A stretcher waited on the roof of California Pacific Medical Centre. Two nurses and a doctor stood beside it, waiting for the helicopter to land. They ran forward once the way was clear and opened the door. Callen helped the medic on board to carry Sarah out of the helicopter, before turning and grabbing his daughter and their back packs. They followed Sarah to the elevator and he sighed with relief that they were far from the Russians that threatened them. On the first floor, Sarah was lead into theatre to repair the damage from the bullet injuries that she had sustained. She’d lost more blood than any of them had realised through her foot, due to the fact that Sarah hadn’t realised she’d been shot there until Sam told her.
“We need her medical records.” A nurse told Callen. “Her blood type and history.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. Maybe her sister can. I’ll call her.”
Callen dialled his cell and waited. He looked at his watch and noted the time. Jo’s plane should have landed by now.
Relief washed through him, to hear her voice. “Jo. You’ve arrived okay?”
“What’s going on? Who were those men?” Her nerves were on edge, she’d tried to calm herself down on the plane with a chardonnay, which had little effect. She should have had a red, she thought later. That really would have relaxed her. But it wasn’t the time to relax. She needed to keep alert, just in case she had been followed. That much she had learned from Callen.
“I’ve found her, Jo. I’ve found your sister, Alyssa. The name sounded foreign on his lips to him, she’d always be Sarah, like he would always be Greg to her.”
“What? Where?” Her heart thudded inside her chest. “Is she okay?”
“I’ll explain it when you get here.”
“You’re in San Francisco?” Now his request for her to go home made sense.
“We’re at the California Pacific Medical Centre. We’re currently on the first floor. She’s in surgery. They need her blood type.”
Joelle’s expression fell, worry for Alyssa took over. “It’s A+, same as me. I’ll be there soon.”
She grabbed the first taxi she could climb into, upsetting a woman who’d been waiting for ten minutes already. “California Pacific Medical Centre, please.”
The taxi driver sensed her urgency and floored the peddle. Unlike the previous taxi driver, this one knew to keep his eyes on the road and mouth shut. In record time he pulled up outside the medical centre. Joelle gave him a generous tip and ran inside for the elevator to the first floor.
The elevator pinged and Joelle stepped out, she saw Callen and headed in his direction, but paused. A young girl sat on his lap with her arms around him, asleep. She walked the remaining distance at a slower pace, confusion written all over her face.
Callen looked up when he sensed her arrival. He greeted her with a smile. “Glad you’re safe.”
Jo sat down beside Callen, they’d been waiting for so long to find her twin, and now that they had, she had to wait a little longer to reunite with her.
Molly stirred and lifted her head, she caught the sight of the new woman and starred at her. Callen watched her, still in shock over the fact that he had a daughter.
“Hello.” Joelle decided to break the silence. “I’m Joelle.”
“Hi. I’m Molly.” Callen gently kissed her on the temple.
“This is your Aunt Joelle, Molly. Your mom’s twin sister.”
Joelle noted the resemblance between the girl, her niece and Callen.
“But you can call me Jo. Everyone else does.” Joelle smiled at the girl and Molly moved off Callen’s lap for her’s. Molly wrapped her arms around her aunt firmly.
“Mommy told me lots about you.” Molly settled and fell back to sleep. She was with the two people her mom spoke about the most to her for as long as she could remember.
Callen stretched his legs, he wasn’t used to having a child sit on them for this length of time. Kamran was the only kid around Molly’s age, that he’d had sit on his lap in a real long time.
Once Jo heard deep breaths from Molly she looked up at Callen with questions in her eyes.
“Callen, are you going to tell me what’s going on?” She kept her voice low, not to disturb the girl.
“Alyssa ran away from Los Angeles after she discovered armed men raiding her house. That’s why she disappeared without a trace. She made it as far as Solvang, a two hour drive north of the city. Her car broke down and a local found her beside the road with nausea.”
Joelle looked at the sleeping form on her lap and she knew instantly that her sister had suffered from morning sickness.
“He took her home and gave her the rest she needed and an offer for her to help him raise his sons and help around the house. He’d recently lost his wife to cancer and he saw that she was running from something. She’d been on her way back up here initially.”
“That’s where she’s been all this time?”
“Living under my alias, Walinski.”
Jo raised her brow, slightly amused by the name. “Walinski? Is that the best you could come up with?”
“It wasn’t my choice, Jo. Hetty gives us all aliases for our private lives so no one can trace who we really are back to our homes. It’s a safety measure. That’s why when I met Alyssa, she was using the name Sarah Grantham. I couldn’t understand why she had a different name to the one that you told me. But I now know. She used to work for the FBI.”
