CHAPTER 12-RECONAISSANCE OF A GHOST
It had been almost a week since I had gone through my ghost’s, Josh Tressler’s, family’s depositions, yet I still wasn’t finding anything useful in them the help me find where this man could be hiding or who could be helping him. Not that any of that mattered anyway at the moment, considering Shayla was near death and getting worse by the moment. I know she only had a matter of hours left, but what I didn’t know was how I was going to be able to tell Eliana and Angelo that they had to say goodbye to their aunt.
I sat with Shayla taking care of her as best as possible but when the time came that it couldn’t be avoided anymore, Logan brought Eliana and Angelo to us so they could say goodbye to their aunt and last remaining biological family member. However, unbeknownst to them, and Shayla, they still had Jill’s godmother who will be thrilled when she finds out that Jill had children giving her another chance to care for the children she never had. Though, that was a matter for another day. Eliana and Angelo climbed up onto the bed and sat next to Shayla. They sat there holding her hand while I calmly explained to them what was happening and that Shayla was dying. Once I finished explaining to them that Shayla was sick and wasn’t going to get better, that she would be going to see their father and mother, Eliana looked up at me and asked if it was because of the bad stuff that the man at the airport poked aunt Shayla with. I knew Eliana and Angelo were very alert, I just wasn’t sure how much so until now. I also knew that this was something that I would have to question them about later.
Eliana and Angelo sat with Shayla holding her hand and telling her how much they loved her over the next hour, but when we knew the time was close, I asked Logan to take Eliana and Angelo out of the room so Shayla and I could have a few more minutes of privacy before she went. Shayla apologized for everything that was happening and thanked me for taking care of her and said that knowing that Eliana and Angelo would be safe and taken care of was going to help her rest more easily. I shook my head at her knowing that it was the only thing that I could really do to comfort her. Five minutes later she went. My doctor checked her pulse, called her time of death, and told me that he would send the corner for her body. I told him that I would make arrangements for her funeral and we would let him know the details for when we would be coming to get her.
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It had been four days since Shayla’s death and though Eliana and Angelo seemed to understand what happened they still cried out a lot at night for their newly deceased aunt. I felt like a failure knowing I could only comfort them so much, but that I couldn’t stop their pain completely. These were now my children and I couldn’t help my kids. Someone hurt them and is continuing to hurt them by taking away the people they love the most and I have yet to do anything about it. I knew that as much as this wasn’t the best time, I needed to talk to Eliana before the day’s end to find out what this man that gave aunt Shayla the bad stuff looked like.
Shayla’s funeral went smoothly with no issues and all four children got to say their goodbyes. Though there were only our friends and family, mainly my team and the people that worked in our house day in and day out, everyone still seemed a little surprise when Jesse and Rory were also crying and said their goodbyes laying a rose on Shayla’s chest. To Jesse and Rory, Eliana and Angelo were already their brother and sister, so when one was in pain, they all were in pain. At the moment, Ben and Andrew were taking care of two children instead of one for being their bodyguard, but we all knew that we were eventually going to have to get two more bodyguards, sooner rather than later, as Ben and Andrew were currently splitting their attention between the two children making it harder for them to focus on their surroundings.
When we got to the cemetery, the entire atmosphere changed as I noticed something off almost immediately. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, whether it be somebody following us, or some danger somewhere, but I knew something was wrong, the question was what. I didn’t have to wait long to find out the answer, however, because the moment we walked up to the gravesite, which was only four spots over from my babies, the problem was obvious. There was caution tape all around the headstone of my children’s grave. A majority of the giant Angel had been broken into many pieces. The entire tombstone had been defaced, and to top it all off, with dark black spray paint someone had written, “I killed them!” I nearly passed out seeing what was done to my children’s tombstone. How anyone could deface the tombstone of two murdered babies was something I couldn’t fathom. And the message was something I wasn’t expecting. Seeing this large Angel holding two babies completely broken and shattered into millions of pieces and painted on as if it were nothing more than a piece of garbage made me shake with more anger than I ever thought I could possibly feel without exploding and killing everyone around me.
Justin noticed were my attention had gone and once he’d seen where I was looking he quickly whispered to Ben and Andrew to keep the kids away from the grave keeping their attention on Shayla’s plot. Once Ben and Andrew noticed what Justin was talking about, they quickly put their bodies between the children and the defaced Angel.
Logan had been straggling behind a little as he was talking with the funeral director, but the minute he saw me he immediately knew something was wrong and came rushing over to me. His panic stopped him short once he saw what I was staring at, and his panic was quickly replaced with anger as well. Logan looked at me with such pain in his eyes that I thought I was breaking again. I felt like I was losing my children all over again. The more I thought this, however, the more I realized that this was exactly what they wanted me to feel. This was exactly what they wanted me to think. And that was exactly what I was not going to do. I was not going to let this person beat me, and whoever it was that defaced my children’s tombstone was going to pay with their life.
