Comdex - 9 - There’s Nothing Fair about life.


Comdex Chapter 9
There’s Nothing Fair about Life

John pulled the cell-phone out and tried calling Leo. No answer, no message, shit!

Maxwell then tried to call home. At least this time someone answered. “Hello?”

“Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my house?”

“This must be Mr. Maxwell?”

“Yeah, you still haven’t answered me!”

“Oh, well Mr. Maxwell this is Roger Guthrie of the FBI. I’d like to thank you for leaving your safe unlocked.”

John Maxwell hung up the phone, in shock. His safe unlocked?

Impossible.

Inconceivable.

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Yes, Comdex is alive and well. Well the story anyway. This chapter marks the end of the longest Comdex drought. There are three (or four) Chapters in process. Thank you for being understanding.

This chapter introduces a new editor for me. Holly Happy Hart was my editor for years. I miss her desperately. She was my friend, I'd helped her move across country. Now I've found a new editor - MichelleA

I am very fortunate, and so are you. Her comments made the story much more readable.


Comdex 9: There’s Nothing Fair about Life.

Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts, 2PM Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Andy sat staring at the fish in his aquarium. It was part of the divider in his office. On one side of the divider was his “I’m the boss, I have a Big chair” desk made of beautiful mahogany. Two not very comfortable “visitor” chairs were in front of the desk; behind the desk was a gorgeous credenza. Frankly, it was as intimidating as he could make it. No One wanted to meet with Andy there. It usually meant someone would be leaving the office, and often the company, missing a pound of ass.

On the other side of the dividing wall was where Andy did most of his work. He’d thrown a door on top of two small filing cabinets when he’d first moved in, and still preferred it to his “boss desk.” This desk showed signs of wear. Under the glass it was scuffed in the middle, where Andy often propped up his legs. A few years ago he’d had it topped with a piece of glass. The surface was covered with papers in neat piles, and a set of maps on the wall; the US map was opened. On one side of his work desk was a coffee pot, a pot of hot water (for tea and hot chocolate), and a snack tray the kitchen staff made sure was ready all the time. Above that, on little pegs, were the mugs and cups of the estate’s security. On the other side, under the table, he kept a little refrigerator; the kind college kids kept in their dorm rooms. On the back of the desk, where the knob would have been installed, all the electrical cords passed from the top to a large battery backup on the floor. On the wall, a large LCD monitor was mounted on an arm that Andy could pull down to a comfortable height, or push away. In one corner of the room, two TV receivers were mounted, one on top of the other. The top television allowed Andy to watch the local TV stations, and the bottom one was connected to a satellite dish; this provided access to television signals around the globe. At the other end of the office was a couch. A few comfortable chairs were scattered willy-nilly around the room. At the other end of the office was the communications console. In addition to the telephone, he had access to the local police bands. If you had to meet with Andy Jeeves, this was where you hoped it would be.

The fish tank divided the room. It also provided a needed distraction. At seven minutes after 2:00 pm the private line connecting Andy’s office with Cendar’s main communication center rang.

“Hi boss, it’s Ed Milhouse. John Maxwell just made bail.”

“Damn!” How in the hell did he manage that so fast?”

“His attorney flew in this morning and banged on the Judge’s ear until he was given a hearing. Bail was set at $1.5 million. Neither he nor his attorney flinched at the amount,” Ed replied.

“Can you follow him?”

“I don’t know, I’m in the office now. He’s supposed to be in Miami, but from what I know I’d guess he’ll be headed home. Some place in the Midwest called Eden Prairie. Have you ever heard of it?”

“Yes,” Andy look up at the map and said, “Our closest office is in Chicago. I’d like you to follow him if you can. It you can’t, try to get to Eden Prairie ahead of him.”

“I doubt we will be able follow him; but if he’s with his attorney, okay, then maybe. Okay. I’ll pick someone reliable, preferably female, and get on it. See if you can find out where he lives, and what’s around him. If you can, get in touch with the FBI and the local police. Explain what’s happened and see if you can get them to cooperate.”

“We’ll get that information to you as soon as we get it,” Jeeves told Ed. When he gets there try to keep an eye on him. If he gets on a plane, especially a plane to Boston, I want to know it. Day or Night, got it?”

“Yes sir. What happens if we can’t get Police cooperation?”

“Ed, I don’t think that will be a problem. If it does, call me. Off the record, Gov. Swift is taking an active interest in what happens. She is pissed.”

“Okay, I’m on my way. I’ll try to get in touch with you as soon as I arrive.”

“Thanks Ed, I’ll try to send you help in the next day or two. Just find that asshole and keep tabs on him. I want him cuffed and stuffed if you get a chance.”

Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts, Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Andrew Jeeves put the phone down and looked out the window of his office as the snow began to fall. Weather reports called for at least six inches of snow; the soft fluffy kind that made everything so picturesque. Everyone in the residence was enjoying a calm, peaceful day after Christmas. The dining hall was being decorated to resemble an English 16th century hall in preparation for Lisa’s medieval “Mid-Winter” celebration. Linda, Beth and John had spent the day brainstorming Beth’s idea for a shelter. Holiday music and the scent of pine filled the air.

Andrew Jeeves was a man with a problem. It wouldn’t go away, and it certainly would destroy the joyous spirit in the house. John Maxwell was out of jail. Kate would go ballistic. He didn’t know what Hal would do. Jeeves changed from his relaxed jeans and flannel shirt to his more utilitarian Tactical Uniform. . Clearly visible on his chest was the badge of a police officer. On the shoulders, Velcro backed shoulder insignia could show Cendar or the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, on the other shoulder an EMT patch, and American flag, and on one collar a wreath with three pips indicating his rank as chief of Cendar Security and Police Services. On his other collar he wore the insignia of the Massachusetts State Police. He strapped on a Sam Brown belt, then checked his Glock .40 S&W pistol.

Andy called into the local EOC (emergency operations center) with a radio check and notice that the Estate was now considered a potential target. He would provide more information as it became available. Andy called in additional security officers, most of whom were the police officers of the surrounding towns, working for Cendar part-time — picking up extra income. The roads into the estate were closed. The simple guard shacks, normally empty, were manned. They contained controls for pop up barriers that would stop a cement truck. Very little was obvious, yet, but that was the point. If needed they were there. He ordered the fence line and some rather exotic sensors checked. Everything he ordered would be done as quietly as possible. The helicopter-pad was cleared and one of Cendar’s helicopters ordered to the estate.

Andy pulled on his coat and picked up a bag from the front closet. Stepping outside, he enjoyed the calm, crisp, clean, clear air and headed towards the main house.

Andy entered the mud room and came in through the kitchen. Vikki smiled in a greeting that faded at the sight of the tactical uniform and the look on Jeeves’ face. “What’s the matter Andy?” she asked as he walked by.

“Vikki let me talk to Hal first, everything just went sideways,” Jeeves’ replied.

“Is there anything I can do?” she asked. Jeeves started to shake his head; instead he thought for a second then said just one word “Alamo.” Vikki was dialing the phone even before Jeeves had left the kitchen walking into the great hall.

Jeeves smiled at her efficiency as he walked into the downstairs office. Vicky would have at least an extra month’s provisions on the estate before the end of the day.

Hal was the first to see him. Since Jeeves NEVER wore tactical without a reason, he knew something was drastically wrong. “Mr. Stevens, Alamo, I’ll have a report for you in thirty minutes, upstairs.” Jeeves said knowing nothing more was needed. Kate and Linda saw Jeeves in his uniform, a first for either of them, heading for his office. Kate’s smile vanished at the look on Andy’s face.

Hal moved immediately. Without thinking he asked, or rather demanded that Kate and Linda come with him immediately. They followed Hal through the security door, up the elevator, into their closet,

Hal dropped his trousers, and grabbed his coverall, asking Kate to do the same.

“Hon, what’s going on?” Kate demanded, as she followed suit.

“Honey, I don’t know. I only know we have long established procedures, and Jeeves has just declared an emergency.”

“He didn’t have time to do that. All he did was say hi to you.”

“Kate, Andy only said one word to me, ‘Alamo,’ which is a code word we’ve had for years. It means there is a real and imminent threat; the estate may come under attack. I have no idea what it is, but I do trust that Andy wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t an emergency. Until I know otherwise, I’ll follow our procedures. That means getting myself and you two, into your coveralls. Andy told me he would have a report in 30 minutes. At the worst, you get to practice for a “real” emergency,” he said, smiling.

“Linda, I think there’s a similar coverall for you in the room we initially made up for you, would you get it, put it on and come back here? I promise you won’t miss out on any information or decisions.

Linda did indeed find the garment in the closet. It pulled on over her pants and shirt. It seemed awfully thick in the front and back. Knowing Hal, she suspected Kevlar. Linda thought this was all a bit much, even for Hal, but, she reflected, she didn’t know what was going on. Picking up the boots that obviously were part of the ensemble she returned to their bedroom

Hal was making adjustments to the fit of Kate’s Coverall and her gun belt.

Hal, Kate, and Linda looked like something from an action/thriller movie who used out of shape actors. “Hon, I need to get some things started. I know it’s all very melodramatic, but could you take Linda to the range and get her a gun belt? After all,” he grinned, “there’s no point in having a costume party and forget part of your costume.” Linda looked at Hal and realized something was indeed very, badly wrong. While she couldn’t imagine needing a gun, the attitudes of Hal and Jeeves brooked no argument.

Upstairs office, Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts, 14:15 PM Wednesday, December 26, 2001

“Okay Andy, what’s going on?”

“Maxwell just made bail.”

“Oh shit. I didn’t need that. We’re going to have problems. Can you get Tom and probably Meri up here, tell ‘em Kate’s probably going to need something to calm her down?”

