Secrets of an Undercover Agent

Bethany K. Scanlon

Published: 2008 Tag(s): fiction romance love Christianity popular Novel action adventure new Christian Religion Online Novel covert operations

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Foreword by Tracy L. Baldwin
Former female FBI Special Agent and Author of “God Is Bigger Than Your FBI”

The FBI is a “boys club.” As the FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover’s 48 year dictatorship demanded it and his legacy continues some 35 years after his death. The law now requires that the FBI hire female Special Agents and their wooing is effective. However, once safely engulfed behind the secretive FBI walls, women often find themselves in the bizarre world of reprehensible treatment. I lived in that world for nine years. By the grace of God I survived with my integrity and honesty in tact. Others were not as fortunate. Bethany K. Scanlon is about to take you on a journey outside the constraints of FBI policy and even, at times, the law. I never had that luxury - now you do. I met Bethany when she joined the Drama Team at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The first thing that struck me was her amazing smile and the light behind her eyes. She doesn’t just have “bright eyes,” she has what I would soon come to know as God’s Spirit shining through her. She is warm, engaging and has a clever and quick wit. She also has an infectious laugh. There is no pretense with Bethany and much of her wisdom was developed as she endured extreme trials and disappointments throughout her life. Necessity taught her to be tough, God taught her to trust…so what you have in Bethany is an outstanding Christian woman with perception and street smarts. Bethany now uses her gifts and talents to encourage, inspire and help others. She has been instrumental in producing, directing and acting in the Lakewood Players Drama Team and Kids Life Ministries. She also continues to share her insight through her many books.

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The journey before you is a new possibility. Open yourself to the world of FBI Special Agent Sarah Higgins in Secrets of an Undercover Agent.

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Who was J. Edgar Hoover?
Even though this book is a work of fiction, J. Edgar Hoover is mentioned several times and since he is not a fictional character, I am going to give you a very short history of his life as a Federal Bureau of Investigation director and his well-known attitude toward women special agents. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte created the FBI from a force of special agents in 1908 during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. On July 26, 1908, Bonaparte ordered this force of special agents within the Department of Justice to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch. This act is known as the start of the FBI. John Edgar Hoover was born on January 1 , 1895 , in Washington, D.C. He received his education at George Washington University , graduating in 1917 with a law degree. Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone, under President Calvin Coolidge, selected Hoover to head the Bureau of Investigation on May 10, 1924. Hoover said that women were not suitable to work as special agents due to their unpredictable nature. He said that even though women “probably could learn to fire a gun,” he could not imagine them “shooting it out with gangsters.” When he was director, he fired (or forced out) all three of the only female special agents the FBI had. He also believed that women with red hair were especially prone to crime. It also was rumored heavily that Hoover was a cross-dressing homosexual. However, he refused to admit to it publicly. J. Edgar Hoover died in his sleep on May 2, 1972, after directing the FBI for forty-eight years. Shortly thereafter, women again were allowed to serve in the FBI as special agents.

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Chapter

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My Secret Life

I sat silently in the study, tapping my pencil on the antique oak desk I had painted white. For the past two hours, I had been staring at the new decor of cobalt blue walls with off-white trim. When we moved here, I spent an entire month decorating this room the way that I saw fit. Soft colors, hard lines, and minimal furniture. I had one desk, one wooden chair with wheels, and one bookcase. All purchased from a garage sale, and all repainted by me in what the can called “almond white.” I wanted a comfortable writing sanctuary, a place to call my own … clean from the worries of life. Our family’s newly adopted dog Scooter let out a sneeze as he snuggled closer, happily asleep next to my bare feet. His long white Maltese hair felt wonderfully warm and slightly itchy. And no … I didn’t get him because he matched the furniture…that was purely coincidence. As I straightened the scraggly light green throw pillow behind my back and readjusted the matching blanket, I looked at the blank page with eraser marks that had smudged the first five lines. Okay, here it goes again… My name is…no scratch that. How the heck do you start one of these things? I sharpened my pencil and then closed the pretty pink notebook I had purchased at Sharon’s boutique down the street. Get a hold of yourself, Sarah! It’s just a journal! It’s not hard! Nobody reads these things anyway. Remember, it was your idea to write down your life story … A familiar voice broke through my mock concentration. “Mom! Mom! I can’t find the leftover pizza in the fridge. What did you do with it?” I looked pensively at my teenage son. “Go ask your sister and leave me alone, I’m trying to write in here.”

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His rebuttal was quick as usual…just like his dad, I might add. The apple did not fall far from the tree. “No problem. I’ll just order another one and charge it to your credit card.” I sighed and in that moment, I decided to switch to writing my life story the old-fashioned way…on my laptop. “Close the door behind you when you leave.” The double French doors slammed shut and I turned on my computer. Okay … now where was I? As I stare out my window, gazing towards the meadow filled with yellow dais … no that sounds stupid. Alright, let’s try this.

My Secret Life My real name is Sarah Higgins, but I barely remember anymore because I have been so many people. In fact, I’ve led several different lives … It’s a horrible feeling losing sight of who you really are, or should I say, was … I’m getting older and my mind has been slipping. Partially because I want it to … it gets tiring reliving the memories. However, before it completely goes, I want to tell the world, I want to share my life, my secrets, my everything with someone. Anyone who will listen, anyone who will understand. I am sick of being alone, alone with my secrets …

My Childhood I bet you are thinking that I lived a poor life, a life of no meaning, no worth, and that is why I wanted to be an undercover agent. Well, you are wrong on the poor part, but right about the meaningless part. As an only child, raised with no father, and a mother who held a night job and slept during the day, I spent many hours alone. Alone with my thoughts, daydreams, and fantasies. You see, my mother was a prostitute, and I used to watch her dress up in many different outfits. Nurse, teacher, Catholic schoolgirl … but the reigning favorite was always Catwoman with a whip. Raiding her closet and practicing my walking abilities in her heels

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Clients who favored their entertainment well-manicured and always ready for adventure. Yes. Victoria would shriek with laughter when she saw me and always had a bulky pink and furry bag dragging behind her. her nickname “Lady Marmalade” was what she used when she was a call girl in New Orleans. Over the years. Well. I studied his picture for hours. and plenty of treats for us.” who my mom called Charise.” had a black book filled with high paying clients. She chain smoked. but never used profanity. She showed me his picture in her high school yearbook. My 7 . so during the party. I’ve never made it past 5’2”. I decided that I had my mom’s beautiful almond-shaped green eyes and her naturally curly golden hair. I bonded with a girl named Victoria. Supposedly. many times. I questioned my mom about my dad. who was married with two kids. but I only saw her during the famous New Year’s bashes. An apartment in a building where my mother tipped the doorman well to stay tight lipped about her comings and goings at all hours of the night in her different “uniforms. but also the high school football coach. Charise’s lover was a tall. Charise was plump with short hair and butch features. even on a good day. upscale apartment in New York. skinny brunette with a very shapely figure. determining that I had his nose and cheekbones. Mainly. I learned acting at a very young age. The high school she dropped out of when she was pregnant with me. unless a client preferred it. Charise held an annual New Year’s Eve party that lasted at least a week. We lived in a very nice. I would dress up and imitate different voices. Every year we looked forward to seeing one another and would stay joined at the hip for the entire week.kept me amused for hours. wanting to know who and where he was. She even provided a nanny. She felt it was distasteful and forbid her girls from using it also. toys. and mom always brought me with. My dad was very handsome. Rumor has it she spoke French to her patrons and was quite well known there. nicknamed “Lady Marmalade. sleeping bags. Height isn’t something I am blessed with. Many of Charise’s girls were single mothers. “Sarah! I brought all of my dolls to play with!” We began to grow apart as we reached high school age.” My mom’s Madame. and last I heard. I met “Lady Marmalade. she never finished and became one of Madame Charise’s top girls. the children were given the large studio on her third floor to run around in. My Father When I was about eight years old.

I was also the most feared girl in school … “Sarah! Your principal said that if you get in one more fight at school you are going to be expelled!” My mom stood glaring at me in love with her arms akimbo on her hips. I wanted my mom to be proud of me. My accusatory teenage rebellion snapped back. “What he’s teaching you might one day save your life!” At eight years old. “Don’t follow in my footsteps. I was addicted and an avid learner.mom. More than anything. 8 .” with unfulfilled dreams in her eyes. it’s time for your lesson with Master Shu Lee. I was a black belt and at the top of my class. made sure I learned to defend myself at an early age … “Sarah. He’s mean. whose hobby was studying the martial arts. It was that look on her face that kept me steady for the rest of my life. Proud of her little girl. By fifteen. and you make money!” My mom looked away for a moment as if pausing to reflect on a former life. The look that gave me the courage to make a heart decision to get a “respectable” job and “do something” with my life. “Please.” My mom crossed her long arms across her chest.” I jutted out my lower lip. and then she slowly brought her eyes back to mine. playing with dolls was a heck of lot more interesting than karate. Years of destitution and wasted time hung from her face as she silently pleaded. “I don’t want to go. This isn’t the type of lifestyle I want you living … if I could do it all over again … ” She paused and wiped away the tears beginning to form. “Whadda I need school for? You never graduated. but by the time I turned ten. Sarah.

I had never been in a church before and the high ceilings and gothic design spooked me. Not wanting to be separated from her.” My Darkest Hour The most memorable day of my life was my seventeenth birthday. “Hello! Mom? Mom! Where are you?” I went to the refrigerator and grabbed a soda. I stood back and watched her. Maybe she’s in the shower. I remember after service. curious. Mom warned me on many occasions that if anyone found out.” A flash of anger entered my heart. I was greeted with silence . “Why?” I exclaimed. Mom took me to an Easter service at St. A homemade pink and white cake was in there with “Happy Birthday Sarah” written across the top. and I would be sent to a foster home. She put her arm around my waist and pulled me closer as we walked out of the church. “What were you doing?” She smiled while brushing away the tears.Shortly after that conversation. Not in there. I closed myself off from having peers. Nope. My birthdays were always just her and me. “What did you do wrong?” The right corner of her mouth twisted and I could tell she was holding back a flood of emotions. Not knowing what to do. “One day you’ll understand. Walking through our door on my seventeenth birthday. for God to forgive me. She never worked on my birthday and always made a big production over it. but I never let anyone in. I asked. 9 . she would go to jail. I went home expecting mom to be there with a big grin on her face and gifts waiting. Patrick’s Cathedral. A smile formed across my lips. Other girls would try to befriend me. “I was asking for mercy. since I never really had any close friends. like every birthday. When she finished. I was always afraid of someone finding out that my mom sold her body for a living. my mom walking to the front and kneeling down.

My heart leapt with joy. “Ooh! Mom hired a stripper!” I quickly unlatched the lock and let him in while looking down both sides of the hall for mom. “Have you seen your mom today. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this. naked and alone. I need you to identify a body we found this morning. a hatred for law enforcement formed in my belly. He took off his hat and held it in his hand. To identify whether or not it is your mom’s. Sarah Higgins?” The tone of his voice sent a chill through my short frame. The police said that they would investigate. I was at school. Three days later. I peeked out the peephole. You have the wrong person!” But it was my mom’s body. Shortly thereafter. “Yes.“Knock. Knock” A sharp rapping at our door.” Denial reared its ugly head while a certain dread crept through me. Sarah?” “No. she was left in a dumpster. “When is the last time you saw her?” I began to get frustrated. I was sent to a foster home … 10 . “Are you Ms. but they never did. A young man in a police uniform cleared his throat.” “I … I” He scratched his head. “It’s not my mom’s! She’s okay. and to this day has never quite gone away. but I need you to come with me to the city morgue. “What’s going on? Why are you asking these questions?” He looked at the ground and then into my eyes. Police don’t care about dead prostitutes. Beaten and bruised with a slashed throat. My denial was surpassed by grief as I stared at her with vacant eyes.” Red crept up his neck and to his nose.

gossipy. I had a bone to pick and a vendetta to fulfill. The dad was a pastor of a black Baptist church. For not caring. I was so afraid of ending up like her. “We walk by faith. and I envied his faith in an invisible being. I was hardened. When I graduated high school. failed to do concerning finding my mom’s killer. “The heavens declare His glory. not by sight. and wore too much make-up with no life to speak of. The other famous line I would be fed was. I never conceived. lived in a rat-infested apartment. That lasted roughly three years until I was sick of playing apartment wife and grocery checker. My next stop was the police academy.My Short Stay in Foster Care I have to say I was a really horrible foster child. and luckily.” or. 11 . not so fast. “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. my foster father. I ran. It would be a long time before I was willing to let go of what they did… or should I say. I stayed with my foster family until the day I was eighteen and then left without a word. My foster parents were a sweet older black couple with grown kids of their own. After my mom’s death. Pastor Ronny. and no matter what anyone else told me. I had a job as a checker at the local grocery. His mom was fat. right before I left my foster home. The Turnaround Okay. I forgot something. Small backyard wedding. angry. resentful. He wasn’t a bad husband. and plain pissed off at the world. I still had a sharp longing to “get them back” for not finding my mom’s killer.” someone would almost always respond.” Hostility reigned in my heart. The manager’s son worked there too and well … we fell in love. I was determined to go my own way. Ran straight into the arms of the NYPD. and their rule was that the foster children attend Sunday service once a week. would joyfully pray over all of our meals together. “How could there be a God?” was my angry retort whenever anyone asked. it’s just that he couldn’t wait to be a grocery store manager like his dad.

When I got home. The men had huge egos and some were more villainous than the bad guys we were trying to catch. A big case came up that the FBI bullied their way into demanding that the NYPD work with them. “Agent Marks? Here’s your coffee. “Agent Marks?” He turned back and looked at me.Working for the NYPD Not too many women in New York City’s police department those days. I pulled my mom’s file and made a copy. “I have an idea for the Turner case. One day. Matter of fact. what could it hurt? It wasn’t like I could get any lower on the police force totem pole. “Yes?” Without hesitating.” Working for the police department was the longest two years of my life. I mean. I leapt. I decided to step up to the plate with my idea. and since I was privy to the details. the unfairness of it all driving my root of bitterness deeper. I cried over it with a bottle of red wine. It would still take several years for law enforcement to catch up with the idea of a women being able to do a “man’s job. It was the ’60s. and women were burning their bras and practicing unsafe sex to try to push equality. I gathered strength. Then something exciting happened. Sarah. and that is what I had to do my first year. most women on the force were parking meter attendants.” I handed him his cup and he sipped it slowly.” 12 .” He began to turn away. until I was moved to a secretarial position. They were preparing to go undercover. black just like you requested. “Thank you. careful not to burn his tongue.

” 13 . But I don’t know of any woman who would take that kind of risk.Agent Marks didn’t bother to hide his surprise. if you had a female go undercover. He was a mildly handsome man with a square jaw and an air of superiority.” Agent Marks rocked back on his heels while stroking his stubbly. dented chin. you could probably get a lot further. “And what would that be?” “Since women haven’t been allowed to be special agents since the late ’20s. faster in the case.” I squared my shoulders “I would. “You definitely have a point.

Part 1 Life #1 The Turner Case 14 .

not at first. Wanting to immediately showcase my bad girl attitude. who transferred here from a school in South Bronx. This person was selling to the kids. Not a hard case. My code word in case I got into trouble was “stop the bus”. The bureau fast tracked me through two months of training and off I went. who was well known for his abhorrence of women and abusive. I was to go undercover in a New York City private high school and get close to the top drug runner. but since I was young with a baby face. Edgar Hoover was a difficult man. who did not think women were good enough to be special agents. and my job was to find out Turner’s source. First Day of School “Students … welcome Alexandra Ralston.” 15 . I tossed my hair and grunted. I was a perfect fit. Agent Marks had to obtain special permission from Hoover. Her face was haggard and she looked to be in her mid-sixties. and they had a tip from a group of self-righteous students that the dealer was Cole Turner who received his supply from out of state. derogatory mouth and antics.” my new stately teacher said in a fake chipper voice.Chapter 2 Life #1 The Turner Case Operation School Girl I was twenty-three when the FBI trained me for my first case. but his desire to have this case solved surpassed his personal preferences. “Call me Alex. Her blouse was too big and her hideously ugly orange skirt dragged the ground. J.

My smoking buddy was sitting in the back row.” I cocked my head to the side and appeared unconcerned. He lit it and deeply inhaled. I can’t believe kids find marijuana entertaining. Well. But anyway. The Bradley School was well known for housing upper class Manhattan kids.” My new comrade waved two fingers in the air at me and stumbled on. Peace out. but last night I sat in my apartment practicing how to smoke them. Jeanne’s class.” “Groovy. He laughed as I ate everything in sight. sure.The students looked me over and snorted.” After class. I snuffed out my halfsmoked cigarette and went to my next class. but I had a reputation to maintain. “Just arrived today … Pops got a job about two miles from here so we had to move. and then passed out while giggling at nothing in particular. I was prepared to fit in. “Hey. Welcome. Poor girl. A scraggly student with bellbottoms and a ripped black t-shirt with “Make Love Not War” written across it walked up to me. I happily obliged. I actually detested everything about cigarettes. “I’ve got plans … sorry. “So you’re new here? Haven’t seen you before. I walked outside and lit a cigarette. “So you’ve got Mrs. nice to meet ya. I didn’t want to hurt her. I glanced over at her and shook my head “No” and mouthed.” He pulled a desk next to his and I sat down. her dress was unfashionable and she appeared desperate. He also looked and smelled like he hadn’t bathed in weeks. one kid even whistled. 16 . Agent Marks also showed me how to roll a joint and inhale.” I handed him a cigarette. can I bum one of those from you?” He had dark red hair and light green eyes. “Yeah. She passed a note letting me know her name was Lucy and would I like to sit next to her at lunch? I sized Lucy up quickly. One girl with braids smiled with her braced teeth and motioned me to sit next to her.

My gym class was after lunch. “This is Alex. pick your teams.He introduced himself as Tony and said he’d give me a dollar if I’d give him a couple more smokes. including me. He had forgotten his pack at home.” I let out a whistle. you are team captain one. The entire table was wearing Birkenstocks. Cole. all around jock and jerk. Next class was lunch and we walked together.” 17 . and she was extremely thin with dark brunette hair and sallow brown eyes with dark circles encasing them.” Sheila hissed in my ear. Her name was Sheila. We are going to warm up by walking a mile. “I’d like to rock his world. and one of the girls from my lunch table was in there with me. She’s eating with us. and Julian.” I nodded my approval while looking over Cole. I jabbed my thumb at him. “Cole Turner. which turned out to be full of little hippies with bloodshot eyes and tie-dyed shirts. I want two teams. Men. No one’s name at the table was Cole. I sensed no hostility from the group and caught on quickly that Tony was considered their leader. He invited me to sit at his table. He was a stunning six foot four god with rippling muscles and sandy blond hair. and then we are racing. Never occurred to the idiot that a woman could be a team captain. “Sexist pig. Basketball and hockey team. “Who’s that?” Sheila harrumphed. but my sixth sense was telling me that I was in the right direction.” Surprisingly. Make room. you are team captain two. The coach decided that track was the sport of the day and we marched outside to the field … “Listen up. Tony looked the bunch over and introduced me.

“Obviously. I ran in front of him and kicked him in the shin. you are. Sarah. come on.” “I just might. not an athlete. I decided to earn Cole’s notice. When it came time to race.” He began to storm off.” Sheila and I stood there gawking ’til everyone was picked but us. “Don’t you care if I’m alright or not? What’s wrong with you?” Cole huffed. Cole began to scream at me. So knock yourself out. I needed to make sure Cole’s first impression of me was a good one. Obviously. just ordered everyone to follow his directions. Acting quickly. but no one around here is faithful. my stomach was doing back flips. I slowed my pace and then bent over and beat my chest while coughing. we didn’t look like we were too good of runners. “What is wrong with you? You almost beat them!” I stood up and faced him. Actually. He looked both of us over and then shrugged his shoulders. I had to get interaction with him. “Stand in line. It was Cole’s turn to pick. Faster. He has a girlfriend.Sheila laughed. He grabbed his leg like a hurt puppy.” Sheila moped over to Julian’s team and I acted as if I could have cared less. I should have picked the other girl. but I wasn’t about to let it go. What they didn’t know was that I ran on a regular basis to keep up my endurance for karate matches. I began to run. “Ow! Stupid girl! Whaddya do that for?” 18 . I easily took the lead and then a few yards from the finish line. Cole and Julian stood staring at us. “I guess I’ll take the new girl. At the sound of the whistle. Everyone else passed me and Cole came jogging over … Red-faced and puffing. it dawned on me that I was supposed to be a chain-smoking pothead. He didn’t pay me any mind.

Wanna come?” he looked at me expectantly. As soon as Tony noticed me. “Wouldn’t hurting me. “Ooooh! You wouldn’t hit a girl would ya?” Cole hobbled off and Sheila ran up to me. Tony. “Hey.” I said shrugging my shoulders. got into his face and growled. Cole was sitting in the second row from the front and Tony was lounging in the back corner. I began to walk past Cole as he shot a nasty look my way. “He deserved it. Calculus and English. Tony leaned forward and whispered loudly in my ear.” Two more class periods passed. I glided to the front of Cole’s desk. 19 . there’s a party at my place after school.Sheila and a few others sitting in the bleachers began to clap and cheer me on. “Wait till I tell Tony. “That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. feet propped up on the chair in front of him.” her admiration apparent. Deciding to backtrack. “Kick him again! Kick him again!” Cole’s face twisted up in anger and I decided to taunt him. He hates Cole. Tony hi-fived me and I sat down next to him. “Sheila told me you kicked him in gym glass today. and then I was off to American History. He looked like an ogre sitting on a mushroom. he smiled and waved me back. Cole turned around in his seat and sneered. “We can take this outside. hurt your income?” Cole snorted and turned back around resuming his emperor like posture just as the teacher walked in the room. He rolled his eyes and the rest of the class laughed.” Tony’s face jelled into a mysterious smile.” Tony said obnoxiously loud. We walked back to the locker room together and she continued to talk. leaned over.

“Lead the way.” 20 .

” Cheese from Agent Marks’ crusty calzone was hanging off his chin. I returned my attention to the task at hand. “Just give me a little more time. I defended myself. “I need this. We are looking for his supplier. He is definitely the top person to get the goods from.Chapter 3 Non Stop That party was the beginning of many.” 21 . Before I would pass out. met me secretly in Little Italy one night … “Sarah. his out-of-state supplier. and you have no information. a vendor selling t-shirts with the Italian flag on them was in an intense argument with a customer.” Across the street. another partier would always supply me with a bump of cocaine to perk me up. but no one seemed to have any clue where Cole got them from. The smell of fresh baked bread entertained my senses while sweat from the heat bathed my already dry skin. Marks. He’s only the middle man. Three months passed and the only thing I found out was that Tony. “I’ve seen Cole do plenty of deals. “Cole is nothing.” I pleaded. along with several others. I smoked pot and cigarettes and chased it all with cheap booze.” The customer finally handed the Italian flag vendor some cash and stormed off. did indeed buy their drugs from Cole. It’s been over three months. Agent Marks leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. He’s not a real bust. There is no way I’m going back to pushing papers at the police department. My handling agent. We were sitting outside on the curb by a pizza stand. Hoover is thinking about pulling you off this case.

The Secret The next day at school.” His face turned violet and he raised his voice. It wouldn’t turn over. “Get out of my car. If you can’t do it.” I said standing in his way. stopping only to purchase an Italian flag t-shirt. including two security guards. He exploded. the guy was still incredibly beautiful. He unlocked his car and began to climb in. By the way. you look like crap. It was full of people. he tried to start his car. “No. “What is it you want?” 22 . tucking the hair under.” I fastened the seatbelt. he shook his head.” He pushed his hat down further on his head. “Get it from Tony.” Cole looked around the parking lot. Leave me alone. Even mad. “Thanks. I waited by Cole’s rusted out Army green Jeep. When he saw me. “What for? I already know he gets it from you.“I’ll give you two weeks to give us a name.” I said with a steady voice. “What do you want?” “I need something. I’m going to have to pull you.” I grunted as I headed for the subway.” I crawled in next to him and shut the door. “Your car won’t even start. “I said get out of my car now!” “Make me.” Grimacing.

I continued to stand strong. He mumbled something about a new alternator and his dad being mechanically inclined before closing it again. But you’re going to walk home. “You live here?” A proud look crossed his face. I was not going to back down. 23 . surprisingly enough.” We hopped out of the car. “I’m not giving it to you here. Cole and I walked a few blocks to the subway.” “What does your dad do?” I said. “You really know how to charm the ladies. and.” I said defiantly. obviously frustrated. He slammed the palms of his hands on the steering wheel. making sure he kept his strides short so I wouldn’t have a hard time catching up to his pace. he kept a watchful eye on me with an attitude of a father protecting their young. and Cole opened the hood looking around the engine.” Cole turned the ignition six more times before giving up.” He wiped his brow. “Then you’ll just have to come with me. gawking at the high ceilings and expensive art hanging on the walls. “Well. he was a gentleman. So… he wasn’t such a tough guy after all! He led me to a two bedroom penthouse apartment. “Works on Wall Street.“I need a quarter bag. “I live here with my dad. On the subway.” I smiled. I’m not leaving ’til I get it.” he said as I stepped gingerly across the wood floor not wanting to mess up the extremely tidy apartment. I whistled when I saw it.

“I was going to talk to you about that. Sports posters decorated the walls and a lone toy basketball net sat in the corner over the dented asphalt-colored trashcan.” Mr. you’re going to be out of school next year. He hissed. Dad. do you?” A defeated sounding Cole answered humbly. We need this money now while you’re still able to get on campus as a student. Son?” I heard Cole answer. It’s Wednesday … you know the weekends are better. hide! Don’t make a sound. “No sir.” I heard Cole’s voice answer with trepidation. I held my breath as Mr. I don’t know what we’re going to do when you graduate. “Cole! Cole! Where are you?” Cole looked like panic punched him in the stomach when he heard his dad’s voice. Turner’s intimidating manner began to surface. I need you to bring in at least five hundred a day. “How much money did you bring home today. Alex.” I swiftly pulled the covers over my head and laid between his two pillows. “That’s none of your business.” Mr. I don’t think that’s asking too much. Turner walked in.” Suddenly. “Quick. I sat on his bed and wrapped his blue and green striped comforter around my shoulders. “Just a couple of hundred. I heard a loud booming voice. The musty smell of cologne wafted to my nostrils. “So where do you keep your stash?” Cole quickly retorted. “Cole. His room was freezing.I followed Cole to his bedroom. I … I actually won a basketball scholarship to … ” 24 . “Look. Turner’s voice elevated.

” “Yes sir. “What are you sorry about? All you care about is your stupid drugs anyway. “I can hang. “How come I’ve never seen you do any?” He rubbed his temples. “Basketball? Basketball? You really think you’re going to make it in this world by playing basketball? Grow up. “What school did you win a scholarship to?” He looked at me.Mr. “I’m sorry.” I tried a nice even tone. “You can trust me.” he sighed.” Cole snapped back.” I heard the door close and I peeked out.” I decided to change the subject. Cole was sitting at the end of his bed with his head in his hands.” “I hope so. Turner interrupted him with a laugh.” 25 . Sorry. Cole.” He paused.” I crossed my legs under me and answered him in a cheerful voice. Stop embarrassing me with your pansy basketball stories. Now I expect tomorrow will be a better day. but it was your idea to come with me. “You’re going to have to hang out here a couple of hours ’til my dad falls asleep. “It doesn’t matter. Drugs rot your mind and break down your body … So do cigarettes for that matter. It’s a hard world out there and bouncing a ball isn’t going to cut it around here. “Because I actually care about my health. It’s not like I can go. if you tell anyone about my dad. Cole. “By the way. I’ll … ” I lightly touched his forearm. Cole. I pulled away the covers and sat beside him.

“I’ll go get us some food. not quite sure what to make of my new move.” “Yeah. Can you just give me a few more minutes?” I inched closer. He gets it from some guy and then has me sell it to help pay the rent.” I could see that this wasn’t going anywhere. “My dad should be asleep soon.” 26 . His guard was up. “So did I hear right? Is your dad a dealer too?” He sat on the bed next to me. “I heard you broke up with your girlfriend. You must make a lot of money. I had very little time to produce a name and needed to think of something fast. “This is a really nice apartment.” He moved his head. Horrid thoughts of going back to the NYPD and being those pigs’ secretary until I was old and gray crossed my mind. He seemed to relax after we ate. well sort of. He walked in and threw a bag of chips and a can of soda at me. and I decided to take advantage of the situation. “Yeah.” He looked at me confused. I scooted closer to Cole and leaned over bringing my face securely in front of his. “What are you doing?” I let my hot breath touch his cheek.” I pretended to be impressed. and I needed a name. “Sure. He stared.” Cole left and I immediately and carefully rifled through his desk drawers and under his bed. “That doesn’t mean I’m looking for another one. I heard footsteps and jumped back on his bed laying my head down on his pillow. I guess. Nothing. Stay here.

Great! So he wasn’t interested. What am I going to do now? Think, Sarah, think! My thoughts were interrupted by Cole. “I’ll get you your quarter bag and take you home.” This was not going where I needed it to go. Disappointment beat on my chest. I had to bring something back to Agent Marks, and this could be my only opportunity. We snuck out the door and into his dad’s car. The FBI had set me up in a studio apartment in a halfway decent neighborhood. When Cole dropped me off, I jumped out of the car and ran inside. Five minutes later, there was a knock at my door. It was Cole. “You have to pay me for your pot … It’s not free, you know.” “Oh, yeah, I forgot. Come on in.” He sniffed. “Yeah right.” I whipped around. “Whaddya mean, yeah right?” “I’m tired of your types forgetting they have to pay for their habit. People seem to forget that I have someone to answer to,” Cole answered sarcastically. I audaciously stuck my hands on my hips. “You’re rude. Get out of my house!” It was the first time I saw Cole crack a smile. “Make me.” I pushed him and he lightly pushed me back. I squawked. “I can’t believe you pushed me.” Cole laughed mockingly. “Why? Do you think that just because you’re a girl you can hit me? Well there’s no one here to protect you now!” It was about time I taught this punk a lesson. He had no idea what he was truly up against. I began to send a roundhouse kick right to his head

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but he caught my ankle and I fell on my rear end. He grinned, obviously amused. “I have quick reflexes. Try again.” I screamed, infuriated, “Get out of here, Cole!” He yelled back, “Then get me my money and stop trying to beat me up!” My mouth dropped open and he squatted down next to me, offering a hand. When he did, I saw something in his eyes. A romantic spark. I decided to seize the moment, so I kissed him full on the lips. He lifted me up in his arms and brought me to the couch. He started to unbutton my blouse. Oh no! I just meant a kiss. Sarah, you can’t sleep with this guy … He’s your assignment. Agent Marks would pull you off this case so fast … I pushed Cole away. “Not so fast, loverboy.” He immediately removed his hands. “Okay, Okay.” Cole got up and headed towards the door, taking my career with him. I had to do something. I weighed the different options in my head. If I run off Cole, I end up back on the police force. If I sleep with him, I have a great chance of getting a name, but I would have to throw my moral compass out the window. The pain of being a policeman’s secretary was definitely greater. I called out, “Cole, wait a minute.” He turned towards me and smiled. A week later, I had a name for Agent Marks.

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Chapter Miami

4

“Armando Gonzalez.” I let the name roll off my lips in victory. “He’s a Cuban living in Miami. Has people everywhere working for him. Cole Turner’s dad receives the goods and Cole sells it for him.” Agent Marks didn’t hide his elation. “Fantastic job!” He pounded his fist on the bar. “Next stop is Miami.” I visibly choked on my beer. We were meeting in a seedy old bar in the Bronx and the music was loud. Maybe I didn’t hear correctly. “Excuse me?” Agent Marks rambled on excitedly, oblivious to my reaction. “Yes, this will take a little longer … maybe even a couple of years…” He scratched his famous cleft chin. “But this will definitely work.” He couldn’t be talking about me. “What are you trying to say?” He looked at me with stars in his eyes. “We’ll have to think of a clever way to get you into Armando’s good graces … but it can be done.” The beer turned sour in my throat. “But I’ve never been outside New York.” Agent Marks faced darkened. “Are you saying you are unavailable?”

29

My survival instinct kicked in and I quickly shook my head no. Apprehension began to settle in my stomach. “No … I … no, not at all.” Agent Marks belched. “Good.”

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Chapter

5
The Armando Gonzalez Case

Part Two of Life #1

A few weeks later, after several days of debriefing and preparation, I was on a plane to Miami. My first plane ride. I sat by the window and stared out at the clouds. Don’t be scared, don’t be scared, I kept telling myself. I don’t know what was causing the most fear, the plane ride or the fact I was on a new assignment. Messing with high school kids was one thing, I knew my life wasn’t in danger. However, being sent to screw the big boys over was causing me to lose sleep at night. One misstep and I could blow my cover and be killed. And who would come to my funeral? The thought saddened me. Agent Marks would come. No, actually probably not. He wouldn’t want to compromise his own identity. Lady Marmalade? Who would tell her I was dead? Realizing I was all alone stuck in my mind. I guess I really did have nothing to lose. No wonder they were sending me to Miami. Patsy’s Bar and Grill Patsy’s Bar and Grill on Ocean Drive had its doors wide open, with the inviting aroma of grilled fish wafting through the air. The beach was across the street and the large ceiling-to-floor windows gave customers a perfect view. Four sets of black, gray, and white bistro tables sat happily on the sidewalk in front. I stopped and stared at the old wooden seabeaten sign hanging from rusty chains above the door, WELCOME TO PATSY’S. I straightened my shoulders and waltzed in, asking to speak with the manager …

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“Hi, I saw your ad for a waitress in the newspaper.” I smacked my gum and tossed my hair. I wore short cutoff jean shorts and a bright red triangle bikini top with a white see through blouse over it. The fat bald manager named Pete looked me over. His breath reeked of garlic. “You waited tables before?” I pursed my lips. “Sure … I can work late at night too.” He scratched somewhere behind him. “I’ll try you out tonight … you do well, you can stay. You don’t, you can hit the road.” My first night at work I was introduced to another waitress named Suzy. Manager Pete donned her with the duty of showing me the wait staff ropes. “Hey, Lisa, welcome to Patsy’s, I’m Suzy.” this cute little auburnhaired teenager gushed over me and her joyful attitude was contagious. She wore her hair in one long braid and her only jewelry was a silver necklace with a cross pendant. I kept my cool, making sure I maintained distance. “Nice to meet you, Suzy, so where do we start?” I spent the next two days at Patsy’s following Suzy around to the tables. Patsy’s had a friendly atmosphere with seafood dinners and plenty of fried treats to choose from. The ceiling was cathedral style with large wooden crossbeams and squeaky ceiling fans hanging from them, gyrating heavily as they spun. The entire wait staff was comprised of women, and our uniform was embarrassingly short black shorts with a tacky pink Hawaian style shirt that tied at the waist. Agent Marks had informed me that Armando Gonzalez was a regular at Patsy’s Bar and Grill, which at night, was just Patsy’s bar. Apparently, Mr. Gonzalez and Pete the manager had an “understanding.” The FBI wasn’t quite sure what that understanding was yet, but it was my job to find out. My first three nights there was no sign of Armando, but on night four, he came bustling in with two other rough looking guys in gray suits. He was

32

darling. I waited until he had a nice buzz going and I sashayed past him.” 33 . I found out later that Patsy’s only carried this brand of expensive champagne for him.” I pranced to the back to retrieve his champagne.quickly seated at a back booth with shabby red cloth and brought three bottles of champagne. but my shift’s not over yet. He brazenly looked me over. and slugging champagne. “That’s Kimberly’s table. Pete. waving their hands around. “I’ll take care of Kimberly. He’s a good customer and I don’t want to lose his business. “Sure. I was met by Pete. Just do me this favor and have a drink with the guy. Gonzalez … over at table three. He winked back and motioned for me to come over.” I acted contrite. “Hey. he seemed to be in a heated discussion with the other men. sweetheart. Are you going to drink it with me?” “I would. For the first hour.” I feigned shock. They were all smoking cigars. I winked and smiled. I don’t want to cause trouble. “How can I help you? Would you like another bottle of champagne?” I stuck out my chest and smiled with my ruby red lips. I have a special customer who has requested you have a drink with him.” Pete took over.” “Anything for you. Three minutes later. When I caught his eye. “Really? Who?” “Mr.

slowly licking my lips. “You’re right. hot stuff. it’s time I get going. “So what’s your name. Manny laughed at my ignorance. Manny. Do you come here often?” I purred.” 34 . so you don’t either. Restaurant owner. what else do you do?” Manny put his arm around my shoulders. No more champagne for you tonight!” Manny agreed.” I giggled and shook my head. “You’ll just have to spend more time with me and find out. “Patsy is my grandmother. Okay?” I blew a bubble with my gum and then popped it. I wanted to appear nonchalant and slightly naive. “I happen to own the place. I have asked Pete not to tell anyone I’m the owner. leaving Armando and I alone. Armando turned towards me. I made a scene out of popping open the champagne and pouring it into glasses.” “Nice to meet you. “So how did I luck out sitting with the handsomest men in the place?” My hair was in a ponytail and it bobbed as I talked. “Okay. Mr. The men laughed and the two in the suits politely excused themselves.” “I’m Armando. You can call me Manny.” I chortled innocently and graciously got out from under his arm. “Lisa McDeer. However. my dear?” I showed him my pearly whites. Lisa. “No you don’t! Patsy owns the place.He grumbled his thanks and I went and joined Armando’s table. “Ok … So.” He poured me another glass of champagne.

thick.” I let her go and she slumped to the floor. Manny. No need to fake the physical attraction. and it landed in the middle of her forehead. I hocked a loogy on her.” I skated to the back to pick up my purse and jacket. when Armando would come into Patsy’s. refusing to be intimidated. Outside. “Back off my table or I’ll … ” “Or you’ll what?” I shot back. “See you later. Armando Gonzalez was an extremely sexy thirtyseven-year-old man with hair that was dark. For the next four months. She pushed me. She walked up to me and stuck her face in mine. “I’ll smash your face in. I left her in the bathroom and went to clock out. The bathroom was really gross. I was tired and ready to go home. full. I laughed. Occasionally I would take a ten to twenty minute break and have a drink with him. I pulled her head back out of the toilet and hissed. I had to establish dominance immediately if I wanted to keep waiting on Armando’s table. For good measure. Kimberly was waiting by my locker. I looked around and saw that no one was looking. so I grabbed her arm and wrung it behind her back while holding the back of her neck with my free hand. “I’m sorry. and grown out 35 . so I stuck it back in there. I had a job to do and I couldn’t have someone getting in my way.” She looked dumfounded.I planted a kiss on his cheek. I pushed feeling bad about what I did to Kimberly down. Take any stupid table you want. I don’t think she was expecting me to stand up to her. I lifted it out and she tried to scream. I marched her to the bathroom and stuck her face in the toilet. “Oh yeah? Let’s go then. tears streaming down her face. and I don’t think the toilet had ever been cleaned.” She wagged her finger in my face. I would lightly tease him and he would flirt back. “You got something you want to say to me?” Kimberly sputtered.

and for the past three years. Lion’s Steakhouse On my days off from Patsy’s. Thanksgiving and Christmas would be here in a few months. My rear end had disappeared and my knees were knobby. I was also suffering with mild depression. I would visit the gorgeous palm treelined beach.” When I opened the door. I was way too skinny and my ribs were hanging out. He often said that he hoped I never flew away. stocky. and I would lie out and swim for hours. It was easy for me to tan. I even purchased roller skates so I could skate down Ocean Drive. Looking at myself in a bikini was painful. Manny. I sat them on my kitchen table to be admired and reread the card. Twisted as this may sound. It was my first time seeing the ocean. “Who is it?” “Delivery for Lisa McDeer. and muscular structure. He nicknamed me “Bonita pájaro. So I was undercover and trying to send this 36 . it was well known that Hoover wasn’t allowing females into the FBI. and I knew this misery was much more inviting than that one.while curling over the back of his neck. straight white teeth. His eyes were mysterious and inviting and his lips when he smiled revealed beautiful. and Agent Marks had completely backstopped my true identity. I don’t know why.” which means pretty bird in Spanish. I had spent those alone. I hadn’t eaten much since I arrived. My birthday came and went with no acknowledgement from anyone that I was a year older. Just looking at him satisfied my vice for handsome men. I was jostled out of my thoughts by a knock on my apartment door. I was happy to go on a date. Sometimes I wondered if I made a mistake leaving my husband. 6 pm. He was only four inches taller than me. A smile crossed my lips when I read his card and smelled the roses. I needed attention and a little TLC. My stomach was always in knots about my identity being discovered. and had a thick. and I was in love. I was greeted by a huge bouquet of red roses with a card from Armando that read: Meet me at Lion’s Steakhouse tonight. Then I would think about working in that grocery store for the rest of my life.

However. and she died of cancer last year. “The beach. Manny reached over and took my hand. small town. “I can see that. “Where are you from.man to jail … so what? Does that mean I can’t have a little fun too? I know. I adore the color red. “Missouri. I needed to keep my wits about me and coyly gather information. Did he own this restaurant too? I limited myself to two glasses of wine. “What brought you to Miami?” I played footsie with Manny under the table to distract him from wanting too much information. unprofessional. but still innocently charming bright red dress. As usual.” 37 . I wanted out of that godforsaken town.” He smiled and looked at my dress. but I was in my early twenties and still very naive in many areas. I still viewed the opposite gender as a mystifying creature who longed to be discovered and loved.” He stood up and gently helped me into my chair before sitting down again. my love?” I gave him the story Agent Marks told me to give.” As the waiter took our order. I was careful to hide my native New York accent. “Hello my muy Bonita pájaro. he looked slightly scared and a little bit in awe of Manny. My lipstick matched. I had never seen it before. excited about my date. I wore strappy black heels and a tight. Armando was already seated with an open bottle of merlot. Manny. Manny was very tightlipped. “Thank you for the red roses. My dad left my mom and me when I was little. During dessert.” He stroked my hand. When I arrived at Lion’s Steakhouse. I carefully applied make-up and curled my hair. and after my mom died.

” I allowed my eyes to sparkle when he looked at me.” 38 . “I want to see you again.” After dinner. “That can be arranged. and when he walked me to my door. Armando was always a gentleman. “I’m glad you’re here. he planted a quick kiss on my left cheek. he drove around showing me different parts of Miami.The waiter poured him another glass of wine. Lisa.

They won’t be caught … So have you slept with him yet?” The question was asked so matter of factly that I was taken aback. but we weren’t taking any chances. “Are you serious? Do you really think I don’t have other agents watching you?” I slugged back the rest of my banana daiquiri. We were meeting at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West. “Wha … What do you mean? No! In fact. “I told you.” I looked at him suspiciously. How did you know that?” He grimaced. he owns Patsy’s and he mentioned that he owns ‘other’ businesses. It was a three hour drive from Miami. “So is there anymore information you can give me?” I held my ground.” He took a swig of his margarita. the most he has done is held my hand. “Yeah.Chapter 6 Little Lies Agent Marks was unhappy. are you trying to get me killed?” “My men are good.” 39 . “I know you’ve been dating him. He looked stressed out and like he had lost fifteen pounds. it’s been three dates. “What.

but right now.” His cavalier attitude shocked me. she was a prostitute. “That’s fine. 40 . who is doing what it takes to help get rid of the bad guys… I lied to myself a little more and then drove home. I’m not a whore. I felt stupid and exposed at that moment. “Are you saying I should sleep with him?” Agent Marks leaned in closer. I’m a good citizen.Agent Marks snorted. I know how you got Armando’s name off of Cole Turner. ordered another daiquiri and mulled over in my head what he said.” He slapped some money to pay for our drinks on the bar and headed out. he doesn’t trust very many people. “I’m not saying anything. But this is for my country.” A grin spread across Agent Marks face. I. I felt like the FBI was paying me to do the same thing. I felt like a whore. Did I want to end up like her? Sure. I blustered. however.” I openly blushed and looked down at the ground. “I … I … I’ll get the info off of him somehow. I tried to reason it out in my head. But. Drugs that are ruining young minds. He knew he had me. “Well … maybe that’s why you don’t have any information. this is going to take time. But. I thought about my mom and the way she lived her life. I’m working so that I can get a drug dealer off the streets. We expected this to take a while.

I had barely spoken to her since she trained me. I was relieved there was little physical contact. About an hour after Armando arrived. I doubted my prowess. just need to get some fresh air. I asked Kimberly to take the table. In a way. The next time he was in Patsy’s. I decided to try another tactic. with always an encouraging word on his lips and an expensive gift to give me.” 41 . Armando was the perfect gentleman. sure. and I blatantly allowed tears to spring in my eyes as I walked toward the back past his table to grab my purse and jacket. I had never been treated so well before in my life. He grunted his approval. I stammered. Shocked. “Do you mind if I pray with you?” Suzy asked me innocently.Chapter 7 The Stars Align Two months. I could tell that he expected a lady. “Lisa. “Yeah. mournfully taking customer orders. I didn’t want my plan spoiled. and still no kiss nor any condemning information. but in another way. just make it quick.” I quickly said trying to get out of her way. I stayed on the complete other side of the restaurant. I told Pete I wasn’t feeling well and asked if I could go home. What she said next took the wind out of my sails. He would occasionally glance over at me. Since I needed to do something to take our relationship to the next level. I wanted Armando to see me sniffle. Suzy the happy waitress caught wind of my ruddy tear-stained face and followed me to the back. fifteen dates later. and I would narrow my eyes and purse my lips like I was angry. so I never made the first move. “Uh. are you alright?” Suzy asked.

