The Terrorist’s Game
“The true test of a relationship is traveling together.”
Talia fumbled through her purse as the driver approached Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport. Cameron waited to see what she was going to do next. At that point, he couldn’t begin to guess what her next move was. She hadn’t talked much during the ride, and he didn’t want to upset her by asking a lot of questions. Because he didn’t ask and she was busy searching her purse, she failed to notice the sign for the airport exit.
As the driver switched lanes, she looked up from her purse. “Don’t turn here.”
The driver pulled off the road at the end of the exit ramp and through the Niva into neutral and engaged the brake. “I speak a little English. This is the airport exit. Where would you like me to turn?”
“Keep driving. I need to go further than the airport,” she said with no explanation. “Is that clear?”
“Why would I keep driving and not know where I am to go?” he asked. “I would like you to explain.”
She took Leonid’s ID from her purse. “This is why,” she said, holding it up for the driver to glance at. “I work for the President of Russia. I have to go to Ukraine. It’s a delicate matter concerning government relations. Now, we must go. I am in a hurry.”
“You work for Russian President?” the driver asked.
“I saw Russian President earlier on TV. He is in Moscow,” the driver argued.
“I realize that,” she snapped. “I work for his replacement. The President Elect.”
“And that is?” the driver asked.
“President Elect Eduard Sokolovsky.”
The driver then seemed satisfied. “Why you not fly?”
“It’s classified, top secret,” she lied, sort of. “I can’t explain. I’m sorry.”
“You do not sound Russian,” he noted. “You sound American.”
“I’m a linguist and speak many dialects of many languages,” she explained. “I have worked for many world leaders at their request. I need to go to Ukraine now. There are lives depending on this mission. They are counting on me to be there to translate some very delicate negotiations. Am I clear?”
“You pay?” he asked. “Long drive to Lviv.”
She pulled a wad of cash from Leonid’s wallet. “I pay.”
The driver put the Niva in gear and returned to the highway without further question.
Cameron watched her as she continued to fumble around in her purse. She was doing something with the Baikal pistol that she had stuffed in it. She was starting to make him nervous as she wrestled with the gun, trying to load it with ammunition. He wasn’t even sure that she knew how to handle the pistol. He was pretty sure that she didn’t know how to load it.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Cameron whispered. “If you do something wrong, we all could die. Has that occurred to you?”
“Well, it’s too late for me to change my mind,” she snapped. “What did you expect me to do? I had to do something to get a ride to Lviv. My options were somewhat limited.”
“What’s the difference between impersonating an agent and stealing a car?” he asked.
“Lojack,” she replied “We wouldn’t get two miles down the road if we stole the car. See that blinking light under the steering column? Lojack. If he thought I was taking his car, he would push a button. The Niva has a kill switch. Then it would be of no use to us. That’s the difference.”
Cameron put his head in his hands. He couldn’t believe his ears, but he couldn’t argue with her logic. He also couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of that. She was always one step ahead of everyone else. He decided that the best thing he could do was sit back and enjoy the ride. He flopped back in his seat and waited to see what was going to happen next.
“Do you still have Eduard’s phone?” she asked.
“It’s been awfully quiet,” she said. “Something’s wrong. He would have called a dozen times by now to see if I was all right.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the phone. It was off. “Shit, the damn thing isn’t on. Sorry.”
“Well, turn it on!” she snapped. “God only knows what’s been happening. He could have found out something that we need to know. Don’t let that happen again!”
Back in Krakow, Eduard tossed the phone onto the sofa of his suite again. “They have to turn it on sometime. How can they not notice that the phone is off? They are young and live for their phones.”
“Maybe they are in some kind of trouble,” Leonid said. “What if they cannot answer the phone?”
“No. They are safe. Cameron installed a GPS tracking device on this,” he said. “It works like an emergency beacon and it works, even if the phone is off. I can see their location, but I cannot reach them directly.”
“Where are they?” Leonid asked.
“Krakovec, close to the border on the A4. There is no turning back now,” he replied. “God be with them.”
“Their phone still isn’t on,” Tyrell told Clarissa as they sat in the Lear jet on their way to Ukraine.
Clarissa looked out the window, staring at the ground below as the runway dropped away below them. She behaved as though she believed she might spot them driving along the highway, even though she had no idea what their vehicle might look like. She needed to speak to her daughter before she got to Lviv and potentially ran full speed directly into her dead husband. Talia and Anya were the only biological family that she had, and she needed to help them and protect them. She knew that she alone, stood between good and evil, and she was prepared to settle things with Dmitri and the Alder Nation once and for all.