“I suspect they’ve already heard from Vikki, but I’ll have them up here. Vikki’s started things rolling on the logistics side. I’ve ordered more officers to the estate, and within an hour — maybe less.”

“Thanks Andy.”

“Hal, have you noticed how much our relationship has changed over the last few months?”

“Yes, I have, and the reason why is in the basement, fitting her wife with a gun belt. I hate to say it, but Kate’s even more of an influence than Kate was a year ago. I don’t know if that’s real, just my imagination, or what.”

“Whatever it is, it’s real. I’d never have called you Hal if she hadn’t personalized my relationship with her, and by extension, with you. You better get going.”

Hal walked down the hall and found Dorothy in the game room with Tim and TJ, “Hi Dorothy, listen, we have a problem, can you and TJ help me out with it?”

“Hey Uncle Hal, neat outfit, what’s going on? Are we going shooting again?”

“No sport, not right now. Listen; can you lend me your Grandma and uncle for a while?”

“Sure, no problem, I’m sure I can find something to do.”

Hal, Dorothy, and TJ headed down the hall, “What’s wrong Hal,” TJ asked as they walked to the bedroom.

“That bastard Maxwell has somehow made bail. I don’t know how, but Kate’s going to go ballistic.”

“Oh no,” Dorothy said, “That girl can’t get a break. It’s just one thing after another.”

“I know Dorothy, I’m afraid most of it’s my fault.”

“You know that’s not true.”

“Maybe, but if I’d let her alone in Las Vegas none of this would have happened.”

“Linda and Kate walked into this with eyes wide open.”

“Maybe Linda did, but not Kate, and it’s still my fault.”

They entered the office, and there found Andy, Tom and Meri.

“Okay, the deal is Maxwell’s made bail. Andy’s started the process of trying to find him, but we’ve no idea of what he’ll do. For the meantime we’re increasing the security around Kate, and we’ll take a wait and see attitude.

“Hal, you need to get rid of the gun, that’s only going to make her sure things have gone wrong,” Tom told him.

“Yeah, Andy gave me a code word, and this was the beginning of the planned response, I’ll dump it as soon as I can.

“You know she’s going to go nuts over this, don’t you?” TJ asked.

“Yeah, that’s why I wanted you here.”

Tom said, “Okay, I’ll prepare something to calm her down; then we tell her more when she’s relaxed. If I have to, I’ll knock her out, and we can tell her when she wakes.”

I’d taken Linda to the basement armory and helped fit her with a gun belt. You can always tell when someone first starts wearing a gun. They tend to walk kind of awkwardly; all due to the extra weight on the hips, it throws off your center of gravity. I also discovered women’s duty belts ride higher, and the best have a bit of a curve built into them. Fortunately there were a number of sizes. For a weapon I gave her the “Lady Smith” Hal had once purchased for my twin.

“Is all this really necessary?” Linda asked.

“Probably not, but you know how Hal is. Honey, I know you’ve never liked guns,” I told her, “but something has happened. Hal and Andy are both concerned. Actually, I think they’re scared,” I said.

“Okay, so we play along with his costume party,” Linda said, “just don’t jump out and scare me,” she joked.

“I know you remember how to shoot, but let’s let you punch some holes in a target before we go upstairs, I don’t want you blowing your foot off or something,” I teased, trying to diffuse some of the tension.

I made sure Linda understood the safety features on the gun. Grabbing two pair of ear muffs, Linda and I went next door to the range, and I made sure she remembered how to handle a gun. When all was said and done, she demonstrated she could still shoot, though not terribly well. I helped her clean things up, reloaded the magazines and the two of us headed upstairs.

“You know Hon,” Linda said, “If it weren’t for the funny suits and whatever has Jeeves and Hal in a tizzy, this would be fun. I never understood your love of shooting.” Linda had natural eye/hand coordination and discovered she enjoyed punching holes from 15 yards.

Linda was curious about the other equipment she was carrying on her belt. “Okay,” I told her, “For now, until you know how to use those things how about you point and I’ll explain.” Lin pointed to her belt, opposite the gun holster, a knife. “Geez,” I laughed, “I thought you would know what a knife is but that is not a normal knife. It’s more of an Oh My Gosh it’s a freaking KNIFE. Be careful with it. That is what is called a Ka-Bar. The blade is razor sharp. It is sharp enough to shave with, and I’ve seen it done. It will cut you so fast you won’t even know what happened.” Linda pointed at the other side of the belt from the holster where there was an empty holder. “That is for a taser, it’ll drop you where you stand. It fires electrodes that deliver a high voltage jolt that scrambles the nervous system causing the bad guy to fall down.”

“Honey don’t you think this is all, I don’t know, going overboard?” Linda asked.

“Probably, But you know how Hal is,” I said. “If you’re going to do something, overdo it! I’ve been told he wasn’t always like this. Did you know several years ago one of the company execs was kidnapped, along with his wife? Both were killed. Hal swore it would never happen again.”

“What could scare Hal?” Linda asked.

“I don’t have a clue,” I replied, “but I’ve never seen him like that before.”

We started back towards the elevator. She pointed to three cylindrical holders on her belt. I explained, “Those are designed to give you a choice instead of just shooting someone. The first is an ASP baton, the second, Mace, and the third is a really, REALLY, bright flashlight. That leaves the radio which we’ll have to show you.

“Men and their toys,” she said and we both laughed exiting the closet together.

I was a bit surprised at the number of people waiting in the bedroom office. “Wow what a change a few minutes makes” I said, whispering to Linda. Pat and Sheila were there both looking grim, along with Dr. Tom and Meri. My mom stood against a wall by a table of snacks.

Andy and Hal had removed their gun belts, and Hal offered to take mine and Linda’s. I didn’t say anything, but I was relieved, VERY relieved. I couldn’t imagine anything that would mean Linda and I needed guns.

Once Hal had taken my gun belt, my mom came over to me. “Honey, do you trust me?” she asked. I wasn’t sure why, and I sure couldn’t stop it; but my heart started racing and I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. “Of course I do,” looking around, at the faces, I started to panic. “Momma, you’re scaring me.”

“Honey I’d like Tom to give you something to help you manage some news we have. All around the room all I saw were grim faces. “Tom, do I need it?”

“Kate, I think it would be... best.”

“Oh my God,” I shouted. “It’s John Maxwell isn’t it?”

“Kate, please let me give you something.”

“No!” I screamed. “Where is the bastard? WHAT THE HELL’S GOING ON!”

I know I had a deer in the headlights look. That no one would tell me what was going on somehow made it worse. I didn’t even notice Tom jab me through my pants. “Momma, Please make them tell me” I was becoming desperate, I knew it and so did everyone else.

“Where the hell is he? Is he coming here?” I started to notice the drug. This was definitely not my normal dose of Atavan. I had to sit down, fast. I could feel whatever Tom had given me battling the adrenaline, and winning. Tom checked my vital signs and pronounced me “sloshed.” Hal brought a chair over and sat directly in front of me, holding my hands. “Kate, do you understand me,” he asked. I nodded my head. It felt like so much fun I nodded again.

“Wait,” I screamed, “What in the hell is happening?”

Hal replied, “Kate, John Maxwell made bail.”

I noticed Andy come over and sit in front of me with Hal, “Well tell him we don’t have any room for Hymns A Majesty so beautiful things when the bee stings don’t pull down your pants Honey is my favorite things are coming upon the roof roof no that’s Ruth candy bars were in the gas tank you got a tiger by his tail of a 1000 and won a bet teasing a song of six vitamins and iron bars and stripes forever and a day dream believer and a home on the range,” it was so much fun I didn’t notice I was the only one singing.

“Kate, listen,” Hal was still talking instead of singing along with me. “We still don’t know how it happened but Maxwell made bail.” Hal told me.”

“JOHN MAXWELL MADE BAIL?” I screamed. The scream bounced off the walls, I was confused. “what’s all the noise for?” I asked, looking around. “Who’s going to sing sing a away in a galaxy far far and wide but I lost all my glasses,” I turned and saw Linda, “I love just me and you, it’s true tales of the west, north and sour mash it was the monster trucks and pretty horses and Linda honey, wanna show ‘em all your targets?” I was having a hard time saying what I wanted to say, “Oh, hi momma, can I rest my head on your lap?”

“Hey, Tom, how many laps should you ever see a some great big teddy that looks sew a button,” I blinked a couple of times, thought carefully what I wanted to say, “Momma, I think I need a nap,” I smiled to myself, nodding my head, happy that I’d got it right. “Can I have some hot chocolate and ‘smores?”

With a smile, I looked up as Tom walked back over, I looked up at him. “Do you love me? Shhhh… I won’t tell Meri” I winked, smiling seductively.

“What were we talking about?” I asked looking around. At that point I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

Tom spoke to the people in the room. “That, ladies and gentlemen is what’s called free association. Kate probably won’t remember anything other than Maxwell’s out. If you love her do NOT tease her or bring any of this up. She’s fragile enough, and I regret having so many people here.”

Tom and Meri checked Kate’s vitals. Meri slipped an oxygen mask over her face, and with Linda and Hall pulled the jump suit off and covered her with a blanket.

“Well I guess I’ll know not to give her that much again,” Tom chuckled as Mari checked the oxygen flow to the mask over Linda’s face. Tom checked her blood pressure again, “It’s still about normal.” he said, I’ll go ahead with the Ativan, and she’ll be back with us in oh, 30 minutes or so.”

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United States Federal Detention Facility, Miami, Wednesday December 26, 2001, 15:00 pm.

