Embracing Justice -chp 17


Embracing Justice

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Can the love of another really help a person overcome the need for revenge or is the old saying true about digging two graves?

Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.

Edited by my husband Paul, Honeysuckle, and djkuffman.

~o~O~o~

This is a work of fiction an any persons in this work are purely fictional.


“Son of a bitch! Talk about your hidden layers! Just who the hell were your family Sam? The Wayne’s?” Hunter ask Sam.


Chapter 17

Everyone started to laugh at Hunter’s rather off colored joke. That is everyone but young Kristine. Seeing this Sam pulled the young girl into a hug. “Don’t worry about it kiddo. What that big lummox is talking about is the Batman’s parents.”

“Um who is the Batman?” Kristine’s voice was barely above a whisper and had a slight tremble to it. Everyone in the room was remind of Kristine’s very sheltered upbringing. They never realized just how sheltered that was until now. That fact that Kristine had no idea of who Batman was shocking to say the least. Sam saw the first signs of Kristine starting to lose control again.

“Hay Hay here now. There is no need to cry kiddo. It’s not your fault that you don’t know who the Batman is. No that blame belongs to the asinine people who thought they knew how to raise a very special young lady like you. Now dry your tears and show me that shiny new pistol your uncle gave you.”

Kristine stepped back and wiped at the tears on her checks. Smiling up at Sam for what she had done. For some reason this woman was willing to show her the love and understanding that was only shown to her by her late mother. Reaching under her shirt tail and into the waist band of her pants Kristine pulled out the pistol her Uncle Bat had given her earlier. “I have used pistols before Sam and Uncle Bat has shown me everything there is about this one.”

“That may be true Kristine, but you haven’t fired it yet have you?”

“Um… no I haven’t. Then again we didn’t know about this place either. How in the world did your father ever manage to keep it a secret?”

“That is one secret my father took to his grave little sister. Not even I know how he did it just that he did. Now I know it’s late, but let’s all move over to the ready line. Kristine I want you on lane one, please. Bat, Bobby, Hunter, why don’t you guys take up lanes three, four, and five, that way I can give Kristine the training she needs without getting in your way.”

“Sam you want to tell me what’s on your mind?” Bat really wants to know what was bugging Sam. There was something about her manner that was screaming urgent.

“It was something that Annette said that has me on edge Bat. It seems that there are more than just one bounty out there up for collection. Not to put too blunt of a point on the matter we have all joined that very exclusive club once more. Gentlemen every last one of us has a price of more than a million and a half a piece on our heads.”

“Well, ain’t that a real kick in the ass. Whelp nothing to do about it except blow the crap out of a few targets and make sure we’re ready for them. Come on boys take your positions.” Bat stepped up to lane three pulling his sidearm. Hunter and Bobby quickly joined him, both pulling their weapons as well.

With the guys taking aim at their targets and letting go Sam guided Kristine over to lane one. “Now Kristine I want you to show me what your sperm donor taught you.”

“I like that you call the man my sperm donor instead of my father.” The smile on Kristine’s face belied the real pain she felt by the rejection of her father. However she did take up a stance that was a classic form among shooters. She waited for Sam to give her the command to commence firing. When it came Kristine sighted down the length of the pistol at her target. While seven rounds were in ten ring of the target, three hit in the nine ring. Sam had to admit that Kristine wasn’t that bad of a shot, but she could see that Kristine was in need of some fine point training. As Kristine ejected the empty magazine Sam stepped up behind her.

“Not too bad kiddo, but we need to work on your hand hold and stance a little bit. I want you to place your left hand a little lower on your wrist, don’t lock your elbows, and move your feet a little wider.” Once Kristine had done as Sam directed Sam smiled.
“That’s it. That will give you a firmer firing stance and a better sight picture.”

“Um Sam I know that it is against the rules for you guys to be arming me. You can all get into a lot of trouble by doing this. So why are you doing?”

