Spy Another Day bonus features

Everybody loves bonus features! Here are some little extras from the books and novellas in my Spy Another Day series (and the prequel novellas).

Be sure to join my email newsletter to find out when I add more goodies to this page!

The Inspiration | Use your spy skills & solve this puzzle!
The Very First Line! (audio) | The Original I, Spy Pitch | Ask a Spy Novelist Videos
Mr. Nice Spy Planning Sheet | The Evolution of Elliott
Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie recipe | Spy for a Spy Deleted Scene
The Setting of Spy Noon | Tomorrow We Spy Deleted Scene | Spy by Night Alternate Scene

The Inspiration

Read about how I found the idea for I, Spy in the Dollar Store!

Use your spy skills & solve this puzzle!

As part of the I, Spy launch tour, I left clues at each blog stop to figure out the song that inspired I, Spy, and the song that I used as a “theme” song for Mr. Nice Spy. Can you put together the clues? Find the full list of blog tour stops here.

The Very First Line! (audio)

I wrote I, Spy as part of a NaNoWriMo-like challenge I headed up called the March-a-thon. As such, I wouldn’t allow myself to write even one word before March started. So on the last day of February (a leap year 😉 ), when the perfect first line came to me, I had to record it somehow.

I used my phone!

The recording also includes some more notes for chapter one, and one of my kids talking in the background.

The original I, Spy pitch

I pitched I, Spy at a writers’ conference, and as part of the conference preparation with my writers’ support group, we practiced our pitches. I did mine in video (but keep the captions on!)

Oh, in case you’re wondering: this pitch was successful, and the agent asked to see more of the book, but in the end, I decided to publish the novel myself.

Ask a Spy Novelist Videos

As part of the I, Spy launch tour, I did a series of ask a spy novelist videos. Tap my fictional spies’ skills to solve your problems in these short videos, from squabbling children to cyborg kitties. Uh . . . yeah.

Check back for more spy tricks and read I, Spy!

Mr. Nice Spy Planning Sheet

I always plot on paper using my plotting roadmap. Here are some shots of the notes for the first half of Mr. Nice Spy. (Sorry, my good camera is dead, so we’ll have to settle for phone camera pictures.)

The whole page:




The Evolution of Elliott

One of the main characters, Elliott, changed a lot in the revision process of I, Spy, thanks to some very valuable feedback from my fantastic critique partners. He was bad at his job, sort of a sad sack, and just plain not sympathetic. A great discussion with my critique partners gave me a lot of ideas to work with, and here are some of the notes straight from the file:

  • What has Elliott sacrificed to save her?
  • Talk more about how good he used to be at his job
  • Could Elliott have covered for Talia before when she made a mistake?
  • Make him funnier in dialogue—funny is always a way to relate. Let us see the chemistry between them. More back and forth fun.
  • Maybe he’s gregarious and sarcastic. Is he arrogant or humble? We need to balance this—too much swagger is a turn off, but if they’re playful about it, like “You know you just can’t resist these eyes,” it’s charming. He plays it up in a fun way.

So how much of a difference did it make? I’ll show you. Here’s the end of chapter 1 in the version I brought to critique group (which was draft 5, if you’re interested)

I hop in the back and we drive off. Once we make the first stop on our surveillance detection route, a 24-hour Tim Hortons (kinda like a Starbucks), I climb into the front seat.

Let me just tell you: Elliott is hot. There’s no two ways about it. (But I have a boyfriend and Elliott’s married, and possibly even more important, we work together so closely that I’m fairly sure Elliott doesn’t remember I’m a woman, I’ve been in the boys’ club so long.) For your reference, Elliott has tall, dark and handsome down to a T, with the broad shoulders and blue eyes to match. If nothing else, he looks the part of a superspy.

But tonight he didn’t act it. I pick at the wrapper of my cranberry blueberry bran muffin. I had to leave before dinner with my boyfriend for this op — but suddenly I’m not hungry. I turn to Elliott. “There are five seconds missing in my timeline.”

