Hank stripped down to his T-shirt and pants. He placed the HK45 on the bed next to him as he lay down. His shirt and shoes sat in the chair next to the bed. Hank had moved Sarasin’s laptop to the desk across from the bed but kept the files and folders to look through. Hank was glancing through the records of the members of the unit when he opened up Jerome’s file. Twenty-four years old. No parents. Born in Dallas, Texas. Raised as a ward of the state. Blood type, A positive. His training mirrored his own. Something about the file didn’t look right.
“Still like what you see?” Sarasin said as she stepped out of the bathroom nude, drying her hair with a towel. Sarasin’s body showed her age, but she still looked lovely and toned as Hank glanced up briefly at her.
“Very nice,” Hank told Sarasin as he turned back to the file. “How well do you know Jerome?”
“Why are you asking about Jerome?” Sarasin asked.
“His file isn’t right. It reminds me of my own,” Hank said. “Exactly like mine when I think about it. Okay, spill it. What’s up with this Jerome character? Or is there something else up with him?”
“Hank, you have always been too suspicious,” Sarasin said as she came to the side of the bed and leaned over to kiss him.
“Are you sleeping with him?” Hank asked. “Is that why you’re protecting him?”
“It’s not like that, Hank,” Sarasin said as she tried to climb on top of Hank.
Hank slid out from under Sarasin and stood up. Hank turned to look at Sarasin as she rolled onto her left side, propping her head up with her left arm. Her breasts glistened as she smiled at him. Sarasin began to caress her body as Hank stood watching her hand ease up to her breasts. Sarasin smiled at Hank as she fondled her breasts.
“Does this give you any ideas?” Sarasin asked.
“Yes, it does,” Hank replied. “It gives me the idea you are doing everything you can to distract me and keep me from asking questions about Jerome.”
“Dammit, Hank, can’t you leave anything alone?” Sarasin fumed.
“Wright is trying to kill us, and we have a mole in the unit, maybe more than one. Simmons and Holcomb show up alive after twenty-four years with a one-year-old baby—”
Hank stopped talking. He stared at Sarasin. His suspicious look returned.
“Thomas Jerome? You changed his name.”
“What do you mean?” Sarasin asked as she sat up and pulled the comforter around her.
“Our baby didn’t die, did he?” Hank asked, demanding to know. “You changed his name, but his birth year couldn’t be changed. I knew something wasn’t right when you were telling me about him. You said he died several months after being born or was it the next day? Then you said he looks like me, not looked like me. His file could be a copy of mine but slightly different. And he looks so damn familiar, but I had never met him before that day at the bridge when I met the whole unit.”
“Dammit, Hank. You never change. Why can’t you stop analyzing everything someone says or does?” Sarasin demanded. “Fine! Okay! Thomas Jerome is my son, er, our son, Adam.”
“Does anyone else know?” Hank asked.
“Not even your superiors?” Hank pushed.
“No one. I had to keep him safe. I had an old friend who was killed in a car accident a few weeks after Adam was born. She had a son just a little older than Adam that was also killed in the accident. I saw my chance and jumped at the unfortunate loss to keep Adam alive and safe. I arranged for Adam to become Thomas Jerome and took legal guardianship of my friend’s son. Everyone believed that I was a grieving mother who lost her child and replaced him with her friend’s son. When Adam was old enough, he asked about his father. I told him everything about you, your name, and even showed him your file. I could never switch off the agent like some people can do. When he turned eighteen, he joined the army. He decided to do everything you did. I think he did all those things to make you proud when he got to meet you. I pulled some heavy strings to make sure he did what he wanted and received similar training as you had. After two years, I brought him into the unit under the assumption that I had been grooming him all his life as an asset and not only as my adopted son. And he’s good, damn good, almost as good as you and just as reckless when it comes to protecting his teammates.”
“Does he know you’re his mother?” Hank asked.
