It amazed Natalie that she felt so comfortable and safe at Bain’s house, she hadn’t felt that way in a long time. Had it not been for the fact that her daughter was still missing, she would allow herself to feel a lot better. Already three days passed and she felt they would be leaving soon.
On the second floor of the house there was a large workout area with large mirrors, making the room appear even larger. She sat on a floor mat sipping herb tea as she looked at William and Simon gracefully executing their katas as they warmed down. She observed their entire workout and the obvious respect they had for each other. A strong friendship was blossoming right before her eyes and she thought that at least some good was coming out of the situation. But something else struck her too. It appeared that Simon was taking a special interest in refining William’s movements and teaching him the finer points of handling a gun. As mild as it was it sent a shrill down her spine, she too was taught how to handle a gun and she dreaded what they were being prepared for.
The truth was though, as safe as she felt, she also felt guilty because she should be doing something more to find Michelle; Hell they all should be doing more. She knew they needed to plan their next move, but restlessness and helplessness was eroding the better part of practicality.
They walked towards her with sweat dripping from their bodies. She looked at Simon sternly and he stopped meeting her gaze directly.
“You okay Natalie?”
“No Simon, I want to know what we’re going to do to get my daughter back.”
William knelt beside her
“Come on Natalie,” he began evenly “Simon is doing the best he-”
“I don’t need to hear that shit right now William!” she interrupted.
“I just can’t pretend, like you a guy, that everything is alright…it’s not!”
“You need to trust me Natalie; we’re going to do everything to get your daughter back.”
Her vision blurred and William took the towel draped over his shoulder and dried her tears. Simon nodded to William and gently squeezed Natalie’s shoulder before leaving the room. As he left, she buried her head into the towel draped over William’s shoulder and he held her.
“That’s it sweetheart, let it out…we’re going to make it through this. We have no choice.”
He needed to believe his own words as much as she did. One way or another, things would be made right, he would do everything in his power to get their daughter back in one piece…alive and well.
Michael Morre sat next to Cheryl in silence. He was trying to make contact with his father, but it was Jean Pierre who contacted him. As he listened to his father’s voice on the line he was overwhelmed by fear, not for himself but for everything he now held dear. That was nearly three hours ago and Cheryl had already made the decision that she needed to trust Michael. They were given instructions to wait at the airport where someone would meet them and accompany them Pierre’s villa in Madrid. So they waited in tense expectant silence, nervously smiling at each other from time to time, Cheryl’s hand firmly gripping Michael’s.
Michael felt the presence before he saw the man approaching, and then it was like he had never left the family. The man who approached was tall and powerfully built, one of his father’s trusted children who was with Pierre from as far back as Michael could remember. He wore an expensive dark blue suit and an elegantly cut trench coat of the same hue. His hair bore gray streaks on either side, which gave him an odd air of distinction. He smiled warmly as he approached.
“Michael, it’s been far to long. How are you?”
“Could be better, Anthony.” The older man pulled Michael to his feet and hugged him, and Michael felt the resentment rising in him. He released Michael and turned his attention to Cheryl.
“Ah, and this must be the beautiful Cheryl Walker,” he said taking her hand and making the grand gesture of bowing and kissing it “au chanté mademoiselle. It gives me great pleasure to make your acquaintance.” She couldn’t even bring herself to smile, not that it seemed to make any difference to Anthony Freech. Michael was quite familiar with how things worked within the ‘family’ and Anthony didn’t have to threaten them in any way. He knew that Anthony could literally make both of them disappear with a phone call. Everything was implied and to Michael it couldn’t be any clearer.
“Here are you tickets,” he said handing them their tickets with the kind of cheer that was really starting to wear on Michael’s nerves “first class of course. So, shall we.”
Michael went numb. Pierre finally found a way to get to him, to make him come to him on his terms. Michael though, not only feared but was always certain that the day would come when his past would cast a dark shadow on his present and as they walked through the terminal it took every fiber of his being to calm himself. For the first time in a long time he felt helpless and he hated the fact that he was no longer in control. From here on in, he had to come to terms with the fact that Jean Pierre held all the cards…he only hoped that they recognized the opportunity when it came along and more importantly took advantage of it.
“What you are speaking of is conspiracy on a scale the likes of which I have never even heard of. Have you any idea how improbable what you’re speculating is?” Christian locked eyes with his friend, but Simon was unyielding. His eyes drifted to William, who gently ran his hand through Natalie’s hair as she slept on his lap, pleading for support.
“I know its frightening Chris, which is precisely why I wanted to take the time to be certain…well as certain as is possible.” He paused before continuing.
“You know the way my mind works, and what I’m saying is that these people are too organized for these events to not have a definitive purpose. I have poured over all the facts at hand and there is enough money and uncertainty surrounding Michael to safely assume that it has something to do with him. And because of the link with past events I am sure these persons are very well connected.” The gentle ringing of the phone broke the silence that followed. Christian excused himself and answered the phone.
Moments later Christian returned looking as white as a ghost, clutching his cordless phone in his hand. In shock he looked at Simon.
