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The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.
Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.
This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.
Part 13 – Another Death In The Family (continued)
Cindy was stunned, her ice blue eyes looking into mine, and seeing that my words were true.
“What… how?” she finally said as the tears began spilling down Molly’s cheeks.
“I understand that he died in his sleep last night.” I said. “The Police up there called Molly’s Chief. He called me and a Deputy brought Molly over.”
“Did your Chief tell you?” Cindy asked Molly.
“No.” Molly said, not looking up. “He just told me to bring the boys here, and had a Deputy drive me. I suspected it was this, but thought it might just be some danger we’re in.”
“What did he die of?” Cindy asked. “Heart attack?” She was beginning to peer hard at Molly. Time for me to intervene.
“Guys,” I said to Moynahan and Masters, Molly’s former teammates, “will you look after Molly for a minute? Cindy, come with me.” I managed to get Cindy to stand up and walk out of the office, and I followed her.
In the anteroom, Teresa was waiting, a sad look on her face. She came up and hugged Cindy, who hugged Teresa back. “I’m so sorry.” Teresa said.
“Thank you for being here for me.” Cindy whispered. After they finished hugging, Cindy all but whirled on me. “Okay, Don, what’s going on? How did my dad die? And why does Molly seem to have known all along that something was wrong?”
“Cindy,” I said, my gray eyes boring into her blue ones to keep her attention, “when your parents were here at Christmas, did you notice anything about your dad?”
“Not really.” said Cindy. “He looked kind of tired. Old. Ohhh, waaaaait…” She was beginning to realize it. “His skin color was wrong… he was weak… oh my God, why didn’t I see it then?”
“You had a lot on your plate, Cindy.” I said. “Helping Teresa and Amy, the whole thing with Jenna, making amends with your dad, which you did.”
Cindy just nodded, and Teresa put her arm around her friend. “Let’s go in here.” Teresa said, leading the way to the Chief’s conference room. Inside were Mrs. Veasley and Laura.
“Hello, Child.” Mrs. Veasley said. “Here, sit down beside me.”
Cindy did so, and Mrs. Veasley said “Dr. Eckhart would give anything to be here for you now, but I have explained to him that it might be awkward, if not inappropriate at this time. If you’d like to call him, he will be glad to talk to you, but he will give you your space on this until after you return from the funeral.”
“I understand.” said Cindy. “And thank you for being here.”
“It is my privilege, Child.” said Mrs. Veasley.
Teresa was sitting to Cindy’s right. I was on the other side, beside Laura. Cindy looked at me and said “Did you know?”
“I suspected he was sick.” I said. “I thought he might tell you before they left, and when he didn’t, I decided not to speak of mere suspicions as I might have been wrong.”
“You’re never wrong, Don.” Cindy said. It was an accusation.
“I was hoping that I was, that time.” I replied. “And I certainly didn’t want to say something to you when I was not totally sure.”
“Now you listen to me, Child.” said Mrs. Veasley, becoming stern. “Your Commander did the right thing. So did your sister. If you didn’t see your father’s illness, nor feel it, then that was how it was supposed to be. Let the recriminations go. Right now, you need to be strong for your sister and your mother.”
“Yes, ma’am, you’re right.” Cindy whispered. “And I do observe that Laura has our paperwork ready to go.”
Laura smiled briefly. “Yes.” she said. “Air Force accommodations. Someone will meet you at the airport up there. I didn’t book a hotel, thinking you might stay with your mother. Just call when you’re ready, and I’ll arrange the return flight.”
Laura continued: “I am going to tell Molly that I would strongly recommend not taking the boys over the border. It might be difficult getting them back into the United States without paperwork that she does not have time to get.”
Cindy said “I understand. Thank you. So, was it cancer?”
“My guess is leukemia of some kind.” I said. I looked over at Laura, who nodded.
“That was my guess, too.” Laura said. “I was paying a lot more attention to Amy, and never got to talk with either of your parents about it.”
Cindy nodded, then blinked as if she was remembering something. “There is one thing I need to do before we go. And you might need to book a third seat.” She told us where she was going, and I gave her leave to move out swiftly.
“And a seat for me.” said Teresa. illegal bahis “Commander, I’d like leave to accompany Captain Ross to Canada. She was there for me for my father’s funeral, so I want to be there for her.”