Leo Sweeney picked up his client two hours after the Judge granted bail. “John, you know you can’t leave Miami don’t you?”

“Fuck the courts, and fuck you too. Just get me to a Hotel so I can get clean. You did remember to bring me a change of clothes didn’t you?”

“Yeah, it’s in your hotel. Ease off John, I’m kind of pissed off too, you know. You know I left my folks on Christmas just to get your ass out of the slams. You’re staying at the Sheraton Miami for the time being.”

“The Sheraton” Maxwell groused, “Couldn’t you do any better than that?”

“You know John; I figured you’d want to make your own arrangements. I didn’t really think I could get you out. Be glad the State’s attorney was home for Christmas or you’d be in Miami Dade Correctional right now.”

Maxwell just sat in the car, brooding over the turn his life had taken. At least he hadn’t been punked, though the bruises on his face showed how hard he’d fought to stay that way. There was just No Way he was going back there.

The room was on the 10th floor, and Sweeney opened the door. Maxwell doubled his fists and rabbit punched his attorney. ‘Damn, they ALL fall for it every time.’ He thought, dragging the limp body into the room and onto the bed. Using his attorney’s clothes Maxwell tied him down to the bed.

John Maxwell was nothing if not thorough. The battered valise Sweeney had brought with him was locked and Leo had no idea of its contents. Neither, if the truth be told, did his wife. John always kept the valise ready for overnight trips, or so he claimed. In reality the valise carried much more than clothes, including five thousand dollars cash, an old 1911 Colt .45 pistol, kept in immaculate condition that had never been registered, two extra magazines and a box of ammunition. There was also a silencer that screwed on the end of the Colt’s barrel. More importantly it contained another identity with a passport, checkbook, and credit cards in the name of Michael Downey. Downey had actually existed; he was Maxwell’s former partner, now deceased. Maxwell used the credit cards just often enough to remain active, always paying bills by check. He also kept several thousand in the checkbook, and even more in CD accounts linked to the checking account. The return address was the real estate office the two had founded. There was also a throw away cell phone, a length of cord, and a roll of duct tape. It had everything a man needed to run away.

He showered, and changed into the clothes from his valise.

Leo Sweeney had regained consciousness. “John, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he asked. “You know if you do this you’re screwed. Why? I’ve a good chance of getting you off.”

“Shut up Leo, I’m not going back to jail. Period. The only reason this happened is that damn bitch talked. I’ve got to shut her up.”

“John, don’t you know who that “damn bitch” is? You raped Kate Stevens, her husband is one of the richest men in the country!”

“Yeah, that was made clear to me before I left the ship. That’s why I’ve got to shut her up. There’s no way I can buy her off.”

“John, you’re crazy!”

“Maybe, but I’m the one with the gun, so just shut your mouth. Not another word.”

Maxwell bound his attorney with duct tape; his eyes were covered with a towel. “I’ll be back in just a few minutes. If you’ve moved, I’ll kill you. The only reason you’re still alive is you have helped me, and you’ve never crossed me. When I’m gone remember that. I’m going to have to kill that bitch, and I can just as easily kill you too. Don’t make me regret not killing you now.”

John had no intention of going back. He left the motel, headed north. Five hours later he dropped off the rental car at Tampa International Airport. Inside, he looked at the outgoing international flight board. He found what he was looking for in a flight to the UK. A flight scheduled to leave the next morning had been cancelled. There would be many passengers looking for a replacement to the cancelled flight. Maxwell booked a flight to Manchester, England, using Sweeney’s credit card, and ID. The flight was 12 hours away. Like any other passenger Maxwell found a corner and napped. He had much to do the next day.

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Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts, 19:30 PM Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Kate did not wake, as expected, in an hour. Instead, she would sleep through the day and through the night. For her doctor, Tom, it meant a long day and night, watching over his most important patient — and his friend. Meri kept watch with him, the two helping each other stay awake. Outside the door Pat and Sheila kept watch. One or the other was always there.

Andy went ahead with the plans for Alamo. Security was tightened; resources were brought to the estate. For the first time officers were patrolling the perimeter of the estate in pairs. The officers were grim. Cendar was more than a job for most of them, it was family. The idea that someone could rape Kate Stevens, then threaten her ten days later, angered them deeply. It was, to most of them, as though someone had threatened a member of their own family.

The estate was at the highest readiness level since Jack and Karen Voigt had been kidnapped, back in 1994. The guard force had been trebled. Two helicopter were now based on the estate grounds; the pilot’s sleeping in their ready room. One of the helicopters was "borrowed" from the Massachusetts National Guard; it was a UH-1F Gunship, sent with the Governor's blessings. The second helicopter was equipped for medivac.

As for Maxwell, after he was released from jail, he disappeared. No one knew anything about him.

Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts, 20:45 PM Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Andy was wrapping things up for the day when the call came in. “Andy, I’ve got a call you should probably take,” the night operator at Cendar Services said.

“This is Andrew Jeeves, how can I help you?”

“I’m trying to get a hold of Hal Steven’s, they transferred me to you. My name is Leo Sweeney, I was John Maxwell’s attorney until about 5 hours ago. I think I have some information he needs; can you help me?”

Andy broke in, “What? Hold on a minute, I think I can get Hal on the line.”

Andy raced to the Master bedroom, “Hal, you need to join me in the office NOW. Leo Sweeney, Maxwell’s attorney is on the line.”

Hal pulled on a robe, and quickly walked down the hall to the upstairs’ guest office. Andy put the phone on the speaker. “Okay Mr. Sweeney, Mister Steven’s is here.”

Hal spoke up with barely suppressed anger, “I’m kind of surprised you’re calling, considering your client raped and brutalized my wife.”

“Mister Steven’s, if I had known what kind of man John Maxwell really is, I never would have represented him. About 5 hours ago Maxwell knocked me out, tied me to the bed in his hotel room, and disappeared. I do not know where he is now, but he made it clear that he will be trying to kill Mrs. Stevens in order to shut her up.”

“Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”

“I can only assume he’ll be headed home, if for no other reason he’ll want to secure enough money to truly disappear. “

“Can you tell us where home is for that bastard?”

“Yeah, he lives on the outskirts of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Got a pen? I can give you his address.”

Andy pulled out tablet and a pen, “go ahead Mr. Sweeney.”

“2485 Modoc Terrace, you should know, he’s on the city council, and he’s tight with the police in Eden Prairie. I’m sorry; I should have known he’d do something like this. I’ve been trying to get Carol, his wife, to leave him for years now. He beats her, but she would never do anything about it. Like I said, he’s very friendly and well-liked by the police. When she called me to take care of Maxwell’s bail, she finally agreed to leave him. I took pictures of her just before I left; he’s been gone for over a week, and the bruises still show.”

“Mister Sweeney, would you be willing to meet with me tomorrow? I think we need to talk more. I can’t speak for her, but I’m willing to bet Kate is going to want to do something to help her. Can you fly up here?”

“Well, that’s going to be a problem; Maxwell took my wallet. He’s got my ID, my credit cards, and the cash I had, oh… you should also know he’s armed.”

“Armed? How did he get a gun? Let me get someone from our Florida office to pick you up. I’ll take care of getting you up here; will you do that?”

“Mister Steven’s, I’ve GOT to get Carol out of there before John gets home.”

“Yeah, and I’m sure Kate would want her out of there; she’s already met John Maxwell. Can you call Mrs. Maxwell, get her to pack up a few clothes. Is there somewhere she can stay?”

“In that town? No way. All it would take is a phone call from John to get someone in the Police department to pick her up, the kids taken by social services.”

“Well, do you think she could get to the airport? If so, we could have her picked up, and she could meet you here. Once she is safe we can figure out what to do. I’ll tell you this, if what you say is true, neither Kate nor I, will be comfortable until she is safe.”

“Your wife must be a remarkable woman to feel that strongly about someone she doesn’t even know.”

“Oh she is mister Sweeney; you’ve no idea just how special she is.”

“Please, my name’s Leo, I can’t see holding on formality when you’re doing all this for Carol and for me.”

“Okay Leo, let’s get things in motion. Tell Carol Maxwell to get to the airport as soon as possible. I’ll take care of the flight arrangements. We will have someone pick you up within the hour. See how soon Carol Maxwell can get to the airport. That’s what, Minneapolis St. Paul?” Sweeney said yes, “Have her go to the cargo terminal; tell her to expect someone to meet her there. I’ll have the details when you call back.”

Leo and Hal concluded their conversation. Leo immediately called Carol.

“Carol, this is Leo; we have a huge problem. John made bail, but he went slightly nuts. He knocked me out, took my wallet and left. He says he’s going to kill the woman from the cruise ship.”

“Oh no, is he coming home?”

“I think so, so I need you to grab some clothes, and get to Minneapolis St. Paul airport. I’ll have transportation waiting for you there.”

“As if I didn’t have enough trouble with John already,” Carol sighed. “What am I supposed to do at the airport?”

“Carol, I know this is going to sound crazy, but someone will meet you there. The week he was gone he raped a woman. Her husband is providing a plane. Just get the kids and go! There’s no telling what John will do.”

“Leo, you’re frightening me. Do you really think he’d do something to me or the kids?”

“Carol, he beats you all the time! Do you think he’s going to be happy when he gets there? No way, he’s really gone crazy over this. Just get out of there!”

“Okay, first thing in the morning we’ll leave.”

“Carol, listen to me. You have to leave NOW. Not an hour from now, not in the morning, NOW. I won’t be able to relax until you’re out of that maniac’s reach.”

“Leo, he wouldn’t hurt the kids.”

“Carol, yesterday I would have bet he wouldn’t hurt me. I’ve a bump on my head, and blood on my shirt that say otherwise. Please don’t argue, just get out of there. Take your cell phone. Call me when you get on the road.”