“Tell me. I felt a strong pair of arms reach around my waist from the back and draw me into a cozy embrace. letting its coolness wash over my tired feet. “Father God. Manny whispered in my ear. Please give her the grace to get through this season. “That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard! It’s not like you’re a virgin. “What’s wrong. The only conclusion I could come up with was that you were married. Lisa. my love?” I mustered up some tears and let them slide down my cheeks. but you’ve never kissed me.” “Well. still hoping my plan was working.She deftly grabbed my hands and started praying. I know we haven’t been dating long. “No. that’s not true. A few minutes later.” I put my hands on my hips. Sure enough.” I mumbled a quick “Thank you” and took off out of the restaurant forgetting to grab my jacket. I turned toward the moon and stretched my back. In Your Son Jesus’ name. I walked across the street to the beach and waded in the water. Who told you that?” I let my eyes fill up with more tears. and it made me wonder why. “I know you’re married.” Armando let out a large belly laugh. Amen. “I just … I know this sounds stupid.” He turned me around and we stood face to face. I ask that You help Lisa see Your hand working in her life. “I’ve never kissed you because I was afraid that I would fall for you.” His hands cupped my face while his thumbs wiped away the tears.” 42 .

He continued. Holding on tightly. “Those women mean nothing to me.” He paused. The first one was joy. He picked me up and swung me around. planted a beautiful. The second was despair. Manny began talking rapidly. I was trying to bust this guy.” Delight beamed from his endearing face. He 43 . If I told him no. I would kill my chances of getting what I needed off of him. He kept talking. I had just made this man’s day. my head was spinning. “Lisa McDeer … ” Armando dropped to one knee. I … I was planning on getting a ring first and waiting a few more months … but what the … ” I stared at him. I didn’t give him one. With you. felt like a real jerk. looking for a reaction.” I didn’t have to fake my shock. “I know it’s sudden. “So you don’t kiss women you like?” He stroked my cheek. I couldn’t believe this was happening. His jubilation was inspiring.” His sincerity caused a gamut of emotions. however. My knees gave out and I was swept into the moment. Armando Gonzalez. It’s not the same. and he had no idea what he had coming to him. but I’m approaching forty … and Lisa you are the most intriguing woman I’ve ever met. not find a boyfriend. “Will you be my wife?” I pulled myself together quickly. open mouthed. There is something mysterious about you and I find that unbelievably attractive. “Yes. I don’t kiss women I’m planning on one day making my wife. I would love to be your wife. and sweetly. “No. heart-stopping kiss right on my lips. eyes dancing in the moonlight. “I believe that we would make a perfect match. I looked at him longingly. “Say that again?” He smiled. he swung me around again. I. I had never been kissed like that before.His voice got softer. it takes everything in me not to fall hopelessly in love. Then he carefully.

” Expectancy colored his gleaming eyes. My church … ” He paused and looked at me. who opened his gift and found a cute puppy inside wagging its tail. “I’m Catholic. Lisa. my family’s Catholic. I knew you were my soulmate. “We should marry immediately. “Yes. I am. I already knew his family’s history with the church. Agent Marks had briefed me on Catholicism in preparation for this assignment.” 44 . “I’m Catholic too.” I lightly touched his lips with mine. I never asked you what you were. I met Armando’s expectation. even taking me to a Catholic mass. “This is fate.reminded me of a little boy on Christmas day.” His nose touched mine.

” I gasped. He too was stunned at the new development. What do I do?” I didn’t try to hide my panic. remember?” D-Day 45 . he thinks you’re Lisa McDeer. “Okay. I don’t think they were banking on this happening. Agent Marks took a beat and ordered another beer. hold the salt and lime. “When they wrote it. I’m going to meet his relatives tonight. it won’t be a real marriage.Chapter 8 'Til death do we part “What do I do? I can’t marry him!” I expected Agent Marks to understand. “Can’t you hold him off?” “He has already called the priest and told his family. I don’t need it. “Are you kidding me? Isn’t there some rule in the FBI handbook somewhere that says you can’t marry your assignment?” He laughed. I ordered a double shot of tequila. How was he going to get me out of this one? Agent Marks found his answer. Plus. I guess you’re getting married. He’s not the kind of man who takes no for an answer.

Armando was extremely 46 . Stained glass decorated the stately granite walls. take Armando Gonzalez to be your lawfully wedded husband?” I looked into his moist eyes and a lump formed in my throat. They were fawning all over me. aunt. “I do.” “Do you. I never realized when I became an agent. who had stolen this man’s heart. He wanted to show me where his family came from. “You will always be my bonita pájaro. knowing I was deceiving all of them. Sure. It was hard to believe these people could be hardened criminals … “Do you. he was a bad guy. or second cousin. “I do. for our honeymoon. he walked over. The music started. Papa Gonzalez. Lisa McDeer. I sure felt like a louse. Armando Gonzalez. take Lisa McDeer to be your lawfully wedded wife?” He looked at me with all the tenderness women daydream about receiving from a man. but what was I? I was a thief. Since I didn’t have a dad. just how difficult my job would be. taking my hand.” He slowly undressed me.The church was old and hauntingly beautiful. wrapped in a satin lace white negligee. I smiled lovingly at Manny. first cousin. but there were about twenty ladies in my room. and they all shrieked and ran out to take their places. But first.” The Honeymoon Armando flew us to Havana. He had a huge family unit. as sweet as could be. walked me down the aisle. I wasn’t always sure who was a sister. we stopped at our suite in a large hotel to drop off our bags and freshen up. and now he believed he had mine. When I came out of the shower. My brightly lit bride’s room was filled with his female family members. Armando’s kindhearted father. and I tried hard to guard my heart. Cuba.

” I sat up and opened it. “I bought you a wedding present. and I will make sure you stay the happiest woman on earth. I peeked in the dining room. He stopped for a moment and I got lost in his eyes. “Oops. Armando Gonzalez. and without my permission.” 47 . “Good morning. I was interrupted by a waiter. wrong way. your Manny. sorry.” I walked back through the kitchen and on to the elevator. The engraving said: To my muy bonita pájaro. and he greeted me with a kiss. I quickly dressed and walked down to the hotel lobby. We spent the rest of the night making love and cherishing each other’s company. I heard Armando walk through the door. I looked at him. wanting to know what they were saying. The guard was slowly slipping off my heart. but there was a rose on the pillow. my heart let go. He wanted to wait until our first night as husband and wife to consummate our relationship. Something about a Dugsy and an 8 am flight. fell head over heels in love with my husband. I could barely make out the words. About ten minutes later. I want to be part of your life. and there sat Armando with another man.romantic and very old fashioned. Thank you for marrying me. Still at work… The next morning. “I love you very much Lisa. He picked me up and carried me to the bed. They were close to the kitchen. “Can I help you. This man was smartly dressed with a very debonair attitude about him. he reached in his pocket and pulled out a small box. with love. my love!” I poked my head out of the shower. It was a gorgeous gold engraved heart-shaped locket with our picture inside. I hung back. so I tiptoed through the kitchen and stuck my ear to the door to try to overhear their conversation. ma’am?” I grinned. Before we continued. Against my will. “Armando. I quickly returned to our suite and hopped in the shower. He gently placed the locket around my neck and slowly kissed me. and I fell. I wrapped up in a towel and we walked out on the balcony together.” He stared into my eyes and I held the gaze. my bed was empty.

You’re an agent. I’m smart. Mario. there is no need to work. “Mario. do what you have to do to bring him down. After a few beers. and I was enjoying every moment my skin was next to his. Try me. My heart was saying. “What do you mean? We’re married.” He set me down. how can you hurt this man? But. this isn’t something you need to be a part of. “I can do that.” “I want to help you. He was a merciful lover. he took me to dinner with the same man he had breakfast with earlier.” I smiled sweetly and sat down without shaking his hand. “That’s fine. “No way … Lisa. the conversation deepened. and he shook his head vigorously. My head was telling me. Lisa.” “I want to know about your other businesses.He looked quizzically at me. I had worn slacks with boots and stashed a recorder delicately in my sock. “You’re my wife now.” We spent the next hour entangled in each other’s arms. teasingly dropped my towel and said. He loves you. you monster. I’ll just be a waitress at Patsy’s for the rest of our lives.” I walked back inside. I knew that I needed to bring Agent Marks something to stall for time or he would pull me off this case and send someone else in. The steaks were delicious and the conversation light. this is my wife Lisa. 48 . That night.” His eyes widened.” He followed me inside and swept me up in his arms.

“I’m supposed to meet with José tomorrow. and inhaled deeply with a look of satisfaction. He took it. “We’re still on for 8 am Monday morning. I’ve been working for him faithfully for fifteen years.Mario slid his chair closer into the table and Armando and I followed suit. Last time I met with him.” Mario nodded his head. I’ve never met the guy myself … but I’ve heard plenty of stories. He’s requested to meet with me. I think he trusts me now. “Yep. lit it.” Armando shrugged his shoulders. “Did you firm up the plans with Dugsy?” Armando replied.” Mario puffed on his cigar.” Mario lit a cigar and offered Armando one. “Na. he just wanted to know how his shipments were doing. “Put in a good word for me. “The José?” Armando swelled with pride. “You’re moving up. licked it. will ya?” 49 .” Mario looked impressed. That’s why I scheduled my honeymoon here.

and in her late thirties with straight glossy black hair that curled nicely around her shoulders. Colina grabbed my hand and led me to the living room. Two girls and a boy. Instead. this is Lisa. the nanny took the children to their playroom while José and Armando disappeared somewhere with cognac and cigars. with a deep tan and laugh lines. Afterwards. I wasn’t frisked.” We followed José and his wife Colina into the dining room where we had a quiet dinner with them and their three children. radiant. Armando beamed. Armando and I were greeted warmly with kisses and hugs. Talk revolved around the weather. However. so I wore an elaborate hairpiece to hide my recorder. “So José tells me you are on your honeymoon?” I radiated. She was very elegant. they wouldn’t bother to look in the hair. thin.Chapter 9 The José José lived in a spacious. The place was peaceful.” 50 . “Yes. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. “Welcome Armando! And this must be your lovely new wife … ” José wore a crisp burgundy suit with a mustard yellow shirt and looked to be somewhere in his fifties. a happy wife. and Colina continuously smiled. I figured if they frisked me. Mediterranean villa with his wife and three children. and José and Colina appeared to be wonderful parents. “Yes.

I confronted Armando. and even the latest beauty treatments. and it was making me nervous. “A favor?” Colina brought out a mirror with two lines of cocaine on it. He had a big grin on his face. Paranoia started creeping in. “Come back anytime. and Armando took my hand and gently lifted me to my feet. “It’s a wedding present from José and me. “How do they look?” “Wonderful. talked about politics. I opened it and inside was the biggest set of diamond earrings I had ever seen.Colina poured a vodka and cranberry and handed me a small black box. “Dinner was lovely.” On the drive back to the hotel.” She winked at me. We made fun of Armando and José. but I knew I had to fit in. “Why aren’t you talking to me? What did I do?” 51 . I reached down and snorted the other line. The hours passed quickly as Colina and I laughed and talked as if we were old chums. back at our hotel room. Every thirty minutes we snorted another line of coke. dear. I gasped. Would you like a favor?” I looked at her confused. “You ladies having fun?” We giggled. Colina. I couldn’t take the silent treatment any longer. I had completely lost track of time when Armando walked in. go ahead and put them on. I despised cocaine. Sarah! Finally. She bent down and sniffed one with a short metal gold straw. cocaine can make you think things that aren’t true … get a hold of yourself. Did he know? Does José know? No. Armando was deadly silent. “Wow! Colina you shouldn’t have!” Colina laughed.” I quickly took off the earrings I was wearing and delicately placed the diamond studs in my earlobes.

“What if I don’t want to? What are you going to do about it?” He sat on the edge of the bed. defeat in his shoulders. I inherited this business. “Are you mad at me? It was Colina’s idea.” I stayed defiant. “One of the reasons I liked you was because you were straight. they buy them from us with their own free will. “I won’t do it again. just not okay to do it? Is that what you are saying?” Anger landed on Armando’s face. my bonita pájaro. it is my job to carry it on.” Armando faced me. “Oh.” “Papa Gonzalez?” He sighed. There is no need to talk. And the rule is that our family members stay away from the dope. and it isn’t something you can just walk away from without being killed. It’s not like I put a gun to their heads.” I spit nails. “You’re high. Dope is horrible. My papa started it.” He nibbled on my ear. We don’t force anyone to buy drugs.” I visibly calmed down and sat next to him rubbing his shoulders. “Lisa.” Fear crept into my heart.” 52 . “Thank you. and. I wasn’t about to tell her no. “This is business. and I don’t want you to end up strung out. as the oldest son.He started getting ready for bed. my business. so it’s okay to sell the stuff. “Yes. Most of the women I dated were only in it for the free coke. Papa Gonzalez! But we have a rule. I love you.

53 .

One in a different parish than the Gonzalez’s. but never enough to build a full case. For a little over two years. and I needed to talk to someone. get our nails done at the salon. Armando and I adored each other. shop at our American stores. Colina called occasionally.” A melancholy voice answered gravely from behind the partition. I spent the next few months decorating it. I fully enjoyed being Armando’s wife. Guilt about having to put her husband behind bars plagued me after our girl talks. four bath beach cottage. I finally had a family for the holidays.Chapter 10 Wedded Bliss Our first month of marriage. eat. We would hang out on the beach. Every Sunday. after meeting with Agent Marks and then secretly crying my eyes out. He let me help him a little with his work. I was biding my time. I fed Agent Marks information here and there. and I loved my new life. my child?” 54 . but nothing major. “What is it. and we would share a huge meal at Papa Gonzalez’s afterwards. even visiting three times from Cuba. but I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out before I was caught. and the Gonzalezes treated me like I belonged. and her personal favorite. three story. five bedroom. Papa Gonzalez often let me know how much he prized his new daughter-in-law. Agent Marks had threatened to pull me if I didn’t get him enough material soon to cause several convictions. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband. Armando and I attended mass with the Gonzalez family. for I have sinned. I met with a priest in a confessional at one of the smaller Catholic churches on the other side of town. I knew from studying Catholicism that priests guarded what their parishioners told them in confession with their lives … “Bless me father. One Friday night. Armando bought me a stunning. My world was about to turn upside down.

” We sat sipping cocktails while the cool night breeze from the open windows floated in. Would you like a drink?” “Yes. When I got home.” His eyes lit up. Told him everything. and then told me I was forgiven as long as I said thirty “Hail Mary’s. Manny. my love. “At church. He touched my arm. His ears had to be on fire! He was silent for several minutes afterwards. Armando demanded to know where I was. I went to confession. “But why? It’s not really something you need to mess with. “Oh. I just feel like you don’t fully trust me yet. “I want to have babies with you.Tears flooded my face.” I was taken aback. “Are you sure this is private and unrepeatable?” “Your secrets are safe with me. I left out all the names including my own. sorry for snapping at you.” He leaned forward and kissed me. but the burden still lay heavy on my chest. many of them. “I was wondering if you were ready to have children yet.” I poured out my heart to the priest. “What can I do to prove that I believe in you?” “Let me into your world.” He looked at me concerned.” 55 . Let me help more with your businesses. Well almost.” I left satisfied. but I quickly recovered. please.

” He nodded his head.” 56 . “I feel useless. I want to feel valuable. “I understand.I traced his lips with my index finger.

“Are you kidding me? You get me in bed. Armando allowed me to meet with one of his contacts to retrieve some money owed to him. Gonzalez now. waiting for the private jet to arrive. I had no idea you were going to be on this plane today. The pilot had already disembarked and was in the lounge.Chapter 11 Blast from the Past A week later. When it got there. “When you left school. Gonzalez? You dirty little … ” I grabbed him by the arm and marched him back on the plane.” Cole Turner’s eyes narrowed. “Alex? What are you doing here?” I looked around quickly to make sure no one heard him. “Look. I didn’t know it was to take my personal information and go marry my dad’s boss! What kind of slut are you? Are you that desperate for this crap?” I pleaded my defense. We faced off. He started. you ditch me and now you’re married to the guy? How did you even find him? Who are you?” 57 . I’m Mrs. “Mrs. I tell you about Armando. or I would have never come!” I thought Cole was going to explode. a familiar face walked off to greet me. “Don’t call me that Cole. I hung around patiently in the hanger.

“Why do you care so much about my welfare?” 58 . “Well. “What is that?” “You go to college and graduate. one of Armando’s men approached me about a job. “Are you working for the police? You are. aren’t you?” I rolled my eyes. I’m firing you.Suddenly a knowing look crossed his face. I blamed myself for your disappearance. “Why aren’t you in college? I know you won a scholarship.” He looked hopeful. I met Armando. “Uh. No you nit wit!” He crossed his arms over his chest. why did you leave me? Did you know that I worried about you for months? I thought you had overdosed and were lying somewhere dead.” A lie easily came forth. “Why did you leave school? Better yet.” He gasped. we have hospital bills to pay. “I’ll cover your dad’s medical expenses and his rent for a year under one condition. Lying had become second nature to me.” Shame crept up Cole’s neck.” Surprise graced his face. “You can’t do that! I need this!” I stayed quick on my feet. and one thing led to another.” I stood firm. “My dad’s sick. “For your information.” I changed the subject to get the light off me. yeah … and part of my assignment was to marry Armando.

Do you want to leave on a good note and have me pay the hospital bills?” Cole’s demeanor changed to resignation. you give us the signal. but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Cole’s father died of the lung cancer he earned from smoking cigarettes. and I kept my end of the deal.” Agent Marks spoke the words I had dreaded hearing for the past two and a half years. my stomach turning in horror. He checked into NYU a few weeks later. No way out “We are ready to go in. Your dad will never know any different. Armando knew something was up. I didn’t bother to shower or eat.” I nodded in agreement. We know that Armando is meeting with him at Patsy’s. Now I am firing you. “Do you have enough evidence?” I knew stall tactics were futile and I resigned myself to the inevitable. because you told us that is where they hold the goods. Sarah.” Cole promptly left after our conversation. and this isn’t the life for you. Tuesday morning was here. but we are downsizing.” I quickly rattled off the new plan. “I’ll have Armando let him know that we appreciated his services. Cole. This was really going to happen. “José is flying in a shipment to Miami on Tuesday. 59 . Shortly after that. I was so despondent. “My dad’s gonna kill me. “Tuesday evening. Agent Marks continued.” The Inevitable It was the longest day of my life.“Because you are a smart man. after the shipment is loaded in the restaurant and José and Armando are together. and I couldn’t bear to look Armando in the eyes.

“Nothing baby. I was highly uncomfortable all day and didn’t know how I was going to live with myself after this. talk to me. I just started my monthly cycle. He put his arm in mine. José. I couldn’t stand it anymore.” I took his hand and we walked quickly across the street to the beach. please?” He noted the seriousness in my voice. I knew we only had about a half hour before the FBI surrounded the place. I made my call to Agent Marks and let him know everything was going smoothly. With all the strength I could muster. Finally. we met José at Patsy’s.” Bewilderment colored his countenance. just leave. I sat down with José and Armando while Pete cracked open champagne for us.” As usual with men. I put on a happy face.“Darling. “This is where I proposed to you. “I need you to get out of here now. Please.” Those words were the last straw. “What? What do you mean?” 60 . Please excuse us. of course. “No. “Is there anything I can get you. The sky was gray and the faint glimmer of stars had begun to appear. my bonita pájaro. I led him to a secluded spot under a pier. sweetheart. What is wrong?” With all the courage I could muster. “Yes. Armando. Knowing I was being watched. “Manny.” That evening. Lisa?” I hung my head in shame. I demanded Armando’s attention. can I speak to you privately. that excuse always explained away bad moods in women.

He kicked the sand. just run!” He cried. if you really love me. He portrayed the epitome of a broken and betrayed man.” I screamed. “No! No. I would rather be dead. “I’m an undercover agent with the FBI. Please.” The look on Armando’s face when he realized I was telling the truth will never leave my heart. “I’m so sorry. Running would betray my family. Lisa!” I looked into his handsome face. Armando. I still do love you. I’ll tell them you escaped. Do you know what they will do to me in jail? Is that how you really want me to spend the rest of my life?” 61 . unsure what to say next. they are on their way here to arrest you and José. “No. tears mixed with mascara were muddied on my face. I’m so very sorry. and I heard the DEA canines barking. “Did you ever love me?” “Yes. This is not a joke. It is etched into the depths of my soul forever.” “Is this some kind of joke? This isn’t funny. That’s why you need to leave now. “There is not enough time. they are already at the restaurant. Please. I don’t want to live my life without you. I want you to shoot me. I could never face my family again.Sobs took over my body. Manny. “How could you do this to me? How could you do this to my family?” I was crying so hard by this time. And my real name is Sarah.” Police sirens began to scream in the background. just run. Lisa. “No. Do you really think we could continue our fake marriage while you are testifying against me? You’ve broken my heart and ruined my life. Pride rose in his chest.” His shock was taken over by sorrow. just put me out of my misery now. I won’t spend the rest of my life in jail and I won’t run.

I tore Armando’s heart shaped locket from my neck. and I was kept off the stand. It didn’t matter anyway. There were nineteen total convictions. I begged Armando. Then he took out a gun from the back of his waistband and placed it in my hands. I want to be with you. I would have never said yes. and a long list of middle men to keep them busy. I pointed the gun at my husband and shot. In my eyes. “No baby. I heard running behind me. I finally decided to move on after my tear ducts 62 .” I closed his eyes and slowly lowered his body to the ground. It was only a matter of moments before he reached us. The anguish in my heart was unbearable. it was the least he could do. Next order of business Agent Marks wrote up the report stating that I had to shoot Armando to save my own life. they had José. I think he knew better. Wading in the ocean until I was hip deep.” He backed up a few feet and got down on his knees. Kissing it goodbye. I was able to strike a deal with Agent Marks to keep Cole Turner off their hit list. If I knew marrying him would have led me to this. “If you truly love me. Dropping the gun. The bureau sent me to a safe place in Maui for a month to take a breather. Flashbacks of him on his knees proposing whipped through my tortured mind. and I knew it was now or never. and José and Colina divorced after he was sent to prison in Cuba. With my eyes closed and mouthing the words I love you. Agent Marks needed me for another case and Hoover didn’t want anyone to know he let a woman in the FBI. Please just go. and Patsy’s was auctioned off. but we never discussed it. “You will always be my muy bonita pájaro. If I could just stop time and go back to that moment. Poor Pete went to jail for a very long time. run!” Armando grabbed my arms and looked at me. I threw it as far as I could into the sea. I ran over to him and cuddled his dying body in my arms. Papa Gonzalez committed suicide. Papa Gonzalez. My first three weeks there I stayed holed up in my condo moping Manny’s death. prove it.I heard Agent Marks yelling my name. He held his chest and a sincere smile spread across his lips before he passed on.

and this time it was in Los Angeles. Agent Marks had another assignment for me. I forced myself to get over the pain and pushed Miami out of my head.dried up and my mind couldn’t take the reenactment of what I had done anymore. 63 .

Part 2 Life #2 The Hollywood Case 64 .

and I was now… Lori Lentrall. All were aspiring brunette actresses in their twenties. with bright blue sultry eyes. Robert Redford. The Amazon I stood at the door knocking. My next assignment was to go undercover as an actress. For one month. Nice company to work for right? An informant for the FBI. whose real name was Pollyanna Butifuco. My blond curly locks were dyed brown. she snorted. Batting her eyelashes repeatedly.Chapter 12 Operation Actress It was 1969 and Hollywood was hot. “Yeah. along with the Grateful Dead. ranch style. I was subjected to daily private acting classes. who was a casting director by trade. and the Beatles and Pink Floyd. It was a rundown. Paul Newman. but for some reason. were in full swing. Everything was groovy. The first two were in New York. I probably was. Faye Dunaway. and Shirley MacLaine … just to name a few. The FBI had a hot tip on who it was. she was Academy Award winner. by the famous Oscar O’Hare. would not release the name to me. My teacher claimed I was quite good. The last one wasn’t just an aspiring actress. We had Elvis. and considering my background. I would have changed my name too. four-bedroom house in East LA. no less. layered. Hollywood actress. Tiffanie Patrice. and then straightened. She looked Hispanic. what is it?” I appeared unconcerned. Directed. “You had an ad for a roommate?” 65 . with peeling green paint and faded orange trim. A gorgeous amazon with extremely long legs and silky brunette hair answered. Warren Beatty. There had been a string of murders in New York and Los Angeles. and the latest three were in Hollywood. was going to make sure I won a role in a major film that was coming out.

but for this role. with empty beer bottles in the sink and the smell of old potato skins and onion rings.k. After the kitchen tour. sure. I had just turned twenty-seven. It was decorated sparingly. And of course. a. I looked around quickly with no comment at the sticky red-tiled counters with dancing green peppers engraved in them. My roommates also were in their early twenties. pointing aimlessly in the direction of the refrigerator. There were a few lava lamps and blacklights thrown in for good measure. Michael flipped burgers at a greasy spoon named Bill’s. The stove appeared to be about fifteen years old and well worn. I won’t bore you with their stage names. “This would be your room. Sue and Jake were an item.Her face brightened. and as far as Sue was concerned. The rest of the small house was adorned with shag rugs and purple couches.” she said gallantly.” I ran my hand through my newly dyed dark hair and twisted the end of a strand with my finger. I learned early that most people in Hollywood had alternate names. Apparently.” she said. It turned out I had two other roommates who I met later that day … Jake Miles and Michael Chandler.” She opened the door wide and I followed her inside to the kitchen. my roommates were all actors with day jobs. and they slept in the master bedroom. I even popped my gum for effect. and it felt like there was a musty film over everything. she led me to a decent-sized bedroom with a queen size bed that sagged in the middle. “This is the kitchen. A lone scratched three drawer dresser sat by the door. she introduced herself as Susan. she was staying that way. but now it was a murky brown. as if I was given the grand prize. I had to be twenty-two. so I decided early on to make the best of it. The ceilings were low.a. Sue was a waitress at Lucky’s. “Can you afford $350 a month? Utilities are included. Sue Springs. while the 66 . and Jake actually had a degree and was a history teacher at a local middle school. This is where the bureau sent me. The paint on the walls was at one time bright yellow. After showing me around.“Yeah. They sometimes changed on a daily basis anyway.

I’ll buy it. Jake doted on her and they made a believable couple. “Yep. Great … Pay poor tax of $15. Michael rolled first. that was funny too. Michael was a little creepy.” We played for a few more minutes while we got stoned. He was about 5’11”. “So. on the other hand. I told them I had a little money saved. so I was going to wait on getting a day job and take all the auditions I could. Then Michael began to laugh at something Sue said and then the next thing we knew our game was in pieces on the floor.” 67 . They found that answer satisfactory and even brave. was a little chunky with red hair and freckles. sanguine. “Community Chest. Apparently. Jake. Our next stop was Boise’s Burgers on the corner. I’m going tomorrow to audition for this new Oscar O’Hare flick.fourth bedroom remained empty. citing commercials and plenty of cameos in B movies.” Sue gave him his card and I was next. got any auditions lined up?” I nodded my head while chewing on a fry. and hard not to like. Sue was cute.” Sue butted in. Michael. you should come with. She decided we should play Monopoly and smoke a joint to kick off the evening. Sue thought we should have a “Welcome Lori” party to integrate me into the household. Monopoly Our first night was a Wednesday night and everyone was off work. with dark hair and blue eyes. Jake asked me a question. In the middle of a mouthful. I rolled. All three of them had inflated acting resumes. “Waterworks. “Ooh! Me too! So is Michael. He also constantly smelled like old hamburger. but whatever … I was going to play the game … and I was going to win. Very James Dean.

Jake and I received callbacks. Finally.” Her eyes got big and misty as she handed me the phone. “Sure. we camped around the phone. spoil sport! You’re never going to get anywhere with that kind of attitude!” Michael slurped on his drink and kept quiet most of the meal. Sue and Michael found out they were extras. The next day. It was the longest line I had ever seen in my life. and it only got longer as we sat in the scorching sun for hours. Apparently. Eight days later. “Ok. 68 . yes she’s right here. Tell yourself that you CAN do this!” Sue’s exuberance was almost intoxicating. The entire city is going to be auditioning. When the call came. but it really didn’t matter. Sue gave us a quick pep talk. with Sue having a bit speaking part as a waitress. why not? I was actually considering going anyway. This is your shot. This may be the only one you ever get. Remember. We both skipped breakfast. this was normal protocol for my new thespian family after an audition. If someone had to go to work. all four of us went to audition. but still too fearful to eat. Jake and I left for our callback excited. I felt a twinge of guilt knowing I was getting a part while all of these poor starving actors were happy if they were thrown a bone as an extra. I did the best job I knew how and left actually feeling like I accomplished something. Sue was the first to pick up. When Jake and I were leaving for our screen test.Jake replied sarcastically. the person who was home had to guard the phone. and I wasn’t sure which one was the informant. you can do this. “Hello? Yes. “Okay. make them BELIEVE the words on the script. For the next seventy-two hours after our callback. There were three casting directors. my turn came and I went in the room. you two. we were all home. so why should we be excluded?” Sue threw a fry at him.

Jake looked at the phone in terror. “Hello? What? Are you sure? Thank you! Thank you so much!” We all screamed in unison. We all began hugging each other and shouting congratulations. “There are no small parts remember? Just small actors!” A few hours later we dragged home plastered after spending too much money at the hole in the wall bar down the road. 69 . and Sue jumped on the couch. Yes? I did?” I hung up the phone and then jumped up and down screaming. “Let’s celebrate! We are all going to be in a movie together! She looked at Michael and winked.“Hello. He then looked at Michael in anticipation. but they needed to believe I was. “I got the part! I got the part!” I wasn’t really surprised. “Answer it. Jake grabbed the receiver. Our little party was interrupted by another phone call.” “Hello? Yes he is … ” Michael handed the phone to Jake.

we began filming. we love you. tell me where Andrew is. but I didn’t realize that I was going to be the supporting actress. Could I really pull this off? How could Agent Marks do this to me? Jake received a juicy part too with several scenes. I had seen him in a couple of movies myself and had always thought he was a very gifted actor. He wasn’t as prominent as I was. who abducted our infant brother Andrew. “Sherrie. the set was only an hour away on the outskirts of Orange County. “NOOOOO! Nobody loves me! NOBODY!” Bud moved a few steps towards me. Hmmm … psycho … I think I can do this … “AND ACTION” “Sherrie. Fortunately. you need to come home. please. It looked like Sue was going to be able to say a couple of lines when she waited on a table in her scene. I was to play his psycho sister Sherrie. Unlikely Lady. who most women swooned over.” Bud pleaded with me. I waved my arms in desperation. Unlikely Lady The lead actor in our film. but he definitely was receiving his fair share of screen time.” 70 . but all Michael got was crowd shots. was none other than Bud Giovanni. About a month and a half later. I was shocked and my stomach went sour when I received my script.Chapter 13 Welcome Home I knew I was supposed to get a speaking part.

He was married with two little children. “Sherrie. “Have you been drinking again. apple-pie. I can help you … ” “CUT!” Oscar O’Hare walked over to us. loves-children-and-old-people kind of guy. “Buddy. you would have thought Bud Giovanni was an all-American. or I’ll consider it a breach of contract. According to tabloids. sticking his nose in Bud’s face. listen to me … you need help. He personally made me sick to my stomach. but that didn’t stop him from sleeping with every teenage bimbo who looked his way. I grimaced when I saw him.” 71 . Buddy? This is exactly how you act when you’re drunk! Now rerun the scene. not bothering to hide my disdain. I’m just not feeling it from you. He demanded that people wait on him hand and foot. I felt sorry for his wife.” We reran the scene four more times until Oscar was happy.” Bud was surprisingly arrogant. that was perfect. “He’s mine! All mine! You can’t have him!” Bud hit the ground with his knees in a begging position. The studio had given me a good-sized trailer to stay in and sitting in it one day was Bud. and he thought he was too good to converse with some of the “lesser” actors and staff working on this project. and I would try to avoid him off camera as much as possible. “Whaddya mean you’re not feeling it? Are you blind?” Oscar turned and faced off. Simply not true. who was home taking care of his kids. Run it again.I scrunched up my face. “I just thought it would be nice to get to know each other better since we were working together and all. Lori. “What are you doing in here?” He grinned.

Jake responded appropriately. I knew you didn’t always sleep in here. I thought I was going to throw up. glancing at Jake.” I met Sue.” A cold creepy chill crawled up my spine. and you would have lost your job too. 72 . I’m out of here all weekend. looking for a reaction.” I grabbed my purse and started out the door. I was just on my way out to meet my roommates for dinner. he glanced at me. “He’s such a pervert! He grabbed my rear end the other day!” exclaimed Sue. “Roommates? I was wonderin’ where you went sometimes. “What? Why didn’t you tell me? I would have knocked his head off!” Michael snorted. Jake!” When Sue kissed Jake. Can we do this another time?” He licked his lips.” Sue kissed Jake on the cheek. Buddy.I hid a look of utter contempt. and Jake at Boise’s Burgers and told them about Buddy. “Look. Michael. Something that made me blush and look away. I saw something in his eyes that I shouldn’t have. We finished our meal and spent the rest of the night smoking doobies and drinking cheap beer. “I’ve been watching you since the day we met. “Yeah. “Have you been watching me?” He didn’t bother to hide the lust. “See you Monday. Buddy. “I’m a big girl.

73 .

So … I was actually good at something. Oscar liked what he saw and wanted you for the part. It was a long scorching hot drive to that dump. I wished my mom were alive. she would be so proud of me. then I would watch my back and the killer couldn’t get close to me!” He lifted his right eyebrow. You actually earned it. “You got a problem with that?” I looked at him sternly. yeah! What if I get killed?” 74 . Apparently. “Uh. and I was covered with dust. “You didn’t tell me I was going to be the supporting actress!” He laughed.Chapter 14 Route 66 I sat down next to Agent Marks in the lobby of an old motel off Route 66. The motel’s roof was sagging. I thought if I saw another tumbleweed cross my path I would go crazy. and horribly mismatched pastel decorations hung from the rotting ceiling.” Then it dawned on me. “We didn’t know. “When you need to know. I decided to change the subject.” What he said brought a smile to my face and satisfaction to my heart. We just asked our informant to get you enough of a role so that you could stay on set. “You’re setting me up for bait! If I know who it is. “So when are you going to tell me who the suspect is?” Agent Marks looked around quickly and then met my eyes.

The fact of the matter is all the girls that were murdered had the common thread of having a serious boyfriend.“You’ll be alright. “We both know I made a few ‘allowances’ for you in the Gonzalez case. Don’t you think that me dating Jake would upset the balance in our house?” “I just want you to get to know him better.” I shook my head. Even date him if you have to. Aren’t you a third degree black belt? Didn’t we train you in self-defense? How to shoot a gun and not miss?” I sucked on the ice from my soda. “What’s your point?” I scoffed. Can’t you at least do this one little thing for me?” I swallowed the half-melted ice cube. I sat up and attempted bravery.” Hollywood Life 75 . I still had a hangover from last night. “Doesn’t look like I have a choice. “I happen to like his girlfriend. we want you to get close to your roommate Jake.” Agent Marks eyeballed the clock on the wall. mildly miffed at the motel’s lack of proper air conditioning.” Agent Marks didn’t appreciate my hesitancy. “I guess. “Why? No way! He has a girlfriend!” Agent Marks grumbled. “By the way. “I’ll think about it.” Agent Marks wiped sweat from his brow with his napkin. She’s a decent person. Learn more about him.

but orders are orders. Bottom line is I need your help.” She looked around as if she was afraid of being heard. We decided to splurge and ate at an upscale restaurant in Malibu.” I sat back.” She leaned closer. the one who always wears the backwards red cap. “Oh yeah? Why?” “Well. I just … I don’t know.” I took a bite of my salad.” “What’s going on?” “I’m thinking about leaving Jake. “Which one?” Sue flushed. I had to keep my weight down. “He’s such a low-life scum. and I was trying to figure out a way to befriend him without vexing Sue. “My help? What do you want me to do?” 76 . “So how is Buddy treating ya?” Sue asked. I mean. I munched on a carrot stick. “Rick.I spent the next four weeks memorizing lines and running scenes. he’s a nice guy and all. I personally thought Agent Marks was off his rocker asking me to do this. but things have sort of cooled between us. “You’re telling me. And … well … there’s been this flirtation thing going on between me and one of the cameramen. I didn’t see Jake much. nothing has happened or anything. maybe something will come of it. Sue came by my trailer and wanted to know if I could go to lunch.” I sucked on my diet soda. I can’t believe he’s this famous. there’s something I wanted to talk to you about. “Hey. One day.

“You’re not so bad yourself. You are an excellent actor. I needed a way to get closer to Jake and here was my main obstacle flashing me the green light.” Jake smiled. Fred. pretending to still be doubtful.She picked at her pink painted nails.” Oddly enough. “I don’t know if I would feel comfortable doing this. “Pleeeeeease?” I nodded. Lori. Thanks. We walked over to it together enjoying the sunlight. The bar was decorated in the spirit of the twenties. Can’t you just dump him? Give him the lets be friends talk?” Sue soulfully pouted. He was playing Sherrie’s devoted doctor. “You did a great job today. Dr.” I couldn’t believe this opportunity just flew in my lap. I needed to give my liver a break. When we were rehearsing. he was extremely handsome.” 77 . There was a bar across the street from the studio that many of the cast and crew frequented. “Alright. I know he thinks you’re attractive. I had to begin working on a scene that Jake was in. My day was getting better and better. I know this is asking a lot. “Ok. I saw it on his face the first time he met you.” I ordered a diet soda. Fred. but is there any way you could. Psycho Sherrie. Jake. I was trying to avoid alcohol. Jake opened the door for me and gallantly bowed while I walked through. he often looked over at me and smiled. “Oh … okay. alright. Afterwards. ummm … distract him?” I choked on a lettuce leaf. “Please. “Excuse me?” Sue flashed begging eyes. when I arrived back to the set after lunch. he wanted to know if I would have a drink with him. I giggled like a schoolgirl. complete with a piano player in the corner and a black baby grand.

leaving his wallet on the bar. He struck me as mature for his age and extremely intelligent. I guess you’re in the right place.” he replied. Curious. beginning to enjoy myself.” He slid off the bar stool. I found a picture of a pretty brunette who looked to be about twenty-two. Jake had a mysterious nature. I have a dedicated addiction to the spotlight. I missed my fellow New Yorkers.We cracked a few more jokes about work and I relaxed. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I also found myself feeling dynamically drawn toward him. I was beginning to wonder what he was doing with Sue in the first place. His driver’s license was from New York. A secret I would want to unlock. As we talked. My home state. Lori. It was Jake.” 78 . I waited until he was out of sight and then picked it up. “Really? So what made you decide to get into acting?” He toyed with the stirring straw in his drink. like he was keeping a secret.” He smiled and winked. My gut intuition smelled a rat. Since I didn’t have a real social life. and it confirmed he was Jacob R. Miles. I examined the face and stuffed it back in. Not that Sue wasn’t a top-notch person. He had a couple of tens and not much else. “Just something I’ve loved to do since I was a kid. I felt someone touch my elbow and I screamed. too bad he couldn’t know that. knocking my diet soda all over the floor. they just didn’t seem like such a good match anymore.” I laughed. I was always trying to fill the void with my fake one. but something wasn’t right. I heard a laugh and looked behind me. In one of the pockets. I decided to see how far I could pry. “Excuse me. twenty-four years old. “So where are you from?” “New York. I have to go to the men’s room. “Sorry. didn’t mean to scare you. “Well.

“I will.” I edged in closer trying to ignore the piano music in the background. “I am going to end it with Sue. trying to blow it off. alright?” Trying to appear defeated and attractive at the same time. “About what?” With my eyes. I was just curious. but next time. I quickly set it back on the bar. “Sorry. “Because I’ve noticed that everyone around here lies so much about their name and age … I wanted to make sure you were who you said you were. nodding towards his wallet.” A look of seriousness gathered in his eyes.” He smirked. I mumbled. I begged him for mercy. “I wanted to see how old you were. just ask. “Find everything okay?” He said. I whispered. Jake settled on the barstool. “Then why didn’t you just ask?” I shrugged. “I can see that.” He visibly relaxed.” The bartender glared at me while he pulled out a mop.Guilt washed over my face. I was holding his wallet in my hand. “What is it?” Jake leaned forward to accommodate me.” 79 . “I wanted you to have a drink with me tonight because I needed to talk to you about something.

” Hmmm … I thought … the same thing Sue said. For the first time in a long time. so I wanted to let you know. “So why are you telling me?” “I know you and Sue are friends. “Jake. Things seemed to be falling in place just a little too perfectly. I wondered if he could hear its rapid beating. I was speechless. “The truth is I’ve had my eye on someone else. I played dumb. “So why are you breaking it off with her?” He smiled. “We really aren’t getting along that well. “You.” A look of relief crossed Jake’s face after his confession.” It felt like someone pinched me when he said that. You and Sue are still officially together.” His breath smelled sweetly of rum and Coke.I was a little stunned at this new development. trying to convey honesty. and even when you break up … ” 80 . and that we all live and work together. “Who?” He leaned in closer. I really don’t feel comfortable about this right now. “I … uh … ummm … I don’t know what to say. I asked. “Is it someone we work with?” Jake nodded. “How about saying yes to dinner tomorrow night?” I placed my hand over my heart. I wanted to tell you myself so that you didn’t think I was a big jerk.” He paused.

by the way.” He winked. I hurried back across the street.” Jake quickly kissed my cheek. Oscar has Sherrie keep hers looking so nasty. I however. Is this why Agent Marks wanted me to get close to him? I informed Agent Marks about my conversation with Jake. I had had enough surprises for the day. I appreciate it. Convincing them I indeed did not want to stay. Oh. “Thanks. but he appeared unconcerned. I’m gonna get out of here. 81 . stayed suspicious. “I’ve always had a thing for brunettes.He smoothly cut me off. I turned and left only to be greeted by a few of the crew including Sue’s new beau “Rick the cameraman” who was coming in for happy hour.” I reached for a lock and twirled it. your hair looks great when you have it down. “I understand … I just wanted you to know what was going on. it takes me forever to get it back to where it belongs by the end of the day. Thanks for having a drink with me. “Jake. Jake’s last words caused a bear trap to clamp over my heart. I have to get up early tomorrow. “Okay.” I jumped off the barstool and picked up my purse.” Still smiling.

“Hey. Without thinking. they had no problem staying friends. He grabbed my backside. Hard. what is it?” “I was wondering if you could spare forty bucks?” “Aren’t you a millionaire?” He grinned. and Bud began jogging next to me. the good ole’ boy attitude in full effect. I was walking through the parking lot to my car. Sue and Jake officially broke up. Buddy. I had another run in with Bud Giovanni after a cast meeting. Apparently.” I blanched. she does the budget and told me I couldn’t have any more spending money this month. Oscar told her I was misbehavin’. and both seemed better off for it. “Aww … Come on. I began a kick/ throw combination that would have left him paralyzed (at least for a 82 . can I talk to you for a moment?” I turned and faced him. “Then there is a reason for it. Lori. and I’m not about to stand in their way.Chapter Jake 15 Less than a week later. “My wife cut me off. “Sure.” I began to walk away.” “No.” He tried to beg.

he had his shirt off with sweat gleaming on his slightly hairy built chest. no one was home. Then we could go to Boise’s Burgers. Apparently. As I stood back from him. I realized how much he worked out. When I safely heard the shower going. getting in my car victorious. groaning piteously. He went to the faucet and filled up a glass with water. he moved in slow motion as he seemed to struggle against gravity. Boundaries set. “Just got back from my run. I took great satisfaction in watching him fall over in the fetal position. Catching everything. I had already sifted through everyone’s stuff several times to see if I could find any clues. Ewww. I almost laughed as I felt his body stiffen and his hands stop all attempts to violate me as the aftershocks of my direct hit began to register throughout his body. but no luck. and told me that he just needed a few minutes to shower and change. his eyes glanced at me briefly in confusion and then closed as he turned cherry red while crouching down and holding himself. winked. Mouth gaping. Ooh! What was I doing? I silently shook myself out of a trance. So I changed tactics in mid motion and faked stumbling into him while I kneed him in the groin. It was Jake.” He wiped his brow. What are you up to?” Without warning. Mildewy pizza and an open beer. When he walked in. I crumpled to the floor and sat 83 . Weekend Blues It was the weekend and I had no desire to stay in my trailer. I heard the front door open and close. I followed the beads of sweat with my eyes. he smiled. then I remembered that Lori Lentrall wasn’t supposed to have the ability to kill people. While straightening my dress. I was caught redhanded staring at his biceps. When I arrived at the house. I stayed in character as I chirped “Hmm!” and then spun on one foot and walked away.while). Probably been in there a year. My stomach grumbled and I checked the fridge. Gravity was winning. He cleared his throat while I blushed. my stomach loudly rumbled. I was hoping Sue would want to hang out. “Just got home. His face contorted.

