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H&K: Path of Knowledge

Book 1 of the H&K Series: Chapter 20

By Shawn David KelleyPublished 5 months ago 32 min read
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Chapter 20

“Director, your family has been taken by Wright. Your family’s detail leader’s body was found on the side of the street not far from the Mitchell home. The driver was a plant as was the driver for the Mitchell woman. Luckily, the Mitchell woman had a gun. Shamus is bringing in the driver as we speak. He dropped the Mitchell family off at an undisclosed location,” a task force member said as she met Bob. Marquis and their driver walked up to the task force headquarters entrance.

“Have you heard from any of the other vehicles?” Bob asked as they passed into the building.

“No, they are still dark, but GPS has them heading in our direction,” the woman told Bob. “The secretary of Homeland Security is waiting for you in the tac room.”

Bob strolled through the building for his telecommunication meeting with the secretary of Homeland Security in the tac room. Bob’s mind was on the safety of his family but more on his job. If Bob did his job right, he knew they would be recovered safely. Bob punched in the security code and retinal scan to access the tac room. Bob walked into the center of the tac room as one of the technicians activated the wall-sized monitor on the far wall.

“Bob, what the hell is going on?” the secretary of Homeland Security asked from the monitor, larger than life.

“Sir, there seems to be a concerted centralized attacked being launched against the task force and our families,” Bob told the secretary.

“I was just told that your family and a family connection to you were taken captive. Is this true?” the secretary asked.

“I just found out myself, sir. Where did you get the information?” Bob shot back.

“Are you questioning me, mister? I will let you know that I can relieve you of your command!” the secretary warned.

“Mr. Secretary, I was merely asking where your information came from since those of us on the ground found out less than half an hour ago,” Bob replied, keeping the anger and accusation out of his tone.

“I take offense to your accusation, mister,” the secretary stated.

“Mr. Secretary, there is no point in accusing or assuming anything. The task force will continue to do our job until we have those responsible or disbanded.”

“Well, find out what’s going on and get back to me,” the secretary said before signaling the connection to be terminated.

“What the hell was that all about?” Marquis asked.

“You found that odd as well?” Bob asked as he turned to leave the tac room.

“Odd? Damn insane. If I were a suspicious person, I would think he had the information before anything went down,” Marquis said.

“Pull in everyone. Put together a handful of those you trust and check the background of everyone, and I mean everyone. Look for even the least suspicious thing and expand upon it. Make it quick too. We are losing people left and right.” Bob was pacing along the hallway outside the tac room.

“What about your family?”

“They will be safe only after we get to the leaders and money behind this whole business, then we may end it all.”

*****

Hank led Shamus, Grant, Michael Jr., Cyndi, and Karen with baby Julia down the stairs to the basement as Jerome stood to watch in the living room. At the bottom of the stairs, Hank turned right and walked along the wall that encased the stairwell. At the end of the wall and under the top landing of the stairs, Hank slid out a filing cabinet that had been placed under the landing. Below where the filing cabinet had been, a steel door was recessed in the floor. Hank pushed a button hidden in the rafters over the door. The door slowly rose to reveal a metal stairwell leading even farther down. Twenty feet below the basement floor, Hank had had a safe room built. Four feet of concrete reinforced steel separated the basement and the safe room. The safe room was a fallout shelter with an air filtration system, water filtration, sewage removal, stored food, and bottled water. There was enough room in the twenty-by-twenty-five-foot safe room for four people to live for an extended amount of time. The steel outer door was from a bank vault door that had a high rating against fire and blasts. The titanium skin was a quarter-inch thick. The room was pneumatically sealed with a counter air pressure device. Once the outer door opened, an inner door appeared. Hank inputted the code. The door slid back.

“You’ll be safe here,” Hank told them. “Shamus will stay here with you. The safe room has a timing lock on the inner door. I’ll set it for a week.”

“Safe room, huh?” Sarasin said from behind Hank.

