Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chapter 4

         "King!  King, hold up a minute!"  Sarah stopped and turned to see Emily Poke jog down the hallway towards her.  She and Emily had gone through training together what seemed a lifetime ago.  Emily's specialty was different from her's though.  While Sarah excelled in the physical hunt, Emily lead the team in the psychological hunt.  Their joke was Sarah played in caves and dark allies while Emily played with minds.  Psyche stuff that Sarah never fully understood.
          "Whats up?" she asked as the short, blond woman stopped in front of her.
           "When did you get back?"  Emily asked as she hit the down button on the elevator.
            "A week ago.  Just finished my debriefing and paper work."
            "So did you find him with the posters and CD's I said would be there?"  Sarah shook her head.  Emily had pointed her in the direction that ultimately lead to finding her quarry.  Oddly enough, purchases of Brittany Spears CDs and posters of the singer had helped.
            "You were right.  His son has some kind of twisted obsession with that girl.  Can't resist getting her music.  Once I found him it was only a matter of time before he lead me to daddy.  And daddy was pissed!"    The elevator door opened and the two stepped inside.
            "I believe it!"  Emily laughed.  Sarah shook her head.  The hard core terrorists sometimes had the strangest family members.  So much for blocking out the West and all it had to offer.
            "Anyway, I'm getting some time off.  A few weeks."  Sarah said.  Emily looked at her carefully and Sarah had to work to not let a single muscle twitch while her friend analyzed her.
            "That's right.  Your reporter friend found that letter Sharon wrote.  Interesting that."  Sarah looked at Emily, catching a tone of voice she didn't like.
            "Interesting how?"  Emily looked at her as if surprised she had spoken out loud.
            "What?  Oh, well, the obvious I guess."  Sarah waited patiently as the elevator doors opened and the two walked out into the lobby of the building that housed the offices for The Company.  As they walked outside Sarah put a hand on Emily's shoulder and stopped her.
             "Obvious?"  Sarah wanted to grind her teeth at the startled look she was given.  She had forgotten how Emily never seemed to understand people didn't always know what she was thinking.
             "Yes, well, she has been gone for five years.  That note was written two years ago.  I'm just surprised that after three years she wrote something that said she still wanted to be rescued."  Emily continued to walk to the parking lot but Sarah was too stunned to move for a moment, forcing her to run to catch up with the other woman.
              "Why wouldn't she?" demanded Sarah.  Emily fished her keys out of her purse and didn't look at Sarah for a minute.  Then she sighed and looked her strait in the eye.
              "By the time she wrote that letter, most people after three years have accepted their fate and even will form an attachment to the people holding them.  Her letter indicated this hadn't happened.  I'm just surprised by that."  Sarah knew she was staring at Emily with her mouth open but didn't care.
              "Sharon is stronger then that.  She wouldn't give in like that."
              "Sarah, even the most seasoned field agent would be fighting Stockholm Syndrome by now.  And Sharon was just a college student when she was taken.  A smart one, no doubt but she had no training, no knowledge of what to do in a kidnapping situation."  Sarah leaned against Emily's car and looked at the sky as if searching for an answer.  It had never once occurred to her that Sharon would do anything but try to get away or find a way to leave her clues.  That is what she would have done.  Until this moment, she had been so focused in on finding Sharon that she had never let herself think of anything but Sharon trying to get to her.
             Emily looked at her friend sadly.  She was a little surprised Sarah had never thought about this.  In every other respect, Sarah was a top field agent.  But she had a blind spot when it came to Sharon.  She always had ever since they had met.  Reaching up she gave Sarah's shoulder a squeeze.
             "Look, I could be wrong.  You King girls are tough.  Maybe she has more of you in her then meets the eye.  But Sarah, maybe you need to switch how you are thinking about this whole thing.  I heard you might have some faces attached to the names in the note.  Run those guys down, see who they are.  Then maybe, start trying to figure out why they might have taken Sharon and held her for so long."
              Shaking herself Sarah straitened up and gave Emily a small smile.
              "Right, two names we didn't have before.  Assuming they are the same guys.  I'm starting there.  I have their files and am planning a late night looking through them."  Sarah said giving the bag on her shoulder a small shake.  "The FBI did a pretty thorough run down on them.  I'm waiting to see if CIA has anything to add."  Emily nodded and unlocked her car.
              "Feel like going to get some dinner and a drink first?"
               "Thanks but I got a call from Sam this morning and I'm meeting him to go over things over dinner."  Emily looked at her closely and Sarah exhaled a breath of frustration.
               "What now?"  she almost snapped.  Emily pursed her lips and shook her head.
               "Rest some Sarah.  You just spent three months loosing yourself in the mountains and you just got back.  I know you want to find Sharon and I want you to find her too.  But you have to take care of yourself or you won't be any good to her."  Sarah took a deep breath to calm herself and gave Emily a quick hug.
             "Don't worry.  I promise to get some rest.  Just let me dive into this for now.  The General gave me three weeks.  I promise to take some of it to rest."  She stopped when she saw Emily's eyes light up.  She obviously had an idea and for some reason it made Sarah uneasy.
              "Good!  Because I have someone I want you to meet.  How about a blind date?  Only a double blind date.  Come with Harry and I."  Sarah didn't even bother to try to suppress the groan that came up her throat.
              "Oh god, no Emily.  No blind dates!  The last one didn't end well."
              "Please, that was six months ago and I thought you had fun."  Sarah caught herself this time.  She had almost blurted out that the date had been fine until they had run into someone else.  If Emily found out she would have lectured Sarah for another five minutes then force her on another date to make up for never calling the other date back.  It could be very confusing understanding Emily sometimes and even more confusing figuring out how she ended up doing whatever she suggested.  It had to do with the mind games she played with all day for sure.
              "Look, let me get a start on this new information.  I have already made plans with Sam tonight.  Once I find some free time I'll give you a call and me, you and Harry can go get some drinks."  Emily smiled and opened her car door, tossing her purse in.
              "Ok, so, next week it will be me, you, Harry and Robert!"  Emily jumped in her car, slammed the door and started it up as Sarah smacked the window with her hand.
            "No, Emily!  No!"  She watched feeling helpless as her friend drove away laughing.  Sighing, Sarah walked over to her car and found herself wondering how she could hunt down dangerous terrorists without flinching but couldn't get herself out of one of Emily's fix ups!  Throwing her bag into the passenger seat she heard a text message come in on her phone.  Need to meet now.  Can't wait for dinner.  Meet at Lincoln.  It was from Sam.  She felt her pulse quicken and completely forgot about Emily and blind dates.  Jumping in her car she left tire marks as she sped out of the parking lot and into DC.

