Chapter 10-Cat and Mouse
The entire flight Jill and Jojo kept pretty much to themselves at the front of the jet, being the first to head to the SUV when we landed in Atlanta around midnight. Christiaan, Madison and I followed suit and got into the SUV behind them keeping a minimal distance and acting as though we didn’t think any differently of them now than we did yesterday.
A half an hour later we were pulling into a safe house. After getting in the house we all began our routines to settle in. We all ate and unpacked our weapons in case we needed them in a hurry. About 1 A.M. everyone was in their own room and sleeping except for me.
I made my way through the shadows of the house and out the front door. I slipped out the secondary phone that Robert had on him at the time I killed him and began going through it. There were only two numbers on it. I called the first, a Russian number, with the idea that it was Cera’s phone and I was right. Her voicemail came on and it was easy for me to hack her voicemail. She was pretty obvious about everything to do with her and Robert so her password to get into her messages was Robert’s birthdate. No surprise there.
I went through the voicemails he left her and it was easy to see how he was able to manipulate her as much as he did. He really sounded like the doting, loving boyfriend. It made me feel sorry for her, because she was just a pawn in his scheme of things. She didn’t deserve what she got, now that I was able to see the bigger picture.
Hell, I was her five years ago. I put that out of my mind and hooked my phone into the one I had in my hand and it gave me access to pull up her phone as if it were in my hand. All the texts on the phone were from Robert. More manipulation. There were some pictures of the two of them as well, but nothing that could be of use to me.
I then connected the phone to the only other number that was on Robert’s phone. The number was American and a government number definitely which made me think I was on the right track with Jill. I was waiting for the decryption program to finish running so I could gain access to the phone when up pops our own firewall that is installed on all of our special teams phones, preventing access into the phone. I know, because I was the one that wrote the program. I also knew how to get around the program though.
How ironic is it that I have to hack my own program to find out who is trying to kill me? A few minutes later I was past the firewall and into the phone. I could do whatever I wanted on this phone and even if the person was using it, they couldn’t tell I was in the phone. I checked all of the call history. Over the past seven years there were thousands of calls between Robert and Jill. There were so many texts that I was unable to believe what I was seeing. Then when I got to the pictures I thought I was going to fall on my head. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I copied everything from that phone to mine so I could go through it more in depth later and after copying everything I came across one more number on Jill’s phone that was frequented so I checked that one as well.
It was Jojo’s phone. I had to go around the firewall again but did the same and copied everything from that phone into another file on my phone, then I got out of all the phones and dialed the General. That was when I gave him my actual briefing.
“Look General, I think Jill and Jojo are moles or just turned so they can try to gain the number one and two spots. I believe Jill is the one that set this all up. Yes, I know what kind of allegations I’m making but the facts support what I’m saying. She knew exactly what it would take to bring me out of hiding. She broke protocol and killed the big man in Russia before I could interrogate him, forced us to defend ourselves and kill the men there, after he started telling us about an informant that got ahold of him telling him I was coming for him and his nephew.
“This informant told him they were the only one that would be able to kill me and set up Hammer, Cera and her brother. I checked the secondary phone I found on Robert after I killed him and found way more information on it than should have been there. He and Jill have been secretly seeing each other for seven years and she has been manipulating him into doing her bidding for almost as long. She was the one that convinced him to come after me the first time when they were on assignment so it didn’t come back looking like she set me up. Also, Jojo is in on it too. Yes, I know exactly how complicated this is getting.
“There’s lots of things on his phone from her, showing she’s manipulating him into doing what she wants. I think she’s using him just as much as she did Robert and Robert did Cera. Either way the problem lies in the fact that I have two of the best, that I trained, trying to play assassination games with me, for whatever reason. I’m going to stay on this so I can figure out what the hell exactly is going on, and why she’s doing this, but I need you to come get this phone from the safe house and have the techs go through it with a fine tooth comb in case I missed something.
