Jack Brandon, on his way to run some errands, paused on the porch of the mountain cabin he inherited from his father, and looked out over the thousand acres of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains that came with the cabin. His father, Peter Brandon, built the cabin, two hours east of Pittsburgh, as a final hiding place, in his struggle to escape a vengeful KGB. Forty years ago, his father, a KGB officer on the fast track, opted for freedom in America but on his terms. He stole all the operational funds the KGB provided for his mission in America. Assuming the name Peter Brandon, he eluded the KGB hunt. The team hunting him found and killed his wife and infant daughter. Only Peter and his young son Jack escaped. For the next three and a half decades, Peter Brandon extracted his vengeance by working with a CIA officer to destroy a Cold War espionage network of Soviet undercover agents living in America. During the last year of his life, Peter revealed his story to Jack, who joined him in his mission to protect America from foreign terrorists’ threats. Jack’s background as a Marine Recon Officer and detective in the homicide department of the Pittsburgh police gave him the know how to pick up his father’s mission after al Qaeda killed Peter Brandon in his McLean, VA home. The hideaway mountain cabin now housed Jack, Kathy and Shadow, Jack’s beloved Bouvier des Flandres. Kathy had been an up and coming CIA case officer, who joined the Brandon Group to escape the increasing bureaucracy of the counter terrorism office, and the money covered her mother’s medical bills.
Shortly after Jack’s father was killed in his home by terrorists, the FBI and local police, acting on information supplied by the group, took care of the remaining elements of the terrorist network. The identities of Jack and Kathy were exposed to al Qaeda during a deadly showdown in New Delhi.
A few more days of rest, then they would have to decide where they would set up next. Some place where it would be difficult for any revenge seeking terrorists to find them. Jack was still running over some options in his head as he drove back from his short trip to Somerset, PA. Besides the need for some groceries, he made a few phone calls. Using cell phones from the cabin was not done. Pay phones were getting scarce but there were some in Somerset. On the way back, he’d decided he would take Kathy and Shadow for a visit to his old home in Pittsburgh. Jack was so focused on the details of a trip to his old haunts, he nearly missed the turn into the overgrown lane to the cabin.
Shadow, the 100-pound plus black Bouvier, came bounding up the quarter mile one-lane entrance to the cabin and jumped into the front seat with Jack when he opened the door. Shadow liked few things better than to sit up front and hang his head out the window as he surveyed his domain. Jack pulled into the small parking area below the cabin and was welcomed by Kathy with a big hug when he got out of the Cadillac SRX.
“Hey, I’ve only been gone for a few hours. Don’t look so worried.”
Kathy pushed him back so she could see Jack’s face and said, “It’s just that we’ve had so many close ones in the past year. I don’t think you worry enough and that attitude scares me to death. In the almost a year since I’ve been sharing your bed, I thought for sure I had lost you more than once. I don’t want to change you, but could you just please take fewer risks. First, Recon Marines, then a homicide detective and, even worse, picking up your father’s crusade against terrorists. There, that’s my speech. I just had to get it out.”
“Kathy, I know I’m not immortal and believe it or not, I intend to cut down on the risks we take. How about we go to Pittsburgh for a few days? We could stay in my old house. It’s sitting empty. Or we could stay at a hotel. I want to show you my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, a real northern city university.”
Kathy said, “Good! Some city living would be good and I’d like to see your old house. Maybe we’ll live there someday.”
“I’m not sure Shadow will be happy there. He never liked my ex-wife and despised the small backyard. Anyway, he can come with us. He’s spent too much time in kennels recently.
“I want both of us to have dinner with my friend and the Assistant Chief of Investigations. I worked for him in the homicide unit. He’s a great guy and like a father to me. Okay? Let’s get packed. We’ll start with a visit to my old house. It’s still furnished with what I could afford on a cop’s salary. The place is probably dusty as hell. We can be there in three hours.”
Kathy said, “So let’s get started. We don’t need much. We do need new wardrobes after losing all our stuff in India.”
On the way west on Route 30, Kathy questioned Jack about the house, neighborhood and details of his previous life as a detective in the homicide unit of the Bureau of Pittsburgh Police. She told Jack she was having trouble with his financial status as a police detective one day and a near-billionaire the next. How did he deal with that? Jack told her it wasn’t hard. He was the same person, or almost the same person. He knew that one day his father would leave him some money but had no idea of the extent. The size of his father’s estate took his breath away when Lee Jensen, his father’s attorney and friend, revealed the figures to him, as well as the terms of acceptance. To accept his inheritance, Jack had to agree to work full-time, using the wealth his father accumulated from the seed money taken from the KGB when he escaped, to enjoy and protect American freedom.
Kathy had been with Jack and Anita, her best friend and fellow team member, on their mission of the past year to track down and kill his father’s murderers. Kathy knew she and Jack had been lucky. Anita gave her life to save Jack’s. She accepted that hazardous operations meant casualties had to be expected. Luck was also involved in her meeting Jack. She’d never met a man like him before. Kathy thought Marsha, Jack’s ex-wife who wanted to be rich, had dumped Jack and run off with a divorce attorney. Too bad for her. Jack was spoken for now.