He sips his coffee, his eyes on the road, but there’s no traffic, so it’s not like driving requires his full attention. “Sorry.”

I wait for him to continue.

“I turned away — just for a minute — and when I looked back, the screen door had moved. I backed up the tape and saw them.”

“You were supposed to be spotting. So why weren’t you spotting?”

He’s still not looking at me. “Jenna texted about her contractions. False alarm.”

His wife. He was on the phone with his wife, due any minute with their first.

I’d like to yell at him. I really would. Those five seconds could have cost me my life. But they didn’t, and no matter what I do now, he’s going to get it when we get back.

The Elephant has struck again.

And in the final version (draft 11 or so):

We’re clear. It’s over. At last, I can hop in the back of the van and breathe easy. The cool, sweet satisfaction of a job well done — or at least survived — doesn’t hit my bloodstream until I’ve scrubbed off the makeup and we’re in line at a 24-hour Tim Hortons (like a Dunkin’ Donuts), the first stop on our surveillance detection run.

We did it. It was close, but even if no one can ever know, we’re that much safer, that much closer to stopping Lashkar-e-Omar. I casually scan the late-night crowd, but the release of relief I’m waiting for, the last hit of that satisfaction, doesn’t come.

Because I almost didn’t make it out. And Elliott and I both know why. The tension tightens along my spine.

“Two medium Double-Doubles, please.” He orders two coffees with his I’m-so-charming-you-should-throw-in-something-for-free smile.

“You pulling an all-nighter?” My question’s more of a challenge.

He turns that smile on me. “No, I wanted to get you something.”

I just stare back. He knows I don’t even pretend to do coffee (Mormon), and even if I did, does he think sixteen ounces of caffeine would make everything all better?

He gives me elaborately casual elbow nudge. I’m taken and Elliott’s married, but the guy’s got tall, dark and handsome down to a T, with broad shoulders and blue eyes to match. And he knows it. He bats those baby blues at me. “You know you can’t say no to these eyes.”

Again, I shoot him a cool glare. Normally, my deadpan response would be part of our banter, but tonight I’m not joking.

“Okay.” Elliott turns back to the clerk. “One medium Double-Double and a donut.” He winks at me, though we both know I won’t eat.

Against my will, I take the maple dip donut. I had to leave before dinner with my boyfriend for this op, but now I’m not hungry. If there’s anyone I can rely on at work, it’s Elliott. We’ve worked together so much, we anticipate one another’s steps and strategies and even sentences. Despite the teasing, sometimes I wonder if he remembers I’m a woman, with how long I’ve been in the boys’ club — though now I remember how much he looks the part of a superspy.

But tonight he was less James Bond, more Maxwell Smart. Once we’re back in the van, I pick at my donut’s maple glaze. “Five seconds are missing.”

Normally, Elliott would whip out another of those killer grins and aim it at me. Tonight, he sips his coffee. “Sorry.” The charm switch is off, those baby blues fixed on the road. There’s no traffic, so it’s not like driving requires his full attention. I wait for him to continue. “I turned away — just for a minute. When I looked back, the screen door had moved. I backed up the tape and saw them.”

“You were supposed to spot. Why didn’t you?”

He’s still not looking at me. “Shanna texted about contractions. False alarm.”

He was on the phone with his wife. His wife who I do not kid about. Who’s due any minute with their first. Who’s justifiably jealous of the time I spend with her husband.

I’d like to yell at him. I really would. Those five seconds could have cost me my life. But they didn’t, and no matter what I do now, he’s going to get it when Will reviews the recordings.

The Elephant has struck again.

Sweet treat inspired by the book: Maple Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Recipe

Enjoy this “spy pie” recipe I made up to match the decadent dessert described in I, Spy: chocolate chip maple pecan pie

Spy for a Spy Deleted Scene

This scene originally appeared in Spy for a Spy. The scene itself is still there—Talia and Danny discussing wedding plans while eating cookies—but Talia’s motivations and concerns have changed, as did Danny’s response. So here’s what it looked like originally!

