11 Aug 0945 hrs
A light knock sounds on his door. Looking up Xavier Trout sighs
and says, "Come". His secretary, a large manila envelope
in her hand, enters the room. Smiling, Trout nods and takes the
envelope from her and places it on the corner of his desk.
"Its marked Urgent, Sir," the secretary says
over her shoulder before exiting the room, closing the door behind
Looking closely at the envelope, he notices a small insignia
embossed in the corner. Gently rubbing his thumb across the emblem
a smile of pure pleasure crosses his face.
Quickly he opens the envelope, tilting it downward, a letter
and several gold tipped invitations fall onto his desk. Opening
the letter he begins to read. The smile quickly replaced by a
The letter reads:
I hope you can forgive me for the past, but I desperately need
your help now. I am giving a small party tonight and hope that
you will assist me. I need your best my friend. Enclosed is a
diagram of the embassy; on the second floor in the south wing
is the study marked in the diagram. Concealed in the bookcase
behind the desk is the safe. The computer disc within must be
retrieved at all cost. I will be wearing the Brooch you gave
me a lifetime ago. That is how I can be recognized.
Please dont fail me Xavier. I will explain, I promise...
up one of the invitations, Trout swears softly under his breath.
The address printed on the white vellum paper is 3,000 miles
away in Los Angeles.
Looking at the clock on the wall he quickly punches the intercom
button. "Yes Sir!" his secretary answers.
"Linda," Trout says, "I need to be on a flight
to L.A. as soon as possible. Oh and a car to meet me."
Three minutes later his intercom squawks. "Mr. Trout."
"There is a flight leaving from Dulles in 45mins. Arriving
LAX at 1755."
"Thats perfect, please cancel all my appointments
for the next several days."
Trout grabs his briefcase, placing the envelope with the letter
and invitations inside. From the small closet behind his desk
Trout pulls out his overnight bag. Hurrying out the door he stops
long enough to get the itinerary from his secretary.
"Thank you Linda, I will see you in a couple of days, you
know how to reach me if the need arises."
11 Aug 1830 hrs
Silver Star Hotel
Hermosa Beach, Ca
in a corner booth, at the far end of the room, three men and
a woman sit and sip their drinks. The table is large enough so
that none have to sit with their back to the room.
A slim wiry man, his New York accent very evident, deals, slapping
a card down in front of a beautiful dark haired woman sitting
to his right.
"Margo, the Queen of Hearts."
"Nick." she says, before she laughingly blows him a
kiss. On her left the tall dark haired man quirks an eyebrow
up at their antics.
over the next card on to his own stack, Nick triumphantly says,
"A pair of Aces to the dealer - Ha."
Nick, you know what that means dont you Amigo." Benny
Ray sitting to the dealer's right says in his smooth southern
"Lucky at cards, unlucky in love."
All four break out in laughter, knowing the current state of
Nicks love life - non-existent.
the tallest of the three men, dark haired with piercing blue
eyes and the Owner of the Silver Star, swears suddenly as he
sees a familiar face enter the bar. Seconds later all four of
them groan as an impeccably dressed man walks up to the table.
"Trout," Matt says, a hint of sarcasm evident in his
"I need to talk to you Matt," pausing he looks at all
four of them and says, "I need to talk to all of you."
"What no hush hush, keep us in the dark clandestine meeting,"
drawls Benny Ray.
"Easy Benny Ray," Matt says as he motions for all of
them to move. Standing they all head toward Matts office.
Matt sits down behind the desk, the other three range themselves
around him - almost protectively.
Trout, moving to the front of the desk, places his briefcase
on top. Pulling the envelope out he hands Matt the letter and
"I received these in the mail this morning." Trout
Matt reads the letter and hands it to Benny Ray with a nod of
his head to pass it around. Picking up the invitation Matt asks.
"Who is Amber?" Looking up he stares intently into
Pausing, Trout takes a deep breath before he begins to speak.
Knowing Matt will never agree to help if he doesnt explain.
"Her name is Diana," he pauses, "Diana Amberleigh.
We met about 10 years ago - in Libya. She was a doctor working
with the United Nations. I was very impressed with her; she was
smart, savvy, and very, very intelligent. Besides that, she never
took any crap from anybody."
"Even me." A smile of remembrance crosses his face.
