Los Angeles - two hours earlier
Eric and Nell were busy trying to find out more detail on this woman, Sarah, when an alert came up on Eric’s monitor. “What the hell?”
Nell looked over at the camera feed that came up onto the screen and furrowed her brows. She picked up the phone and dialled their boss. “Hetty, you better see this.”
Henrietta Lange was relishing on having the ground floor much to herself, with her A team out of town for most of the day. She pried her petite form out of her chair and climbed back up those ridiculous stairs. She had to admit that climbing up and down stairs wasn’t getting any easier for the almost seventy year old. Her joints ached at night and she found herself taking vitamins and minerals to help her body to keep going.
When she entered the Ops Centre her eyes widened at the image of six armed men searching through Callen’s house. They knew his house was sparsely furnished and it was on occasions such as this one, that Callen would be thankful for that he had hardly anything for them to destroy. But what had her catching her breath, was the fact that if Callen hadn’t been called in for a case that day, he would have been home and outnumbered. Six armed men against one would have resulted in his death, that was certain.“Do we have any details on who these men are or who they work for?”
Eric increased the volume and he was thankful that Callen had installed the best there was for cameral surveillance, without being visible. These men had no idea that they were being watched as they continued to scour the house for Callen. They watched them yank every drawer out on the floor and throw all the contents out and all his clothes, boxes and possessions thrown out of the cupboards and closets. Whatever these men were searching for, they hadn’t found what it was. Annoyed, they left the house in a mess and drove off.
“Follow them, Mr Beale.” She watched the van head south then east, towards Huntington Park. Eric nodded and placed the details into Kaleidoscope.
“Did you understand what language that was, Hetty?” Nell looked to their boss with an expectant expression and worry for Callen in her eyes.
“Russian,” Hetty replied, but her mind was elsewhere. Her focus came back into view and faced her analyst. “What happened to Mr Callen’s tea box that he keeps on the mantel?”
Both Eric and Nell returned to the footage and were glad that it all had been recorded for them to analyse. “There was never a tea box on the mantel.”
Hetty furrowed her brow for a moment. “Go back to this morning, Mr Beale. Let’s watch Mr Callen’s movements earlier?”
“Isn’t that breaking his privacy, Hetty?” Eric raised his brow surprised that Hetty would ask him to spy on their team leader.
“We need to ascertain what happened to Mr Callen’s most treasured items, Mr Beale.” She gave him the gorgon stare and waited for him to cooperate.
Eric gulped and capitulated and went back to five in the morning. The time they all knew when he arose from his bed roll. They watched him fist his hands up tight and release them as he paced his living room floor. Something had obviously been on his mind that morning. Was it another nightmare? He spoke in Russian as he paced and then his eyes set on the tea box on the mantel. He took the remaining steps over to the box and opened it up. He rummaged through the photos he’d been given over the past few years and then he stopped at a photo on the bottom of the pile. He pulled it out and traced his hands over the image. They couldn’t from their position see who was in the photo, but whoever it was meant a great deal to him. They knew that it wasn’t a photo of himself. Hetty was aware he had a photo of his mother, Clara, because she’d given it to him. Her thoughts went towards thinking it was her. But what neither of them knew, was it was a photo he kept hidden from all of them. It was one Joelle had given him of his wife, Alyssa. Although he’d only ever known her as Sarah Grantham, Alyssa Taylor was the real woman behind his wife and he loved her even after eight years of her missing. He mumbled and even Hetty couldn’t understand what it was that he was saying. Then he placed it into the shirt pocket close to his chest and closed the lid on the tea box. He picked it up and placed it into his bag and exited his house. They watched him climb into his car and drive off.
“Do we know where he went?” Hetty inquired and immediately Eric pulled up a camera feed outside his girlfriend’s house, Joelle Taylor. Callen grabbed his go bag and unlocked the front door and entered.
“There’s our answer. But why take his tea box with him? He’s always kept it at home.”
“Something was bothering him this morning. From what I could pick up from his mumblings, he didn’t feel safe. That would explain why he took the tea box with him and headed for Miss Taylor’s.”
Nell’s computer beeped and an image of a blonde haired, blue eyed seven year old girl came up on the screen. “Hetty, are you seeing this?”
Hetty narrowed her eyes and held firmly onto the back of Nell’s chair. “Miss Jones, who is the girl?”
“The daughter of the woman living with Steve Crawford. We now have a name. Molly Walinski. Mother’s name on the enrolment says Sarah Walinski and the father, Greg Walinski.” Nell knitted her brows together in confusion. “Isn’t that Callen’s alias for his house?”
“Yes, it is indeed, Miss Jones. I think Mr Callen has a lot of explaining to do.” Hetty shook her head in disbelief that Callen had kept a wife and child hidden from her for all of these years. “It also explains why there was the attack on the Crawford’s property last night and on Mr Callen’s home this morning.”
“You think they’re related?” Eric inquired, his eyes almost popping out of his head.
“Mr Beale, now we have a name for the woman and her child and it matches Mr Callen’s alias for his house, the probability is over 100 percent.” Hetty huffed out. “I need to make a call. Find where that van vanished to, Mr Beale. We cannot afford to lose them.” She left them and headed down to her office and picked up her phone.
“Henrietta, what a surprise.” Arkady Kolcheck smiled at the beautiful woman who delivered his morning coffee at the gym.