I wasn’t planning on going to Danny’s house tonight, but even making such headway with Samir isn’t enough to totally dispel the things Brand said to me this afternoon.

I hate, hate, hate that he can still crawl under my skin and set up a sick amusement park.

“So how was dress shopping? Wasn’t that tonight?” Danny’s attempt to distract me from my distractions instantly kicks up my frustration.

“It was supposed to be during lunch.” I.e. when I was with Danny for his polygraph. I break a chocolate chip cookie in half with a satisfying snap.

Danny’s lips tug at a frown, but he takes half of my cookie without a comment. “Did you talk to your mom?”

This time, I just shoot him a glare and snag my cookie back. My insane schedule and my mom’s inability to talk about anything but herself have basically killed every conversation we’ve had in the last three years. Somehow, fighting over my wedding doesn’t seem like the best way to end the succinct streak.

“Have you done any of the stuff girls are supposed to have planned from the time they were ten?” He’s smiling, he’s joking, but by the time I was ten, my mom was halfway to her second divorce in as many years. I never kept a scrapbook of wedding ideas or dreamed of the perfect dress or imagined all the attributes of my one true love. Instead, I kept a mental list of why and how I would never get married.

Danny knows this is hard for me — it’s not easy for him, either, since he almost married a certifiable psycho a couple years ago — but tonight I do not want to be pushed. “I’m sorry, I just came here to get my mind off work for a while.”

“So our wedding counts as work?”

I don’t like that little note of worry in his voice, but I’m not sure how to take back what I’ve said. “It counts as stress, right?”

“And it would be less stressful if we actually got something done.” He steals another cookie from my hand. As if the package isn’t right there. “Like picking out a dress. Or what state we’re getting married in.”

With how spread out our families are, there’s no good place to get together. At least we don’t have to figure out the venue — as Mormons, we’re getting married in a temple. Advantage? It’s cheap (read: free). Disadvantage? We could get married anywhere from Montreal to Manila.

I pluck the cookie from his fingers. “How about a ring?” I’m shooting for teasing, but my tone misses critical humor mass and nicks the sarcastic artery.

“I told you, they’re all the same to me.” He pulls up a stool next to me at his counter and takes the cookie again.

I hold out my now-empty hand to say see what I mean?, but apparently he doesn’t. “Anything you like is fine,” he says. “I just want to get something done.”

“So pick out a ring.” I turn my tone teasing, lean in like I’m going to kiss him, and without taking my eyes from his, I yank the cookie away.

Or not. Danny doesn’t let go, but tilts his head closer to mine, toying right back. “Pick out a dress.”

I inch toward him in slow motion, ready to distract him from my cookie for real now. “Then you choose where to have the wedding.”

I wait for Danny to give in, close those last few millimeters (and give me the prime cookie-snatching opportunity I’ve been waiting for) — because somewhere inside, I have to show him I can keep up, I can hold out, I’m strong enough to withstand even this temptation.

But Danny’s not budging either. All the flirtation in his eyes melts away, leaving behind the same steel I’ve been trying to cover with cuteness.

“Are you stalling?”

His quiet question cuts our connection faster than a pair of wire nippers. I don’t realize at first that I’ve turned away.

“Danny, I —” I’m not that smart? I’m not the only one who can’t make choices here? I’m already coming so far to even say yes to you that I deserve some slack? I place my palms on the cool granite of the counter and stare at my hands. “Of course not. Why would you even think that?”

Danny sets the cookie aside — I’m only realizing now that I surrendered it — to take one of my hands. “I don’t mean anything, I just want to be sure. To know you’re sure.” He finally interlaces our fingers and pulls me closer to wrap his arms around my waist. I hate feeling like my arms are being restrained behind my back, even if it’s just Danny, but I fight down the plans to panic and hold his gaze. “Don’t go freaking out on me again. Or flaking out.”