“Okay Leo, and, thanks.” Carol told her lawyer, her friend.

Carol dressed the kids, then packed a few clothes, and was almost out of the house when she thought about money. John would certainly be mad at her anyway; she went back upstairs to the bedroom she shared with him. Quickly, she gathered up her jewelry, and John’s watches. Carol went downstairs into the office. He didn’t know she knew the combination of the safe. She’d found it in the files when John still let her work in his real estate office. She had carefully memorized it before replacing it in the file cabinet. If John suspected, he certainly would have changed it — after beating her to “teach her a lesson.”

The contents surprised her. There was a gun, a big stack of money, a bag of loose diamonds, and stacks of gold coins. Carol left the gun, grabbed the money, the diamonds, and the files he kept in the safe. She went to the front closet, and grabbed a tote bag. Back in the office she took the gold coins.

Gathering the kids, the bags, and her purse, Carol Maxwell left her home of 15 years. Putting everything in the car, and strapping the kids in, Carol drove off; tears running down her face, staining the white cardigan sweater she wore. If someone had asked her why she was crying she would have had a hard time giving an answer. She was scared, she was glad the beatings were over with, and she was heartbroken over losing her home.

Gerri Klein and Ed Milhouse picked Leo Sweeney up at the Sheraton just after 21:00. They had him at Miami International and on a chartered flight an hour later.

Carol Maxwell made it to Minneapolis — St. Paul International airport by 8:30 pm. She was met by a woman holding up a sign with her name on it. “Mrs. Maxwell?” She asked. When Carol nodded her head, the woman directed them to a ground level door that opened onto the tarmac. “I’m Paula Dornier, I’m the co-pilot tonight.” Paula helped with the luggage, and led the way to an Embraer charter jet. Carol could not fathom how Leo had made the reservations; it wasn’t like him to spend money extravagantly. Not that she wasn’t grateful, she was. Paula, the co-pilot helped them board while the pilot loaded the luggage into a small cargo compartment. Paula told her, “This is Todd, the pilot tonight. We flipped a coin and I lost, so I’ll double as the flight attendant,” Todd laughed as he followed them up the stairs.

“Ahhhh, poor baby,” he said. Chuckling, he turned to Carol, “It’s not like it’s a big job, handing out cokes, cookies, and peanuts,” he said. “We take turns being pilot and stewardess,” he ducked into the cockpit as Paula tossed a pillow at him.

She helped Carol and the kids strap in. The pilot, Todd, a twenty-something blond Adonis, called out to her from the cockpit, “We’ll be taking off in about 20 minutes, the flight time to Beverly Massachusetts should be about 3  ½ hours. The weather’s good, so we shouldn’t have much turbulence. If there’s anything you need, please let me or Paula know.” The kids thought it was cool; there was a whole plane just for them. Each of them had a window seat. Soon the plane took off, climbing to its cruising altitude; the stars were bright in the night sky, rivaling the lights of the city below.

Carol relaxed. John wouldn’t find them now. She wasn’t sure exactly what Leo was doing, but Carol trusted him. Carol should have left John long ago, but the financial security, the house; all were hard for her to give up. Carol had once thought she’d done well marrying him. She knew she wasn’t the smartest person in Eden Prairie. She had done well in school, but John wouldn’t let her go to college. There were lots of things John didn’t want her to do. She would have loved to join the PTA, but John didn’t like her being gone in the evenings; John was a Mason, she would have loved joining the Order of the Eastern Star, but John didn’t want her to do that. It seemed that John always wanted her at home — and dependent on him.

So she had stayed home, kept the house, raised the kids, and prayed he wouldn’t be too angry with her. She thought she’d done a good job.

Carol knew John manipulated her but felt there was little she could do. John was friends with everyone that mattered in Eden Prairie; no one would have believed her — well except Leo. Carol smiled to herself. John and Leo, Carol and Pam had all gone to school together. Then Pam and Leo got married, so it seemed natural that she and John would also marry. The four remained friends. Carol’s parent’s died a year after they were wed; the police said it was an automobile accident and she wanted to believe it. It came as a surprise to find out how much money she received from insurance policies. Policies Carol knew they could never have afforded. The insurance, the money from the sale of the family farm, all provided more than enough for John to go to Law School. After that, Pam was the only friend John allowed her. Pam and Leo never had any kids, So Leo and Pam had doted on her babies. When the babies were christened it was Pam and Leo who were the God parents. Pam had been the only friend John had allowed. She missed Pam. Pam knew about the beatings. Pam had suggested she leave John. Two years ago Pam had passed away from uterine cancer. When she had died Carol was left all alone.

Carol had tried hard to keep John happy. She did everything his way. In bed he never seemed satisfied. She didn’t like a lot of the things he made her do; still, she did everything he asked. Even making love, he demanded it his way, even if he’d known he was hurting her. It didn’t matter to him. John had to be in control of everything. No matter what she did, it was never enough. She would follow his demands, day in and day out. Sometimes the tension was palpable. But there always came a point when John would snap; he would beat her. Afterwards, John would be at peace, sometimes even asking forgiveness. Those were the good times. The house would be at peace. John often gave her presents as a way of saying he was sorry. For a time things would be calmer, then the cycle began again. She knew it wasn’t right, she couldn’t help but wonder if somehow, she had done something wrong. After all, every time he beat her he told her it was to “teach her a lesson.” And when he was done, he was at his nicest. It didn’t make any sense. Well, now the die was cast. She had left. He didn’t know where she was, and she would just as soon it stayed that way! Carol snuggled into her seat, pulled the covers up, and wept silently to herself.

She hoped Leo knew what he was doing.

Steven’s Hall. Massachusetts, 2300 Hours.

Kate slept peacefully, blissfully unaware of the events taking place around her, events that would shape her life in the days to come.

Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts Thursday, December 27, 1991

I woke up pissed to a fare thee well with everyone and everything, though I didn't know why. I got up, showered, then dressed, in light weight pants and a shirt, then I pulled on my coverall. My gun belt had everything in it, except my pistol, but I strapped it on anyway, swearing under my breath. Taking the closet elevator I went straight to the Armory. It opened to my hand on the sensor lock. I wasn’t sure what was going on, all I remembered was something Andy called “Alamo.” I remembered Linda and I getting dressed in the coveralls and taking Linda to the range for a gun and gun belt. My gun was sitting on a counter. When I checked, everything else on my belt was in its correct place. I ejected the magazine, and cleared the action. Putting the extracted bullet back into the magazine, and the magazine into the pistol. Looking around, I grabbed a Motorola radio labeled for on-estate communications. There was a wireless earpiece for the radio, this I placed in my right ear, and turned the radio on. There was way too much traffic. That meant Alamo was still in place, and extra patrols were being conducted.

Next stop, the infirmary. Someone had jabbed me with a needle and injected something. Hopefully Tom would know what it was. There was no one there. Lifting the phone I dialed Tom and Meri’s suite, and when Meri answered asked for Tom. Trying to be patient, I still made it abundantly clear if Tom wasn’t in the infirmary within 10 minutes I was going to really be pissed. My tone of voice brooked no argument. I guess he first called Sheila to let her know where I was.

Sheila beat Tom to the infirmary, but only because she was already up. Theoretically Sheila was guarding me from her station outside the Master suite doors.

“Hi Kate,” Sheila smiled trying to be as friendly as possible.

“Don’t you even think of trying that ‘Hi Kate’ on me; you turncoat. I thought you were my friend. You promised me. Some friend; you let them drug me without the courtesy of at least asking. Or giving me a warning. I’ve a bruise the size of a baseball where my so called doctor jabbed me with God knows what.”

“That would be me, you highness. Damn it Kate you were spazzing out and the only way to keep you from doing damage to yourself was to give you something to calm you down. I asked nice. I was going to give you a little, not even your regular dose of Ativan, but NO your Mightiness, You were off and running and nothing would stop you! You gave me no choice.

“That’s not how I remember it,” I snarled.

“Then ask your mom, or poor Simon who was crying because to help you he had to watch me whack you out harder than I wanted. Hal and Andy are NOT happy with me because you wound up sleeping all day and all night. AND Miss Priss that meant Meri and I haven’t been asleep because WE had to monitor YOU to make sure you didn’t stop breathing. Now you owe Sheila an apology, then I want you to give her your gun belt to I can kiss your boo-boo and make it better.

Shamefaced I looked to Sheila. “Was I really that bad?”

“Kate, it wasn’t your fault.”

“Can you forgive me?”

In answer Sheila pulled me into a hug. “Forgiven, forgotten.”

Much subdued, I let Sheila take the gun belt and entered the infirmary. “But don’t you dare think you’re going to kiss my boo-boo.”

Tom waggled his eyebrows at me, till Meri smacked him lightly on his arm, “careful who you go making eyes at you Lothario,” she said.

Tom put a Band-Aid on the injection site. “Kate, I really would like you mellowed out today, how about a half dose of Ativan to start?”

“Whatever you think best Tom,”

Tom prepared the shot.

“By the way, what was it that started everything yesterday? All I remember is taking Linda to the range?”

“Uh, Kate, could you let Hal or Andy answer that? They really know the details better than I,” he said while surreptitiously giving Kate her normal dose - and a bit more.

I pulled my clothes back on, and took back the gun belt from Sheila.

Kate started to argue, but decided to wait on Hal, or Andy. “Sheila, do you know where Hal is?”

“Hal is in the office, would you like some breakfast first, or should I have it brought to the office?”

“In the office please. Sheila, have you had breakfast?

“Just finished, thanks,” Sheila answered. Leading the way upstairs to the office, she took her place at the door.