Tyrell watched her as she stared at the ground. He hated to see her suffer. He had always loved her. He had fallen in love with her the minute that he first shook her hand upon meeting her, and that feeling had not changed in more than twenty years. He was the kind of man who only loved one woman in his life, and that woman was Clarissa Anderson.
Tyrell came from military service and met Clarissa Anderson when he interviewed to be her personal bodyguard and assistant just weeks after retiring from service as a Navy Seal. She was Hollywood royalty, and every tough guy in the world wanted the job of watching over her.
Talia was only ten years old when she escorted Tyrell in to meet her mother that day. She was a mini version of her glamorous mother, dressed in pink from head to toe. The family resemblance of white skin, red hair and blue eyes was remarkable. Talia flashed him a tender innocent smile that immediately melted his heart. He followed Talia into her mother’s home office, where everything was decorated in pink. He immediately saw a theme in their world and wanted to become a part of it to take care of them, as any real man would want to do.
He had seen her a million times on TV, but to see her in person for him was like meeting a queen. She smiled at him, and made him nervous. She liked to take men’s breath away. Tyrell had stood and stared at Clarissa as though she were a goddess. She reached out her hand to shake his. When he had touched her hand to shake it, he knew she was the love of his life, and he was destined to spend the rest of his life connected to his queen, Clarissa Anderson.
Now, all these years later, Tyrell reached his hand over and took Clarissa’s. “It’s all going to be all right.” He kissed her hand as he held it in his own.
“You’ve always been my rock,” she said, smiling. “She’s so stubborn. She has no idea what she’s doing. Why does she have to be like that?”
Tyrell put his arm around her shoulders. “She’s like her mother,” he said, smiling.
She put her head on his shoulder and smiled back at him. “I’m too old for this shit. I need to live a normal life.”
“We both know that’s probably not possible,” he said. “It doesn’t run in the family. I do think however, I’m done watching over her. I think I need to move home with you.”
“It would be nice to have you around,” she said. “I need her to be safe. That’s why I asked you to work for her. You’re like her father. You walked her down the aisle at her wedding, for heaven’s sake. I trust you more than anyone, and I worry about my baby and her baby.”
He remembered Talia’s wedding in the Church of St. Barbara, not far from Red Square. The historical society of Moscow had recently handed it back over to the congregation at that time, and it was a much smaller venue that they had expected. Talia and Dmitri had a Uniate ceremony in the Russian church, officiated by a patriarch of the Uniate Church, with the Russian patriarch standing by and was the reason that they had decided on a small ceremony in a small church. It was considered an international event in Moscow, even though the guest list had been small and exclusive; mostly close friends and family from Russia and the United States.
He remembered Talia insisting that he walk her down the aisle, because she had no other father, and she saw him as her protector. There was some concern about how it would look in the society page, but Talia told them all to go to hell. She insisted that if he couldn’t walk her down the aisle, there would be no wedding. She had always been his little girl. He had always felt like her father.
“That was quite a day,” he said, smiling. “Who knew that beautiful little wedding would lead to this?”
Clarissa watched his head drop as he worried about Talia and Anya. She meant what she said, that she was too old for this shit. She just wanted to go home and take him with her. She missed him, and she loved him, and she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. It was time.
He was the only one that she could truly count on in the whole world. He’d been the only man in her life since her beloved Benji died. That was why she asked him to look out for her daughter. Since then, she had done nothing but miss him. She called him at least once a day, and if not, he called her. It felt good to sit in his arms. It was the only place she wanted to be.
She smiled. “I have an idea. After all this is over, why don’t you and I go home and act like a real couple?”
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What do you mean a real couple?”
Her smile broadened. “What do you think I mean? Haven’t we waited long enough?”
“We sure have. I never thought that…”
“I have trouble saying how I feel,” she said. “You’re the only one since Benji.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you love me?” He asked.
She blushed like a school girl. “Of course I love you. I’ve always loved you.”
He swept her up into his arms. “I love you too. I’ve never loved anyone else.” He kissed her full and hard, never wanting to stop. He had waited decades for this moment.
The speaker came on, interrupting the moment.
“I have good news and bad news,” Michael announced.
Clarissa reached for the intercom. “What is it?”
“The good news is we’re approaching Lviv.”
“And the bad?” she asked.
“The fuel tank has a leak, and we don’t have enough fuel to land,” Michael replied.
Clarissa flopped back into her chair and covered her face with her hands.
“We’ll make it,” Tyrell assured her.
“How can you be sure?”
He stood up. “I’ll tell you how. I did not wait for almost thirty years for you, to lose you before I get a chance to wake up next to you as your husband.” With that, he walked toward the cockpit.