                                           ***                            ****                        ****

             Sam stood at the base of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and paced back and forth five or six steps.  Every once in a while he would glance up looking for Sarah, then returned to his pacing, studying the ground as he went back and forth.  He didn't like having to disappoint Sarah by backing out of helping her for the next month but he disliked telling her why even more.
              While he didn't know the details, he knew there was some kind of history between Sarah and his new assignment.  Only rumors, things he had over heard during his dealings with The Company.  Nothing concrete but he had a feeling the history wasn't all good.  And he was about to send her back towards someone his instincts told him to keep her away from.  He jumped when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
              "Shit!  Don't scare me like that Sarah!" he exclaimed.
             "Sorry, but I did call your name a couple times as I walked up." she said, concern on her face.  "What's so important?  Did you find something?"  Sam pulled her down to sit on the steps.
            "Kind of.  Maybe.  By accident really." he stammered.
            "Sam, whats wrong?" she asked.  She had never seen him this worked up before.  He scrubbed a hand through his hair.  She noticed it was starting to turn from brown to gray, speckles spotting it here and there.  He looked at her and sighed.
            "I've been given a new assignment that will take me out on the Presidential campaign trail for the next month.  Just until the election."  Sarah blinked.  She was disappointed but she could keep looking even without Sam.  Although he had been her strongest supporter over the years.
             "That's too bad.  I was really hoping you could help me.  When do you leave?"
              "Not for a few more days.  I have to cover the guy while he is here but I'll have some free time here and there before Monday.  I'll help you all I can though.  In fact, I have this to add to the files you have already.  Not sure if it will be in there or not."  He pulled a folded piece of paper with scribbles all over it.  She recognized a picture of Brian Kirland, one of the men suspected, on it.  Next to the picture was a name that made her stop.  Jack Sheffler.
              "What does he have to do with Brian Kirland?" she asked.
              "Well, I was researching Sheffler's past with the CIA and found his name attached to the first arrest of Kirland about eight years ago.  He was suspected of being a part of an Irish terrorist cell.  Sheffler lead the team that broke the cell.  There was no concrete evidence against Kirland so he ended up walking.  He was written off by the DA as a low level lackey with no use."  Sarah stopped reading and looked at Sam.
               "Why were you researching Jack?"  Sam looked at her in surprise.
               "Boy kid, you really have been out of touch!  Jack Sheffler is the Republican nominee for president."
              Sarah immediately forgot about the paper in her hand and looked at Sam in shock.
              "Jack?  I know he was talking about running and something about primaries.  I was out of the country so often I never paid attention.  Last time I saw him he--"  She cut off and shook the memory from her head.  It hadn't been a pleasant meeting.  Looking back at the paper she partially crumpled it, seeing only his name next to the picture.  "What else was there about his arrest of Kirland?"
            "Nothing that I could find.  But my access is pretty limited.  Maybe there is something in your files.  Have you gone through them yet?"
            "No, not yet."
            "And the General hasn't said anything?"  Sarah's head snapped up at that.  The General had given her the two names.  He wouldn't have missed Jack being connected.  And he hadn't said a thing.  He was still playing the protector!  She felt a hand on hers and looked down to see she had completely crumpled the paper and was on the verge of tearing it.  Sam was trying to get her to relax and let go of it before she did.  Taking a breath she opened her hands and Sam pulled the wrinkled paper away from her and started to smooth it.  He didn't want to say anything more but he knew if he didn't, the anger he saw on her face would be directed towards him next.   "Look through the files but if you have to, get in touch with Sheffler.  He is in town doing speeches and rubber chicken dinners until Monday morning.  And he isn't staying at his home.  His whole group is at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill."  Sarah took a deep breath and reached for the paper again, this time handling it gently.
           "Thanks Sam.  You mind if I head home now?  I want to get into these files and I'm not hungry anymore."  Sam stood up and held out a hand to help her up.
          "Yeah, no problem.  I'll be in touch with you before I head out of town."  He watched Sara walk away and hoped he had pointed her in the right direction.

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