“I understand. So would I.” I said. “But with Tanya in the hospital, we are badly short-staffed. So while you do not need a crowbar, you are still going to be my Crowbar 2 while Cindy is in Canada. Here is what you and I are going to do…” I explained the plan.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The campaign office was bustling when Cindy came in, with staffers at desks on the phones and others poring over data on their computer screens. Most of them realized who she was as she made her way to the back office. The secretary wasn’t one of them.
“May I help you?” she said acidly as Cindy came up as if she owned the place.
“I need to speak to Ms. Stiles, please.” Cindy said in a subdued voice.
“Do you have an appointment?” the woman said, her voice a sneer. “Ms. Stiles is very busy right now, and…”
“One moment, Captain Ross.” said an older woman, rushing up. She was the Campaign Manager. She knocked on the door, then opened it and told Jenna that Cindy was there. Cindy was admitted, closing the door behind her as the Campaign Manager ‘helped’ the secretary to understand that someone had just narrowly avoided a Blue Crowbar disaster.
“Hi.” Jenna said as she moved sheafs of paper on her desk. “I’m sorry, we’re really busy today. What’s up?”
“Uh…” Cindy said, then launched into it. “I just came to tell you that my father died in Canada last night. I’m going to be flying up today, and I wanted to know if you wanted to come with me and Molly.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Jenna said. She got up and came around the desk to give Cindy a hug. “What happened?”
“Apparently he was sick and I didn’t realize it when he came down.” Cindy said. “But it makes sense, the way he was willing to meet you and make amends with me. He knew it was a dying gesture.”
“I’m sorry to hear he’s passed.” Jenna said. “And I’m also sorry that I can’t go with you today. I’ve got three meetings with donors that can’t be rescheduled, and an interview with Bettina…”
“I understand.” Cindy said. “It’s short notice. The funeral will probably be on Sunday. I’ll buy you a ticket if you want to come up.”
“That’s sweet of you.” Jenna said. “But look, text me with the details, and if I can get free, I’ll buy a ticket and come up.” Cindy nodded and they hugged again, then Cindy left… knowing that Jenna was not going to be there.
Part 14 – Company Business
Friday, February 12th. High noon. Melina Allgood came into the Soup and Salad place for lunch. She saw Laura, already at Laura’s favorite table. As she approached, Laura stood up and the sisters embraced with French-style ‘two cheek’ kisses, then they sat down. Melina looked out the window at the light dusting of snow on the ground from the day before.
“We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm this weekend, or early next week.” Laura said, noticing Melina’ s look.
“Yes.” Melina said. “I hope it won’t impact air travel to and from Cindy’s stepfather’s funeral. I didn’t get a chance to tell her how sorry I was to hear of his passing.”
“I’m sure she’ll understand.” said Laura. “She was a bit dazed. Molly talks to her mother more often, and I suspect she had a much better idea of it, and how close he was to death. Don ran a bit of interference to keep Cindy from realizing things like that.”
“He’s not on the plane to Canada sitting between them to keep them apart.” Melina said. “That’ll be all right, though. So, how are Carole and Jim?”
“They’re great.” Laura said. “We have little Pete Feeley right now, as well. Carole thinks he’s another baby brother. But the therapists want Tanya to begin doing more with him, and Jack Muscone is helping her out a lot. How about your little ones?”
“Little Daniel is growing like a weed.” Melina said. “And Patricia is just wonderful. She’s always happy and giggling, especially when her dad holds her.”
Melina then asked: “So, how’s Teresa been doing since Amy died? I’m still sick over that, and Daniel still can’t believe it.”
“She’s doing well, actually.” Laura said. “Don’s talked to her, and he keeps her busy, too. Cindy’s taken her to see Dr. Eckhart a couple of times. That’s been therapeutic, also.”
“And she’s dating Todd, too.” Melina said, mentioning straight out what Laura had hesitated to say. “So, are they… seriously together?”
“Oh, I think so.” Laura said, watching Melina’s face to gauge her reaction to that news. “Don thinks they are a lot closer than either one is willing to admit.”
After some more chit-chat and finishing their lunch, Laura said “Let’s go back to my office.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Once Laura got back, she went to check up on the kids. Gayle Roberts was babysitting. “Hi Gayle,” Laura said. “Why don’t you go get lunch, and take some extra time if you like. I’m going to be talking with Melina.” Gayle said hello to Melina, who was illegal bahis siteleri just walking in, and then left.
“Hi Carole.” Laura said. “Aunt Melina has come to see you.”
“Hi Ant Meleena.” said Carole, who then grinned, happy with herself.
