Category Archives: Nick Sorrento: Grant Writer

The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo: Chapter 7

Nick found Boris outside his office pacing the hallway.  “Hello Boris.” “Thank you Mary, Nick come with me.” Boris pivoted at walked down the hallway at a determined pace, Nick fell into step beside him.  “Where are we going?” “Situation room, I’ve got a team on this now, something is up and you’re hot, we don’t know why.” “Yeah, tell me about the heat, I barely made it out of the Metro.” “What?” Boris stopped in his tracks and turned to face Nick. “Who was it?  Did you recognize anyone?” “No, I never got close enough.  I got one fast look at the guy underground, and I thought I knew the face, but he was a good 200 yards away, so I couldn’t be sure.” “Let’s go.” Boris wheeled and set off down the hallway with Nick hustling to keep up.Nick, the Sexy Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo

Boris swiped his security card in a reader on the wall, then set his chin on a rest while his retina was scanned.  The door skid back suddenly and Boris ushered Nick inside where within a circular bank of computers, monitors, sat four other agents 3 of whom who hardly looked up when they entered so intent were they on their monitors.  The fourth rose and walked swiftly across the room to greet Boris.  “What have we learned John?”  “Not much so far, but we’re just starting. We reached out to every primary contact in Moscow to start listening on the street.” “What about Karnikov?” “We sent him over to the hotel, he’s “interviewing” the hotel clerk now.  He’ll talk if he knows anything but he probably doesn’t know a thing.” John is a lean young Asian man who Nick estimates is thirty.  Probably an MIT grad with a Ph.D. in cryptology or some arcane spy science. John appraises Nick Boris introduces him. “John this is Nick Serranto, it’s his girlfriend who was abducted in Moscow.  Nick retired from the Agency a few years ago.  You know the rest, what you don’t know is that Nick had a tail on the way over.” “Where did you see them?” “I saw them twice.  First in the metro, one underground, another one up top at the exits.  A black town car at the curb, couldn’t see if there was anyone else.”  Boris interrupted, “You didn’t tell me you saw them twice.” “Boris You didn’t give me a chance before you bolted up the hallway! They bought the Tonic routine, the town car was across the street from Quigley’s by the time the taxi drove past.” “I wasn’t sure if you being cautious with that routine Nick.  You haven’t gotten that rusty I guess.” “I opened the cell and it had a tracking bug in it, hard wired into the phone battery too, slick device.” “Naw, that’s old news now, probably old KGB junk,” John interjected, “The new stuff from China can’t even be found unless you’re an electrical engineer.” “Where’s the phone?” “I dialed the cable company where you’re on hold for hours and jammed it into the taxi seat.  I figured they’d chase a yellow cab around.”

“John!” came from across the room.  A young black woman peered out from behind her monitor, her face glowed in bluish light. “Come here, I’ve got something.” All three men skirted the inner circle of desks to form up behind the woman’s computer. “What is it Kara?” “Bad news…”

Previous Chapters:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 

Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Nick Sorrento: Chapter 6

Nick sat in the back of the taxi silently, steeped in thought.  None of this made sense.  Nikita wasn’t an agent and never had been, he’d been out of the game for years now.  So why Nikita, why were they after him now after all this time.  The driver headed down Massachusetts Avenue toward Foggy Bottom where they’d catch the Roosevelt Bridge into Virginia then head south past Arlington Cemetery to the Pentagon.The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo

Nick began thinking like an agent.  Whoever the man in the Fedora was knew where he lived, he knew he’d be heading for the Metro.  Nick froze, pulled out his phone and stripped off the back and removed the battery.  Nothing, but a pro wouldn’t put a bug where it would be obvious.  Nick took small screwdriver out of his computer bag and opened the back of the Nokia phone. “OK, there you are.” Nick whispered. A tiny chip wired right into the phone’s harness so it would run off the phone battery.  “Slick” muttered Nick, “Never go dead.” Nick left the bug in place and replaced the back.  He’d use the phone once more then discard it.  By now they’ve tapped into the account, names, phone numbers, emails, they had every piece of information it held. Nick dialed Boris’ office.  The secretary answered, “Agent Bovalcheck’s Office” “Hey Mary, it’s Nick” “Hi Nick what’s shakin’ bacon?” “You don’t want to know Mary, is Boris there?” “Yeah Nick, hold on please” Mary always had a crush on Nick even though she was old enough to be his mother and had been married to the same man for 45 years. “Nick, where the hell are you? I thought you’d be here by now.  I was starting to worry.” “Yeah I got held up. Hey let’s meet a Tonic  for lunch, I’m starving.” “No problem, you’re buying.” “Sure Boris, whatever you say.”