Sarah? Are you crazy? He’s from New York and he likes brunettes. you are a history teacher?” “Was. I quit as soon as I got the part as your doctor in this film.there holding my knees close to my chest. in hopes of saving a few calories. Michael’s at work. however. I stood up and sat on the couch. “I’m a big history buff. You know. We kept the conversation light. If Agent Marks didn’t think he was the killer. don’t you think you learned your lesson with Manny? Finally. in 84 . I had to break my addiction to good-looking men. She would help put an end to my madness. my stomach settled down. What do you think you are doing. even if he’s not. “So why did you decide to be a history teacher? Kind of an odd profession for someone who really wants to be an actor.” First Date? After a few delightful mouthfuls of burger. Not that teaching ever paid much. why would he have you get close to him? Plus. and she’s probably going to be with him all weekend.” I stepped lightly. and I tried to get more information out of him. hoping Sue would come home soon. my parents insisted that I go to college so I would have something to fall back on. “Oh? You didn’t hear? Sue already replaced me with some cameraman. Plus. after talking some sense into my dense head. “Yeah. thankfully. I ditched the fries.” He grimaced. It’s paying me enough to get by. Jake walked out showered and.” He shrugged. “So you ready to go?” I met his dreamy eyes. fully dressed. “So. Jake finished all of his and then started on my fries. I was kind of hoping we could wait for Sue and Michael.

” I went back into my bedroom. I needed to get away from him. All the windows in the house already had burglar bars on them. I excused myself and lay down on my bed. “What about you? Why do you want to be an actress?” I clipped out a rote answer. pushing all thoughts of Jake out of my head. I had resigned myself to not falling in love again. with a chair pushed up against it and a loaded gun under my pillow. And even if he’s not. Jake could be an innocent bystander in this murder mystery. again. No such luck. The next morning. it’s just a morning jog. Clinging on for dear life. as usual. He’s only flesh and blood. and the last thing he needed was me messing with his heart.” It was as if … no matter how hard I tried to shake it off … a cloak came and wrapped itself around me. he was up at the same time. In fact. thank you. I kept my door locked. “Great idea! Just give me a moment. We wouldn’t ever have a real relationship 85 . swallowing his food. After that incident. I know you’re lonely and half-starved for affection. I awoke early for my run. sleepyhead! Did you get some rest?” I rubbed my eyes while a garbled sound left my mouth. The animal attraction I felt towards Jake was bizarre. “I’m just fine. hoping to avoid Jake. “I knew you ran in the morning.” He paused. I crawled under the covers and went to sleep. but he’s an assignment. No biggie. remember Manny? Wisps of guilt whipped against my heart when I thought about Armando. “Good morning. and I’m good at memorizing lines. he could be the killer. so I thought I would get up and we could run together. with old tennis shoes on and no shirt. “Because it’s fun. There was no way I was going to hurt another person. Okay.” I faked a grin. closed the door and sat on the bed. When we arrived home.case I failed at acting.” He unabashedly stretched his arms allowing his chest muscles to ripple. Sarah.

I needed to leave this house and get away from him. not better. My treat. but it didn’t. I tried to gather my thoughts. Lip locked. Wrapped in a soft baby blue bathrobe. I heard a light knocking on the bathroom door. I drove all the way to my trailer without looking back.anyway. but just so you know. acting like I needed all of my oxygen. And even if he did. As I started to ask him what he wanted. Jake could never find out I was an undercover operative. and Jake was standing there. I buried my head in my hands. I knew my instincts were right. I sat on the toilet with the lid down to think. he would feel deceived. he reached down and brought my face up to meet his. again. Are you this desperate for attention? I thought imagining him as a mass murderer would help put a lid on my boiling hormones. but they just weren’t listening. he picked me up and sat me on the sink. 86 . I felt my robe wanting to slip so I pushed Jake off me and held it together with my shaking hands. same as Armando. “Get out of here right now. he left and shut the bathroom door. When we arrived home. My heart went to my throat when I saw him in a pair of jeans. and I was easily pulled into his charm. Jake!” He held up his hands in defeat. let’s go. We jogged for about seven miles before calling it quits. you are attracted to a possible serial killer. Jake pointed to a one-story cerulean building in the distance. freshly showered with bare feet and. “How about we take it to the beach?” The Morning Jog The morning air was cold and crisp with the smell of dead fish dancing on it.” He grabbed his car keys. I spoke as little as possible. What is wrong with me? Was I just a glutton for punishment? I quickly dressed and slipped out the back door and got in my car. gregarious.” I still spoke as little as possible and tried to avoid eye contact. I stood up to open it. My attraction to him was getting worse. we parted ways and I took a cold shower. “Let’s get breakfast at that restaurant over there. no shirt.” With that. “Suit yourself. “I’m ready. Great. A tingling sensation flew up my legs. Sarah. Jake was witty. I slid off my bed and met him in the living room.

87 .

I gasped and quickly pushed them in my jeans pocket. Plus. I ran to a pay phone and called Agent Marks. Starting with Bud’s trailer. He’s dangerous. but you are going to just have to keep doing what you are doing. I left my car at the studio so that it appeared I was in my trailer. Could he get any grosser? After a few minutes of rummaging. We were slowly walking down the red. Polaroid pictures of pretty girls in their twenties. I opened his unlocked door and stepped cautiously inside.” “I’m sorry. Sarah. I had taken a bus all the way to Chinatown to meet Agent Marks.and gold-lantern-lit street. Shoving the box of underwear back under the bed and slipping out of his trailer. He is a famous movie star 88 . They were all used. I pulled on it and several pictures fell out of a tear in the bottom of the mattress. “Then how do we bust him? You confirmed some of these pictures were of the girls murdered. That is the only way we can legally search his trailer. Get enough evidence for us to get a warrant.” Agent Marks replied. “Not yet. Yuck! My stomach began to churn. Then I saw it. All brunettes. A corner of a photograph. we couldn’t bring it in to court when you got it breaking and entering. It was messy with clothes strewn everywhere and a stench that burned my nostrils. I put the Polaroids back in my purse. “Isn’t this enough evidence to bust him?” I cried. Discouraged. I found a box full of women’s underwear under his bed. I decided to actually do my job and snoop around.Chapter 16 Chinatown Since hardly anyone was on the set.

but keep paying rent so that you have an open door there just in case.” He smirked.with lots of money. “Good. I grimaced. but your loyalty lies first with the bureau. “Don’t worry.” “Don’t worry.” “Suit yourself. “Just remember. And they were raped first. I think I’m going to stay there from now on.” Agent Marks paused as we watched a man hang cooked chickens on a string in a store window. We have to be careful. “Oh.?” Agent Marks sucked on a noodle. it looks good if you have a social life.” 89 . I’m the bait? Those trailer doors aren’t that sturdy. “So meanwhile. the women were all killed during the day. thank you. unable to meet Agent Marks eyes. so you have time to hurt him if he tries to attack you.O. Sarah. “I prefer to sleep in my trailer. What if he changes his M. “Fine.” He chuckled. you can have a little fun. that makes me feel a whole lot better. No time for real romances. Plus.” I steadily held in anger towards Agent Marks seemingly nonchalant attitude about my safety.” He paused. I’ve already learned my lesson. “So how are you and Jake doing?” I looked away.” Agent Marks handed the storeowner a few dollars in exchange for a bowl of warm noodles.” I looked at him condescendingly. “That’s why we still have you staying with three roommates on the other side of town. I was embarrassed. Get outta of here and get me some court worthy evidence.

Budding Suspicions It was hard not to get nervous around Bud after what I found, but I kept my cool. I had neatly placed the photographs back where I found them without being seen. I secretly kept my eye on Bud, but I never saw anything worth mentioning to Agent Marks. I stayed in my trailer for the next few months and avoided Jake at all costs, unless we had a scene together. He took the hint and left me alone. Once a week I had a lunch date with Sue and would hear all about her new boyfriend, Rick the cameraman. Another birthday came and went without any acknowledgement. Now I was twenty-eight. No husband, no kids, and none of my movie coworkers even knew my real name. Loneliness had again begun to plague my soul and keep me company at night. We wrapped up the filming, and I moved back into the house, with a lack of another place to go. For weeks, I jogged and slept, with not much else to do. Occasionally I would see Jake and he would nod an acknowledgement, but I kept my distance. Our movie was getting a speedy release the week before Christmas, and there was nothing to do but wait. Well, except I did have to show up to three interviews to promote the movie. One was a teenybopper magazine and the other was a ten minute segment on a talk show. The third was a short gossip column interview. However, since I was an unknown, Bud got most of the spotlight and I didn’t bother to stand in his way. Thanksgiving came quickly, and Sue and Michael went back home to wherever they were from for the week. Thanksgiving day, I sat on the couch moping, prepared to spend the holiday watching reruns. I thought I had the house all to myself when Jake walked in. He sat next to me on the couch. “All alone for the holidays?” I didn’t bother to lie and was too depressed to care. “I’ve never met my father and my mom is dead. I have no siblings and nowhere to go.” He placed his arm around my shoulder and pulled me into a brotherly embrace while kissing me on the top of the head. “If it makes you feel better, I have no where to go either. But … I’m a fabulous cook, and if you give me a chance, I can make us a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.”

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The lightness in his voice caused me to perk up. Turkey and sweet potatoes did sound good. In fact, I could smell them already. “Really? That would be wonderful.” “Good. Let’s go. I know of a grocery store that doesn’t close till noon, and that gives us thirty minutes to grab what we need.” We bum rushed to grocery store with twenty minutes to spare. As if fate had a hand to play, there was one lone turkey left. It looked like a runt, but hey, there were only two of us. We grabbed sweet potatoes, butter, canned green beans, and a ready-made pumpkin pie. Their bakery had fresh rolls, and we bought three. A bottle of red wine made the meal complete. Jake wasn’t as great a cook as he claimed, but I didn’t care. I was simply happy to have a hot meal and someone to share it with. I allowed myself to enjoy Jake’s company; he made me feel wanted and very good about myself. We talked for hours and I felt completely safe with him. He was sweet, with gorgeous blue eyes and my favorite, dark hair. Still, I refrained from kissing him, and he had the decency not to try. After dinner, we sat in front of the TV watching Miracle on 34th Street. At the end, I actually saw him begin to well up, but he caught it with his shirt sleeve. I pretended not to notice. While we were sitting together on the couch, my body decided to do something without my consent … it leaned over and snuggled up next to him. He responded instantly by putting his arm around me. “So who’s your date for the movie premiere?” I hadn’t thought about it. “I don’t know.” “Want to go together? As friends, I mean?” “Sure, why not?” When he added the “as friends” tag, I was disappointed. I could have kicked myself. I should have been happy.

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He clicked the off button on the remote and the TV listened. He touched my chin with his finger and I looked up at him. His eyes were moist. “Are you sure you want to go as only friends?” No! I wasn’t sure, my heart screamed. My mouth told another story, “Yes.” His mouth met mine and my resistance melted away. I swear I could have stayed in that position for the rest of my life. He asked again, “Are you positive?” I wiggled free and sat up. “Yes, Jake! We can’t do this.” He looked disappointed. “I don’t understand. Tell me why not?” A lone tear made its path down my right cheek. “I just can’t.” I marched into my bedroom, locked the door, and cried myself to sleep.

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Chapter Famous

17

For the next several days before the premiere, I saw Bud’s face and mine on posters, billboards, and in TV trailers. I even saw us on the side of a city bus. It was very weird to say the least. I finally felt significant, like I mattered. I was nervous about what people would think about the movie. Did Oscar make a mistake casting me as Sherrie? Would they think the storyline was stupid? Would people think I was fat? Not very pretty? Dwelling on it too much would cause my stomach acids to go into overdrive. I already hadn’t eaten in days. I bought a tight red sequined dress for the premiere, and I wanted it to fit perfectly. Occasionally I was recognized in a store, but no mobs yet. I smiled to myself after signing an autograph at a gas station for a teenage girl… Mom, I hope you can see me from wherever you are. The day before the premiere, I had another “run in” with Jake. The car the bureau gave me to drive broke down. When I called the house, Jake answered. I let my voice get gravely, “Is Sue there?” “No.” “What about Michael?” “Nope.” I paused. He was the last person I wanted to talk too. Finally he spoke, “What is it, Lori?” “My car broke down.”

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He didn’t hesitate. “Where are you?” “I’m in front of that … you know … that grocery store.” “You mean the one we bought Thanksgiving dinner in?” I sighed. I felt so silly. “Yes.” “I’ll be there in ten.” When he arrived, we tried to jump-start my car, but it didn’t budge. I called a tow and he patiently waited. “Thanks, Jake, but you don’t have to stay here. The tow truck driver will take me home.” He glared at me. “Why are you always trying to push me away?” I got defensive, using my dignity as a shield. “I’m not always trying to push you away. That’s in your head.” He stepped in front of me and peered down. “Is this in my head too?” His soft full lips grasped mine and refused to let go. I didn’t exactly resist either, I wanted it as badly as he did. My momentary lapse of reason didn’t last; the tow truck pulled in the parking lot and honked. Jake broke free of our embrace and whispered gently in my ear, “This isn’t over.” A large stocky man approached us. “Hey, uh, a tow is $65.” I grimaced. “Sure, do you take checks?” He grunted, “As long as they’re not rubber.”

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The tow truck hauled my car to the shop, and Jake and I rode home together. When we pulled in the driveway, he left the car idling and glanced over at me. “I want us to be a couple.” I did too. I really did. My soul longed to merge with his on every possible level, but I knew that if I really did care about him, I wouldn’t let this go any further. It would be selfish of me to continue this charade of a romance, and I knew it. “I can’t Jake. We can’t be a couple. I’m sorry.” His face dropped. “Why not? Please tell me, Lori. I know you want to be with me. I want you to.” I mumbled, “I can’t explain.” He leaned closer. “Lori, look at me.” I looked into his watery eyes decorated with long black eyelashes. “I’m looking.” “Now tell me that you don’t want to be with me.” I tried, but I couldn’t do it. So I opened the car door and stepped out while I looked at him mournfully. “It’s better this way. Trust me.” The Premiere The day of the premiere was incredible. I can’t think of any other words to describe it. Fantastic? A dream come true? Trance-like, surreal, heaven on earth … Those would all fit. Mr. and Mrs. Oscar O’Hare, Mr. and Mrs. Bud Giovanni, Jake and I all rode in the same limo to the Chinese theater. After everyone left the limo, Jake asked the driver to give us minute. I froze; I hadn’t talked to Jake since yesterday, and I didn’t want to talk to him now.

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I felt as high as a kite. but they all behaved nicely. I stepped aside while tightening up my fists. Well. I walked right into Jake kissing a big busted brunette on one of the beds. Oscar threw a huge party at his house afterwards with cast and crew to celebrate. I want to tell you how proud I am of you. except for a few who drank too much and dove into the pool naked.I nervously asked. but refused to cry. while letting her fingers run off his shoulders. and he didn’t try to walk past it. I had kept the “friends only” barrier up. 96 . furious is not a strong enough word. like I was invincible. But. I was enraged with envy. I met celebrity after celebrity. but the box office would tell the true story. but I couldn’t find the words. and malice toward a strange brunette kissing my boyfriend. He gave me a soft kiss on my cheek and opened the limo door. no.” I choked up. and what a gifted actress you are. I answered several questions and signed even more autographs. Message delivered. The driver helped me out. “Thank you. What is that tramp doing with my man? I had a temporary lobotomy concerning the “friends only” scenario I had been pitching Jake.” I whispered. that even seemed par for the course in that environment. Light bulbs popped everywhere. making sure she got the picture. hate. She walked past him. I remember thinking that being a special agent wasn’t so bad after all. something interesting. Everyone of course said the movie was fabulous. Jake waltzed me down the red carpet. “What is it?” He graciously kissed my hand. I wanted to say something more. When I went upstairs to look around and count the bedrooms. and then glanced up at Jake sweetly and let go of his embrace. and I had microphones shoved in my face. I had spent hours putting my face on. and I didn’t hesitate to lap it up. it was breathtaking. Jealousy’s vicious bulldog trampled through my soul. Wow! Fame was infectious! No. and excused herself. I did notice that they looked older in real life than in the movies. I had never seen a home so big before in my entire life. and I doubt I ever will again. I was furious. I stood at the doorway too shocked to move. how lovely you look. the brunette smiled at me slyly. almost daring her to stay. The attention was addictive. I placed myself squarely in the middle of the door opening and glared at the brunette. “Before we go in there. Jake and I mingled separately. and I was fully enjoying my tidbit of fame.

He easily pushed me back so I quickly drew my gun that I had stashed in my purse and pointed it at him. You’ve given me no indication of wanting anything more.” A jolt of electricity went through my bones when I heard my real name. a few times. Lori. I blubbered. No. “Let me get you a tissue. but he got there faster and stood in front of it. but I think I had a minor emotional breakdown. but all you did was blow me off.” 97 . Sarah. it had been a difficult few years. Put that down.” He tried to change the subject quickly.” I snapped back. I tried. “Uh nothing.” I rammed him into the wall and held my forearm under his neck. He lifted both hands in the air. “Then make me understand.” I don’t know what came over me. What is going on?” Was he really this dense? I turned around and started to open the door. Oh no. It had been a difficult day. partner. “Easy. “What are you so mad about?” I slammed the door behind me. flashed on his face. “Uh … kissing a really pretty woman. “Who are you?” I hissed. I can’t believe I just screwed up like that. “I like you … it’s just that I can’t … you don’t understand.” He softened and spoke quietly. “What did you call me?” A look that said. I don’t understand. “I’m not your partner. “What do you think you are doing?” He looked confused. “You said you just wanted to be friends. keeping it closed.Jake straightened the bowtie on his tux and looked at me.

“So Marks sent you in to fake a romance with me? Why?” He took a black bureau wallet out of his pocket and threw it at me. Well. the last case you did. put that gun down. I vaguely looked the contents over. “A set up.” He was obviously miffed. Sarah. so you acted like you wanted to date me. good job.” Things started to make sense. I’ll show you my credentials … Come on. He didn’t want you to know I was an agent because he knew you probably wouldn’t play along. “Great. He snorted.“Sarah. I’m Special Agent Jackson. “Well. Make sure you stayed on assignment. you know what? Agent Marks told me to date you.” Shaking my head. and he didn’t think that you should be by yourself. See if you’d snap.” I threw his wallet back at him. He wanted me to keep my eyes on you. I was following orders. I slowly lowered my gun.” I fumed. If you give me a chance. Rage began to boil. he asked me to befriend you so I could keep you safe. Well. tears burning in my eyes. I was trying to push your buttons. He told me to get close to you. “He knew Bud was dangerous. “And this brunette you were kissing?” He looked at the ground.” 98 . giving him a chance to explain himself. satisfied he was who he said he was. You didn’t give. “So was I. you know. “That’s why you would try to get me to break and tell you why I couldn’t be your girlfriend! You wanted to know if I was going to blow my cover!” He shrugged. while safely placing my gun back in it’s place. not hers. Marks is my handling agent. on my end. I was incredulous and couldn’t believe the nerve of the bureau. Agent Marks didn’t want a repeat of … well.

I’m not working with you. momentarily paralyzing him. he managed to pull up his other hand in supplication. mad. He began to fall over. Before he could gather his senses. but he could only gasp as he slowly helped himself up by holding on to the bed. Faster than even I thought possible. I swung my head down and brought my other foot around as I picked up momentum and brought my entire body weight down on a pressure point right next to his neck along his shoulder muscle. grabbing the limp arm attached to the same shoulder. I stood up and walked around in front of him. “You weren’t saying that to me earlier today. I executed the strongest shoulder throw I think I have ever pulled off. I jumped behind him and began applying leverage from his own body weight to his other arm. Then lastly. that I just let him go. which would have broken his arm and dislocated a couple of disks if I hadn’t stopped myself. nor knew how to block. shaking. What the FBI didn’t know was how fast I was. I was so embarrassed. I delivered my heel straight into his chest so he wouldn’t be able to breath.” He tried to laugh. and he never saw it coming. First. “In fact. near the edge of the bed.” What did he call me? I got in his face. He landed on the other side of the room. just a few days ago you were rubbing up against me on the couch and against your car and oh! who can forget the bathroom incident?” 99 . I let loose that kick/throw combination I had been reserving for Bud. Somehow. saying evenly. but then caught himself with his good arm. and you can tell Agent Marks I said so. and anything else you can think of. “You’re nothing but a low down … ” He cut me off and got right back in mine. but I applied some of my own twists that no one had seen before. They taught some self-defense. Then in the same motion. Desperado.” He coughed. “Tell him yourself. all in an evening dress and heels. “I hate you.Anger clouded my better judgment.

“Okay. “But it’s cold. I was starving. Agent Marks and Agent Jackson were horrible manipulative pea brains with no emotional depth whatsoever.” Sue rolled her eyes. quickly turned. grabbing my purse on the way.” Michael moaned. refusing to look at him. we are going to have fun! I have decided that we are going to the beach. pancakes. Everyone was happy but me. you know where I keep my coat. I heard him say. Agent Jackson. When we got 100 . I didn’t want the day spoiled. “It’s 90 degrees. not having eaten anything substantial in a couple of weeks. it’s Christmas and I cooked us a big breakfast with eggs. and Sue dragged me out of my bedroom half asleep.” He agreed and we climbed in the car together.My mouth dropped. go with her. we are going to sit down and eat like a normal family. I don’t remember how I got home or how I got into bed.” I spent the rest of the night by myself finishing off a bottle of champagne in a vacant corner near Oscar’s massive kitchen. Jake. “Mine too. We sat in the living room on our purple couches staring at her. As I left him fixing his disheveled clothes.a. a. leaving Sue and Michael at the beach. but I know I stayed in my room nursing my wounded pride for the next couple of days.” I took two steps back. “Biggest mistake of my life. and we all ate in a relatively good mood. the works. Jake. “That’s really nice of you Lori.k. Sue thanked me. and I avoided each other’s eyes and listened to Sue chatter. The nerve. “Wake up! It’s Christmas!” She did the same thing to Jake and Michael. I drove silently.” Her enthusiasm was catching. Christmas day arrived. and huffed out of the room. Now. so I volunteered to run home and fetch our jackets. We’re in California remember?” But Michael was right. “Today. The beach was freezing as we stood on it shivering.

I screamed at him. He stuttered. He got in the car next to me and grabbed the keys out of my hands. “I think I’m going to ask Agent Marks to take me off of this assignment.back inside. we have a job to do. arrogant brat. What makes you so special that you get to operate an entire assignment all by yourself? Especially a serial murder case! Who do you think you are? The Lone Ranger? I think you should quit!” He rattled my cage and my temperature was rising. “You know what. Let’s go!” I grabbed the jackets and got in the car. I wanted to wipe it off his face with my fist.” Nostrils flaring. “So I’m not good enough to be anything but a pretty face? Is that what everyone thinks of me? I know Hoover is a sexist jerk. I wasn’t ever going to look Agent Jackson in the face again. and he’s never tried to attack me. I sputtered. “Oh yeah? At least I wasn’t the one who pretended to fall in love!” Once I realized what I said. Sarah? You are a prideful. I really screwed up this time. and I wanted the earth to swallow me up. you can be mad all you want.” I was embarrassed. “Actually the bureau just wanted to use you as bait.” He looked undaunted. Sarah. “What did you say?” “Nothing.” He smirked. he insisted we talk. and the last thing I wanted to talk about was my stupid emotions. My entire body was now burgundy. but I didn’t know the rest of you were too. but remember. “Look. my hand flew to my mouth. “What are you doing? Give those back!” 101 . I’ve been trying to gather the information. Letting stupid emotions get in the way of our assignment is a bad idea. I haven’t found enough information on Bud to build a case.

“You are the one behaving like an idiot. “I wasn’t lying!” Shocked. “What are you doing?” He walked through the gate to our backyard. The weeds happily swallowed them. My left hand still twitches. Then I tell you the truth. and then when you think I am going after another woman. you were the one lying about wanting a relationship!” I shouted. “Oh yeah? What do call what you just did?” Red flames crawled up his neck. I gasped. “Are you crazy? We’ll never find the keys!” “That’s your problem!” He tried to go through the back door into the house and realized that he had locked himself out. “We have to get back to the beach!” He took the keys and threw them into our wildly-grown. he turned away from me and walked out into the grass to begin looking for the keys. I followed. I looked at my feet and wiggled my toes in my green flip flops. broken-down. “You’re so stupid. Jackson!” He growled. I wasn’t. and I think I have nerve damage! Do you know how long that takes to heal?” “Well. and unable to respond. and I stormed after him.He got out of the car and slammed the door. he glared at me. “You weren’t?” Peeved. you almost put me in traction for six months. “No. with an old rusted.” With that. twodoor Dodge in it. you get mad at me. 102 . “At least I can keep my head on straight during an assignment!” I laughed harder. Who do you think you are? You tell me you want to be friends. I started howling with laughter. hadn’t-beenmowed-in-months backyard. He shouted back.

What have I done in the name of my job? I was the biggest hypocrite in this yard. I saw the shine of metal in the grass. and I quickly walked over to them to pick them up. The faster I get out of here and back to the beach. I couldn’t be mad at him.” He gathered me in his arms. Agent Marks told you to get close to me. “Nothing. “I just don’t know … what you did was really … ” He gently cut me off. He took the found keys from my hand and placed them in his pocket. He put his warm. I looked up and turned to face him. I could still feel his hot breath. “I want to be with you. too. We stayed that way for several moments until he pulled his face away.” I stepped back.” I stuttered. Still standing there looking at my feet. my flip-flop caught a piece of wood and I tripped as I grabbed the keys off the ground. “How can I trust you? You’ve lied to me before. What if I wasn’t really an agent? What if you dated Jake and broke his heart? What makes you better than me?” Tears formed in my eyes. Our eyes met and I tried to tell mine to stop shining.” He stepped forward and brushed his full lips softly against mine. I realized I was wrong. Whoops! While walking over to pick up the keys. But you know the truth. Jackson grabbed my arm and held me steady. there is no way I made up those sparks between us. They were real. “I was doing my job. “Sarah. My inhibitions lifted when I felt the sensation of his mouth on mine. rough hands around my face and caught my lips with his.Somehow. Sarah. the better. about not pretending to fall in love?” 103 . “Did you mean what you said in the house. “I understand you were just doing your job.” I retained my self-respect and joined him in the search. We spent the next few minutes looking for the keys. but they ignored me.

begging him to come back.” He sighed and shook his head.” Then he lowered his voice to a whisper. those words caused fear to grip my heart. Sarah Higgins.” Then he unlocked the back door for me. I’m tired of the rejection. New Year’s Eve passed and I spent it alone. I silently screamed inside.” For some reason. got in the car and drove away.Ashamed of myself for being so easily taken in. I was emotionally destitute and had nothing to give. it zipped up like a jacket on a cold winter day. I’m tired of being alone. Not ever.” He wrapped his strong arms around me. I hadn’t seen Bud in a while. but he didn’t. but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. This job is hard. I looked away. “I give up. “I’m not sure. Not now. In fact. and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. “But we can do it together. “I’m not doing this with you. I pulled out of his embrace. “I love you. Sarah. What was wrong with me? But my self-destructive behavior refused to stop. Agent Jackson and I pretended each other didn’t exist and Oscar talked about a starting a sequel to Unlikely Lady. 104 . I kept expecting Agent Marks to pull me off the case.

We know Oscar is thinking about a sequel. He should do one. Then he added a tag line.” I lamented to Agent Marks. No one was paying any attention to us. I had my hair up in a cap and big sunglasses on. We had met incognito at a burger stand in Santa Monica. I looked at him critically. you unofficially proved Bud is our man by finding those pictures. The underwear is probably filled with damning evidence.” I said. “You actually did a better job than expected. “How’s it going with Jake?” “I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t know if I ever will again.” he assured me. Those words did little to soothe my soul. “What do you mean?” “Well. considering how well your movie is doing in the theaters. still feeling like a failure. “We are keeping you on just a little while longer.” He laughed. 105 .” he said thoughtfully.Chapter 18 Nominated “I feel like I failed you.” “But I haven’t seen him in a few weeks.

Jake and Michael ran over and read the invitation. Dong!” Sue ran to the door. then back at the invitation. definitely not an advertisement. re-reading it. A really impressive one.” I slowly gave it up to Sue as she went to snatch it out of my hands. However. “Package for Lori Lentrall. I chose to believe him.” I sort of went numb. I turned and looked at Sue. I was invited to the Academy Awards as a nominee! The invitation was followed by a congratulatory phone call from Oscar O’Hare.” I signed for it and opened. “Congratulations. While I held it carefully. It was an invitation. “I’ve been nominated for … ” Sue cut in. stunned. “Well? Spill!!!” “It’s … it’s an invitation to the Academy Awards. We sat on the couch eating pepperoni pizza while deciding that men were what was wrong with the world. Lori!” I was flabbergasted that the bureau was able to pull this off. Atop the stiff cardstock read in gold relief. Agent Marks swore to me that the bureau had nothing to do with my nomination. So Enjoy It While You Can! Two hours later. I loved her constant enthusiasm for life and always upbeat nature. I spit out the words. Unlikely Lady had been nominated for three awards total. “Best Supporting Actress!!!!” Then I screamed.Life Is Short. “Ding. Sue asked. including Best Picture and Bud as Best Actor. 106 . “An invitation to the Academy Awards. I was at home laughing with Sue. screaming.

107 .

When the announcer began his pitch about the “Best Supporting Actress” category. tight. The announcer looked at me.” I looked around. but. frozen. I imagined that my mother was sitting on the front row. Jake smiled sweetly over at me and held my hand. Lentrall. Jake elbowed me. I felt like a princess in a fairy tale. I was stunned that I was categorized with such beautiful. “This is for you. highly skilled.Chapter 19 The Bud Giovanni Case Part 2 of Life # 2 The awards ceremony was titilating. it’s you! Go get your award. Ms. both of our hands sweating. the butterflies in my stomach wouldn’t rest. I was way to excited to have being with him dampen my mood. I knew I wasn’t going to win. while standing up. and much more deserving actresses. My Prince Charming of the night was Jake. regardless. I squeezed back. Tears flowed freely as I thanked everyone properly. The entire night was magical. come and get it!” I wobbled up the stairs to take my award with my entire body shaking. Agent Marks insisted I bring him. The entire audience was on their feet clapping and cheering … and staring at me. “Lori. I was an overnight superstar 108 . not realizing it was my name they called. Standing there looking out at the crowd. “And the winner is … Lori Lentrall!” I started clapping.

I don’t think I should stay in a crappy neighborhood in East LA anymore. That way it will stop other famous men from trying to date you and guarantee that Agent Jackson is in the sequel. he clipped his words evenly. “Don’t forget. and then back at me. “I’ve noticed you’ve been getting a little high off your fame. slamming my fist down on table. relaxing a little. Change of plans I met Agent Marks two days later. Maybe I should just quit the stinking FBI and become an actress. he visibly calmed down and sat forward again. What we gave you.” I didn’t bother to hide my disdain. and then he sat back. We are the FBI.” Apology apparently accepted. We want him to stay on set with you. You are not doing this alone. You’re right. looking away. Unlikely Lady Sequel 109 . Eyes narrowed. making sure I got the message. “I’m famous now. we can easily take away.” I looked properly whipped. and slowly sat forward.” “You’re right. And other random thoughts like those began to bombard my mind.” He paused for good measure.” All I was allowed to do was to agree. “You will do whatever we tell you to. “I will make sure to get you a two bedroom.” He smiled. But it is in your best interest to let the public think you are a couple. “I’m not living with him!” Agent Marks looked at me. so I did.and it was starting to get to my head. I’ll move you and Agent Jackson to a penthouse in town. “Sorry.

The bureau had given me a budget. and I went and spent every penny at a high-priced furniture store.I signed a contract worth a lot of money with Oscar O’Hare for the sequel to Unlikely Lady. but they didn’t care. As I answered. she remembered something and quickly ran over to a box she had given Michael to bring up. “I’ve never seen LA from up this high before. A part was a part. but not for nearly the amount of money I was being paid. “I brought you a welcome home present!” Sue waved a bottle of champagne in one hand and a camera in the other.” I replied. To show their gratitude. Agent Jackson received a contract renewal also. Sue looked at me. setting down a box. Sue and Michael thought they had died and gone to heaven when they received the news. Oscar didn’t keep it a secret from them that I wanted them in the movie. “So when is your furniture coming?” “It’s supposed to be today. “Wow! This place is huge!” exclaimed Sue as she walked in the foyer and saw the sprawl of LA from the windows in our living room. A girl could get used to this. He smiled as he looked at the view. He was so excited about my Oscar win and the sequel that he happily answered the request. they helped move Jake and I into our new luxury condo in downtown LA. I privately requested that Oscar give Sue another part with more lines and Michael a part with at least one or two lines. “A camera?” Jake asked.” Snapping out of it. Michael agreed as he walked in behind her. 110 .

“Oh. Rick gave it to me. Sue held up her camera and pointed it towards Jake and me. Something about a broken-down truck.” Michael popped the cork and poured it into plastic cups. “The stupid moving company cancelled. We can lay it out and use a top sheet for a blanket.Sue smirked.” the telephone rattled. Sue believed she was responsible for leading me to my soul mate. I started unpacking. I tried to pull away. He took his hand and slowly slid it down my back. Jake put down a box he was carrying and asked me what was wrong.” Was he out of his mind? “Nice try. you two lovebirds! Kiss for the camera!” I put on a plastic smile and was planning on giving Jake a quick peck on the cheek. I brought my comforter and pillows. Ring. Sue snapped a picture and Michael whistled. I meant the champagne. already! Can you wait till we leave?” Sue laughed without an ounce of malice. Jake’s kiss had sent me into a tailspin. the kiss felt real. “Hello? You’re kidding me? Don’t you have another truck? What do you mean it’s too late?” I hung up in frustration and kicked the wall. Jake still didn’t let go. Jake apparently didn’t have the same idea.” Jake thought for a moment. she was thrilled when I broke the news to her that Jake and I were moving in together. “Ring.” 111 . “Ok. sorry. I was starting to enjoy the affection. He gallantly drew me into his arms and made a big show out of kissing me. that’s mine. “Ok. so I began to kiss back. However. but he held on. I wondered if his kiss was more than a show. “Well. Strangely enough. When they left. I had forced myself to stop thinking about him romantically and had been concentrating on the Bud Giovanni case.

“That was for show. Our eyes met for a moment.” I stuck my hands on my hips. “Why are you laughing?” He caught his breath. I jumped up and announced that I had to go to work. and I felt ashamed of my immature behavior. I was fuming. We think that maybe you should lure him in. I felt a well-built pair of arms pick me up and set me in a much cozier spot. I stared at him sleeping while enjoying the heat of his body. I hadn’t seen him for a 112 . In fact.” “Don’t worry.” Later I watched as he laid out his blankets and pillow and snuggled comfortably in. “I saw how you kissed me today.He looked at me like I was a nutcase. Do you really think I’m going to sleep next to you now?” He held back his head and laughed. I would never shell out the money. I was trying to be nice. Agent Jackson was at our meeting as well. instead of an apology. he laughed so hard he was holding his stomach. Invasion “Sarah. we’ve decided to try to draw Bud out.” Agent Marks looked more serious than usual today. His eyes slowly opened and they shifted down towards me. “Excuse me? What do you mean nice try?” I huffed. My face turned scarlet. Did you forget we are supposed to be acting like we’re a couple? I don’t really want you in my bed. Sometime in the night. “I wouldn’t sleep next to you even if you paid me. I stayed awake as long as I could unpacking until I fell asleep over a box. I grabbed my purse and left without so much as a shower or a goodbye. haughtiness deflated. I thought it was part of my dream until I awoke the next morning nestled securely in Agent Jackson’s arms in his makeshift bed. But.

week. Since our “relationship” was plastered all over the newsstands. You are incredibly talented. “Sarah. “That was just luck. It might be the only way. “You’re the one who won the Academy Award!” I got bold. Marks had dressed up as a janitor and was visiting us in our condo. and I wanted to see if you could give me some pointers. “Yeah. I asked Bud Giovanni if he’d like to have lunch together. Plus what. Where do you want to go?” “How about your trailer? I don’t really want to leave the set and be hounded by media. you’re right. “I really admire you. Hoover is going to pull both of you if we don’t get something soon. you wouldn’t be the ones in danger!” Agent Marks didn’t relent. easy for you two to say. Don’t forget you have two under your belt already.” Lunch with Bud The next day at work. six or seven nominations?” He licked his chapped lips and took a beat. “That’s true. What brought that on?” I had learned to be quick on my feet. “Yeah. Buddy. Surprised is an understatement for the way he looked at me.” He looked incredulous. Jackson agreed with Marks.” 113 . this case has been going on for over a year now. I was too busy ignoring him since our first night in the new place. we had to be careful about being seen with Agent Marks. “Yeah. of course.” I huffed.

” I took a swig.” 114 . “I’m sorry for being a jerk to you before. “Thought you might want to take a load off. He was sitting at the table. you know.” “Sounds good.” “You’re a really great actress. fried rice. When I drink.” “Alright.He got a comical look on his face. I carefully attached a recorder to my chest and waited about fifteen minutes until I went over there.” He made me blush. He stood up when I walked in and handed me a cold one. “It’s kind of messy in there.” “Can you give me a few minutes to clean it up? And. I need to get something out of my trailer first anyway. I don’t have any food either. “Thanks. Can I order Chinese?” “That’s fine.” “I don’t mind. The beer was dark. So how’s the wife and kids?” “They’re doing good.” He went to his trailer and I went to mine. I’ll see you in a few. sour pork. beer in hand.” Then he looked at me expectantly. all is forgiven. I get kind of out of control. “So did you order us some food?” “Yeah. you deserved that award. my favorite. beef and broccoli. it’s been a long morning.

I decided to press the issue. What could I do? I was out of time and we went back to work.He continued. I decided to sleep in my trailer that night and figure out another way to pick Buddy’s brain. “You remind me of Tiffanie Patrice. I was just trying to stay on topic. 115 . still had something to prove. I was still peeved he was sent in to watch me. When everyone had left the set. “Nothing’s really a secret in Hollywood. his eyes came out of their sockets about five inches. I tried to think of a way to get that box of panties and the pictures from under his bed while I was legally in his trailer. He rambled over and opened it. “How did you know that? We kept it secret!” I tried to laugh it off. She was real pretty like you. We ate and kept the subjects on easy topics like the weather and everyone else’s idiosyncrasies that drove us crazy at the studio. it was a good excuse to stay away from Agent Jackson. since she was the last victim in the string of murders. I wore a tight black dress with black shiny thigh high boots. He stumbled. When he saw me.” “Wasn’t she murdered?” My question made him visibly uncomfortable. I rapped lightly on Bud’s door. I knew I could do this.” We were interrupted by the Chinese food. I moseyed over to Bud’s trailer. Is that true?” He wasn’t expecting that question. but I felt like I needed to prove to myself and the bureau that I was good for more than just a pretty face. and cared way too much about what other people thought. Though I wouldn’t admit it to myself. I tried to stall for time while he downed five more beers back-to-back. it was a grueling afternoon of practicing lines. Plus. I was young. is it?” “Guess not. Daring. “I heard through the grapevine that you had an affair with her. His light was on and I hid my gun in my right boot and the recorder in the left. I know. “Wow!” he belched. I actually hadn’t heard anything. I also wanted to show up Agent Jackson.

he walked over to me. no. He quickly came to his senses. He always looks the other way. “What is it?” I put my hands under my dress and slowly slid off my panties past my boots and stepped out of them.” He nodded toward the bed. When we were filming in New York a couple of years ago.“Aren’t you going to let me in?” I sashayed past him boldly towards his bedroom. “I’ve wanted you from the beginning.” I bent down and pulled the box out. They were lacy and red.” He grunted. if he could.” “I have a gift for you. Looked both ways out his trailer door.” He excited easily. dropping my panties in. “There’s a rumor floating around that you like to collect these … ” He tried to grab at the panties. and closed it. he would have seen that I was wearing two pairs. looking me over. I want to add them to the collection myself. “Hey you have another pair on!” 116 . Big mistake. I held them up and twirled them around my index finger. I had girls in and out of my trailer all the time. breathing heavy. “Are you kidding? Oscar doesn’t care. I just took off the top pair. “So you’ve finally seen the light about Buddy?” he slobbered lustfully. “No. I held them out of reach. but I didn’t want to make a bad impression with Oscar. “It’s under there. I held down my gag reflex. no. you naughty boy. Turning both sets of locks and pulling down the shades. seemed satisfied. He couldn’t see under my dress. he came behind me and quickly lifted up my dress.

I don’t know what happened at this point except to say that I had a momentary lapse of reason. I had accomplished putting my underwear in the box as proof that he had shown me the collection. think! Buddy spoke again. and he easily cuffed my other wrist. I fought dread. “You are going to die. “Say.” He visibly started drooling. My stupid pride. Buddy. hoping someone would hear. “I have to handcuff you. “Of course I do. Sarah. “Buddy let me go!” I began to reach for my gun. and before I knew what was happening.” With his other hand he produced a Polaroid camera. but he deftly put his hand over my mouth. what?” “All the girls let me handcuff them. I was caught off guard. you don’t want to wake everyone up. ‘I want Buddy!’” Snap and the light bulb flashed. but now what do I do? I came in that trailer half-cocked and without a plan on how to get out of there safely. Lori. a pair for you to keep.” “I don’t think so. my right wrist was handcuffed to the bedpost. you can 117 . silly. Sarah. Horror began to taunt me screaming.” “Uh. and I had to do mental gymnastics not to vomit. grabbing my other arm while pinning my legs. remaining calm. He was much stronger than he appeared. playfully slapped his hand. I gasped. Think.” I heard a clink. Did I really need Agent Marks and Agent Jackson’s approval this bad? They had no idea where I was. but he jumped on top of me.” “Too late.” I knew I had screwed up. Fear I had never known before grasped my heart and mind. “Shhh … quiet. and I didn’t know if I was going to get out of this alive. Okay. and slowly smoothed out my dress.” “I want the pair I take off. Buddy began shedding his pants with his free hand while still gagging my mouth with the other. and a pair to take off. I tried to scream.I stood up. Not tonight.

Agent Jackson 118 . Rick the cameraman. It was me or him. God help me. I began to scream as loud as I could and bang on the wall with my foot. “What is this? You came in here with a gun?” I had no choice. call the police. Guess where they are now?” I remembered I had my tape recorder going. She tried to leave me and go back to her husband. You’re lying. His lifeless body slid off the bed. He grabbed at my boots trying to wrestle his head free and my gun slid out. that’s right. “Where are they?” He began to brag. Silently I pleaded.” I decided to stall for time. THINK! The idea to pray suddenly hit me.do this. Several women before you tried and failed.” I cried. Sue’s boyfriend. “No you’re not. you whore. bolted through the door. A few moments later. Killed a couple of other girls. I reared back my legs and wrapped them around his neck while biting his hand. “I don’t believe you.” He gasped. “Get off me right now or I’m going to snap your neck. “What happened?” He looked rightfully panicked. I quickly twisted his head with my legs and his neck easily broke. please! While Bud was preoccupied. Not like it was going to matter in a few minutes if I didn’t do something quick. He picked it up. “I killed Tiffanie… yup.” Calling Bud a liar really irked him. “Just please. too.

or how old you are.” I got up from the table and walked to my room. I walked out to the kitchen to fix myself warm tea.” I watched his face. Jack. and wrapped myself in a comfortable bathrobe. Lori Lentrall kills mass murderer Bud Giovanni in self-defense. I can’t believe you put your life in danger! That was stupid!” He was right.” He lowered his voice.” He continued.As you can imagine. it would look suspicious and my cover would be blown. Jackson was sitting at the kitchen table. I didn’t want to go. “Goodnight. Maybe in another life. Those close to me call me Jack. “Then why did you do it?” I shrugged my shoulders.wishing things could be different. Agent Jackson was another story. but they were afraid if I didn’t.” “Thomas Lee Jackson. but he sure was happy I had a taped confession. took a nice long shower. It turns out there was a pair of underwear for every girl who was murdered. It sounds foolish now. I had lost some of my youthful persistence. Before I closed the door. Oscar had to shut down the shooting of the sequel. “Sarah. The bureau had me go on a few talk shows to tell the world how Bud Giovanni had tried to rape and possibly kill me. “I’m glad you’re alright. He ordered me to sit down when he saw me. too. I looked at him. “I just wanted to show the bureau that I could handle myself. The papers ate it up. “I don’t even know your first name. I admitted it. The day after the Buddy ordeal I went home. thirty-one.” Afterword 119 . After coming that close to death. but I got free. “I know. and my contract was considered invalid. Agent Marks gave me the “what for” concerning my rogue actions.