“I understand you know I never miss anything, but just in case. I’m leaving it at the end of the driveway sitting under the bush. You’re going to have to pretend we never had this conversation when we come in tomorrow and pretend to look up leads. Yes. Christiaan and Madison are very perceptive. They know something’s going on. I haven’t filled them in completely but they’re watching their backs. Got it. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
After sitting for a few minutes and trying to wrap my head around the whole situation, I went back into the house deciding I wasn’t going to get anywhere tonight and would think better on a couple of hours sleep. I made my way through the house and into my room to lie down but immediately felt something off. I listened closely to the house and could tell someone was up. I made my way back into the hallway and put my hands on the wall to let the walls talk to me. I felt the vibe coming from the room upstairs. That was Jojo’s room and Jill’s of course. One or both of them were up. I slowly made my way through the house and up the stairs making sure to avoid the squeaky stairs.
When I reached the top of the landing I again put my hands on the wall to listen to the house. Jojo’s room was quiet except for the soft snore coming from his sleeping body. It was Jill on the phone. She was talking as softly as she could but still be heard. I stood there listening to her for a few minutes before finally realizing who it was she was talking to. She was on the phone with the General. I listened a little more closely not liking where this conversation was going.
“Yes, dad I know how hard we’ve worked for this but I can’t just sneak down and slit her throat. You know I can’t. Everyone here would know it was one of us. What do you mean Madison and Christiaan already know that I was the Russian’s informant? There’s no way they could know that. Yes. I did everything you told me to do. I played Jojo and Robert and got Robert to play the Russian bitch without letting on it was me having him do it, and all without letting anyone know who I am to you, just like you wanted.
“I still don’t understand why I have to take her out. I know you don’t like her and she’s always making shitty comments to you about how she’s more valuable than you are, but you’ve made some shitty comments to her too. You wanted her out of the game so I recruited Robert to hook up with her and get her knocked up. Why wasn’t that enough? Why do we have to kill her now when she’s been retired for almost five years? Okay. Yes, dad, I understand. I know, I just don’t like hurting her. She is my friend. I know you’re my father, that’s why I’m doing this, but don’t mistake the fact that I will hang you out to dry if this comes out.
“NO! There’s no way she could have gotten that information. What do you mean?!? You never told me she wrote the encryption program that was installed on our phones and computers. What do you mean you just found out when she called you? Great! That’s just great, so now she knows everything? No. I don’t think she’s planning anything for tonight; otherwise she would have already come for me. No, Jojo doesn’t know what I’m doing. He knows I’m trying to retire her permanently, but he doesn’t know how. He thinks I mean just by breaking her. If something happens to her the kids will either come to me or Christiaan since were the godparents and my money is on me. Jojo thinks we’re only keeping her hostage for a few months while I have the kids, since that’s going to be the one thing that kills her; her not being able to see her children. Yes, I know how shitty it is to use him too, but what else do you want from me? I couldn’t have gotten this far without help. If I didn’t have help she would have already figured out I was the one after her by now. This way she’s kept guessing as to who it is. Okay, dad, I’ll see you at zero six-thirty. Yep, I got it.”
That was the end of the conversation because I could hear her put her phone back on the end table and softy mumble a few select curse words under her breath. Slowly I opened the door and stepped into the room while she had her head in her hands. I was standing in front of her before she realized I was in the room. When she looked up she paled quickly and stood straight up looking me in the face, with her mouth slightly open.
A few seconds later she started to speak, again, quietly. “You heard didn’t you?”
“Yes, Jill, I heard everything. I knew you were involved and using Robert and Jojo but I didn’t know this went all the way up to the General. Thanks for that info. Now, why don’t you sit down and tell me the whole story so I can decide if I want to kill you now, or wait until later.” She started to say something, to protest maybe, but I cut her off before she could. “Jill, I’m not in the mood for bullshit and lies. I trusted you, not only with my life, but with my children’s lives as well, and this whole time you’ve been working to try to kill me. I understand killing me was the game plan from the beginning, but if you wanted to do that you should have just done it before I had kids. Something you don’t understand is that now, I have even more motivation to stay alive than before. Not to mention, now, I’m beyond pissed, and you haven’t seen me pissed. There’s nothing you or your daddy will be able to do to me that will slow me down or stop me now. I’m going to kill the both of you and anyone else that I find that’s in on this little scheme of yours.”