“Simple Kristine. If you have to use that weapon it means we are all dead. That means the only thing standing between you and death is that pistol. We want you to know how to use that weapon if it comes to that, understand?”

Looking at Sam Kristine could tell that this was truly a life or death lesson. It was this realization that made up Kristine’s mind. She was going to do her damnedest to learn everything Sam and the others had to teach her. Taking the reloaded magazine from Sam Kristine slapped it home and took up the stance that Sam had suggested. Her next ten rounds were all in the ten ring with four actually hitting the bullseye.

Seeing this Sam decided to help Kristine out some more. “Kristine I am going to place my hands on each side of your arms. Whatever you do, do not load or fire your weapon. I want to see something.” Sam waited for Kristine to nod her head yes before putting act to words. After putting her hands where she said Sam looked over Kristine’s right shoulder. The sight picture she saw was damn near perfect. “Kristine put the pistol down for a second then turn to face me.” Kristine didn’t argue and did as she was told.

“Okay Kristine I want you to take up your stance without the weapon. Can you do that for me?” the minute Kristine did as she was told Sam could see the problem. Kristine was a right handed shooter with left eye dominance. “Okay, Kristine you drop your stance.” Sam stepped back and called over to the guys. “Guys I need you help over here. Kristine has a problem that I don’t know how to handle.”

All three men cleared and holstered their weapons and walked over to the girls. “Okay Kristine I want you to do exactly want you just did for me again.” Kristine couldn’t understand what was going on but did as asked. Once she had taken up her stance all three men could see what Sam was talking about. It was Bat who put their thoughts into words.

“Shit no wonder that dumb ass brother of mine couldn’t teach her to shoot. Okay Kris you can drop your stance.”

“Umm…. Would somebody care to tell me what’s going on?” Kristine was puzzled by the way everyone was talking. “I know that I am not that good of a shooter, but what Sam just showed me really helped. What is this problem I have?”

“Kris honey, what you have is what is known as an eye dominance problem. What that means is while you’re right handed your left eye is the one you use the most. When you close your eye to sight in the target you close the wrong one. What that does is throw off your sight picture. There are ways to fix this through training but to be honest we don’t have the time.”

“So do you want me to give you back the pistol Uncle Bat?”

“No Kris, I just need to make a few adjustments to it.” looking at the rest Bat asked. “Anybody got any ideas on how to modify that 40 .cal?”

Bobby started to laugh at this question as he knew what Bat was asking. “I’ll be right back Bat. I have an extra laser in my gear.” He took off for the guys’ room and his spear gear.

Kristine looked over at Sam. “Sam what is Bobby going after?”

“Kristine what my partner is going after is a targeting laser for your pistol. The nice thing about a laser sight all you have to do is point and pull the trigger. What you do is put the little red laser dot on where you want to hit and nine out of ten times that is what you hit. There not perfect but they are close enough that most people get the hint.” At Sam’s explanation Kristine smiled. Sam could tell that she like the idea of a laser sight. “I do believe the young lady has grasped the idea behind what we are doing.”

“I was always taught that laser sights were a crutch for poor gun control.” At Kristine’s explanation for her training.

“Oh I like that. I can just see the t-shirts now. Solid black with white lettering, and a big red set of crosshairs. The words read ‘Real gun control is the ability to hit your targets.” Sam, Bat, and Kristine all laughed at Hunter’s joke.

“You know something Hunter even I have to agree with you on that. However I am afraid our bosses won’t look too kindly on us producing those for public consumption.” Bat said jokingly.

“Hay I am only looking for a way to boost our income here ‘Uncle Batty.’ After all we cannot rely on our government pay checks for forever.” Even though he was joking around everyone knew what Hunter was getting at. As much as they didn’t want to admit it there was a good possibility that this could be a very long assignment.