“Never too prepared,” Hank said. “Shamus, the weapons locker is to the left. Let’s go, Grant. It’s time to go on the hunt again.”

“You’re not leaving me behind?” Karen told Hank.

“What? Are you completely out of your mind? You have three children to think about. This fight is mine.”

“And mine,” Sarasin added.

“I have a duty to my friend to see that her husband stays safe,” Karen said, eyeing up Sarasin.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ve got his six,” Sarasin smirked.

“I bet you’d like to have his six,” Karen retorted.

“Why you…” Sarasin started toward Karen, but Hank stepped between them.

“Stop it. Karen, Adaline, and I are Wright’s targets. He’ll hurt anyone and everyone we love to break us down and make us lose our heads in the fight. I need to know you four are safe so I can focus on getting Katharine, Tess, and the kids back.”

“It’s Adaline now?” Karen asked, suspicious. Sarasin looked sideways at Hank.

“It’s her name,” Hank defended.

“You’ve never called her Adaline before, always Sarasin,” Karen remarked. Everyone could feel the tension.

“We’ve known each other for nearly thirty years. We’ve fought together, bled together, and grieved together. That’s as far as it has gone. But I know she has my back. Sarasin is a damn good soldier with combat experience. We’ve been lucky until now. You’ve been semi-safe as have your children. Think of them, please,” Hank told Karen.

“Hank, I don’t want to see you get hurt. That’s all,” Karen said, coming close to Hank. Something in her eyes confused him and made him wonder if there was something she knew that he needed to know.

“Okay, Hank, I’m staying only for my kids, but if you make it through this alive, promise me that we will sit down and discuss some things,” Karen pleaded.

“We’ll sit down and talk,” Hank said. Karen hugged him, kissing him on the cheek.

“Don’t unlock this door even after the timing lock releases unless Sarasin, Katharine, or myself buzz you through the intercom system,” Hank told them as he ushered everyone else out of the safe room. He set the timing lock and sealed the door.

*****

“What the hell was that?” Sarasin demanded.

“Adaline, don’t get jealous,” Hank said, taking her right hand in his hands. “Karen is just a very close caring friend.”

“Adaline?” Sarasin repeated in almost a whisper. Grant preceded the two up the stairs. Hank stopped Sarasin as she stepped up to the first step. Hank turned her around and kissed her full on the lips, long and passionate. Sarasin’s eyes went wide as she gasped.

“Let’s get going before things get out of hand,” Hank told Sarasin as he turned her back up the stairs.

Grant got behind the wheel of the Jeep as Jerome took the front passenger seat. Sarasin sat behind Grant, and Hank sat behind Jerome. Sarasin was speechless as she sat in silence as Grant pulled away from the house. Two blocks from the house, Sarasin turned to Hank, confusion written on her face.

“Jerome, are we clear?” Hank asked.

Jerome looked down into his shirt. Jerome nodded as he pulled a small box out of his shirt.

“Your house is covered in listening devices, cameras, and motion sensors,” Jerome said.

“What?” Sarasin asked.

“I had Jerome scan the house for detection equipment. It seems someone took a lot of trouble to place equipment all over the house. The only good thing is that there weren’t any explosives,” Hank told Sarasin.

“What was that in the basement?” Sarasin asked.

“I had to put on a show for the cameras, didn’t I? If it’s Wright, then it’ll just put him on edge even more,” Hank said.

“And Mitchell?” Sarasin asked.

“She adlibbed a lot, but yes, I did tell her to play it up for the cameras just before we went into the house.”

“Then the kiss meant nothing?” Sarasin asked, regret in her voice and eyes.

“It meant something, but not what you think,” Hank stated but averted his eyes.

“So, I take it that you have a lead on Wright?”

“No, but I think you were right about Paris. We’re leaving the unit here with Bob Roy and the task force while you and I take a commercial flight to Paris, where it all began.”