Inside, Hal, Andy and Simon in the office, with two other people I didn’t know. Whoever they were, their eyes got real big, I assume at the sight of me wearing a gun, and other implements of destruction.

Hal rose from his desk, walked over and kissed me. “Are you feeling better?” he asked.

“I suppose. I’ve seen Tom, he’s given me some Ativan. Now, what the hell is going on?”

“Do you remember anything from yesterday?”

“Not really. Something about asking Mom for ‘smores, that and… Oh damn, Maxwell made bail?”

“Yes Kate,” Andy answered.

“Kate,” Hal interrupted as I started to ask for more information. “We have visitors who have been kind enough to join us. This is Leo Sweeney, John Maxwell’s attorney, and Carol Maxwell, who is seeking asylum from her husband John.”

Well THAT was a surprise. I’m sure I looked shocked. “Uh hmm maybe I better sit down while you explain what’s happened.”

The man was Leo Sweeney, and the woman, he said, was Carol Maxwell, who started to cry and turned to Leo “I knew this was too good to be true. I better get back to the house before John does. Maybe he won’t know I was gone.” She turned to me, and the bruises on her face were all too apparent, and way too familiar. “Please Mrs. Maxwell, don’t go, come and sit down. I think we have more in common than either of us would want others to know about.”

Reluctantly, as though she thought someone (me?) might bite, she came and sat down close to me. Searching my face as though looking for something she finally relaxed, slumping into the chair. It seemed to me as though she just wilted, folding in upon herself. Then, she began sobbing. “I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t know what John was doing. Anytime I asked where he was going he’d beat me.”

I turned to Hal, “Love, why don’t you and the men give us some privacy. Hal closed the door giving us a bit of privacy.

“Shush,” moving closer to Carol, I tried to pull her into a hug.

Through sobs, Carol gasped out, “why are you being so nice? I’m the reason he hurt you. If I’d known more…”

“Carol, if you’d known more, you’d probably be dead. You know he’s said he’ll kill me, and Linda?”

Her eyes went wide. “Mrs. Steven’s, then maybe he wouldn’t have been able to hurt you.”

“Please call me Kate. But if he’d killed you, I wouldn’t have thought to reach out to other women who’ve been hurt.”

“Is, is it true? Did he really hurt you?”

It took every ounce of will to answer without sobbing myself. “If you mean did he rape me?”

Carol nodded her head yes.

“Yes he did. Then he beat me, calling me horrible names and telling me if I told anyone he’d find me and kill me, and my absolutely best friend in life, who was on the cruise with me.”

“Oh my God. John has done that to me before. I finally left because Leo said you’d protect me.”

After that, she was back to sobbing, which was enough to cause me to start crying. “That bastard will never touch me, or you again.”

This time when offered a hug, Carol willingly accepted it. “How can you be so nice? It’s all my fault,” she cried.

“Carol, you’re not going to believe me, but it’s not your fault. Would you be willing to talk to a friend of mine? She’s the only reason I’m able to function at all. After John left, after he hurt me, I tried to kill myself.”

Carol’s eyes got huge.

“The doctor’s kept me sedated, when Hal found out what happened he flew into the Grand Cayman Islands, picked me up, and had me medevac’d home while still unconscious. I didn’t want to live, and I felt so unclean. I’m lucky. Cendar flew my Mom and My brother out, then made sure John Maxwell was charged with all the crimes he had committed. I was told, a couple of days ago, that I wasn’t the first woman he raped. He has been, or will be, charged with additional crimes as soon as the FBI is done investigating.”

Vikki knocked at the door, then brought breakfast in for me.

“Carol, have you eaten?”

“Yes, the children and I had breakfast a while ago.”

“Children?” I asked, with my first smile of the day.

“Trevor, Siobahn, and Maev. All twelve years old, fraternal triplets.”

“Oh wow! You’ve got to introduce me to them.”

“The two girls are into faeries, Trevor likes any fiction except faeries.” All three have tested out of high school reading classes.

“You must be so proud of them. Perhaps when you talk to Dr. Saul, they could talk to Dr. Norma

Ledbetter. She is really good with kids, and I suspect they have as many issues as you.”

“But how would I pay for it?”

“Carol, for the time you are here, at least until John is convicted and sent away, your money is no good. John, Linda, and I have far more than we could ever possibly spend. Let us do this for you. And who knows, with the pressure off I’m willing to bet you’ve at least one man who loves you.” I smiled at the emotions that chased across her face.

How would you feel if Trevor roomed with my son, Tim? That would give the girls a little privacy.

“Don’t you think you son will object?”

“Actually, I think he’ll enjoy have another guy around.”

Which brings up a touchy subject. Let’s call the men back in. Leo needs to hear this too.

I called out, “Sheila!”

The door opened immediately, “Yes Kate?”

“Do you think you can find the hormonally challenged and have them join Carol and me?”

“Certainly, oh, and remember Norma will be by this afternoon, and probably Jane to talk over the shelter facilities.”

“Oh farf! Thank you Sheila. I appreciate the heads up.”

Sheila shut the door, leaving us alone again. “I would have looked for them myself, but your husband hurt me badly enough I try not to walk too much. So, Sheila and her partner Pat are my bodyguards, and just about everything else you can imagine. My normal assistant is Annie, well she’s also my daughter. You’ll meet her later today. Annie is working with my other daughter Lisa. We’re having a medieval theme party next week, and Annie’s going to love making a court gown for you. Uh… did you and the kid’s bring enough clothes? Annie and I are partners in a venture “Gowns R Us.” She also makes most of my clothes, says it helps her refine the software for plus sized women.”

“I’m sure I’ve enough clothes for now. Leo said to pack light, so I did. But I’m sure there has to be Sears, or Penney’s close by.

“Well, we’ll see. Once Annie’s measured you it’s really no trouble at all. Just change the fabric as needed, insert the right buttons or zippers and voila! All done.

Hal, Andy, and Leo could not have been far, they knocked and walked on in.

“I’ve been getting to know Carol, and I think she is the perfect candidate for the project we were discussing yesterday.

Andy and Hal looked at each other and gave a “whatever the crazy lady wants,” kind of look.

“Leo, Carol, you have, by right, a need to know more about me than any of us are comfortable with sharing. The reason is very simple. Some things may come out at your husband’s trial, if he ever comes to trial.”

“I am the twin of Hal’s first wife, Kathryn Elaine Stevens. All the required paperwork has been taken care of; filings with the SEC, the Massachusetts General Court, The New Hampshire Superior Court, and the Federal Court in Boston, among other placess. Now, this would be confusing if the first Kate and I had been identical twins. We’re not. In fact, we are not related to each other at all. What we share includes how we deal with other people, our looks, our intimate and extensive knowledge of computer systems, and a number of hobbies.”

“It is not generally known, Kate Stevens died in the World Trade Center on September 11. Accidentally, Hal found me at the Comdex computer trade show. Since then, I’ve been living as Kate. That all changed yesterday. As of yesterday, I am Kathryn Elaine Stevens, now and forevermore.”

“One more piece of information you deserve to know. I was born male. I was/am married to the same woman for the past 25 years. Neither my wife, Linda, nor my husband, Hal has trouble sharing me. I made my status part of the public record when the Federal Prosecutor and the FBI took my sworn statement regarding what John Maxwell did to me.”

“I am a woman. No less than two doctors and my therapist all agree on that point.”

“Carol, I don’t normally wear a gun belt, the last I’ve heard the estate is in lockdown. One of the things I’ve been in the past is I was a police officer. I know how to use a gun. We’re afraid John is on his way here.”

Hal decided to break in to the conversation. “Mrs. Maxwell. The estate has multiple layers of defense. First on the perimeter, next on the open ground. The roads on and off the estate are closed to all traffic — except when carrying photo ID cards, and then they are checked for access. There are 10 two-man teams patrolling the grounds. Additionally, Steven’s Hall has two sniper teams on the roof, and a 10 man reaction force. We have our own trauma doctor/nurse on site, and two helicopter’s, one set up for medevac.”

“There is also a safe room you will have access to. Believe me, if it can be done, it has been down to keep Kate, and you Carol, and all the kids, safe.”

Simon chose to enter at that time. He walked across the office straight to me, knelt and kissed my hand. “My Lady, I’ve had a small breakthrough locating John Maxwell. He has been using identification and credit cards belonging to “Charles Downey.”

“Charles Downey, deceased, was his partner for several years. The credit cards and bank records have continued to be used. The picture on the Charles Downey driver’s license is, without doubt, John Maxwell. I’ve been able to track Maxwell to the Orlando, Florida airport. He apparently purchased a ticked to Great Britain using Mr. Sweeney’s credit card. He did NOT get on the aircraft. Instead his ticket was used by a much shorter man. This must be considered a ruse. Another purchase was for a Greyhound Bus Line “Ameripass” ticket. There was no security tape showing Mr. Maxwell. I will continue to search for him your Grace.” Simon rose, gave a small bow to me, then a smaller one to Hal. Simon then went back to wherever he was doing his research.

“Your Grace?” Hal started chuckling.

“My Lady?” Andy asked, grinning.

“Hey you two, Simon’s British and takes this very, very seriously. Not even considering he has single-handedly turned up more information on John Maxwell than our vaunted security services.

Carol giggled, “Is he always like that? I think it’s kind of cute.”

Looking to the heaven’s I replied, “Carol, please, that’s all I would need. Simon thinking himself “cute” would just be so wrong on so many different levels. Not that I would DISAGREE, mind you, but Simon already has an inflated sense of self-worth.” Then I spoiled it all by giggling.

“So, Carol, you and Leo and the kids are in your new home.”