"We became good friends, then one day totally out of the
blue, she very much surprised me by asking if she could come
to work for me."
"I laughed and told her I was just a plain, dull old business
"She laughed right back at me, this sly knowing smile on
"I remember it as if it was yesterday." Trout says
his voice getting husky; "she patted me on the check and
says. "You my dear Xavier are anything but a plain, dull
old businessman. And she walked away."
"She was one of the best. She was proficient in linguistics,
hand-to-hand combat and small arms. She could crack a safe with
the best of them."
was," here Trout pauses, "A very fascinating lady."
"Was?" Margo asks.
Trouts voice cracks as he begins again. "About 5 years
ago she lost her partner, they were inseparable. They worked
together for over three years. It was a mission gone wrong from
the start, they were betrayed by someone very close to them.
They were caught in an explosion and her partner was critically
injured. She brought him home, it took her four days but she
brought him home, alive. He died a week later!"
In the background the small group can hear Benny Ray as he whispers,
"Everyone Comes Home."
Amber spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from her own
wounds. She wouldnt talk about it... she never said one
word, even to me. When she walked out of that hospital I never
heard from her again, until today. "
"Their betrayer was found dead three weeks later, one shot
to the head."
Matts team all stared, none of them had ever seen Trout
this emotional, except for the time when his daughter had been
"What do you want us to do?" Matt asks.
"Help her Matt," Trout begs, " I dont know
how, but youve got to help her."
11 Aug, 2100 hrs
Chilean Ambassadors Residence
black limousine followed closely by a caterer's truck, pulls
into the compound. The wrought iron gates stand wide open, guards
in uniform stand patiently, checking all incoming vehicles for
proper identification and invitations. As they pull up to the
main entrance, Matt and his team can see several guards standing
at attention. Rifles slung over their shoulders.
Looking left and right, Benny Ray says, "There are two more
guards at each end of the building. Surveillance cameras in the
trees and in every corner."
"Damn, I dont like this," swears Matt.
"Nick, hows it going back there?" Matt asks,
speaking into his com link.
"Heading for the service entrance now boss, Ill keep
you up da date on what I see," Nick says.
"Benny Ray this is a big place, I hate to split up but I
dont think we have much choice," Matt says.
"When you get inside go left, scope out the main floor.
Margo you go upstairs and see what kind of firepower we might
be up against. Im going straight down the middle."
"Rob, stay alert," Matt says as he taps the limo driver
on the shoulder.
sir, understood," Rob replies.
"Our first objective is to find our contact, a blonde with
blue eyes, wearing the Amber Moon brooch. Yeah, this is going
to be a walk in the park," Matt grumbles under his breath.
"Were running late people, so let's do this as quickly
as we can." Exiting the car Matt turns back to assist Margo.
His black tuxedo a perfect foil for Margos red silk evening
gown. Benny Ray dressed all in black exits last. Both men present
their elbows and move to escort Margo into the building. Smiling
Margo links her arms with both men as they walk up the stairs.
"Matt," Nick's voice all business, comes in strongly
across the link. "There are two guards on da back entrance,
lightly armed, handguns only. I dont see any movement on
the roof at all."
"Ill have more info as soon as I get inside."
"Were on our way inside now Nick." Matt says.
Inside, the three split, moving to their appointed positions.
Margo goes directly for the stairway leading to the upper level.
Going directly down the main corridor she can see only one man
standing in the hallway. As she moves to pass him he steps out
in front of her.
"Can I help you Miss?" his Latin accent very evident.
directly into his eyes, she says, "I was looking for the
lady's powder room, can you help me?" Lowering her lashes
flirtatiously, she licks her bottom lip.
the man soon stutters the directions to her, "Back down
the hallway and to the left."
with her hand she mimics his directions, turning her body away,
her eyes remain in contact until the last minute, wiggling her
Turning left Margo queries, "Matt?"
"Go Margo." Matt returns.
"One guard stationed outside the room, armed. No surveillance
cameras in the hallway. This place is not heavily guarded, I
get the feeling they dont know were coming."
"Roger Margo, keep your eyes open though, lets not get lax
before the gig is played." Matt states.
"Benny Ray you copy that," Matt asks.
"Roger that boss, one guard, armed, no cameras."
