Charlie woke up some hours later, his nose twitching at the distinctive, antiseptic smell of a hospital room. He saw the nurse standing beside the bed.
‘How are you feeling, Mr Britton?’ asked the concerned nurse, seeing that her patient had just come round.
‘I’ve felt worse.’ muttered Charlie.
‘You’ve had a lucky escape.’ soothed the nurse as Charlie began to recall the desperate fight on the sailing yacht.
The door to the room opened and a doctor entered.
‘Ah, Mr Britton, you’re back with us, I see.’
‘How am I, Doc?’
‘You had a rather nasty stab wound to the chest. Fortunately, one of your ribs deflected the knife from reaching your vital organs. You’ve had a very narrow escape and if it wasn’t for the skill of the paramedic who attended you at the scene, we wouldn’t have had the chance to operate on you.’
‘Thanks, Doc. How long will I have to stay in for?’
‘Oh, a few days more to rest the wound and give you a chance to build up your strength.’
‘But I’ve got a story to write up!’ argued Charlie, struggling to sit up.
‘Yes, from what I’ve heard you’re quite a hero.’ replied the doctor and turned as James and Samantha walked in.
‘Hello, you can stay for a few minutes but then you’d better let him have some rest.’
The doctor and nurse left the room and James and Samantha moved over to the bedside.
‘That’s right, Bro, you saved the day. My boss is well pleased with you after you softened up Lord Westcliffe to find out where the attack was taking place. Since then, Westcliffe has squealed like a stuck pig on his fellow conspirators and we’ve rounded them all up.’
‘Was there many people killed?’ asked Charlie.
‘A few, although it could have been a lot worse. We’ve found out from a survivor of the hit team they were a detachment from the German special forces aided by the Link. Apparently, the success of the assassination attempt relied solely on the actions of two terrorist suicide bombers in the team using IED’s, but they did a runner instead of giving their targets a bear hug and blasting them into oblivion. One of the Germans shot one and you got the other.’
‘Yes, and I got my revenge on the bastard as well.’ swore Charlie.
‘What do you mean bro?’ queried James.
‘Do you remember that photo you gave me in Windsor of the terrorist?’
‘The one that fired the missile at you?’
‘Yes. It was him!’
‘Shit, you’re joking. So it was the Viper. They haven’t been able to identify him yet as it’s been rather difficult after you blew him up, Charlie.’
‘What a shame! From what he said during the fight on the yacht, it sounded like he had a score to settle too. But I got in first, so you could say that the Falcon got the Viper!’ quipped Charlie.
‘Right on, Charlie.’ agreed James.
‘Do you know the prime minister got shot?’ asked Samantha.
‘She got hit in the assassination attempt?’ replied a surprised Charlie.
‘Yes. She’s down the ward in another room. A sniper’s bullet went through her shoulder. When my boss told her about you stopping the terrorist from detonating the bomb, she told him to give you her congratulations and insisted you want for nothing.’ added James.
The nurse popped her head round the door and told them it was time for them to leave. James patted his brother on the shoulder and said goodbye. Samantha lingered as James went out the door and then affectionately kissed Charlie. In all the recent excitement and danger, she had now formed a close bond with him.
Over the next few days, Samantha spent her time with Charlie in the hospital, as he got better. They put together from their first-hand experience of events an exclusive story that went global, and Samantha wrapped up the story about her great uncle John Faulkner, the fighter pilot and hero who had been treated so unjustly.
On Charlie’s last day in hospital, Samantha gathered up their laptops and files and helped Charlie put his belongings in a suitcase. The nurse came in with the form for Charlie’s discharge and as he signed it, Samantha had a final check around the room. She noticed her grandmother’s diary had fallen on the floor under the bed, and picked it up. Flicking through its pages, she came to the entry about her grandmother’s baby that had been born out of wedlock while she had been staying in Cornwall all those years ago, after the tryst with the German fighter pilot. Samantha wondered what had happened to the child and realised she could have cousins she had never met. Recalling that Charlie had told her he had grown up in Cornwall as a child, she suggested to him it would be a good idea to take a trip to Cornwall to solve the last puzzle in the diary.