“It’s for you.” Simon took the phone with a perplexed look on his face. Who knew where he was? He thought no one did. They all looked to Simon now as he nodded and said very little into the phone, walking over to a notepad and taking some information. He returned the phone to its cradle and walked back over to everyone. Natalie was awake now, looking as anxious as William was.
“I don’t know how they did, but they did. They found us.” Words escaped them collectively so Simon continued.
“They have your father and mother as well as your daughter William. They left us instructions...we leave for Spain tonight.”
Special agent Jennifer Lee was a young and extremely promising agent that had so impressed her superiors that she was the only female and youngest agent to be assigned to Simon Franz’s Task Force. It wasn’t that long ago that Simon himself was in a position similar to hers and like hers his reputation was still growing within the Bureau. But, just when it seemed that they were actually making some inroads…the case went to Hell. Simon disappeared and his status within the ranks was now persona non grata, and Jennifer worried. Simon was just seven years her senior, but in a few short months she had learnt more from him than she had at the academy, moreover she found herself beginning to fall for her mentor; which forced her to be even more professional.
She was reassigned to surveillance on a Chicago crime family, but couldn’t stop thinking about Simon. She knew that he was a good agent, and she hoped he was alive and well. The Bureau was actively looking for him, but they knew finding him would be difficult if he didn’t want to be found. There were too many dead bodies and not enough live leads, but his reputation bought him some time; they still were not prepared to call him a rouge agent. But decisions would have to be made soon, and if he were not found they most certainly would not be in his favor.
It was one of those eighteen hour days and she had just said goodnight to agent Simmons from her detail when her cell phone vibrated on her waist. She opened the door to the apartment and answered the phone.
“It’s good to hear your voice agent Lee.” She paused, recognizing the voice…or did she?
“Oh my God! So many people are looking for you, are you okay?”
“Yes I am, at least for now. But I haven’t got much time. I need your help…right now you’re the only person I can trust.”
“What do you need?”
“I’m sending you a package by express mail with as much details as I have right now. As soon as you get it I need you to go to the Justice Department and see Jeffery Archer. Jennifer its imperative that you see ONLY Jeffery Archer, he has the Chief of Staff’s ear and he’s a good man he’ll know what to do.”
“Are you okay agent Franz?”
“I’m alive. But I’ll be a lot better as soon as there are more people on our side.”
“How bad is it?”
“It’s worst than we thought. It definitely has something to do with the case we were working,” he paused and Jennifer’s heart raced as he continued, “Jennifer there’s one more thing. Be very careful, these people seem to be every where.”
“I will…what will you be doing?”
“I’m off to Madrid, Spain to hopefully get some answers.”
“I’m going to do everything I can, so you do me a favor and take care of yourself too.”
The moment wasn’t lost on Simon…but still he wouldn’t allow himself to admit he had feelings for her, it just wasn’t permitted especially under the present circumstances.
“If my luck continues to hold out, I’ll see you. Oh and Jennifer?”
“There’s nothing compelling you to do this. Thank you. You’re going to save a lot of lives.” And with that there was a click and the line went dead.
She stared at the phone for a moment and then her thoughts drifted. She never counted on getting a call from Simon, but she did, and now she knew that she would have to see things through to the end…she hoped that end wasn’t theirs’.
CIA Deputy Director, Anthony Freech, was nothing if not careful, his position and background guaranteed nothing less. He sat at the back of the limousine that met them at the airport and even managed some sleep. No one questioned him when he traveled and why they would, he had a legitimate reason to be almost any where in the world, and it never aroused suspicion but rather enhanced his image as ‘hands on’.
Facing Anthony, Michael did his best to relax Cheryl but she could do little to hide her concern. She didn’t know what to think. First Michael’s revelations about his past and now they were on their way to see a man that was both evil and powerful and fear consumed her. Michael knew that fear was a luxury he could ill afford; he needed his wits about him. He had to remain as calm as possible because there was still a possible way out of this, else they would be dead already. This would be the biggest deal he ever brokered and he had to close it in their favor. He held her in silence and hoped that God heard his prayers.
The car snaked up the long driveway that was lined by huge pines. It was just as Michael remembered and slowly, the fear returned. He closed his eyes and took a controlled breath, breathing out through his nostrils. He opened his eyes at the same time that the door was being opened and immediately sunlight and warm air invaded the cool interior of the car. Anthony was awake and looked refreshed as he ushered them out. Michael stepped out and helped Cheryl, and for a moment she stood in awe of the magnificence of the main house. Most people are fortunate enough, only to see houses of this size and grandeur in magazines or on film. It was simply breathtaking...but reality quickly sank in and the size seemed to only serve as a metaphor for the problem in which they now found themselves.
Jean Pierre stood at a window, invisible to everyone outside and smiled to himself. He still wasn’t sure what would bring him more pleasure, killing his bloodline or welcoming his son back into the fold. He decided he would leave their fates in their own hands. They may not understand but they still had to choose and his son was the key that would open the doorway to life or death for them all.