Nick hung up the phone and tucked it down into the crease between the top and bottom cushions of the seat, down into the candy wrappers and lint where nobody would find it for a long time. If they were using it to track him, they’d be chasing the taxi. Boris knew that Tonic was a diversion, it was a real restaurant in the West End near GW Law, but Nick and Boris weren’t going there, if someone was listening – and they were – they’d be waiting there as Nick passed. 

Nick knew they’d drive past Tonic on the way to the Roosevelt Bridge so he ducked low as they zipped along through traffic.  Sure enough another Town Car was waiting across the street, two dark figures visible behind the tinted glass. “Man they’re all over me.” Nick muttered.  Soon they were across the bridge and heading south.  Nick flashed his ID at one guard at the check point who went inside to make a phone call, another guard did a search under the hood, in the trunk, then underneath the cab with mirrors on long poles, a third guard led a bomb-sniffing dog around the vehicle. “Man…” thought Nick, “…things have sure changed since I got out.”  Nick left the service just prior to 9-11.

The taxi dropped him off and circled away and toward the exit.  Nick entered a second security checkpoint surrendered his weapon, and passed through a metal detector, and a guard with a wand. “Raise your arms please palms open and upward, turn your belt buckle inside out, remove your shoes.” “Hey Nick” It was Mary sent down to escort him in. “Hi Mary, how ya been?” “Could be worse, could be better.” “How’s Ben?” “Ben’s Ben, same old stuff, Redskins, Orioles, Blackhawks, and Budweiser.”  “Come on Boris is anxious to see you.” “Not as anxious as I am” They walked in silence to the elevator.  Mary knew better than to ask what was going on.  She wasn’t cleared for that level of security.  But Mary knew from years of experience that whatever was going on, it wasn’t good since Nick had been out of the game for over ten years.

Nick Sorrento – The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo: Chapter 5

Nick kept running up the escalator until he reached the last person between him and the sunny exit above, a pretty young woman. Nick stopped beside her and smiled, she returned his smile batting her chestnut eyes playfully. They engaged in light conversation. Nick’s plan was to walk out of the Metro arm in arm looking for all the world like a couple. These men wouldn’t be looking for a couple. He stripped off his coat turning it inside out to black and draping it over his arm. He then drew his hair back in one motion and fastened it into a ponytail. As Nick and the woman reached the top of the escalator, Nick offered his arm to the woman with a casual comment about always tripping off these things as a kid. She giggled at the familiarity and took Nick’s arm.

Nick Sorrento Sexy grant Writer Chapter 5The plan working so far. She agreed he’d accompany to the building where her appointment would begin in ten minutes. As the couple emerged from the tunnel into the frosty morning air, he and the girl stepped quickly right up the sidewalk. Nick snuck a quick look left between the north and south Metro entrances where he expected the other man to be. Sure enough there he was standing beside a long, black town car trying to keep watch on both exits. His phone rang and he picked up. Nick turned and escorted his new friend up the street, keeping an ear behind for running steps following, they never came as the couple turned the corner ne looked back once and the two men were now huddled together at the exit he and the girl had just left.

A block later Nick left the girl at her building and he hailed a cab and jumped in happy to on his way to see Boris. “Pentagon” and the cab lurched forward. Nick had time to think now and he ran through the morning’s events. None of it made any sense. His phone rang, “Damn, Tony” Nick muttered to himself, he pushed the screen to pick up the call.”Nick here” “Nick, I’m waiting for you here, I thought you were coming in at 9” Nick knew he didn’t have any meetings this morning with Tony but it always took him off guard when Tony did this stuff. “Uh…I don’t remember a meeting…” “HA-HA-HA, got you again Sorrento, you’re an easy mark.” “Oh, yeah, that’s it Tony, you’re too quick for me, especially before I’ve had my coffee.” “Yeah-yeah it’s the coffee. So when am I going to getting the next grant draft?” “Well, something came up this morning. I’ll have it to you by 6 tonight.” “Hey, you were supposed to have it here by noon. I’m no night owl remember?” “Yeah I know, sorry Tony, can’t be helped.” “OK,OK, you all right Sorrento?” “Yeah Tony, I’ll explain later.” “All right Nick but no later than 6, I’ve got blank tapes waiting for you.” “Yeah, I bet you do” It occurred to Nick that only a couple of hours ago his biggest problem was Tony’s tapes. “All right Tony, catch you later.” The phone clicked off. Tony could see the Washington Bridge ahead, next stop Virginia and the Pentagon. Nick hoped Boris would have some answers.