Jo’s eyes widened. “She what?” Surprise crossed her face. “She never told me.”
“We can’t. We’ve been through this, Jo. It’s to keep our families safe.”
“How did you find her?”
“We got a case up in Solvang. A former marine, Steve Crawford who owned Sunford Winery was missing. Residents in the area reported hearing gunfire from a helicopter. We were called in to help the local PD just in case it was to do with his work as a marine.”
“You said, owned.”
“He died. Shot in the head in front of his sons. The men that were at your house, they’re the same men who were up in Solvang last night. They were at my house this morning as well. I’m sorry, Jo. I’ve placed you in danger too.”
“What do you mean you’ve placed me in danger too, Callen?” She furrowed her brow, trying to get her head around everything.
“Why are Russians after us?”
“To lure my father out of hiding.”
“Your father? But I thought you said that you don’t have any family?” Confusion spread across her face.
“I don’t. I haven’t seen my father since I was five. I only discovered his name eighteen months ago. I have no idea if he’s alive or where he is. Between looking for Alyssa and him, I haven’t had much in the way of spare time.”
“Why do these Russians think that you can lure him out of hiding then?”
“I don’t know. Sam thinks that they must believe that my father is close by, somewhere in California. It’s the only theory I can think of that makes sense, Jo.”
“What do these men want with your father?”
“I don’t know much, only that he used to be a KGB Major. He helped Germans escape Eastern Germany to the U.S. The last I heard, he was arrested and placed inside a Siberian Prison.”
A doctor exited the double doors and walked over to them. “Are you Alyssa Taylor’s husband?”
“I am. How is she?”
“She’s fine. Sleeping and sore, we’ve got her attached to a blood pack for twelve hours. She lost quite a bit of blood through her foot. It’s a good thing you found her when you did and had her foot bandaged firmly. I need to ask you questions about what happened. By law we have to report all shootings to the local PD.”
“The PD in Solvang are already on the case, doctor.”
“Solvang? As in the winery area just north of Los Angeles? What are you doing all the way up here?” Shock was evident in the doctor’s face.
“Los Angeles is not safe for her at the moment. We’re up here due to safety precautions and for the fact that her family live up here.”
“Do I need to arrange protection for her?”
“No. I can do that.” Callen pulled out his identification and badge satisfying the doctor.
“Come this way. You can wait in her room until she wakes up.” He looked over at Joelle and Molly. “We can put a cot up in the room for the girl.”
“Thanks, but for now, she needs someone to hold onto. Last night was a rough night for her.” The doctor studied the worry in Callen’s eyes and he knew that whatever was going on, it was serious.
Joelle passed Molly over to Callen and they followed the doctor into the elevator and exited on the fourth floor. He led them down a corridor and entered a room. The curtains were drawn and there in the middle of the bed laid Alyssa. Eight years had been a long time for Jo, having no clue to where her twin was. Not knowing whether she was alive or dead. Alyssa looked frail as she slept in the bed. Almost peaceful except for the scratches, bandages and the blood pack. It was a striking contrast to Alyssa’s pale skin. How did she get so pale?
Callen sat in one of the armchairs with Molly, who had somehow managed to stay asleep in their move upstairs. Jo sat in the chair closer to her sister and gently held her hand.
“Lys, it’s me. Jo. You’re safe now. Back home with family.”
Alyssa stirred, she opened her eyes and stared up at the familiar face. “Jo?” A tear escaped Jo’s eyes and Alyssa lifted her hand to wipe it away. “You’re crying.”
“You scared us. We’ve been worried about you for eight years.”
“I’m sorry. I was trying to come home, but then my car broke down and I felt so ill.” Alyssa looked over and saw Callen holding Molly in his arms.
“She’s beautiful, Lys. Just like…”
“Her father.” Alyssa finished for her sister.
“Yes.” Both women looked over at Callen.
“You know I can hear you.”
“And you’re loving the fact that we’re talking about you too.” Alyssa quipped. She tried to sit up, the sight of seeing her family was the medicine she needed. Her family together again. Joelle pressed the remote and raised her bed head to assist her.
“Don’t strain yourself.” Jo’s voice was soothing, but firm. “You need to rest after what you’ve been through.”
“Always the boss, Jo. No wonder you became a Kindergarten Teacher.” Alyssa was trying to be bright for them, but pain shot through her as she tried to use her right arm.
“And for good reason too that I’m the boss, Lys. You were always taking unnecessary risks.” Jo looked over at Callen and realised that he was the same. “And you had to find a guy whose just like you, huh! What hope is there for Molly, you need me to ensure Molly has some chance of growing up with some common sense.”
