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Friday, 11 Aug 0945 hrs
Washington D.C.
Trout’s Office

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.

"It’s marked Urgent, Sir," the secretary says over her shoulder before exiting the room, closing the door behind her.

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 worried frown.

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 don’t fail me Xavier. I will explain, I promise...




Picking 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."

"Yes sir."

Three minutes later his intercom squawks. "Mr. Trout."

"Yes, Linda."

"There is a flight leaving from Dulles in 45mins. Arriving LAX at 1755."

"That’s perfect, please cancel all my appointments for the next several days."

"Yes, sir."

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."

Friday, 11 Aug 1830 hrs
Silver Star Hotel
Hermosa Beach, Ca

Sitting 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.

Turning over the next card on to his own stack, Nick triumphantly says, "A pair of Aces to the dealer - Ha."


"Ah Nick, you know what that means don’t you Amigo." Benny Ray sitting to the dealer's right says in his smooth southern drawl.

"Lucky at cards, unlucky in love."

All four break out in laughter, knowing the current state of Nick’s love life - non-existent.

Matt, 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 voice.

"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 Matt’s 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 the invitations.

"I received these in the mail this morning." Trout states.

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 Trout’s eyes.

Pausing, Trout takes a deep breath before he begins to speak. Knowing Matt will never agree to help if he doesn’t 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 man."

"She laughed right back at me, this sly knowing smile on her face."

"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."

"She was," here Trout pauses, "A very fascinating lady."

"Was?" Margo asks.

Trout’s 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 wouldn’t 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."

Matt’s team all stared, none of them had ever seen Trout this emotional, except for the time when his daughter had been held hostage.

"What do you want us to do?" Matt asks.

"Help her Matt," Trout begs, " I don’t know how, but you’ve got to help her."

Friday 11 Aug, 2100 hrs
Chilean Ambassadors Residence
Los Angeles

A 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 don’t like this," swears Matt.

"Nick, how’s it going back there?" Matt asks, speaking into his com link.

"Heading for the service entrance now boss, I’ll 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 don’t’ 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. I’m going straight down the middle."

"Rob, stay alert," Matt says as he taps the limo driver on the shoulder.

"Yes 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.

"We’re 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 Margo’s 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 don’t see any movement on the roof at all."

"I’ll have more info as soon as I get inside."

"We’re 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.

Looking 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.

Staring, the man soon stutters the directions to her, "Back down the hallway and to the left."

Motioning with her hand she mimics his directions, turning her body away, her eyes remain in contact until the last minute, wiggling her finger goodbye.

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 don’t know we’re 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."

Benny 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 can’t 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 and musical.

Shaking his head he turns away, scanning the room, hoping to spot the Amber Moon brooch among the mass of humanity in the ballroom.

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 "It’s 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 ma’am 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 ma’am, 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.

From across the dance floor a tall dark man watches them, his black eyes blazing with anger. As the dance ends, he turns away.

Slowly 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.

"We’re running out of time, people, let's hope she shows up soon. If she doesn’t we are on our own."

Exiting 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, "You’re hurting me."

"I’m sorry my love," he says contritely as he releases her.

Holding up his other hand he says, "One of the servants found this, it is yours isn’t 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.

"Nothing boss," Benny Ray says as the three operatives meet back in the foyer.

"I think it’s 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. "I’ll be right here if anything should happen."

"Gotcha Matt." Nick replies one more time.

Heading up the stairs, Benny Ray is all business now, his mind running through the plan that was discussed earlier at the Silver Star.

"Margo 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 in surprise.

"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 Trout’s, 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.

"Benny 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 don’t sound so good."

"I found our contact, she’s 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 there."

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 of time."

"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 asks.

"Roger, set 2 and run like hell," chuckles Nick.

Inside the study, Benny Ray with Diana’s 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 we’ll 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, I’ll 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 corridor.

"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, "I’ll cover your back."

"You’re 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.

"Where’s 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.

"He’s hurt Matt," Margo replies. "Let me have your handkerchief, quickly." Taking it from Matt’s hand she gently places it over the wound.

The flutter of his eyelids indicates he is at least partly conscious.

"She's 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 end.

Turning 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 twelve."

"Lie him down Margo," Matt says. Taking off his jacket Matt rolls it up and places it behind Benny Ray’s head as a pillow. "Keep him talking Margo," Matt whispers into her ear.

"All right Rico, we’ll 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?"