Ray going left enters the main ballroom. Moving around the room
he can see many blonde women but none wearing the brooch. Taking
up a position by the window he sees a tall, very striking, blonde
woman making her way through the ballroom, she stops often to
talk with many of the guests. For some reason Benny Ray cant
seem to take his eyes off of her. The woman is not classically
beautiful, but her face is alive and filled with laughter. A
soft coral colored dress is a perfect compliment to her complexion.
Rising above the noise of the crowd he can hear her voice, lilting
Shaking his head he turns away, scanning the room, hoping to
spot the Amber Moon brooch among the mass of humanity in the
From behind him he suddenly smells a soft hint of lilac, turning
he sees the intriguing blonde standing in front of him.
With laughter in her eyes she says "Its not polite
to stare you know." Here she pauses for effect, seeing the
confusion written on Benny Ray's face, she continues. "Either
I am the most beautiful creature you have ever seen or I have
a smudge of dirt on my nose." Smiling she hands him one
of the two glasses of champagne she is holding.
Taking the glass in his left hand Benny Ray leans toward her,
brushing the tip of her nose with his right thumb saying, "Yes
maam you have a tiny smudge, right here."
Laughing again, she cries, "Caught in a trap of my own making,
and I was so hoping for the first choice."
Holding up the glass of champagne, Benny Ray, a playful smile
on his lips says, "To you maam, the most beautiful
woman I have ever met."
Raising her glass, she touching his lightly, the crystal glasses
chiming in salute.
The world and time seem to stand still as their eyes meet, both
can feel the air around them begin to heat up.
At the front of the room, the band begins to play; the lilting
notes of a waltz fill the room.
"Would you care to dance?" Benny Ray asks.
Breathlessly she answers, "Yes." Taking her glass,
he places their glasses on a passing waiter's tray. Holding out
his right hand to her, beside him she gracefully places her left
hand in his right as they come together. Gathering her close,
they move as one onto the floor. Graceful and elegant they spin
and whirl across the dance floor, lost in the rhythm and magic
the music has evoked.
across the dance floor a tall dark man watches them, his black
eyes blazing with anger. As the dance ends, he turns away.
Benny Ray comes to a stop, still holding her tightly against
him. For several more seconds they stand staring at one another.
Breathlessly she pushes away from him, unsure of what just happened.
"I must return to my guests," she mumbles, gathering
herself she moves quickly away loosing herself in the crowd.
Before he can move to follow her, the device in his ear brings
him back to reality. "Benny Ray, Margo," Matt says,
"Have you spotted our contact?"
Taking a deep breath Benny Ray whispers in return, "No sir."
"No Matt, not yet," says Margo.
"Were running out of time, people, let's hope she
shows up soon. If she doesnt we are on our own."
the ballroom the blonde woman is caught and spun around. Startled
she looks up. The dark eyed man, his voice masking his anger
asks, "Diana are you enjoying yourself?"
"Michael," she cries, trying to pry his hand off her
arm, "Youre hurting me."
"Im sorry my love," he says contritely as he
Holding up his other hand he says, "One of the servants
found this, it is yours isnt it my dear?" In his hand
is a brooch, intricately wrought in gold and amber in the shape
of a quarter moon.
Startled, she looks down toward her right shoulder, shocked to
find the brooch missing. Looking up she takes the brooch from
him, "The clasp must have come loose, thank you so much
for finding it, it means a lot to me." Standing on tiptoe
she places her hand over his heart and a kiss on his lips.
"Thank you Michael."
Grabbing her around the waist he pulls her close, capturing her
lips in a punishing kiss. Taking her lip between his teeth he
bites down hard enough to draw blood.
Slapping his face she pulls away.
"You belong to me Diana, remember that," Michael hisses.
Raising her chin high in the air she replies, "I belong
to no man, Michael, especially you." Wiping the blood from
her lip she deliberately smears it across his white shirt cuff,
and walks away.
Wiping his thumb across the stain, Michael watches as Diana leaves
the room, anger burning in his eyes.
Hurrying to her room, Diana lays the brooch on the corner of
her night table. Hastily she washes the blood from her lip, the
bleeding was slight and had already stopped. Slipping her evening
gown off she throws it across the foot of the bed and changes
into the black leather pants and loose fitting turtleneck laid
out on her dresser. Sitting on the edge of the bed she pulls
the little black leather soft-soled boots on, and ties them tightly.
