Sunday, October 22nd
THE CHASE SECURITY International Navigator pulled to the departures curb at the San Diego airport. Zachary “Ice” Wentworth’s eyes twinkled with delight leaning inside the rear passenger door. “Sadie Lady, you take care of Mommy and Julian,” he said to the precocious four- year-old.
“Uncle Ice, Julian says I can call him Daddy. You can call him that too.” Sadie Morrison smiled from her car seat.
“Okay, Sadie.” He kissed her cheek. “Mommy, take care of Daddy for me.” He winked, holding the door for her to move up front. Then he turned to see Julian holding his bags. “Are you okay, Daddy?”
“Yeah,” his colleague and head of the San Diego Office, Julian
“Smooth” Dupart, said. “You can stay another day and take the company plane.”
“It’s not a hardship to fly first class. Besides, I have an undercover operator class starting tomorrow.”
“You alright?” Julian cocked his head.
“It hurts, and it will for a while. I should’ve demanded she get out. Hua should have heeded me as mission control. That was the problem that ended our personal relationship. Lesson learned: running an operation with personal ties has legitimate issues.” A glint of sadness flashed through his sapphire blue eyes.
“I’m sorry. Guilt eats at you. I’m ready when you want to talk it through.” He knocked his fist against his heart and pointed to Zach. “Safe flight. I’ll talk to you at the division meeting on Thursday.”
“Take care of your two ladies and the little dot.” Zach repeated Julian’s gesture.
“Martin and his blips, me and my dot.” He smiled and climbed into the driver’s seat. Zach inhaled deeply and watched Julian pull away.
SAOIRSE KENNEDY stepped from the government-issued Ford. Andre Nolan climbed from the driver’s seat and pulled two large suitcases and a carry-on from the trunk. “Can you manage?” he asked.
“I’ve got it.” She stacked her carry-on atop one of the large bags.
“Are you gonna miss me?” He approached her, aiming to kiss her on the lips. “You take care of yourself.”
She smiled, turning her cheek to meet his lips. “Of course I will. You taught me so much,” she said to her work partner.
Once inside, she groaned at the long check-in line for her flight to New York. Despite her federal pre-check clearance, she had to stand in line to check her licensed firearm. “Federal Agent. I need to check a firearm and ammunition,” she said in a low voice to not draw atten- tion to herself.
The representative at the desk called out, “I have a gun to be checked.” Her loud voice was cringeworthy.
Saoirse dropped her head as everyone in line stared at her. “Can we do this without making any more announcements?” She frowned.
“Ma’am, it’s you who chooses to fly with a weapon.” A man in a suit now stood across from her.
“I am a Federal Agent who uses a weapon as part of my course of business. Please, my weapon is in a sealed box, unloaded, with my ammunition in another sealed box. I have the only key. It is part of my checked baggage,” her voice strained repeating the regulations.
“Step over here please.” The man pointed to the side.
ZACH stood two people behind a statuesque woman with flowing honey hair, who was wearing a wrinkle- free navy pencil skirt, three-inch navy heels and a white silk blouse. Her skin was the color of peaches and cream, and pale freckles dotted her cheeks. Her luscious, full lips were made for kissing. He was lost in his fantasy when he heard the words, I have a gun to be checked.
On alert, he watched her situation unfold. The man checking her weapon was looking at her like she was a meal and treated her like she was stupid. He gritted his teeth as they called a female TSA employee over to pat her down.
His turn to check in came with the same words: “I have a weapon to check in.” All the senior executive staff of Chase Security International carried Homeland Security credentials, for the purpose of facilitating some of their operations. Another representative approached him, assessed his identification, his weapon and ammunition. Then he x-rayed his baggage and checked him in.
“I don’t mean to create an issue, but why is your colleague giving my colleague difficulty checking in?”
The representative looked up at Zach. At six-foot- three, with pure white spiked hair and laser-focused blue eyes, he was an intimidating sight.
“Excuse me, I will check for you.”
Zach watched his representative speak to the other man and point. Moments later, both men were going out of their way to apologize to the woman. She turned to look in Zach’s direction, her now visible aquamarine eyes sparkling as she offered a small smile before looking down toward the ground.
His heartrate soared, and his body filled with an awareness he hadn’t felt since his relationship with Hua.
Don’t go there.