Nick Sorrento – Sexy Grant Writer: Chapter 4

Nick reached the bottom of the 3 story escalator and stepped smoothly off, bought a ticket, and passed through the hissing gate, strode quickly across the concourse and quickly down the stairs to the platform.  Red Line – Wheaton Train 3:00 Minutes – flashed the digital sign hanging over the leading area. He’d have to switch trains at Metro Center, catch the Blue Line to Franconia-Springfield.

Nick scanned the platform for danger – his old habits returning without effort, like muscle memory in a boxing match.  To his left and behind sat an old woman, green sweater, leaning heavily on a rolling  wire shopping basket. To his right a young couple flirting, college kids he calculated, both with ipod wires in their ears.

A middle-aged couple were descending the escalator trying to fold a tourist map and arguing about how to properly get it back into its original format.

No obvious threats, maybe the Russians had grabbed the wrong person and Nikita would be released by the time he got to Boris’ office.  Nick turned to look at the sign again, “Pentagon City Train – 2 minutes.”  Nick turned to scan the terminal again when he saw the black fedora starting to appear above the edge of the balcony of the concourse.  He instinctively backed up behind a thick column just behind him, circled behind it and peered out.  Trouble, the man was scanning the platform searching each person on it, looking for someone.Sexy Grant Writer Nick Sorrento hiding behind a column

Nick knew who the man was looking for, simple addition. 

Nikita wasn’t an accident, but she was just leverage, they wanted him. The man was satisfied that his target hadn’t arrived yet and he turned his back to the platform leaning against the railed of the balcony.  Nick slipped sideways to the next column and worked his way toward the far end of the platform nearest the back escalator that would take him up again and out of the Metro.  There was no way to get on a train with this guy watching, he’d have to grab a taxi.

A sudden whoosh of air and an electronic horn signaled the incoming train.  It slid to a smooth stop and the doors hissed open.  Nick was lucky, it was a crowded train, and a large crowd moved his way and he slid seamlessly into it as it passed his hiding place and Nick stepped onto the escalator.  Just before he rose up out of the platform, Nick stole a last look at the fedora and his eyes locked with the man.  He looked familiar and Nick thought he saw a quick flash of recognition in the man’s face. Suddenly the man was gone from view.  Nick turned and jogged up the left side of the escalator sure there would be another man above ground watching the entrances. Nick needed a plan, and he needed to think it up fast.

Previous Chapters:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 

The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo: Chapter 3

“Boris Bovalcheck please, Nick Sorrento here.” “Please hold” A pause while Nick glanced out the window at the street below. “Nick how are you? Nice surprise to hear from you old man.” came the gruff accented voice of fifty six year old, CIA veteran, Boris Bovalcheck. Boris had the gravel of forty-five years of smoking in his voice. Nick worked with Boris in the agency for 15 years, all of that in the Moscow bureau before Nick called it quits.

Nick Sorrento Grant WriterNick met Nikita through friends when he took the job writing grants for Tony at a quiet consulting firm outside DC. “Trouble Boris, I think Nikita’s been grabbed by the Russian mob in Moscow.” “What!? How did you find out?” Nick told Boris the story, “I was talking to her, she was in her room at the Pleshka. Someone came to the door, I heard a guy barking orders to open the door, sounded like they busted in through the chain. Nikita screamed, sounded like they grabbed her and left.” “Didn’t anyone at the hotel call the cops?” “I called the hotel immediately, but they’re on the take, the guy told me I had the wrong hotel, said she was never there.” “Holy crap Nick, let me make some calls. What was she doing in Moscow anyway? I thought you two were both retired, living quiet, boring lives at the end of the Red Line near Shady Cove.” “We were until about two minutes ago. She went to Russia for a trade show, she’s a rep for SafeCon.” “SafeCon’s on my watch list Nick.” “What?” “Yeah, ownership is into some shady schemes. Let me go and check with my contacts. You get down here and I’ll fill you in. Hopefully I’ll learn something by then…and Nick.” “Yeah?” “Don’t call anyone else.” “Whatever you say Boris. I’ll be in your office as fast as I can.” “Good, I’ll leave a pass for you at the security desk.”

