His latest target had been a hospital, a mecca for helpless civilians. Mass casualties were not just an unavoidable consequence of bombings for Donovan Gallagher; they were the goal. The deadly agenda of this branch was undermining the political goals of the Provisional IRA, and even they had a limit to the level of violence they would condone. She reluctantly accepted her obligation to infiltrate Gallagher's unit.

Baiting him was easy. A chance meeting at his favorite pub, a seductive glance to reel him to her side, and a look of awe on her face when she saw his revolver poking out from behind his jacket. He was so taken aback by her beauty that his reaction time was stunted, and she had already extended her arm before he had the chance to process the fact that a stranger was reaching for his gun. The weapon rested firmly in a holster on his side, and she stroked it the way he could only imagine she might stroke him. He stood still as she continued her examination of his firearm, and he took in the sight of the striking woman before him.

"Careful," he said. "That's a powerful weapon."

"Not too powerful for you?" she questioned in insincere admiration.

"Nothing is." He replied. His masculinity sufficiently bolstered, he bought her a drink.

Fiona went home with Donovan Gallagher that night, gave him a night he would never forget, and when they woke up together the next morning, he claimed her for his own.

*******

It had been three months since Fiona assumed the role of Donovan's lover, confidant, and bomb specialist. She knew she could never disguise her proficiency with explosives or her agility with guns, so she explained that she had defected from the Provisional IRA out of disgust over the ceasefire, an explanation he was eager to accept. It turned him on.

In her short time with him, she learned that the group she infiltrated had a much vaster network than anyone previously thought. There were many other units like the one Donovan led, but under his obsessive leadership, his was the one planning the greatest atrocity.

The Post office job that night was small. Donovan was bored, because the big job coming up was still in the developmental stages. Fi needed to stick around long enough to obtain sufficient intel for stopping the operation, and it seemed she might not have all of the pertinent information until just before the strike.

As they lay in bed, Fi stroked Donovan's chest. "Tomorrow's our three month anniversary, Donovan. Are you going to take me somewhere nice for dinner?"

"I can't. I'm meeting with a contact."

"IRA?"

"No. Not yet. But, I'm about to recruit him."

"Since when do you recruit? Isn't that someone else's job?"

"Not this time. I'm not going to let someone else screw this up. I want this guy on my unit."

"What's so special about him?"

"He played an integral part in the Lisburn bombings in April. He's apparently an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to bombs and breaking and entering."

"No different from any other operative we know," Fi said dryly.

"This guy is good. And he doesn't shy away from civilian casualty. I want him for the September job. I need someone with no boundaries to get the job done."

"Sounds like a real asset. What's his name?"

"Michael McBride."