“You think he’ll follow us?” Sarasin asked, her mind still wheeling from the kiss. Sarasin wasn’t able to think straight.

“Sarasin,” Hank called, but she was unresponsive. “Adaline!” That brought her out of her daze as she turned toward him.

“What?”

“Get your mind on the mission. Will you stop thinking about the damn kiss? We have a traitor and killer to catch before he kills again just to hurt us.”

“You’re right.” Sarasin shook her head. “It’s just been a long time is all.”

“Let’s get this done, okay?” Hank said as he took Sarasin’s hand and squeezed it.

“So, what do we know?” Sarasin was back in control of her faculties.

“Director Roy is having everyone checked inside and out. The unit will assist. Grant and Jerome will let it slip that you and I have gone to Paris to follow up on a lead,” Hank said.

“You two are in on this?” Sarasin asked accusatively. “Hank had a good plan,” Jerome said.

“And we went along with it since you weren’t here,” Grant added. “Besides, I’ve never seen you flabbergasted before.” Grant and Jerome laughed.

“I was not flabbergasted,” Sarasin said, leaning forward to smack the two in the front seat on the shoulder.

Hank grabbed Sarasin’s right arm and pulled her across his lap, face up. Hank kissed Sarasin again, soft and long. By the time Hank released Sarasin and sat her upright in the seat, her face was red with embarrassment and passion. Grant and Jerome burst into laughter.

“Not flabbergasted, huh?” Grant called from the driver’s seat as she peered at Sarasin’s red face in the rearview mirror.

“Childish games,” Sarasin retorted, turning to look out the window. A smile crept across her lips as she remembered Paris, France, January 13th, 1991.

*****

Sarasin’s unit had tracked two Sudanese men to Paris, France. Information received from an informant stated that the two men were in Paris to buy stinger missiles, shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles capable of taking down a commercial jet. The two men were also known to be in Paris to train terrorists and recruit more to their cause.

Being the new guy, Hank was paired with Sarasin for their first mission. The mission consisted of them playing the part of a married couple on vacation while staying at the Shangri La Hotel. The rest of the unit was spread out on overwatch or surveillance of possible locations the two men may frequent. Sarasin had considered Hank for another unit that was shut down before it was activated. This time, she revisited adding him to the unit after hearing about his refusal to be sent home after being wounded. What clenched Sarasin’s decision was when she heard about the oath Hank had taken to go back and make those responsible for his teammates’ deaths pay. Sarasin had learned that Hank’s team had been on a routine patrol in a supposedly non-hostile area when a sniper opened fire on them. Then when it was learned that the sniper was Jamal al-Azmah, younger brother to Amar al-Azmah and that Hank had put himself in the line of fire to take the sniper out, Sarasin knew Hank was the right fit for her unit.

Wright was on overwatch in an adjacent room posing as an English businessman. The unit had the place wired with cameras and listening devices for security reasons. Wright had been in Sarasin’s unit for four months before Hank arrived. At first, the two seemed to get along better than the rest of the unit. That all changed the night Hank and Sarasin had made a raid on a warehouse where Ahmed Ali Omar was training a group of terrorists.

Hank had saved Sarasin’s life that night when Ahmed had caught her with her back to him as she fired at several of the terrorist trainees. Hank had spotted Ahmed sneaking toward Sarasin. He dived at Sarasin, bearing her to the ground by the force of his body. Ahmed fired an AK-47, striking Sarasin in the right thigh after grazing Hank’s left leg.