“Yes, I never lied to him about who he was. He’s always known I was his mother but knew the truth had to be kept secret. I never lied about you either. I told him I never told you about him. He wanted to find you, but I convinced him that you wouldn’t understand why I kept him a secret from you. So, for my sake, he didn’t look for you, or so I thought. Then the mission in Philadelphia came up, thanks to Adam. He was the one who followed the leads from bank accounts for a group of terrorists and a group of rogue CIA agents to Doctor Martin and Assistant DA Samantha Craig. After you contacted me, he decided to shadow you, reporting your every move,” Sarasin told Hank.
“So why after all this time did you keep me in the dark?” Hank asked, pacing.
“No one else knows,” Sarasin defended. “It was for your protection as much as Adam’s and mine. We heard chatter through the intelligence community that Wright was looking for you after all these years. Do you remember a cyberattack you stopped on a bank a few years ago? The cyberattack revealed that the bank was being used by several terrorist groups to launder their money. It cost the terrorist group millions, and that’s when we figure they hired Wright. Wright was already looking for you. Things have just escalated with the raid on the terrorist training camp in the mountains and the death of the sheik’s nephew,” Sarasin told Hank.
“You lied to me about him, not once but twice. You wanted me to think my son, our son, was dead.” Hank stopped pacing next to the bed.
“It would have complicated things,” Sarasin said. “You would have tried to protect him and me from harm and put yourself in harm’s way.” Hank sat down on the bed next to Sarasin. She placed her hands on his shoulders, drawing him toward her. Sarasin’s hands were shaking.
“I think I need to sleep on the floor tonight,” Hank said, sliding to the floor next to the bed. A moment later, a pillow and blanket landed on top of him.
“Fine, be a big-ass tease. You know you want me,” Sarasin said. “As much as I want you.”
“Maybe, but I can control my urges,” Hank said as he spread the blanket out and put the pillow under his head.
“You couldn’t in New Delhi,” Sarasin said as she looked over the edge of the bed, her breasts hanging over the edge as well. Remember what we did and how often? If the weapons dealer had shown, we wouldn’t have known anyway.”
“You do make it hard,” Hank said as he turned toward the door, his back towards her.
“You forgot something,” Sarasin said as she got out of bed.
She straddled over him, naked, and handed him his HK45. A moment later, she was back in bed, blankets pulled over her.
“Sweet dreams,” Sarasin said in a sweet, loving voice.
“Who said I’d be able to sleep?” Hank whispered. Sarasin smiled as she heard him.
Katharine woke up in bed alone. It was incredible that with the door shut, Katharine couldn’t hear a sound coming from the rest of the safe room. Katharine got up and dressed. She grabbed fresh clothes before opening the door to the bedroom. The sounds of children playing and laughing came like an explosion as Katharine opened the door. Tess was playing with Julia on the couch as Karen and Cyndi were making breakfast for everyone. Tess looked up and smiled but continued to play with baby Julia. The clock over the stove read eleven in the morning. Shamus sat cleaning his weapons in a chair next to the time lock door.
Karen turned as she heard the bedroom door open, tossing Katharine a sly smile and a wink. Shamus looked up as Katharine stood in the bedroom doorway.
“There was a call from Director Roy earlier. All is under control on the surface. Your husband made it to the safe house unharmed,” Shamus said.
“Thank you, Shamus,” Katharine said as she walked across the living area. How much did Bob know about Hank?
“What’s for breakfast?” Katharine asked, coming up behind Karen.
“Pancakes,” Cyndi said turning to Katharine. “Mom hasn’t made pancakes in years. It’s a treat.”
“The last time was after that long business trip to New York City,” Karen said. “We had a lot to celebrate after landing that huge account.”
“I’m going to take a shower unless someone else needs the facilities before I do,” Katharine announced.
“We’ve all had our ten-minute showers,” Tess replied. “Okay then. I’ll be out shortly,” Katharine said.
The bathroom was tiny, more like a closet or a shower in a trailer or RV. The door closed tight as did the bedroom door. Katharine placed her clean clothes on the sink and stripped off her clothes. Karen’s clothes sat in a laundry hamper under the sink, her thong on top of her other clothes. Katharine smiled as a tingle ran through her nether region. Katharine wondered if Hank knew about the New York City trip or that she and Karen had shared a magical three days. How could he? Katharine thought. She placed her dirty clothes on top of Karen’s in the hamper.