“We haven’t gotten there yet ma’ boy. And the next time you call me Uncle Batty I’ll take you over ma’ knee.” Even Kristine who was Bat’s biological niece had to laugh at the idea of calling Bat Masterson ‘Batty’. “Don’t you even think about it there missy. You haven’t gotten too big for your britches to pulled down.” This just made everyone laugh all the harder.

As Bobby enter the training room he was greeted by the sounds of laughter and once again he didn’t have a clue as to what the joke was. Shaking his head Bobby just walked over lane one and picked up Kristine’s pistols. As he took it a part so he could properly fit the laser sight he looked at the others. “You know something folks. A few days ago I would have said that it was the hormones making Sam and Kristine crazy. But Hunter, you and Bat font have that excuse. So seeing as how you have all lost your minds at the same time I am forced to conclude that you all have caved to the pressure.”

“No, just having few jokes at my expense there Bobby. Now, why don’t you show my niece how to use her new toy?” Bat was a good mood and more than willing to be the butt of the jokes if it kept people’s minds off their problems. He more than the other three deputies knew what it meant to live with a bounty on ones heads.

“Come over here Kristine. There are a few things you will need to know about a laser sight.” Bobby waited until Kristine was next to him before he began his class on the care and feeding of a laser sight. “The first thing you need to do is make sure the sight is aligned correctly with the iron sights. The easiest way to do that is by targeting something at fifty feet and putting a few rounds into it.”

Taking Bobby’s advice Kristine did exactly that. Three rounds later Bobby stopped her. “Okay Kristine if you’ll notice your rounds all hit higher than were the laser dot was placed. Let me have the pistol.” Kristine handed Bobby the pistol. Bobby quickly made a few adjustments to the sight. “Alright kiddo try it again.” Three more rounds later Kristine could still see that they were hitting high on the target. After handing it to Bobby she waited for him to make more adjustments. Once again she fired three rounds, only this time all three hit where the laser dot was on the target. “Now that is a properly sighted laser.”

“Thanks Bobby. I really appreciate this. Are you sure you can spare this laser?”

“No problem Kristine and yes I can spare that laser sight. Now why don’t you spend the next half hour getting use to that pistol and how it handles with the laser on it.” For the half hour Sam and the others let Kristine fire away at the targets down range. Once Kristine had gone through two full boxes of rounds Sam called a halt. “You have gotten pretty good there kiddo. With that new sight you should be able to hit what you’re shooting at five out of six times. I do have one question for you though.”

“Can I refuse if I don’t like the question?” Kristine could tell that whatever was on Sam’s mind she might not like her question.

“Fair enough, Kristine. When you’re shooting who is it that is in your sights?”

Of all the questions that Sam could have asked that was one Kristine wasn’t ready to answer. But she could tell by the way he was standing and waiting for her that Sam wasn’t going to let her walk away without answer. As much as she wanted to just walk away and not say anything. She knew that Sam would sooner or later ask this question again, so she might as well answer her now. “The man who killed my mother and those people who sent him. I want them all dead and on a slab down at the morgue. If you let me within fifty feet of those people and I have a gun I will kill, Sam.”

“You know Kristine there is an old saying that fits what you’re going through.”

“Sam if you’re talking about digging two graves when you set out for revenge forget it. I have heard that saying more than once from my father. May he rot in hell. I’ll get my revenge in the courtroom when the time comes, and I am happy with that. I’ll still jump at the chance to kill every last one of them if it should present itself.”

“Kristine, I know what you want to do, but kiddo taking a life is nothing to even joke about. And as much as I want to give you that chance doing so will put you in the line of fire. We just can’t do that, honey. Our number one duty is to protect you.”

“Sam I know that, that is why I’ll sit back and let the courts do their job. If they fail then all bets are off. You know who I am and I’ll rain down digital Hell fire and brimstone on every last one of them. One way or another I will see justice or revenge.”