I was talking quietly but Jill was seeing the fire in my eyes. She realized right away what a mistake she made and how bad she messed up. She took a step back and plopped on her bed and began filling me in on everything with this plan of theirs to get rid of me. During the time she was talking I could hear Jojo, Christiaan and Madison make their way into the hallway by the door to listen to her detailed account of the past nine years of our life as a unit and her plan to get rid of me. She was so shocked she had to fill me in now that she wasn’t paying attention to the others coming to listen.
“Nine years ago my dad, the General, brought me into the military to work with you and keep an eye on things from the inside. He knew I would have access to certain information to things that we wouldn’t tell him about and he’s such a control freak he couldn’t stand to have this program start and not to know everything that went on. He has to be the one with the most Intel and the most connections so he can seem like a badass to everyone. He didn’t want to turn over control of things to you. He hated the fact of a woman running things even more.
“So when you were chosen to lead this program instead of him, well, let’s just say that it was an extremely bad night at home. He was so angry that he started hitting my mother, just like he always does when he gets mad about something. Now, she’s always been very good at hiding it and making everyone believe they have the perfect marriage. She never came from a family of divorce so she just sucked it up and went on with things. I was tired of seeing her have the crap beat out of her, so I jumped my dad when he began hitting her. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I’d be damned before I was going to let him beat her with me standing there. He was going to have to beat the hell out of me first, which is what I thought would happen, but by some miracle I held my own with him.”
I looked at her telling her to go on so she did. “After beating him down to the floor and screaming at him to never touch mom again he looked up at me startled. That was when he seemed to have an idea that started forming. He gave me this devilish grin and stood up. I was almost scared, but I was still too angry to think about the fear that was building up in the back of my mind. He swore he would never touch my mother again if I enlisted and did what he wanted me to do. He called it doing him a small favor.
“Then when I was through I could take my mother and go. I agreed for her sake. Within a few weeks I had my last name changed and enlisted. Because of the fact of how good I was without training, he knew I would excel over the others once I was trained. He was right. He knew you would pick me and give me rank, but even he wasn’t expecting me to be number two. When you named me two I thought he was going to go into cardiac arrest. He was more excited than a kid on Christmas morning. I had never seen Dad like that and wanted to believe that it was because he was proud of me, but I was just fooling myself. The only thing he cared about was the fact that he got everything, first hand, from the top unit. He figured I’d be named somewhere into the top twenty and have to fight or kill my way up the ladder for a while before I got there.
“Dad wasn’t very fond of you from day one because you were easily ten times better than he ever was and he hates that more than anything.”
“Tell me about Robert.” As soon as I said it she started hunching her shoulders a little more.
“I knew you would be able to tell that it was me after you if I came straight for you. I knew the only way I would ever get this close was if I had someone doing most of the work for me. So, I called up my old high school boyfriend and started making him think I was interested in him again. He was four years older than I am so I knew no one would connect us. Or at least I thought that. He was a boxer, and a bad one. He had a chip on his shoulder and didn’t know how to get it off, so I helped him with that. His thinking I wanted him back eased some of that anger letting me put this plan into his head.
“At first he didn’t want any part of it, but I convinced him. I was always able to get him to do whatever I wanted him too. I manipulated him the same way my father has manipulated me all this time. Anyway, I finally had him convinced and spent all my extra time training him the way you trained me. He got really good too. I was impressed. After a while he started learning new skills that I didn’t teach him. He thought if he helped me with this then I would stay with him forever. Funny isn’t it? All he wanted was me and all I wanted was my freedom and my mother’s, but in all of our wants we just made slaves of ourselves. When he got you knocked up he freaked out. It wasn’t part of the plan and he was scared of what I was going to think.
“He didn’t know that I was the one that put the holes in the condoms. He would never have hurt the kids, just as an FYI. I never would have let him do that, but I did tell him that he had to act like he would so he could get you to do what he wanted. You have no idea what kind of pain and remorse he went through after he beat you. His mother was beaten when he was a child and he always swore he would never hit a woman, but I talked him into it. I didn’t want you to be hurt, but I thought if you feared for Jesse then you would leave and this would be over. I didn’t know you were pregnant either; otherwise he never would have touched you. It’s something he or I never would have chanced.