“Hi Cutie.” said Melina. “How’s my favorite niece? Are you being a good big sister to your brothers?”
“Yes.” said Carole. “And Bowser is, too.” Melina looked at Laura with surprise.
Laura said “I’ve always said Don loves that dog more than he loves me. Now I think Carole loves Bowser more than she loves me, as well.”
“Bowser is a good dog.” Carole said, in the form of a quotation, looking over at Melina, who could not help but giggle. Melina then ‘chatted’ with Carole and Jim and Pete while Laura checked her office for bugs.
Once it was clear, Laura and Melina sat down at Laura’s desk to do business. “So,” Laura said, “how are things going?”
“Good.” said Melina. “Except for that jerk Casey B. Walker. I get tired of getting phone calls from him every time I access a file.”
“I still get calls from him myself from time to time.” Laura said. “So, what files are garnering his interest?”
Melina told Laura, naming some of the Company’s most highly classified projects, some of which were completed, and others ongoing. She said: “I think ‘Operation Tomato Garden’, where we’re monitoring Red Chinese attempts to destroy crops in Africa and starve the native populations there, wasn’t really worth his time to call me. I could understand his interest in ‘Operation Eastern Seaboard’, as that’s a joint CIA-FBI operation to counter both cyberattacks and physical attacks on our train systems. But the one that really bugged me, pun not intended, was ‘Operation Beekeeper’.”
“What’s that?” asked Laura.
“I don’t know.” Melina said. “I was told I didn’t have clearance to access it, and then Dr. Walker called. He told me that it was an ‘Eyes Only’ project, and that no project within my realm could possibly have anything to do with it. He sounded angry about it, too.”
“Well,” said Laura, getting out her Agency computer and hooking it into the secure line, “I have eyes that only look at any file I desire to see.” She brought up ‘Operation Beekeeper’.
The screen turned red and said “Access Denied: Classified Information. Top Secret: BEEKEEPER. Eyes Only.” There was no request for a password. Laura was completely locked out.
“Geez.” said Melina.
“You got that right.” Laura said. “This is the first time since I was promoted to Deputy Director that I have been shut out of a file that wasn’t for the President’s eyes only. I’m going to get to the bottom of this–“
*BRING!* *BRING!* *BRING!* *BRING!*
Laura picked up the secure phone. “Yes, Dr. Walker?… I knew it was you because I’m psychic… yes, I tried to access ‘Beekeeper’, and I want to know why I can’t–… Bullshit! I have every right to access that file, and I don’t have to answer to you for it–… Don’t you interrupt me again, asshole! Now why I can’t access that file?… I have to get clearance from the Director or the NSA? We’ll see about that! I’ll call the Director himself… No, fuckwad, I won’t stand down!… do whatever you want, I’ll see you in hell!”
She slammed the phone down. “Motherfucker hung up on me.” She picked the phone back up. “I’m not letting this one go.” She dialed a number. “Yes, this is Dr. Fredricson, may I speak with the Director please?…”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Fifteen minutes later, Laura hung up the phone. Melina set down a full mug of coffee in front of her sister.
“Thanks. I need this. I probably should spike it with something.” Laura said, sipping the coffee. She leaned back in her chair. “My God.”
“What is it?” Melina said.
“That was the CIA Director himself I was talking to.” Laura said. “He inquired into ‘Operation Beekeeper’, and was told it doesn’t exist. As you heard, I had him bring it up on his screen, and it came up… and he’s locked out, too. He’s going to call Walker onto the carpet and demand to know what’s going on.”
“And Walker will just bullshit him.” Melina replied. “You’ll get nowhere.”
“You’re getting good at this Game.” Laura said with a brief smile. She then settled back into her chair. “I’m afraid you’re right, though. So… if we were to think the Iron Crowbar way, what does this tell us?”
“That this is something Walker himself is doing, and we’ve stumbled onto it.” Melina replied.
“But what?” Laura asked. “Is he searching for moles? Double agents?… and speaking of that, how’s your search for double agents or spies within NATO?”
“Going slowly.” Melina said. “The French lost two agents last week. Would’ve been more, but they were warned by someone… someone believed to be in the French Syndicate. Not sure why they helped us, but there it is.”
“Probably saving their own guys while saving the French agents.” said Laura.
“Just one other thing on this.” Melina said. “We don’t think the Russians are the infiltrators. Maybe Chechnyans. Or private criminals canlı bahis siteleri trying to gain secrets to sell for money. We think that when all is said and done, we’ll be looking at Sergei Molotov as being involved.”