“Are you kidding?” I force out an incredulous laugh. But it isn’t funny at all. I won’t let that happen again. I can’t. I can’t lose him again. I’ve promised myself that I would never, never, never spy on Danny, but I can’t help tuning into the CIA’s set of people reading skills (and maybe a little spy intuition) to try to reassure him. Focus on his eyes, but not too intense (freak him out, hello?). Slide my hands out of his and up into a loose hug. Keep my voice measured and steady and normal. “The past is over.”

There was supposed to be more, a whole speech or something, but the next words come shuddering to a halt in my brain. The past is over with Brand, too, no matter how much he hurt me. And yes, of course, we should be able to work together like adults. Like he said. Somehow I’ll have to find a way to trust him again, like I trusted Will.

Danny picks up his half-full glass of milk. “To the future,” he toasts.

I grab my glass to clink against his and we both take a sip.

I need to tap into my spy intuition with Brand, too. I need to be objective. If he’s right, if I’m letting my personal feelings cloud my judgment, any decisions I make about Samir or any other agents could be compromised. Brand’s a CIA officer, my boss, an experienced spy.

So then why can’t I make myself trust him now?

The Setting of Spy Noon

One of the pivotal settings of Spy Noon is the restaurant “Spin.” I picked this setting because I find it so ironic: when I visited Ottawa in the late ’90s with my father, we ate dinner in the rotating restaurant atop the Marriott. Ironically, after they closed that restaurant, the hotel opened “Spin,” a stationary restaurant on the ground floor.

With my memories of a fantastic evening watching the sunset over the river, I’d planned to use the rotating restaurant in I, Spy. I was so disappointed to find out it closed! I’ve even written about the setting I didn’t use. I figured it was only fitting to use “Spin” in Spy Noon!

Deleted scene from Tomorrow We Spy

This scene does appear in Tomorrow We Spy, but in a very different form: Talia no longer actually meets inside the restaurant with her CIA contact, adding just a little more spy shenanigans to the story. Here’s how it looked originally:

I reach the address, and on the outside, the building looks like just another brick in the strip mall wall. Inside, however, it’s clear they’re trying hard to distinguish themselves with a blend of modern industrial (exposed ducts and can lights), eclectic (mismatched dining sets) and shabby chic (with repurposed, artfully worn furniture).

On a weeknight, the atmosphere is subdued, but I can only imagine what the trendy twentysomething crowd sounds like on the weekends. I hesitate at the more shabby, less chic, antique entry table. I don’t see a hostess, so I take a seat at a tiny black coffee table with a good view of the door.

I’m in luck: Semyon strolls in seconds after I do. He looks over the harmoniously mismatched table arrangements, his gaze moving past me before he finally approaches. “Mind if I join you?”

“Of course not.”

He takes the overstuffed leather armchair next to mine. After we’ve faked introductions, the waitress arrives for our drink orders and disappears.

“How are you enjoying your time in Rostov?” Semyon asks, still sticking to Russian.

“Interesting, so far. Good to be back, though.”

The waitress hands Semyon both of our drinks, and he passes my Perrier with pomegranate juice and honey. (Oh my goodness, I nearly forgot about Russian honey. They’re obsessed — but it is so worth it. I’m definitely getting some to take home.) (If I can.)

“And how is your business going?”

Before I can answer, Semyon turns to accept the bread from the waitress and orders a traditional starter, oliv′ye salad, for both of us. I hardly care — I’m starving and everything sounds good. Except kholodets, meat jelly. Enough said.

I scan the restaurant casually until the waitress leaves and I can finally respond. “Business is fine; met some very good candidates.”

