I was never supposed to be the hero.
I’d lived most of my life not as a malcontent, not exactly – the closest I’d ever got to villainy was a speeding ticket when I’d just passed my driving test, and that was to dodge a squirrel in the road – no, my aim was to lead as ordinary an existence as possible. I wanted to go to university, get my English literature degree and probably become a teacher - while simultaneously supressing my unrealistic desire to become a writer. It was my older brother Tristan who was the intelligent, worldly, definitely-going-places one. I was just your average familial disappointment who my parents tried to scrape under the carpet in embarrassment.
At least, that’s what I told my careers advisor at school, weeks before I filled out my UCAS form and sat my A Levels. I’d quite like to be a teacher. Possibly advertising, or maybe writing the slogans you get on the back of fancy packets of tea. One thing that was definitely not high on my list of career options was high ranking intelligence operative for the freaking British security services.
I’d gone from wanting to study English to becoming a spy in the space of a week. I’d accidentally plunged into the world of discreet heroism, destroying bomb threats and taking out assassins, all because I thought the guy who was doing the building work in the house across from me looked a bit dodgy and I decided to check it out.
Note to self: if one wants to lead an ordinary and uneventful life, do not, under any circumstances, investigate any curious happenings within one’s vicinity. It’s just asking for trouble. And, in my case, compulsory recruitment for MIX, and halting a massive explosion that would have taken out half my street if I hadn’t intervened.
(Okay, I suppose there are good sides to my curiosity, preventing the murder of most of my neighbours being one of them.)
I, Daisy Elizabeth Hollis, was no longer your average eighteen-year-old, out drinking in the early hours round Trafalgar Square and snogging good-for-nothing boys. I was no longer confined to the path that had clearly been set out to me before I was even born, hidden in the shadows of my older brother’s glory. I was now a part of MIX – the more secretive, dangerous and lucrative cousin of MI5 and MI6 – where I was supposed to help protect my country.
Maybe I was never supposed to be the hero. But my so-called destiny had other, more pressing ideas for me.
And if there’s one thing you should know about being assigned the hero role, it’s that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. Daisy the hero may have an exciting, adrenaline-fuelled life…but Daisy the hero is constantly watching, observing, and dodging bullets. Daisy the hero has to watch the friends and colleagues she loves fall apart over and over again.
Daisy the hero has to reassemble pieces of herself after every single day, staring in the mirror and not recognising the reflection. Daisy the hero has to hold the gun and watch the life drain out of the person on the other side. Daisy the hero may be protecting her country and millions of lives, but often at the expense of her colleagues as well as herself.
I wasn’t supposed to be the hero. And maybe that was because being the hero would be the one thing that destroyed me.