The next day Kathy and Jack were waiting for Frank to arrive. The sandwiches had just arrived. Jack tipped the waiter and said to Kathy as the door closed, “Frank is never late. The guy makes a religion out of being on time. It’s two minutes until twelve. Wanna bet he’ll be here in two?”
“No way. If I thought he’d be very late, I’d try to seduce you in this beautiful suite. What is it, the honeymoon special?”
“No, the management just likes to take care of its bill-paying clients. I don’t see why we can’t stay for a few minutes after he goes.”
“Make it a few hours and you might have a taker.”
A few seconds after noon, a tap on the door broke up their banter. Jack checked and let Frank in. Frank greeted them and said, “Sorry, I’m a little late.”
Kathy said, “Yes. I wanted to start without you, but Jack was sure you would come along.”
Frank sat down at the table and poured himself a cup of black coffee. Looking up at Kathy he said, “I just can’t believe you were able to find the mole so quickly. If this story comes out, you are going to be a counter-intelligence legend. That reminds me, give me your cell phone. It may be legally dangerous for you to have the images of the documents you found in Richfield’s cellar.”
Kathy dug into her purse and slid the iPhone over to Frank, saying, “It’s your phone anyway. I’m going to pick up an iPhone 4 with my own brand of encryption.”
For the next hour they discussed various plans for dealing with the Richfields and the Professor. When Frank left, they had a plan that should work. A minute after the door closed behind Frank, Jack hung out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and said, “I could hardly wait for him to go.”
He looked over at Kathy who was shedding her clothes. She said, “Come on, big guy. Don’t keep your bride-to-be waiting.”
When the passion ebbed, Kathy said, “Your trip in the wilds didn’t hurt you any. You’re still a fantastic lover.”
“Only when my partner is a tall, sexy, shapely blonde who knows all my buttons. I forgot you’re also a dangerous and intelligent lady. Now let’s get a shower and order tea and some pastry. I have something we need to talk about.”
Kathy poured the tea and asked Jack what he wanted to discuss.
Jack said, “Now, bear with me. I’m feeling my way. My father told me not to trust anybody all the time and most people not at all, when the stakes were high. I thought it was strange when Frank asked you to hand over your cell phone with the images you took in the guy’s cellar. He could have asked you to destroy them which you would have done without question. Instead, he didn’t trust you to destroy them. What legal danger could there have been?”
Kathy started to say something, but Jack said, “Let me finish. You found his mole. No question. The mole is the key to finding the Professor. The logical move would be to pick up Sam Richfield, interrogate him, and make him give up the Professor. Any time, any day, the terrorists led by the Professor could take dozens, maybe even hundreds, of lives. Yet, here we are developing complicated plans to take down the terrorists. And guess who is leading the charge? We are! We’re good but not that good. The teams the Government can put together make us look like what we are. A very small team of specialists who can and have made contributions.
“We’re not the A team. Frank is. In the plan we just discussed, if one thing goes wrong, we get wiped out. Given advance knowledge, the Professor and Hasani could ambush and kill all of us. We are the only people who even know about a mole. Does what I’m saying make any sense to you?”
Kathy was silent. She stood up and began striding back and forth across the room. She turn toward Jack and said, “It only makes sense if Frank is playing us and protecting the mole and the Professor. If you are even close to being right, we’re in serious trouble. Our proof of the existence of a mole is gone.”
“Not quite. I copied the images on to my iPad just to be on the safe side, in case something happened to your collection. Right now, I don’t see how that can help us.”
“I’m going to run a little test. Give me your phone. I’m going to call the young woman Frank assigned to help me.” Kathy called Jennifer’s cell. She answered and Kathy said, “Where are you?”
“Kathy, I won’t be able to help you anymore. I got a spot promotion and an immediate transfer to Afghanistan.”
“Wonderful! Who told you about the transfer?”
“Mr. Batcher just told me. He said he had talked to you, and there was no further need for me to help you. The problem went away. He said my transfer was very sensitive, and I shouldn’t talk to anyone about it. He said not even you, but I just couldn’t go away without saying goodbye to you. I hope we have a chance to work together again. I’m sorry, but my ride to the airport is outside. I have to go. Bye for now.”