From the closet she grabs a small black bag and quickly fills
it with her toiletry items and a change of clothes. Taking only
those items most valuable to her, knowing she might never return
to this place.
Reaching down she picks up the Amber brooch and lovingly rubs
her thumb across the smooth stone. Sighing, she pins it at her
throat beneath the cowl of the turtleneck in plain sight. Slinging
the bag over her shoulder she moves to the closet. Opening the
door she deftly turns the knob, revealing a dark passageway within.
The ambassador's residence was riddled with these passageways;
built into the building to assist in escape if it should ever
be necessary. Having spent many hours exploring, Diana knew exactly
where she was going. Her shoes made no sound in the darkness,
only the slight stirring of the dust revealed her passage. Less
than a minute later she stops, putting her ear to the wall, listening
intently for any sound from within the room. Hearing nothing
she presses her thumb against the hidden key, the passageway
door slides open. Closing the door behind her she scans the contents
of the room. The room is dark except for one small light, on
the desktop. Moving across the room she stands beside the door.
Placing her hand on it she scratches lightly with her nails.
Suddenly the door opens, a small beam of light pierces the darkness
and a tall, heavily built man enters the room. From behind the
door, Diana strikes quickly, knocking the man out. Catching him
before he hits the floor, she grumbles under her breath at the
weight of the big man. Closing the door with her foot she drags
his dead weight into the corner of the room, hiding his body
behind a big overstuffed chair, removing the weapon from inside
his jacket. Moving back into the room she heads for the safe.
Without having made contact with Xavier or his people she figured
she was on her own.
boss," Benny Ray says as the three operatives meet back
in the foyer.
"I think its time for plan B." Matt states.
"Benny Ray, Margo you know what to do, Nick?"
"Yeah Matt," Nick replies.
"Watch the back entrance, let us know immediately if things
start to heat up," Matt says. "Ill be right here
if anything should happen."
"Gotcha Matt." Nick replies one more time.
up the stairs, Benny Ray is all business now, his mind running
through the plan that was discussed earlier at the Silver Star.
I thought you said there was a guard up here."
"There was a few minutes ago, maybe he took a trip to the
little boys room."
Pulling the Glock 21 out of its holster, Benny Ray slowly opens
the study door. The room is in total darkness; only the moonlight
shining in the window relieves the total blackness of the room.
Moving into the room toward the desk, Benny Ray quietly closes
the door behind him.
Holstering his weapon he removes the tools from the inside pocket
of his tuxedo. Nearing the desk he turns, seeing a movement in
the shadow beside him. Though he is not quick enough to ward
off the blow to his left temple.
Beside him, Diana grabs hold of his unconscious body and quietly
lowers him to the floor. Reaching up she turns the desk lamp
back on. Shining the light of the lamp onto the still form, she
gasps in surprise.
"Damn," she mumbles, "Damn." Not knowing
exactly who he is but relying on a hunch she tries to wake him.
Several minutes later Benny Ray begins to stir. From her pack
she pulls out a handkerchief, placing it gently against the bloody
gash in his forehead, trying to staunch the flow of blood.
Opening his eyes, Benny Ray is having a hard time focusing. The
first thing he sees is the brooch at her throat. Raising his
right hand, he reaches for it. "Amber Moon..." he murmurs.
Looking up he finally focuses on Diana. "You!" he whispers
"Yes, me," she whispers back.
Taking his left hand she places it over the blood soaked handkerchief
at his brow. "Press tightly," she directs, " We
have to stop the bleeding."
Benny Ray struggles to sit up, waves of dizziness and nausea
wash over him. "Your Trouts, Amber Moon," he
says, twisting around to rest his back against the front of the
desk, the slightest movement causing the darkness to descend
upon him once more. Benny Ray tries desperately to remain focused
on her face, as his body begins to tilt sideways.
"Stay with me," Diana urges, grabbing the front of
his shirt she asks, "What is your name?"
No answer, louder she asks, "What is your name?"
"Benny Ray," he whispers, opening his eyes once more.
"Well, Benny Ray, we seem to have a problem. Somehow we
have to get you out of here before Michael and his goons decide
to come visiting. Do you think you can stand?" she asks.
Ray," a familiar voice whispers in his ear, "Benny
Ray, can you hear me?"
His voice wavers as he answers, "Yes Margo, I hear you."