Katharine finished her shower. She smiled at the hamper as she got dressed. As Katharine stepped from the bathroom, she found everyone standing to look at Shamus as he spoke into a phone handset from a recessed hole next to the time lock door.
“Yes, sir. We will be ready,” Shamus was saying. He placed the receiver back into the recess. “It’s been reported that Wright left the states. Director Roy feels it should be safe by the time the lock opens since only the override will open it from the outside.” Shamus looked at Katharine.
“What about Hank?” Katharine asked.
“They are using Hank as bait to trap Wright,” Tess told her.
“Bait? What the hell is going on?” Katharine swore.
“It was the only way to get Wright out of the country. Wright’s associates want Logan and aren’t worried about the task force for some reason. They are fixated on Logan. The task force received reports of at least six leaving the country,” Shamus told her.
“What the hell does this Wright want with my husband?” Katharine demanded.
Karen and Tess came close to Katharine and put their arms around her, hugging her. Katharine started to cry as did Karen and Tess. Cyndi was silently crying as she fell back onto the couch. Michael Jr. had a look of disbelief on his face.
“Why are they using Hank as bait? After all he did for us. He saved us, my mom, Cyndi, Julia, and me from those killers. Now they are going to let him get killed,” Michael Jr. said.
“I don’t think they are going to let that happen,” Shamus half-heartedly replied. “Besides, he volunteered to protect all of you.”
No one spoke. Breakfast was on the table and the younger children ate, but the older children and adults didn’t feel like eating. A foreboding feeling filled the safe room. For the rest of the day, the least little thing would cause an argument between two or more in the safe room. Katharine retired to the main bedroom where Karen or Tess would visit her to comfort her as much as they could. Even the kids tried to cheer Katharine up. Even though everyone tried to cheer Katharine up, they were depressed about the state of things.
Four days later, the time lock door buzzed, announcing it was ready to be opened. A task force detail was waiting as the group opened the door and exited their sanctuary. It was decided that they would all go to Karen’s home since it was so much larger with enough rooms for everyone. Director Roy had no issue with it since it kept them all together and one detail could keep a watchful eye on them. Katharine and Karen clung together for support, but that’s where their relationship paused. They were all waiting for word about Hank.
Hank woke up at the sound of a slight scraping on the window. Instantly, he reached up, grabbed Sarasin’s arm that hung off the bed toward him, and pulled her to the floor. Hank rolled on top of her, pulling the mattress on top of them. An explosion ripped through the room as the windows exploded inward. Four armed assassins swung into the room from rappelling ropes, firing their weapons at the mattress as they landed on the floor.
Hank pulled a small flashbang from his pants pocket and tossed it from under the mattress. It detonated in midair, stunning the four assassins. Hank was up a moment later, his HK45 roaring as he fired. All four killers lay dead on the floor. A sniper fired two shots into the room from another building before a friendly sniper took him out.
Hank waited a few moments before pushing the mattress off of him and Sarasin. Hank thought about how soft Sarasin’s skin felt as he got to his feet. Hank cleared his head as he approached the dead assassins. The room phone rang as Hank checked the bodies.
“Hello,” Sarasin answered.
“That was just a warning. I’m coming for Logan. Then I’ll deal with you,” Wright said before terminating the connection.
“Wright?” Hank asked.
“Yes. He said this was just a warning,” Sarasin said as she wrapped herself in a sheet, looking for her clothes.
A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door and then what sounded like someone kicking the door three times. Sarasin opened the door still with the sheet wrapped around her. Jerome and Grant stood in the doorway, each holding a sniper rifle and wearing assault vests and pistols.
“Come in. Let me find my clothes and get dressed,” Sarasin said.
Jerome looked at Hank with anger in his eyes Hank was fully clothed and holding his pistol. Grant walked to the window, scanning with her sniper rifle scope. A few moments later, Sarasin exited the bathroom fully dressed, her weapons in place under her clothes.
“I guess Wright knows you’re in Paris, but sending assassins instead of coming himself,” Grant said, coming back to the other three.