“Mrs. Steven’s, we can’t impose on your hospitality.”

“Who’s imposing? Have you seen the size of this place? Not to even mention food. You’ll be doing the kitchen staff a favor. They call and ask what I’d like to eat? I can FEEL them shudder, even on the telephone, when I ask for Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup with a fried Spam sandwich on toasted whole-wheat bread. They LIVE for a chance to be creative. Besides, with the number of people who are already here you five are just the proverbial drop in the bucket. The kitchen is actually open 24 hours a day. They feed the night crews, and the police officers on duty (and a number of on-duty officers from the surrounding towns).”

“Please let me do this for you. The thought of that monster getting his hands on you scares me to death! Just sit back and enjoy. If you absolutely have to do something ask Vikki in the kitchen if you can help?”

“Mrs. Steven’s, thank you for your kind offer, but we really should stay in a motel somewhere,” Leo stated.

“Leo, call me Beth. If I can give you three reasons, reasons you can’t possibly refute, will you give up on this quixotic desire to stay where John can get to you?”

“Beth, yes, if you can give me three valid reasons.”

“Boy are you going to feel dumb:

1 Siobahn,

2 Maev

3 Trevor

Proving he does have a sense of humor Andy spoke up. “I believe that’s game, set, and match. The winner is Kate!”

“Thank you Kate. You’re right, I don’t have an answer to those three reasons.”

“Sheila!”

“Yes Kate?”

“Could you round up the Maxwell Children, Tim, and Lisa? And if you could, see if Jose is working with the horses?”

“I would be happy too.”

“Kate, what’s that devious mind of yours plotting this time?”

“Not much, just trying to get the children off on the right foot.”

The phone rang. “Hello? Oh Jose, Lisa’s told me so much about you, all of it good. Thank you for making her clean her tack before she went to dinner the other day. The reason I called, is to see if you know of some well-behaved saddle horses we might be able to buy? I’d love to have Morgans, but the important thing is do we have enough stalls? There’s twelve stalls? That’s great. Could you see if you can fill those stalls today? If you need more help, go ahead and hire a stable hand. Well-mannered and behaved horses. Yes, exactly. Also we’ll need saddles and tack. Nothing overly fancy, just good working saddles. We might want a couple of the horses to be a bit bigger to pull duty with the guard force. Yes, four sets of saddle bags and gun scabbards. Thank you Jose. I’ll leave it in your hands. Oh, would you like to take Lisa along? She seems to be becoming quite a horsewoman. Great! I’ll send her to the barn. Bye!”

“My guess is your kid’s will love riding a horse. There’s some other girl’s staying with us and I wanted to be sure we had enough to go around.”

“Kate, what else is in that head of yours?”

“You know Jane wants me to help with the Girl Scouts. This gives enough horses to do sleepovers here in the springtime, riding all day, campfires, sleeping under the stars (with extra security to be certain the girls are safe) you know, just the normal sorts of things I do. Argh, I forgot riding helmets.”

“Kate, Jose has been with us long enough to know what all to get.”

“Speaking of which,” I looked up as Lisa and the two girls walked in. “Lisa, could you share your room with Siobhan, and Maev? We can get a big trundle bed, so you wouldn’t have to share your bed.”

“Momma, what were you talking to Jose about when we were walking in?

“Well, I know we’d talked about getting you a horse of your own. I just decided to buy enough horses to fill the stalls. That way Jane can bring 10 girls at a time for horseback riding. I figured you should go along to help select the horses. I told Jose I’d prefer Morgans. He’s waiting for you in the barn, so get moving! Oh, be sure to get sets of grooming tools for each horse, and helmets, don’t forget the helmets.”

“Mom, can the girl’s come with us? I’ll make sure they’re safe.”

“Carol, it’s your decision.”

Carol looked at Leo, who gave her the briefest of nods. “They’ll be safe?”

“Yes Mrs. Maxwell,” Lisa answered.

“Sure, why not!”

“Momma, you ARE the BEST. Yes, you can put a trundle bed in, I’ve always wanted a little sister! Now I’ve got two!!”

I took Lisa aside, “when you get helmets, if there’s other colors the Maxwell children want, just go ahead and get it. In fact, anything they need, just get it. Why don’t you get my platinum card from my purse? Don’t go crazy, but spend whatever you think best. Can I trust you with that?”

“Yes Momma, may I get them riding clothes too!”

“That’s fine sweetheart. Just remember those kids have had one hell of a time with their bastard father that raped me. Why don’t you take your car and follow Jose. That way you can stop at the mall and get the girls some clothes, at least enough for a week. I WILL do what is in my power for them. Just don’t spoil them too much.” Lisa gave me a hug and kiss, bundled up the girls and took off for the barn.

“Well Carol, that’s two down, one to go. I’m going to ask Tim if we can stack a bed on top and make bunk beds.

“I heard that Momma,” Tim answered, if Hermione can do it that would be fine. Do you think we can get Trevor his own computer?”

“Tim call Mrs. Hermione and ask her. I’m sure she’ll get whatever you need. After you do that, why don’t you go show Trevor around the estate? Don’t worry about the extra officers on the estate, they’re conducting exercise “Alamo.”

“Kate, how can you spend so much money on someone you don’t know?” Carol asked.

“Carol, everything I’ve done has at least two reasons. Tim and Trevor for instance. We’ve lots of girls staying with us for a while. This way Tim and Trevor can hang out. Then the bunk beds, we’ve a full time (sort of) interior designer. She loves doing things. Hermione (and she doesn’t like shortened forms of her name) has been working on a Midwinter’s Eve party for Lisa. She’ll LOVE to get away from that even if it’s just for a few minutes. And computers? I know we’ve several in storage. So, all it takes is a little time from two or three people and voila! Bunk beds. Then for instance, the horses. To set up a horsemanship program it takes months of work. This way we’ve enough horses for all the girls who want to ride them. We’ve another dozen young ladies arriving Saturday. By having Lisa’s room filled, there won’t be any jealousy on who gets to stay where. Additionally, I’m hoping your daughter’s are adopted as little sisters. That has numerous benefits. Trevor, bunking with Tim gets him some “guy time.” So you see. While it appears I’m spending beaucoup money just for your girls, I’m also doing something that facilitates some long range plans. Jane is going to LOVE it!”

Hal came over and kissed me, “as always, your mind is thinking several steps ahead of us mere mortals.”

“And don’t you forget it bub!”

Not willing to leave well enough alone, Andy told our two guests “The Jane she keeps referring to is her Excellency, Governor Jane Wells of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

“Don’t let him scare you, we’re on the Massachusetts Girl Scout Council together. We’re planning on a couple of sleepovers in the spring. So you see, you really aren’t imposing at all.” I smiled at the two. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jane shows up unannounced sometime this week. I know she’s invited for the Midwinter’s Eve festival.

I lowered my voice so only Carol could hear, “Besides, I know what you’ve been through. I will spend anything helping you and your children if it can help make things better.”

Carol pulled me into a hug. “I don’t know why, or how, God brought us here, but thank you Kate, thank you very much.

“Hey, I forgot to ask. Where’s Linda?”

“She had a long, long, night. She, Meri, and Annie are using the outdoor sauna. You might notice the hole in the ice of the swimming pool. They plan on getting good and steamed then jump in the water.”

“Brrrrrr…” That’s not for me!” I told everyone.

Carol stepped closer, “Me either. I’d be perfectly frozen.

“If you want, there’s a pool indoors, it’s on the far side of the Atrium. There’s a large supply of new swimming suits in the locker room. I’m sure you’ll find one you like that fits.

“Would you like a tour of the house?”

Carol fearfully looked at Leo, then smiled, “Yes please.”

We started in the dining Hall, which was seriously looking like something out of a medieval manor. Tapestry’s on the walls, along with shields and crossed swords. There were even a couple of suits of armor.

“One of Lisa’s favorite dreams is to have a party for her friends in the Society of Creative Anachronisms. Annie has a prototype machine here in the hall, it’s computer controlled and will assemble any costume, to a person’s size without the bother of sewing machines and patterns. I understand the Young ladies, Tim, Hal and I will be wearing Italian Court Dress. You can expect Annie to measure you sometime later today, probably the same time she measures Trevor and the girls. With such pretty Celtic names maybe Annie can program Celtic costumes of the period."

“Through here is the gallery. There are some rather expensive pieces, but my favorite one is this.” I was standing in front of Kate’s portrait with Becky and Tracy. “This is my twin and her babies. The babies died in a car accident, the victims of a drunk driver. Kate died in the World Trade Center. There’s nearly an identical picture hanging in the Children’s Hospital. The biggest difference is that one also shows Annie and her Mother. Her mother died in the same crash that killed Becky and Tracey. The plaque on the Children’s Hospital version is titled “Love Never Fails.””

“This is a peaceful place. I often come here to think. Another peaceful place is the Atrium. There are a number of plants and birds that could not survive in this climate without careful climate control and lights that provide 12 hours of light. The lights turn on about 5:00 am. So no one is really disturbed. Generally, I eat breakfast here in the morning.”

“From here, you can see the swimming pool. It’s kept a toasty 76 degrees. I hope your kids can swim. The shallow end is 4’ and the deep end is 15’ deep. The water helps moderate the temperature of the Atrium.”

Through this end is the showers, and locker rooms. As you can see on the rack, we keep a broad range of sizes, in both one piece and two-piece swimwear. The only thing we ask is that you give the tag to our head chef Vikki. She’ll order another. Oh, and if you use the swimsuit, it’s yours (I said with a big smile). I know some women are very fastidious about that, and we aim to please. Over here is a half-size basketball court, and on the other side of the glass wall at the end of the room is a full set of weight training equipment. And through here is the nerve center of the whole estate.” I said that loud enough that Vikki could hear me. Good morning Kate, Good morning Carol. Can I get anything for either of you?”