Semyon’s eyebrows jump mid-vodka-sip. “Have you now?” He passes me the bread, but that isn’t all he deposits in my hand. I don’t use this device very often, but I recognize it. A hard drive cloner, the size of a credit card with a USB plug. A low thrum of adrenaline beings to build in my stomach. This isn’t just a gadget: it’s an assignment.

How soon can I get some alone time with Borislav’s CPU?

For now, I slip the cloner into my pocket and start on my bread. “Our hotel is nice, but I think the people in the next room are eavesdropping on me.”

“That would be the case in all the hotels.” Semyon shrugs. “Sometimes the only way to get rid of nosy neighbors is to bore them to death.”

I’ll take that as a cue that I’m doing the right thing not jamming the bugs. I’ll change the subject. “Would you happen to know where to get the best deal on SIM cards in the city? Everywhere I’ve looked the prices are outrageous, and my client needs one.”

“Yes, let me write it down.” He fumbles in his coat pocket for a scrap of paper. He scrawls out an address, then the words ozherel′ye, varezhki, to look like a shopping list (for a necklace and mittens). But the items aren’t things he’s going to pick up: they’re a code. “Necklace” is the cryptonym for a post box, and “mittens” means there’s a dead drop concealment that looks like a rock somewhere nearby.

I thank him for the paper and slip that into my pocket, too. The familiar jitters creeping into my legs aren’t Restless Legs Syndrome. It’s only been a few minutes, but this very public meeting has run long. Even if my oliv′ye salad is nowhere to be seen, I need to get moving.

I’m about to get up when Semyon starts the conversation again. “What are you going to do if you find the best candidate with your business?”

I glance around the restaurant casually. “We’d love to hire him away.”

Semyon’s smiling in the edge of my peripheral vision, but something else catches my attention. A man hovering at the entry table. Staring at us. The way he’s eyeing us would mean he’s definitely a criminal or a weirdo in the US, but staring isn’t rude in Russian culture, so it could easily be normal.

As normal as the hair at the back of my neck standing at attention.

I turn back to Semyon. “Does your friend want to join us?”

He laughs like I just made the best joke, then glances around the room as if ashamed at his own volume. “Good eye,” he murmurs.

“Think I’ll be leaving through the kitchen now. It would be really nice not to have to walk the streets alone at night.” Pretty sure he can figure out I’m not asking for company — I’m asking for protection.

“See what I can do. Good night.”

“Night.” I stand. If it weren’t winter, I could make the getaway cleaner, but it is, and I need this coat. I make a show of checking the pockets, like I’m going to need something in the bathroom — make-up, feminine hygiene products, any excuse will do — and gather the jacket. “I’ll be right back,” I say in a voice pitched for our new best friend.

Semyon nods, and I’m out.

I’ve got another meeting now — face time with Borislav’s computer. And Danny might be my ticket in.

Read Tomorrow We Spy to see how it’s changed!

Alternate scene from Spy by Night

Originally, Spy by Night wasn’t going to feature Danny’s POV. After the first chapter’s spy adventure, it was time for Danny and Talia to meet. A couple years before, I’d begun to write the story of how they got together, possibly as a novella from Danny’s POV, or just for my reference. Although I only wrote three or four scenes of his story, I knew the outline by heart. And when something about the scene just wasn’t working from Talia’s POV, I dug into my files and pulled out his version to show to a friend for comparison. She agreed: we needed to hear this story from Danny, too.

So here’s that original, rough draft of the “meet cute” that just wasn’t working for me.

Really not ready to go in and face the “meet” market. Mom’s right about one thing, church is the best place to meet a spouse. And right now more than ever, I want nothing more than to be alone.

Being late does have its advantages. Rather than walk in in the middle of the meeting, I head through the glass doors and pick a floral armchair in the foyer, out of sight of the chapel doors. The speakers overhead pipe in the music of the sacrament hymn and I try to focus on that instead of my mom, my non-existent life, my jobs, and everything else I have to do (or avoid) this week.