“I told my superiors that we should just give him to Mr. Putin.” said Laura. “He’s not as contained as they think he is…”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was busy that afternoon at Stiles Campaign Headquarters. Jenna was tired after her third meeting with potential donors, her third long-practiced pitch. Bettina Wurtzburg had given her the easiest softball questions in her interview, and it would look good on TV. But before she left, Bettina quietly had said that the questions would have to become harder, to toughen her up as well as to fend off KSTD’s ambush questions.
Jenna barely registered the ‘hush’ that came over her the outer room, until she saw the shadow of the large man in the door, in the trenchcoat, Tilley Hat (made in Canada), and carrying a red crowbar. The secretary had deigned to stop Cindy from coming in; she had no chance with the Iron Crowbar himself, and wisely did not try.
“Hello Jenna.” I said quietly, closing the door behind me. I was wearing black civilian clothes under my trenchcoat.
“Well, Commander,” said Jenna, her eyes studying me, “here to make a donation?”
“Not exactly.” I said, idly thinking that I’d like to make an donation of potent, virile sperm deep inside Jenna’s pussy. Getting my mind back to business, I sat down in a small chair beside Jenna’s desk without being invited to do so. “I am here to ask you a question or two.”
“Professional?” asked Jenna, trying to joke. “Do I need a lawyer?”
“Naw, nothing like that.” I said, then after a pause launched into it: “Jenna, are you committed to this campaign?”
“Of course.” Jenna said, studying my face to see what I was getting at.
‘Truly committed?” I asked.
“Yes. Why?” Jenna replied.
“That ring on your finger.” I said. “Are you committed to Cindy Ross?”
“Ah. I see.” Jenna said, knowing now where I was going. “But that’s none of your business, is it Don?”
I smiled a brief, pursed smile. “Well, I’m sorry to say that it is my business, on three counts. First, professionally. I don’t try to pry, but I take interest in all of my Officers’ lives and what might affect them as Police Officers. If a Patrolman is getting into domestic abuse with his wife, you know I will be right there telling him to clean it up before I have to take further, harsher action. If an Officer has a sick or dying child, I need to know that too, so I can help as much as I can. I even got a new dog doing that. The bottom line is that my Captain of Detectives is unsure about her home relationship, and your commitment to that, and it affects not only her but all of us.”
“Second,” I said, not giving Jenna time to respond, “Cindy Ross is my partner, my Police partner, of course. Additionally, she is Kato to my Green Hornet, and with her martial arts skills, that’s an almost literal analogy. What affect her, affects me.”
“Third,” I said, “Cindy Ross is my blood. You can tell me the first two counts are still none of my business as far as your relationship with her, but don’t even try to tell me that blood doesn’t count. So I will ask you again: are you as committed to your relationship with Cindy to the level that ring on your finger deserves and expects you to be?”
Jenna sat silent, but her face was showing her contemplation. I got up. “Have a nice day, Jenna. And good luck with your campaign…”
Part 15 – Being There
Sunday, February 14th. It was the pre-dawn hours and the sleek jet was coming in for a landing at County Airport. Teresa and I were waiting for it. We were in civilian clothes, both wearing appropriate black attire. I had left some chocolates and a picture I helped Carole draw on the table for Laura for St. Valentine’s Day; we were star-crossed celebrating this day together for the last couple of years.
After the plane taxied up, an Air Force Captain got out and checked our passports. We had no luggage to check; I was even leaving the red crowbar at home. We went aboard, sat down in the seats that made commercial first class seats look bad, and buckled up. As we took off, we could see in the east the sun that was about to rise over our County.
On the way up, I got a chance to talk with Teresa in a way we really never had before. I asked her what she ultimately wanted to do in the Police Force, and she said she was really happy doing what she was doing now: leading the Vice Squad, planning and leading missions and drug raids, and working with Cindy and me. She thought she could handle MCD, and eventually succeed Cindy as Captain of Detectives, but she had no desire to be a Precinct Captain.
In exchange, I answered her questions about what was going on in the Police Force and in County politics, I discussed with her the possibility of moles within the Police Force, and I told her some of what the FBI and I were doing to track down the Consultant of Crime. I figured Cindy had told her some stuff (and I sure hoped so; it was Cindy’s job to disseminate information down), and I filled in some gaps. It was now personal for Teresa, too… she was as intent on avenging Amy as I was on avenging Officer Pete Feeley.
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