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“What about getting your master’s degree and teaching or doing research?”
“That’s what YOU want me to do, Dad. Not what I want to do.”
“I only want what’s best for you, Jenn. I want you to be safe, and happy.”
“One out of two isn’t bad, is it?” she asked, playfully poking him in the arm.
“I guess not. You’ll go ahead and do it whether I want you to or not,” he conceded, giving her a worried smile.
“Yes, but it would be nice to have your blessing.” She always loved the way the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled at her, but this time his blue eyes clouded with concern.
“I can’t give it, sweetie I want you safe. I hope you understand my objection.”
“Dad, I’m an adult. I get to live my own life,” she retorted, her voice suddenly becoming strident.
“And I have the right to my opinion. You’re a brilliant girl. Why would you put yourself in harm’s way?”
“Because I want to serve my country. Because I want to use the skills I have. Because the idea of spending my life in academia bores the hell out of me!” The moment the words escaped her mouth she regretted them. The expression of hurt on her father’s face was like a dagger in her heart.
“I see. I’m sorry your life has been so lackluster and boring. As your father it was my job to keep you girls safe and to raise you. Jennifer, you’re brilliant. I always hoped you would follow in my footsteps. I’m sorry you find it so pedestrian and unfulfilling.”
“Dad, you’re the reason I’m doing this. Don’t you understand? The CIA will utilize the gifts you discovered and nurtured in me. They’ll put them to use in real-world settings. I’m excited about my future. If it doesn’t work out I can come back and get my master’s degree and teach or do research.”
“That’s if you come back alive,” he quipped. He ran a hand through his brush cut hair. A hint of the strawberry blond of his youth remained, but time and the stress of raising two daughters on his own turned most of it gray. He stood and began to pace. Her revelation upset him. The unwelcome tension stretched ever tighter between them.
“Dad, the CIA is NOT like the Bourne movies,” she reassured him.
“Never mind. Who is to say I’ll be in the field? Maybe I’ll be a data analyst in the home office.”
“Don’t lie to me, Jenn. If you were applying for that kind of job we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You want to be a field agent or you wouldn’t be a so desperate for my blessing.”
“Okay, it’s true. Dad, I’ve never been more excited about my life. I’ll be training to be a part of the Directorate of Operations, the covert arm of the CIA.”
“I knew it,” he sighed. “So, my clever girl is going to be a spy.”
There was no mystery in applying to the CIA. The information was available on their website. What was surprising was how normal the process was, in the beginning. There is an application to fill out online. The CIA’s website stated they were looking for adventurous spirits and world travelers if you speak a foreign language it’s a bonus. Jenn more than fit the bill. Her knowledge of Arabic and Farsi would stand her in good stead as would her knowledge of chemistry. A rush of adrenaline shot through her as she imagined herself in exotic locales, having clandestine meetings. The whole idea of it was thrilling.
She applied to the Directorate of Operations, otherwise known as the clandestine arm of the CIA. Her knowledge of Arabic and Farsi made Language Officer an excellent choice for a career path. The only thing not in her favor was her dirty blond hair and blue eyes. She wanted to visit the exotic locales, but her fair skin, blue eyes and blond hair would make her stick out like a sore thumb. She could wear contacts and cover her hair and body with a burqa she was ready to take the chance if the CIA was, then all the better. She had nothing to lose.