Vikki, I’d like a large coffee with sweetener and cream. A shot of caramel, and whipped cream on top. Carol, what would you like? Vikki could teach the baristas at that nationwide coffee company.

“Maybe just coffee, light and sweet.”

“Vikki, did the Jamaican Blue Mountain come in?

“It sure did Beth. I roasted a small batch this morning. Would you like some?”

“Please, for both of us. Yum!!”

“One of the things about my twin I’ve learned to love is coffee. Coffee used to be "ugh coffee, blech." I found out there is a wide range of types and flavors. The Jamaican Blue is arguably the best. It’s a delicate coffee that packs a caffeinated punch. I like it with the added sweetness of the caramel. That of course means I can only have it once a week. I have to watch my weight (frown).

In the time it took to say all that Vikki had both cups ready. Carol asked what was the menu for the day.

“We’ll be using up the turkey and ham from Christmas. Several different salads, mashed potatoes with gravy, and German Chocolate Cake. Warning, don’t get between Kate and her chocolate!”

Everyone in the kitchen laughed, me included.

“Let’s go up to the second floor, I assume that’s where you’re staying?”

The elevator, then went up one floor. Not a lot to see here. It’s mostly bedrooms. Mine is at the end of the hall. Either Pat, or Sheila will be on duty there if I’m in the bedroom. They were to have protected me on the cruise. No one thought I’d be assaulted just going to change shoes.

“Afterwards, they begged me to let them be permanently assigned to me. They promised “Never Again!”

“Let’s go through the bedroom.” I opened my security vault for weapons and hung my gun belt, and took off the coverall and combat boots. I stepped into a pair of flats, and brushed my hair out a bit.

Carol stared at my bruises. “Kate, I’m so sorry, you say I’m wrong but I can’t help feel like I let you down.”

I knew there was nothing I could say to her, so instead I pulled her into a hug. “I’ll get better, and SO WILL YOU, I promise. You are not responsible for John. PERIOD.

“That’s better. Hal is paranoid about any of our employees being hurt. It happened a few years ago, and Hal went nuts. Safe rooms, estate monitoring equipment, and even code word responses to potential threats. “Alamo” “called for “forting up” the estate. Extra police officers. All access roads have barriers and officers to stop unauthorized people and vehicles from coming on the estate. He even has two helicopters parked on the estate. One has an armored Humvee pre-loaded in a sling. Just over the border in New Hampshire there is an even more secure site. That one pays for itself. We sell long term secure climate controlled storage. And a local mushroom grower takes up a lot of space. Our site controls our worldwide communications and provides beds for 500 with food for a month. Redundant water supplies, air conditioners, air scrubbers, generators, entertainment, a chapel, a hospital, virtually everything you’d need for a month or two. Now THAT’s typical Hal. Blast a tunnel to the center of a granite mountain, install his doomsday facility, then find ways to make it pay for itself. NORAD should have it so good! At least we’ve got Vikki!!”

“Where in the world did you find her?”

“She was the executive chef at Copley Plaza. She wanted to slow down some, and Hal just kept adding zeros till she smiled and shook hands with him. She gave 30 days’ notice, moved into one of the Guest houses with her husband. Her commute is less than 100 yards by heated tunnel.”

“Her husband George retired to the estate where he works as the game keeper. We’ve enough land to qualify for our own warden. George takes a class or two a year then stops all hunting on the estate. Hunting occurs only when the herds, or flocks get too big. The three little lakes are stocked each year. The venison is dressed and served at dinner. Nothing goes to waste. Vikki even makes her own sausage that is to die for. We could run a few pigs and cows, and chickens but no one really wants to clean the animals, hang it and age it, then package it. With kids here almost all the time now that wouldn't go over very well. The only animal actively hunted on a regular basis are coyotes. They’ll kill and eat anything, including dogs and cats.”

“We even get brown bear occasionally. Unfortunately, they’re a nuisance. We let them alone for one year. If they’re still here the next year we either move or harvest them. All of the larger animals are tagged and tracked. Oh, the other animal that’s shoot on sight is mountain lion. They’ve really made a comeback. Enough so they are a menace to people. We try to trap them for a week or two, then George goes after them. Sad really, before man came everything was balanced. So now we have too many or not enough animals.”

“Oh, the game room is also on the second floor.”

“Let’s go up to the third floor now. Again, it’s mostly bedrooms, but it has a large conference room that double as a ballroom. And at this end is a theatre that seats 50 people. I don’t know how Hal does it, but we get advance copies of most of the new movies.

One more floor up, and one more down. So let’s do the top floor. We’ve a full-size basketball court, and an observatory. Around the edge is a running circuit, though we call it our “Widow’s Walk” in deference to the New England fishing and whaling history. From here you can also see the tree house. Hal had the bright idea that Tracy and Becky would enjoy playing in it.

Afterwards, it became a lookout post for security. Hopefully with the kid’s here it will get used the way it was designed.

Let’s take the elevator down to the basement. You really have to see it. The ride from the roof to the first floor took about the expected time, it took almost as long to descend from the first floor to the basement.

“This place is huge! Along the first corridor we have part of the emergency shelters, emergency power, the networking center, and our own three room hospital. One of Cendar’s new technology initiatives is developing a program, and the hardware to support it, that would provide 98%+ of a physician’s normal office services. Ideally, a trained nurse, or technician should be able to provide medical services in remote areas of the world. We’ve signed letters of intent from the World Health Organization for an initial order of 10,000 units.

Hal has always tried to provide services for our employees. The on-site medical unit is staffed by Cendar physicians. We pay their way through Medical school, and they work 6 years for us — at very competitive salaries. Currently we have Dr. Tom, and Nurse Meri working in house. The just got engaged. Across the hall is a large woodshop, metalworking shop, and craft area. On the corner is our salon/spa. It’s only staffed one day a week right now. We may have to increase that for the next week or so. The corridor around the hall provides access to our gun range. I don’t know how you feel about guns, but safety is the absolute watchword around here. Hal likes to shoot. I used to be a police officer, well actually I suppose I still am. I enjoy shooting. Don’t feel pressured to join us. I will say someone who is trained has a much better survival rate than someone who isn’t armed.

“So, how are you doing? Need a break or do you want to continue the tour?”

“This is fascinating Kate, I’d love to see more.”

“Well, step over this way.” I placed my palm against the reader and opened the tunnel. “A few years ago, an executive, with our company and close friend of Hal was kidnapped with his wife. Eventually they were murdered. The FBI said if they’d had a little training they would have survived their ordeal. Hal vowed it would not happen again. He was, at the time, doing a major renovation of Steven’s hall.

“Hal incorporated safe rooms, and a tunnel system to the outlying buildings. No matter what the weather, we can get just about anywhere on the estate with ease.” We took the right turn and continued on to the garage. “One of the nicest features is not having to get wet when it’s raining or snowing. Usually, all personal vehicles, and some estate vehicles fit in here. Let’s go downstairs.”

It was daytime, so I expected the lights to be on. “Welcome to the farm!” I said to Carol.

We’ve photovoltaic cells on the roof of the barn and garage. We store enough electricity to power the full spectrum lights to the “farm.” This way we have some “farm-fresh” produce all year round, and around the edge, we’ve roses. By jiggering with the lights we can get “in-season” produce all year long.”

“Well, that’s pretty much all of the estate, except for some emergency equipment and private homes. Would you go outside to get back to the main hall, or take the tunnels?”

“I can’t quite believe all this exists and no one knows about it.”

“Well, that’s the way a lot of emergency equipment/facilities are. Unless you have to know no one pays any attention to it.”

“Maybe so, but this is stupendous! How far underground are we now?”

“Right here? I’m not certain. Generally speaking there’s about thirty-five feet of rock over our heads. There’s a lot more I haven’t shown you, you’ll probably never even need to know they exist. All you really need to know is you are safe here. Hal and I will be certain you stay safe.”

Carol’s eyes started to fill with tears. She pulled me into a hug. “Thank you Kate. I’m not penniless. John had some diamonds in the house safe, along with a bunch of gold coins, some cash, and some bearer bonds. He doesn’t know I had the combination memorized. I took all that with me along with my jewelry and John’s watches.” Carol smiled wistfully; “I have to admit, John has good taste in jewelry. Most of mine was given the day after he beat me. As if THAT would make it all better.”

“Carol, this is going to sound crazy. We are in the process of purchasing or building apartments for the victims of spousal abuse. I think I’d like you to be our first on-site manager.”

==============================

Carol and I went back to the office. Hal took one look at me and started to smile. “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’ve seen that look before.”

“Hon, is the Jacobs estate just to the West of us still up for sale?”

“I think so, they’ve been having trouble selling with the old rock quarry that’s on the grounds. What are you thinking of?”

“If I remember the layout, the main house could be divided up into at least six apartments. If we get to work on that, we could seal it off from the road, and cut a road through from here. Then we expand our perimeter defenses giving us the security we’ve all agreed is necessary. You’ve also been complaining the three guest houses aren’t connected to the tunnels. If we do it all we could run a tunnel to the Jacob’s estate main house, maybe one or two of the out buildings. I’ve even got the perfect manager for it!”

Hal stood there, waiting for me to finish my presentation. I just gave him a mind-numbing smile.

“Are you going to tell me, or am I going to have to play twenty-questions. Or are you going to finally realize you ALWAYS make the correct staffing decisions?”