The romance ones were to set on fire. I needed a break. Lori Lentrall and Jake Miles were killed in a car accident. The beach was beautiful and I had two bikinis and a suitcase full of romance and mystery novels. hard to see. According to the news reports. I watched my funeral on TV from a remote beach village in Mexico. 120 . and when they drove past a trucker.A couple of months after Buddy’s death. I dyed my hair back to blonde and let the curls come out of hiding. and the mystery ones were to keep me company. The bureau wanted me to stay here for at least three months until the publicity died down. it was nighttime. they went off the side of a cliff. Fine by me.

Part 3 Life #3 The Banker 121 .

I had darkened so much from the sun I looked like a native.” “Ok. “Really. but since I was involved.Chapter 20 Operation Coin Loss After two and a half months in Mexico. I hugged him. He tied the balloons to the back of the chair. I had also put on a few pounds. expecting the maid. “Oh my gosh! I’m so happy you’re here!” He walked in and set the cake down in the kitchen. It was Jack. He was carrying balloons and a cake. I was enjoying my Mexican soap opera when I heard a knock on the door. so we may want to wait a while. it’s only ten in the morning. I was refreshed and relaxed. I volunteered.” “Really?” I was flustered with joy. “Happy birthday!” I was so used to no one recognizing my birthday that I had forgotten all about it. and I want to take you to dinner for your birthday.” 122 . I opened. My heart leapt when I saw him. He’s the one who told me it was your birthday. “What are you doing here?” “Agent Marks was going to come tell you about your next assignment. The margaritas and enchiladas became me.

that’s all. We sat at the table and ate cake. “It’s so good to see you. Something that’s been bugging me. a little nervous. you know in the beginning of the Giovanni case. he looked at me longingly. “I remember” 123 . no needed. “Yeah. I’ve really missed you.” “Remember in the beginning of the Giovanni case when you asked me to have a drink with you so you could tell me you were breaking up with Sue?” He nodded. “I have a question I’ve been wanting to ask you.” He sang a few lines from the happy birthday song while I blew out the candles.” “Where did this come from?” “I just wanted you to know. someone to talk to. “Ask away.I was so excited.” I threw a little piece of cake at him.” “I wasn’t faking. The alone time had been nice.” He looked at me intently. he leaned over and kissed me lightly on the lips. He started putting candles on my cake.” With my mouth full of cake. “Make a wish. but I wanted. “Sarah. when we had that flirtation going?” I swallowed. I couldn’t hide my exuberance. taking an hour to catch up.” “I missed you too. After a while.

What’s it about?” 124 . “You thought that was funny?” He laughed. He sat up and I followed.” Peeved. “Where are you really from?” He took his leftover cake that was still on his plate and tossed it in my hair. “Wisconsin. I could tell I wasn’t getting anymore details.” My mouth dropped. tell me about this upcoming case.” Oops! Party over. I knew you didn’t know I was an agent. our hair and clothes. I shouldn’t have brought that up. “I noticed it didn’t stop you. my back was on the floor and his lips were in sync with mine. “Did you know my heart stopped in my chest the first time I saw you?” “Too bad you were with another woman. so I decided that a new topic was the best course of action. I threw a bigger piece of cake at him.” “Wisconsin!” I stuck my hand in the cake. Before I knew what was happening. “So. so I thought I would throw in a curve ball for fun. New ones followed. and smashed it in his face. He paused for a moment and stared at me. I knew you couldn’t resist looking through my wallet. We brushed ourselves off. That started an all-out cake war that lasted about thirty seconds. All of those old emotions I had for him came flooding back with a vengeance. That was quite a first kiss we shared.“Why did you tell me you were from New York and liked brunettes? Was that the truth?” A big Cheshire grin spread across his tan face. grabbed a section. Birthday cake plastered on the floor. “I was just messing with you. That picture was on purpose too. Life just wasn’t fair.

“So. The bureau thinks we did an excellent job on the Giovanni case. “I don’t know if I can handle that. He is an avid golfer and loves to do business on the golf course. “Don’t look so excited. Several transactions a month go without being written down.” My mouth turned down. I pressed for information. Agent Marks wants us to pose as husband and wife and befriend him. Agent Marks wants us to go undercover. I don’t keep that close of tabs on my checkbook.” “What? Like bank tellers or something?” “No. Even if you kept your checkbook to the penny. the CFO lives in a mansion in Long Island.” “I can see that. Ivy bank has branches in thirteen states. Live in the same neighborhood. Somehow get into his files. “How are they doing it?” “It appears like they are just taking a few pennies a month out of the accounts of all their customers. and it seems that it is happening at every branch. Such a little amount that no one would normally notice. play golf. “Did you say husband and wife?” He laughed.He sat back and made himself comfortable.” Curious. Who has time for that?” He nodded. one of the employees tipped us off. “There have been reports that Ivy Bank has been stealing from its customers and dropping the extra millions into an account in the Caymans.” 125 . you would probably think that you overlooked something since you were only five or so cents off.” I felt panic rise in my chest.

” I looked at his smile.He smiled and pulled out a box from inside his jacket pocket and opened it. why don’t we really make it legal?” I was stunned. Well. At least we could make the married part true. “I already know you’re adventurous. but we are going undercover as a married couple very soon.” He laughed. Inside was a three carat solitaire. “Let’s do it. “Can you handle this?” I did a double take. I’m in love with you and I’m hoping you feel the same way.” 126 . I pondered the ramifications.” “Sarah.” “And this isn’t some weird FBI ploy?” He kissed my sundrenched lips again. We have incredible chemistry. I met his eyes. Is he saying what I think he’s saying? Guard your heart. I tried to anyway … I just couldn’t think of any negative ones. Sarah. I had been holding tightly on to my heart during the Giovanni case. we’re both agents … I really want this with you. and now here was this handsome man asking me to let it go. “Uhhh. I know this is quick. Guard your heart! “I don’t know what to say.” “This is so sudden. We were about to go undercover as husband and wife. “I need you to trust me. What’s that for?” “Instead of posing as husband and wife. and I knew my heart wouldn’t be able to stay closed living with him again.

“Just in case you said yes. I was sincerely hoping he hadn’t suddenly changed his mind. go get dressed!” I jumped in the shower and washed my hair. She laughed and pulled me into a big hug.” “I do. I thought maybe we could enjoy it together. you only have two weeks of vacation left. A little broken. I answered wrapped in a towel. I prepared the pastor at the little Lutheran church on the corner. “I told you I have good instincts!” I looked at him. I heard a knock on my bedroom door. Now stop thinking.He slid the ring on my finger.” “Well. but you can understand him. He even speaks English. it was Sue Springs holding a wedding dress.” “What? Are you serious?” He kissed my nose. “Sue! Sue?” I exclaimed. “I’m so happy to see you! Congratulations!” 127 . get dressed.” “You want me to marry you now? Isn’t having a pastor ready a little presumptuous?” He grinned. thinking it was Jack. “Good. I have a pastor waiting for us. “You knew I was going to say yes?” “I was sincerely hoping that you felt about me the same way I felt about you. To my complete surprise.

Agent Marks wanted to test your loyalty to the bureau.“What are you doing here?” “Agent Marks thought that you might want a bridesmaid for your big day. “The pastor’s waiting. She walked into the bedroom and closed the door.” “Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why the secrecy?” Worry etched itself across my brow. “Special Agent Susan Pagers.” “What? You have a kid?” “I’m older than you. and never was into. “What? You know? How did … ? Sue smiled.” I openly gawked. sleeping in the same bed. My mouth was still hanging open.” “Are you kidding me?” I looked past her shoulder and saw Agent Marks sitting on the couch. “This wedding. I’ll be thirty two next month.” “I can’t believe you’re an agent! How come no one told me? And I thought you and Jackson were dating. Sarah.” She grinned. Agent Jackson. I couldn’t handle any more games. “No. He waved. I happen to be married with an eight year old. it’s real right? You guys wouldn’t do that to me … right?” I begged her for assurance. at your service. “Believe me. Agent Marks and I had a great time watching you and Jack this past year duke it out. it’s time to get you dressed. I am so not into. so he had Jackson and I act like we were 128 . She laughed.

Jack was all of those things and more. The wedding dress Sue had brought me was slightly snug. Don’t worry. He held my hands as we said our vows. By the way. They needed a woman’s touch. You and I got under the radar because they were getting desperate to solve cases. “What if I told Jack no today? What if I said no to his proposal?” She started brushing out my hair. I loved and needed a strong. It was my twenty-ninth birthday. Jack apparently had a tux ready. Jack. Jack carried me over the threshold of my little Mexican bungalow.” My mind was whirling. He wouldn’t want to swallow his pride or anything. all new agents have to go through this. The ball never wanted to go anywhere near the hole. That evening. 129 . We’re the only two. I gazed lovingly into Jack’s eyes. Jack and I were standing in front of Pastor Javier. “The way you two were smitten with each other? Not a chance!” “I thought women weren’t allowed in the agency?” “Hoover’s getting old. I did on a previous case. and Hoover has kept us top secret. making sure that he knew I meant every word. Just wasn’t that coordinated. Golf Pro It took me a month to catch on to the game of golf. A man who knew all about me and still loved me. It was made out of unpainted wood and looked like it was straight out of a horror flick. with Agent Marks as the best man and Sue as my bridesmaid.normal people. The church was a tiny run-down shack with a wind-whipped steeple. that will always remain a secret. though. Standing in front of the pastor. and the most memorable one I would ever have. What we did the rest of the night … well.” An hour later. His certainty that I would marry him today was actually quite a turn on. after a marvelous dinner with Sue and Marks. confident man. but gorgeous. Michael really was a civilian. I concentrated.

is this box for the kitchen or dining room?” I stood out in our new front yard in a pair of tan tennis shorts and a light green polo holding a moving box. His wife Patty always golfed with him. Jack bleached his dark hair blond and cut it crew style. seemed to be a natural. the hired movers would have done all the work. Our new names were Stuart and Leslie Peterson. back from the dead.” Stuart wiped his brow with the back of his hand. “Honey. I had no idea how I was going to pull this off. Bill the banker was an avid golfer. “Stuart. “Just how I like my woman.however. I’m not sure. My body was soaked in sweat. carrying me upstairs to the master bedroom. but we were trying to be noticed. Our goal was to become their new best friends. sitting room. I dyed my hair auburn and cut it into a chin length bob. and they were able to strike a deal with the owners and pay a monthly rental fee. we were lucky to be in the same neighborhood as them. through the door. and we had a luxurious master bedroom with a fireplace. According to the bureau. This house had been on the market for over three years. “Hot.” I moaned. Under normal circumstances. Bill and Patty Jessups lived two streets over. and I needed a breather. 130 . and sweaty. Stuart bounced up the two brick steps. just stick it somewhere out of the way and we’ll get to it later. sticky. My bathtub was a swimming pool with whirlpool jets. and two bathrooms. The house came furnished. baby. I set my box down in the green marbled hallway and sat on top of it.” he whispered. with the back of his mansion facing a golf course. We were satisfied no one would suspect we were Lori Lentrall and Jake Miles. and I couldn’t wait to use it tonight. Our home was a large four-bedroom ranch and one of the smallest in the community. “How is my lovely wife today?” breathed Jack. and swept me up in his arms. The FBI somehow rented us a house in the same neighborhood as Bill and Patty Jessups.

“I sure did. As I walked past her to sit at another table. my husband transferred here. “Which neighborhood?” I played dumb. “Where are you two from?” I lied. Lots of ice. appearing very upbeat. “Chicago.” 131 . I ordered a chicken salad and orange juice.50. I saw her standing in line. “The one down the street from here. “We are going to make sure the bed meets our approval. “I need a smoothie with bananas. she waved me over. “Can I help you?” the teenager asked. and yogurt. I nodded.” Patty said.” I sat down at her table. but when I passed by the health club’s café. about two streets over. strawberries.” Patty Jessups The following day I took an aerobics class at the local health club where Patty Jessups worked out. Which street do you live on?” “Tribeca. “That’ll be $4.” Patty rattled off. so I went in. trying to squirm out of his arms.“What are you doing?” I said. Star Ranch Retreat.” The teenager brought us our lunch.” Patty paid and went to sit down. She wasn’t in class. I’m Patty Jessups. I continued to let her talk. “Hi! I believe you moved in my neighborhood yesterday.

slurring her words.” Tricia said with as much gump as she could muster after three dry martinis. I have some girlfriends I am meeting later today for cocktails and cards. it pays the bills and allows me to stay home. Want to come?” Excited that I had made contact with my assignment this soon. Anyway. Patty laughed. “Deal the dang cards. Patty introduced me to her two girlfriends. I said. We played for around two hours before our group began to get restless. Hey. Dark maroon carpet and thick green drapes added to the club’s stuffiness. “Sure. I will definitely be there.She raised her eyebrows. He is an executive vice-president. Tricia and Rose. where and what time?” “We meet in our neighborhood country club every Tuesday at 2:00 … have you been there yet?” “No. with staff that walked around in tuxedos. The entire place had an air of superiority that was a tad bit stifling. “And what does he do?” “He works for an investment company. but I know where it is. “Awww. blah. something or other. They made room for me at their table and wasted no time dealing cards.” replied Rose. blah. you’re just pissy ‘cus I beat your stupid plastic butt.” I mused.” Star Ranch Retreat Star Ranch Retreat’s country club was elegantly decorated. “I understand. 132 . trying to play the desperate housewife. Rose.

“Why don’t we do something fun like go somewhere exotic for a couple of weeks? It’s not like our husbands would miss us or anything. “Then let’s not tell the idiots where we are. can we do something else?” complained Rose. “I’m bored. this is the best hand I’ve had all afternoon. At least when I’m around he comes home on weekends. but at least my husband puts it to good use. “Yeah. Rose was the eldest. and skinny legs. shaking her head. Give them a good scare.” Patty smirked. Tricia’s husband owned a music label and Rose owned a cosmetic/perfume line. “Good idea. “Are you kidding me? Then Bill would stay in Manhattan holed up with his whore. him and the gardener and the pool boy and … ” Patty cleared her throat. a perky smile. freckles.” recommended Rose. and colorful eyes.” Tricia was a medium-height redhead with a foul mouth.” suggested Rose. bring me another!” hissed Tricia. “Like what?” asked Patty. But won’t they trace our credit cards?” 133 . Our cute Hispanic waiter nodded.Tricia laughed. Then they’ll appreciate us. “Move on ladies. with dyed brunette hair. “It may be plastic. Tricia began to get excited. “Waiter.” Rose rolled her eyes. while her husband was some real estate giant.

” I smiled to myself. I loved the beach and needed to work on my tan anyway.I leaned forward. one that Stuart doesn’t know about.” The sixteen-year old obeyed. a flight leaves in less than an hour for Panama City. “Look. Marks was hoping that during our card game. was downright funny and somewhat sad. I had the island of Capri in mind. rose from the table. “Let’s do it. trying to come to a decision. my brother has a three-bedroom condo on the beach. who had finished off an entire bottle of expensive vodka. wanting to gain the group’s trust. We stood staring at the flight schedule. The 134 . I withdrew ten grand. The bureau had placed five hundred thousand dollars in an Ivy bank account for the sole purpose of making Stuart and I look credible in case Bill used his position to look at our funds. standing up commander style.” Patty. You know. “Well. and off to the airport we went. I was actually somewhat excited. it’s beautiful. Bored rich housewives starved of their husband’s affections running away to get attention. Patty would slip up and give out some pertinent information.” Tricia pointed at the black and green screen. We piled into the cab and told him to drive to my bank. “I have some cash in a personal account. This escapade. “Fine.” The girl’s eyes widened. I double dare all of you to follow me.” Patty appeared interested. but I don’t have a passport on me. walked toward the door and marched straight up to the valet. “I’ve been around there. Rose laughed. “Would you call us a taxi please? We are too drunk to drive. Our runaway group had no idea that I was wired and Agent Marks was listening to our entire conversation. Tricia gazed at me with approval. however.” Tricia.

All of them kept to a vigorous workout routine and looked great in their clothes.” Tricia looked at me. Patty admired herself in the shop mirror. “Do you think anyone will dance with me tonight?” 135 . Nightfall had arrived and the ladies wanted to visit a dance club and relive their twenties. Their behavior was embarrassing. “Then let’s go shopping. “You have a better body than most twenty-year olds!” Tricia paraded in front of us with a bright pink tube top and jean shorts. Rose. loud. first class tickets and four demanding. Our flight was only half full. He weakly smiled and quickly returned to the cockpit. tight t-shirts. Rose opened the balcony door so her cigarette smoke would billow out. but pretended that I thought it was just as funny. I was slightly mortified by my rude behavior. and we were the only ones in first class. “Not bad for forty-five!” Rose whistled. We stocked up on bikinis. and I volunteered to share with Patty.” The only store still open was a T-shirt shop. and Patty laughed for a good ten minutes. and I made a show out of grabbing his backside.flight was even more comical. One of the captains walked by. The girls were delighted. Thank God. I needed to become her new best friend. Tricia. The condominium on the beach was spectacular. “How much did you bring?” “Ten grand originally. but we spent about two of it on plane tickets.” She responded haughtily. and short shorts. One of the rooms had twin beds. but I had to act the same way to fit in. obnoxious ladies put the stewardess to work. “We have no clothes.

“You sure do. I always wondered if Bud’s people set that up to get her back for snapping his neck. how many more lives would he have taken?” “Amen. and a large. “Look. you’re a much prettier version though. “Too bad she was killed in a car wreck. “I’m glad she killed that murdering pervert. I chose a slimming summer dress and white sandals. Larry's Bar The sub-par band was eking out their rendition of “Hot Pants” by James Brown.” 136 . We ordered colorful drinks and sat in a light yellow booth with palm trees embroidered on the cloth. Rose gasped. wobbly disco ball decorated the ceiling. The roof was thatched in tiki-hut style and warm wind blew through. they all muttered how they wished they were still my age. If she hadn’t. The girls chattered aimlessly. Patty nudged me. Posing in the mirror. Being the youngest. and my thoughts drifted to my husband.” Patty looked me over carefully. Leslie.We all nodded our heads and threw out agreeable comments. someone is heading your way.” Tricia put in her two sense. It was dawn of the 70’s and Larry’s Bar was on the beach and in full swing.” They all purred in unison. sister. “She looks just like that famous actress … you know the one who killed Bud Giovanni … Lori something.” I chimed in. I playfully lifted up my hair and stuck it in a makeshift bun on my head. wishing I were home.

I looked over to where she was pointing. A middle-aged man in polyester white pants with a baby blue silk shirt on and platforms was walking toward us. He took the style of the decade seriously. However, he wasn’t dressed much differently then any of the other men hanging around there that night. Mr. Polyester approached our table. “Hey ladies, how about a round of drinks on me?” Tricia was the first to respond, “Make it three and we’ll let you sit with us.” Mr. Polyester introduced himself as Brad, and Tricia wasted no time cozying up to him. Giggling like we were still in high school, we scooted over and let him in the booth. Three drinks later and Rose was dancing on the table. Brad took my hand and swept me onto the dance floor. A slow song began, and he wrapped his arms around my waist. “So how long do you think you ladies will be staying in town?” I rolled my eyes. “Hopefully not long. I want to get back to my husband. Does he know where I am?” Brad, a.k.a. Agent Marks, nodded. “Yep, he’s with Bill Jessups right now pretending to help him and the other two husbands find their wives.” “Do they really care? Patty says Bill has a mistress.” Agent Marks frowned. “I’m sure they do. Find out who the mistress is. Get as close as you can to Patty while you are here.” I agreed. “How long are you going to hang around?” “As long as I can. Pretend you’re interested and see if you can get them here tomorrow night.”

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“I can do that.” After two more songs and three more shots of something that tasted pretty nasty, I felt like I needed to throw up. I made a beeline for the bathroom, and sure enough, my stomach decided that it had had enough; about seven minutes later I was washing my face of leftover debris. A petite older lady washing her hands next to me deliberately stared. She looked entirely out of her element and not the least bit concerned about it. I was a little put off, and in the back of my head, I wondered if she was an undercover agent. I decided to mess with her. “So what are you looking at?” I fussed, mockingly angry. “One of God’s children,” she answered politely. “Excuse me?” I said, slightly flabbergasted. She fumbled in her small green tasseled purse for a moment and pulled out a pamphlet. “Read this … please don’t throw it away.” She then bustled past me and out the door. I quickly opened the pamphlet and read: John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. I read a few more lines of the religious mumbo jumbo, crumpled it up, and tossed it in the garbage. For a split second, I had the thought that God might be trying to get my attention, but I quickly dispelled it and rejoined my party on the dance floor. I looked around several times, but the pamphlet lady was nowhere to be seen. I quickly forgot about her and enjoyed the rest of my night.

WarmBeach

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The next day we rented umbrella-covered chairs and lounged on the gorgeous white sand beach in front of our condo. I purposely placed myself next to Patty and flipped through a fashion magazine. I started the conversation ball rolling, “So aren’t you the least bit concerned about your husband?” She sighed. “He probably hasn’t even noticed. What about you?” I turned the page. “He’s probably worried sick, but at least he’ll learn to appreciate me. Maybe it will spice up our marriage.” She looked at the emerald colored water wistfully, and we watched a pelican dive for its lunch. “I’ll probably sneak in a phone call tonight after Tricia is sleeping. We’ve run off a couple times before; it was Vail last time. Tricia gets mad if one of us breaks down and calls home.” “How come?” Patty sipped on her blue frozen cocktail. “Who knows? I think she likes to be in control of something. Her daughter died of breast cancer three years ago and her son is a drug addict. She and her husband fight constantly.” I picked my words carefully. “That’s too bad.” I took a couple of beats. “I know it is none of my business, but can I ask you a personal question?” She looked at me. “Sure, what is it?” “Yesterday you mentioned that Bill had a mistress in Manhattan. Is that true?” “Yes, Tina something or other. He thinks I don’t know about it.”

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“How did you find out?” “A few months ago I was digging through his desk looking for postage stamps. I was mailing a birthday card to my mother. I came across paperwork in Bill’s name for an account in Grand Cayman. Lots of money in that account.” I put down my magazine and turned my attention fully to Patty. “You had no idea about a Cayman account?” She took off her sunglasses and lowered her voice. I looked over at Rose and Tricia, both were snoring, Tricia was drooling. “No idea. I thought he was hiding money so that he could divorce me and run off.” Patty paused, not sure if she should continue. I helped her along. “Why would he want to divorce you?” “I had an affair, a short one, but he found out about six months ago. Things haven’t been the same since. I didn’t want to be caught off guard so I hired a detective. The detective gave me photos of him and a couple of other women. One of them he sees on a regular basis. She’s a prostitute, a high-class one, if there is such a thing. The detective told me this girl, Tina, has a famous madam named Lady Marmalade.” Lady Marmalade’s name stung my ears, and I refused to think about mom. “Did you confront him?” “No. But I kept digging. Talked to his ex-wife. My stepdaughter Stacy’s mom. It turns out that Bill had been using Lady Marmalade’s girls for years. I stole his private phone book that had this madam’s number in it, and I have put the photos of him and this girl in a safe deposit box. I also made a copy of the Cayman bank paperwork. I figured if he ever tried to divorce me, I could use the information as collateral.” “If Bill is treating you so badly, why do you want to stay with him?”

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Patty put her sunglasses back on. “Well, we have two kids together, and a stepdaughter. I’ve also put in twenty-something years. Plus, other than the women, he’s very good to me.” She nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders. “I decided not to feel guilty anymore about my affair, and okay about having a fling from time to time.” I sat back in my chair thinking about Jack. I would be heartbroken if he ever had an affair. Would I be able to forgive him? I decided not to walk down that road mentally and concentrated on the fashion magazine I had been holding. About thirty minutes later, Rose and Tricia awoke from their naps and we piled into our condo. After long showers and lots of lotion to soothe our sunburns, we drove our rental car to a seafood restraunt that promised fresh fish. “I’ll take the grouper, blackened with steamed veggies and a margarita,” Tricia informed the waiter. I handed the waiter my menu. “I’ll take the same.” Rose and Patty chorused, “Me too.” The fish was fresh, and I looked for an opportunity to mention going back to Larry’s Bar. The waiter beat me to the punch. “Ladies, this pitcher of margaritas are from the gentlemen at the bar.” We all craned our necks to see who they were. It was Agent Marks, a.k.a. Brad, and … I did a double take … Rick the cameraman. Brad and Rick waved and walked over to sit with us. Brad sat next to Tricia and put his arm around her. Rick sat in between Patty and me. Brad introduced Rick the cameraman, “This is my friend Shane; he came down with me to play golf. That’s what we’ve been doing all day.”

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I glared at Agent Marks. So this is why Rick the cameraman was first on the scene after Bud Giovanni attacked me. We spent another half hour talking about golf, and then Brad suggested we go to Larry’s Bar. Thirty minutes after we arrived, I pulled Rick the cameraman onto the dance floor. “So, just who are you?” Rick laughed, “Agent Marks didn’t tell you? I’m Jerry Pagers, Susan’s husband.” I smirked. “So all of those weekends Sue was with you in LA … He finished my sentence, “She wasn’t just my girlfriend.” “That night Buddy attacked me … ” “Agent Marks knew you spent the night in your trailer, and he wanted me to watch you. I knew you were in the trailer with Bud. When I heard your screaming, that’s when I came in.” “Are there any other special agents lurking around here? Tricia and Rose, are any of them … ?” “No, and you need to watch out for Rose; she is not as stupid as she appears. Her husband does a lot of business with Bill Jessups.” “Thanks for letting me know.” “By the way, Sue says hello.” The song ended and we rejoined our group. Tricia heavily flirted with Agent Marks, and Shane, a.k.a. Agent Jerry Pagers, stuck close to my side. Rose again had too many, and this time was dancing on the bar.

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It was Bill Jessups with two other men … and my heart leapt … my husband! Patty quickly got down from the bar and ran to the ladies’ room. “Open up! We know you are in there!” Rose shouted. Rose and I chased after her.” Someone began banging on the bathroom door. “Which one of you blabbed? Leslie?” She pointed her steely eyes toward me. “We all live in a yellow submarine. Patty.” Patty reached down and grabbed my hand. and the entire bar waved their drinks and sang along. I vigorously shook my head. wasn’t me.” Patty decided to ’fess up. My eyes followed hers. Patty suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and looked toward the door. yellow submarine. gesturing wildly for Tricia to follow us. He’s been having heart trouble. Agent Marks laughed as I danced and sang along with Rose. red-faced and laughing.Two tequila shots later and Patty joined her. Rose stuck her hands on her hips. “Okay. yellow submarine. The Beatles’ famous “Yellow Submarine” began to blare over the loudspeakers. My new girlfriends loved the spotlight. and I didn’t want to compound the problem. “We’re busy!” 143 . it was me. I called Bill a few hours ago. “How did they find us?” Tricia narrowed her eyes. We ran inside the bathroom. demanding I join her up on the bar. “Nope. and the rest of the crowd.

“Darling. “How ‘bout I grill the chicken you bought the other day?” My husband closed the door and walked to the kitchen. My favorite. kissing me on the forehead. “I could eat a horse right now I’m so hungry. I was happy to be back. and all was forgiven. and our female tears took the hostility out of their voices. the door swung open and all four men piled in.” 144 . demanding answers. Dinner for Three “I am famished! The airplane food was inedible. The other three men embraced their wives. so we took an early morning back to Long Island.Undaunted.” I rummaged through the pantry and pulled out a bag of potatoe chips. “You’ll spoil your dinner! How about you make a salad?” Twenty minutes later. I’m sunburned. Jack touched my shoulder. I was so worried about you! Why did you do this?” I stammered. and then determined a few tears couldn’t hurt. and we all bawled. we were sitting out by the pool in our backyard enjoying big glasses of frozen lemonade with a twist of lime. Our husbands wanted us home immediately. Jack reached for the bag and took them from me. The other three girls decided to follow along. “Where have you been? What has gotten in to you? Why did you leave?” Stuart rushed over and held me.” I dramatized my hunger pangs by clutching my stomach as we walked through the door. “We’re so sorry!” The men couldn’t stand seeing us cry. “Ow! Careful.

and Patty has pictures of that. “My mom used to work for Lady Marmalade. What possible excuse could I have? Plus. she would have to hand me a copy of the documents if they’re to be used for evidence. What is going on?” “Nothing.” Jack looked impressed. “Are you going to tell me. it’s in a safe deposit box. “You got a weird look on your face when I mentioned those photos.” I caught my breath.” Jack leaned back in the lawn chair. I had never told Jack about my mother’s occupation. I wonder if you can get her to show you a copy.” 145 . Jack knew instantly I wasn’t telling the truth.“So how was your little Floridian adventure? Did you learn anything pertinent to our case?” I looked at my handsome husband. Tell her you want to see the photos.” He sat up.” “I don’t know how. this is Jack. “Bill uses Lady Marmalade’s girls when he is in Manhattan. plus a copy of the funds in his Cayman account. and with a little help. Okay. she ended up getting her throat slashed. he is trustworthy. “Not bad. Sarah.” I said just a little too quickly. he would find out. Not a good idea to lie to an FBI agent. Then you could get the account number. “Tell her you think I might be using Lady Marmalade too. or am I going to have to find out myself?” What was the use of hiding it? We had access to people’s personal records. I loved her and didn’t want anyone thinking badly of her. “I’ll think about it.

I told him about my childhood and why I joined the police force. I suddenly got angry and stood up. Jack and I joined Bill and Patty Jessups at Star Ranch Retreat’s golf course. I ran upstairs and locked myself in the bedroom.” We sat on the loveseat by the master bedroom fireplace.” For some reason his statement struck me as insensitive. You know the police have been trying to catch Lady Marmalade for years. “I’m sorry about your mom.” I stormed into the house. without thinking. He held me and rubbed my temples and gave me soft kisses on my hands and forehead. “Cops are pigs. I let go of the reins. Sarah? “Sarah? Sarah! Open up! I’m sorry! What did I do wrong?” Jack called through the bedroom door. Still Learning … The following Saturday morning. I even owned up to being married for a few years before I became NYPD. slamming the back door behind me. Patty appeared refreshed and happy to be there. Why was I so angry? He didn’t mean to be hurtful … What is wrong with you.He looked reasonably remorseful. We spent the rest of the night making love in front of the fireplace. and I poured out my heart. Tearfully I opened the door. I already loved him. and Jack helped him along with a fresh array of dumb jokes. His tenderness caused me to fall deeper in love. It was a cloudy day and low humidity. 146 . Bill was a bit rowdy. “You didn’t do anything wrong. my mom’s murder is a sensitive subject with me. “Tell me what happened. “Two golfers and a go cart!” Stuart laughed out the punch line. she’s never been caught because too many high ranking officials use her girls. He was gentle and sweet and understanding.” His strong hands wiped away my tears. but.

He might introduce him to that tramp Tina. “It was while he was in Manhattan doing a business deal. Patty nudged me and whispered.” Patty appeared shock.” I informed my pedicurist. Bill thought it was hilarious. “How about we leave these two to their game and we go get pedicures at the club?” She didn’t have to ask twice. “Stuart told me that Bill invited him to his office next Monday. we can watch out for each other.” 147 .” Anger flushed Patty’s cheeks. “I found a number in Stuart’s sports coat the other day. I didn’t think I could take an entire day of this. I want you to help me watch him.Patty weakly laughed. “What? Already? You two haven’t been married that long!” I put on a forlorn look. “We have to do something. “I would like a soft pink. please.” Concern crossed my face. or worse. I didn’t waste any time jumping into a deeper conversation. “You bet. In fact.” “Absolutely. When we got to hole four. Lady Marmalade. They are going to meet. They waved us off and we took the golf cart. and I grimaced. The quiet lady pedicurists allowed our tired feet to soak for a few minutes before they began to loofah.” Patty apparently had been here before.” Stuart and Bill didn’t appear the least bit upset when we delivered the news that we were abandoning the game. “I want the usual coral color. It was on a cocktail napkin.

” “Oh. Curious. My heart dropped when I saw who Tina was. “After this is over. Patty must have sensed my concern. “After I found out about Tina. “Are these more pictures?” She quickly took the folder from me and stuffed it back in the savings deposit box. Victoria and I used to play together. “Is something wrong?” I let the lump in my throat slide down. “What do we do? I don’t even know what Tina looks like!” She patted my hand. So how long has Bill been using Lady Marmalade?” “Apparently since before we were married.Nervousness wracked my body. and it’s only 10:30. “No. nothing … just thinking about Stuart. Her mom never missed a New Year’s party at Lady Marmalade’s. Bill’s sixteen years older than me and has a daughter from a previous marriage. “No. Her real name was Victoria. It was disheartening to see that she followed in her mom’s footsteps.” We walked out of the bank and she continued. she was the daughter of one of the girls my mom worked with. Victoria was the only one that I recognized.” I looked through the rest of the pictures. I saw a black folder. I picked it up and opened it. Patty carefully pulled out a manila envelope and took out the pictures.” About an hour later we were at the bank in the vault where they kept the saving deposit boxes. we had a good long heart-to-heart. She’s really nice. I’ll show you a picture.” 148 . three different girls. that’s the Cayman account. I called his first wife. okay. This bank doesn’t close till 1 pm.

I’m a little groggy.” I wondered if I knew her. I woke up in a hospital with Jack staring at me. “Close the door. Gave her an apartment and everything.” Jack gently kissed my hand. I suddenly remembered our conversation in the car. Maggie for short. “Did she tell you her name?” “Yeah. her name was Maggie. “That prostitute was my mom. She said you fainted. “Okay. “I don’t know. I need to talk to you. My mom’s real name was Lauren.” I caught my breath before continuing. but her call name was Magician. “Patty told me that Bill was previously married. Blood left my face and I fainted.“What did she say?” “They divorced because he fell in love with a prostitute. what happened?” Jack rubbed my arm. and that they split up because he was in love with a prostitute. What am I doing in here?” “Patty drove you to the emergency room. She would morph into different characters for her clients.” 149 .” He closed the door and pulled his chair up to my bed.” A knot formed in my stomach. Another one of Lady Marmalade’s girls. “You’re awake! Honey. “What’s going on?” I freely allowed the tears to flow.” My knees got weak and I was grateful we were sitting in the car.

Leslie?” I looked at the doctor. “Is she okay?” The doctor laughed.” Jack interrupted. “Sure can.“Are you sure?” “Positive. Patty said her call name and everything.” We were interrupted by the doctor coming through the door. We did some blood work.” “You didn’t tell Patty it was … ” “No.” “What?” “You’re about four weeks pregnant. that’s why I fainted. “Are you sure?” 150 . “Your pregnancy.” Jack jumped to his feet. but I need to talk to you first. of course not. “Just fine. “How are you feeling.” Exasperated I asked. can I leave now?” The doctor began to scribble on my chart. “She’s very healthy. “Then what do you need to talk to us about?” The doctor smiled. “I’m going to be a father?” My mind whirled.

“Did you know about Bill and my mother?” I wanted to know. “Then why did I faint?” “Probably low blood sugar. Sarah. and Jack and I rejoiced. Jack and I were having a baby! Central Park Jack and I met with Agent Marks in a secluded area of Central Park.” 151 . after she found his secret bank account in Cayman. Stark realization hit me. but that was it. “But Patty said she didn’t find out till a few months ago.” Jack interjected. Didn’t your mom see different men?” Heat rose to my cheeks. and the doctor assured me I was a mother. she never talked about it. “If Bill was in love with my mother … ” I paused mulling it over. “I don’t know.Jack began to cry. Your file mentioned your mom was a call girl. “No idea. Agent Marks replied. I was embarrassed about my mom’s lifestyle. I rubbed my stomach and immediately began to worry. I’m assuming she had several clients. This is a very wild twist.” I hadn’t done the math. “Sarah. Dogs barked and birds sang. “It is probably just a coincidence.” Jack put his arm around me.” The doctor left. It was a gorgeous day and people were jogging and roller-skating around the park. but Patty was married to Bill before your mom was murdered. Make sure you eat every couple of hours. I don’t know if you did the math or not.

Did Bill really pay for our apartment? Did my mom love him? There was only one way to find out. Since becoming pregnant. I was constantly hungry and craving chocolate. traffic is horrendous.” 152 .” Jack laughed. “We need to focus here.Agent Marks zipped up his jacket.” I swallowed. no holds barred. and my mother.” I listened to Jack and Mark ramble on about the case while I thought about Patty. I admired a few until Patty joined me. Sarah. I thought it was psychological. “Congratulations!” Then her face turned sour. Bill. Patty sipped her tea. “Right. I’ve got to go.” I snapped too. Up to a few days ago. maybe it’s better you didn’t know. “No problem.” I smiled. “I’m pregnant. and you’re meeting Patty in a half hour. The point of the assignment is to prove that Bill Jessups is stealing from his customers. I’m supposed to meet Bill. “It’s time to go. “You sure are hungry.” Patty clapped her hands and exclaimed. Jack interrupted my thoughts.” As soon as the bread was served I dove in. Patty and I are supposed to meet at Sardi’s and then spy on you two. “We’ll see what happens.” Visit to New York Sardi’s Restaurant on West 44th Street was famous for its caricatures of movie stars. Make it good. “Sorry I’m late. “Are you sure you want to do this today? I mean. relieved she had finally arrived.

We can go over to his office and see what’s going on. but when she told me it was none of my business … ” 153 . I want to see what the slut looks like. it will be after work. “Do you have an appointment?” Patty put her hands on her hips. Ivy Bank An hour later.” Patty huffed.” The Slut canned a smile. I’m his wife.” We ordered and the waiter brought out more bread. I was standing behind Patty so she didn’t see me when I winked at her husband’s secretary. “I’m sorry. I looked at her. I had an entirely different story I was going to tell his secretary. Patty hurried down the hall. which is in about an hour.” “If they do anything. I scarfed down that basket and hungrily ate everything on my plate when it arrived. The Slut answered the phone that was ringing and I sat down on the couch with Patty. How can we do that if they know we are here?” Patty admitted her pride. I heard he hired a new secretary. we walked into Ivy Bank’s corporate office on Wall Street and took the elevator to the top floor. “It is too my business. “Is he in a meeting?” “That is none of your business ma’am. “I need to know. “I thought we were going to spy on them.” The Slut greeted us. “Come on.I took another piece of bread and began to bathe it in butter.

but not enough for a conviction yet.” “Me too. 154 .” I rubbed my belly.” “Okay. “I am so excited.” I did what she said and when I walked in. I held down panic and stepped out of the stall.” We giggled as I washed my hands. I have no idea what motivates him to do that.“So what do we do now?” I began to squirm. “I had no idea you were working on this case. Agent Marks has a tendency to keep everyone in the dark. It was The Slut. I have to go to the bathroom.” Patty gave directions. said you were a good dancer. “Yeah. I was visiting the bathroom more and more these days. Bill’s office door was open and I heard yelling. Wait two minutes then come back to the office. The Slut was none other but Agent Susan Pagers.” Sue rolled her eyes. She leaned against the doorway. I have to get going. I met your husband. I heard the bathroom door open and close and then the door lock. to your right. “Down the hall. “So what are you two doing here?” “Visiting Bill. “I have found some stuff. Hey. So … congratulations! I heard the good news.” “He told me.” I hurried down the hall and into a stall.” “So have you found out anything?” I asked. “Wait.

” Jack raised an eyebrow. there is something I have to do tonight.” And we snuck out of the room letting the two lovebirds hash it out in peace. “I will see you at home. “Let’s go.“I wanted to know what you were doing! What is wrong with your wife visiting you at work? Are you trying to hide something?” Patty’s voice was so loud I think the walls vibrated.” 155 . “How do you know I wasn’t in an important meeting?” “Well if your secretary would tell me instead of letting me know that it was none of my business … ” I walked in the room and joined Stuart. In the garage. I kissed Jack on the mouth. I mouthed. “And what is that?” “I need you to trust me. who had his head in his hands. Bill retorted.

I did receive the money you sent and it really helped. She was older than I remembered and had a lot more wrinkles. “Sarah! You are all grown up! Come in!” Her house looked the same from when I last saw it. She answered.” Charise squealed. Sarah?” I looked at her. She ushered me to the couch. Memories of the New Year’s Eve parties revisited my mind. “There is something I need to ask you. it’s me. Still heavy make-up.Chapter 21 Lady Marmalade I knocked on Lady Marmalade’s door.” She put her hand on my knee.” She became serious. Sarah Higgins. “I loved your mother. it could have jeopardized your livelihood. but … ” “I understand. she was one of my favorite girls.” I knew she was telling the truth. I guess. “Alright. But.” 156 . but I am so sorry about your mom. I apologize I didn’t go to the funeral. “Can I help you?” “Charise. “I know I’ve told you this before. “So how have you been. Some of it paid for the funeral.

I know Bill was a good customer of my mom’s.” “Did he know about me?” “Yes. still is. When she was murdered.” “But she had other customers when they were together.” Then she got nervous. do you know who she saw that day?” A faraway look gleamed in Charise’s eyes. Bill was married. he did.“What is it?” “Do you know Bill Jessups?” She looked taken aback. She loved you very much. I mean.” 157 .” “I know. “I know you worked for the NYPD. never. He is with another one of my girls now. “If he found out. However. He was her only customer for several years. At least he thought so. got a divorce. He loved your mother. I do. “It was Bill Jessups. I don’t think he would kill her. Is there anything else that you can tell me about Bill?” “He was her first and only customer for about six months. Your mom was around seventeen and a virgin when we met. “No. he couldn’t have been that surprised. and is a hot shot at Ivy Bank on Wall Street. remarried. that is what she did for a living. Sarah. I don’t know the inner workings of the relationship. is it?” I shook my head. What if he found out?” She scratched her graying hair. this isn’t a set up. But your mom was extra careful to keep those men away from her apartment and away from you. I know he was married. “Yes.

“What is it?” “He’s your biological father. but Bill was already married with a child. They continued the clandestine affair while Bill continued to support us.” I took a gulp of orange juice. baby. and Mom did not want me involved. waiting for me. We didn’t wake up till late in the afternoon. he gave her the apartment I grew up in. I needed this. Forty minutes later. I drove all the way back to Long Island with the news.” “Are you feeling better?” 158 . it was two in the morning. When he found out about the pregnancy. I was asleep in his arms. “Thanks. “There is something else you need to know about Bill. which was with Bill. and after she refused an abortion. My mom was new to being a call girl and got pregnant her first month of work.” Unexpected Turn of Events The news that Bill was my father was shocking to say the least. He offered to be in my life as a father.“So do you have any idea who murdered my mother?” Charise paused. Sarah.” I waited in anticipation for her to continue. and Jack was still awake. “Good morning. Jack greeted me with toast and orange juice. Charise explained to me that my mom made up the story about getting pregnant in high school with the football coach so I would never know. He took a liking to her immediately and they met almost every night. I fell into his arms exhausted and poured out the story. The acid stung my dry throat. When I arrived home.

much.” I was going to meet my siblings today. I screamed for the family stolen from me. Your sister is married with children.” “Stacy. Years of buried bitterness gushed out. The feeling that they were close to my grasp now. They’re about a year apart and close to your age. 159 . spewing its bile. “Humor me. Their children are in town and they want us to meet them. “Yes.. Bill Jr. Years of tormented loneliness with my mom being gone at all hours when I was growing up. and finally the alienation that my career path demanded exploded in a dam of tears. About an hour later. then her murder. I put on my famous smile and greeted Patty and Bill with a boquet of fresh flowers. I used to daydream about my father and pretend I had a sister. broken and pitiful. My faux marriage to Armando was enhanced when his family welcomed me warmly. I buried my face in a pillow and screamed.” I became slightly aggravated. the family that lived a wonderful life without me. “What are his kid’s names?” “You don’t remember? Agent Marks prepped us with all of that before we moved here.” I whispered. I slowly ingested the names.” He sat next to me. Now I was coming to grips with the fact that it was a reality. and Trevor. the girl is older than you and from his first wife. However. please. and Bill had two more with Patty. I cried for the family I never had. “You know we have dinner in an hour with Bill and Patty. My first marriage was because I longed for a family.” As the words rolled off his lips. I had family. When I was little. “My siblings. Two boys.” “Yes. I did a great job of destroying that. Jack and I pulled up in the Jessups driveway. but still far away gnawed at my insides.I took a bite of toast.

It was more than I could handle. I will be right back. It took everything in me not to cry when I shook their hands. “Sit here. “Welcome to our home! Come meet our kids. They stood when we entered. so I shook my head no. Twins.” I began to laugh. “Don’t worry. and Bill Jr. I couldn’t respond. wanting to explain. I held her tight. Was Bill a good father? Did Patty treat them well? How would they feel if they knew I was their sister? How would Bill react if he found out I was his illegitimate daughter? Would he love me? Try to make up for the lost years? Would my siblings accept me? Fragmented thoughts carouseled through my disheveled mind. “I guess I need a little chocolate. Stacy was sitting on the love seat with her husband. She did it for me. A lone tear escaped from my eye.” 160 . Stacy walked over and put her arms around me. Patty told me it’s your first pregnancy. “Is everything alright? Did we say something to offend you?” Stacy kindly prodded.Patty took the boquet and ushered us in. They had blond curly hair and blue eyes.” She smiled and pulled out a chair from the patio table. Shortly after dinner I excused myself and sat on the patio. and I turned away trying to hide it. I wondered if twins ran on Bill’s side and would I have a pair? I patted my belly. I was so overwhelmed with the situation that at dinner I kept quiet and patiently listened every time someone spoke.” I held back the nervousness and followed her into the den. and Trevor lounged comfortably on the couch. Stacy followed me. Two female toddlers waddled up to Stacy asking for cookies. I cried constantly when I was pregnant with the twins. She was such a sweetheart. My tongue went limp. I wanted to know everything about them.