After the firefight ended, the ten trainees and Ahmed were dead. Hank had dressed Sarasin’s wound and carried her out of the warehouse. He had driven them back to the hotel. By using a service elevator, Hank was able to carry Sarasin back to their room. That night, Sarasin broke one of her most important rules—she fell for Hank Logan. Unfortunately, Wright had returned to his room after an unsuccessful search for Amar al-Azmah to witness Sarasin’s actions. It was learned later, only after Wright had betrayed the unit, that he had been jealous of Hank’s relationship with Sarasin. Wright had let it slip to Lowell one night while drinking that Sarasin hadn’t given him the time of day outside of the unit and refused to have dinner or drinks with him citing her rule of not mixing business with pleasure. Wright continued by saying how Sarasin had played him for a fool because her rule didn’t pertain to Hank Logan. Matters continued to get worse as Sarasin always chose to be paired with Hank on missions when the unit was split into groups. To compound matters, Sarasin had given Hank her mother’s necklace.

Sarasin’s eyes watered as she remembered finding her mother’s chain on her apartment door with the engagement ring attached to it. Sarasin had known Hank had watched Byrd leave her apartment only days after she married Byrd. She wanted Hank to come to her apartment so she could explain how she felt about him and why she had to marry Byrd. Instead, Hank had left. Sarasin knew she had pushed him away.

“You forgot something,” Hank said as he came around the back of the Jeep. Hank held out his hand with a plain gold wedding band in his palm.

“That’s the ring you were going to give me,” Sarasin said, disbelief in her voice as Hank took her hand, sliding it onto her finger.

*****

“Your flight leaves in an hour,” Grant announced from the front seat, bringing Sarasin out of her painful memories. “Your gear will be stored in a cargo container until you reach Paris.”

Sarasin and Hank removed all their weapons, body armor, and tactical gear. Jerome handed them their passports, Bryan and Betty Williams. Additional identification including driver’s licenses, credit cards, and Social Security cards were provided as well. These were the same identification documents that Sarasin and Hank had used the first time in Paris.

“You are booked in at the Shangri La Hotel. A car will meet you once you land,” Jerome told them.

“Let’s do this,” Sarasin said as she climbed from the Jeep.

*****

Hank sat in the left window seat in the second row in first class while Sarasin sat across the aisle from him. The seats were lounges so they could rest on the flight. The Delta Airline Airbus 330 was exceptional. First class made it all the better. Hank leaned across the aisle to whisper to Sarasin.

“Sarasin, we have to make everyone think we are together,” Hank told her. “If you thought I was coming on to you earlier, I—”

“I understand,” Sarasin said. “It’s a cover. Wright and his cronies have to believe we are romantically and sexually involved.”

“I guess. Well, yes.” It was Hank’s turn to turn red.

“It’s all good, Hank. I understand. You have a wife whom you love. It’s just a painful reminder of what I threw away not seeing what the future could have held for us, or your feelings for me back then,” Sarasin said as she looked down at the engagement ring and toyed with it. “Were you really going to ask me?”

“Yes,” Hank responded, watching her fidget with the engagement ring. “You know the funniest part about it? Wright helped me pick the ring out.”

“So, you had been planning to ask me for quite some time?” Sarasin mused.

“I thought I’d ask after our little fiasco in New Delhi. A week in that hot, musty, cramped second-floor little hole in the wall watching for that weapons dealer that never showed and eating whatever we had brought in our rucksacks,” Hank remembered the mission as boring and unproductive.

“MREs, cans of tuna, cheese wheeze, refried beans, crackers, and Spam. You always liked the nastiest food,” Sarasin laughed. “But it wasn’t that bad.” Sarasin reached across the row to place her left hand on Hank’s right hand.

“If memory serves, you had caviar, crackers, granola trail mix, and three MREs.” Hank laughed.

“You forgot the bottle of wine.” Sarasin smiled.

“The worst white wine in the world.” Hank grimaced and laughed.

“What are you talking about, it was a 1967 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru from Cote de Beaune, France, one of the best burgundies in the world,” Sarasin shot back. “I seem to remember you drinking it anyway.” Sarasin’s smile brought a chuckle from Hank.

“You dared me. Besides, we ran out of water the fifth day.”

“Well, we finished it in short order.” Sarasin laughed.

“That we did,” Hank said with a shudder. “I knew five gallons of water wasn’t going to last us.” Hank laughed.