“Okay kiddo let’s put our weapons away and head to bed. We’ve all been up for almost twenty two hours now. We can all use the sleep.” Everyone agree with Sam and began to put actions to words. They wiped down their weapons and reloaded their side arms. Once that was taken care of e everyone left the training room. Upstairs Bobby, Hunter, Bat, and Kristine all headed for their bedrooms. Sam hung back on purpose, there was something that she wanted to do all on her own. She didn’t want any of the others to see or know the secrets of her old home.

Once everyone else were in their rooms Sam headed for her old room. Once there Sam closed her door and walked over to her old closet. After removing the hidden panel at the back Sam stepped back and smiled. It was still there. No one had found her hidden stash. Reaching and pulling out the chest that was there. Taking it over to the center of the room she set it down, almost reverently. Running her hands over it Sam brushed the dust that had collected over the years. For over twelve years Sam had hoped that she would one day be able to come back here for this chest. It was a link to her past and her family’s history.

With trembling hands Sam unlocked the chest. Slowly raising the lid Sam looked inside. There before her were some of her most prized possessions. Pulling out the one that meant the most to her Sam had a sad smile on her face. “Hello old friend. I am sorry to have to bring you out of retirement like this, but I am afraid that I will need your particular gifts.” With a care born out of years of training Sam began breaking down the assault rifle. It was a custom built AR 15 that has been heavily modified. The least of those modifications is full automatic fire. Reaching back into the chest Sam pulled out the cleaning kit for her rifle and began the task of cleaning, oiling, and preventive maintenance.

Her father was the one who got this weapon for her on her thirteenth birthday. Back then it was a standard AR 15 rifle. She was the one to do the most modifications to it. As she cleaned the rifle she let her mind drift back to the night her family was killed. Back then she did not have the time to grab this weapon or any of her others in the chest, all she was able to grab were her family knife and her father’s pistol. For the past twelve years she had wanted to know why her family had to be killed. Earlier today she was given a clue to this mystery by her one time friend and lover. She had always believed that it was a mob hit on her father gone very wrong, she had gone on a one person crusade to kill every last member of the Organization. She failed back then to kill the man responsible for the deaths of her family. Even now after all this time she could still feel the rage over the loss of her family and the need for revenge.

Her little talk with Kristine earlier was more for herself then for Kristine. It was a reminder to herself of all that she had lost and gained over the last twelve years. With the skill of a weapons master Sam reassembled her rifle. With each piece a resolve came over her. A resolve born out of a need to protect those she has come to see as family. Like the DeMarco clan the Capizeo’s also had a code of honor. These people in the Law, Order, and God party had broken that codes first rule. After reassembling her rifle she slung it over her shoulder then stepped quickly into the hallway.

After making sure the guys were asleep, Sam next checked on Kristine. Silently opening the door to her sister’s old bed room Sam looked in at the sleeping teen. Sam could tell by the whimpering that Kristine was having a bad night. Quietly crossing the room to stand by the bed Sam reached out and caressed Kristine’s cheek. The teen quickly settled down into a more restful sleep. Once Sam was sure that the teen would not awaken Sam left the room as quietly as she has entered. Once she was in the hallway Sam headed for the far end. Once there Sam opened the door to the attic stairwell. As she climbed the steps Sam once again thought back to that night so long ago. With all the secrets that her childhood home held, none of them had stopped the killers from entering her home. Now it was her hope that those long ago forgotten secrets could turn the tide if they had to fight it out here.

At the top of the stairs she found what she was looking for, two twin mounted, fifty caliber, Browning M2A1, full automatic heavy crew serve machineguns. Each one was in perfect working order. Walking over to the first set she performed a full function check on each weapon. Once she was satisfied that all was in order she opened two boxes of ammunition and loaded each one. Next Sam checked the firing port openings for the big guns. Finding that each one needed a little work. Looking around the attic Sam found what she was looking for. For the next several hours Sam worked in silence and with purpose. She lost all track of time and before she knew it was six thirty in the morning.