“I hoped that would be enough for my dad. Whether you believe it or not, I do care a lot about you. I grew to love you like a sister that I never had. But the closer I got to you, the more I started to slack and my father realized this so he reminded me of why I was enlisted in the first place. He beat my mother within an inch of her life. This set me back on a fast track to get things done. I didn’t understand why Dad wanted you dead. I couldn’t figure out why you being retired wasn’t good enough, but now I get it. Even after all this time you’re still the best. There isn’t anyone that can beat you.”
“Stay on track, Jill. What came next?” She sighed and flopped back onto the bed. She covered her face with her hands and sat there like that for a minute. Then, she sat up and looked at me with so much regret in her face that even I could see it through my anger.
“You don’t know what it’s like to have to manipulate so many people just to keep someone you care about safe. To betray everyone that you’ve ever cared about. The only people that have ever been there for you and have always treated you like family and watched your back to keep you safe. You’ll never know what it’s like to carry the weight of that.”
My response wasn’t what she was looking for. “You’re right, Jill, I won’t, because no matter what happens in my life, I would never betray the people that have been my family when even my family wasn’t. I will never put my own wants in front of the people that I say I care about. Look, I’m really sorry about the situation with your mom, but she’s a grown woman. If she didn’t want that life then she could’ve left. I did. So did you at one point. Everyone has the strength to change things, but if they don’t have the courage to then they’ll never be what they should be. Everyone has a choice. Whether they make it or it gets made for them is an entirely different thing. You’ve let your choices be made for you. That’s why you’re in this predicament. Now, get back to the story.” This seemed to shut up her whining and I did feel bad for how she got into this situation but I wasn’t going to let her know that. As long as she feared me she would walk a very narrow line.
She continued, “After you were gone, when you retired, and dad still wasn’t happy, I talked Robert into making nice with Cera. I thought having her as a pawn would come in handy if needed. I still wasn’t sure how I was going to play things but I knew we could use the added help when the time came. I never expected that she would come after you on her own. Robert didn’t even know she was doing that. We never sent them after the kids and I would NEVER have let them be put into any danger. I would die before letting that happen. Rain, you have to believe me on that.”
I didn’t say anything instead I just looked at her and squared my shoulders. When she didn’t start right away I tapped my watch letting her know I was growing impatient.
She floundered for words for a second trying to find the right thing to say but couldn’t so I helped out. “Where does Jojo fit into all of this?”
“He thought we were just getting you out of the game permanently. It took me years to get him to side with me enough to help out with that, and even then he still wasn’t comfortable with it. I told him I was pregnant so he thinks were getting rid of you then were both getting out to be together with this baby. My telling him that I was pregnant a few months ago was the only shove that worked enough to finally push him over the edge enough to get him to agree to help me. He knew it was the only way I would get out. I told him otherwise I was getting an abortion if things weren’t done by the time I was no longer able to get the abortion. That time is in the next few weeks he thinks, so he stepped things up a notch. He just wants his child; he never wanted to hurt you. He’s only doing what he thinks he has to in order to protect his child. You understand that right? Don’t take things out on him. It’s all my fault, he’s innocent. He doesn’t know I’m not pregnant. He’s a really good man, and he deserves better than what I’ve done to him.”
“Well, Jill, you’re right and wrong. He is a good man that didn’t deserve what you did to him, but he does know you lied.” At that the three standing in the hall walked in.
The look on Jojo’s face was heartbreaking. I never would’ve imagined I could feel sorry for someone that was trying to set me up, but then again, he didn’t really know what he was doing. Like she said, he was only trying to protect his child. Jill paled as soon as they walked in. She immediately knew they had heard the entire story. She looked up at Jojo as soon as he walked in and started tearing up.
He looked down at her and she stood facing him before she spoke. “Jojo, I’m so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. I was only trying to help my mother. You’ll never know how much it hurt me to lead you on and use you like I did. Please say something.”