“See if this helps. and if she did. Bill Jr. walked out and asked if we needed anything. It could take a while for Jack to gain Bill’s trust. His face lit up like a soon-to-be father’s should. We had matching cheekbones and hands. I wondered if she knew why her mom and dad divorced. “Oh my gosh! I think the baby moved! I think it kicked!” Joy returned to my countenance as I remembered the blessing of my loving husband and new baby. We were in the back close to the children throwing crackers to the hungry seagulls. and we used the good news as an excuse to leave.In less than five minutes. “We’re trying. but we can’t seem to get anymore than we already have. I knew that we would be pulled from the case if he found out. I had begged Jack not to tell Agent Marks about Bill being my biological father. I shrieked. what would she think of me? I already knew what she believed about my mom. But. but I don’t think she noticed. I wanted to say. Stacy was beautiful with hazel hair and green eyes. Yes. I ran inside to tell Stuart. “We need more time. I need you to tell me that you love me and am happy that you have another sister. That you can’t wait to get to know me better. of course we answered no. Jack and I sat next to him on the ferry moving toward Staten Island. I suddenly felt a small twinge in my belly. it was movement. Confusion “Any new developments?” Agent Marks asked. and Bill Jr. I wanted to spend more time with the Jessups. it did. rejoined the others in the living room. More time to 161 . We spent the next half hour talking about pregnancy and children and unruly husbands. Like she was hiding something.” Strangely enough. sir. but still. she was back with two pieces of chocolate cake. She was well mannered but seemed to have a certain edge about her. I was already into my second trimester and getting bigger everyday.” Jack promptly stated. I knew it was probably way too early for the baby to have really kicked.” I pleaded.

“Trevor’s a bit of a jerk. has even done a couple of days in jail for mauling a kid in college during some frat party.” Agent Marks looked out at the Statue of Liberty. but he decided that loyalty to me came first.” Agent Marks replied matter of factly.” Agent Marks recrossed his legs and continued.” I wanted to know more about my brother. is involved. He and his brother have years of boxing lessons under their belt. boss. I was enjoying the Sunday afternoon brunches with them and was very reluctant to bring Agent Marks any information that would cause my new life to come to a halt.” Jack put his arm around me. not just Bill.” “Who else do you think is involved?” I asked. My heart skipped a beat. we had even begun attending the neighborhood Presbetarian church together and sharing the Jessups’ pew. Jack didn’t like keeping this from the bureau. We had spent the last several months golfing with the Jessups. but we suspect some others are involved. and every week I played cards with the girls at the club. Trevor. Bill’s a hard nut to crack. At my request. Bill Jr. “What makes you think that?” “Some of the information Agent Pagers found.” A hint of humor lightened Agent Marks countenance.get to know my father and siblings.” 162 . “His daughter Stacy and his eldest son Bill. “Something needs to break soon. “Explain unstable. “Agent Pagers has collected some data from Bill’s files being his secretary. We want to bring them all in. Trevor apparently isn’t much better. “We don’t think Bill’s youngest. he has a history of being unstable. Agent Marks swatted at a fly. “We are doing our best.

We entered Bill’s office. and Patty haughtily informed The Slut. “My stepdaughter Stacy is coming in town. heat rose to his cheeks. The Slut rose from her desk. let’s surprise him. Mrs.” “Why not?” demanded Patty. Agent Sue Pagers.a.” I answered enthusiastically. we were on Fifth Avenue searching for treasures. He stuttered. “Good idea. I felt as big as a house and trying on clothing was not something I was interested in doing.” suggested Stacy. She stuck her hands on her hips. When he saw us. “Let’s see if Dad wants to meet us for lunch.k. what are you doing here?” 163 . “I don’t think that’s a good idea right now.” The words were no sooner out of her mouth when Bill walked out tucking his shirt in his pants.” The Slut acted nervous by wringing her hands.” Patty exclaimed. a. She wants to know if you want to come shopping with us. Jessups. “He’s in a very important meeting. “Uh hi. “By the way.Shopping With the Girls Patty called me excited. is your skirt not short enough? You look despicable. of course! When?” Two days later. that she needed to see her husband. I did find a beautiful tan leather purse. “Yes.

k. and Stacy cried. who ran out of the office. Bill shifted his weight. Tina. Patty began to visibly vibrate. She recognized me. Tina looked at me and acknowledgment registered in her eyes. I quickly looked at her and shook my head. Lipstick was smeared over her cheek. but a little too late. Is your meeting over?” Visibly caught off guard.” Bill turned to walk back in his office. a.” 164 . “WHAT IS SHE DOING HERE?” Stacy screamed. “Uh. and they helped me down the elevator and into the car. Jack lay next to me.Patty relaxed. Bill. Just take me home. “HOW COULD YOU. “Are you okay? Do we need to call an ambulance?” Patty. grueling ride home. I plodded to the floor with a big thud. After a long. preparing to tear her to shreds. “Positive. DADDY?” She lunged at Tina. yeah. She got the point. I’ll be alright. Just give me a moment.a. Everyone except Victoria. “Just calm down right now!” Bill yelled.” Patty glared at Bill with a “This isn’t over” look. “Are you sure we don’t need to take you to the doctor?” I nodded. “I need to go home. I began to get woozy and my legs gave out. I was back in bed. Everyone stopped what they were doing and ran over to me. pranced out while straightening her slinky pink satin dress. “We wanted to take you to lunch. Victoria. Bill deftly stepped in front of her.

He kissed me on the forehead. “I have news. I had a job to do. “He’s dead. But I couldn’t. Edgar Hoover. Rose was melancholy.” A few minutes later. already drunk. “Where did he go? Did he resign?” I asked. 165 . One that was getting harder by the day.” “Good. make it a double.” I let the news sink in. I had met Hoover once.” I looked at him. He thought we weren’t good enough. “Is the new academy still going to open?” “You mean the one in Quantico? It’s scheduled to open in a few days. Still. He had forbidden women to work as special agents for the FBI.” Tricia said sloppily. and I seriously felt like joining her. I didn’t wish for his death. “Oh yeah? What is it?” “Our director. I arrived at the country club for my weekly card game with the girls. but I wasn’t a big fan. and heavily flirting with the male staff. is gone. I fell asleep.” Jack said solemnly. As if she never caught her husband cheating with a prostitute. Tricia was in rare form. heart failure. “Waiter! Oh waiter? Can you bring me another? This time. I don’t think his death is going to stop that. More Cards A few days later. Patty acted extremely chipper and like nothing happened. Jack shook his head. J.

“Sure. I signed a prenuptial. This was my chance to retrieve the evidence I needed to put away Bill for a long time … and possibly two of my 166 . My belly was bloated and I was using the restroom four times an hour. His secret account is in Georgetown. I need your help. I heard Long Island’s ER has cute doctors. “Good for you. when she told me she was leaving Bill. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” Tricia’s brash laugh was heard throughout the room. I’m going to drink ’til I go into a coma. When I walked out of the stall. “You see. “Actually. “All in. Whose idea was it that I become a special agent? Oh. what is going on?” I asked.” An obviously distraught Patty compulsively washed her hands.” Patty moved her pile of chips to the center of the table.Rose stuck her chin in her hand and cocked her head to the side. I’ve got a great hand. “Leslie.” she mused and then continued. peeved and not in the mood to help anyone. but I needed to be her friend and do my job. It was mine. “I need you to fly to Grand Cayman with me.” A lump caught in my throat. I need the twenty million in his Cayman account to survive. no. For some reason. My job. my stinking job.” I smiled weakly. and the fool put it in my name. that leaves me with nothing. Patty was waiting by the sink. Apparently he thought I would never find out. “I’m leaving Bill. So if I divorce him.” she stated flatly and matter-of-factly. something inside rose up and wanted to defend him. Strange. especially my stepmother. that’s right.” A few minutes later I excused myself to the ladies’ room.

Nice job. putting your family in jail. “Sure.siblings. Some daughter you are. Sarah. when are we leaving?” 167 .

Patty and I taxied around the island with our heads craning out the windows.” Patty promptly stated. you were just here this morning. with a white marble foyer and intimidating guards lining the hallways. in my condition. Jessups.” I gasped. I probably couldn’t do more than float. In a thick English accent. With clear blue water and warm winds. The older and very tan man behind the desk worked for a few minutes on his computer. and I couldn’t wait to go swimming. You have already transferred your account holdings. and Patty pulled out her passport and the manila folder I had previously seen from her safety deposit box. allowing the sweet and salty air to fill my lungs and prance its way through my hair. Grand Cayman. please. Patty and I were ushered to a large desk. I have never seen anything this beautiful before.Chapter 22 The Discovery Part Two of Life #3 Georgetown. and the driver opened the door for us. “Mrs. The taxi pulled up to Gretchen Bank.” Patty didn’t bother to hide her disdain. “I would like to transfer these funds to a different bank. Of course. we had to attend to business. or even worse. “There’s been a mistake! I am Patty Jessups and I want you to transfer my money to Silverhead Bank!” 168 . he bid us good day and left. Patty had booked us a condo on Seven Mile beach. First. sink. A puzzled look crossed his face. was spectacular. trying hard to appear overconfident. “Patty. The bank was large.

I know. How can I help you?” Patty became visibly upset and began to lose her composure. “I hate him. I am starving. I stood up. and pulled her to her feet. “Okay. I could smell the delicious food being prepared and my stomach growled in anticipation.” The taxi driver nodded his agreement. I oversaw the transfer. by three beefy police officers. I am Wayne Pearson. “My money has been stolen! Look at my passport. no less.The man punched a button on his phone and a few seconds later. Who did he put up to this? Who did he send to pose as me?” Just as bewildered. the real Patty Jessups arrived here this morning and transferred her holdings.” I waved down a taxi and we hopped in. Digging in to our scrumptious dinners. and I need to eat. Wayne Pearson looked the passport over and nodded. “This looks like you. I spotted a familiar face sitting at the end of the bar. “Yes. “NO! I AM PATTY JESSUPS! GIVE ME MY MONEY!” Less than a minute later. escorted. grabbed her hand. I sat next to Patty and allowed her to rest her head on my shoulder. Now let’s get some seafood. “Mrs. I absolutely hate him. he dropped us off at a nice restaurant on the beach. On my way there. enough loathing for today.” Patty screamed. a large islander in a white suit and yellow tie appeared. “Take us to the best seafood restaurant in town … one that has a fantastic view of the beach. Five minutes later. Jessups. Nature demanded attention and I excused myself to the ladies’ room. Patty began to drown her sorrows with vodka and tonic while I ordered a chocolate dessert. but I assure you. Patty sat on the curb and began to cry. ma’am. I 169 . After twenty minutes of allowing my stepmother to wallow in self-pity. the bank manager.” I ordered the cab driver. Patty and I were outside of Gretchen Bank on the sidewalk. I am Patty Jessups!” Patty thrust her passport at Wayne.

but it doesn’t look that way. However. I’m bringing Jack here after this assignment. 170 .” “She thinks he is leaving her.” I spit out the details of our misadventure.” Sue turned her back to me. He’s beginning to panic.” I said in a hushed tone. concerned for my sister. I was able to convince Patty to stay the night and enjoy the beach the next day. behind bars. She won’t be in town when we take down her husband. “Listen. I quickly probed. We just got back from the bank. I know she’s going to confront him when we get back. We have enough evidence to put Bill Jr. It’s better this way. Sarah. too. Sarah.” “What about Stacy? I thought she was involved.” I asked. and I continued to the ladies’ room. Bill sent me here to transfer the money.“What are you doing here. “We thought so. I think he suspects Patty is leaving him. Now get out of here before you are caught. trying to assess the situation. “You need to stall her. a couple of weeks in Cayman with our new baby will do us some good. Sue? Did Bill send you here?” Sue looked around quickly. Agent Sue Pagers quickly turned around. “Where’s Patty?” “She’s out on the terrace. keep her here for a few days ’til we can get a bust. she was antsy and wanted to leave. surprise lighting up her face. I sighed as we left Grand Cayman.walked up to the bar and tapped her on the shoulder. Sue responded quickly.

“Sarah. It was Bill Jessups. then maybe he and Patty can talk things over. “What do you mean?” “I mean Agent Pagers did the transfer herself. as I was upstairs setting up the nursery. and this time it was Agent Marks. but I really hope it’s not because he found out about Patty and my Caribbean vacation. I need to talk to you right away. we’re home.” I was dumbfounded. “I hope he did. she sent herself. get dressed.” Agent Marks hissed.Bill Jessups Two days later. One black and the other brown. “Why would she do that?” I still didn’t get it.” I shut the drawer and straightened the Noah’s ark lampshade. Bill Jessups just called and he is on his way over. 171 . “Did he say why?” Jack asked. the phone rang.” I hung up the phone curious to why he called. “Baby. The phone rang again. Bill didn’t send Agent Pagers to Grand Cayman. “No. “Leslie? This is Bill. I grabbed a pair of booties and gently placed them in the top drawer. “Sure.” Jack said. Jack walked into the room wearing only a pair of boxers with mismatched socks. Can I come over?” Bill sounded a bit frantic.” I replied.

Hi Leslie.“She and her husband have disappeared. In the middle of relaying the message to Jack. Sarah. I’ll just say it.” Stunned. but the state wouldn’t tell me where you were. I don’t need to know. the doorbell rang. “There sure is.” complimented Bill. So what is going on?” Jack got right to the point. All I want is a relationship with my daughter. I didn’t find out your mom was gone until after her funeral. make sure you were okay.” “There has to be a rational explanation. “This is a beautiful home. “Hi Jack.” Bill continued as Jack slid over and put his arm around my shoulder.” Bill’s eyes moved to mine and he absorbed me head to toe.” I said defensively. I was devastated to find out about her death. I don’t know why you haven’t said anything. and we opened the door to find Bill with red swollen eyes and sweat running down the sides of his face. or why you moved here. “OK. I wanted to find you.” Bill followed us to the living room and we sat down. Lady Marmalade told me a week later. or even why you go by the name Leslie. Bill took a deep breath and slowly blew out. I loved your mother. allowing a small whistle to escape from his lips. “Tina told me who you are. “Sarah. “Thanks. May I come in?” “Of course. Sarah. He nervously looked around. “Wha … What? You know? I can’t believe Victoria told you.” With that. Agent Marks hung up the phone.” 172 . Sue stole the money. my mouth dropped and I began to stammer.

flinging drops of water silently. pain. “We did meet. Something hit my wrist. but she didn’t want to get married. and she didn’t want to go through what both my wives have 173 . I cautiously whispered. you were loved. She was afraid it would destroy my family. but it wasn’t there.At the mention of my mother. I looked down at my hands. but still sharply. Now was real. “After you were a year old. He wanted you. My body choked for air again. I should have married your mother … and I wanted to. searching for composure. I tried to remember the speech I had rehearsed a thousand times. clingy heart.” Bill reached in his back pocket and pulled out an old photograph. My mother telling me about that man in her high school yearbook. I tried to gather my thoughts. I breathed in again. I choked. Years of hurt. His face contorted as he looked for an answer that didn’t come easily. “Where were you?” No response. eyes that too were letting loose of years of a missing child. fatherless child rose to the surface of my desperate. Years of wrinkles from wrong decisions. “Why didn’t I ever meet you?” His turn. Stacy was already born by then. It’s my fault. I mustered strength and looked into Bill’s eyes. Years of tears. and then softly. then the other wrist. sorrow buried in women and business framed bloodshot eyes.” Bill took out a handkerchief and blew his nose. I was at the hospital when you were born. Hands shaking. Older eyes that were simply those of a father who loved me. Sarah. You have a father! Bill began to cry. Tears. again … Between shallow breaths. and the rejection of believing I was an unwanted. Then. She knew I wouldn’t be able to stay faithful. but they continued to scatter. I took it from him and stared at it. Sarah. “That baby is you. I slowly looked up to eyes as red as mine. this time more deeply. your mom forbid me to see you anymore. She saw how attached you were getting to me. I wanted your mom to write my name on your birth certificate. I inhaled deeply and looked up and to the left while wiping the salty water from my eyes so I could see. It was a picture of him with an infant sitting in his lap facing the camera. My eyes never left his. The coach who didn’t want me. my wife found out about my affinity for pretty women and she divorced me. but she wouldn’t. looking down quickly.

“The high school football coach … your mom told me. “What do you mean?” The words barely escaped his lips when we heard a commotion ram through our front door. I’m so sorry. I’ve said it. It sounded like a train was heading our way. too ashamed to meet his eyes. It was Patty. “When I was little. I used to daydream you were a famous movie star or a prince in a foreign land. “There. “Bill. if you are willing to come clean. “I’ve made a mess … I’m a bad person … I need help.” Jack decided to walk through the door Bill opened. 174 .” Jack looked over at me. When my mom showed me a picture of another man and said he was my father. and now I don’t know how to get out of it. I’m afraid Patty is going to leave me. we all turned to see who had entered the room. we can help you. we all make mistakes.now gone through.” Bill blew his nose again on the already soaking wet handkerchief. Frozen. I’m so sorry … I’m just so sorry … ” My face was a puddle. I don’t deserve what I have. What could you have done that was so horrible?” Bill’s face splotched as he looked away from Jack. I’ve done something else horrible. I began to hate him for having another family … ” Bill finished for me. I began to randomly babble. Still too stunned to make sense of the situation.” Bill looked confused and sniffled. “I’ve missed you my entire life … ” Bill wailed. The realization of the pain he had caused so many people filled his face with remorse. don’t be so hard on yourself.” Bill hung his head in shame. I’ve stolen some money. “I’m a thief. Sarah. but I’m not. “Bill. I wish you found out that your father was a respectable man.

how come you cheat on Patty? How could you sleep with prostitutes?” Bill took the statement like a man and addressed his three children. Patty stood at the front of the room and glared first at me. “What I have done was wrong. “Bill. “If you love us so much.Sarah. “How could you. “What are you doing here Bill? Trying to gain sympathy for your philandering?” Bill looked at Stacy. and I am still in love with your mom. but you weren’t in love with mine. you know I love all three of you dearly.. refusing to lose steam. right?” Bill Jr. Stacy was the first to speak. and Trevor. She continued with her fury. “You may be in love with their mom. obviously still angry. You ditched her for a prostitute. Leslie? I thought you were my friend!” I stammered. you are not stopping me.. “What are all of you doing here?” Patty began her rant. “How did you know about that account? And what do you mean who did I send to take the money out?” Patty glanced my way apologetically. Bill Jr.” Stacy fired back. and I brought the kids along to make sure you don’t get away with this! Do you think you can just run out and leave me high and dry? Well you’re not! Who did you send to take the money out of the Grand Cayman account?” Bill looked at her warily. A stinking whore!” 175 . “What are you talking about?” Bill interjected. suddenly realizing I didn’t sell her out. and Trevor. “Kids. and Trevor nodded. Bill Jr. I don’t want a divorce.

all of you!” My voice began to shrill. We all stopped dead in our tracks. You’re trashy mother ruined my life!” Jack raised his hands in the air. Bill spoke up. Trevor.” Trevor walked closer to me. In utter horror. I know you’re upset. I got Maggie pregnant. “I want you dead.” Stacy turned her fury towards me. “YOU’RE JEZEBEL’S DAUGHTER? I hate you too and I’m glad she’s dead!” As I started towards Stacy. shut up. “Trevor. I asked anyway in a voice so strained it was more like a raspy whisper.” Suddenly Trevor faced us with a gun in his hand. “Trevor. Tell her hat we did to her mother. and your baby too. everyone astounded by my declaration. but please put down that gun. not really wanting to know what happened.” The blood drained from my face. “Look. tried to walk toward Trevor. I stood up. “Leslie is my daughter. Just shut up and put down that gun!” Trevor shot the gun to his right and nailed a lamp. Leslie. “Tell her Bill Jr. “Stand back. “Don’t talk about my mother like that! Who do you think you are?” The room fell strangely silent. Jack stepped in front of me. “What did you do to my mother?” Bill Jr. “Stop it! Stop it right now! Leslie is pregnant.Enraged. WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY MOTHER!?” 176 . It easily shattered to the floor. and I am asking all of you to calm down.

I never had a chance to tell you. Bill Jr.” Jack weakly smiled and closed his eyes. I quickly ripped open Jack’s shirt trying to find the wound so I could stop the blood. please don’t leave me. and I took turns raping her before we slit her throat. you hear me? You’re going to be okay. Dad? Some prostitute was more important than Mom and our baseball games?” Bill tried to speak up.” Jack’s eyes rolled to the back of his head. I slapped him on his cheek. “Daddy couldn’t stay away from his slut mistress … he had plenty of time for her … but none for us … Isn’t that right. I heard someone scream to call an ambulance. “Wake up! Wake up!” His eyes moved forward and met mine while I held my hand over the wound. we’re having a boy.” I screamed and ran toward Trevor. “So Bill and I wanted to know just what was so special about your tramp … why she took precedence over us. My world began to crumble … 177 . “You’re going to be alright. baby. Jack crumpled to the floor as I hit my knees. “Trevor.Trevor looked at Bill and then me with intense hatred. please don’t … ” Trevor cut him off. Jack jumped in front of me as Trevor fired his gun. “Baby. Blood gushed rapidly between my fingers.

Part 4 Life #4 The Cliff Basey Case 178 .

the sweat dripping from my forehead. but his voice inflection betrayed a hint of insecurity. it’s driving me crazy. Moments later. I fell to my knees begging God for a second chance. God. Fred Shipley.” Jack rubbed my back as I drifted off to sleep. and then I shuddered. My heart stopped. can I see you in my office?” Usually he left me alone.” “Let me hold you. “Sarah. I sat up in bed and turned on the night light I’ve had by my bedstand for the past few years. “Baby. 179 . my boss and President of the FBI Academy. a heavyset man who was old and fat stuck his head in my office and asked. “It’s the same one over and over again. * * ***** The next morning. entirely too early. and my arms sticky from the hot comforter stuck to my body.Chapter 23 Operation Save the Girls The Beginning of the End The unwelcome whine of an approaching ambulance filled the room as red and blue lights began to intrude from outside. what’s wrong? Did you have another nightmare?” Jack struggled to reach over and pull me into an embrace. I can’t seem to shake that night I thought you died. The fear of you dying overshadows me all the time. please don’t take him! He’s a father!” I woke up. the ambulance sirens were still screaming while faceless paramedics in white quickly pushed open the door and gathered around Jack. “Please.

Now I was carrying a five-pill-a-day addiction. It didn’t bother me. dusty office with a fake tree in every corner. 180 . Need you undercover. you wouldn’t get hurt. “How can I help you?” I asked. Since Jack was shot and I had Christopher. However. had began to wear on my nerves. The faint smell of mildew rose from the cheap plastic black leather chair as I sat down. well … I gave in. mildly bored. gearing himself for resistance from me. I was already tired of my life. if you didn’t get emotionally involved. I wanted to go undercover. not anymore.” Agent Shipley coldly clipped off the details with a harshness that was familiar among agents. I loved my husband and my son. year after year. but after Jack’s shooting mixed with the arrest of my dad and brothers. Christopher’s birth came early due to stress. I needed a break. It was a self-protection method. I had become the same way. Virginia. What’s my assignment?” I smiled inwardly from the shocked look on his face. and after many sleepless nights with him needing to be fed every two hours. He stepped behind his desk and pretended to seat himself comfortably in the high back chair. he couldn’t hide his stiff-necked trepidation. I refused to give it. but teaching the same lesson plans day after day. I slowly became dependent. “Absolutely … Can’t wait. For years I had resisted. Frankly. I wondered what was going on. they only added to the deterioration of the décor. Life had become mundane and boring. They didn’t help the ambiance. “I need you for the Cliff Basey case. I stepped into his large. I had been training potential special agents in Quantico. I didn’t know how else to make it through the day. How Cliff Basey is getting them in here from the Sudan. After many years now with the bureau. Many of us were self-medicating with barbiturates and alcohol. “I need you to find out how they are shipping the people in.Ordinarily he had no problem giving orders.” Fred Shipley hesitated.

has a long-standing relationship with Cliff Basey. Had he lost his mind? I needed at least a week. it seemed. He was bossy. especially. My handler was a guy by the name of Tim Stevenson.” “Tomorrow?” I almost shouted. We need to put a lid on this human trafficking scandal immediately.Fred Shipley finished his speech. your new name is Amy Townsend. I left Agent Stevenson’s office. and I went to deliver the news to my husband and son. Sarah. “We are running out of time. controlling. Agent Stevenson was the most mean-spirited man I had ever met. The CIA I had never worked with the CIA before. and I had heard that if you didn’t submit completely to their authority. Sarah. and very chauvinistic. After my two-hour briefing. You work at a shipping company there and are sleeping with the married owner. I need you to leave tomorrow. you were dismissed from the case. Revel Shipping. who we believe has been smuggling Sudanese people to America. toward me. I was back in business! The Sudan 181 . “So anyway. we were looking for a way to break into his circle of influence. I need you to be in charge of the monthly shipments of oil from Sudan to New Jersey. and you are from New Jersey. feeling heady from the excitement of a new case. preferably a month. I had been shipped to the Sudan to go over case details with the CIA and to see if there was a way I could be eased in to Africa. “Alright.” Fred ushered me out of his office.” Agent Stevenson haughtily rattled off my assignment with a spirit of pride that was both disgusting and exasperating. Since Cliff Basey was American operating from Sudan.

pedicures. but the staff was overly nice and my room was very comfortable. and many of the other luxuries I was afforded. However. is there anything else I can get for you?” the attractive young Sudanese waiter asked me in perfect English. They shone wickedly off the whitewashed walls. by the end of week two. The hotel looked the other way when money exchanged hands. you’ll run into someone else who likes to play cards. The waiter looked around. Every time I had to walk under them. I happily took advantage of the massages. They had a kidney-shaped pool decorated with chairs and large colorful umbrellas that I quickly became fond of. which put an end to the First Sudanese Civil War. Two large antique looking chandeliers hung in the foyer in the front entrance of the hotel. The Crispus Hotel where I was staying was occupied on a frequent basis by Cliff Basey. with only five stories. maybe if you stop by our bar around 8 for a drink. The hotel wasn’t particularly large.It was the year 1978. “Ms. hoping for a runin. he made his presence known. and I was simply waiting for his next arrival.” 182 . I already missed Jack and Christopher and spent an hour on the phone with them each night. I didn’t have to wait long. “Well. I did so quickly with fear they would fall due to how large they were and how small the hook they were hanging from was. and Sudan was supposedly in a period of peace following the Addis Ababa Agreement. I was sent to an upper class hotel in Port Sudan where I was waited on hand and foot. and I had been dining in the hotel restaurant. Townsend. I knew Basey was in the hotel. Is there anywhere around here where a girl can play a hand of cards?” I had overheard a conversation in the elevator previously about a poker game that went on in the lounge sometimes. President Muhammad Nimeiri was desperate to help us stop his people being sold as slaves in America. My first week was great: I relaxed and enjoyed myself as much as I could. I was hoping for a little excitement tonight. “Actually there is.

Luckily. Cliff Basey walked in. my two brothers were in jail. Sweat from the grueling heat rolled down the sides of his face. my step mom was seeing a therapist. 183 . Talk about not judging a book by its cover. If I hadn’t known any better. and by 8:30. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and looked around. As I was pushing thoughts about my dysfunctional family out of my mind. I was full swing in a poker game with three British males staying at the hotel. I took the waiter’s advice and visited the hotel bar. Cliff stood up and walked me out of the bar. The photographs I had seen had not done him justice. The game droned on for several hours until it was well past two in the morning. “Just another week or so. Playing poker every week with my stepmom during my last case allowed me to hold my own. I was still up quite a bit and I deposited my winnings in my handbag. My eyelids began to droop and I finally folded. and my sister wasn’t speaking to me. The second beer lasted all of three seconds. I was up a couple of hundred dollars and wanted desperately to stay that way. I caught his eye momentarily and then quickly looked down at my cards. The bar was slightly eerie with all of the spears and African tribal masks displayed on the walls.Later that evening. “So Amy. how long are you in town?” Cliff’s boyish charm was mesmerizing after six strong cocktails.” I carefully said my rehearsed lines. When I began to leave. with a full head of bleached blond hair that was long and pulled back into a ponytail. His flip-flops and surfer shorts completed the look. ’Til next time anyway. He appeared younger than he was. The toothless bartender introduced me to a group of men. it was hard to believe he smuggled human beings and sold them as slaves. I didn’t realize how attractive he was. he was asking one of the men at the table if he could join in the game. I briefly thought about my dad and siblings. Just looking at him. I was sincerely hoping they were fakes. A stuffed baby elephant and cheetah stood dutifully by the entrance guarding the door. I would have thought he was a college student on summer break. He sat at the bar and quickly downed one beer while his hand was wrapped around a second. and made sure not to touch them. Two minutes later. I have a shipment coming in and then I’m out of here. My dad only had a few more years to go before he would be released from jail.

Wrong Choices “Good morning. where I’m from. I wanted to be faithful to only one. “I can see that you’re tired. But I struggled to look away every time I saw an exquisite specimen of the male species. “Nine it is. 184 . What can I get you for breakfast?” Cliff’s allblack plastic sunglasses hid his red eyes and accentuated his cute sunburned nose. I had always had an eye for sexy men.” I walked on the elevator and allowed the doors to close behind me. It was my own secret. I nodded off to sleep. As I rode up the elevator to my room. Fighting guilt. “Revel Shipping. In my heart. He didn’t bother to hide his elated grin. I opened my hotel room door. and after locking it behing me. My own personal spirit of shame that beat me up every time I gave in to a visual indulgence. how about breakfast tomorrow? In the dining hall at nine?” Cliff had undeniable confidence and I could tell he wasn’t used to being told no. Did I have daddy issues? Maybe. darling. But a part of me. curiosity peaked. leaving Cliff in the hall. And for all practical purposes I was. I swallowed hard. a deep part of me. longed for the acceptance only an attractive male could give. I had been faithful to Jack. By this time I was so tired I could have laid out on the marble floor and taken a nap. We ship petroleum out of New Jersey. You see.” I let the words slide off my lips. My own demon I had to constantly fight. I curled up under the covers.“So you work in shipping? What company?” Cliff asked.

” He paused. you are a married woman. “Oh.” Cliff grinned. I called Jack. how about seven?” After breakfast I went to my room and stood staring at myself in the mirror on the closet door. You have a child. Not that Jack didn’t. “Hey. wanted. Some orange juice would probably help with my hangover. how are you?” Jack’s strong firm baritone voice soothed my aching heart. reached over and stroked my left hand. but I wanted to appear loose and slightly out of control. Sarah.” I wasn’t really hung over.“Scrambled eggs and bacon. yeah? You say that so slyly. Early morning candor came effortlessly as Cliff’s cynical sense of humor and relaxed manner caused me to enjoy what could have been an uncomfortable situation. “That we do. He was so charming that I began to wonder if he really was the villain or did they have the wrong man? “So what is on the agenda for you today?” Cliff’s kaliediscope eyes swallowed mine. baby. but something deep inside of me needed. “How about dinner tonight?” My heart began to beat faster. I shook off the lust and began to think rationally. What was wrong with me? Sarah. I acted coy. Maybe even easily manipulated. He was interesting and slightly exotic. This man sells human slaves. I was immediately attracted to him. I have some business I need to take care of. “We all have our secrets. get a hold of yourself! “Sure. 185 . Is your employer not on the up and up?” I purposely wouldn’t look him in the eye.” Cliff laughed. and strongly desired male attention. Being in Cliff’s presence was like a drug. “Oh. He made me feel very wanted and beautiful.

” Stevenson stated bluntly and unemotionally. I disliked everything about Agent Stevenson. “None. “But he’s my husband! I need to talk to my son! This case could take months!” 186 . Not yet. not bothering to hide his distrust. We were meeting in a tiny restaurant on the outskirts of town. “He didn’t say.” I replied coldly. “Did he give you any information at all that could help the case?” Agent Stevenson stared at me. I pushed the fact that it was probably dried blood squarely out of my head. Stinky Stevenson “So where are you going with him for dinner?” Agent Stevenson wiped the ketchup off the side of his mouth. It was time to meet with my handler. I want you to stop talking to Agent Jackson ’til this case is over. I felt much better after speaking with Jack. but I made contact today and I believe that the pace should pick up soon. The place was musty and smelly and I could have sworn I saw a snake slithering by the side of the wall.“It’s going slow. The top of the small square table was oily and the white plastic lawn chairs had red stains on them. “Now that you’ve made contact. Twenty minutes later with a firm resolve to keep my mind focused on business. I gasped. I was in a taxi. How’s Christopher?” We continued talking for several minutes before hanging up.” I wished sincerely that our meeting would end soon as I stared at a cobweb that was nicely spun hanging above his head.

the more I liked him. while during the day. The atmosphere of Port Sudan seemed somewhat dark and dismal. please. He was free with his money and he treated me like a queen. 187 . “Yes. Bad News Basey I met Cliff in the hotel lobby at seven and he was ready and waiting with a taxi. When I was with Cliff. we spent every night together. In fact. the more I hung around Cliff. I had lost five pounds already since coming to the Sudan and I wanted to sweat the final three off. we will have to have a huge party tonight. my dear.“Orders are orders. I informed him that I was dating my married boss. would you like another margarita?” Cliff motioned to the waiter. Where are we going?” I was wearing a wire and I wanted to make sure the CIA knew where I was. right?” I fluttered my eyes trying to look at him through the glaring sun while laying on my stomach enjoying the sun’s rays. “You look stunning. “To a little restaurant down the street. “Darling. For a week. while Cliff exuded what appeared to be happiness wherever he went. Every minute was like a celebration.” Cliff opened the taxi door and I climbed in. it was like stepping into a different world. we relaxed by the pool. I’ll make sure Agent Jackson is informed. However.” “Thank you. along with the other lies I was supposed to tell in hopes that he would somehow spill his guts about the girls. “Well.” Stevenson then rose from the table and left me to sit and stew.” Cliff smiled at me while blatantly studying my legs. he was beginning to grow on me. You know this is my last night. He was very well known in town and everyone treated him like a celebrity.

That was the problem with the lies I had been telling and the double life I was leading.As he stared at me. Sarah! Wake-up! Stop fooling around and get some information out of this man! 188 . I had to concentrate so much on being authentic that sometimes I truly began believing that what I had been saying was true. Not being allowed to talk to them wasn’t helping either. and I was developing a schoolgirl crush on a possible sick and twisted criminal who sold humans. I shook my head and looked back at the magazine I had been reading. Suddenly pangs of guilt washed over me as I remembered Jack. I had received no information whatsoever to help this case. The sweat gleamed off his slightly built sunburned chest. Hello. Several times already that week I had forgotten I was married with a beautiful son. I brazenly looked him over through my dark sunglasses. What kind of wife and mother was I anyway? I was beginning to regret taking this assignment. So far.

and sometime during the night. “I didn’t know you did that stuff.Chapter 24 Getting Worse My supposed final night in Sudan was fantastic. it’s a lot stronger than cocaine. danced.” All of my senses were now on fire. I quickly sniffed the line and perked right up. and I downed half of bottle of tequila while talking Cliff’s ears red. and he held me in the moonlight. Luckily. We drank champagne. Cliff nudged me. I only get the best. I was a complete mess by the time the limo dropped us off. In the limo on the way to another club.” he said. “Wow. 189 . “Crank. “Here. My mind had gone to mush. here take it. what is in that stuff?” Cliff looked proud.” I sat up to see what he was offering. take this. and I couldn’t seem to remember my name. Cliff kept introducing me as his girlfriend Amy.” “It’s just a quick pick-me-up. and for some reason. tired and almost asleep. it’ll wake you up. He had rented a limo for the majority of the evening. I laid my head on his shoulder. It was a mirror with a line of cocaine on it and a gold straw. Cliff brought out the works. I believed him. Cliff happily supplied me with another line of the white stuff. We danced for several hours. pushing the mirror in front of my face.

breathing heavy.” 190 . Cliff pushed a button that prevented the doors from opening. “What are you doing?” I asked. starry sky. but the deadly alcohol/drug mixture was blocking me from reacting quickly. Cliff slid over to the corner that I was standing in and placed his arms on the wall. encasing me. “Amy. “Thank you.” Cliff briefly stopped kissing me and brought his eyes close to mine. Plus. “I love your dress. “I don’t know if we should … I have a boyfriend … remember … he owns the company I work for. I was so high off the crank I didn’t register the unwelcome change. then the door closed. “Cliff. we made it into the elevator. umm … ” The words were unable to escape my lips because he began kissing me.We finished off our evening by walking back to the hotel under a quiet. The dress had a halter-top that accentuated my femininity. you know you want this.” Cliff groaned. Getting into the hotel and to the elevator was ridiculous. Alcohol mixed with drugs usually has that affect on people.” Cliff’s tone turned from light to seductive. Somehow. we laughed as we propped each other up. “You mean your married boyfriend? Amy. I have been wanting to do this since I met you. As the elevator stopped at our floor. I finally caught on. Not quite sure what to do. stumbling and incoherent. I kissed him back. getting a full sentence out was nearly impossible. and I want it too. I was having a hard time completing a thought. Sheer terror ran through my veins. and he moved in. not quite catching on. Nothing in me wanted to do this.” I had worn a garnet colored dress with a rhinestone pendent in the middle of the chest area. Amy.

I have a job to do.” Cliff rubbed my arm. Sarah! Stay in character! “Stay with me. “Sweetheart. and I didn’t have the strength to properly resist and well … do I really need to tell you the rest? Worst Mistake of My Life The next morning. “Baby. I felt filthy and wanted to get away. I tried to politely excuse myself and go back to my room. I really wanted to throw up. and it didn’t matter anymore. I snuck out of bed and began to get dressed. picked me up in his arms and carried me into his room. I want you to stay here with me. Cliff was waiting for me without much clothing on and two glasses of champagne. Cliff opened his eyes. It was at that moment I remembered the wiretap stuck in the recesses of my bra. I was already in trouble. Suddenly. It took me a few seconds to grasp onto the fact that I had betrayed my wedding vows several hours earlier. Stay in character. 191 .“I … ” Cliff wasn’t about to take no for an answer and before I knew what was happening. Cliff opened the elevator doors. Amy. my body responded to his and in less than ten minutes it was over. remember?” Cliff sat up in bed and motioned for me to sit next to him. ashamed. letting them wander over my body. but he blocked my way. I awoke with a start to find Cliff next to me snoring loudly. I looked away. As I opened the bathroom door. I climbed out of his arms and excused myself to the bathroom where I flushed the wiretap down the toilet.” “I can’t. “I have to go back to New Jersey today.” I pretended to gaze at him lovingly. The CIA had recorded my entire night. where are you going?” Cliff looked at me sleepily.

and don’t pretend you don’t. I am one of their customers.” I mused. “And why do you go by an alias?” “You know why. I’m sure some of it has trickled down to you. This time I was sober. Cliff laughed.” Cliff began to get defensive. I’ve never seen you on the manifest.” Cliff said smugly.“I have bills to pay. scared. 192 . Pretending he was Jack didn’t help me get through it any easier either. “Darling. Agent Tim Stevenson “So what were you able to find out?” Agent Tim Stevenson’s breath reeked of rotten eggs and I wanted to puke. I decided to defuse the situation so I leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the lips.” “You don’t know what they really do. I know all about Revel Shipping and what they really do. pretending to think it over.” Cliff said arrogantly. I logged the alias in my brain before responding. I pay good money to have your supervisors look the other way. “No you’re not. Before I knew what was happening. “Because I go under another name. an apartment in New Jersey … well one my boyfriend’s been paying for. he took me in his arms and the elevator incident was repeated. Copper Bernhardt. “How about staying and working for me?” Cliff appeared serious. daring him to say more. “Don’t try and act innocent.” I said. and now sick with guilt. “Doing what?” I asked innocently.” I acted surprised.

Cliff is a known connoisseur of women. loving. don’t tell Jack. “What?” Stevenson laughed meanly and without reservation. Plus. “Your marriage is your business.” Tears welled up in my eyes. eat. I helped the feeling along by upping the dosage on my five pill a day addiction to seven. I can’t stand the guy. and Agent Stevenson just put the cherry on top.” He paused for effect and then sneered. and well … you know.“He goes by the alias Copper Bernhardt when he ships the crates through Revel. The Girls 193 . obviously happy to have me between a rock and a hard place. we have your little adulterous escapade recorded … through your wiretap and the cameras they have installed in the elevators. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I had screwed up and now everyone knew about it. responsible. I swallowed my pride and pushed past the pain. He waved his hands out in front of him. good husband. “Is that all you’ve got after spending the entire night with him?” grunted Stevenson. Depression began to take its nasty hold on me. We know when you breathe.” His words sliced through me like a knife. My entire body turned pink with embarrassment. Rejection and humiliation poured into my already wounded soul. “Though. “Please. We just want enough information to put him and everyone involved behind bars. I had already felt beaten down. we heard you were the kind of agent who would do what it took to get the job done.” I rattled off the information quietly. Everyone but my unsuspecting. I just got caught in a bad situation. “Oh yeah? You think we don’t know? We’re the CIA.” Stevenson licked his lips. That’s one of the reasons we agreed to take you on this case.

No water. they don’t want that.” The next day. and pure heat. If they give you any trouble. However. and wore very little to no clothing. Fecal matter and flies were everywhere. with a look of horror bathed on their faces. clean clothes. I appeared to be in a small. make-up … ” Cliff was quick to respond. “How do you want me to clean them up? They need showers. my heart was screaming a different story. clean them up. “Yeah. or should I say we now. make the most money off of the women. They were all in chains. I watched as we packed around three thousand people into huge shipping crates.” I gulped silently. make sure they obey. and get them ready to ship off. Amy?” Cliff pointed to the pathetic looking bunch. Everyone was skinny. Particularly the prepubescent girls. Now your job is to oversee these women. no bathrooms. what about them?” “I. I nodded dumbly. It was 194 . remote village full of little children and women. call me and I will get one of my men to take care of them.Two days later. Cliff drove me to a secluded place blindfolded. and the place stunk something fierce. I wasn’t prepared for the sights I saw. and inside were girls anywhere from seven years old to twenty-two crammed in a small space. because they are virgins. then when we get back to the states. careful not to give myself away. “See these girls. I have bunkers ready where you can clean them up. And believe me. “When do we leave?” “Tommorow. acting indifferent. Cliff took me to a hut. “First we ship them off.” It took everything in me to hold back the tears. He told me that it was in my best interest that I didn’t know where we were going. When he removed the blindfold.

I wept for the thousands of people sold into slavery. I knew the CIA had my line tapped. It gave me the strength to make it through the next two days. I hated him with every fiber of my being. the shame I felt inside gnawed away at my insides. I love you more than you’ll ever know. the line went dead. hell was too good for him. Women who didn’t speak English. I went to open it. As far as I was concerned. “I’m ready when you are. grateful just to hear his breathing over the phone. “Darling. “Jack?” I cried into the phone. are you packed and ready to go?” Cliff looked nervous and high strung. I knew I would receive a tongue lashing from Agent Stevenson. “Jack. I didn’t care. I broke protocol and called Jack. I love you so much.” As I blubbered the words out. little girls and boys who were raped and beaten while no one knew they existed. After my tear ducts were swollen. but I had to go along with it. I despised Cliff. and I now wanted him dead. For now anyway.” 195 . and that night I sat up in my posh hotel room and cried for the people he held captive. I grabbed my suitcase. I heard a light rapping on my door. hearing Jack reinforce his love for me was just what the doctor ordered. I miss you and so does Christopher. As I hung up the phone. but I didn’t care.disgusting.” I broke down and bawled like a baby.” As Jack began to speak. “I’m not. I debated confessing my infidelity. I was afraid he would leave me if he knew. “Sarah. knowing it was Cliff. “Sarah! Are you alright? I thought you weren’t allowed to call?” Jack’s tough sturdy voice resounded through me. he deserved more than death. He repulsed me. but then decided against it. but I missed you and Christopher so much that I couldn’t take it anymore.