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I sent Logan and the kids ahead of me so they could get home and hopefully the kids would avoid the sight of their brother and sister’s tombstone broken into bits. I also sent Justin and Eddie ahead to guard Eliana and Angelo until we were able to find two more bodyguards we liked for the job. I knew I didn’t need a bodyguard and from what I seen of Logan in our gym the day I pinned him to the couch, he didn’t either, so right now the best thing for all of us is for them to take a child off of Ben and Andrew’s hands so they could stop splitting their attention. Right now we all needed everyone alert and ready for anything with this new person taking responsibility for the death of my babies and the near death of myself and Justin shows Melina’s corruption goes further up than anticipated. Well, either that or someone else is latching onto what was already done and taking responsibility in hopes of throwing me off of their scent and making me think their more well connected or more powerful than I originally thought. Either way, I’m not falling for this trick and I will find them.
When it was just me and my team at the cemetery I started looking for some clues as to who would’ve done this or something they left me while the rest of my team, including our new number five, my brother David, stood there looking at me like I was insane and asking why someone would’ve left something there for me. To be honest, I didn’t know why myself, but I was convinced. I knew that whoever did this to that angel knew we would be here today to see it, therefore, sending me a message; so my philosophy was what better way to send me a message than by leaving something physical for me to find. The gravestone was nothing more than to get my attention, I knew that for sure.
About ten minutes later I found a small bouquet of flowers on the next plot from my children’s that was empty and it caught my attention. Why would someone put flowers on an empty grave? When I got a little closer I noticed there was a small flip phone in the flowers. Who the hell does that shit? I mean come on what are we doing; Watching Bones a little too much? And where the hell do people even find flip phones nowadays? I picked up the phone and opened it to the contacts to find one number programmed. I clicked send and waited for it to connect to the other phone. When I heard the click on the other end I didn’t give whoever it was time to answer.
I said, “You came to my babies grave and defaced it. You take credit for their death and leave me this phone. You either have a death wish or have to be stuck on stupid thinking I won’t find you. Which is it?”
I could hear the grin on the other side of the phone before the laughter started. The man on the other end sneered his response. “You obviously don’t know how far my reach really goes. Stop looking for me or you won’t like what happens next. Next time, I may toy with members of your team, or their loved ones, or even the father of your children and his ex. Next time I’ll come for your brats, and then your man, and then your newly acquired brats, then your sister and her soon to be brat. Maybe your team next after I crush them by killing everyone they love as well. When you’re all completely defeated and are begging to die, I may just give in and kill you then, but until then, I can make your life hell. Stop trying to find me!”
This time it was my turn to sneer at him. “Obviously you don’t know who I am: who we are! We don’t give up, we don’t back off, and when we’re threatened we just come for you that much harder, faster and more aggressively. You aren’t better than us, you’re not smarter than us and you’re definitely not more motivated than us Mr. Tressler so give it up. We will find you and when we do, death will not come quickly for you. We’re coming for you so keep one eye open at all times because you’ll never know when we’ll come for you or where we’ll be coming from.”
I had it on speaker phone the entire time I was on the phone before hanging up on a blubbering man whose plan backfired in his face. Madison, Christian, Jojo and David stood there looking at me with as much fire in their eyes as I had in mine. We were all more motivated than ever to catch this man and kill him slowly.
As we started walking back to the SUV Madison looked over and said, “I don’t think he was expecting you to know his name. He seemed a little flabbergasted when you called him by name. I’m betting that will speed up whatever plan he has now, which means, were going to have to do the same.”
All three guys shook their head yes in unison showing they were thinking the same thing. I was thinking the same thing as well, but I also had some other ideas bouncing around in my head. For instance, no one knew that the President and I were on friendly terms and spoke regularly. I think that’s definitely a road I should take first. I think it’s time to fill in the President on what has been happening over the past twelve years and especially what’s been happening over the past few months. That way, if anyone in the government goes to him with comments, complaints, suggestions etc. on me, my team or anything else pertaining to things they shouldn’t know about, then we can start to find out how far up the ladder the corruption reaches and start cleaning house.
My team and I decided to go to my office at work instead of going home just yet. We needed to figure out exactly what we were going to do with everything before we went home and put more of our family in danger. We just couldn’t risk it. I didn’t know what I would do if any more of my kids or loved ones got hurt; or worse, killed. While in the car I called and made arrangements for another head stone, more like mausoleum according to Madison, to be delivered and set up on the babies’ grave. This one was going to have the little saying that I had written down the night I lost them and Madison read at the cemetery. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that in all honesty, but Madison said she thought I should add it so every time I looked at it I could remember exactly how I felt that night, and to see how far I’ve come since then. I wasn’t sure if she was right, but I trusted her judgment and thought I should do what she suggested. When it comes to things like that she knew better than me. Showing emotions was still something I was learning.
Once we got to my office and into the meeting room Madison scanned for bugs since Berdina was at the cemetery with us and this floor was left empty for a short time. We scan everything on this floor at the start of every day, though, so this shouldn’t feel like anything new. However, something about doing this today seemed…wrong. I knew someone had been here I just wasn’t sure who or when. That was definitely something I would have to check into. I think I was also going to have to check into putting up a better security system, on this floor at least.
