Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chapter 1

Sarah King pulled through the large, wraught iron gate and smiled as her headlights flashed across the façade of her home.  The house was dark as she pulled up in front of it.  It had been three months since she had been home.  Three months in the terror filled mountains of Afghanistan.  Working her way from place to place with marines and sometimes alone.  Somehow, in those three months she had grown to love the wild and raw beauty in those mountains.  Sometimes in the morning, as the sun rose, she would watch it work it’s colors across the sharp rocks, making a moment of peace in the middle of the chaos.  Giving her a moment of calm in the middle of her hunt.  That was what she had become, a hunter.  Looking for those that did not want to be found.  She had learned to live in the shadows like them in order to find them.  Sitting in her car she put her head down on the steering wheel and wondered if three months living like that had taken a bigger toll than she had imagined.
With a deep breath and a shake of her head she pulled her keys out of the ignition and got out of the car.  None of the outside lights were on but she could still see the house in her mind.  Three stories, white stone and floor to ceiling windows across the front.  The two wings stretched out to either side with the large, glass doors leading into the main house.  Taking a deep breath she smelled the wet pines from behind the house.  A fresh, clean and cool smell.  She let it fill her for a minute, washing away the dust, rocks and exhaustion of the past three months.
“No place like home.  Or at least so the story goes.”  Giving a start, she turned towards the voice in the dark.  Relaxing she recognized Sam’s voice.  He walked closer and she saw him hunched inside a coat.  “Aren’t you cold?” he asked, reaching out and rubbing one of her bare arms.  She smiled and shrugged.
“Feels good.  How did you know I was home?” she asked, turning towards the house, keys in hand.  Same followed her and smiled.
“The General.”  Sarah gave a small laugh and pushed open the glass door.  Flicking on a light she looked at the grand, front hall.  Marbled floors stretched up to a mahogany grand staircase.
“Be it ever so humble.” She murmured as she made her way through sitting rooms and the library to the kitchen.  Sam followed her, barely noticing the grandur around him.  He had known Sarah for a while now.  The opulence and wealth she had inherited  no longer made him hesitate.  He knew she only kept it for the memories.
In the kitchen he watched as she made a pot of coffee.  The fridge was almost empty, and what was in it didn’t look healthy.  As the smell of coffee wafted through the large kitchen she leaned against a counter and studied him.
“Why is the General letting you know where I am?” she asked.  Her black hair hung down her back in a loose pony tail.  Her pale skin and bright green eyes once more made him wonder what her actual hair color was.  Red?  Blonde?  He noticed her tapping her finger on the counter and brought himself back to the question.
“Ah, yes, well, normally a call to a journalist would not be something he would do.  But, he knew I had some information for you that you would want right away.”  He pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to her.  Opening it, her eyes widened when it got to the end.
“Where did you get this?” she asked, her breath coming faster and harsher as she looked from him to the letter.  Her hands were almost shaking and he made a move to reach out to her but she stepped away.  “I’m serious Sam, where?”
I found it in a house in Boston.  I was doing a story on a murder that happened and I got a chance to look through the house it happened in.  This was stuffed behind some loose paneling in one of the bedrooms.  And before you ask, the murder was gang related and involved a guy.  No, I had the paper analyzed and was told it had been there probably for two years.  But it tells us that at least two years ago she was alive and in Boston.”
Sarah reread the words that had obviously been hastily scribbled.  But the hand writing matched.  For five years she had been hunting.  Longer than she had ever hunted for anyone.  The trail had been cold for three years now.  This note though, it gave her a hope she hadn’t had in three years.
“All the resources of every agency out there and you find this by chance.  It’s frightening that I’m down to chance now in finding her.” She said.  Sam gently laid a hand on her shoulder and this time she didn’t pull away.  Looking up at him, he almost winced at the desperation in her eyes.  “Tell me you know who was living there two years ago.”  The urgency in her voice made him sigh.
“It was abandoned at the time.  But, this was a recent find.  I’m still working my contacts and also the neighbors.  Someone might have seen something.” He said.  He felt her tension slowly start to fade from her body.  She folded the paper and put it in her pocket.  Getting down two mugs she poured the brewed coffee and handed Sam one.
“Once I finish paperwork I’ll have some time off.  Maybe I can help out.” She said.  She wrapped her hands around the warm mug and stared at the contents.
“Sure.  That would be good.  The General figured you would want to.”  Sarah smiled at the mention of The General.
“I can’t believe he is still talking to you.  I thought for sure he would have happily buried you in a deep, dark cell after Iraq.” She laughed.  Sam gave a small laugh that ended in a cough as he tried to swallow.
“Oh, he would have loved nothing more!  But, I managed to wiggle myself out of that.  He finds me helpful now and then to have around.  My circles are different from his and I’ve been able to give…assistance…on a few occasions.”  Sarah looked at Sam in surprise.
“Don’t tell me he recruited you!” she laughed.  The look of consternation on Sam’s face made her laugh harder.
“No.  Nothing like that.  Although I’m sure he probably sees it that way now that you mention it.  I did him one favor to save my hide, now I guess it has become a habit to help him out now and then.  Although, recently, it’s been a little more often.  Damn!  He is a crazy…”  Sarah put her coffee down and leaned against the counter laughing even harder now.
“Oh Sam!” she gasped after a minute, “Welcome to the club.  As unofficial as he is leaving it, you are now a member!”  She reached over and gave his hand a squeeze and tried to surpress her laughter at the look of disgust on his face.  “It’s not so bad, really.  You can kiss any social life goodbye but there are perks.”
“Yeah?  Like what?  That psycho isn’t even paying me for the work I’m doing.”  Sam grumbled.
“Be glad he isn’t.  At least this way he is leaving you a tiny hole for escape.”  Sarah watched Sam come to grips with the fact that like it or not, he was working for The General.  The leader of the most secret intelligence agency out there.  The journalist wasn’t exactly happy, but she could see his brain working, recognizing that maybe, he was doing some good.  Reaching over she gave him a small hug.
“Nice to have you in the family Sam.” She said, “And thanks for this.”  She touched her pocket where the note was.  He shook his head and looked at her.
“Crazy son of a…”he trailed off.  “Yeah well, no problem kid.”  He set the coffee down and shrugged his coat back on.  “I have some things to finish up but I’ll be back around in a week or so.  Might have some direction by then.”  Sarah walked him back to the front door and let him out.  Locking up behind him she headed up the grand staircase and into the East Wing.
Walking in to her bedroom she tossed her keys on her dresser and frowned at the layer of dust they landed in.  She really should have had someone looking after the place when she was gone.  Dismissing the thought she pulled the paper out of her pocket and smoothed it out, rereading the note scribbled on it.
I’m here, I’m alive.  They move me every couple months.  They still won’t tell me why or who they are but the two who are always with me are called Brian and Rick.  European, perfect English.  Help me!  Find me!


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