“Yeah, and no shower. Just a hole in the corner of the room that went to the first floor. You put up your poncho for privacy around the hole.” Sarasin laughed.

“Well, a lady needs her privacy when doing her business.” Hank smiled at the memory. “What a sight we must have been when we left that building.”

“What about the smell? I remember the front desk at the hotel kept glancing at us as if we were vagrants or beggars,” Sarasin laughed. “That is until she ran the credit card.”

“Yeah, an unlimited gold Master Card would do that.” Hank laughed as well.

They both sat thinking. Sarasin was preoccupied thinking about that week and her decision to marry Byrd. She remembered Hank’s questioning and near objection, but he never said he loved her or wanted to marry her. Then again, she had her sights set on the mission and her position as a CIA agent, not a long-term relationship, not consciously anyway. Hank was thinking three steps ahead of their present situation. Hank was thinking about what they needed to do once they landed and what contingency plan was required if something went wrong at any point along the path they were taking.

“Do you remember the wine?” Sarasin finally asked, not realizing until that moment the importance she had placed on that particular bottle.

“Not really. You know I’m not into wine,” Hank said, slowly coming out of his planning.

“It was a 1967 bottle,” Sarasin said with a long-lost look on her face. “It was supposed to be a birthday present until you told me you didn’t like wine.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. But if it makes things better, thank you for the thought.”

“Yeah, well, I guess you weren’t the only one with romantic thoughts back then. I just hid it from everyone including myself until later, after you left. I don’t know why I didn’t see it back then. I guess I thought maybe it was just a present for a teammate and friend.” Tears welled up in Sarasin’s eyes. “I went into your file to get your birth date. Simmons walked in on me with a report and caught me staring at your file and picture. When she asked me if I was interested in you, I was embarrassed. I denied it of course, to her and myself. All I could say was that I was checking on which team member would be best to accompany me on our next mission,” Sarasin said.

“Simmons knew?”

“Yeah, better than I did. Every time I would try to assign Simmons to accompany me, she would always ask to be paired with Wright. I just figured she had a thing for him.”

“Simmons thought Wright was a jerk. She called him pompous and full of himself,” Hank told Sarasin.

“Really? Then why…” Sarasin let her question answer itself. “So, Simmons was playing matchmaker.”

“I don’t think Simmons was trying. She knew how I felt. She and I got drunk one night when you had to fly to Langley right after the Paris mission, my first mission with the unit. We were in the hotel with the rest of the unit, but everyone else went their way. We went to her room since she had all the booze. Remember, she collected a little of everything she could when it came to alcohol. She bet me that I couldn’t drink more than she could. So, I taught her my countdown routine for drinking. She was drunk after the third round. She tried to kiss me after that. I stopped her, telling her that I couldn’t get involved with a teammate. I told her how it would complicate any mission we were on if I had feelings for a teammate. Being Simmons, she understood. We drank even more until she passed out,” Hank told Sarasin.

“Why do you say Simmons knew then?” Sarasin asked.

“A few months later, the unit was in Islamabad, remember? We ended up at that old four-story run-down hotel where the Al Qaeda group was meeting. We all had our orders and sections to cover. You and Simmons took the rear door and were to separate on the third-floor landing. Simmons was to head to the fourth floor while you took the third floor. She found the fourth-floor door blocked, so she doubled back to the third floor to find another avenue up. I had come up another stairwell leading to the roof, but all the doors I tried were blocked except the third. I did the same thing that Simmons did. I came out on the third floor to find another route to the roof. We were under radio silence, and no one knew about the doors.

“Well, if you remember, you got caught in a crossfire from both ends of the hall when the Al Qaeda guards spotted you. When I came out of the stairwell, I saw the predicament you were in, crouched against the wall, firing in both directions. I just started firing as I ran down the hall toward you. I grabbed you as I ran by and crashed through the nearest door right in the middle of the Al Qaeda meeting, six highly armed Al Qaeda jihadists with weapons at the ready.”