Once Madison gave the all clear we put the jammer on the table and turned it on knocking out all signals nearby and making sure nothing could catch any of the conversation that was about to happen by something reverberating off of any of the surfaces. When everything was set I dialed my cell, which was designed to work around the jammer, making it virtually invisible to all systems as if it was never used, calling the President’s direct line. I don’t think he liked that conversation much.
“Mr. President, my team and I have been looking into someone that we called the ghost for more than eight years. Long story short, twelve years ago a navy SEAL did something getting all of his team killed along with about a hundred other men and everyone thought he was killed at that time as well. That’s why I enlisted in the first place. After all of my training I started looking into things trying to get more information about what had happened because I was curious as to what could’ve happened then. Eight years ago, I and a team member went undercover in prisons to break up corrupt fighting, killings, betting and so on. We stumbled across a man that always stayed in the shadows and was working in politics as an aid or something helping all the dirty politicians in these actions. Well, we’ve found recently that he was that same Navy SEAL that faked his death and got so many people killed.
“We’ve been getting closer and he doesn’t like it. He put some of the people in my unit against me to try to distract me or take me out. When that didn’t work and they were put down he realized we knew who he was and we were closing in. He’s now threatening me and my team and all of our families. I don’t take well to that. He says we don’t know what he’s capable of or how far his reach goes, and he’s right. We need to find out exactly how far his reach goes in our government which is where you come in.
“No one knows you know me other than through reports. I need you to keep it that way. When people come to you and make mention of me, my team or anything else pertaining to us that they shouldn’t know about, and no one should know about us, then I want you to play dumb. Say you’ll look into things and keep records for me of who all comes to you. When that list starts getting long, or after a certain amount of time, I’ll get that list from you and my team and I will start cleaning out our cupboards so to speak. I’m not going to lie to you, this can be dangerous. This can go all the way to the top with your advisors or even your Secret Service. If things start getting too hot or complicated you need to let me know so we can get you out of this situation.
“I also understand you have to protect yourself and your family as well so if this is something you think you don’t want to get into then now is the time for you to tell me so we can set something else up. Which before we end this conversation I have plans for that as well. Now you know everything about what is happening and what needs to happen. Do you think this is something you want to do or do you think you would prefer to stay out of this one?”
He sat there for a few minutes and I could tell he was chewing his lip. I would know that sound anywhere. It drives me crazy, though I’m not sure why since I do it myself when I’m not paying attention. He finally exhaled a deep breath before answering me.
“What was the other thing you had planned because I need to know everything before I put my family in danger?”
“I want to add some people to your everyday life without anyone else knowing who they are or why they’re there other than your family. I want to add someone to watch your wife. We’ll say she’s your wife’s new personal assistant. If she already has an assistant we’ll say she’s the junior assistant. I want to add a guy that looks young enough to be your teenage son’s cousin staying with him for a few weeks while they look at colleges. Finally, I want to add someone to your everyday life that can be your personal assistant. You can say they’re helping you as you reevaluate your charities or personal appearances to help you get a more positive response from the public or whatever the hell it is you guys do. I don’t care either way, but these three people will be more than qualified and able to keep their cover and protect you guys against anyone that would come after you, including your own Secret Service men and women.”
This time it didn’t take him as long to answer me. “It sounds to me like you already have all of this figured out, which to be honest I was hoping that was what you were thinking when you said you had something planned. There’s really no way around this for me honestly. It needs to be done. One of the reasons our country is failing is because we have too many corrupt politicians that are only out for money and to help themselves instead of looking towards preserving our country and the people in it. We need to get people to be what they used to be instead of what we’re all becoming. I guess, if I haven’t made it clear yet, my answer is yes. Even if it puts me in danger it’s something that needs to be done to better our country. I trust you’ll have great people protecting us in the event that it’s needed?”
“Absolutely, Mr. President. They’re my siblings. No worries though. Nothing shows up that they’re related to me and though technically they are a part of my team, they’ve never been put into the files that they are so nothing about them can be traced back to me. I trained them myself since they were able to walk so they’re more than capable of handling themselves in combat even if they’re out numbered. Now, the big question is when and how do you want to go about getting them in there with you?”
When all I got was silence and um’s I figured I better make a suggestion.
“You’re supposed to be going to Camp David tonight correct?” When he responded I went on. “They’ll be there waiting for you. I’ll be there as well to introduce them to you so there’s no confusion. No one will know I was ever there so everything should be just fine. I’ll see you tonight.”
When I hung up everyone was looking at me waiting for instructions. I told Madison to call Nora and tell her to pack a bag and what she was going to be doing and to be here ready to go by eighteen hundred. Then I told Jojo to call Teddy and Christiaan to call Wes and tell them the same thing. This was going to be a long night. Regardless, it had to be done since I had set these events in motion long ago. It was past time for me to finish them.
OBSTACLES ARE THOSE FRIGHTFUL THINGS YOU SEE WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR EYES OFF YOUR GOAL-HENRY FORD