“Give us a few moments, will you, Grant?” Sarasin asked.
“I’ll be in the hall with the rest of the unit,” Grant replied.
“What happened last night?” Jerome demanded.
“Nothing. Hank slept on the floor. I had the bed,” Sarasin said. “Hank, meet your son officially.”
“You told him?” Jerome asked, astonished. “You said he was never to know.”
“Complications came up, and I had to tell him.”
Hank stood looking at the young man he had taken as an arrogant, pompous ass and recognized himself at that age. The two men stared at each other and finally shook hands which ended up in a hug. Sarasin put her hand over her mouth as she watched her son and his father eventually unite. She had wanted to introduce them properly, but fear kept her from doing it. Now the secret was out, or at least between the three of them and three others.
“If I had known, I would have—”
“I know, she’s told me over and over,” Jerome said as he looked at his mother. “She used to tell me bedtime stories of what a great man and soldier you were. She said that you would have been a wonderful father.” Jerome looked towards the heavens and rolled his eyes.
“I am not sure about wonderful, but I would have been there for you. Water under the bridge, right?” Hank said.
“Right. Life goes on. But now the secret’s out. Where do we go from here?” Jerome asked, matter-of-factly.
“Well, I doubt playing little league is out. Hank joked. Sarasin and Jerome laughed. “What name do I call you?”
“Might as well call me by my given name, Adam.”
“Let’s get the hell out of here. We can discuss all that later. The Paris police are probably on site by now. Wright has shown his hand. Now we have to draw him out,” Sarasin said.
“It’s time to revisit the villa,” Hank told them.
Twenty minutes later, the whole unit was climbing into separate black Mercedes rental cars heading west. Hank was sure that Wright would be following. That gave Simmons and Holcomb time to complete the assignment Hank gave them before leaving the hotel. If all went well, even if they didn’t get Wright, he would give up the chase, at least for a while.
“Grant, is everything ready?” Hank asked from the backseat of the Mercedes Grant was driving.
“It’ll go down in four hours. Every account will be emptied. The sheik will be blamed if he lives,” Grant replied.
Twelve hours later, the unit was pulling up to the villa where it all ended for the last unit. Sarasin looked at Hank as they walked up the steps. Grant and Jerome followed close behind as the rest of the unit spread out in pairs. Jerome watched his father as Hank scanned their surroundings. At the door, a butler stood, waiting for them.
“Mr. Antonio awaits you in the reception hall,” the man informed them as Hank pushed past the man into the main house of the villa.
“Antonio, where is Wright?” Hank demanded of the arms dealer.
“No idea,” the short Italian replied. At five feet even, Antonio was very short. His dark black hair and goatee made him look like a ’70s porn star. Antonio was pushing sixty and ran a relatively large arms dealership. Hank knew the man wouldn’t talk.
Hank pulled out his HK45 as five guards rushed into the room. Grant, Sarasin, and Jerome pulled their weapons as the guards entered. Hank paced about the room. On an end table, a bottle of Corona sat, the condensation still on the bottle. A helicopter was lifting off from the roof. Hank shook his head.
“Hank, it’s too late,” Sarasin said. “Wright’s gone for now.”
“Antonio, how’s the arms trade?” Hank asked. Before the man could respond, Hank put a round in the man’s head. Mayhem erupted as Hank killed two of the guards and Jerome/ Adam, Grant, and Sarasin killed one each. Gunfire erupted outside as the rest of the unit took care of the rest of Antonio’s private army.
“Well, that plugs that leak of illegal arms to the US,” Grant said.
“What next?” Jerome/ Adam asked.
“We’re going home. By now, Wright knows we lied about Katharine and my marriage being over. He won’t be tricked again. The next move is on him and that worries me.” Hank said.
The unit searched the villa and found a trove of intelligence that was relayed to Director Roy’s task force. Grant verified that the terrorist accounts had been drained before anyone could stop the transfer. A CIA team arrived at the villa to take over, relieving Sarasin’s unit.