“You’re no fun. I was thinking of Carol. If we hire her now, she can learn from the ground up. If she needs some training, or extra staffing, we’ll get it. I see this as a win-win-win decision. We win, Carol wins, and Jane’s Place wins. We can open Jane’s place in a couple of months instead of 12 to 14 months we’ve planned.”

“Okay, suppose I say yes, how do we afford it? That’s a lot of money to come up with.”

“My division has the diagnostics ready for my FDA presentation in February, and the WHO in March. That’s $20,000,000 over cost for the first WHO order. I see a rapid expansion on our security services in the aftermath of the World Trade Center. We can use the rock quarry and woods for team building/training. All of that is in addition to our core business. Then there’s the expansion of Gowns R Us. Initial sales have been phenomenal. With the expansion into the maquiladora corridor, we will be set to tool up to start making real inroads into the Haute Couture markets. Total profits from these three profit centers will easily pay the expansion of the estate and the required construction. I want to repeat, these are all in addition to our core competencies and businesses.”

Leo turned to Hal. “Does she often do that?”

“Not often enough, but you can bet she’s right when she does. Kate, I’m sold. You want to deal with the realtor’s or should I?”

“Hmmm better be me. You’d just get all chauvinistic and give too much away. Why don’t you see about a TBM to cut the tunnel? You know how far in advanced they’re booked. We can use the rubble to partially fill in the rock quarry.

“Well Carol, you ready to get to work?” I asked my newest employee.

“You were serious?”

“About business, always!”

“Let’s go use the upstairs office. Hey, Leo, you want to do the paperwork? I’m sure you’re losing money while you’re here. What’s your hourly rate?”

Hal just laughed. “Leo, welcome to hurricane Kate.”

“$200 per hour.”

“Nonsense, things are more expensive out here. $100.00 per hour non-billable and $350.00 for billable hours, you’ll be one of five staff attorney’s. Location either here, or in Southern California...”

Leo looked over to Hal, who just laughed. “I never, EVER override one of Kate’s HR decisions. She has NEVER made a mistake. Just be sure she pays for moving you out here, and be sure she allows enough time to pass the bar exam.”

Leo, a dazed look in his eyes meekly followed his new boss upstairs.

When they were gone Hal turned to Andy, “Full background checks on both of them, as quick as you can Andy. Please.”

Upstairs I sat down and called the realtor I knew was handling the Jacob’s estate. “Laura Master’s please. Would you let her know it’s Kate Steven’s on the line?”

“Kate! How can I help you?”

“Laura, are you handling the Jacob’s estate?”

“Ugh, yes I am, why do you ask?”

“Are they still having trouble selling because of the old rock quarry?”

“Well, these things take time.”

“And a ton of money.”

“Well, there is that too.”

“I’m working with Jane Wells on a series of women’s shelters. It occurred to me the main estate house could be renovated for our purposes.”

“Well, you know they are asking 4.5 Million, and are firm on that.”

“Laura, you know it would cost more than it’s worth to bring the estate house up to code.”

“Then why do you want it so much?”

“Who said “so much”?

“Kate, how much? You probably have figures on remediating the quarry. Humor me, we both know you’re going to get what you want. How much will you pay?”

“See, this is why I like working with you Laura. I’ll pay the asking price, minus what it’s going to cost me for remediating the old quarry. So, about $2,200,000. That price is available for the next 48 hours. Call your principals and see if they really want to sell that white elephant. Oh, and for speedy closure, I’ll pay cash, for a quick closing.” You might also mention to your principals it’s going to cost me significantly more than $1,800,000 to clean up that quarry.”

Oh, one last condition. For Tax purposes I need to close this deal before the 31st. If we can do that, I’ll even come up to $2,750,000, if I have to. And Laura, make this happen and you’ll be looking at brokering two or three more properties in the next six months. I understand you have to represent the buyers for the Jacobs property, and I’m not asking for anything underhanded. Just start thinking of two or three properties that set back from the road. One property preferably near a Subway stop. This all needs to be kept confidential, when the shelters are opened, we do NOT want anyone to know. We’re trying to help victims of spousal abuse. It does the women no good if the bastards know where they are at.

“Okay, I understand. And that’s why I like negotiating with you Kate; you’re always straightforward and prepared.”

“Laura, please give me a call before you leave for the day. I’d like to know what progress you’ve made.”

“I’ll call, goodbye Kate”

I turned to Carol and Leo, “that went better than I’d hoped. I think you’ve got your first shelter Carol!”

“Kate, why are you doing this? My husband (she made the word sound like a curse) raped you, and beat you. How can you help me??

“Carol, you’ve done nothing to me. I think I’m a pretty good judge of character. You need a second chance, where John can’t get to you. I need someone to be “House Mom” for a shelter. Who could be better than a survivor of abuse?”

Carol had no answer for the question.

“Kate, I should probably check on the kids. I hope they’re not getting into trouble.”

I laughed. “If they can get in trouble with all the adults in this pile of stone, more power to them. The only thing I’d be worried about would be firearms, and I know they are all either in use, or locked away.”

“How can you stand to be around guns?” Carol raised a question I just know she’d been thinking of since she saw me wearing my gun.

“Carol, guns are just a tool. A dangerous tool, to be sure. It’s been said that “God made man, Samuel Colt made them equal.” There’s a lot of truth to that. I think it really applies to women. Don’t get me wrong, my best friend, Linda does not like guns. She shoots, well enough to hit what she’s aiming at, but she doesn’t like having to do it. She shoots to maintain her proficiency, that’s all.

“All of our security officers are police officers. Most work here one or two shifts a week, and we pay them very, very well. In fact, most of our senior executives are police officer’s, including Hal and I. We maintain that status partly because we are in the private police/private security business. We also do it to give back to the community. Much of the tactical equipment of the police departments around here is donated by Cendar. A couple of small towns have equipment Boston PD envies. So we have commissions from the state and train advanced weapons and tactics at the State Police Training Academy.”

Leo cut in to the conversation. “You mean you are an actual sworn peace officer?”

“Yes, why?”

“You have just cut the legs off of John Maxwell. You say you know the governor? Do you think she would have an arrest warrant issued for attempted murder of a peace officer, rape of the same officer, and interstate flight.”

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Are there any very graphic pictures of your injuries?”

“Unfortunately yes. I’m beginning to see where you’re going. But interstate flight will not apply till he crosses a state-line.”

“I’ll swear before a judge John has, or will imminently do so. He’s on his way to Eden Prairie, he has to get money to do anything else.”

“Well, let’s see how we can flesh this out a bit…”

-----------------------------

Thursday, December 27, 2001 Massachusetts State House, Press Conference

“Good Evening, my name is Jane Wells, I am the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With me, from the FBI is Harold Twining, and from the Federal Attorney General’s office, Ruby Chapman. We each have a prepared statement.

“At my direction, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has issued a criminal complaint against John W. Maxwell. This is the most recent photograph of Mr. Maxwell that we have been able to obtain.

“The allegations against Mr. Maxwell include Assault on a Peace Officer with Intent to Commit Murder, and Assault on a Peace Officer resulting in Great Bodily Harm. His alleged victim is Kathryn Stevens, an instructor of advanced weapons and special tactics at the State Police Training Academy. Ms. Stevens frequently goes into the field with the Boston PD SWAT, State Police SWAT, as well as other smaller departments. Ms. Stevens is also a well-known philanthropist, having most recently endowed a new burn unit at Massachusetts Children’s Hospital. This picture shows Kate being medevac’d on the 19th of December. This next picture shows some of the injuries sustained before, during, and after being raped. Ms. Stevens is also my friend. We work together with the Girl Scouts, and other charitable organizations. Ms. Stevens is, as of today, in good condition, though still very sore, and bruised.”

“Good evening, my name is Harold Twining of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Based on information developed during the course of our investigation of Mr. Maxwell, additional complaints were filed against Mr. Maxwell in the Boston Federal Court. We have also moved to seize all assets of Mr. Maxwell, and his businesses, under the RICO statutes. Additional charges filed today include: loan sharking, money laundering, murder for hire, making a terrorist threat, committing a terrorist act on a vessel which sailed from a US port, and interstate flight to evade prosecution.”

Good evening, my name is Ruby Kincaid, I’m the assistant attorney general of the Boston Federal Court. Based on evidence provided by the FBI Mr. Maxwell’s bail has been revoked. His bond forfeit. Beginning at 4:00 pm today a circular is being faxed to police departments on the path we believe Mr. Maxwell is taking. All departments on a line from Florida to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to Beverly, Massachusetts are cautioned. Mr. Maxwell is known to be armed and extremely dangerous. I understand the State of Florida is also looking to Indict Mr. Maxwell on a number of charges, including at least 5 additional rapes.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Prepared information packets are available at the back of the hall.

--------------------

Belle of the South Motel, Birmingham, Alabama, Thursday, December 27, 1991

John Maxwell didn’t trust himself to move he was so mad. Somehow that BITCH who’d egged him on had engineered these latest blows. His property, HIS PROPERTY was seized! Inconceivable! Assault a cop with great bodily harm? Bail revoked, and bond forfeit? Maybe Leo was right, maybe he should have stayed in Florida. Wait, Leo! He was always a help. Maybe if he apologized Leo would still represent him.

John pulled the cell-phone out and tried calling Leo. No answer, no message, shit!

Maxwell then tried to call home. At least this time someone answered. “Hello?”

“Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my house?”

“This must be Mr. Maxwell?”

“Yeah, you still haven’t answered me!”

“Oh, well Mr. Maxwell this is Roger Guthrie of the FBI. I’d like to thank you for leaving your safe unlocked.”

John Maxwell hung up the phone, in shock. His safe unlocked?

Impossible.

Inconceivable.



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