Henrietta Lange was well rehearsed at keeping secrets. She was the best at keeping things close to the chest, especially when it came to her team leader, G. Callen. She’d spent many years watching over him from a distance and having him moved when spies for the Comescus found him. He’d been a troubled boy, but she’d let him into her heart and for a reason that even she couldn’t fathom, she loved him like a son. She kept information about his family from him, only to protect him. And hadn’t she been right, when he came after her to Romania? Right into the inner sanctum of the Comescus’ family beach house. The same beach where his mother was murdered in front of him? It had been a miracle for any of them to have escaped out of the eastern European country alive. But her reasons to keep the blood feud from him were no longer valid. They came after Callen in full force a few years later, kidnapping a man whom they thought to be Nikita Reznikov, to lure him out of the shadows. It had worked much to her own frustrations, almost killing Callen and his team as a result. Instead, Vasile Comescu killed Michael Rhinehart in front of her team leader, thinking it was his father and Callen was rescued by his partner, Sam. Talk about timing. Owen Granger had the scars to prove his own plight to help keep Callen safe.
Hadn’t the boy been through enough in his life? When was all of the enemies of his parents and grandparents going to leave him alone? She’d sent in a helicopter and moved him, his wife and daughter to a safe location, far from Los Angeles. And just in time from the sounds of it. Sam did well and she’d thanked him on a good job well done, when he’d asked Michelle to get Joelle out of town safely. Because if he hadn’t, there would be another person’s blood on her hands. Hetty took things personally. Especially when it came to her people. Each and everyone of them were hand picked for their skills and what they could bring to this unique family. Which also included the people they were close to in their personal lives.
She’d just gotten off the phone to Callen and was pouring herself a cup of chrysanthemum tea. She needed the calming qualities of this particular tea to soothe her anxiety for Callen and his family. At last she had the final pieces to the puzzle of G. Callen’s life. His name and the location of where his father was. So why was she questioning herself over the lack of information that she’d provided him. He wanted proof from her that Arkady Kolcheck could be trusted to keep him and his family safe from these Russians. She understood his need to know from her if this was the right thing to do. She knew without a hint of doubt, because finally, Arkady had come clean with her who he really was. Callen’s uncle. Younger brother to Nikita Reznikov. And the location of where Nikita was hiding and what the G stood for.
Hetty sipped the tea slowly, savouring the beverage and it’s qualities. She took in a deep breath and slowly released it. Why hadn’t she told him the truth? The boy trusted her, but still she continued to keep secrets from him. It was no wonder why he kept Sarah a secret from her. She didn’t deserve the trust he had in her.
“Something’s bothering you, Hetty.” Sam plonked himself in the chair after a long day on the job. “Besides the Russians chasing G and his family.”
Oh he was good, Hetty noted. As good as his partner in cyphering the mystery that was her’s and her’s alone. She must be losing her touch in her old age. “What makes you think that, Mr Hanna?” She placed her nonchalant look over to him in hope that she could deceive him. But he knew her too well now.
“You’re drinking chrysanthemum tea. You only drink that tea when something is bothering you.” She raised a brow, the former Navy SEAL had listened and observed. She couldn’t have been any prouder of him than she was at that moment. Her children were growing up wiser than she’d ever expected.
“I have a great deal on my mind at any given time, Mr Hanna. Now is no different.”
“I’m well aware of that. Please don’t shut me out and avoid this.” Sam had been listening and observing too well, Hetty decided.
“I am a good listener.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “I’m worried about G too, Hetty. I know how much he means to you. You’re not the only one he’s gotten under their skin. I need to know what I can do to help him.” Sitting back in Los Angeles waiting, was not what Sam wanted to do. He wanted to be following up leads and search for these Russians, to keep his partner and his family safe.
“I know you are, Sam. And I appreciate you caring. But we have outside help for this one and we need to trust that they will be okay.”
“Outside help? Hetty, who?”
“Arkady. He’s offered to Callen to take them to a safe place.”
Anger surged through Sam, his trust of the former Russian KGB officer was thin. “You’re not serious in having Arkady help Callen on this one are you? I don’t trust him one bit. He’s cagey and dodges questions all the time. Everything is business with the guy, for all we know he’s called these Russians and are leading them to G right as we speak.”
“You need to calm down, Sam. I know the history between you and Arkady. But the truth is, deep down the man really cares about your partner as if he was his own flesh and blood. The business thing is just a front.”
Sam stood and gave a cynical laugh. “A front? That man has no one he cares about other than himself. He can’t even stay married to one woman for long. What does he know about family?”
Hetty knew Sam had a valid point. Up until earlier in the day, she had wondered the same thing herself when she’d contacted him. She’d expected for him to give him names and addresses of who was after Callen, not that he was family to the boy.
“What is it that you’re not telling me, Hetty?”