“If I remember correctly, you shoved me into the bathroom and killed all six?” Sarasin tried to remember.

“Not just me. Simmons was on my tail. She took out two other guards in the hallway and was on our heels when I pushed you into the bathroom to protect you. I dove for cover before firing into the room. They were distracted, so when Simmons popped around the corner, we caught them in a crossfire. You reamed me out pretty good in front of the unit that day for breaching protocol and leaving my post,” Hank told Sarasin.

“Simmons came to your aid while I was chewing you out, didn’t she?” Sarasin remembered.

“Yeah. Simmons told you that all the upper stairwell doors were useless. You huffed and walked away,” Hank replied. “After you walked away, Simmons asked me why I had broken protocol. All I could say was that you were under fire and I had to help. She responded that I could have done that from the cover of the stairwell, not running down the hall to haul you off your feet and into a room full of Al Qaeda.” Hank laughed at that.

“What did she say after that?” Sarasin whispered.

“Simmons looked me in the eye and said, ‘Well, that complicated things rather well.’ She asked me how long I had had feelings for you. I denied it of course, but she quickly reminded me of our drunken discussion about having feelings for a teammate and how it would complicate things. Anyway, you know how Simmons was.” Hank turned his head.

“And a week later, Simmons caught me going through your file,” Sarasin spoke out loud before she realized it. Hank turned toward Sarasin. “I was feeling bad about chewing you out and thought I had to make it up somehow. I thought I could find something in your file about you that I had missed. Then I realized we all had birthdays, and it would be a good way of saying I was sorry and to thank you for saving my life,” Sarasin revealed.

“Simmons was one smart cookie. I wish we had found her body and Holcomb’s. We recovered everyone else except those two. I sometimes wonder what happened to their bodies. They were on the cliff overlooking the ocean, and we all just accepted that their bodies were thrown over,” Hank said sadly.

“When we find Wright, we’ll ask him.”

The two sat in silence for a long time until Sarasin withdrew her hand from Hank’s. Hank had forgotten Sarasin had laid her hand on top of his, but when she withdrew her hand, the engagement ring scrapped against a knuckle of his hand. He stared at the ring on her hand.

“When did you find the ring?”

“Truthfully? I heard you outside the door. When you didn’t knock, I opened the door to see you walking away. The chain and ring bumped the door and I heard it.”

“But you didn’t call me back or say anything?”

“I think you leaving my mother’s chain and an engagement ring said it all. I thought we would be able to talk later, but then you left and joined up with Lowell. I took it as a sign that we were finished.”

“I guess you’re right. Too young and too stupid back then to fight for something I felt I never had.”

“We had something, once, back then,” Sarasin told him, staring into his eyes. “I see that look in your eyes when you talk about your wife or when you’re worried about her.”

Hank thought about Katharine. He felt guilty leaving her at the mercy of Wright and his cronies, but he was hoping this ploy would draw Wright away and the rest of the unit and the task force would be able to find them and liberate them.

“That look right there,” Sarasin said, pointing at him. “I say her name and you think about her.”

“Katharine and I have been together a long time. We’ve been through a lot. She is my world. If anything happened to her because of my past, I’d never forgive myself.”

Sarasin’s satellite phone rang.

“Yes?” Hank watched her face as she listened to the speaker.

At first, Sarasin’s face showed surprise and alarm, then a smile spread across it. “Correct.” The caller said a few more things before Sarasin put the satellite phone down.

“Who was that?”

“Don’t worry. This will work. Director Roy is on it, and his family is at risk too. Besides, we may have a few extra surprises up our sleeves,” Sarasin told Hank, smiling.

Hank was left wondering who it was on the call but Sarasin was entitled to her secrets like everyone else, him included. The rest of the flight was spent in silence as Sarasin nodded off. He finally fell asleep and was awoken as the intercom informed them that they were making their final approach to the Paris International Airport.