“Good morning! Rise and shine! I brought us breakfast. Darkness had clouded his face.” He motioned for me to sit on his lap. The shipment was due by ten in the morning. but he quickly got over whatever he was thinking about when I walked in. the long flight took all of his spunk and he went right to sleep. We had a layover in Atlanta and then we made it to New Jersey by midnight.” Cliff was already out of bed and sitting on the settee by the window. Tired. I looked dumfounded. “I have an offer to make even more money.Headed for Destruction Cliff and I headed toward the airport and caught the next flight to the states. “Thank you. “Me too.” 196 . Luckily. No need to pretend. I obeyed. That was a long gruesome flight.” Cliff stated flatly.” “You’re telling me.” I playfully licked the icing on the cinnamon bun. I wore a wiretap that an undercover agent slipped me in the elevator when I went down to the lobby for a morning newspaper. The next morning. I’m planning on retiring after this shipment. we went to a hotel and I crawled into bed next to Cliff. “What are you talking about? I thought you made a good living at this. I really was. I returned to the room with coffee and two fresh cinnamon buns. I was elated to be back in the states and didn’t hide my chipper attitude in front of Cliff. sincerely hoping he wouldn’t get any bright ideas. Good news is. Amy! I’m very hungry.

if I can get them white virgins. Jesus. I needed to calm down and keep my cool. but I refused to react to his words.” My blood boiled and my mind raced. Gazing down. then I need You to save me. I saw the back of a building with graffiti. I muttered under my breath.“Really? Doing what?” “Same thing. I watched his countenance turn violent. “Why are you turning your head away from me?” Cliff growled. “It’s my time of the month!” Cliff nodded knowingly at that satisfactory answer and backed off. I decided to lie.” A few minutes later Cliff rose from where he was sitting and came over to me. Instead I chewed on my cinnamon bun and tried to get my mind off of what he said. “Well. They’re easy to find.” “Lebanon?” I gasped. if you save. “There are lots of wealthy Lebanese men who will pay over double what I get paid now. I left his lap. As I started to resist. I quickly headed for the shower to get ready for our big day. per person. 197 . He gently reached down and began to softly kiss me. “New York has plenty of runaway girls staying in hostels and on the streets. and stared at the city skyline. but apparently there’s more money to be made in Lebanon. sat in my chair on the balcony.” “White virgins? Where are you supposed to get those?” I shifted my weight on his lap. Someone had spray painted “Jesus Saves” in big red letters across the bottom of the wall.

“I want to go home. asked me if I knew where her mom was. she’s not like the others. We were stuffed in a basement with a bathroom.At ten o’clock. The little girl protested. and I had all the girls take showers. Cliff glared at me. Within minutes. I looked over at the group of scared girls.” 198 .” The fourteen-year old glared at her and she stopped talking. “Do you all speak English?” They refused to respond. When I walked to a police car without handcuffs. were arrested and carried outside. I looked at Agent Marks. He scowled as he was stuffed into one of the cars.” she replied. One little girl. “ Say hi to Jack for me. around fourteen. who had led the team. “But she’s nice. grabbed the eight-year old and pulled her close. grinned. “We learned it in school. about eight years old. telling her to be quiet in their native language. “You speak English?” I asked her. along with a few others. She doesn’t hit us. My heart went out to them. “Because she’s one of us. we met the shipment and the girls assigned to me were transported by black and blue vans to a home in a seedy neighborhood.” Agent Marks answered. “Why isn’t she handcuffed? She works for me!” Agent Marks. I heard a commotion upstairs and knew that the FBI had arrived.” I looked at Cliff and nodded my agreement. mildly shocked. Another girl. Cliff. older.

199 .

We were way past crying. “Please don’t go! I need you! I told you I’m sorry! What else do you want me to say?” Burned out from the emotional upheaval. I crawled over to the bathtub and spent the night curled up next to the soap. Sitting on the toilet I continued to chastise myself for telling him about Cliff. I walked in the master bathroom. Sarah! Did you really think that he was going to hang around when he found out you ran into the arms of a criminal the second he was out of sight? I heard the door slam and Christopher crying as they both got in the car and left. locking the door behind me. “I’m sorry! I should have never told you!” I had begged for forgiveness for the past two hours. Nice work.Chapter 25 The Lebanon Case Part 2 of Life #4 “What do you mean you couldn’t help yourself?” Jack screamed. Broken and spent. “You did a job for the CIA! Do you really think that I wouldn’t have found out?” Jack was still randomly throwing clothes in a suitcase. causing even his ears to turn red. The CIA Offer 200 . blood pulsating through his neck.

Cliff was going to work with us to make sure that we were able to arrest the Lebanese gang who was kidnapping and selling the American girls. I just wanted my family back. “You will only be working with him long enough to make contact with the 201 . “Sarah. waiting to see what affect his words would have on me. Agent Marks continued. He just doesn’t know it yet. My heart properly exploded.” Agent Marks sat back. I had already resigned myself to go. I didn’t care about double the income. Cliff Basey had cut a deal with the CIA in exchange for a lighter jail sentence. I plan to stick Jack on this case too. “Is this some kind of joke? Stick it to the stupid girl agent who ruined her marriage and slept with a lowlife scumbag criminal?” Agent Marks leaned forward and I saw the flicker of amusement in his eyes.” “I don’t ever want to see Cliff again. “For your information.Agent Marks puffed on his cigar as I sat in front of his worn-out coffee-ring-stained desk.” The words rolled off his lips and struck me in the heart like a nuclear missile. I’ll just come right out with it … The CIA is offering you a job with them for double the pay you make with us. They want you to work with Cliff Basey again. so I just nodded my head in agreement. in fact I could care less about money. In light of the situation you have going on at home. I was ashamed of what I had done and I wanted out of that office and away from everyone who knew me. knowing it was a waste of time. Apparently. my indiscretion was no secret around the office. “Where do they want to send me?” It didn’t matter. Give him time to calm down. and I am assuming you are going to take the position with them. “Lebanon.” I knew he wasn’t asking a question. “Sorry.” I said with flat defiance. this move might prove to be a good idea. He’ll come around. but he’s working with the CIA. Sarah.

Hungry for company. However. and I was struggling not to let bitterness have its way with me. Jack. and I were moved to Beirut and into a small three-room apartment a few blocks from port. but every day his resentment grew. but the CIA promised he would be safe. while I was the good wife who helped clean up the girls and get them ready for market. too. 202 . and watching it helped dull the pain of my aching heart. I saw a black man sitting on the sidewalk reading a book. Cliff was coming in a week. Our first few days there. The Trials of Beirut Within a couple of days. and the sight of his face was a constant reminder. we were at least still together and I had my son. I thought when we moved here he would eventually forget about what happened. then he will be sent to jail. Our new names were Brian and June Deloise. One melancholy day. I had gotten myself into this position. I was desperate to make amends with my family. we toured Beirut and spent time letting Christopher play at Ramlet al Baida beach. so I tolerated Christopher being in Beruit. even though it wasn’t. After all. Living with Jack was strenuous. In front of Christopher we acted like everything was okay. and we were to sit down to dinner with his contacts. I could tell he was American. and when Christopher and I walked by. The truth was. something I could only do when it was light. Jack and I were sleeping in the same bed. he said hello and winked at Christopher. For appearance’s sake and probably for Christopher. The good news was. Christopher. but we weren’t talking. I knew the only reason he was sleeping in it was because he had to. I felt nothing but a cold chill coming from his side of the bed. Jack’s job was to pose as a slave trader. Jack and I both agreed that we didn’t like Christopher undercover with us. A heaviness had wrapped itself around my shoulders. The Meditterean Sea was beautiful. He had begun to work with Cliff on a daily basis to infilterate the gang. and having a child did help us look legitimate.” My insides felt frozen and my head swirled with confused thoughts. Christopher kept his first name. when I was walking Christopher toward the market.Lebanese group and find out how they operate. I paused to speak to him. and it was high time I paid for my mistakes. the CIA was only interested in getting arrests and making themselves look good.

I’m a pastor of about hundred people here. more brotherly than anything else. I loved his genuineness. “So what brought you to Beruit?” The heat was scorching and sweat was dripping down my neck and arms.” His already wide smile broadened. causing my feet to stay firmly planted.” Pastor Charles embraced me for a moment and then sat back in his chair and picked up his book.” Christopher was beginning to become restless and grabbed at my dress. Pastor … ” “Charles … Pastor Charles of New Hope Church. “What do you mean? I didn’t know I could have a relationship with God. Come visit. who died for you. but not in a romantic sense. “Wow … I thought this was Muslim country. but something inside of me was desperate to talk to this man. Pretty daring of you.“You’re American?” I asked. He looked at me like a loving father. we meet at night. “It was nice meeting you. “Jesus Christ did.” He said those words with a sparkle in his eyes and a smile on his lips.” The man emanated a presence of love. “Yup. “Not only can you have a direct relationship with God.” There was something attractive about him. 203 . but also His Son Jesus. Kansas City. I came here to start a church. “How is your relationship with God?” His question confused me.

“Do you know what it is like working with the man you cheated on me with every day? It is constantly thrown in my face.” Anger raged across Jack’s face. I ran you a bath. and put makeup on.” I also had made dinner.” I whispered in between my tears. scrubbed the house. my hope was quickly shattered that night after Jack came home. It’s my fault. “Are you trying to seduce me? Oh … that’s right. and I was going to try my best to warm up ours tonight. “Are you ever going to let this go? How long are we going to live like this?” “Only ’til this assignment is over. “Would you like a glass of wine?” I said sweetly. I let my tears flow freely. “Jack. hopeful for the first time in a long time. The entire bureau knows what you did and how I am married to you. you only do that to men you aren’t married to. “I’m sorry. “So are you saying it’s over between us?” Jack glared at me angrily.” was his curt. and I can’t do a single thing about it.” Christopher was already in bed. “Quantico? So you are blaming what you did on the fact that you don’t teach anymore? Why don’t you look in the mirror? You’re a slut and an embarrassment. It was a last ditch effort to try to get my husband back. I should have stayed teaching at Quantico and this would never have happened.I went away from our conversation with a spring in my step. “Thanks.” he barked. cutting reply. However. Do you know what it’s like to work with people laughing behind your back?” 204 .

” Pastor Charles then walked behind a podium and opened a Bible. About three seconds later. I forgot to lie. I persisted. I was greeted by Pastor Charles.” Did he want me on my knees? I was definitely willing. Curious. “It’s not enough that we are underpaid and underhonored. Sarah! I want out of here and away from you and away from the FBI!” With that he slammed the bathroom door behind him. I stood at the doorway for a moment. Jack continued with his rant. enjoy the service. call me June … middle name is Sarah. please forgive me … please.” “Okay. and I’m practically broke with an adulterous wife!” Shocked at his mention of money. “Yeah.” Jubilation spread across his face as he walked me to a chair. I heard the sound of music.” Pastor Charles warmly said. “You never did tell me your name. “You came! Come in and have a seat. Walking down a narrow street. Bright. I sat riveted in my seat as he preached a 205 . uplifting music that was being sung in English. I ran out of the house. I followed the sound up a flight of dirty half-abandoned stairs and into a brightly lit room. Utterly defeated. “Sarah … uh … scratch that … my name is June. I had to get away.“Baby. “We’ve never cared about money! It was always bringing down the bad guys and protecting the innocent. is it? No … I’ve worked for the bureau for almost twenty years. not quite sure what to do. Numbly I sat.” He seethed. June. It was filled with people singing. face still full of tears. well what do you do when one of the bad guys ends up being your own wife? Huh? Where’s the honor in that? I want out. and I heard a few things shatter as he threw them against the bathroom wall.

As Pastor Charles spoke.sermon on how God allows certain things in our lives to happen so that we would draw closer to Him. the memory of my mom and the Easter service at St. “Where were you?” he demanded. I ran past him into our bedroom and into bed. I placed my hands on my hips. They were being kept in a storage unit. I hope you come back. I understood now why she asked God to have mercy on her. I now needed some of my own. “What do you care? You hate me anyway. Patrick’s swamped my heart. When the sermon was over.” I acknowledged what he said and left. “June. Pastor Charles beat me to it. “What’s that supposed to mean?” “What do you think it means?” he shot back. “Cliff is staying only a few blocks from here! Is that where you were?” Broken hearted. but only to go along with my assignment. “Who were you with?” Jack stood up glaring at me. 206 . You just have to ask Him for it. It was very dangerous to walk around those streets at night. In defiance. I softly cried myself to sleep while Jack took post on the couch. My mind thought briefly back to when I was with Armando and his family. I softly began to sob.” I rebuffed. I walked as quickly as I could to the door. The next day I was scheduled to work with Cliff as he brought the new shipment of American girls to me. When I got home. I thought about what Pastor Charles was teaching. and it seemed to make sense. I did attend a Catholic church with them. When we arrived. it was barely dawn and fresh dew decorated the grass. and please always remember that God loves you and He has a plan for your life. walking quickly back home. Jack was sitting at the kitchen table.

All he could do was fall down to his knees.” Cliff said haughtily. you act like you’re all in love with me to get information. if that’s what you think. He grunted a little. “And where do you get off saying something like that?” I wasn’t in the mood to fight. looking at numbers on the units. I kept him just slightly in front of me. I couldn’t do anything really interesting (I had to work with him). old habits die hard. offended. We rambled out of the truck and started to walk down the aisle. but he knew how to push my buttons. “I can’t believe you would do something like this. I reached over with one hand and clamped down on the pressure points just above his shoulder. “Not like you got much room to talk. “You’re not much better than me. 207 .” Cliff spat out. Not that it took much these days. and well we both know what you think about the wedding vows you took … ” I didn’t bother to let him finish.” The horror of thinking about these young girls and what they were going through sent chills through my body. “I would never sell human beings!” I answered.” Cliff responded matter-of-factly. “Yep. then someone like you cleans them up and sells them for several thousand dollars.“So you stuffed the girls into these little unairconditioned units?” I said angrily. let’s see. “Well. It turns out you’re really married. but the blinding pain I was causing him somehow just made me feel better.

” I still hated that we had to work together. I heard him get up. Cliff?” “Only a couple of days. The girls were huddled together. We found the unit in silence. I was just saying. continuing to look at the numbers. I was sitting in the New Jersey airport with Christopher. Right on time to match my tears. a soft rain begin to fall. but I wouldn’t let him know that. I let him go. “How long have they been in here. I absolutly hate you. they were going to be sent back home. Back in Jersey Two days later.” He said without a drop of remorse. He inhaled and I walked past. you lied just like me. “I hate you. There are no words to describe how little I think about you. because after I cleaned them up. Usually it’s around a week. They were dirty. but he understood that I wasn’t going to take his lip service anymore than I had to. The stench of urination permeated my nose. and hungry. I decided to visit New York and my sister Stacy. “Alright. even after Christopher was born. You did what you had to do to get what you needed done. but the sight of these girls broke my heart. stinky. who had tried to contact me through 208 . they weren’t going to be sold as slaves. The CIA was sending me back to the States ahead of Jack.” He raised a hand in mock surrender.I was holding back tears. and after I thought about it for a second. I never saw myself as very maternal. and as he lifted the door. I wanted to gather each and every one of them into my arms and tell them it was going to be okay. done. hugging each other and crying. point taken. Cliff. I knew in my heart it was going to be okay.

Christopher. and turned me so I would face her. Sarah. “Yes sir. In his big boy voice he answered. obviously overjoyed to see us.” Stacy reached down and shook his hand.” We walked in silence for a few more minutes and then changed the subject to our children.” Stacy gushed. I know. I was still of the 209 . I hadn’t returned her phone calls because of being on assignment and then all the fighting with Jack after he found out about Cliff. Plus. “Thank you.” I said sincerely. before it ever happened.” “You were forgiven. Brian. I didn’t tell her about Jack. put her hand on my shoulder. had moved a few years ago. for coming to see me. It really helped.Jack when I was in Sudan. Say hi to your Aunt Stacy. Chris!” After I put away my suitcase and had lunch with her family. but I’m glad they did. “Call me Chris. Stacy. husbands. What happened was horrid and very hard to cope with. The FBI made me. and work. “I need to apologize to you for my behavior. “My son Christopher. “Sarah! Is that you? Who is this?” Stacy greeted us as soon as we walked out of the taxi. I had to see a counselor at work for two years. Christopher and I rode a taxi into Manhattan where Stacy and her husband. Stacy stopped walking. “I was thrilled you called … I thought I would never see you again. we decided to take a walk by ourselves to Central Park.” Stacy laughed. I was wrong and I am hoping that you’ll forgive me. I was embarrassed and didn’t want her to know.

who I truly wanted a relationship with. Stacy. And when that happens. even though they tried. This black hole would ultimately lead to my demise if I didn’t find a way to fill it and become whole again. it’s ok to call him dad. I tried hard to connect with Stacy. A group who we feel will protect us. Jack was one of them. Wouldn’t like me. but sometimes the people who are originally supposed to be our family decide to shirk the responsibility. I felt lost and unstable. You see. Worried that my sister wouldn’t accept me. Some how make it all go away. and whether we like it are not. But we are all inclined to hold out hope … prideful hope that we are wise enough to know how to get ourselves out of the pitiful messes we make of our lives. it was easy for me to connect with someone when I knew it was my job. After my mom died. I was terrified that she wouldn’t like me. As we passed the Alice in Wonderland bronze statue.mindset that I could fix things between us. Every single one of us. and wasn’t real. I stared out at the beautiful leaves changing color that framed Central Park’s allure. “Yes. I never found it there. But. I had very few real relationships. However. I never felt welcome in my foster family. for stability. I worried. When I married the first time. we wander lost. I was just listening. love us.” I paused mustering up courage. I knew in my heart that God designed us to fit in to a family. This was my chance to have family. Stacy continued to talk and I listened while fighting fear of rejection. terrified me. Many of us need surrogates. “Yes.” 210 . and Sarah. feeling desolate till we join a group who fills in the vacant places. “Sarah? Sarah are you alright?” Stacy saying my name temporarily snapped me out of my self-loathing. when it was real. but obviously I had screwed that up. We all want family. Even with Jack. the love of my life. A select group of people who will stand behind us and support our dreams. I was looking for balance. Would think that I hadn’t accomplished enough in life. we need to find a place to belong. A hole I didn’t know how to fill. I still had a gaping hole in my heart. well. “Do you think that it would be alright if we visited Bill together?” Stacy smiled. and keep us safe. During our talk.

the Caribbean was the perfect place for the pieces to fall in place. I thought the fact that Jack had to come with me was God giving us yet another chance … Trying Hard to Make It Work Before our trip to Cayman. 211 . He had been sleeping in the guest room for the past few weeks. discussing our latest assignment. I was completely stoned after upping my pill dosage from seven to eight a day. to keep watch for my old friend Agent Sue. I was determined to put my marriage back together. He was going with me to Grand Cayman. I can’t wait to show you around.” I chatted excitedly. and in my mind. I went to the mall and bought every newest fashion. along with having my hair permed and fingernails lengthened. For fun I packed Jack several Hawaiian shirts and bright-colored swim shorts. Grand Cayman. “Honey. and this time we were leaving Christopher with my sister Stacy in New York. I remember the brief time I had spent in Cayman before with my stepmom and had always longed to go back. I had insisted that the CIA give us a place that faced Seven Mile beach. who ran off with my father Bill’s stolen millions. I purchased high-waisted jeans and several neon-colored tube tops. Since she was an FBI agent gone AWOL.Back in Cayman “Ex-Agent Susan Pagers is back in the Cayman Islands. Well … at least she was spotted there three days ago.” I was sitting in a conference with the CIA. they conceded. but I had a plan to change all of that … “This place is spectacular!” Jack’s eyes widened as the taxi drove us to our condo and he received an eyeful of the beautiful beach. and when they saw I wasn’t taking no for an answer. The CIA was stationing me in Georgetown. they also had Jack on the case. Self-medication was the only way I was able to make it through my tumultuous days.

we re-consummated our marriage.” I knew in my heart it probably wasn’t.“I could really use some surf and turf right now. we can. ho. “Baby. ho and a bottle of rum!” Jack plopped down in the water and I joined him. Except according to the doctor. Jack. Admitting Defeat And a pregnancy was what I got. It was a pretty and clear night with every star winking. I was hoping for a pregnancy to seal the deal.” I got on my knees in front of him pleading. I paid the bill and we walked out of the restaurant and straight to the beach. “I’m so stupid. I thought that this was over. I was over two months along. “How could you do this to me. and I planned to take full advantage. and I told the waiter to keep the liquor flowing. Sarah?” “It still might be yours. please. Jack wasn’t very good at holding down his alcohol. Jack sat on the couch.” He began to sob harder. We waded in the surf and Jack began to sing.” Jack exclaimed as the taxi pulled up to the curb. “You know that it isn’t.” 212 . Within an hour we were at a nice restaurant. that I could make it work. I promise. I had been so consumed with everything else. I hadn’t noticed my missed menstrual cycles. head in hands. we were back to square one. “Yo. Within seconds we were splashing each other and less than ten minutes later. but I was willing to grab at falling straws. When he was nice and loose. When Jack figured out the dates put me right in the middle of when I was in the Sudan with Cliff.

We drove to the designated spot. It was time for Jack and me to put our personal problems on the back burner. “I need you two to find her before she leaves the Caymans. which was in a luxury watch store in Georgetown. A look that no one should ever have to receive from someone they love. We have all the airports shut down and the boats are being monitored.” Agent Marks rattled off the dirty details.At that moment. Agent Marks called us into an emergency meeting. We are positive it was Sue. It was that look that let me know it was over. Jack looked at me with utter distain. Still.” Agent Marks gave us a plan and we went to work. She wasn’t with her husband though. Agent Marks spotted us as soon as we walked in and motioned us to follow him into the back room. you know that. I wanted to believe it could get better. She has to be on the island still. 213 . Where Is Sue? After another fitful night of sleep without Jack by my side.” Jack replied stiffly. that Jack had taken all that he could and had reached his limit. “Has she completely lost her mind? This doesn’t sound like Sue!” I still wasn’t over the fact that Sue had robbed my father Bill. “There’s been a bank robbery. But now she’d held up a bank? “Criminals get desperate.

A small. I watched as he and the other person got out of the car. but it was definitely a woman. Memorizing the license plate. When I caught a look at her face. I reasoned in my mind that it was nothing. The woman had her hands all over my husband. but I decided to follow him one evening. while parking my moped and sneaking up closer. I was wearing a helmet and staying far behind. Jack and I kept our conversations on the case. I sat on the couch and thought about what I saw. They walked down a hallway. Maybe another agent working on the case. He had been going out at night and sometimes I smelled liquor on his clothes. just a friend. It was way past midnight. What was he doing? We had been riding mopeds around the island. I ran back to our condo. Too stunned to do anything. I never said anything. He was walking down the sidewalk and close to the bushes. and I hid all signs of my pregnancy. my heart died. I crept down to see where he was going. As I heard the key in the lock. Some dingy motel. I jumped in bed and pulled the covers over my body. Every fiber in me tingled. I heard him 214 . I still couldn’t see anything. They didn’t go too far. So did he find Sue and this is a ploy to bring her to justice? Is he sleeping with her? No. I stayed up one night in my bedroom until I heard the front door close and quickly slipped out of bed. I blindly got back on my moped and went home. but I didn’t see him use his. and the term outraged just didn’t accurately describe the way I was feeling. How wrong I was. beat-up yellow car stopped while Jack looked around quickly and then got in. and sped behind them. The woman was Sue Pagers. Still. not Jack. I had a clear view. Jealousy and ire seaped through me. Why didn’t he tell me he found her? Is he working behind my back now? I couldn’t come up with one good conclusion. I crouched down under the windows and squinted to look through the blinds. He was sleeping in the second bedroom of our condo and I didn’t bother him.Chapter 26 Unbelievable Three weeks later and still no sign of Sue. and I watched as they sauntered into a room. almost one. hopped on the moped.

“We need to talk. “I saw you with her last night.” Jack sighed.” He stood there staring at me. Did I hear correctly? Did he say the “D” word? “What did you say? Is this some kind of joke?” I asked. “So did you sleep well?” I asked. “What do you mean found Sue? How do you know about that?” I was really confused. this was it. I decided to join him. looking for wax in my ears with a forefinger. You were going to be served when we got back. “I filed before we came on this trip. Sarah. trying to figure out a solution. Not able to sleep. expecting me to follow him. But. He was going to tell me what was going on.come to my bedroom door while I tried desperately to still the fervent beating of my anxiety-ridden heart. “I don’t understand. I am still an agent on this case. I tossed and turned. and I am going to find out that I worried for no reason. I am leaving Cayman and filing for divorce. I don’t know why you didn’t tell me you found her. My heart leapt. regardless. Is this because you found Sue? You are busting her today and then divorcing me?” My mind was racing. looking at me with a snake-like coldness. In fact. I listened to his heavy breathing and then as he turned and walked away.” he stated. “I want a divorce. and I couldn’t seem to collect my thoughts. waiting for my response. Jack was sitting on the balcony.” His words hit me like clay bricks in 215 . He became enraged. I couldn’t even speak coherently. “I don’t love you anymore. I don’t want a divorce.” He folded his paper and walked inside. not sure I wanted to hear his response. Sarah. The next morning. Sarah.

Sarah. I am a joke at work. and just leave. Leave. and as soon as he told her I figured it out. she would be after me. I deserved it. “You are carrying another man’s baby. your passport. I knew my marriage was over. “I get it now. and this time I couldn’t deny it. “I saw Sue’s arms around you last night! I didn’t see you resisting in the name of marriage! Have you slept with her? Is that why she let you in her room? Because you would do anything for an arrest?” My entire body was shaking. I couldn’t believe it. That’s why we haven’t been able to find her. If he had slept with her. “I’m tired of working for the government. I called Agent Marks and told him all. You’ve hooked up with Sue. I deserved every bit of brutality he served. spittle spewing out of his mouth. 216 . I just couldn’t believe it. actually.the head. No. I debated what to do. You’ve been hiding her and plan on running off with the money. Sue knew where I was. “You’re joking. Like striking a match and watching the fire light up the stick. right now. right? You can’t mean that! What about our son?” I pleaded my case.” The way he said that statement struck a cord within me.” He then turned and walked out the door. and you should have thought about your son before you decided to whore around!” Jack screamed at me. This wasn’t happening.” I knew as I said the words that there was no going back and also that I was one hundred percent correct. There was no candy coating this. “You were never a dummy. Sarah. take your gun. “Get out of there. and somehow I felt like I deserved everything I got.” Agent Marks emphatically insisted. I also knew that I was now in danger. It finally dawned on me what he was up to. someone throwing bricks at my head would have felt better.

who cares? I put in my time. You had to get me drunk just to touch you again. Sue glared at me. but you are throwing your life away by becoming what you have tried so hard to stop? A thief. I almost lost my life … ” As Jack told his side of the story. Our love died a long time ago.” Contempt oozed from her disgusting mouth. Sarah. I pointed my gun at Sue’s head. 217 . “There is no time to think. grabbed my purse and gun. I drove to the center of Georgetown and waited until Marks sent an agent to get me. “How could you. I want out. but I knew it was them.” I hung up the phone. As far as the FBI is concerned. You gave him to me when you slept with another man. well that was just icing on the cake. and congratulations on your pregnancy.“Can this really be happening?” I muttered into the phone. I spotted Jack and Sue.” Sue hissed. I don’t want to be with you anymore. As I sat on a park bench. Jack! You have become a thief!” “I’ve fallen in love with Sue. and jumped on my moped. And my pregnancy. “Nice to see you again. Sarah. Oh. Everyone else screamed and ran while Jack threw up his hands. Get out now. ran over in front of them. My infidelity had broken him. I looked at Jack. and pointed my gun. Sarah. They were dressed like tourists. “So you are running off with a criminal? You are divorcing me because I made one mistake. He couldn’t take the embarrassment at work of everyone knowing what I had done. with hats and sunglasses. Sue? You stole from my father and now you’re trying to take my husband?” I allowed hate to take over my trampled soul. I’ve wanted out for years. “I didn’t steal your husband. I jumped up. Trying to gather my thoughts. I realized that I had broken him.

stealing. malice. Sarah. but the police got there before I had a chance. You ran your husband into the arms of another woman. revenge. Jack and I were together in college. that wasn’t all we were doing. then I ran off and married someone else. spite. Jack spoke first. Sarah.“You’re under arrest. nothing at all.” Sue interjected. Sarah? How did this happen? You just killed another person on purpose. and all the other bad things. I shot her. And by the way. “No. You’re pregnant with a crazy man’s baby.” My stomach began to hurt. “What is she talking about?” “Nothing. Jack. Susan Pagers. I walked for hours aimlessly through alleyways and streets. What are you going to do now.” I kept my gun steady aimed right between her lying. we reconnected in the FBI. I was in a grave. Jack yelped and jumped on top of her. and with no way out. manipulative eyes. I saw where the music was coming from. he is coming with me. I looked at Jack. You’re a murderer. come over here by me. and I knew the Cayman police were on their way. I wished someone would nail shut the coffin door and put me out of my misery. I slipped away. “Back in California. Utterly dejected. But no worries. I love her. It was a children’s choir 218 . Sarah. Sue grinned like the Joker at me. I am taking you in. Thoughts of Pastor Charles came to mind. “How could you?” I started to aim for him. I heard familiar uplifting music coming from around the corner. when we were sleeping in the same bed. dead. tired.” “No he’s not!” Out of hatred. Let me go. Tell her how long we have been together. While they were making an arrest and trying unsuccessfully to revive Sue. he was faithful to you until just recently. Jack. I heard running. You see. “Tell her the truth. As I walked further. Killed her on purpose. We can fix this. Later.” Jack began to walk toward me and I waved my gun at him. More morbid thoughts bashed themselves against my head as I tried to think myself out of this bottomless pit I had dug for myself.

“What will make me whole again … nothing but the blood of Jesus. Wishing I was one of them.” As the chorus escaped my lips. I began to sob. I need Your help.performing for a small audience in a courtyard. I need Your forgiveness. “God. Please help me out of this mess.” 219 . Pastor Charles’ words about me having a heavenly Father reverberated through my mind. Clutching my stomach. The children appeared happy and carefree. I leaned against the alleyway wall and slid down until my backside hit cement. I messed up … bad. I began to sing along. I pulled my knees into my chest and lowered my head. I let my prayer flow freely.

Part 5 Life # 5 The Priscilla Stone Case 220 .

My pastor asked me to take over the Tuesday night women’s Bible study at church. We had to have gotten pregnant the night before I left for the Sudan. and my father Bill was released from jail about a year ago. and tomorrow would be my first time teaching it. I can’t figure out what to say to the women tomorrow. her death is a shut-and-closed case of self-defense in the line of duty. Can’t you think of something a little less melodramatic? I scratched out the line in my notebook. I was too chicken to tell Agent Marks the truth. A paternity test revealed that Lauren was indeed Jack’s.Chapter 27 Operation Red Head All over the world. is two and a half. “I’m too nervous to sleep. and our daughter Lauren. And yes. prepared to stay up all night. I quit my pill addiction and decided to concentrate on my children. who I named after my mom. It had been three years since my divorce from Jack. and it probably wouldn’t matter. that sounds so cliché. Christopher is seven.” I answered honestly. What the heck could I say to women? I poured myself yet another cup of coffee and sat down. 221 . As far as Susan Pagers is concerned. I said ours. Sarah. children are dying … No. and they did not want to hear the dirty details. The CIA and FBI were going to protect their own. We all live together with my father Bill in Manhattan near my sister Stacy … “Still up?” Bill padded in the kitchen with the new bathrobe and slippers ensemble I bought him for Father’s Day.

who respected him. but I sincerely doubted it. In the divorce. my name is Sarah Higgins. He was asked to quietly resign by Agent Marks. Jack came over every other weekend to take the kids to Central Park. “Suit yourself. 222 . A fellow teacher.” Bill took his milk and cookies to his bedroom and shut the door. I continued. I felt like a hypocrite teaching this … I was the blind leading the blind. Jack was also very timely on his child support every month.” I paused. We almost never looked each other in the eyes. and pulled the covers over my head. Afterwards. I tried not to think of Jack too often. waiting to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from my small crowd of about fifteen women. he used his education degree to take a teaching job in New Jersey. and I am taking Janice’s place as the women’s Bible study teacher. I am still technically an agent. I liked being an undercover agent much better. but that still left Bill with quite a bit. Patty took half. I had had my chance with him and he wasn’t about to give me another. “I can’t tell them the full story. “Hi ladies! As many of you already know. I’ve just been given an extended leave of absence.” Bill had given his life to Christ about a year and a half ago while he was in prison and is now golf buddies with our pastor. curled up. I absolutely couldn’t stand her.“Start by telling them your testimony. So much so that when I got home I crawled in bed. The next morning I received my chance at redemption. a few ladies came up to talk to me. Of course. and last time he was here. But. I felt like crawling in a hole. All poker faces. happily took his resignation. It afforded me the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom. and the bureau.” I didn’t actually know if I would ever get called back to duty again. not wanting the scandal of an agent going to jail. Janice has decided that God is taking her in a different direction. “I would like you to open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13 … ” I proceeded to teach a lesson on how to show other people God’s love. he brought his new girlfriend. After being released from the FBI. giving me their pats on the back. My father still had plenty of legitimate money in the bank when he was indicted.

“Hello? This is Sarah. “That was Agent Marks.Good News! “Sarah … telephone!” Bill shouted. Sorry about your wife … Jack told me. so I was already assuming it was Jack or his stupid new girlfriend Jill. “How are you. He gave me the time and place and I hung up the phone with a newfound joy. Isn’t that clever? Jack and Jill. “What’s going on.” Very few people called me. cards. I should have attended the funeral. obviously exasperated it wasn’t for him. Bill and Lauren came to see what the commotion was about. He had a full retirement schedule that included golf. Sarah?” Bill looked at me from behind his reading glasses. “I’m fine.” I hadn’t smiled this much since I found out Lauren was Jack’s daughter. “Thank you. 223 . but I knew Jack would be in the room and I was too bent out of shape about the divorce at the time to get anywhere near him. I appreciate your concern … Now how soon can you meet?” His natural professionalism was a welcome relief because I knew it meant I was back on assignment. “YEAH!!!!!” I jumped up in the air and spun around. Sarah? This is Agent Marks.” His familiar gruff voice was music to my ears.” His wife had died almost three years ago from cancer. where?” I didn’t bother to hide my enthusiasm. “When. He needs me. Christopher was in school. shortly after I took a leave of absence. and old people cruises to Europe.

His words took me by surprise. Jill picked up. You’ve never said anything before. I asked for Jack. I know she probably thought I was the Wicked Witch of the West.” I happily dialed his number. tell him to call me as soon as he can. “Well.” I rattled off the contents of the last few years of my life. but not to my pastor’s ears. I hadn’t seen Agent Marks in over two years now. My wife and I prayed for you and Jack. I need to call Jack and see if he can take Christopher and Lauren.” I couldn’t seem to keep it together around her.” Agent Marks stated bluntly. It’s important. Scowling. My next phone call was to my pastor. I tried hard at first. Sarah. going to church. “I’m glad you found God. elated to know these details about the usually elusive Agent Brady Marks. he assured me he would find a suitable replacement. “Okay. But I really didn’t care.” “Why don’t you and Jack work out some type of arrangement?” I let the phone ring.“Congratulations. chopped liver? I can take care of them too.” Bill drew me into a hug. I was beginning to think it was time for you to move on. and playing golf with my dad. “What am I. to let him know what was going on.” I mused. but then I just gave up. 224 . Bill interjected. “I didn’t know you were a Christian. Ditching teaching the Tuesday night bible study was music to my heart. Greg Beals. Sarah. just raising my children. However. A Second Chance “Well … let’s see … I haven’t been doing much at all.

” Agent Marks chuckled to himself remembering the day. to tell you the truth.” “She have any kids?” I asked.” Curious. and well. already trying to formulate a plan in my head. She is single and around your age. “Christine. we invited Jesus into our hearts and home. Though I am the one who helped Jack find the pastor to marry you two in Mexico. “The person we believe is behind this movement is a woman name Priscilla Stone. I probed. He has three kids with two former flames. my wife and I didn’t start attending church till she became sick … when death is upon you. though she has been divorced twice. when she was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Agent Marks only gave me a glimpse.” “And what is my job?” I donned my most serious expression. I interrupted his thoughts. She has a boyfriend now. He continued. “So what happened?” Still guarded.” 225 .“My job is to stay aloof as your boss and handling agent. one being an ex wife. We have received tips that there are a group of radicals wanting to bomb state and insurance buildings. It was now a painful memory to me. “Well. we started attending a nearby church. she wanted to make her peace with God. “None. We aren’t supposed to get personal. who I believe she plans on heading to the altar with for the third time. that’s my wife’s name. thoughts of Am I right with God? began to flood your heart.” Anxious to get back on topic. His name is Jeb Darks. The bureau thought that you would be a perfect match to get on her good side. So. and we believe he is helping her head up a consulting business that is funding this silly movement. “So what is my next assignment?” “Pittsburg.

This group apparently doesn’t care that it is illegal for a reason. Stone wants to interview you herself. Ms. and I am here to interview for the position of Priscilla Stone’s assistant. Get your house in order. “The legalization of marijuana and the abuse of HMOs and our health care system … and so forth. “Two weeks. come in. how very Christian of me. and I turned on my heels and left. My joy was contagious and I couldn’t wait to rub it in Jack’s face. “Yes. Samantha. I know.” “So when do I start?” I was ready for action. The FBI paid her handsomely to resign and relocate out of state.“So what is the movement about?” I wondered. 226 . But God knows I’m a work in progress.” Agent Marks stood up.” “What does marijuana have to do with HMOs?” I had a hard time connecting the dots. She agreed to testify later if needed. this may take up to eight or so months.” Priscilla just recently needed a new assistant since the last one quit. Priscilla Stone's Assistant “Hi! My name is Samantha Thompson. shook my hand. She is on a phone call.” The pretty blond secretary pursed her rum raisin lips and scratched her head with long mauve nails. It will be about ten minutes. “Supposedly it can be used for medicinal purposes.

227 . She looked me over with sympathy in her eyes. She was very intimidating and I felt like a shadow in her presence. I could tell she knew she was beautiful and well-liked. No tea and biscuits first. even needed. she was a knockout. they are okay. He cheated on me. “I just went through a divorce and my ex works there. “Your resume looks immaculate. they are getting along fine with Jill. I was a woman who she wanted. Stone’s office. I was still mad at him.I waited patiently. Could I really make it several months without seeing my kids? “I told you.” She smiled at me with a well-worn nod of knowing exactly how I felt. My long flowery skirt and matching blouse that was buttoned to the top completed the effect I had on her.” She looked at my resume again and then back at me. I gave her a look. Priscilla gave a very firm handshake and waited for me to seat myself. For what reason. I wrung my hands nervously and purposely appeared to be somewhat distraught. So why did you leave the Parson’s Brothers? I hear they are an excellent company to work for. I wanted out. “I understand. to gather under her wings of wisdom. and then fifteen minutes later I was ushered in to Ms. I wasn’t prepared for how gorgeous and completely likeable she was. “Can you start tomorrow?” Home Sick I missed Christopher and Lauren and Jack was sick of my phone calls. a new start.” Jack’s exasperated voice made me want to push harder. I had no idea. Sarah.” She got right to the point. And yes. At a thin five foot eight. It’s not like I was the innocent party. with a long flowing mane of very red hair and big bright green eyes. and the entire company knows about it. communicating that I was a bruised and battered mouse who you could easily push over. I know what you are going through.

“I asked Jill to marry me. but what did I care? It was still ingrained in my head that he was my man. “I was going to talk to you about that at a more opportune time. “Why not. You know that. “Spit it out. He continued. The man I originally fell in love with. 228 . “You still care about me don’t you?” Dead silence.” More silence. Jack’s voice softened. My hurt ran deep and his declaration of affection for Jill drove the pain of rejection deeper. “I’m still here.” “What? You can’t marry her! She’s … She’s … ” I couldn’t think of an appropriate word. She was the enemy and the home wrecker. not me.” Jack hated being bullied by me. “Sarah? Are you still there?” Jack probed. You’ve never given her a chance.” For the first time in a long time I heard the old Jack. what are you trying to say?” He took a deep breath.“Tell your girlfriend not to get too attached. We are going to marry in a couple of months. Sarah? You don’t even know her. “There is too much water under the bridge between us. but seeing that you may be gone for a while … ” I stopped him mid-sentence. I refused to give away any more information. I had been caught. Better to say nothing at all than the wrong thing.” Bitterness laced my words.

and I suspected he had Hawaiian roots. However. I suspected a different story. Jeb exploded. Jeb had brown skin. “I just think that this obsession you have with insurance companies has gotten out of hand. behind closed doors. Maybe you should reassess your priorities.” I could tell Priscilla was trying to keep calm. but kept a purposeful wall between us. He was very tall like her with dark. One day when he was in there I put my ear up against the thick oak door.“I know. He was always well-groomed and preppy and said hello to me. Jeb Darks I spent the next several weeks working hard as Priscilla Stone’s assistant while collecting information for the case. “Why are you so unsupportive?” Jeb’s baritone was thick and demeaning. I often saw her with her boyfriend. It’s over. “I do love you! I do! But do you really think that hurting other people is going to stop greedy rich men?” “You’re just another spineless. Extra tip if the delivery driver stops by the store and picks me up a gallon of Rocky Road. No one else was around and I was able to hear clearly. she refused to take appointments or phone calls. worthless woman! I should have known better than to trust you! No wonder you’ve been through two divorces! Nobody wants you and now I know why!” I heard Jeb turn and 229 . dialed another number. after he left her office. Jeb Darks. “You are such an idiot! I need to reprioritize? You’re the one who needs to get some sense in that stupid head of yours! You’re supposed to be my partner! You’re the one who said you would stand by me!” I heard Priscilla burst into tears. On several occasions. I’m sorry.” With that I hung up. She was warm toward me. Good luck. practically black hair and hazel eyes. and ordered a very large and very cheesy pizza. Marry Jill.

can you get me and my friend here the usual?” Priscilla still seemed downcast but a little more hopeful. Jeb strolled easily out the door.” “Good night. chain-clad. Stone?” I heard Priscilla sniffle. Mony” by Billy Idol was screaming over the loudspeakers. There was a wad of rolled up tissue by her left elbow. “I was wondering if you knew anywhere around here where a girl could get a double martini?” Priscilla laughed. “What is it?” I opened the door and poked my head in. I quickly returned to my seat and pretended to type something.walk toward the door. “How about I take you there myself?” Girls’ Night Out We graced an old beat-up warehouse-turned-bar with our presence. Priscilla didn’t seem to notice and dragged me to the bar. Marty. Samantha. and I watched as a group of red-Mohawk-wearing. “Good night. Mr. 230 . “Mony. “Ms. I was surprised she knew the bartender’s name. acting as if he didn’t have a care in the world. and her bright green eyes had turned a dull gray. pretending to be engrossed in typing a letter. Darks” I said nonchalantly. After he left I knocked on Priscilla’s door. “Hey. rebellious twenty-year olds danced.

easily amused. “The only thing I know is that after two of them. “Jeb hates this place. Samantha. but two burger bites later. let’s get out of here … you want something to eat?” Priscilla shouted loudly. “Yes. all your troubles go away. troublesome sounds permeating the room. so I come here when I need to hide out. Priscilla eventually dragged me back to the bar.” She grabbed the blue fizzy drinks from the bar and handed me one. The grease-stained puke green walls completed the look.” I hungrily and sloppily stuffed hot greasy fries in my mouth. “Yeah! A burger sounds great right now!” I gulped down my drink in three swallows and we hit the door.” She sucked on her soda thoughtfully. the mood turned serious. “I can honestly say that I never imagined you as the new age punk rocker type. Three blocks later we were sitting in a dive with ripped plastic orange chairs and wobbly Formica-topped tables. 231 . wiping my mouth with a cocktail napkin.” Three blue fizzy drinks later and I was dancing with a man that looked like Sid Vicious’s evil cousin. I needed a break.” We both laughed at her comment. “What is in this thing?” I asked. executive by day … crazy woman by night. “Hey. Their bar menu offered everything fattening. dark. Priscilla laughed. something peach colored. I almost choked when I drank it. and I had another drink waiting for me. “Thanks for coming out with me. trying to be heard over the blaring.“So do you come here a lot?” I asked.

” “What? Are you serious? What is going on?” She had my full attention. “I’m still in love with my ex husband. She broke down into a full sob. I nodded in agreement and before I thought about the repercussions of what I was saying. “Like what?” By this time. Is that so wrong? I’m tired of being alone … ” She tried hard to hold in the tears. “I just want someone to love me. and I was too drunk to care about staying professional. horrible person! I deserved the divorce and now he’s getting married again!” I wailed. “He’s a maniac with all of these psycho ideas. “You are? I thought that dirty rat cheated on you.” I let loose with no regard whatsoever. getting a faraway look in her eyes. I had thrown all caution to the wind. “I hate him! I absolutely hate him! He’s a monster and I’m scared of him.” Priscilla sniffed. Is everything alright?” My words were like magic. I don’t know what I was thinking … ” Priscilla trailed off. What the heck did they put in those fizzy drinks anyway? “He did! But after he found out that I had an affair! I’m the dirty rat!” Priscilla gasped. “You? Sweet little you who wears church clothes and is polite as can be?” “I’m a horrible. it came out. “Have you told him how you feel? Maybe you two can work it out?” Priscilla went from self-pity to concerned best friend. 232 . “I heard you and Jeb fighting.I decided to take a chance while she was inebriated.

and we quickly downed them.” I decided in my drunken stupor that those were pearls of wisdom and I should immediately take her advice. “I love Jeb too! But I can’t help him destroy other people’s lives!” My tears immediately dried up. I barely had the door closed behind me when I woke Jack up with my three am phone call. “I need to take you home. I continued to babble. “What are you talking about?” Priscilla realized she had slipped.” Fifteen minutes later she had the taxi in front of my apartment. just some stupid project he’s got going … ” The waiter dropped off the two tequila shots.” I tried hard not to slur my words.“But he’s going to think I’m an idiot! I can’t tell him!” I blew my nose into a paper napkin. “Waiter. I stumbled out of the car. Priscilla stood up. “I need to talk to you now. “I love him and I can’t help it!” Priscilla joined in. “Nothing serious. “Call him now. Samantha. while you have the chance. “What’s going on. Sarah? Is everything okay?” Jack’s worried voice caressed my ears and weak heart. could you bring us two shots of tequila right now please? Hurry!” Priscilla’s authorative voice boomed. Her last words to me were. sick to my stomach and ready for bed. 233 .