Satisfied with her work Sam put her tools and supplies away and left the attic. As Sam entered the second floor hallway she was greeted by silence and the sounds of snoring. Deciding on calling the night a wash Sam headed for her room and a shower. After taking care of her morning hygiene habits Sam began to feel nostalgic. Dressing in a pair of tights and leotard she pulled a pair of ballet slippers out of her closet. Once dressed Sam headed downstairs to the training room. Once there Sam when straight over to the dance floor area and turned on the stereo that was there.

As the sounds of Pyotr Tchaikovshy’s The Sleeping Beauty filled the room Sam began to go through her stretching exercises. After warming up she moved over to the bar to go through her bar exercises. Another half hour later Sam changed her slippers for point shoes. She then moved out on to the dance floor. Her movements were as fluid and graceful as any Prima Ballerina on any stage anywhere in the world. She was moving as if she heard the words of her mother guiding her. She remembered her mother’s advice as she taught her sisters.

Everything that bothered her was left behind her as she let the dance take her away. The beauty of the dance came from inside her as she moved across the floor. She never let herself feel the dance the way she was now. Sam never heard or saw Kristine enter the training room. In fact the only thing on Sam’s mind was the dance and her part in it.

Kristine had not seen anyone move the way Sam was since before her mother passed away. The fact that Sam was performing the lead role in The Sleeping Beauty one of her mother’s greatest performances almost brought tears to her eyes. Kristine could almost recite word for word the reviews of her mother’s performance. Even the few times Kristine had seen her mother preform she didn’t hold a candle to Sam in this performance. Sam was the Sleeping Beauty in Kristine’s eyes. When the music stopped Kristine began to clap her hands.

Whipping around Sam was surprised to see Kristine there. Smiling up the teen “Just how long have you been setting there, young lady?”

“Oh long enough to see the second and third acts of Sleeping Beauty. By the way you’re very beautiful when you danced like that. You were better than my mother when she played Princess Aurora, and that was one of her greatest roles.”

“I am a good amateur Kristine, but I am no Prima like your mama was. Not by a long shot, kiddo. I saw your mama dance once, and I was moved to tears as she floated across the stage. It was as if Odette had flown right out of the storybook pages. I could never hope to be anywhere as good as she was.”

“OH no, Sam you are just as good as my mama. Remember I have every review ever written about her performances. The only person that I have ever seen dance as well as her is you. Why didn’t you continue with your dancing?”

“Long story Kristine, a very long story.” Taking the fact that Kristine was dressed the same way as herself Sam smiled. “Now would you care to explain why you’re in a leotard and tights?”

“Oh I wanted to use the dance studio for a while before everyone else was awake. I borrowed them and a pair of your sisters’ old ballet slippers. I hope that you don’t mind?”

“No Kristine I don’t mind at all. In fact if there any other clothes that will fit go ahead and use them.” Sam just thought that someone should get some usage out of those old clothes. She didn’t think that Kristine needed to know that she was wearing her baby sister’s clothes. “Now have you done your warmup stretches yet?”

“Yes ma’am.” Came Kristine’s gleeful reply.

“Good. Then we’ll begin with some bar work, and then move on to some floor work. Take your place at the bar, young lady.” Kristine did as Sam ordered. For the next hour Sam worked with Kristine. As she did Sam once again felt her love of ballet come to the surface. For some reason the simple act of teaching Kristine to dance seemed to wash away her feelings of being dirty. She knew what she had done last night could save her life if need be, but the thought of using those weapons was unsettling. She knew that she could use them and would do so gladly to protect those she loved. They were interrupted by the smells of breakfast cooking wafting down from the kitchen. “Okay kiddo let’s do a quick cool down and go get breakfast. If I know Bobby we’re in for a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and a whole lot more.”