"Are you okay," she asks, "You dont sound
"I found our contact, shes here with me."
"Have you recovered the disc?" Matt breaks in.
"Do you have the disc?" Benny Ray whispers to Diana.
Pulling the disc out of her pack she briefly shows it to him
before stuffing it into his tuxedo pocket.
"Disc secured Major," Benny Ray says. "We are
on our way out, maybe," he states.
"Benny Ray, there is no way you are going to make it out
through the main entrance looking like this," indicating
the blood stained suit. "We have to go out the south entrance.
Tell your people to take out the two guards, you will meet them
Without hesitation he calls Matt, "I have a slight problem
here major, we will have to go out through the south entrance.
Do what you need to do to clear the path."
"Have to Benny Ray?" Matt asks.
"Yes, sir, but I will explain later. We are running out
"Rob, Nick you copy that," Matt asks.
"Yes sir, moving into position now," states Rob.
"Aye, aye boss man," replies Nick
"I have a feeling, we are going to need a diversion to get
us out of here. Nick you up for this?" Matt asks.
"Diversions are my specialty boss," chuckles Nick,
"Ready and waiting when you are."
"Set it for 2 minutes, then haul your ass out of there Nick.
Rendezvous in 4 minutes south entrance, you copy?" Matt
"Roger, set 2 and run like hell," chuckles Nick.
the study, Benny Ray with Dianas assistance, tries to stand.
Closing his eyes against the dizziness, Benny Ray leans heavily
on Diana for support.
"Come on big guy," she whispers, "Hang in there
for a few more minutes. Then well be free and clear of
this place." Moving toward the bookcase Diana presses the
hidden key that opens the passageway door. Struggling to get
Benny Ray through and propped up against the inside wall, she
closes the door behind them. With the butt of her weapon she
smashes the door key, sealing the door shut. The passageways
are dimly lit, but Diana knows exactly which corridors to follow.
Their progress is slow, and several minutes later from behind
them they can hear the smashing of the study door as it is forced
open. A deep voice echoes throughout the halls.
"Diana, Ill kill you for this, do you hear me."
"In your dreams, you worthless bastard," she whispers
under her breath. Beside her Benny Ray chuckles.
At the same time they can hear an explosion - Nick's diversion.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs they come to the end of the
"Major, do we have clear passage?" Benny Ray asks.
No answer, again Benny Ray asks, "Major?..." as he
hears shots being fired.
"Now Benny Ray, the car is 10 meters to your left as you
exit the door."
"We go now," he whispers to Diana. Opening the passageway
door, Diana, weapon ready, searches the dimly lit hallway. Sighting
nothing she moves toward the exit door. Behind her, a little
unsteady on his feet comes Benny Ray.
"Go," she whispers to him, "Ill cover your
"Youre coming with me Diana," he states as he
reaches for her arm. Stepping out of reach she says, "Go
Benny Ray, you have the disc, that is the most important piece
of this puzzle."
"Please go Benny Ray, I will see you again. I promise!"
Stepping forward she brushes a little butterfly kiss on his cheek
and moves away from the door.
Turning away, Benny Ray reaches inside his coat pocket for the
Glock, dropping the bloody handkerchief on the floor. Steadying
himself against the doorjamb, he takes a deep breath before staggering
out the door. Focusing on the waiting car he stumbles down the
walk like a drunken sailor. Upon reaching the car he drops into
the seat exhausted, closing his eyes. Behind him Margo slides
in and closes the door. Matt jumps in through the opposite door,
closing it behind him and taking the rear-facing seat of the
limo. Nick enters through the front passenger door.
"Wheres the contact Benny Ray?" Matt asks, but
receives no answer.
Beside him Margo turns to look at Benny Ray for the first time,
a hiss of indrawn breath reveals her surprise at the blood streaming
down the side of his face.
"Hes hurt Matt," Margo replies. "Let me
have your handkerchief, quickly." Taking it from Matts
hand she gently places it over the wound.
flutter of his eyelids indicates he is at least partly conscious.
not coming with us," Benny Ray whispers, opening his eyes.
"Go Rob!" Matt yells to the driver. "Nick, get
Rico on the phone." Seconds later Nick hands the phone to
Matt who holds a whispered conversation with Rico on the other
to Benny Ray he asks, "Dizziness, Nausea....?"
"Yes sir," Is his reply.