“Mr Kolcheck, we need to talk. Can you meet me at the boat shed in the next half an hour?” Hetty looked at her watch and noted that her agents would still be travelling to Solvang.
“Is something the matter? Is Callen alright?” Worry for his old friend made him frown.
“Someone is looking for him and his family.”
Hetty’s words sunk in and he realised that the Duchess of Deception had discovered Callen’s secret about his wife. “Okay, Henrietta. I will meet with you in half an hour.” He disconnect the call and stood up from his chair. He needed to get changed out of his gym gear and back into a suit. He never liked meeting with someone in anything less.
They sat at the table in the middle of the boat shed and shared a cup of tea, although Arkady would have preferred a coffee, seeing he’d left his back at the gym untouched.
“Are you aware of Mr Callen having a wife and daughter, Mr Kolcheck?” Hetty studied him, she was aware of how good he was at deflecting his own emotions, very much like her team leader and she wondered where Callen had inherited the skill.
Arkady slightly creased his brow, before looking over to her. She may be smaller than him, but he knew that she could injure him badly enough to cause him a great deal of pain. She wasn’t one to cross and he treaded lightly. “Callen came to me six months ago to help him find someone. He’d given me a name and a photo of her. She was very beautiful. Apparently she’s been missing for almost eight years. I told him that I wasn’t in the business of doing him favours.”
“So you didn’t search for her?” Hetty held her hands interlinked in front of her on the table.
“You’ve got to understand, Hetty. I can’t have Callen think that I care about him.” He heaved out a sigh. “But the truth is I do. You see, I know who he really is and his father very well. But I’ve been sworn to secrecy by his father and only to watch over him.” He stood up and began to pace the room. “Callen is my nephew. Nikita is my older brother who has been in hiding since I helped him escape the prison camp in Siberia back in the seventies. When Callen asked me to find Sarah Grantham, I had to pretend that I wasn’t interested.”
“Did you search for her?”
“Did you find her?”
“No, I didn’t. You mentioned that they have a daughter?”
Hetty nodded. “Yes. Her name is Molly Walinski and they have been living on a property in Solvang with a former marine and his sons.”
“Walinski? Isn’t that the name Callen he uses for his house?”
“Yes. You see, when Callen and Sarah met, they were both using aliases due to their line of work. They married under the aliases of Greg Walinski and Sarah Grantham. But the truth is, that Sarah is really Alyssa Taylor…”
“And Callen is really another alias I placed him and his sister in after I rescued them from Romania.”
“So it was you who rescued them and brought them to America?”
Arkady nodded, the sadness in his eyes were clear as day. ” I wanted to keep them with me, but with Nikita being in danger, it wasn’t safe. I hid them under their mother’s name for protection.”
“What is Mr Callen’s real name, Arkady? What does the G stand for?” Hetty stood and walked over to where the Russian stood, looking through a window out at the marina.
“Gale Alexander Reznikov.” Arkady heaved about another sigh. “It wasn’t safe to give either of them their father’s name. Especially not in America.”
“Where is Nikita now?” She inwardly smiled at the thought that she now had his name to give to him. And a family member. If only Arkady would relent and tell him who he is.
“He’s hiding in a small town called Morro Bay, about three and a half hours drive north of here.” He leaned on the post and looked down at the older woman. “I’m sorry, Hetty. I wish I could have done more for him. I’ve loved him like a son for so long.”
“Haven’t we both. It’s such a shame that neither of us could have done more for him. But now we have a bigger problem. A helicopter rained bullets over the property where Sarah and Molly have been living and no one has seen them or the Crawfords since. Employees for the Crawfords told the local police about some foreigners inquire about Sarah. And this morning, six armed men speaking Russian invaded Mr Callen’s house. Thankfully, I had to call my team in to deal with this case in Solvang, so he wasn’t home.” Hetty shook her head and set her arms down straight beside her for strength. “Who is after Mr Callen and his family?”
Arkady knew it was fruitless. He needed to share the intel with Hetty in order to keep Callen and his family safe. “The Russian government. They want Callen to draw Nikita out, so they can kill him. Someone must have seen Callen and Sarah together and chose her as the weaker target.”
“Only they didn’t know that she too was living a lie and was really an FBI agent.”
Arkady’s head shot up and caught her gaze. “She is?”
“Yes. The Russians have been trying to find her for as long as Mr Callen and her sister.”
“Aah, Joelle. Such a beauty. I couldn’t understand at first why Callen had no interest in her when I met her the first time. But when I noticed how important it was for Callen to find Sarah, I realised that she already had his heart.”
“It also means that Mr Callen is not safe. That his true identity has been burned and he along with his wife and daughter are all in danger.” Hetty pondered for a moment. “I’ve got to head back, Arkady. But you need to contact Nikita and tell him what’s going on. I need to contact Mr Callen and see if he’s found them.”
“I will, Hetty. I hope you can hide them and keep them safe. He and his daughter are all we’ve got of the next generations in our family. With Amelia gone, they’ve all we’ve got left.”
Hetty raised her brow and pondered over whether to come clean. “Ask Nikita to call me.”
Arkady nodded and left the boat shed. It had been a huge ask to give what details he had on Callen to Hetty, but he knew that she had his best interest at heart for a real long time.