The two girls spent a half hour stretching and cooling down then headed up stairs. As they entered the kitchen they were surprised to find it Hunter, and not Bobby, cooking. As Sam and Kristine looked on they were amazed with Hunter’s skill as a short order cook. Sam couldn’t resist the joke that came to her mind. “I’ll have two chicks and a side of pig, please.”

“Har, dee, har, har. Very funny Sam, I’ll have you know I spent eight months undercover as a short order cook at the Tomahawk Truck stop five years ago. I learned a lot from the owner. God was that ever a fun time. Deputy Franklin Short was my partner at the time. We had been hunting an escaped Bank robber from a super max in California by the name of Frank Morris. From what I understand that man had been on the run for over fifty years. At first I wondered why the FBI, US Marshals, and every damn State police wanted this man so badly. Then I saw the bounty they had placed on the man’s head. They didn’t want to have to pay out over five hundred million dollars in reward money.”

“Holy shit! Just who was this guy?” Kristine asked in awe.

Sam and hunter both looked at her smiling. “Let’s just say that the US Marshals never give up the hunt and like the Canadian Mounties we always get our man.”

“Oh wow. I know that the Marshals are responsible for the prison systems and fugitive retrieval, but I never thought you guys tracked down long time runners like that. Me and my father never really got along well enough for me to find out what all the Marshals do.”

“Trust me munchkin the Marshals do a whole lot more than just that.” All three turn to look at Bat as he entered the kitchen.

“There any number of duties a deputy can be called on to perform on a day to day basis.”

“What were you doing before this uncle Bat?” Kristine asked excitedly.

“I am afraid that I cannot tell you that munchkin. Before you ask why I will tell you that there are far too many lives at stake. To not put too blunt of a point on it. There are several deputies deep undercover in organizations of criminal nature and leave it at that.”

“Sure uncle Bat I understand that. I was only curious is all. I know when to keep my mouth shut and when to ask questions.” Kristine turned to look back at Hunter. “So besides being a short order cook, what else have you been Hunter?”

“Let me think.” As he said this he flipped the eggs he was cooking. “I have been a teacher at an all-girls school.” Kristine, Sam, and Bat all started to laugh at hearing this. “Don’t laugh that was one of the hardest assignments in my career. You would not believe what I had to put up with. Why I had one young lady that started to actually stalk me.”

“Hunter I know that we do get some crazy assed assignments at times but why in the world were you posing as a teacher in an all-girls school no less?” Sam really wanted to hear the story behind this assignment.

“Let’s just say that if they ever ask you to look into a case of equal rights violations turn it down. You remember that TG teacher in Charleston, SC? I was sent in to verify the hiring practices of the local school board and that girl’s school.”

“Damn now that is a screwed up mess. What else have you gotten stuck with along those lines?” Bat commented on the fact his young partner had one of the hardest assignments in the service.

“Well there was the College recruitment of athletes a few years ago. That one was a real mess there were all kinds of allegations of rigged SAT scores, improper scholarships, and a whole slew of other charges.”

Hunter had no sooner telling his story of how the Marshals got pulled into the investigation than Bobby came down for breakfast. Soon as he heard what was being discussed he quickly joined in with his own tales. Soon everyone was swapping stories of their time as Deputies.

**********

Down the street at the DeMarco’s…

Kasey woke up in a room that she was not familiar with. It took her a few moments to realize where she was. Once she calmed down Kasey climbed out the bed she was in and walked around the room. Everywhere she looked she could see who ever owned this house had money. The bed was a queen sized four poster, made of rich mahogany wood, stained a deep, dark rich coffee brown. The vanity, desk, chest of draws, and dresser were made of the same wood and the same color. The carpet was a deep pile rug mat in a pale yellow. The curtains were also a pale yellow made of the finest material. She turned from her examination of the room at the sound of the room door opening.

“I see you’re finally awake there kiddo.” The smiling face of Annette greeted her from the doorway. “Care to get some breakfast?”