Spies often do their best to blend in, but really wishing you’re invisible when you’re not working probably isn’t a good sign. Of course, I claim to be many things — just a law intern, the daughter of a normal, loving mother, innocent, not dangerous — but well-adjusted isn’t one of them.

Movement from the chapel doors catches my eye and I glance over without turning my head. No threat here, but my heartbeat quickens for a totally different reason.

Danny Fluker. The newest American import to the congregation (there aren’t too many of us), he’s more than tall, dark and handsome. He’s smart and funny and nice — and a prize pretty much any woman over the age of twenty-three is vying for.

Yes, I fall into that pathetic category.

I try to focus on the foliage outside the foyer, but my eyes flick back to Danny, standing five feet away.

Staring at my calves.

I can’t decide whether to be offended or flattered, so for now, I’m both. I turn my gaze back to the windows. He has three seconds to look away or I’m choosing offended.

When I swivel back, he’s looking at my eyes. Before I can force it down, one of my eyebrows sneaks up, silently challenging him to start the conversation.

And he does. “You know, you can see better in there.”

I glance at the speakers in the ceiling. “What, does Coop have puppets and posters?” (Neither are allowed.)

Danny laughs softly, shaking his head.

“I’m not here to see — or be seen,” I conclude.

“Wish I were that smart,” he mutters.

“What, the pressures of the ‘meet market’ suddenly too much for you?”

He shrugs. “That and the fact I catch an elbow every time I fall asleep.”

Eesh. Wonder which harpy’s homed in on him. (That’s a joke — ten bucks says it’s “Sassy” Beth.)

“Talia, right?”

I can’t help a flinch, blinking and tilting my head half an inch. He knows my name? “And you’re Danny.”

“That’s me.” He smiles, and I catch a glimpse of reason #673 he’s one of the Dow’s Lake Ward’s hottest commodities. And if I’m honest? My stupid heart catches.

This is dangerous. I avoid romantic entanglements for very good reasons, all of which escape me right now — except for my mother’s harping. Unfortunately, she’s right about one thing: church is the best place to find a husband, and I am not looking. There’s no point in leading Danny on when I’m obviously not the person he’s looking for.

Inside the chapel, Coop pauses in his droning. Danny and I both look up at the speakers overhead, waiting for Coop to continue. He starts what’s obviously the windup of his talk.

And when he finishes, a mini parade of people needing water or wakeup walks will tromp through here. Definitely time to make my escape. I stand and start for the hallways back to the classrooms.

“Where are you going?” Danny calls.

“Getting a drink.”

He casts a meaningful glance at the water fountain a few feet to my left, behind me.

“Yeah, people are going to come out here and get a drink there during the rest hymn. And I will be —” I point down the hall and around the corner, where another water fountain waits — “over there.”

“You’re taking the ‘not being seen’ thing to the Olympic level.”

I allow a tiny smile to sneak free. “You have no idea.” I start to turn around to continue on my course — but instantly, I feel the tug of regret. What, am I going to walk away from a hot guy who’s actually made the effort to learn my name just to spite my mother?

I pivot back to him. “You know, some water might help you stay awake.”

Danny casually follows, and we make our way down the hall. The sudden noise of families from another congregation in our building, meeting up after church reaches us, but I’d rather been seen by these strangers than the people who are supposed to be my friends.

Danny sticks with me, but doesn’t make any awkward attempts at conversation — and I like it. We wait in line for the drinking fountain, but even that doesn’t take long enough to be sure the foyer will be clear, so I peruse a bulletin board of photos from this summer’s girls’ camp. (AKA a bunch of teenagers I don’t know.)

After a few minutes, I glance at Danny. He nods, like he’s reassuring me the coast has got to be clear, and we meander back to the foyer. Aside fro a couple with two toddlers on one of the couches, we’re miraculously alone.

Decision time. Really, we should probably both go into the chapel, Danny back to whoever’s throwing elbows, and me to hide by myself in the furthest corner of the room. I avoid people because I can’t let anyone get too close, because I have too many secrets to shield, because I have to.