"How many fingers?" Matt asks holding up two.
Trying hard to focus, Benny Ray smiles a little and says, "About
"Lie him down Margo," Matt says. Taking off his jacket
Matt rolls it up and places it behind Benny Rays head as
a pillow. "Keep him talking Margo," Matt whispers into
"All right Rico, well meet you at the Silver Star
in about 20 minutes."
Margo, sitting on the floor beside him, asks, "How did you
acquire this Benny Ray?"
"Its a long story Margo," he whispers.
"I know you want to go to sleep Benny Ray, but you need
to stay awake and talk to me."
Slowly, he begins to explain his meeting Diana in the study,
leaving out all mention of their first meeting, champagne and
12Aug 0130 hrs
Silver Star Hotel
Hermosa Beach, Ca.
and Trout are waiting just inside the door as the car pulls up
to the side entrance of the bar. Rico and Margo assist Benny
Ray out of the car and upstairs to a room, sitting him down on
the side of the bed.
Pulling the disc out of his breast pocket, Benny Ray hands it
"Margo," Rico says, turning away to pick up his medical
bag, "Lets get him out of those clothes and into bed."
exits the room, Trout and Nick follow.
Deftly, Margo removes his jacket and shirt, reaching down, she
begins to unbuckle his belt.
Benny questions, placing his hand over hers, halting her progress.
"Well it was worth a try," she says, smiling.
Chuckling, a grimace of pain crosses his pale face; Benny Ray
murmurs, "Dont make me laugh Margo, it hurts too much."
"Go ahead outside Margo, Ill take care of the rest."
About 20 minutes later Rico descends down to the basement. As
he reaches the last step all eyes turn to him questioningly
put three stitches in and he has a slight concussion, he should
be back on his feet in a day or so." Rico answers their
silent questions. "We need to wake him up every hour or
so just to make sure though. Ill take the first watch."
for this," Matt says, handing the disc to Margo. "I
think its time we found out what all the fuss was about."
Firing up her computer Margo inserts the disc into the drive.
Frowning she looks up at Matt and says, "Its encrypted.
It may take me a while to break it."
Fifteen minutes later Margo crows in triumph, as the display
on her computer changes revealing the contents of the disc.
"These," she says, pointing to several entries on the
screen, "Are geographic surveys, Matt, and this other document
seems to be some kind of an itinerary. Give me a couple more
seconds and I will try and plot these survey coordinates."
Less than a minute later a map of Chile opens with the survey
areas boldly plotted in red. "Ill do a little more
research Matt and find out what these areas are," Margo
Walking over he places his hand on the keyboard. "Its
2am and right now Margo I think we all need to get a little sleep,
you can finish this up in the morning."
With a slight frown, Margo complies, removing the disc and shutting
down the computer. Taking the disc Matt locks it up in his office
safe. The others slowly disperse to their appointed rooms.
Upstairs, nearly an hour has passed and Rico gently shakes Benny
Ray awake. "How you doing pal, you need anything, Rico asks,
as Benny Rays eyes flicker open.
"Takes a lickin and keeps on tickin," is the quiet
reply. "What time is it?" Benny Ray asks.
3am," is Ricos answer.
"Thanks Amigo, Im glad youre here," Benny
Ray says before he drifts off to sleep.
Ten hours later, Benny wakes up; in the chair beside his bed
Margo sits reading. Looking over she can see that he is awake.
"Good Afternoon," she whispers.
"Afternoon sunshine, what day is it," Benny Ray asks?
"Its Saturday, youve been asleep for nearly
Rising up on his elbows, Benny Ray is surprised to find the dizziness
gone. But the pounding in his head is only one reminder of last
nights encounter. The bandage on his forehead over his
left eye the other. Pulling back the covers, Benny Ray swings
his legs off the bed; each move is slow and methodical, being
very careful not to upset the careful balance in his head.
Standing beside him Margo beings to speak, "No Benny Ray
But he cuts her off indicating his need with a lift of an eyebrow
and a thumb towards the bathroom.
"Oh, she whispers, sorry."
Ten minutes later he emerges fully dressed. His rumpled hair
and pale complexion the only indicators he isnt totally
"Wheres Matt?" Benny Ray asks before she can
"Downstairs an hour ago, with Trout," is Margos
reply, glaring at him as he heads for the door. "Where do
you think you are going?" she asks.