“Sure mom. I would like that.” At the surprised look on Annette’s face Kasey quickly asked. “It is alright if I call you mom now or should I still call you Annette?

“No it’s fine if you want to call me mom. I was just a little surprised that you would call me mom after all that went on last night is all. I wasn’t too sure you would want to be part of my family after the way things went down last night. I mean we did kind of hustled you out of your apartment in the middle of the night.”

“Mom it’s alright. After what happened with that person I am more than happy to be part of the DeMarco family. I am just so surprised at what accepting of me your mother is.”

“Stop right there young lady. She is your grandmother now, remember that. Don’t be too surprised if she tries to spoil you just s little bit. After all you’re her first grandchild.”

“Um what do you mean by spoil mom?”

With a giggle that belied the true happiness that Annette felt. “You’ll just have to wait and see Kasey. Oh one other thing, when it comes to behavior your new grandmother is stickler for proper lady like decorum at all times. As for why she is so accepting of your situation that is a very long story. One that I do not have time to tell you right now. So get yourself a shower and dresses then come down stairs we’ll hold breakfast for you.” Annette kissed Kasey on her forehead and left the teen to take care of her hygiene needs.

Kasey decided to do as Annette suggested. After taking care of business Kasey dressed in the clothes she had brought with her last night. Thankfully she had done her laundry the day before and most of her clothes were clean. They may not be from the higher end stores but at least they were presentable and clean. So in a pair of stretch jeans and a turtle neck pull over she headed downstairs to greet her new family.

As she entered the kitchen area she found both Annette and Maria setting at the table each with a cup of coffee. Maria looked up at the teen and smiled. “Well, it is nice of you to join us, this morning my dear. I know that you're probably used to getting up later in the day, but please remember that we sit down every morning at 6 am sharp for breakfast from now on.”

“Sorry ma’am. I’ll do my best to remember that.” Kasey’s lower lip trembled as she answered this very frightening woman. She could tell that Maria DeMarco was a very strict woman.

“Oh child I did not mean to scold you, you are not in trouble.” Maria had gotten up and walked over to the teen pulling her in to a hug. “I really do love you child. All I meant to do is inform you of our normal schedule. Now come sit down and eat. As much as I and your mama want to spend the day spoiling you we have far too much to get done today.”

Wiping the tears that had started to form in eyes away with her shirt sleeve Kasey looked into the eyes of Maria. Finding that Maria’s eyes held no deception Kasey smiled at her. “Yes, ma’am. I am kind of hungry. Can I get some pancakes or scrambled eggs?”

“Oh my dear child you can both if you want them. However I would suggest you try Anna’s eggs benedict first. I swear if I didn’t spend twelve to fourteen hours a day in our dance studio teaching I would be as big as a house. That woman can cook in ways that no human should be able to. Why even your mama spends time in the studio just so she can eat Anna’s cooking.”

“Miss Maria, you really should stop that. Why the way you tell it I cook food fit for the good Lord himself. Besides your cooking is just as good if not better than mine, not to mention how well your daughter cooks. Just because I am defensive of my kitchen is no reason to make it sound like I am a Master Chef or something.” Anna said from over at the stove.

That got both of the elder DeMarco’s laughing. Kasey soon realized that while Anna maybe part of the household staff she was like family. She would soon find that Anna was far more than just the maid, but also a trusted and valued family friend who knew and keep the family’s secrets. Taking her seat between her new mama and Grandmother Kasey felt at home for the first time in a very long time.

Over breakfast Kasey learned more about her adopted family and their traditions. The more she heard the more she realized that she had made the right choice in coming home with the woman who had first saved her life. Before breakfast was even half way over Kasey made a personal vow to be the best daughter of the DeMarco clan that she could be. She learned that they were not just assassins but ladies of breeding and grace. The DeMarco women were prima ballerinas, signers, actresses, and so much more.