There has to be something else in here … After a few minutes of flipping pages. and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish. I crawled into bed and noticed my Bible sitting on the nightstand. “Are you drunk?” was my beloved’s response. The next morning I awoke with a splitting headache. My hopes dashed. pluck it out. “But I love you and you love me.” “I do love you. and two minutes later I remembered my phone call to Jack. Sleep it off. and reeking of sweat and cigarette smoke. I decided to read the entire 234 . that he was going to jump on a plane and fly immediately over here? Marry you tomorrow and let bygones be bygones? I was grateful it was Saturday and I didn’t have to go into work. We are meant to be together! It’s my fault we aren’t.“What is it? Are you in danger?” Jack was now fully awake. Sarah.” Great. I am marrying Jill in the fall and that is final. I tried one final desperate attempt. fully clothed. Sarah. marry me!” I declared my intentions with vigor and enthusiasm.” Jack’s scorn came raging through the phone.” I belted out the words almost in song. I can’t believe I called him! What’s wrong with me? What did you think. “I can’t believe you are calling me drunk on an undercover assignment in the middle of the night to tell me not to marry my fiancée. and I take full responsibility. “And if thy right eye offend thee. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror and I wanted to sleep the day away. “Don’t marry Jill.” Jack hung up and I passed out crying. “I love you. but as the mother of my children. and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Morbid and a tad bit scary. I randomly opened it and read the first scripture my eyes fell on. I stumbled into the shower.

” I commented. Real stupid. It was Agent Marks wanting to meet. leaving out the part about my nervous breakdown. bright red. Got drunk. “God. Jack called me concerned. Okay. Priscilla knows what is going on. 235 . “Nice change of subject. That wasn’t going to stop me from trying though.” Agent Marks laughed. well … so anyway. so I found something out pertinent to the case.gospel of John before drifting back to sleep. I was certain full restoration would involve prayer. “Nice wheels.” Agent Marks smiled and I noticed that his thick mustache had been shaven off and his salt and pepper hair was now a full medium brown. Agent Marks jumped in. Want to tell me what’s going on?” My face turned bright. “So. new look?” I decided to poke fun. I stayed at the back of the parking lot until I saw a blue Mustang pull up beside me. “Hey. “No. but she wants out. eagerness in his eyes. She doesn’t want to go through with it. Anyway. well … You know the whole story. “It’s a rental. but yeah. I jumped in my car and quickly drove forty minutes to a suburbia flea market. called Jack. There was no hiding my embarrassment. not at all. I like it. I did something stupid. I’m sorry and I am asking You to please help me get over Jack … ” My heartfelt prayer was interrupted by a phone call. so what did you learn?” “Jeb Darks is our man. “So do you think she would work with us to bring him down? Or do you think she would stick by his side?” Agent Marks asked.” I rattled off our conversation. When I woke up my headache was gone and my mood was lighter.

She’s afraid of him and if I can change her environment.” Agent Marks didn’t really ask.” I said confidently. “Let’s just say a movie may help get your mind off things.” I started the car and other than Agent Marks giving me directions. “So what are you doing tonight?” “Uh. I’m not too worried about Jeb or Priscilla seeing us way out here. “Jack put you up to this. sleeping? Why?” I tried to figure out where he was going with this. we were silent. The movie didn’t start for a good half hour. “Let me see what I can do.” Agent Marks paused and then changed direction. didn’t he? He thinks I’m going nuts. 236 . she may loosen up. he assumed I was going. I need to get her away from Jeb for a couple of days. “There’s a cinema down the street that serves beer and burgers.“I’m not sure yet. We sat in the near-empty theater and waited for the beer. I deserved it the way I had acted on the phone. Jack probably thought I had lost my mind.” I shook my head. “What do you propose?” Agent Marks asked suspiciously. I was silently fuming. “That I suddenly win a cruise for two … suite only please. but we couldn’t figure out anything else to see. I need to befriend her more before I can give you a definite. I was still a little mad about Jack calling Marks and decided that I now had the right to be sharp. We could catch a flick and a pitcher of beer.” I suggested.

237 . That actually stung a little bit. After the movie we walked back to the car and I decided to see if I could evoke anymore sympathy out of Marks. “Why not? You’ve dyed your hair and fixed yourself up … isn’t it time you started dating?” His reaction made me realize that I had crossed the line. and I really miss my kids. I am trying to be a friend right now and show you kindness by giving you the night off.” “I know you do. “Listen up. Lauren’s birthday is this upcoming weekend.” bit back Agent Brady Marks. He held me longer than he should have.” he said thoughtfully. because I would never date you. “Yeah. Brady?” I said with a cynical tone. looking me squarely in the eyes. we should just leave right now. they won’t be back till Monday night. “I really appreciate you spending time with me.” I said. I would date you. He sat back down and the beer came. I’m a little bummed.“So. You do not have a right to talk to me like that.” He started to stand and I began to profusely apologize. I am still your superior. I did need it.” he said. “By the way. I don’t have to. can I call you by your first name. Matter of fact. “No. “Then how about early Saturday morning you take the weekend to see your kids? You have to be back Sunday night. now that we are dating. Aren’t Jeb and Priscilla taking a trip to Vegas next Friday?” he inquired. Sarah. “Really? Thank you so much!” I shrieked and without thinking I hugged him.

I know. and I’m sincerely looking for someone to settle down with. So … I kissed Agent Brady Marks.” It was a weird feeling having Agent Marks flirt with me. curious to know if this was planned or off the cuff. I had a fleeting thought that I could use this to make Jack jealous and win him back. Plus. but a full-on mouthto-mouth with all the works.” “Why me?” I asked. I’m a widower. “Sarah. I’ve always respected you and been very fond of you. “Wha … what?” He let me go and I took a step back. Forgive me. I decided to manipulate this situation to my advantage. “Look. Then he got a case of the potty mouth. but I promise I’ll grow on you. listen to me. “I … I’m not sure what to say … ” I fumbled for the right words. and his countenance showed a soft side that I had never seen before. I’m about to retire in a few years. you are easy on the eyes. You’re like family. Sarah. “I’m as shocked as you are!” I said honestly. not sure what to make of this new development. 238 . He smiled warmly. Not very romantic. Not briefly. “Truth be known.I gasped. but none were coming. Unfortunately. “I can’t believe … that was wonderful! I know I’m about fifteen years older … but we can make this work. and I adore Christopher and Lauren. His happy face turned dark.” His eyes shone and a clown smile graced his face. I’m sorry. My kids are grown. I’m not into playing games. He finally caught his breath and held me at arms’ length.” he replied. It just came out.

He kissed me on the forehead. I wanted Jack to see me on his arm when we got together to celebrate Lauren’s birthday.” 239 . “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.“Come with me this upcoming weekend … please!” I begged.

“I guess you think I’m stupid. “That’s none of your business. I glanced toward the house where Jill and Agent Marks were sitting chatting on the back porch. Jack leaned in closer. Once the door slammed behind us. remember? I have a right to date whomever I wish. We are over. “Are you in love with him?” I pushed him away. I was leaning against the large oak it was hanging from.Chapter 28 Dating the Boss “You’re dating Agent Marks? Is this some kind of joke?” Jack hissed in my ear while the kids were trying to hit the donkey-shaped piñata with a blue plastic toy bat. “Excuse me? What do you care? You’re getting married. It was obvious he couldn’t stand this latest development in my love life. his breath hot on my neck. I followed him inside to the kitchen.” I said nonchalantly secretly thrilled he was acting this way. We had thrown together a quick party for Lauren with some of her friends at Jack’s house. wondering what was going on. Jack. Agent Marks walked over to where we were and asked if he could speak to me for a minute inside the house. trying to stay in the shade. don’t you?” he hissed between closed teeth. 240 .” My heart was beating with excitement over Jack’s annoyance. he turned and faced me.

I am not a toy to be dangled in front of your ex-husband as bait to get him back. I’m sorry. Sarah! Grow up! As Agent Marks walked to his car. It was at that moment I fell in love with Agent Brady Marks… at least I thought so. I suddenly had an epiphany. you are. Too sorry to see a good thing when it’s standing right in front of you. I’d known Agent Marks for a long time. Please. what are you talking about?” I really was confused. Real tears fell from my cheeks. “I’m such an idiot! Please forgive me.” “Yes. I should have known better. loyal. “What is it. He put his face in mine. I’m a good man. Sarah. Sarah. Why can’t you just let the past go with Jack? Let it go. Sarah?” The grim reaper had a happier face then the one he was carrying. I want to be with you. He turned. 241 .” I didn’t bother to deny it. and he was no dummy. and tender. gentle. and you would be lucky to have someone like me. I’m serious. feeling ashamed and dead inside. But too bad you are too blind to see that. “Brady! Brady!” I ran through the back gate and down the driveway to his car parked in front of the mailbox. He was a good thing and I knew it. I stood in the doorway watching. “I will not be made a fool of. Faithful. I was appalled at my immaturity and devastated at Agent Marks’ words.“No. “You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking … ” My speech was interrupted by his mouth. I would have been good to you.” Agent Marks walked out the door and began to politely tell Jack and Jill that he had business to take care of and it was time for him to leave.

looking slightly demure and downcast. “What? Tell me quick. I practically danced into Priscilla’s office with her cup of coffee. I had been playing bingo with this group at the YMCA … anyway … to make a long story short. “You will never believe what happened to me last night!” I gushed. She really was a sweetheart.A Cruise Monday I walked into the office like I was on on cloud nine. there was a grand prize of a cruise for two. what’s going on?” Priscilla looked at me quizzically. “Well. “When is it?” she asked. 242 . I’m very impatient. “Good morning!” I was so excited I was shaking. don’t be silly!” she assured me. “I have to go by the end of next month … is that okay? Can I go?” I asked.” Priscilla had laughter in her eyes. “Of course. and I won!” I jumped up and down in excitement to get her to forget about the already fuzzy details I had given her. “I won a cruise for two to the Virgin Islands!” I practically screamed. “What? How? When? Congratulations!” Priscilla jumped out of her seat and hugged me. “I’ve never seen you this happy.

99. so there will be plenty of room!” I pleaded. I’m sorry I killed Armando. she didn’t notice my panic attack. and I have no one to go with me. but they refused to leave. she chatted away and insisted we grab lunch on the beach before boarding. Memories of my relationship with Armando and how it ended enveloped my mind. I chocked out a prayer. “Please? It’ll be fun! Just us girls. I let the tears flow freely. When I saw Miami beach. please help me. and while Priscilla was ordering lunch. Priscilla was in such a good mood. I’m sorry about Sue. I excused myself to the ladies room. My heart was beating nonstop and fear was screaming in my ear. I can’t take this. Will you come?” I gave her my best droopy puppy dog eyes. I tried to push them away. You know if I tried to tell the FBI the truth they would still cover it up.“It’s for two people. “God. It was now a Chinese restaurant. “Umm … well … I don’t know … ” She stammered unsure how to answer and not wanting to let me down. Please. my heart dropped. too. The taxi stopped in front of an outside bistro.” Back in Miami Three weeks later. Wound up. I crammed myself inside a sweaty-smelly stall and sat on the toilet pulling my legs up and cradling myself. they are giving me a suite. “Well. “MURDERER! MURDERER!” In between sobs. I’ll have to sneak past Jeb though … ” “I’ll help you talk to him. Priscilla and I were in Miami waiting to get onboard the cruise ship. it took everything in me to hold back the tears. All-you-can-eat buffet for $7. When the taxi passed where Patsy’s used to be. They don’t really care if criminals are killed … They only care about their reputation … I’m sorry … ” 243 . I’ve never been on a cruise. I don’t see why not.

“Oh. we’re here. we ran to look at our suite like two kids in a candy store.” She was already halfway through her pickle.” I told my new love. Priscilla ran up on deck. I felt better after praying and had the strength to actually walk out the bathroom door looking normal. and I told her I would meet her in a few minutes. just needed to freshen up. sweetie. So what did you get us?” I asked. “Can you believe how big this ship is?” “I’ve never seen anything like this before!” “Oh my gosh! Look at our room! It has a balcony overlooking the ocean!” We went on like this for the next hour while unpacking our suitcases. “Is everything okay?” Priscilla asked. “Hey. On the taxi ride to the cruise terminal. After standing in line for two hours waiting to board. still in a state of euphoria. “I have a surprise for you later. 244 . I was supposed to check in with Agent Marks when we got on board. “Two Ruebens with chips and pickles. yeah. Priscilla’s on deck and I’m obviously in our room.” Agent Marks said quietly. I decided to focus my attention on superficial conversation with Priscilla and not look at the beach.I cried a few minutes more and then got up and washed my face before Priscilla came looking for me.

” “Me neither. His retirement plans made me feel a bit old. We weren’t really supposed to. Thomas. I hadn’t forgotten about Jack. Sometimes we prayed together. and both of us were ravenous. I watched as Priscilla stuffed her mouth with quesadillas and ice cream. but he had been with the bureau for over thirty years. I wondered if 245 . Almost every night Agent Marks and I secretly met. I had never seen her eat like this before. Things were moving fast. Brady reiterated to me several times that he wanted to make sure we built our relationship on truth and trust. he was extremely attentive. and he talked about how when this assignment was over. and it was a little scary. but figured I had earned a few calories in the disco.” She sucked on her diet coke. I filled my plate with several selections of hors d’oeuvres and even a few desserts. Only the director could pull rank on him and I don’t think Agent Marks was too concerned. “I’m so glad you invited me! I can’t wait till we get to the islands. he wanted us to attend church together. I was paranoid of weight gain. enthused and in a much better mood than I was a few hours ago. Still. We hung up and I thought back to the past couple of weeks. I also needed stability. and he offered that. trying desperately to wash down the plate of fattening foods she had just inhaled. We had spent the entire evening dancing. I was thinking about snorkeling in St. but he was beginning to become a distant memory. and I was surprised he was willing to break protocol. “That’ll work for me! I’ve never been.” I suggested.“I can’t wait to get it!” I answered. Time with Priscilla “Did you see the size of the buffet?” Priscilla gushed over the ice sculptures and cantaloupe carvings at the midnight buffet. and that was something I did like.

When the elevator doors opened. it appeared we were on the bottom floor. “I’ll explain in a minute.” “What are you doing here?” I gasped. my love. I fell easily into his arms. He laughed. “Where are we?” I whispered. I stared at the ceiling for a while until I heard Priscilla’s rhythmic breathing. The man looked my way as my heart jumped. “Sorry. Fear rose up and my heart began to palpitate while my hands sweated preparing to fight. He walked on quickly and purposefully blocked me from getting out. but we can’t get caught.something was wrong. and then I donned a robe and carefully stepped outside. at two am. I could feel it. How entirely wrong I was going to be. a man in a Porter’s uniform with the hat drawn down over his face was standing there. 246 . where they had twenty-four-hour coffee and pizza.” Agent Marks said in hushed tones. I had to figure this out. When the elevator door reopened. Indecent Proposal? Finally. “I’m your surprise!” He reached down and kissed me as the elevator lurched. I jumped on an elevator and rode to the Lido Deck. Nah! Just excited about the cruise … I thought. Something wasn’t right. I pushed him back into the elevator wall with the palms of my hands plastered on his chest. “Are you crazy? You scared the living daylights out of me?” I said sternly in a high-pitched voice to Agent Marks. Let’s just get somewhere where we can talk. we crawled into our beds exausted from our big day.

“Did you really think you were going on board this ship by yourself with a potentially dangerous criminal?” He crossed his arms over his chest. Sarah. not knowing what else to say. It had always perturbed me if I felt someone else was being slighted. I made sure my jaw stayed shut so that I didn’t start drooling like a pathetic idiot. He kissed my nose gently. I followed him silently until we reached his room #309. he caught himself. “I guess not. “Well. He continued. He decided to explain himself.” he responded. I didn’t have one. “Yes. and we both stared at each other dumbfounded.” 247 . I guess the cat’s out of the bag. obviously amused at my blatant arrogance.“This is where the staff sleeps. do they?” I commented slightly angry. “Look.” He paused inhaling deeply. I have my own room. “I guess we can’t all have suites like you. Sarah.” he replied warmly with laughter in his beautiful dark brown eyes with flecks of silver and gold. Higgins. It was tiny with no window and one twin-size bed. Will you be my wife? Will you marry me?” Not quite sure what else to say. So what are you doing here?” I asked. I said. “I have been thinking about proposing to you for several days now. “They don’t give you much. Ms. and I was going to talk to you about it … ” He looked at me trying to gauge my reaction. looking around carefully. “I don’t think I could have lived a week without seeing my fiancée’s beautiful face. “So is that the only reason?” I twinkled my tired eyes at him.” After the words came out. I’m in love with you and I want to spend my golden years with you.

“Hello?” 248 . “Sarah. “Get up.” I insisted. I had no time to think so I joined in with a charade of happiness. I have to get back to my room before Priscilla wakes up. I love you and I want to make you the happiest woman on earth. Samantha! Rise and shine!” Priscilla peeled away the pillow from my grumpy head.” I chocked out an “I love you. too” and returned to my room. Then we are going to get massages at the spa … ” She rattled off a few more activities she had planned for us. I refused to think about what just happened. Maybe because I’m not that old. “I’m going to fetch the morning cruise ship itinerary and I’ll be back in ten. I’m engaged! I’m engaged to Agent Marks! How did this happen? I can’t believe it! He’s going to love me through his golden years? I don’t feel that old. I grunted my approval and she walked out the door. He reached down and stroked my cheek. I moaned a good morning and tried to stuff the pillow over my ears. “Brady. Is this really happening to me? What am I going to do? He’s my boss! I can’t just take it back! Do I want to take it back? Do I want to marry him? … My thoughts were interrupted by a ringing telephone. Is This Really Happening? The next day Priscilla was up at the crack of dawn. and I crawled into my bed snuggled deeply under the covers. “Ten minutes!” I insisted.He smiled and kissed me deeply for a few minutes. mesmerized by last night’s memory running through my head at a breakneck pace. a little peace and … I shot straight up in bed. Finally.

thinking maybe I had too much to drink. When she did. “No worries. but now I knew something was desperately wrong. trying to be inconspicuous.” Mascara ran down her pretty face. he was waiting for me. I pretended to ignore it. The dramas we get ourselves in! I thought. “This morning when I woke up. but when I was in the lobby grabbing the cruise itinerary. trying to get out of the phone call. “There are more of you?” I said.” Priscilla put her face in her hands and began to sob. causing the freckles to stand out. astounded. “All undercover. He was sitting at the bar with a hat on.” Agent Marks responded. I quickly dressed and was brushing my hair when Priscilla returned.” Agent Marks’ cool. crisp voice rang over the receiver. “Jeb’s on board. I shook it off. I felt sorry for her.” he said. 249 . We know her every move. I promise … ” She continued to talk to me through sobs. “Good morning. “What?” I was immediately concerned. Priscilla will be back any minute.” I gushed. “I didn’t know. she looked slightly angry and flustered. “I saw him last night when we were at the disco. I knew she was gone. We chatted for about thirty more seconds before hanging up.” “Are you sure it was him?” I was desperately hoping she was wrong. Trying to come up with a way to get it out of her. my lovely fiancée.“Good morning. she beat me to it. trying to forget about my own possibly disasterous situation.

” She listed her excuses. 250 . doesn’t it? Like a silly teenage girl who runs off with the high school quarterback in the name of love and ruins her life when he leaves her pregnant for her best friend. I don’t know what to do. I’m in my forties. Samantha. “It is silly. “Why is he dangerous? I can’t help you if you don’t tell me!” I begged for more information. it would be the last time I ever said anything. She blubbered. doesn’t he?” I was tempted to ask if he hit her too. “I don’t know … I love him I guess … That sounds stupid. trying to stop more tears from forming.” “He threatens you a lot. Priscilla. and don’t worry about it. “Just leave it alone. You just have no idea … ” She stopped herself from going on.“What did he say?” I sat by her and gave her a hug. He sounds dangerous and you need to get out of this situation. and if he saw me talking to any men … well. “He is dangerous.” She shook her head. “He told me not to tell you. pickings are slim. I’m sorry for ruining your trip. Why don’t you just dump him?” I asked. but I decided against it. disappointment clouding her better judgment. “The pickings aren’t that slim. “Samantha. have a few divorces under my belt.” She began dry heaving.” I chided her as if I were a concerned mother. You know better.

Priscilla and I each took one and I sat. and a sewage smell caught in my throat.” She looked hopeful. Steam was billowing out of the giant engine. I realized I was heading for the giant propeller waiting to cut me to shreds … “Samantha! Samantha! Wake up!” Who’s Samantha? I wondered as I felt my body being shaken from its fitful slumber. silently sipping the cool drink while watching my surroundings. Why don’t we have fun with this? Turn it around on him.” The details went from fuzzy to clear as I sat up and allowed the bright sunlight to help me regain my perspective. while splashes of water were hitting us from people descending the giant blue circular slide into the pool. “I think you had a nightmare. “Help! Somebody help me!” I heard the roar of the cruise liner and began to fear for my life as I felt a backward pulling. mixed with extremely salty warm water. The next thing I heard and felt was my chair hitting metal and a sinking in the pit of my stomach as I began to fall. still dazed and slightly frightened. Splash! I hit water. I slowly opened my crusty eyes and a face began to come into focus. offering us tall drinks with pineapple and pink umbrellas. “I did. it was pretty bad. anything. The roar grew louder and as I came to my senses. A waiter passed by. like what?” A Dose of Reality Screaming. Was God telling me to watch out? 251 . Priscilla and I were sunbathing on the top deck. “Yeah. I swung my arms around in the darkness trying to grab hold of something.” I looked around. You didn’t ruin my trip. I wondered if the dream was some kind of warning or omen.I hugged her tighter. “Wha … What’s going on?” I asked. “Don’t be silly.

” I flinched in pain as I clothed myself for our big night. “Sounds good to me … ” I laid my head back on the lounge chair and drifted off to sleep again. No tube tops … keep covered up. “Tomorrow when we hit St. still amused from my slight disorientation. * * ******* “Owww! I can’t believe how bad I’m sunburned. There was a slight space between her two front teeth and I noticed that food often was caught in between. you said you never burned. looking at my bright red face.” I had poured half a bottle of aloe vera lotion on my body trying to relieve the pain.” Priscilla chastened me as she rubbed the mint smelling gooey lotion on my back. Thomas.” I replied sucking dutifully on my straw. “I look like a lobster! I’m glad the dance floor is mainly dark. “I wouldn’t mind hitting the casino afterwards … ” She sucked out leftover pineapple strands from her front teeth. allowing the sun to encase me like a warm blanket.“So are we going dancing tonight after dinner?” Priscilla asked. you need to wear a hat and shirt.” I moaned. “Duly noted. “I told you to wear sun block … but.” I listened patiently as Priscilla went down her motherly list of rules for me to abide by. nooooooo. “I wouldn’t mind stopping by and watching the ‘Vegas-style’ show first. 252 . Maybe people will just think my skin is reflecting one of the red lights.

and I had to put a stop to it. Unfortunately. enjoying the soft touch his lips afforded me. 253 . I would have to get Agent Marks’ permission first before I could ask her. I’ve been watching you. Mixed Emotions “Hey. We were laughing and dancing. I would want justice myself. I had pushed the fact of my recent engagement to Brady Marks into the deep recesses of my mind. her involvement with Jeb would make her a target and earn her considerable jail time. we were back on the dance floor. Earlier at dinner she told me Jeb’s sad tale of his younger brother slowly dying at home. I already loved her as a friend.” His warm breath smelled of the salty sea. He looked at me quizzically. have you now?” I kissed him back. I was trying hard not to become attached to Priscilla.” Agent Marks’ lips brushed mine while my heart picked up speed. after skipping the Las Vegas Show and losing in the casino. However. Two wrongs didn’t make a right. I had to focus on my assignment. but to no avail. his hideous plan of kidnapping the CEO of an insurance corporation and bombing the building was taking his vengeance entirely too far. and it was beginning to get stuffy. as he was refused full care because of the insurance refusing to pay. “Oh. I wondered if she would have the guts to testify against Jeb. and she trusted me as a confidant. If it had been my sister or one of my children. “I have a question for you.” We were crammed in his little cabin. In the name of keeping my sanity. exchanging dance partners and having a great time. I had already had so much to drink that I was no longer was in pain and I didn’t care about my applered skin. and he was one person I wasn’t sure I wanted to see right now. “I’ve missed you terribly. baby. which in turn would ensure her freedom from him and the penitentiary. I can’t say I blamed him.Four hours later. waiting for me to continue.

” I said. We have a scuba tour planned that we found out he is going on also. then let’s go with it.” Agent Marks steeled his eyes and looked at me with determination. Maybe marriage to Brady wouldn’t be so bad. stability. I trust you. slightly annoyed.” “I agree. 254 . Sarah. How about I approach her when we arrive back in Pittsburg?” I was already going over how I was going to approach her in my head. But. we only have three more days and then we’ll be back in port. “Take what?” I asked.” Agent Marks breathed. telling him the details of our little deception. White picket fence. If you believe she’ll testify against him.” Agent Marks ordered. This will also buy you more time to gain her trust and deepen your friendship. We are watching his every move. Sarah. Don’t worry about Jeb. travel … yes. “Just don’t mess with him too much. “I know.” The words fumbled out in a hurry. I think she’ll cooperate. Don’t do anything that would make him think you are not for their relationship. talk yourself into it … “I can’t take this anymore.“I want to tell Priscilla about our operation. He’s a ticking time bomb ready to explode. “Well. “That’s fine. Sarah. We passionately kissed and I felt a quiver up my spine. I’ve been good.” Agent Marks drew me into another hug. He’s very possessive of Priscilla. I don’t want to do it on the ship. “I want you and I want you now. We are “disappearing” and touring the town instead. Croix. We plan on purposefully losing him in St. He thought for a moment. ensuring you she won’t tuck tail and run when the time comes to stand trial. Let’s wait until the cruise is over so we can take her to headquarters.

there is no reason to wait any longer. As I inhaled the cigarette. I crawled in a chair and put my feet up on the railing allowing the rocking of the ship to soothe me. I never smoked unless I was on an assignment that dictated I needed to. My head was spinning and I felt like smoking a cigarette. “I didn’t want to get off the ship. How about a small backyard wedding the weekend after next? As soon as you get Priscilla on board with us. then you deserve to be alone! Back on Shore “That was so much fun!” exclaimed Priscilla as we lugged our suitcases off the dock.” “Umm. But suddenly. Sarah. 255 . and I left with my knees feeling weak. Ugh! I tossed it overboard. I want all of you right now. I began to cough. not just your body.” With that he kissed me goodbye. I took the elevator to the top deck and bummed a cigarette from someone. “Back to the daily grind. I love you and you love me. yes it is.“I thought Christians waited till marriage?” I was too stunned to say anything else. “And yes … Christians wait until marriage. Please. I needed to. Sarah. “That’s not what I am talking about.” Priscilla said with humor in her step. You might not get another chance at love! Don’t be stupid! You screwed things up with Jack. Or was I lying? I loved him. and if you screw things up with Brady. Let’s do it.” I agreed honestly. Agent Marks loves you. You’re not a spring chicken anymore. What are we waiting for?” I gasped between lies. sure. I did. Marry me as soon as we get back to Pittsburg. we can close this case. but I want to officially make you mine. get a hold of yourself! Jack is about to get married. Sarah. Yes. Actually.

“Absolutely! You’re a fantastic bunk mate … I’m really glad we did this together.” Priscilla laughed. It was actually kind of funny watching him scramble around St. stupid!” he shouted. 256 . while pulling off his fake mustache.” I put my arm around her shoulders. and suddenly I knew we were in danger. Croix looking for us. “I’m sorry Jeb followed us … I plan on breaking it off with him when we get back. Five minutes later the cab drove down between some warehouses. “Get out of the car.” But before we had a chance to do so. “I don’t know what I ever saw in him!” A black taxi with blue stripes pulled up to the curb. “Jump out and run. It was Jeb. letting her beautiful auburn hair sway while the curls got caught up in the wind and tried to float off.” Her tone turned soft. agitated. the cab stopped and the driver turned around and aimed a gun at us. “Don’t worry about it. please!” I ordered the lazy driver. “Take us to the airport. and we hopped in after shoving our suitcases in the trunk.” Jeb said with hate flashing in his eyes. “What is wrong with you?” Priscilla barked. “Get out of the car or I will blow your brains all over the back seat. I elbowed Priscilla and mouthed. I was miffed the cab driver didn’t bother to get out of the car to help us.“We can always go on vacation again … maybe Hawaii … or Europe … ” I suggested.

Isn’t that right. “It’s true.” Priscilla turned toward me angry. “Yeah. We got out of the car with our hands high to the sky. Priscilla. it’s Samantha. went on vacation with you! How could you?” I glanced towards the door waiting for the SWAT team to bust through.” He wiped his mouth. “I’ve got friends in high places. Samantha … or should I say Special Agent Sarah Higgins?” Jeb spat coldly. “Why are you doing this. “I thought you were my friend! How could you deceive me like this? I gave you a job. “What? Your name’s not Sarah. but we are after Jeb.” I said trying to bring order to the situation. Samantha? Do you work for the FBI?” I nodded.” Jeb mocked me with saliva drooling from his chin.“Just do what he says. “Is this true. Agent Marks had to know where I was. not you. Sarah Higgins who lives in New York with her daddy and two kids. “Samantha here is an undercover FBI agent.” She wailed. “Sit down in that chair right now. 257 . I’ve been following you for weeks. Priscilla looked at me shocked. Jeb? What is going on?” Priscilla began to openly cry. that’s right. and he marched us through a cold door clothed in sheet metal.” I sat in the chair while Jeb forced Priscilla to tie me to it. How did he know where I lived? Jeb sneered and spittle dripped from his pursed lips. She had tears in her eyes and confusion clouded her countenance. I wanted to vomit.

Jeb only got her in the shoulder. After the small memorial service. Two days later she was released from the hospital. “Priscilla. I heard three gun shots and opened my eyes. A small army of black-clothed men were running in. The ambulance had just closed it’s doors. She felt like she needed the closure. Thank you so much. “Don’t worry. stupid! I saw you sneaking around with that other agent! There was a whole group of you on board!” He pointed the gun toward me. She took the bullet for you. The double doors opened and I climbed in. I reached for her hand and held it. Priscilla saw me and smiled. I couldn’t do it on the ship while Jeb was onboard … ” I pleaded my case. she’s going to be okay. FBI agent or not.” Agent Marks voice still didn’t stop my racing mind. you are still my friend. She saved your life by stepping in front of Jeb. Priscilla.” I pulled myself out of his arms and ran outside. err Sarah. Priscilla. Sarah. “Priscilla. wanted me to attend Jeb’s funeral with her. and I ran up and banged on the back of them. “I knew you were a good person when I first met you. I didn’t deserve that … what you did. and oddly enough. baby. Samantha. Priscilla dropped me off at the 258 . “Thank you.” Priscilla closed her eyes as the medics continued to work on her. it’s over … it’s all over. “Save it.“I was going to tell you tomorrow. and the next thing I knew Agent Marks was holding me. stand back. she’s been shot! Help her!” I screamed in a panic. “It’s okay. I swear. I don’t want her filthy pig blood touching you!” I closed my eyes and screamed. Priscilla lay bleeding at my feet and Jeb was lying lifeless a few feet away. You saved my life!” The tears rushed down my face.

A few hours later I was on Jack’s front porch holding my two children. looking mildly interested.” I replied.” He handed me the cold diet cola. I hate being away from the kids. “You read my mind. I don’t know if want to take anymore cases. I had it filled with snow globes and cheap plastic animals.airport. “Come in. “Fine … I’m glad it’s over. “That’ll work. Take a load off. and we agreed to stay in touch. “I’ve got Tab. I wished he would offer me something to drink. my throat parched. Welcome Home “Mommy! Mommy! What did you bring us?” Christopher and Lauren lunged at the airport bag I was carrying. I sat on the couch and he took the La-Z-Boy. and I hungrily sucked it down in two gulps. “Want something to drink?” he asked. “So how did it go?” Jack asked. I handed them the bag and they ran inside to divvy up the contents between themselves.” He walked to the kitchen. and I walked into the air-conditioning. you look tired.” I said.” Jack opened the screen door. 259 .

“What? Why? You can’t do that!” “Why not? You’re marrying Jill in a few weeks. “Sarah. “Where are you going?” “I’m leaving. “Don’t leave. He stared at me and touched his lips to mine. Jill was in her car and peeling out the driveway. I decided to take our conversation to a new level. When I’m with Jill. Jack ran out the screen door.” There. In fact. He stood up and started pacing the floor. “I want you back.” He continued with the small talk. Jack blocked the doorway. I’ve been thinking … since you’ve been gone … that maybe … ” “Maybe what.” We both turned toward the front door in response to the gasp and muffled cry we heard. Sarah. stunned at his reaction. I said it. I expected him not to care. It was too late. You can drop Christopher and Lauren off tonight. What’s the big deal?” I said. you’re the one who sent me into Brady’s arms in the first place. “I’m marrying Brady next weekend. I find myself comparing her to you.” 260 .” I was angry.“You sure were thirsty. Sarah. He wanted me now that I was taken? He turned and faced me. and he caught my arm and held it in place. I picked up my purse and decided to follow her lead.” I shoved past him. Jack? I tried to get back together with you and you blew me off. Jack. Let the chips fall where they may … His eyes bulged out of his head.

“Are you ready to go. Bill was waiting patiently for me. We had decided to marry in my New York church where I had been attending with Bill and my children. slim. while Christopher was busy convening with the other men. and some wise advice from Pastor Beals. As I walked down the aisle. applying the final touches to my lipstick. My dad Bill was all smiles in his black tuxedo and cream-colored lapels. white silk dress and a pretty flower bouquet in my hair. I thought back over my life and the decisions I had made. I stood up and went to the door. and I allowed her to pick her own purple bridesmaid dress.Chapter 29 Wedding Day There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. father to my children? Or the stable Agent Marks. my beautiful daughter? Stacy is already at the front. Jack. Stacy had agreed to be my matron-of-honor. “I’m ready. As I looked into the mirror. Pastor Greg Beals was waiting at the front. The bad ones and the good ones. I saw a woman who felt a lot younger than she looked. With prayer. who was willing to dedicate his entire life to me? I 261 . just close friends and immediate family. The love of my life. I sat before my vanity table. Priscilla easily mingled with the guests while walking around making sure everyone was comfortable. They smelled lovely. I pondered which man I should marry. Not too many guests.” I gently placed my arm in his. Lauren was running around with her basket of rose petals and yellow Easter dress. Dad. and he handed me white and red roses tied together with ribbon. I wore a sleeveless.” Bill was bursting with excitement.

Thomas Lee Jackson. But what happened. happened. I grabbed the king size pillow mixed in with the comforter and wrapped myself in it. No one should ever have to go through what I did. We finished the vows and obeyed Pastor Beals’ orders to face the small crowd. Romans 12:19 entered my mind. I slid halfway off the bed. Sarah Higgins. I can’t Lord. I grabbed the bible off of it and threw it haphazardly against the wall. never take revenge.believed this time I was making the correct choice … the choice that would produce the best results. for richer or poorer. I opened to it. 262 . may I now present to you … Mr. I can’t. forsaking all others. while looking into the man’s eyes that held my future. and Mrs. Write it down the still small voice whispered to my heart. I loved both men dearly.” Prolouge “Why God why?” I screamed and sobbed lying on my bed talking towards the nightstand. After sitting down with both of them. I answered as I continued to wallow in my well-earned self pity. just enough to pick up my now abused bible. For the Scriptures say.” I said. to death do you part?” Pastor Beals recited the vows in a low voice. and there is no going back. “I do. No one. Dear friends. The thought. but I could only commit my life to one. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. “Ladies and gentlemen. I gave them my choice. One left that day heartbroken. take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? For better or worse. The teal colored wall that Jack and I had happily painted together in a winning effort to renovate this older home we picked up for a steal. and the other full of joy … “Do you. The bible I hadn’t read or paid any attention to in months.

“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. I read through the scripture twice, mumbling it to myself the second time. “Revenge may be yours Lord, but writing is mine.” I sat up and wiped away the tears. Better late than never. Hanging my feet over the bed, I allowed them to search the floor for my well worn pink slippers that Christopher had blessed me with for my birthday a couple of years ago. I slowly shuffled to the study and slid out my diary that sat lazily among the other books. Grabbing a pen, I sat comfortably in my chair to begin…

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Part 6 Life #6 The Bradley School Case

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Chapter

30

Operation Poker Face
“Do you remember The Bradley School?” Agent Marks asked warily. He had put on a happy face during my wedding, but now he was chilly. “How could I forget? That was my first case … I was Alexandra Ralston.” I mused, slightly angry he was treating me as if I had the bubonic plague. “Well, I am sending you back, this time as a teacher … and you are keeping the name Alexandra Ralston.” His stately eyes met mine. All love was lost. I gave a half-hearted laugh, trying in a vain attempt to lighten the atmosphere. “What? I’m too old to pass as a student?” He growled, “No, Sarah. You’re almost forty, not twenty-three.” I felt the full extent of his jab. “I was making a joke.” He ignored me. “You are a spinster with a secret gambling addiction.” I cut him off, “Spinster? Forty is the new thirty!” He rolled his eyes in utter disbelief that I was interrupting him. “Look … you took a year off; it’s time to get back to business. Now please stop interrupting me so I can finish.”

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Agent Marks’ abrasive tone deflated my funny bone, so I slumped slightly in my seat to hear the rest. He folded his hands on his desk and continued, “Mr. Thomas Bradley III, grandson of the original Thomas Bradley who started The Bradley School, has run into a bit of trouble. He has been spending the school’s earnings on his gambling debt, which has now run the school into the red. Mr. Bradley’s old college buddy, Charles Tanner, is the new principal at the school. The old principal mysteriously resigned last year and left the state. Your job is to find the gambling ring and proof of Mr. Bradley’s embezzling scams.” “It’s his school, can’t he do what he wants with the money?” I wondered out loud. “Not when it’s considered a non profit organization. It was Grandpa Bradley who asked us to investigate his grandson. I guess he’s fed up with him flushing his school down the toilet.” Agent Marks answered. As I sat listening to Agent Marks, thoughts of Cole Turner ran through my head. I wondered what had happened to him. Agent Marks read my mind. “Cole Turner is the head basketball coach at Bradley. Remember him?” I refused to entertain his snide reminder. “Yes, is he involved?” “We aren’t sure, but Mr. Bradley attends all the games. You know they have been state champions three times since Cole took over as head coach.” I smiled, proud that Cole made something of his life. “Good for him.” “The semester starts in two weeks, and since you are going to be the sophomore English teacher, I need you to get busy reading the class-assigned books so you understand the curriculum.” I continued to smile. “Is that all?”

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“You’re dismissed.” Old Times

It was 1993 and The Bradley School smelled the same. Lysol mixed with bleach and cheap perfume greeted my nostrils when I opened the teachers’ lounge door. A lone stranger stood at the sink washing a coffee mug. He slowly turned around when the door closed behind me. “Hi! You must be new here. I’m … Alex?” A still incredibly handsome Cole Turner’s open-mouthed astonishment greeted my now beet-red face. “Hi Cole.” I had already steeled myself for the inevitable. “What are you doing here? I want you out of here right now! I can’t believe you have the nerve … ” Cole was in a full tirade. I put up my hands and waved them in denial. “Cole, stop! It’s not what you think … Armando has been dead for many years now. I haven’t been in that line of work for about fifteen years.” “How dare you come here! I’m going to tell the principa … ” An angry Cole glared at me. I stepped towards him. “Cole, if you say one word to anybody about our past, I will tell everybody about you and your dad’s history at this school. Do you want that, Cole? Do you want it in the news about your past dealings? State championship basketball coach Cole Turner is a former … ” Cole cut me off, “What, are you stalking me? What are you doing here?”

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“I’m the new English teacher. I have the sophomores.” I spoke in a steady tone hoping to calm Cole down. He shook his head from side to side. “I can’t believe this is happening.” “What is happening, Cole? We’re friends, remember? We went to school together and are old chums. Nobody needs to be the wiser.” Cole visibly accepted my assertion and shook off the shock of my arrival. “Well, I guess you don’t really need me to show you around. What lunch have you been assigned?” Cole asked. “Second lunch. That means I monitor the kids, right?” “Right. I have second lunch, too.” Cole picked up his briefcase and walked past me to the door. He turned and gave me the once-over, ending it with a sly smile. “It’s nice to see you again, Alex.”

Paradise “How was your first day of school?” I came home greeted by the smell of beef fajitas and simmering onions, Jack’s favorite. “Great I guess. Just another day in the neighborhood.” I kissed my sweaty husband, who was happily slaving over a pot of black beans. Agent Marks had informed me that it was fine by the bureau if I wanted to stay at home during this case. Actually, they didn’t have a choice. I had attempted to retire after the wedding, but the FBI wanted me for this case. Going home at night was part of the deal I worked out with them. The two-hour drive home to New Jersey wasn’t much fun in traffic. It was already six o’clock. I had left The Bradley School at a quarter to four.

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Jack handed me a glass of red wine. Hmmm. darling?” I cooed at my husband. The teachers started school a week before the children did.” I kicked off my heels and plopped on the couch sipping the wine. “To the bedroom.” I finished off my glass of wine. “Where are we going?” I asked in a sultry tone. “I made strawberry shortcake for dessert.” Jack kissed my big toe. “How was your day.” I greeted each of my students walking through the door with a smile. I. He was still teaching at the local junior high. My name is Ms. They all had on uniforms. “Welcome to English Literature. Ralston. “Christopher won’t be home for another twenty minutes … ” Jack began to pick me up. we didn’t have to wear those when I attended here. refused to resist. “Normal first day of school noise.” Some students stared and a few 269 . Jack sat next to me and insisted on rubbing my feet. His ex fiancée Jill had left and moved to another school after their breakup. and of course … William Shakespeare.” Another sweet kiss landed on my chapped lips. of course. and the principal gave his usual lecture. “I have my syllabus ready. Emily Bronte. and this semester we will be studying Charles Dickens.” New Students “Good morning. no new teachers. “Christopher is at Paul’s house till six thirty and Lauren is watching TV.

I will not be allowing you to leave this classroom unless it is an emergency. The prim and proper look wasn’t my style. may I go to the bathroom?” One slightly chubby freckle faced girl raised her hand and looked at me earnestly. “The chairs that you are sitting in are the chairs you are to keep for the rest of the semester. and a long brown skirt on. Any other behavior will be considered a mark against your final grade. “This time you may. letting the salt soak on my tongue. Second Lunch “How’s it going?” Cole sat next to me during second lunch. “I noticed you call yourself Ms. neither was teaching teenagers … “Ms.groaned. Ralston. I guess. “Good. However.” My militant orders caused the students to sit straighter in their seats. Learn to use the restroom before class. no one’s given me any trouble. … a baseball cap and a whistle. but then again. “Nope. in the future. I had my hair tightly in a bun. This is an honors class and I expect you to be on time and to speak only when I give you permission to do so. I passed out copies of A Tale of Two Cities while feeling the uncomfortable brush of rough tweed against my legs. I knew that teenagers liked to see how far they could push new teachers.” My statement caused their eyes to widen and their mouths to close. but I’m assuming you are happily married with a brood of children. Is there no mister?” I ate a chip. small pearl earrings. He smelled like fresh cut grass. I bit into my ham and cheese hoagie. He was wearing silver and blue gym shorts. Later I found out her name was Kimberly. … the school colors.” When Cole smiled the skin around his mouth and eyes crinkled a little … he was as gorgeous as the first day I ever laid eyes on him. and I did not plan on giving them any wiggle room.” 270 . I continued.