Hank and Sarasin disembarked the airliner with the rest of the first-class passengers. They made their way to the customs and immigration check-in station. They showed their IDs and passports and were welcomed by the agent as they passed into the concourse of the Paris Airport. They knew if all went well, their baggage and equipment were being picked up by private couriers. They walked through the airport, always aware of their surroundings. Every person and everything was watched as a potential threat.

“One thing I do remember very well is the sex we had.” Sarasin slipped her right hand into Hank’s left, gripping it tightly nearly causing Hank to stumbled.

“That was a long time ago,” Hank said.

“Shangri La Hotel was the first time if I remember correctly. Shangri La indeed,” Sarasin said, smiling as they walked, tightening her hand on his.

“Yes, it was,” Hank replied, catching onto the fact that Sarasin was speaking in a normal tone of voice, not a whisper. She was getting herself into the part they both had to play.

“Remember New Delhi? A week alone together. We had sex every day.” Sarasin looked at Hank and smiled.

“Several times a day if I remember right.” They both laughed. “I’m glad we decided to get away from all that shit back in the US. When will you tell your wife it’s over?” Sarasin asked.

“Well, it’s been over for some time. Katharine has been seeing someone for a few months now, or is it a couple of years? All I know is that I found divorce papers in her desk drawer last month. When I heard Wright had taken her, I was relieved. I don’t have to pretend that I don’t know anything.” Hank was playing the part of a jilted husband whose wife had been having an affair and was planning to divorce him.

“At least Homeland Security is footing the bill for our little vacation. A sexcation, so to speak,” Sarasin said. “We can relive our first night together in Paris. Do you think you can keep up?” Sarasin asked.

“Can you?” Hank shot back.

“We’ll find out when we get there.” Sarasin laughed.

Across the grand concourse, two men watched as Hank and Sarasin walked toward the exits, making their way out of the airport. One of the men was smiling as he held a parabolic microphone pointed toward them. The other man pulled out a cell phone.

“They have arrived. Tell him Logan doesn’t seem worried about his wife. It seems they are getting a divorce and Logan seems relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with his cheating wife.” The first man laughed as he continued to listen and watch Hank and Sarasin. “They are talking about having sex as much as they can while they are here. She just called it a ‘sexcation.’”

“That’s right. They just landed and headed to the Shangri La Hotel. They are using the passports you thought they would as a married couple. Jean is listening to their conversation and it seems they will be rekindling their relationship. Jean says Logan isn’t worried about his wife. It seems they are getting a divorce. And that his wife is cheating on him,” the second man said. Both men spoke with a Ukrainian accent.

Wright terminated the connection when he heard the last part. He turned around to face Katharine and Tess. Both women were tied to chairs inside a small room. Tess’s children were nowhere to be seen, but their cries could be heard from another room.

“Well, it seems that you are a cheating whore and Hank’s divorcing you?” Wright approached Katharine.

“The hell you say?” Katharine hissed. “He’s not divorcing me. I’m divorcing him. Or at least I was until you came along.”

“Oh? So, Logan is still an idiot, huh?” Wright asked with a sneer.

“How do you know about the divorce?” Katharine asked.

“Hank just told Adaline you were getting a divorce and you have been cheating on him,” Wright grinned as he knelt in front of Katharine.

“How could he know? Hank couldn’t know. I’ve been too careful,” Katharine nearly whispered.

“Well, it seems he does know and he’s out of the country playing with Adaline at this very moment. I think we’ll leave you here while we go pay a visit to the lovebirds,” Wright said as he motioned the two hooded guards in the room to precede him out of the room. Wright closed the door behind him as he left.

A few moments later, Tristan and Shannon were pushed into the room, their hands tied behind their backs. The two children ran to their mother, trying to hug her as they cried.

“Shhh,” Tess hushed the children. “Everything will be okay.” The children sat down on the floor at Tess’s feet, laying their heads on her knees.