Henrietta Lange sighed. “Please, Sam. Sit.” She poured a second cup of the soothing tea. “I know that you’re not particularly fond of this tea, but I suggest that you try to drink it, you need it.”
Sam pouted at the smell of the tea and cringed as he took that first sip. The last time he’d drunk the tea, the flowers had been mouldy. She hoped that he’d like it this time round much better.
“What did you do to this tea, it’s different from the last time I made it?”
Hetty chuckled from the amusement to see that she had been right, Sam did like the tea this time. “It was mouldy the last time you tried this particular tea. That’s probably why you swore never to touch it again. Now, where were we?”
Sam sipped again, changing his mind about the tea. He noted the calming effects the tea had on him.
“Ah, yes. Arkady. I had him meet me in the boat shed earlier this morning. And lets just say, when he learned about the Russian men invading your partner’s house, he was worried for him. More than what an acquaintance would be.”
“What are you saying, Hetty?”
“Look back at the history of the two men. Mr Callen met Arkady Kolcheck whilst working for the DEA in Russia on a joint task force. When Mr Callen was gunned down and the woman who he’d last seen was found dead, where did your partner go?”
“To Arkady. But he didn’t trust him. He thought it was him who wanted him killed.”
“But that’s not what happened, was it?”
“No. Arkady searched for the girl Callen knew, who had taught him Russian, in hope that she could warn him that he was in danger.”
“Alina Rostoff.” Hetty thought back to how the girl had tried to make contact with her big brother.
“Yes.” Sam sighed.
“Arkady proved back then that he was looking out for Mr Callen. Why do you think he’s moved to Los Angeles? For the weather, for Hollywood?”
“He says the women, but I don’t think he’s told us the truth.”
Hetty chuckled. “He’s a funny man, Arkady. A slippery one, but for a good reason.”
“G? He’s here for G?”
Hetty nodded. “The Comescus tried to lure Arkady out of his house to lead them to Mr Callen’s house. They’ve figured out that the Russian is friends with your partner. Don’t you agree?”
“Hetty, just tell me straight, will you? It’s been a long day.”
Hetty smiled and nodded. “Very well, Mr Hanna. Mr Kolcheck is not whom he appears to be. He’s created a facade of his true self in order to watch over your partner, like I have over the years.”
“His father. That bas…. He told G he never knew his father.”
“Actually, if my mind serves me correctly, Arkady’s words were in fact, ‘no one has ever introduced themselves to me as your father.’ He was clever in his choice of words.”
“So he knows G’s father?”
“As far as the mother country goes, Mr Hanna, Arkady Kolcheck and Nikita Reznikov never met or had anything to do with each other. Until Mr Callen worked with Arkady on that joint task force, there was never any connection between the two men. However, if one digs down deep, you would find that Arkady Kolcheck only came into existence around 1975. The details of the Russian before that are sketchy.”
“Who is he, Hetty?”
A smile spread across the older woman’s face. “Maxim Reznikov. Nikita’s younger brother.”
“You’re kidding. Arkady is G’s uncle?”
“He is indeed.” She placed her finger over her lips, to signify to him that this must be kept between them.
“Does G know?”
“Not as yet. But I’ve not long spoken with your partner who wanted reassurance from me that Arkady is to be trusted. He’s accepting his help, however, I have not told him. I thought it best for his uncle to tell him in person. That is what my dilemma at present is about. Whether I should have told Mr Callen the truth or leave it to Arkady to do it.”
Sam sighed. “Why hasn’t he told G. He deserves to know, Hetty. He’s been wanting answers for so long. Does he know where Nikita is and G’s name?”
“Has Arkady told you?”
“That he has.”
Sam was bursting. “Hetty, you need to tell G. Arkady’s not going to tell him the truth. You and I both know that. If he ever intended on telling him, he would have by now.”
“I agree with you, but I am giving Arkady this last chance to tell Mr Callen himself. I am hoping that he will take him to where his father is living. It should be safe there. The Russians won’t find them there.”
“Where, Hetty?” Sam couldn’t hold on any longer. He needed to know. He’d get the information, walk out the door and call his partner. G had the right to know. Arkady had his chance and failed to take it.
“I’m sorry, Mr Hanna. I promised that I wouldn’t tell anyone the details. Mr Callen should find out first, don’t you think?”
Sam knew that she was right, but he was frustrated. G had searched hard and almost died trying to get the information. Who he was and who his family were. “Call me when you are ready to tell me, Hetty. I’m going home.” He was exhausted, but he was also annoyed with Hetty and Arkady. His partner deserved to know the truth and they had both failed him by keeping secrets from him.
Nell bounded down the stairs and watched Sam pick up his bag and storm out. “Is he going to be okay?”
“Mr Hanna is worried for his partner, Miss Jones. Now, dear. What have you found for me?”
Nell Jones smiled over to her boss. “I think I’ve found him.”