"Im hungry." Is his reply, a sheepish grin on
"Benny Ray," she scolds, "you have practically
been unconscious for 12 hours and the first thing you think about
when you wake up is your stomach."
Winking at her he holds out his hand, "come on Margo,"
he drawls. "Help this feeble old man down the stairs."
basement operation's room is dark and quiet as they descend the
stairs. Margo walks over to the wall searching for the light
Taking several more steps into the room Benny Ray stops, a faint
scent of Lilacs in the air.
Suddenly alert he searches the room. As the lights come on a
feminine figure steps out of the shadows. She is dressed in blue
jeans, with a pink long-sleeved knit crop top. She stands ramrod
straight, her hands clasped in front of her defensively.
"Diana." Benny Ray states?
"Hi, Benny Ray," she replies flustered. "I just
wanted to see you... see how you were I mean."
"Im okay, how did you find us?" he asks.
is her only reply.
"I just wanted to say Im sorry for everything,"
She gestures toward his bandage on his forehead. "I know
the whole thing was my fault, loosing the pin and hitting you
I mean. I should have been more careful." For several seconds
they just stand there staring at one another.
Behind Benny Ray, Margo stands quietly; she can almost feel the
electricity in the air, flying between the two. Seconds later
she clears her throat to get their attention, breaking the spell
they seem to be under.
"Margo?" Benny Ray replies slightly embarrassed.
"Margo Vincent, this is Diana Amberleigh," he pauses,
A welcoming smile on her face, Margo moves forward to greet Diana.
"Hes always been like that, dont mind him."
Margo says. "Im glad to finally meet you, Ive
heard so much about you," Margo smiles, as a blush spreads
across Dianas cheeks. "From Trout," she finishes.
them, coming down the stairs, they can hear Nick babbling away.
Rico, a pained expression on his face follows along with Matt
and finally Xavier Trout.
"Diana," Trout says. Moving across the room he wraps
her in a big hug. I was wondering when you would finally show
"I was a little unsure of my welcome," is her quiet
reply, looking towards Benny Ray, then to the rest of them. Gathering
around, Nick and Rico beg for an introduction.
Benny Ray, standing quietly just outside the circle, feels a
hand on his shoulder and looks around.
hands him a sandwich. Standing on tiptoe she whispers in his
ear, "I like her Benny Ray, I like her a lot."
her an exasperated look, he takes a big vicious bit out of the
Matt, a smile on his face waits for the confusion to die down.
"Were glad youre here," he says. "I
was hoping you would show up to help us with the information
on the disc. Margo has figured out whats on the disc. Now
we just need to know exactly what it means." Pulling the
disc out of his pocket Matt hands it to Margo.
Walking over the computer, Margo accesses the disc, several seconds
later the big TV screen beside the computer shows the contents.
"These are geographic surveys, Margo says pointing to the
screen, and the other document seems to be a travel itinerary."
me see the itinerary first," asks Diana. Quickly scanning
the entries, she describes each entry to the rest of them. "All
of the stops on the itinerary are in Chile. Several are government
sites or facilities. The last one on the list is the Rannoir
Dam. Only the Dam entry seems to have been marked, the date and
time are underlined. Now let me see the survey sites."
Looking them over carefully she cant seem to find any connection.
"I did a little digging earlier," Margo says breaking
in. "And what I found out is that our friend Michael loves
to spend money and his father has recently cut him off. Those
survey sites are prime grounds for oil and mineral deposits.
But several native tribes currently own the land and it is considered
sacred ground not for sale - ever. Let me put them on a map for
Several minutes later a map of Chile is initialized and the sites
Leaning over Benny Ray points to a black spot on the map where
several lakes and rivers intersect, asking "Can you find
out what this is Margo?" Seconds later, the black blob becomes
a picture of a dam - The Rannoir Dam to be exact.
Oh my God, Diana whispers. "Is it possible he plans on flooding
that valley? There are thousand of people living there everything
would be destroyed."
"But why the itinerary?" Matt asks. "What is the
connection between the two"?
"He has to have someone to blame it on," Margo says.
"If some big wig is visiting the Dam, and its blown
up by terrorist, then no one would ever suspect him. He waits
until the water recedes and moves in for the kill."