Time dragged on as the four remained in the room alone but unmolested. For hours, there was no sound. The children had fallen asleep on the floor.

“Is what he was saying true?” Tess asked Katharine after the children were asleep.

“Let’s just focus on getting out of here. Can you get your hands untied?”

“Is it true?” Tess pressed Katharine.

“Yes. I don’t know how Hank found out, but yes, it’s true. I’ve been seeing this guy for a while now. He’s more attentive and affectionate than Hank. I have the papers at the office so I don’t know how Hank found out about the divorce or if he has filed. Either way, the marriage is a sham. I’m not in love with Hank anymore. But let’s not dwell on that, we have to get out of here,” Katharine said as she worked the ropes holding her tight to the chair.

Wright had left one guard behind to watch and listen to the women. Wright doubted what the two men in Paris had heard was correct. When the guard called telling Wright what he overheard Katharine telling Tess in the room, Wright was now convinced. He knew that the women were no longer a bargaining tool.

“Leave them there. They won’t be able to get untied. By the time anyone finds them, they will have starved to death. That’ll send a clear message to the task force director,” Wright told the guard over the phone line.

Fifteen minutes later, the guard was driving south on Interstate 95 heading for the Atlantic City Airport. He was instructed to take the first flight to England and then proceed to Paris. Little did anyone know that Jerome and Grant followed close behind the guard’s vehicle. The rest of Sarasin’s unit was storming the vacant middle school. They found Katharine, Tess, and the children.

“Glad you wore the anklet Director Roy gave you, Mrs. Roy,” Sanchez said as they secured the building and entered the room where the women and children were with Moore.

“It’s a good thing Wright and his cronies didn’t think to search you for a tracking device.”

Tess was exhausted mentally and physically, and his words didn’t register until some time later. Sarasin’s team secured Katharine, Tess, and the children as they made their way to the task force headquarters. Moore was driving with Sanchez in the front passenger seat. The rest of the unit followed in a chase vehicle.

“What was that about a tracking device?” Katharine asked, making Tess remember Sanchez’s words as well.

“I don’t have an anklet,” Tess said.

“The building was bugged and under surveillance. Everything that was being said was being fed to Wright. We had to make it seem as if we tracked you down by a tracking device they missed,” Sanchez told them.

“You know Hank?” Katharine asked.

“Yes. We’ve worked together in the past, years ago, when he was in the army.”

“Then you know why this guy is after my husband?” Katharine demanded.

“Logan is a communication security specialist. Logan, Wright, and I were in the same special unit together. Hank found out Wright was a traitor who eventually betrayed our unit to Al Qaeda and got the rest of the unit killed. Hank was one of the four who made it out alive. I was another. You see, Wright has a grudge against Logan, which started over a woman and escalated when Hank exposed him as a traitor,” Sanchez told Katharine. The story was partially correct and could be verified if Katharine was able to check too deep into Hank’s background and military records.

“Where is my husband? I tried to play along the best I could with what the guy was saying. I knew something was up when he said that Hank and I were getting a divorce and I have been cheating on him. We have been happy until all this began or so I thought. I can’t handle not having him with me, where is he?” Katharine began to get agitated.

“Director Roy has turned Logan over to the CIA to babysit somewhere the task force has no information on,” Sanchez told her.

Katharine sat as Tess wrapped her arms around her cousin and squeezed. The children sat between them as the armored SUV transported them to the task force headquarters.

“What happened to Karen Mitchell?” Katharine asked.

“She and her children are at a safe location, according to reports, with a guard,” Sanchez told her.

“Take us there,” Katharine said. “Bob doesn’t need us underfoot while he deals with this. He’ll know we’re safe with Karen,” Katharine told Tess.

“You’re right. Can we call my husband?” Tess asked. “Once we get to a safe location,” Sanchez replied. “Then take us to where Karen Mitchell is,” Tess said.

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About the Creator

Shawn David Kelley

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.

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