The novelette, With Friends Like These, is what I would call a complicated story. Not so much in the plotline, which is fairly straightforward, as in the subtext – the emotional wringer that Meg is being squeezed through as events push her closer and closer to doing something she is dreading.
Perhaps it’s a way of trying to ignore what she knows is coming; maybe it’s something else – but on more than one occasion, Meg lies to herself (and to us) about who and what she is.
Meg tells herself that she’s not an assassin, even though she routinely takes on jobs that require her to kill people – a job she is able to do with cold efficiency. But as we see in both With Friends Like These and Conflict of Interest, there are times when she isn’t comfortable with the assignments she’s been given.
Meg also tells herself she’s amoral, usually refusing to acknowledge her own peculiar brand of morality because she sees it as a potential weakness to someone in her line of work – but it is this inner morality that inspires her to help Liz the way she does (no spoilers here, but you’ll understand if you read the story).
Meg enjoys her work. Most of the time. With Friends Like These is the story of one of the assignments she would have preferred to avoid. It throws her into emotional places she doesn’t like to go, leaving her raw and vulnerable. And, as she says in the story:
“…I was angry with everyone I met or talked to or even knew existed. I wasn’t myself. And in my line of work, that’s not something you can afford. It makes you careless…”
Meg is a character I’ve enjoyed getting to know – a person with a difficult past that has shaped the strong woman she’s become. I like writing about her, and plan to write more of her stories in the future. Hopefully, that’s what you wanted to hear!