"It’s 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 waltz.

Saturday, 12Aug 0130 hrs
Silver Star Hotel
Hermosa Beach, Ca.

Rico 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 to Matt.

"Margo," Rico says, turning away to pick up his medical bag, "Lets get him out of those clothes and into bed."

Matt exits the room, Trout and Nick follow.

Deftly, Margo removes his jacket and shirt, reaching down, she begins to unbuckle his belt.

"Margo," 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, "Don’t make me laugh Margo, it hurts too much."

"Go ahead outside Margo, I’ll take care of the rest." Rico says.

About 20 minutes later Rico descends down to the basement. As he reaches the last step all eyes turn to him questioningly

"I 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. I’ll take the first watch."

"Now for this," Matt says, handing the disc to Margo. "I think it’s 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, "It’s 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. "I’ll do a little more research Matt and find out what these areas are," Margo states.

Walking over he places his hand on the keyboard. "It’s 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.

"Almost 3am," is Rico’s answer.

"Thanks Amigo, I’m glad you’re 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?

"It’s Saturday, you’ve been asleep for nearly 12 hours."

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 night’s 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 isn’t totally recovered.

"Where’s Matt?" Benny Ray asks before she can scold him.

"Downstairs an hour ago, with Trout," is Margo’s reply, glaring at him as he heads for the door. "Where do you think you are going?" she asks.

"I’m hungry." Is his reply, a sheepish grin on his face.

"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."

The basement operation's room is dark and quiet as they descend the stairs. Margo walks over to the wall searching for the light switch.

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."

"I’m okay, how did you find us?" he asks.

"Trout," is her only reply.

"I just wanted to say I’m 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, "Amber Moon."

A welcoming smile on her face, Margo moves forward to greet Diana.

"He’s always been like that, don’t mind him." Margo says. "I’m glad to finally meet you, I’ve heard so much about you," Margo smiles, as a blush spreads across Diana’s cheeks. "From Trout," she finishes.

Behind 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 up.

"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.

Margo hands him a sandwich. Standing on tiptoe she whispers in his ear, "I like her Benny Ray, I like her a lot."

Giving her an exasperated look, he takes a big vicious bit out of the sandwich.

Matt, a smile on his face waits for the confusion to die down. "We’re glad you’re here," he says. "I was hoping you would show up to help us with the information on the disc. Margo has figured out what’s 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."

"Let 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 can’t 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 you. "

Several minutes later a map of Chile is initialized and the sites plotted.

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 it’s 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 wouldn’t murder his own father."

"This my friends," Rico pipes in, "Is one clever, insidious, bastard."

"What’s the date on the itinerary, Margo," Trout asks.

"The 18th," she replies, "That’s 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 can’t let him get away with slaughtering those people. Someone has to stop him.." Matt’s voice drops to a low menacing tone, "And I want it to be us."

Standing to the left of Margo, Diana can see Benny Ray’s knuckles clenched around the back of Margo’s 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."

Whether 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.

Tenderly 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 Ray’s pulse and respiration.

Opening his eyes slowly Benny Ray looks up to see Diana’s anxious face. "We’ve 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."

Matt and Rico slowly lift Benny Ray from Diana’s 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.

Looking across at Rico she states, "Lets get him out of these clothes."

Rico reaches for his shoes as Diana reaches for the belt at his waist. A strong hand stays Diana’s movements, as Benny Ray struggles to sit up. "What is it with my pants," he mumbles.

Chuckling Rico says, "I wouldn’t 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 Benny Rays.

"I think he’s shy," Rico supplies chuckling.

With 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.

Turning back Diana can see the pain in his eyes, with a quick, "I’ll be right back," to Rico, she leaves the room.

Several 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 Ray’s 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."

His answer of, "Yes Ma’am," is accompanied by a mischievous little smile.

"Get some rest" Diana mumbles, as she tucks the covers in around him, and then exits the room.

Moving toward the door Rico says, "She’s right amigo, stay put this time or I will help her tie you down."

"Thanks Rico," is Benny Ray’s answes, closing his eyes as the pills take effect, and the pounding in his head slowly begins to recede.

Almost 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 doesn’t have a fever. "Hi," she whispers," how are you feeling?"

"Better," is his only reply, his eyes locking with hers.

"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 Ray’s thumb caresses the hollow of her back. Soon the warmth and contentment lull them both to sleep.

Chapter 2: Double Jeopardy

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