Director Roy contacted Hank just before they boarded the jet back to the US. The director told Hank of the change in government officials. Wright had been reported in Syria with the exiled sheik Ackmed al-Azmah and Jennifer Tanner. It seemed the heads of the terrorist organization and Ukrainian crime organization that dealt in the human trafficking and sex slaves were looking for Sheik Ackmed al-Azmah after they received word that the sheik had caused the human smuggling on the East Coast of the United States to grind to a halt. The FBI and Homeland Security with Director Roy’s Task Force had freed over two thousand sex slaves and children as well as raided over thirty individual jihadist terrorist cells. It was a significant coup for both the FBI and Homeland Security. The task force took a backseat as Director Roy had requested so that they could remain under the radar doing their job.
“Do you have any information regarding Jennifer Tanner’s husband, Daniel Tanner? He was the deputy chief of missions in Italy twenty-five years ago,” Hank asked.
“Ambassador Tanner and Jennifer Tanner divorced twenty-two years ago after he found out that his wife was selling secrets to Al Qaeda,” Director Roy told Hank.
“Ambassador? Ambassador to what country?” Hank asked.
“Syria,” Director Roy said.
“Look deeper into his dealings.”
“We’re already on it. It seems a few of the wire transfers and bank accounts either lead to or pass through the Syrian US Embassy and the ambassador has a rather large retirement fund. We haven’t touched those accounts yet in hopes of using the wire transfers in and out of the accounts will lead further down the money trail,” Director Roy explained.
“Sounds like you have things well in hand.”
“Almost, plus Sal Milan delivered Nikki D’Angelo as you guessed he would. She’s most helpful. She is going to be a trove of information and is all too willing to help sever the head off the human trafficking organization,” Director Roy replied. “Some major international industrialists and public personalities have been named for taking part in the auctions. Not all those named were looking for sex slaves, but some people will do anything to have children or receive publicity for saving children from so-called war-torn countries. It appears a couple of celebrities that have “adopted” children from overseas have actually bought them through the human trafficking organization. Ms. D’Angelo had a cousin who was adopted in this manner. We have agreed to help find her cousin, a seventeen-year-old girl from Ukraine.”
“It would make things very personal for Ms. D’Angelo.”
“There is one more thing though.”
“She wants to meet the Shade. She will give us all the information we want outside the Philadelphia area, but she wants the Shade to handle the Philadelphia area personally. She says it’s nonnegotiable and will solidify her appointment to the head of the families,” Director Roy told Hank.
“Tell her if her information pans out and after my vendetta is settled, then maybe I’ll see what I can do about setting up a meeting with the Shade,” Hank replied.
“Hold on, she’s in the next room. She says you have a deal,” Director Roy said less than three minutes later.
“Very well. Once I’m back in Philadelphia, I will get word to the Shade and set up a meeting.”
“See you soon.”
Hank’s jet landed at the Philadelphia Airport to no fanfare or anything. Hank walked off the plane with Sarasin, Jerome, and Grant following close behind. Katharine and Karen waited at the baggage area as they picked up their luggage. Hank grabbed his pack and started toward Katharine, leaving the other three to collect their bags. Katharine rushed up to Hank, kissing him more passionately than she had in years. Then Karen stepped forward, kissing Hank, half on the cheek, half on his lips.
“What can we say? We’re glad you’re back safe and sound?” Katharine asked as she looked at Karen and back at Hank, smiling.
“What have you two been up to while I was gone?” Hank asked.
“Oh, not much.” Katharine.
“Yeah, I bet,” Hank responded.
Sarasin, Jerome, and Grant walked up behind the three at that time. They stood watching Katharine and Karen as the two women exchanged horrified looks caused by Hank’s statement before looking at Him. Hank’s grin made them smile then shrug.
“Ah, introductions are in order. Katharine Logan, my wife, and Karen Mitchell her business partner and best friend,” Hank began as he turned to the other three. “This is Agent Adaline Sarasin of the CIA, Emily Grant, and…Adam Jerome.”
The three shook the two women’s hands.
“Actually, it’s Adam Sarasin Logan,” Adam corrected his father.
Katharine and Karen looked at Hank then Sarasin and then back at Adam. They saw the resemblance.