"I know the Ambassador is touring many of the facilities
next week, surely he wouldnt murder his own father."
my friends," Rico pipes in, "Is one clever, insidious,
"Whats the date on the itinerary, Margo," Trout
"The 18th," she replies, "Thats less than
a week away. "
"Matt, I will be on a plane later this evening," Trout
says. "I will gather as much information as I can. I hope
you plan on taking this mission."
Nodding in affirmation, Matt runs his hand through his hair,
knowing all eyes are trained on him. "We cant let
him get away with slaughtering those people. Someone has to stop
him.." Matts voice drops to a low menacing tone, "And
I want it to be us."
to the left of Margo, Diana can see Benny Rays knuckles
clenched around the back of Margos chair. Glancing up into
his face she sees his eyes are closed. Moving quickly around
behind him she wraps her arms around his chest under his arms
and whispers into his ear, "Let go of the chair Benny Ray
and lean back."
he was obeying the order or instinctively trusted the voice,
he abruptly releases his death grip on the chair. Leaning back,
he falls into her arms, and is gently lowered to the floor.
Diana brushes the back of her hand across his forehead checking
for a fever. His brow is cool and dry, and Diana sighs in relief.
With his head resting in her lap she leans forward and whispers,
"Relax and take a deep breath Benny Ray. Now open your eyes."
Around them the others suddenly realize that Diana and Benny
Ray are no longer standing.
Rico immediately kneels beside her, checking Benny Rays
pulse and respiration.
Opening his eyes slowly Benny Ray looks up to see Dianas
anxious face. "Weve got to quit meeting like this,"
he whispers to her. A gentle restraining hand stays his movement
as he tries to rise. "You just stay put for a few seconds
big guy and catch your breath."
Looking at Rico Diana says, "I think he overexerted himself
a little, we need to get him back into bed."
and Rico slowly lift Benny Ray from Dianas lap and up off
the floor and carry him up to his room. Laying him down on the
bed Matt steps away as Diana moves in.
across at Rico she states, "Lets get him out of these clothes."
reaches for his shoes as Diana reaches for the belt at his waist.
A strong hand stays Dianas movements, as Benny Ray struggles
to sit up. "What is it with my pants," he mumbles.
Rico says, "I wouldnt look a gift horse in the mouth,
if I were you Amigo."
Diana, a puzzled look on her face slides her hand out from under
"I think hes shy," Rico supplies chuckling.
a twinkle in her eye and husky laugh Diana turns her back while
Benny Ray, swaying slightly stands up, he drops his pants to
the floor and slides back under the covers, slowly laying his
pounding head against the pillow.
back Diana can see the pain in his eyes, with a quick, "Ill
be right back," to Rico, she leaves the room.
minutes later she returns. "These will help a little with
the headache," she says. Holding out her left hand she drops
two tablets into Benny Rays outstretched hand and gives
him the cup of water she is holding. Downing the pills quickly,
Benny Ray quietly murmurs, "Thanks," and sinks back
against the pillow.
"Benny Ray you took a pretty hard knock, you need to stay
put for a couple of days," Diana states, looking Benny Ray
straight in the eye. Seeing he was about to protest, Diana stands
up saying, "I mean it Benny Ray, I will tie you down if
I have to."
answer of, "Yes Maam," is accompanied by a mischievous
"Get some rest" Diana mumbles, as she tucks the covers
in around him, and then exits the room.
Moving toward the door Rico says, "Shes right amigo,
stay put this time or I will help her tie you down."
"Thanks Rico," is Benny Rays answes, closing
his eyes as the pills take effect, and the pounding in his head
slowly begins to recede.
12 hours later, Benny Ray wakes to find Diana curled up in the
chair next to his bed. Seeing he is awake, she uncurls from the
chair to stand beside the bed. Putting her hand to his forehead
she can feel the coolness, indication he doesnt have a
fever. "Hi," she whispers," how are you feeling?"
"Better," is his only reply, his eyes locking with
"Can I get you anything?" she asks.
"Yes," he answers, 'Placing both hands around her waist,
he lifts her up, gently laying her down beside him on the bed.
Diana settles herself next to him, laying her head in the hollow
of his shoulder, her arm across his chest. Moving his hand up
beneath her sweater Benny Rays thumb caresses the hollow
of her back. Soon the warmth and contentment lull them both to
Chapter 2: Double Jeopardy