Callen smirked over to his wife who looked back with the same look on her face. “Fat chance of that happening, Jo. She’s too much like her father.” Alyssa’s face brightened. “She’s what got me through these last eight years. Every day I saw Greg in her and I loved her more for it.”
Callen’s love for his wife had never wained but right at that moment it grew deeper. Not once in those eight years being apart had she forgotten him or stopped loving him. It helped him accept those years apart, although he was still punishing himself on the inside that the danger she’d been running from was because of him. He had placed her in this danger and now his own daughter barely managed to escape along with Alyssa from last night’s raid. Alyssa bore two bullet wounds as proof of that threat. Thankfully though, they were non life threatening and that both she and Molly had survived.
Jo looked between her sister and Callen. It had taken her a while to accept that Callen was her brother-in-law, after the Hannas had tried to set them up on a blind date. But the fact that Sam had to trick Callen to that dinner like he did, had her curious to the blind date in the first place. Why didn’t he just find his own date, it wasn’t like he wasn’t able to find a woman to date on his own? That first meeting had her expecting someone average looking, but to her surprise he was gorgeous. Then he kept his distance to prevent anything from happening between them, although he was courteous. But after he saw the photo of her with Alyssa, he changed. And she got her answer to why he didn’t show any signs of being interested in her. He was in love with her sister. That meeting started a friendship between them, their common goal was to find Alyssa. After six months of searching together, a case of his brought him to Alyssa. And just in time.
Molly began to stir and shuffled on Callen’s lap. “Daddy.” She opened her eyes to check that he was still there and that he wasn’t just a dream.
“I’m still here, sweetheart. Daddy’s not going anywhere without you or your mom.” She nodded and wiped her eyes. They’d had no sleep the night before and she was tired from the stress of the events. She yawned and stretched. “Mommy.” She turned around and saw her mom awake. She moved over and climbed up onto the bed and snuggled next to her.
“Hey, beautiful.” Alyssa wrapped her left arm over her daughter’s frame and kissed her on the top of her head. “You can stay right here.” There was no way she was allowing any of them to leave her. She’d lived too long without Greg and Joelle. Molly needed them too, especially now that Steve, the closest thing Molly’d had as a father figure in all of her life, was dead. A sadness replaced the smile she’d had as she thought about the kind man who’d come to her rescue all of those years earlier.
Callen walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. “Are you okay? Do you need me to get the doctor or a nurse for you?”
Alyssa shook her head. “No. Thanks.” She looked over at her sister. “Does Mom and Dad know I’m here?”
“No. I forgot to tell them. They’ll want to see you.” Joelle stood up and pulled out her cell. “With everything that’s been going on…”
“It’s okay, Jo. You’ve had your own things to deal with today. Don’t be hard on yourself. Call them.” Callen hadn’t had the chance to explain to Alyssa what had happened in Los Angeles that morning.
Callen was good with Jo, Alyssa noted. He calmed her down when she got stressed. It was something she used to do to her when they were growing up. No wonder why Jo said she’d found someone like herself to marry. She watched Jo leave the room to make the call, then she turned back to her husband. “Thank you for being there for Jo. She gets worked up over the smallest of things.”
“Call it fate that we ever met. Of all the kids she taught, my partner’s daughter brought us together. We’ve searched for you in so many places. Every place either of us could think of between here and L.A. We never thought to look in Solvang.”
“No. It wasn’t somewhere where I’d been before.” Callen held her right hand gently, trying not to cause her further pain in her arm. “I wish I’d known who you really were. I keep wanting to call you Sarah. I could have helped you.”
“I’m sorry, Greg.” She looked at him and realised if she was using an alias, then he would have been too. Sam called him G back in Solvang. She noticed that Jo called him Callen and remembered the other members of his team, Kensi and Deeks, they also called him Callen. “But that’s not your real name either, is it?”
Callen shrugged. “I wish I knew my name to tell you. All I know is that I was placed in an orphanage at age five with my grandfather’s old bed roll with his name on it. G. Callen. No name, just a letter. I don’t even know if my name starts with the letter G. Callen was my mother’s family name. Reznikov is my father’s family name and I only found that out eighteen months ago. He was Russian.”
“The men who came after me, they had a Russian accent. Who were they?”
“They work for the Russian Government. Looking for me or for someone close to me, to lure my father out of hiding. That’s all I know.” He went through the story that Hetty had told him over the years and earlier that day. He hoped Hetty had more news for him soon. Until he found his father or the men after them were put away or killed, the threat on their lives remained.