I should send Danny packing.

Instead, I send the ball to his end of the court, and watch to see what he does. He watches me back for a second, then takes a seat at one end of the empty couch. He’s still looking at me, waiting to see what I do.

The safe move for me would be to return to the armchair where I was a minute ago, too far away to carry on a quiet conversation.

Every once in a while, a spy has to live dangerously. One conversation isn’t a marriage contract. I settle onto the opposite end of the couch.

“So,” he starts. I brace myself for whatever’s coming. He starts with a softball. “What’s your story?”


“Why’d you move to Canada?”

Once again, I flinch and blink and tilt my head. I’m not sure whether to feel flattered or worried. He knows my name and the fact that I’m also American, and we’ve never had a conversation. Targeting a potential spouse can be a lot like targeting a potential agent — and if Danny’s doing either one with me, he’s headed for a world of hurt.

I go for a neutral answer. “Free healthcare. Got tired of waiting for them to work out the kinks in the States, so I came here to wait for a doctor instead.”

“Oh, are you sick?”

I raise my eyebrows, and Danny backtracks. “Sorry, I mean — I —”

“No. I’m waiting on that part, too.”

He laughs, and I another glimpse of that smile is like a tiny shot of adrenaline. A girl could get addicted to that smile.

I need to be careful. I push the conversation forward, trying to keep it as neutral as he did. “What’s your story?”

“Got a great job.”

“Sweet. What do you do?”

“I’m an aerospace engineer at National Research Council Canada.”

I knew it had to be something smart. (Reason #223.) “So you’re a rocket scientist?”

“Sort of. I mostly work on planes.”

The spy side of my brain registers that this makes him a prime target — but we’re not here to spy on Canada. (They know I’m here and we’re cooperating. Besides, what could they possibly have?) “Are you adjusting to the Great White North okay? Winter starts in two weeks.”

Danny laughs and glances out the plateglass at the gorgeous July afternoon. “Actually, I’ve been through it before. I served my mission here.”

“In Ottawa?”

“Mostly Québec, but my first area was the Champlain Ward.” He nods toward the back hallway where we milled around among the families.

“Ah, so the hair?” I point at his, just long enough to curl behind his ears and at his neck — much longer than missionary standards. (Reason #52.) “Traveling incognito?”

“Hey, I like my hair.”

“No, it looks good — I mean —” I lick my lips and press them together to cut off my rambling. Nice one, Talia.

Might as well own it. Not the end of the world to give him a compliment. “It does.”

He blushes a little. (Reason #675.) “Thanks.” He pulls a photo from his jacket pocket. “If I run into anyone I remember, I’ve got this to prove it.”

I take the picture, of him and his missionary companion on the Rideau Canal locks, the Château Laurier in the background. And he’s kind of adorable in a little-kid way. (Well, a nineteen-year-old way.) “Look at you,” I murmur. “How long ago was this?”

“Nine years.”

Mental math puts him just a year or two older than me. It takes some doing to get to be our age without getting married — or some major hangups. I fall in both categories, and I can’t help idly wondering where Danny is.

“Cool that you get to visit your mission.” I hand the photo back. “Wish I could.”

“Where did you serve?”

It’s kind of a secret that I speak Russian (although it’s on the records of the Church, if anyone bothered to check), so I offer the standard near-lie. (In church, no less.) “Mostly small towns on the border of Georgia.”

“It’s not like that’s Africa or Russia or something.”

I manage to not react to the cosmic coincidence of him naming the country I really did preach the gospel in.

“You know,” he continues, oblivious, “they have these things, they’re called airplanes — I think I mentioned them once already?”

I smirk. “Yeah, I’ve heard of them. What I need is a time machine. Pause my life here, then think about a vacation.”

“You sound busy. What do you do?”

You can read the start of the final version of this scene from Danny’s POV in an excerpt from Spy by Night.

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