******

Toledo Express Airport 7:35 am, Toledo Ohio…

The fifteen man team slowly gathered in the baggage claim area of TOL. No two had come from the same city or town. They were of every race, religion, and creed. No two were even dressed the same. Some were in suits, while others were in jeans and t-shirts. There was even one in a cowboy hat. There was one thing though that all fifteen men had in common. The way they moved through the airport. Their eyes took in everything around them, nothing was missed. They knew where every exit was, along with possible any fighting positions should they be needed. They also knew where the TSA agents were and their routines.
This was no gathering of corporate suits. No these men were all professional killers. Merc’s for hire and they all knew it. And they didn’t have any problems with that fact. They had all worked with each other at one time or another. These men were not in Toledo for a business trip like all those around them at this hour of the morning. They were here to kill someone, plain and simple.

The fact that their boss Sandy Bullock had gathered this many in one place let them know that this was not a normal job.
The oldest of the men gave the signal for the others to gather round him. “Alright gentlemen seeing as how the boss has us all here at one time I suggest we get our gear and head for the door. I am pretty sure that the boss is waiting for us outside. If I know Sandy he has a safe house and all we need to carry out whatever this job is.”

“Do you have any idea what the job is Snake?” one of the younger ones asked.

“One that will let us all retire in style Six Killer.” At that point they all turned to see the man they were there to meet. “Grab your gear like Top told you too and meet me outside in ten minutes. Move out.” Almost as one the fifteen men all moved to carry out the orders of Sandy Bullock. A man they had come to know as a true hard ass and no nonsense leader. Only Snake stayed behind. “Sorry I am a little late there Top, but traffic is a real bitch around at this time of the morning.”

“No problems Major, but do you mind me asking why you need a fifteen man team for an urban mission? I mean if all we’re facing is low level street thugs you wouldn’t have brought in this many of us. Who or what are we hitting?”

“Top I would normally give you all the info now, but you’ll just have to wait like the others until we get to the safe house.”

“No problem Major. I understand what you’re getting at, I’ll follow your lead on this.”

Of all the men that Sandy Bullock had gathered here today he knew that First Sargent Thomas ‘Snake’ Holloway could be counted on to keep his mouth shut. He also knew that he could not keep the nature of this mission a secret for long. Even Sandy had some doubts over this mission. The fact that Carstairs was willing to pay more than triple their normal rate told me that there was more going here than the man was letting on. For whatever reason Carstairs wants this Marshal safe house hit it was not his place to ask.

As Sandy and the other men all got into the transit bus Sandy had rented the feeling that this was not the normal mission once more came over them all. For Sandy the feeling that this could very well be his last did not sit well with him. Going into a war zone was one thing, there he knew all the risks and variables. In an urban setting like this he had no real control over those, the biggest of which was the local police. If they got involved then all bets were off. In more ways than one this job was going to be the hardest one of them all.

*********
Provost Marshal’s Office, Ft. Bellamean. 0800

Specialist Jeremy Whitman looked up in surprise as Command Sergeant Major Larry Hurwitz entered the operations center. The fact that it was the middle of the week and the CSM was in civvies was even more unusual. “Can I help you Sergeant Major?”

“No thanks Specialist, but is the Old Man in?”

“The Colonel got in about a half hour ago, Sergeant Major. At last I heard he was in his office going over a report sent to him last night.”

“Thanks Specialist. Do not allow anyone to interrupt me and the Colonel for the next half hour.”

“Yes Sergeant Major should I let the Colonel know that you’re here?”

“Yes, but when you do make sure it is as US Deputy Marshal Hurwitz, Specialist Whitman. I am not here in a military capacity today.”

“Yes Sergeant Major. I take it your visit has something to do with that report?”

“Specialist understand this is not to go past you me and the shithouse door. If everything goes to plan we’ll finally be able to take care of that little LOG problem we’ve been having.”

--------------- To be continued --------------



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