“Agent Sarasin is my mother,” Adam answered their unasked question.
“Before you ask, no I didn’t know,” Hank defended himself. “It looks like we have a lot to talk about, beginning with your actual past, Hank. Agent Sarasin seems to be very much part of your past and present,” Katharine said as she took Hank’s hand, gripping it tightly.
“It’s all in the past,” Sarasin said, watching Katharine’s jealousy spread across her face.
“Not likely,” Katharine stated with a smile, a hint of jealousy in her voice. “But we’ll talk.”
Hank’s phone rang as they stood there. He pulled his hand away from Katharine to step away from the group to answer the call.
“Nice family reunion, asshole,” Wright said. “You stole the woman I loved and stole my son. You may have won this round, but it’s not over. I promise you that, and don’t think the sheik has forgotten about any of your friends either.” The connection was terminated. “Damn, Wright has eyes here. We need to get out of here and to a safe place now,” Hank told them all as he looked at Sarasin. “How could he know?” Sarasin asked.
“There must still be a leak somewhere. I would bet it’s either Homeland Security or the CIA.”
“My guess exactly,” Sarasin replied. “Who was that, babe?” Katharine asked.
“Just a dark spot from the past that won’t go away,” Hank replied, taking Katharine’s left hand.
“You mean Wright?”
“How do you know about Wright?” Hank asked, eyeing her.
“We’ll talk about it later,” Katharine explained.
“Let’s get out of here and get back to my place,” Karen suggested.
The group walked toward the exit and the waiting Homeland Security SUV as Katharine’s cell phone rang.
“Hello?” Katharine answered.
“You missed, bitch. That’s right. I’m still alive and I’m coming for you and your whole extended family,” Samantha Craig’s voice hissed from the phone. The connection was terminated as Katharine’s face went white.
“All, okay?” Hank asked, squeezing her hand.
“It’s something I thought I had dealt with concerning Samantha Craig but seems something went wrong. We’ll have to talk about it later because I screwed something up big time and it needs to be taken care of permanently. Something I understand you may be good at,” Katharine eyed Hank with a hint of I-know-what-you-do look. Hank closed his eyes and shook his head.
“It was bound to happen sooner than later,” Hank replied as he opened his eyes.
Karen slid up on Hank’s left side and took his hand. She eyed Hank for a moment before he turned to Katharine who was also eyeing him, complete bewilderment filled his face.
“It’s good to have you back,” Karen said. “We have a lot to discuss.”
Sarasin watched as Hank helped the ladies into the SUV’s rear passenger door. Adam opened the driver’s side, rear passenger door for Grant. Sarasin looked at Katharine and Karen as they sat with a space between them in the SUV, waiting for Hank to climb in. Smiling with apprehension, Sarasin climbed into the SUV. Katharine and Karen gestured to the open space between them. Sarasin took the seat, leaving the end across from them and next to Grant open for Hank. The SUV had two rows of seats in the rear passenger area facing each other.
Katharine and Karen exchanged jealous looks across Sarasin’s back and smiled. They both reached down and took Sarasin’s hands into their own.
“Welcome to the family,” Katharine and Karen said to Adaline Sarasin. The three gently squeezed each other’s hands. Hank merely stared at the three women as they nervously laughed. It took a lot to rattle Sarasin, but the thought of a confrontation with these two women certainly gave Sarasin an instance to pause and consider what the next few hours would bring.
“Women,” Adam said, shaking his head.
“Watch it, buster. I’m a woman too,” Grant warned.
“Exactly,” Adam said and winced as Grant elbowed him in the ribs but took his hand in her hand.
The action was not overlooked on any of their parts, particularly Hank who looked back at the three women staring at him. Katharine and Karen stared at Hank with a Cheshire cat grin that denoted that there were a lot of secrets that were shared by the two. Sarasin looked physically comfortable between the two women, but Hank knew from the look in her eyes that a slight tinge of fear was there, almost like the look she would get before entering into a life-or-death situation.
“Boy, do we have a lot to discuss,” Hank said, shaking his head.
About the Creator
Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.