In one continuous movement, as though he’d practiced it over and over, Nick opened the wall safe, removed his passport, cash, and Glock, threw on some clothes, turned on a concealed security camera system, grabbed his computer, set the alarm, and closed the door behind him. Out on the street it was a bright frosty November morning, manhole covers steamed, and traffic was brisk. Nick would call Tony from the train and let him know the grant draft wouldn’t be completed until late. He needed to buy time or there’d be hell to pay. Nick zig-zagged between stopped traffic to cross the street thinking about Nikita, then he slipped down the steep escalator into the underground Metro.

Chapter 4 tomorrow!

Previous Chapters:
Chapter 2
Chapter 1

The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo: Chapter 2

The sound of a cell phone in the bedroom draws Nick out of his morning stupor just as he finishes shaving. He picks up the Android and scans the ID. <<Nikita>> is flashing on the screen, Nick answers.
“Hey Babe”
“I miss you”
“Yeah, I miss you too, how’s Moscow?”
“Freezing, gray, and people drive on the sidewalks.”
“Nothing’s changed then?”
“Not a thing. How’s the grant coming?”
“Slow, Tony’s being Tony”
“Oh, more tapes huh? Sorry to hear that. When is it due?”
“Yeah, more tapes.  Next Monday, lots of time.”

Sound of loud knocking on the door in the background
“Hey Babe, wait a minute, there’s someone at the door.”
“All right.”


Nick waits listening as Nikita answers the door. A male voice, speaking harshly in Russian, starts barking orders. Suddenly Nikita screams, there’s a loud bang like a door flung open against a wall, sounds of a struggle, grunts, a muffled cry, then the sounds fade as if it’s moving away.

“NIKITA!”

Nick yells into the phone. Silence. “Nikita pick up the phone!” Nothing.
Nick grabs the land line and dials the number for the hotel in Moscow where Nikita has been since she arrived for a security trade show. “Hotel Pleshka, may I help you?” “Yes, ring room 4213, Nikita Brittenham.” “One minute please” Silence. “Sir?” Nick is pacing the bedroom now. “Yeah, did she answer?” “I’m sorry Sir but the woman you asked for is not registered in this hotel.” “What?” “Are you sure you have the right hotel? Perhaps she is in a different one, there are many in Moscow” “Yeah, I’m sure, I was just talking to her and someone came to the door and there were screams, now she doesn’t answer the phone. She’s been there for a week and I’ve talked to her every night.” “I’m sorry Sir but she’s not a guest here.” Nick hangs up and returns to the cell to listen but there’s no sound and Nikita does not answer as he yells into the phone to pick up.

Nick’s brain switches into overdrive, he hangs up and immediately dials the Pentagon, he’s got one last contact there, Boris Bavolchek, and he needs his help fast.

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Chapter One

The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo: Chapter 1

Sexy Grant Writer NickNick’s grant writing mentor was brutal. Oh, he knew what he was doing; he was a master grant writer. He even knew how to teach others to write in direct, clear, hard prose. But his narrative reviews were brutal and cutting. He reviewed the narratives using a small micro-cassette which he clicked on-and-off sharply over and over like he was playing with a butterfly knife.

Into the device he spoke harshly, derisively, cruelly directing the revision so that his protege would cringe as if the man was sitting over his shoulder, watching, whipping the knife open-closed-and open again.

Nick grew angry under the torment. He resented the cynical voice and the harshness of the reviews. But he told himself he would learn from them. New wounds, fresh and still raw and old wounds healed over and scarred, marked him as a veteran of many grants. When he wasn’t being lashed by his mentor, he renewed the pain to bolster his rage by tattooing his body.

Most of his ink was of raw images depicting angst and pain but one, just one mind you, reflected the nearly dead softness he once felt toward others, a Winnie the Pooh tattoo.

Nick had a memory of his mother reading the books to him as a child. The memory always wrapped its warmth around him each morning as he shaved looking in the mirror and saw the little fat bear on the upper left side of his chest, just above his heart.

Grant writing was supposed to be a gentleman’s game, a relief from the ravages of the wars he fought in and the death he left behind. But his mentor had become his new drill sergeant and his tape recordings sounded more and more like a bad day of basic training.

The tone of the reviews threw him into a state of mind meant only for dangerous nights in the desert where he stalked death, not for his den in front of his computer.

No matter what was intended by his mentor’s vicious narrative reviews, it was the incredible journey and the unexpected end result of the abuse that would make this a tale worth telling.

Keep watch here at Sexy Grant Writers for the second installment of “The Grant Writer with the Winnie the Pooh Tattoo.”

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