After a few seconds of them staring at each other he slapped her so hard and so quickly she didn’t see it coming and wasn’t able to get out of the way fast enough. She flew onto the bed and burst into tears. He leaned down and whispered to her, “If Rain doesn’t kill you, I will. I never should have believed the bullshit that came out of your mouth. I knew there was no way that you could have been pregnant. I double checked the condoms each time. I knew there was something funny about why you never let me go to your doctor’s appointments with you. When we’re on leave, no one knows where we go so I could have went with you. So tell me where’d you go? Did you and Daddy have a good laugh over my stupidity?”
With that he walked back over and stood by Madison and Christiaan with his head down and his back towards Jill. He couldn’t even look at her.
“Well, it looks like you’re building up a long list of people that want you dead very quickly Jill. What are you going to do about that?”
She finally sat up and stopped crying. “For what it’s worth Jojo, I never told my dad how I got you to agree. The only thing he knows is that I got you to help me with things. He doesn’t know about anything. He thinks you want Rain out of here as much as he does. Rain, I’m sorry. You have no idea how much I regret what I did to you, but no matter what happens, I’ll never regret what brought me to this unit. For a while I got to feel what it was like to have a real family. I knew what it was like to have people really care about me for who I was and not what I could get them. I understand that it wasn’t true because you guys didn’t know who I was, but none the less, I still don’t regret it because I got to have a family. What do you want me to do?”
I sat back then and thought for a few minutes. Hmmm….what did I want from her? After hearing the whole story I know I didn’t want to kill her, just her dad. I wasn’t about to let her know that yet though. Then it hit me.
I sat up again and looked her straight in the eyes. “I want your father. This is what we’re going to do. First off, you’re going to give all of your weapons to Christiaan. Then we’re going to get ready and go downstairs. Once we’ve all eaten, we’re going to go to see the General just like we planned. Only you’re going to tell him that we know everything. But you’re going to wait until we get into one of the interrogation rooms. Come up with whatever excuse you have to so we can get him in there but once the door is closed, you tell him that we had this little conversation.
“You tell him everything you just told me so we have it on tape. From there we’ll wing it, although, I’m pretty sure I know how things will go. You want to be rid of your father and have your mother safe, then this is how you get it. Understand?” She shook her head yes and told Christiaan that her weapons were in her bag by the door.
She never took them out because she knew that if something happened and someone got in that we would catch them long before they ever got upstairs, and she would have plenty of time to get her weapons if she needed them then. She wasn’t expecting this so she didn’t bother unpacking. It made things easier but I knew she still had one on her so I told her to give me the knife she kept hidden in her bun. She quickly did so claiming she forgot she carries that one there.
Jojo snorted at this and Madison rolled her eyes. To say the team was all less than happy at her using everyone, was a vast understatement. Madison went down to get my clothes and weapons as well as hers and brought them up to Jill’s room so we could get ready. Jojo and Christiaan went on to do the same. Maybe becoming a mother has made me weaker to other people’s regrets and pain. Maybe it was being out of the game for so long. I wasn’t sure what it was and whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, but either way, I was still fantastic at hiding it so Jill stayed on pins and needles the entire time. I had Jill stay in the living room of the safe house with the other three there as I went and made my way to my room to find my computer.
I quickly typed up a new will and instructions for Gary to sign it for me and replace it with the old one, then to burn the old one. I sealed the envelope and on our way to the General we stopped at a courier service and I gave them their instructions. I also called Gary to let him know something was coming with instructions inside for him. I made sure he knew it was from me so he didn’t think it was a hoax, seeing as I had already done this before leaving a few days ago.
Once inside the SUV, we made our way through town and the closer we got to the base the more everyone’s adrenaline started pumping. The others were as pissed at this whole situation as I was.
Although, I have to say, hearing Jojo was turning into being the best dad and doing anything it took for his child made me very happy for some reason. I think it was because I knew what a good father he would be. Definitely unlike the man we were going to see. Once pulling up to the building we were meeting the General at we all got out and before entering I asked Jill if she remembered what she was supposed to do.
“I’ve hurt you and failed you in so many ways when you were the one that helped me become the woman I am now. You saw what was in me when no one else did and you helped me see it. I won’t fail you again. I know what I have to do. It was what I should have done a long time ago.” At that, she led the way into the facility.
Let the games begin.