” I acted slightly bent out of shape. Cole Jr. attends there.” “Sorry to hear that. “No.He shook his head.” I asked delicately. “Me too. I wondered if Cole knew Thomas Bradley. Two kids. I even tried teaching a Bible study once … that didn’t go over so well though.” “Let’s go Sunday. It’s Westside Methodist.” Cole’s face lit up talking about his newfound faith. Alex. “Sorry. They live with their mom.” I thought back quickly to that fateful day. I think I lost my chance when Armando died. He looked at me with caring in his eyes. but maybe God has another plan for your life. I gave my life to Him about two years ago after the divorce.” I said. and Janice.” My compliment caused him to blush slightly. “Have you met Thomas Bradley? I heard he’s head of the board of directors. proud that I had already found a way to worm into Principal Tanner’s life. “Divorced for a couple of years now. “I love my kids. “God?” “Yeah God. Cole. Principal Tanner.” His comment about God caught me off guard. In fact. 271 . I bet you’re a good dad. College sweetheart. “Really! Maybe you can visit my church one day. Cole’s face brightened even more. … so do you have any?” He downed a carton of orange juice in one fell swoop. though. our new principal.

after quickly recovering from his initial shock of seeing us together. Principal Tanner. sitting next to a man who wasn’t my husband. but somebody has to do it. My mind drifted to Christopher and Lauren…but what about them? What about their future? What about Jack and I’s retirement?This job could help pay off some debt. “Do you really want to go to church with me this Sunday?” I crunched while nodding in agreement.” I pondered Jesus’ words. Here I was. Two boys and one girl. We sat together five rows back.” I suggested while squeezing his hand. a dirty word. Cole continued. “If you lose your life for my sake. An agency who didn’t give two hoots about me. a good man I was planning on fully manipulating to get what I needed for the FBI to make arrests. I stuffed my mouth with more wavy salty potato chips. He continued. said Jesus. you will find life. He and Principal Tanner are good friends. This and other random thoughts ran through my mind as I walked arm and arm into Westside Methodist with Cole. he comes to most of the basketball games. waved politely and sat on the second row with his wife and three kids. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world only to lose his soul?” I listened intently to the Pastor’s speech. “I really appreciate you coming with me this morning. I pounced. “Hopefully this won’t be the last time. Church Bells Compliance.“Yeah. I had lost my life to the FBI.” Cole purred in my already slightly sensitive ears. Yes. I felt Cole squeeze 272 . but not until after a smile and brief wave to Principal Tanner.” Cole informed me while biting into his roast beef sandwhich. Like a cat hunting it’s prey.

and I know that was a long time ago. I took my time getting up and heading out. a modest blue four door Toyota. how are you today?” Principal Tanner asked while introducing his pretty wife and three teenage children.my hand. “I know you and I had a short fling in high school. “Alex. Was telling lies and hurting the innocent worth catching the bad guys? And just how bad where these men anyway? How was gambling and embezzling money from the already wealthy hurting anyone? Because it’s breaking the law Sarah! Remember what FBI stands for…. bravery and integrity. only to have you run off. would you two like to join us for lunch? We always go to Brianna’s Lobster and Seafood Grill after church.” When Cole and I were back in his car. very well. Ralston. After the benediction. but I can’t handle getting involved with you again. “We will meet you there. he spoke. “I see that. “Ms. He nodded.fidelity. he sat silently before turning on the engine.” Principal Tanner laughed. right Cole?” I batted my eyelashes unabashedly at my escort. Cole.” he sighed looking over at me with his big baby blues marked by hope. I suspected he was getting up the nerve for a “Where is this going?” speech. Cole beamed and looked at me.” I sat silently listening to Cole’s soulful plea while a loud debate bullied it’s way through the halls of my mind: Don’t lead this man on… 273 . “We would love to. I could tell he was excited and hopeful about the possibility of us having a future together. I purposely went out of my way to ensure a run in with Principal Tanner. refusing to hide his delight. and before I could gather a plausible rebuttal to stall for time. “Very well sir.

I sat in the loveseat 274 . I leaned over and gave him a soft. and not quite sure what to do. not to a possible suspect. to the love song on the radio.” Jack greeted me warmly with Christopher and Lauren sitting next to him on the couch. it was Sunday and I missed my own family… “Oh good! You’re finally home. I was now quite used to the unbelievable. Cole continued to pour out his heart. I allowed the FBI to win this one. Charlie. What kind of cold-hearted monster are you? Cole trusts you! You’re loyalty is misplaced.” We continued chatting amongst ourselves as I closely observed Charlie’s family. and out of tune. yet lingering kiss on the lips. Tanner. “Call me Charles please. He waited for my answer. I’m divorced. I sat back in my seat and put on my seatbelt. but closed mouth.No Sarah! It’s your job to lead this man on and get information…. It was hard to believe that he could be wrapped up in such a large scam. Brianna’s Lobster and Seafood Grill “This is the best lobster in town.” I mimicked a blush. Stuck. and you sweep back into my life like a whirlwind. He smiled. He started the car and we drove to the restaurant while I listened to Cole sing joyfully. I’m a broken man. He breathed in deeply as if he were breathing in a cleansing peace. Of course. your heart belongs to the FBI and your family. The truth was. “Alex. Mr. Afterwards. restoration…and possibly the miracle that I’ve been waiting for. like those close to me do.” I proclaimed proudly after ingesting the crustacean. And of all things. or better yet. lonely. I was able to dodge spending time with Cole. They seemed like your typical American family. you have turned your life over to God…which makes me believe that God’s hand could be in this…you know like redemption. by letting him know I had homework to grade and a syllabus to update. “Thank you…Charlie.” Then silence.

” “We’re just happy to have you home. Unfortunately. looking around. “I’m sorry I’m so late. “What?” I gasped. I’ve screwed up again. meet me for lunch. “Yeah. I had fully planned on avoiding Cole today.” My loving husband responded. I need you to tell me what to do…how to get out of this. The truth was. Suddenly I heard someone at the door. but it wasn’t from me. For my Alex. but no such luck. but. I don’t want to hurt this man Lord. The sudden understanding of who it was rendered me almost speechless. but…God I can’t!” I stuttered. I ask and pray this in your son Jesus’ name. I bowed my head. I quickly hid the offending flowers under my desk before the first class bell rang. We’re supposed to go to the zoo today remember?” Lauren quickly reminded me. Roses are Red Monday came way too quickly and I was surreally back in school pretending I knew how to teach English. “Who said that?” Tell him the truth. When the voice spoke again. Tell him. I wanted to put Cole and Principal Tanner far. He’s a good person. Your Cole.” I leaned back in my chair and looked up at the old white peeling paint on the ceiling. Hopefully this job will be over soon. “But.next to them and pulled off my shoes. I realized it was coming from my heart.” I walked to the laundry room and rummaged through the dryer for a pair of jeans trying hard to shake today’s events off. “Just give mommy a few minutes to freshen up and then we can leave. I had never noticed the gummy candy stuck up there before. “God. far behind me. mom. I turned to 275 . a dozen beautiful red roses in a clear vase waved at me from my desk. When I walked into class. I nodded. Scooting close to my desk. that would be easier said than done. I was only about one chapter ahead of the students on assignments. Please tell me what to do. My heart had hit rock bottom and I knew I had to start looking up.

I took a bite. “I’m believing you’re going to have another state championship this year. “Ok.” He reached across the table and took my hand. I.” I grinned while they moaned. “Now I have someone to win this for. “Yes.” They began to take their seats as the bell rang. I breathed an inward sigh of relief. It was actually quite good. but it’s homemade. One graciously asked the embarrassing question. uh. Lunchtime I strolled into the teacher’s lounge half past noon to be greeted by a bright faced Cole who had a tuna fish sandwich waiting for me. Ralston?” I quickly regained my composure. “How’s your day going?” “Well. I have practice every day after school. Was God crazy? I couldn’t tell him the truth! Could 276 . I’m a little out of practice.” “Cole. “Lines to what?” “To the new Shakespearean play we’re going to begin reading. You’re right. “Uh. Why does this keep happening to me? I thought briefly back to what the Lord spoke to my spirit.watch a group of students staring at me. Don’t you think we may be going just a little too fast here?” I said trying to steer him in a different direction. I know it’s not much. It’s basketball season and our first game is Friday. are you ok Ms. He looked hurt. I was just practicing lines. “Sorry.” He continued to munch on his sandwich in silence while I felt like a jerk. hectic.” he confessed apologetically.” He pushed the paper plate decorated by corn chips in front of me.

I had to think of something.” “Do you hate me this much for not marrying you? Is this my punishment? Trying to set me up with Cole so that my marriage with Jack is forever destroyed?” I hissed angrily. He hissed back.” 277 . I called Agent Marks for a meeting after school. “Why did you send me to The Bradley School knowing that Cole was there? Knowing he was single. Agent Marks and I huddled together in a back booth with a medium pepperoni between us. “Yeah. But you’re a big girl. Plus.” I boldly asked.I? I looked at Cole. “Believe me sweetheart. you can handle it. He didn’t deny it. “I need to know why. I’m not the one who made the decision to send you there. I’ve had about all I can take. Pizza Place The New Jersey pizza place was brimming with loud adults and screaming kids. and asking me to pose as a single? You knew what you were doing. but it doesn’t.” I stated in harsh but hushed tones.” He didn’t take the bait. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that he didn’t deserve for me to stomp on it. “I thought you were going to retire. I quickly finished my lunch and excused myself. this is my final case. I knew what I was doing.” I verbally punched him. “Why what?” he replied. “I know you think the entire world revolves around you Sarah.

” He stood up to leave throwing a balled up napkin in the middle of the barely touched pizza.“What’s that supposed to mean?” I bit purposely goading him. Jack’s going to drag the truth out of me and that definitely wouldn’t be good.” I said tossing my jacket haphazardly on the floor while kicking my shoes off hard enough that they slid across the room and into the loveseat. 278 . Then he wrinkled his. * * ********** “Hey baby. long story. Stacy. “What have you been eating?” “Pizza. I need a beer. They want to know what we are doing for Christopher’s birthday. “Wanna talk about it?” “No. “Coming right up.” Jack kissed me on the nose.” “I bet. He frowned. I just need a cold one. “You know what I mean. But if I do that. I glared at him. the sooner you’re off the case.” He whispered hostilely before walking out the door. The sooner you get the information.” I said entirely too quickly. Now get back to work. You’re marital problems are your own business. Jack pretended not to see my small tantrum. “My marriage to Jack is just fine thank you. Pretending they were Chinese stars meant for Agent Marks. Jack handed me the brewsky and I sat back on our plush.” I thought about throwing the coasters sitting on the coffee table.your dad and my mom called. but at this point I didn’t care. Juvenile I know.

“Mommy.” She said snuggling up to me. guess what I learned today in school. Are you busy?” Priscilla Stone and I had remained friends even after her finding out that I was an undercover operative.” I hung up grateful for her understanding.” I asked hoping she could meet. “No. I just can’t. Nice and private where no one could hear. say in twenty minutes? I need to talk to someone. It probably wasn’t. why? What’s up?” She asked. I’m not sure if that was really you or not. and I know you can hear my thoughts…then confirm it to me. She jumped off of me and proceeded to the kitchen.” The words were barely out of her mouth when I shook my head in disbelief. I continued my one sided argument a little more before being interrupted by Lauren jumping on my lap. “Can you meet me for coffee. yet seriously needing new upholstery beige couch. “That if we love someone. “How’s my girl?” I kissed her beautiful cherub face and she giggled. if it was. 279 . breaking my own house rule and sucked on the bottle. I decided to start an argument with God in my head. “Lenny’s Bakery. hey it’s me Sarah. we should tell the truth. “Lenny’s Bakery?” She stated already knowing my answer. “What did you learn?” I asked sincerely grateful for this wonderful gift that God had given me. In fact. I decided to call a friend… “Priscilla.comfortable. I can’t tell Cole. God. I put my feet up on the coffee table. Ok.

Lenny’s Bakery Priscilla looked out of place at Lenny’s. “But…I think that you should tell him the truth…all of it. The fall leaves were in full effect and the nippy air happily bit at our noses and ears. We grabbed our coffee and managed to find a slightly secluded bench outside. It could get him off my tail. I left out very little detail as I told her about my situation with Cole. across the street in front of a laundrymat. She listened intently and refused to speak until I finished.” Priscilla whispered. As usual. After absorbing the information. However. she looked at me with wide humorous eyes. she was inundated by male stares while fidgeting in her seat. “So you’re saying he’s single?” I laughed. and good looking with a steady paycheck.” Priscilla loved to play the angles.” I said heart heavy. Some people have all the luck. Her beautiful mane of red hair forever failed at looking bad and her creamy skin glowed as usual. “And he’s a Christian who now thinks that God sent me his way. I mussed.” She continued. “Well He did. In hushed tones. “Yes. she chose to move to Jersey where she currently works for a small marketing firm. “What?” I had left out the little bitty detail of how I thought the Lord had told me the same thing. Lenny’s was the neighborhood coffee shop and after her liaison with Jeb Darks. which caused an immediate release of anxiety. your single girlfriend here could use an introduction. “That’s not a half bad idea. but just not for that. 280 .” I gasped.” “And he’s a Christian.

” I commented. after school. maybe he can become an informant.” “But he could end up losing it anyway if he is charged as an accomplice. he would lose his career.” She stood up and shook leaves off of her stylish brown suede boots. you’re a wonderful person. which they probably will. 281 .” I said looking around.“If he’s really a good guy like you say. what is it.” I sat next to him in the noisy lunchroom we were supposed to be guarding. we arrived at his small three bedroom house. “Thanks. His ears turned pink.” He asked looking at me curiously. “I know you do Cole.” Priscilla suggested.” Cole’s House After a traffic filled trip to Queens. “Sure Alex. but if things get sticky. “How about my house? And I mean that in the most gentlemanly way. “Tell him the truth. The inside was very neat with an old plaid couch that sagged in the middle and a TV that sat haphazardly on a bookshelf. “I mean somewhere private. “He could.” He asked.” * * ******* “Cole we need to talk.

“I know it’s not much.” “But…but…you ran off and married Armando. “Is this some kind of joke?” “When we first met back in high school.” I smiled encouragingly. “There is something I have to tell you.” He leaned forward. You’re doing what you love to do. “What is this about? Why are you so serious?” he asked concerned.” He sat on the couch and I sat down in the chair next to him.” “I thought they visited on weekends. a top notch basketball team.” “Who is now dead and his entire operation was shut down. thanks to you. I need you to sit down.” He groaned. You have really made something of your life.” 282 . but I need to know that I can completely trust you. “You forgot about the failed marriage and kids who live with their mom. “Cole. but hey. I am so proud of you. you were my assignment. it’s affordable.” “Cole. Something you’re not going to like. “What is this about Alex?” I had brought my FBI badge to show him.He appeared ashamed. You’re making an honest living by running. I laid it on the table and he slowly opened the wallet and gasped.” “Twice a month…and they are great kids.

His face turned several shades of red.” “I’m sorry Cole. I’m going out on a limb here and risking my career to tell you this. “I need to think. “Who are you? And why have you done this to me?” “I was sent to back to The Bradley School to investigate Thomas Bradley and Principal Tanner. err…Sarah or whoever you are. I need to know I can trust you. turned on one foot. “I need to know something. “This…our romance…it’s all been a game. 283 . They may be embezzling money to gamble with. I need you to understand that this is my job. I’m so embarrassed. Please leave.… I need some time to think.” He stood up slowly. I’m such an idiot. I’m compromising our operation right now. Standing on the sidewalk about to jump in my car.” I picked up my wallet and stuffed it in my purse and proceeded to leave. He went back inside and slammed the door. I couldn’t even look him in the eyes. ashamed. “What is it?” He asked the dreaded question. opening it.” I turned around. “Are you married?” I nodded. I’m sorry Alex.” The realization of what I was saying finally hit him. he called out. Forgiven “Are you busy?” bloodshot eyes stared at me from under a baseball cap. and walked to the door. I am telling you all of this Cole because I can’t take the guilt of leading you on anymore.

He nodded.” He scooted closer and leaned in. I’ve lived in this city entirely too long. How can I help?” “Are you willing to cooperate and become an informant?” I asked attentively. at a loss for words. I know you were just doing your job.” 284 .” “Are you willing to tell me what you know and at least pose as my boyfriend?” I asked hoping he would agree. I am extremely sorry…” I stammered. I flashed him a lopsided smile.” I inhaled deeply somewhat relieved he wasn’t ignoring me.“The students won’t be here for another thirty minutes. “Yes. “I’m ok with that. Bradley choose to hang out. Plus. “Forget about it. “I stayed up all night thinking about what you said.” “Again. He waved a hand in the air. a little adventure to spice up my rather mundane life sounds exciting. A scraggly Cole closed the classroom door behind him and pulled a chair up to my desk. I leaned forward to catch what he was saying. “I want to help. “I’m telling you that I’m going to be your date at every basketball game and anywhere else Principal Tanner and Mr. “Could this cost me my job?” He asked reluctantly. “So you’re telling me that you’re going to be my date this Friday night at our first basketball game?” He grinned.” I answered honestly.

I watched carefully as Mr. “I look forward to working with you Ms. He got the hint and stood up holding out his hand. “Thank you. Bradley. So far it hadn’t. I blamed Jack and his fattening fajitas. we want a basket! 2 points!” The cheerleaders screamed. Bradley took us and the team out for burgers.” Friday Night Basketball “Two points a basket and nothing but net! Two points a basket and nothing but net! dribble it. Ralston?” Charlie asked. Cole’s face lit up and he answered Mr.” I answered. Somewhere over the years I had picked up an additional ten pounds. “I think you and Cole make a great team. The Devilrays were winning and they were extremely pleased. I faked a blush. pass it.” I said scooting back.” Afterwards to celebrate the win. I was hoping slurping down tons of water every day would help.” Charlie commented. I shook it. “Can I get you something to drink Ms. but lowered tones. Bradley back in excited. Their blue and silver pom-poms shaking in the sweat filled air. “Where do I sign?” “I’ll arrange a meeting tonight after school with my handler. politely letting him know this meeting was over. I cheered too. “Yes. 285 . Alexandra Ralston.He clapped his hands together. an ice cold water would be nice. Cole’s sly maneuvering brought me a seat next to Principal…I mean…Charlie and Mr. Mr. Bradley whispered something in Cole’s ear.

“I felt so bad about it I didn’t go to church for a month. I turned back to him. Not a lot. the moment was up. “Congratulations. Bradley made a hundred grand off the game. I asked “What was that all about? I saw Mr. he began to spill. “Just tell me. I could tell he was thinking hard.” I said meaning every word. His car pulled up next to mine in the abandoned school parking lot. he’s going to bonus me at the end of the semester. OK. straight into my eyes. Then he looked up at me. who was I to judge after what I had done? 286 .Later. Bradley say something to you.” Cole glowed. But I was behind on my bills and I have child support payments…not to mention alimony…. proud of himself. But of course I kept those thoughts to myself. As far as I was concerned. “We will definitely keep that one under wraps.” I said in admirable tones. I just looked at the window and let him think for a moment. “I bet too. as he drove me back to my own car. “Mr. Then suddenly his face darkened. and on a need to know basis only. Plus. My ugly green Ford the bureau loaned me was perfect for my broke school teacher front. In rushed tones.” I answered trying to keep it light.” He belted out his confession obviously relieved to get it out in the open. Not that I normally drove something much better. He looked down and that same dark look came back. and I bet on my own team…just once…when I knew they were going to win the championship.” I saw tears beginning to form in his eyes. I put my hand on his arm. Agent Marks was on my top ten nasty list. He thought I didn’t know. The disastrous affects of his adulterous affair while he was married was still sending shock waves his way. so I never mentioned it.” “He said that if I kept up the winning streak.” Then he paused for a moment. I’ll keep it between us. If it will get you into trouble.

then so should you. This stays between us. how much do you need?” I asked. Anymore than that and they’ll get suspicious and wonder where I got the money. Let’s also try to do lunch again afterwards with Principal Tanner. I was thinking about maybe telling Mr. Cole perked up. “Anyway.” I hoped I wasn’t sounding pious. “Well. I’m flat out.” I laid out the plan. happy to be going home to my family. guilt gone.” “I’ll talk to Agent Marks. The family was coming over tomorrow and I needed to be ready. Did you ask God to forgive you?” I hated being preachy but I thought it would help. I thought maybe it could buy me trust and I could get some names for you…the FBI has to front the money though. “About a thousand times. I want to see if I can gain his confidence. Bradley I wanted to make another bet. just not on my team. I nodded and left. On the way. Bradley does huge bets.“Don’t worry about it. “Let’s do it!” he said pleased.” “If He forgot about it. I stopped to pick up Christopher’s birthday presents. Mr. 287 . but I think he’ll humor me and accept a three thousand dollar bet.” “I’ll meet you at church on Sunday and give you the money.

” The lady behind the counter smiled weakly and carried the cake to the back for some quick adjustments. some popularity and status was on the line. “I have my friends coming over mom.” I said spreading my hands. and he wanted to make sure everything was right. I know it was a bit unusual to take him to pick up his own cake. they’re gonna think I’m a nerd. Apparently. “I guess you will just have to wait and see. it’s your birthday.Chapter 31 The Birthday Party “Mom! I’m in junior high now!” Christopher exclaimed when I took him to the bakery to pick up his cake.” He looked mortified. “You didn’t get me anything dumb like action figures or coloring books did you?” I decided to toy with him. he was only about an inch or two shorter. “I thought you would like the football decorations.” Christopher stated boldly as he crossed his arms and waited for me to cave in. exasperated and looking for forgiveness. but he wanted to be involved in planning this time. He acted as if his world could come crashing down over some plastic footballs stuck in his birthday cake. Any other day and I would have had to do my best not to smile. “Fine. “What did you get me mom? Please don’t embarrass me!” 288 . Then Christopher looked at me squarely in the eyes.

” Birthday Party Stacy and her brood ran around the back yard squirting the water guns we passed out. I thought the adults were having a better time than the kids. “So no toys?” The baker brought back the redone cake and Christopher nodded his approval. I sat back comfortably in my chair and sucked on lemonade grateful to have my family together. Watching my family run around screaming. I hear you’ve been dating someone.” look. Thank you God…I really appreciate your blessings. Jack howled with laughter as he nailed Stacy’s husband square on the head. “Calm down.” I probed. she plays golf. He blushed. 289 . “Does she go to church?” “That’s where I met her.” He said giving me the “I don’t want to talk about my love life with you.” My concerned daughter side kicked in.” He looked relieved. “You would like her. I mumbled under my breath. I got you a pair of those expensive jeans you wanted. “Good. I sat nice and dry next to my father on the back porch. that may be a different story. wet and completely happy filled my heart with a satisfaction I knew could only come from God above. “How have you been?” asked Bill. “I didn’t get you any toys…but dad.I laughed. I took a cheap shot.

” Agent Marks groaned. I don’t want to go to Costa Rica…this could take all summer. “Wouldn’t be the first time. Cole lost his bet.” 290 .” He looked at Cole.” Stars shined in Agent Marks eyes. hoping it would win some sympathy with Mr. and finally I got one… “I was offered a summer job as a bookie…as long as it didn’t interfere with basketball season. Bradley who set it up. you should fake an engagement just to be on the safe side. “I have family. This group pays roughly two hundred and fifty dollars a day. He was really getting into his role. He had been working diligently and had finally found a way in.********* A few more weeks passed and I knew I was earning Mr. “Can you get Sarah on too? Since she’s your girlfriend. “So this bust could be larger than just Bradley… we could get hundreds more. Bradley’s and Principal Tanner’s trust. I could tell that no one was the wiser. I had begun to pray for a break in the case. they would expect that…in fact.” I cut in.” Cole said proudly. I continued to attend the games and church while pretending to be the naïve girlfriend who went along with everything. They book large bets for rich men all over America. Agent Marks harrumphed.” I quickly interjected. Different tattered shiny yellow and orange booth. “We would have to work with the CIA. We were meeting in the same noisy pizza joint as before. “Where is it?” “Costa Rica. purposefully.

“Yeah right. I’m so glad you came!” I exclaimed gathering him in a friendly hug. “Either Jack comes with me.” Agent Marks angrily reminded me. I’m asking this as a favor.” Our doorbell squealed. “Please don’t do this to me. “We’ll see. Sarah. “Brrrring. I invited him over to meet Jack and my children. I went for it. Thanksgiving day came and since Cole’s children were with their mother and soon to be step dad. “Welcome. he’s lucky he’s not in jail after that stunt he pulled. I also invited Priscilla sincerely hoping there would be sparks between her and Cole. I walked to the door only to see a very nervous Cole holding what looked to be at one time a beautiful bouquet of flowers.” Agent Marks gloated.” Thanksgiving Day Cole and I were patiently determined to gather as much information as we could before the school year ended.” “Can Jack come?” I asked daringly. Priscilla and Stacy had arrived early and we were still waiting on my father. “You should have thought of that before you joined the FBI. “You can get Jack a job at a restraunt that the bookies hang out at or something.” “How are you going to pull off Jack going with you when you are supposed to be engaged to Cole?” Agent Marks spit.” I leaned forward.Agent Marks glared. or I’m not going. 291 .

“Yes. Three hours later. They wanted me for it since I already 292 . If he thinks I’m not being careful. I walked him past the living room to the kitchen while pointing out Christopher and Lauren. “I’m surprised you are able to come home at night.” I said already knowing that Agent Marks kept very close tabs. I noticed Cole was staring at you during dinner. if I came out of early retirement to take this case.” Priscilla beamed looking at me. “Well.” Stacy was never one to resist a little teasing. “Hey!” I said announcing myself to the group.” Priscilla teased. when are you going to set us up on a double date?” “Got any plans for New Year’s?” I let my wheels turn. “So Priscilla.” Cole shook everyone’s hand and Priscilla shot me a “you’re right. “I know Cole has his kids for Christmas. We have to stay away from New York though. hanging out with you. “This is Cole. I was hoping he felt the same way about her. he’ll make me stay in an apartment in the city. but I’m thinking New Year’s Eve would be good. “So Sarah. that’s the deal I worked out with the bureau.” “We can order in Chinese for all I care. he is hot” look.” Stacy commented.“Thanks!” Cole walked in. “Really? I hope so. “We might have to…I don’t want Agent Marks forbidding me to come home at night. the men were happily joking around in the living room while us girls talked shop and cleaned the kitchen. looking quickly around at my children chasing their cousins.” She replied.

The Devilrays had again won the State Championship and Mr.” Cole winked at me. He had promised to introduce her on Christmas Eve.” Priscilla chimed in.no funny business…. Cole could do no wrong in his eyes. I’m warning you….” Bill stood at the door grinning. but I’m with Stacy. School’s out “Are you guys ready to leave?” Agent Marks asked. We can leave the kids with them. “I don’t know. As far as The Bradley School staff was concerned. 293 . let’s get out of here and go do something.had an established relationship with the school and Cole. “I’ve been ready. Cole and I were a happily engaged couple. It was the end of May and we had one week of school left.if this assignment is compromised in anyway…” Agent Marks chided while shaking his head in disbelief that he was actually allowing Jack to fill in. He was more than happy to have Cole and I working this summer in Costa Rica. “I got Jack a bartending job at La Bella Resort where you two will be staying. “Hey ladies. can you bring your men some cold drinks? The game’s about to start. But only temporarily and only this summer. Stacy groaned. that Thanksgiving was the last one I would spend with Jack. Bradley was on cloud nine.” I explained careful not to indulge too much information.” Little did I know. “So do you think any malls are open? We’re going to be stuck here for at least three more hours. He looked great which I suspected was because of the new lady in his life.

” He looked at me endearingly. I hope he likes it… 294 .I held up my hands.” Agent Marks reminded us as if he thought we might forget we were working a case and not on vacation. Jack and I’s anniversary was tonight and he was cooking. “I expect all of you to be on your best behavior and bring me everything I need to put these crooks behind bars for a very long time.” I waved goodbye and sped off towards home. We will have this wrapped up before the summer ends.” I was truly grateful. Cole and I stood up five minutes later from our usual squeaky vinyl booth and walked arm and arm out the door. All the romance had been absent for quite a while now from his eyes. He gave me the standard public kiss on the cheek that he had been giving me for the past several months. I knew Agent Marks had to pull quite a few strings for Jack to come. “Yes sir! I’m very thankful that you did this. especially after New Year’s Eve had gone so well between him and Priscilla. “Thank you again for including me in this Alex. see you tomorrow. “Good Luck” Agent Marks stood up and waded through the pile of pizza throwing kids. “You’re welcome. Warm thoughts of my husband flooded my soul as I looked lovingly at the gift wrapped book I had sitting next to me.

two college roommates Russell and Pete. We had driven over two hours away from San Jose where we were staying. Jack thought bartending was fun…and our gambling gang. I was a little terrified of the tamales…but I left out that detail to Marcos. but we managed.Chapter 32 The Costa Rica Case (Operation Hot Tropics) Part 2 of Life #6 “Hey! Touchdown!” Carlos yelled throwing his arms above his head mimicking a football goal. I don’t know how we found the tiny wood restaurant. Christopher and Lauren were safe at grandpa’s and I was hoping to crack this case and go home… Hot Tropics “Here is a list of names we have so far. who were referred to as “The Newlyweds” were nightly guests at Jack’s bar. which consisted of Xavier (the owner). Cole and I were put up in a nice size hotel room…in which Cole was a permanent guest on the couch…by our new bookie boss. 295 .” Cole slid the list across the table to our handler. Carlos (the manager). hidden in forest. Marcos something or other. Cole and I yelled along while the Dallas Cowboy’s running back did a victory dance in the end zone. and were meeting over margaritas and tamales. and of course Cole and I. It had been three hot and steamy weeks in the tropics and I was feeling every sweat bead.

“That too. Pretty arrogant if you asked me. were guilty of gambling.” He shrugged. along with some other big names. I missed my husband.” *************** “You know you shouldn’t be down here!” Jack pulled me into the back by the freezer looking around quickly. “If Marcos catches us…he could sent me back to the States.“So are we finished?” I asked hoping this would seal the deal. “Yeah. Bradley. “You mean it makes you look good come promotion time.” Jack answered catching his breath. “Sarah you can’t do this. “Give us two more weeks to wrap this up…we want to see if we can capture anymore big fish. My stomach turned. if Xavier or Carlos…” I kissed back.” 296 .m. I needed to feel his warm arms around me. and the bar had finally closed. Principal Tanner.” I said meaning every word. but I miss you…” I cooed. They already had hours of tapped phone material proving Mr. It was three a. “I don’t care right now. We want the people to see their tax dollars at work don’t we?” Marcos cackled. I was surprised how many coaches were betting on their own teams. He kissed me tenderly. “They would just think I was cheating on Cole.

“Half a million in ten minutes! Dinner is on the house!” “That’s quite a record boss!” Russell commented.” * * ************ “Whooo hoooo!” Xavier yelled at the top of his lungs. “Do you want to cheat on Cole?” I started to unbutton his shirt. Sure enough. I wondered if the government was going to show the American people this. America’s vice president had been enlisting Xavier’s shady company for at least five years. Carlos shot him a “you’d better shut up look” but Xavier was ready to revel in his victory. “Alright Xavier…where are you taking us for dinner?” Suzy Q 297 . admiration mixed with greed visible in his eyes. or bury it like they usually did with our higher up’s indiscretions. “You bet. “That’s what I’m talking about!” Carlos hi-fived Xavier while Cole and I bombarded Xavier with praises. Cole trotting behind me. “The vice president of the United States!” I gasped. “Who didya get that off of?” Pete asked. “No way! I don’t believe it!” Xavier smiled widely showing off his caps. “Go look at that green file sitting in the middle of my desk.He raised an eyebrow.” I did what I was told. I closed the file. whistling when I opened the file.

An hour or so later. What the others didn’t know. 298 . well at least according to Carlos. I made it easy on him and always ordered frozen margaritas or coladas.” Weird right? I thought so too. who Xavier nicknamed “Suzy Q” asked us if we needed anything. An American born Caucasian waitress. “First rounds on me” gloated Xavier.” Xavier was indeed relentless in his pursuit and I was sincerely hoping she would say yes so I could begin eating the tasty steak sitting in front of me. “I’ll meet you there after my shift darling. was that Jack would always serve me virgin drinks. we chatted happily about business in code language. “I need you. sultry tone. “Yeah. I think this is how he was paying for it.” Russell said. that steer we call President is a sucker for loose women. I guess he had never heard of a scholarship or school loan. Bets were called “loose women” and customers were called “Steers.” Suzy Q sashayed off and we dug into our delicious dinner. you need a new line. “Where you going?” Suzy Q asked.” “Join us for drinks afterwards. Suzy Q rolled her eyes.” Xavier stated in what I guess he thought was a sexy.Sitting in San Jose’s finest steakhouse. “You say that every time you come in here. we were sitting comfortably at Jack’s bar. Too bad. “La Bella” Xavier grinned like he had hooked a ten foot fish. but everyone else thought it was hilarious. I knew his college career at Dartmouth would be over in a few weeks.

“I think I’m going to…Oh!” She doubled over and then looked at me with pleading eyes. will you come with me?” I slid off the barstool and she held on to me while hobbling to the bathroom. “Sarah. I’m Agent Sheila Hughes with the CIA. An excited Xavier smiled and nodded. The stale smelling room was small. “Are you Ok?” Suzy Q looked at me. Cole followed my gaze and then quickly looked back at me raising an eyebrow. “If you smell trouble.” Suzy Q then produced a wiretap from out of her tacky white sequined purse. Suzy Q arrived about twenty minutes later and strut her stuff on the dance floor with Xavier. Marcos is here because we have reason to believe that Carlos and Xavier are on to you. Out of the corner of my eye. “Because I don’t want anyone interrupting us while I’m taping this on you. still she seemed to know what she was doing as she assessed the situation. A concerned Xavier touched her cheek. What is he doing here? I wondered. code word is Christmas shopping. I caught our handler. We 299 .” Pete threw in.” “What the…” I gasped. “Oooh…I think I had too much tequila. then turned around.“All the rounds are on you tonight Xavier.” Suzy Q clutched her stomach. Once inside she looked under the two bathroom stalls. I shrugged my shoulders. Our silent conversation was interrupted by an inebriated Suzy Q. and locked the door. sitting by himself at a back corner table. “Alex. Marcos. Something wasn’t right. Jack served up the drinks and the night began. “Why are you locking the door?” I asked with my guard up. Cole and I sat sipping our drinks and pretending to be in love.

A very sweaty and drunk Xavier pushed the door open and walked into the bathroom. I held up my hands. and cracked it open. Then Xavier saw what he was looking for as the wire spilled out. “I brought you a cold glass of water and an aspirin!” Xavier sounded desperate. we should be out soon. hadn’t he any respect for female territory? “Is she alright?” Worry lines creased Xavier’s face. and he wasn’t budging. Behind Xavier I watched a women start to walk through the bathroom door and then cover her mouth and run.” Xavier said in a mean tone. “She’s fine. his body tensed. saw the gun Still faking being drunk she shouted “Xavier! Put that away! Are you crazy?” “Open your purse Suzy and dump out the contents. “What…what are you doing?” Agent Hughes turned around. I backed away towards the stall. 300 .” Xavier barked. I walked over to the door. “I don’t know about that. Suzy stuffed the wire back in her purse and ran into the stall kneeling on the ground with her head over the toilet. Before I could respond. unlocked it. a gun was pointed in my face. I took the water and aspirin from him as I tried to shoo him out the door.” I reassured him. What was with this guy. “Yes! I’ll be out in a minute!” Agent Hughes yelled muffling her voice as if she was tipsy. Xavier couldn’t have cared less. He waited as Suzy dumped out her purse. After she was in position. All of a sudden. “Suzy! Suzy! Are you alright in there?” Xavier’s voice called out.overheard a conversation on their phone…” She was interrupted by a banging on the door.

Xavier growled in an even tone. “Ok.” I called out. things seemed to slow down. I looked over at Agent Hughes. Who hired him anyway? Xavier looked at me shocked. while I was closer to the sink and mirror beside her.” “Put down your gun. “Shoot me. we already have Carlos and the others. Her back was to an open stall. “Alex. It seemed I was listening to him from somewhere else. you guys win.” Jack demanded.” Xavier bartered. Xavier was in front of us. and Suzy dies. This room was only big enough for a couple of stalls and a sink.” He smirked. but I need you to get against the wall and keep your hands up. sorry about this. are you alright in there? Who’s in there with you?” “Suzy Q the waitress. Xavier was the next to speak. right now. Xavier laughed wickedly. now put down the gun. Marcos called out. angry that Marcos stupidly spoke my name.” I did what he said. almost like I was numb. I’ll put down the gun…just back away…” I could see the sweat on his face as he 301 .” “Is that the bartender? Who are you? I can pay you quadruple what you’re making here bartender. “Put down the gun Xavier. there were too many people for this small of a space. “Not going to happen. with Marcos right behind him.” Marcos was standing behind Xavier with his gun pointed at the back of his head. In that moment. “So you too? That means Cole…” We heard another gun click and Jack’s voice. Just shoot the man next to you. Jack was just behind Marcos. “Stand up Suzy. “Sarah. Ok. Without flinching.

I moved around to hold Jack as I sat on the floor. It was too late. I wouldn’t find a bulletproof vest. checking his vitals. I just sat there. I got past my shock and ripped open his shirt hoping. giving me privacy. blood everywhere. It was a sick. and slowly sat back. He had been shot in the chest. revolting movement I had never felt before. gun still in position. rocking him back and forth. No. and then I saw the back of Jack’s head as it slid off Marcos’ body and lay against the ground. Marcos was kneeling just past Xavier. He ran out the door. I rolled Jack onto his back. “Jack!” I screamed as I ran to him. Xavier began to fall over from his kneeling position.started to turn around. Then something hit him from behind. back and forth… 302 . I heard myself shriek. holding him. Then he twitched. then another. then he just crumpled to the ground. I just held him and sobbed. I took my hands off him. about three inches apart in the middle of his chest.… not again…it seemed like some horrible repeat. no. begging God for a miracle. “Get help!” I yelled at Marcos. but knowing. I had already been through this once. lifeless on the cold floor. Then I saw his face grimace as he then spun faster on one foot while simultaneously dropping. Back to Jack. Two holes. looking for anything. no. The love of my life lay there. Shots fired. Still in slow motion. and then left. Marcos stood up and backed away. My hands moved over his body. Agent Hughes checked Xavier to make sure he was dead. Marcos looked over his left shoulder. “NOOOOO!” I yelled as I sprawled myself over his body. She knew Jack was gone.

. 303 ..Part 7 Life # 7 The Final Chapter.

I had heard plenty of testimonies of God’s direct intervention where lives were spared. This was our last session. I wondered if Sally was smart enough to figure out it was fake.” 304 . I mean. It had taken me almost a year to warm up to her. “You have a bright future ahead of you Sarah. I know that this isn’t God’s fault. but now she was the closest thing I had to a best friend. I still was furious at God and wanted to know why he let Jack die. I nodded. and wallowing in the past will prevent you from fully enjoying watching your children grow up.Chapter 33 Operation Broken Heart Two years later… “And you have dealt with the fact that none of this is your fault. “Yes. “Yes. Was He just too busy that night to spare Jack’s life? I plastered a phony grin on my face.” Sally said keeping her still green eyes focused on mine. none of this was my fault. I knew what I was supposed to say.” Sally my government assigned therapist asked gingerly.” I lied.” “And you forgive God and have put this entire incident behind you. well at least as far as I was concerned.

It was barely noon and Christopher and Lauren were still in school. He stood up ready for a face off. “Aren’t you buying a house in the mountains or something? Thought you hated Jersey. “I know” I said in an almost whisper. Agent Marks was sitting in my living room. Just a few more minutes.” After Jack’s death. we both had retired. Agent Brady Marks “What are you doing here?” I bit out accusingly. you can do this. “How’s Sally?” he asked sincerely concerned. “I understand.I wanted to act like a mad dog and bite her head off.” “You know you are welcome to come back anytime right?” Her soft eyes didn’t waver. “What is wrong with you Sarah? When are you going to get over what happened? Are you going to take out your bitterness and resentment on everyone forever? Are you trying to push me away? I’m still alive Sarah! Your children are still alive! Quit punishing everyone!” 305 . but I didn’t. he had gone out of his way to try to help me get back on my feet. For the past two years. then resolve crossed his face. Hurt. “I have a key…remember?” Agent Marks tried to retain a happy face. “What do you care? Why do you keep skulking around here?” I didn’t care who I treated like dirt.

“I love you. Christopher and Lauren stood staring at me. puffy and purple faced.” A small still voice in my heart answered back. neither can anyone else. but I’ve had enough. Then I heard it again. they called me worried. I was positive my face was swollen with a rug indention in it.” I hadn’t cried since Jack’s funeral…the new tears cleansed my broken heart. heal me…please just heal me…take away my misery! “Mommy! Mommy!” I heard Lauren’s voice and I opened my eyes. praying God.“I hate my life! I hate myself and I hate you! Get out!” I ranted. “I can’t take this anymore Sarah.” “I…I must have fallen asleep.” Then he walked past me and out the door. I felt somewhat peaceful. I sobbed. Agent Marks came into view. I sat up and rubbed my right eye.” I then fell to my knees crying. “Are you ok Sarah?” As my eyes focused. I looked up at the ceiling and shook my fist. “When you didn’t come pick Christopher and Lauren up after school…or answer the phone. 306 . Strangely enough. Through the eye glaze I saw three figures.” I picked myself up off the living room floor. A tear streamed down Agent Mark’s face. The tall one bent down and peered at me. I’ve tried every way I know how to be a friend and walk you through this. “I hate you God…I hate you for doing this to me. Agent Marks gave a brief explanation. Your refusal to heal is hurting everyone around you. “How can you say that? How can you say that you love me? Why didn’t you protect Jack? Were you punishing me for bringing him? Was it my fault?” I wailed. “I love you.

” Christopher informed Brady Marks. “I’m ready to let go. I’ve had Christopher and Lauren out of church for way too long now.” Agent Marks asked respectfully. I don’t know what I was thinking…Jack and I worked hard to raise them right. “I’ll take a double patty with extra cheese.“Christopher. for my kids…my family…you. “I’m sorry…I’m sorry for the way I’ve been treating you…” I blubbered.” But I cut him off before he could finish. Shortly afterwords. He started to say “That’s ok. “How are you feeling?” Agent Marks asked timidly. I was revived by greasy fries and a soda. We sat outside the fast food burger chain watching the people walk in and out. do you mind if I come with you Sunday?” he sheepishly asked. “We won’t be gone long…I promise.” “What about God?” He asked almost scared of my reaction. “Yeah. Who could blame him? My entire family had been enduring my violent mood swings. “Him too. I was too embarrassed to refuse anyway. I can’t believe I fell asleep and left my kids at school! I felt a healthy dose of humility and gratefulness towards Agent Marks. I needed to get this off my chest. 307 . would you mind watching your sister while I take your mom out for a burger? I promise to bring you guys something back.” “So. I’m ready to get my act together…for myself.” Lauren insisted.” Agent Marks herded me out the door and into his car before I could object. I want a vanilla shake with cookies in it.

“Do you mind if I take you out to dinner tomorrow night? Just me and you?” I was slightly taken aback. I looked long and hard at Agent Brady Marks…who was just Brady Marks now.“Not at all.” I said surprised he even thought he needed to ask. “Are you going to take me to the movies afterwards?” Joy returned to his face. “Anything you want to see. I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it before…I was so wrapped up in my pain and myself and everything else that pertained to me that…I gave him a warm smile. “Sorry…I thought since we were on a roll…” For the first time in a long time. “Like what…a date?” He looked like a whipped puppy.” 308 .

“Yeah! That’s my brother!” Lauren jumped up and down snapping pictures. and I am so proud of you!” I held tightly to my firstborn. “I’m going to be a secret agent just like my dad. She still had a few more years to go. He stuck out his chin proudly. “Good job Sarah!” “Thank you! I did do a good job didn’t I?” I said laughingly while Stacy nodded her head in agreement. My father slapped me on the back. My son walked dutifully on stage to receive his diploma. Brady Marks held my hand. our matching wedding bands shining brightly in the sun. “Put it in God’s hands. I couldn’t believe my son was graduating High School.” 309 . “Have you decided yet what you are going to do with the rest of your life?” Brady teased him.Epilogue “Christopher Lee Jackson” The principal called out. “Well I did it!” “Yes you did. hats flew in the air and my son walked over to us. After another grueling hour in the sun. Brady leaned over and whispered in my ear.” Brady squeezed my hand knowingly while a lump formed in my throat.

Scanlon.(Secrets of an Undercover Agent is copywritten by Bethany K.All Rights Reserved) 310 .

From the same author on Feedbooks: • "Born of the Spirit" (2006) • "Where's My Mate?" (2006) • "Where's my money?" (2007) • "Win Your Battles" (2008) • "Searching for Liberty.Grace and Destiny" (2008) • "Want to find your mate? Bible Study" (2008) • "Fate of the Just: The Missing Manuscript" (2008) • "The Bear Trap" (2008) • "The Prosperity Preacher" (2009) • "New Life" (2009) • "The Spirit of Triumph" (2009) • "Biblical Finances" (2009) • "Recognizing Religion" (2009) • "Addiction to Authority" (2009) • "Silly Women" (2009) • "The Life of a Lie" (2009) • "Secrets of an Undercover Agent #2 "Slated Destiny"" (2009) 311 .

www.feedbooks.com Food for the mind 312 .

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