Kathy had the iPhone on speaker so Jack could hear every word.
Jack said, “Okay. What do you think now?”
“I’m scared! You have to be right. Otherwise, nothing makes any sense. I think Jennifer might get killed for her role in helping me. Take her away, and only you and I know about the existence of any mole. We have photocopies of alias documentation, most likely done by the Agency, ostensibly for Richfield’s use in a CIA operation. I do have Richfield’s alias driver’s license. I did not give it to Frank. What do we do now?”
“Frank’s been in this business a long time. He knows we’re a danger to him as long as we’re alive. I believe he intends to make us the fall guys. We either get killed or arrested as traitors. We need some official help or we need to kill Frank and Richfield.”
“I’ll bet Richfield’s house is now empty, and he’s in the wind. A search of the cellar will turn up nothing. To get official help, we need real evidence. What we have is useless, a CIA officer working in counter-terrorism with three sets of alias documentation. Means nothing. You still have those recorded phone calls warning the sniper team you and Shadow were chasing. Again, nothing to convince any skeptics.”
Jack agreed and said, “Now we know how the so-called mole learned so quickly about our activities. Richfield wasn’t the mole. It was Frank who kept the terrorists one step ahead of us at every turn.”
“Your father made Frank’s reputation by helping him to track down and arrest members of KGB sleeper cells in America. There was no reason for him to double-cross your father. For twenty years, he was Frank’s mentor. He never knew the real Frank. Did your father ever tell him about the mountain hideaway?”
“No. He told me no one knew about it. Maybe we should think about locating there for a while. I hate to expose Kelly, Storm and Lou to this kind of trouble. They didn’t sign up to have their own government after them.”
Kathy said, “I would bring Kelly to the cabin but not Lou or Storm. Lou’s need for regular medical care will make him too easy to find. And Storm is not yet committed. Maybe in the future, but not now. I believe she resents what happened to her father and feels we had no business exposing him to such danger.”
“I believe Frank is the problem. With him gone, we are all okay. He needs us dead, not arrested and talking to law enforcement. The problem is he knows we will quickly figure out what’s going on. He knew asking for your cell phone and not having his own plan to pick up the mole you found, gave him away. Once we had those phone calls I found on the sniper’s abandoned cell phone, he had to manufacture a mole.
“Putting you in charge bought him time and let him track our activities. Richfield is probably no mole. Frank arranged some way of putting those documents where you would find them. In the same way, he gave you a stack of personnel files. He wanted you to find Richfield and go away, believing you did a first-class investigative job. Case closed. Back to business as usual, continuing to use us to make himself look good. He miscalculated how little time it would take you to find Richfield and to smell a rat.”
Kathy said, “The son of a bitch wants to set us up to get killed in action at the hands of the Professor. He can then either let the Professor disappear or kill him as well, depending on which option is the best for him. If we play it right, we can use his plan against him. If our deaths can be attributed to the Professor, so could Frank’s.”
“Exactly! Whatever the action, we have to keep that part to ourselves. We’ll send Lou and Storm away. If they lay a good enough false trail, they should be safe. What do you think about Kelly?”
“I think we should include Kelly. She has good instincts and is totally committed. Besides Frank knows about her and could see her as a danger or a way to get to us. She’s safer with us.”
“Okay, I agree. She needs to know the whole story. Will you brief her?
“You got it.”
“Starting now, we have to be super careful. Frank is a very dangerous man. He is entirely ruthless and a little sick. I believe he likes us, you especially. Still, he’ll kill us at the first safe opportunity he gets. Okay, let’s get out of here.”
As they were going down in the elevator, Jack said, “Our car is in valet parking and is probably safe. I don’t put it past Frank to put an explosive device or a beacon on our car. He knows the valet will be getting the car for us, so any pressure switch will be on the passenger side. Please humor me and get in the back seat. I’ll check the car over back at the house. Until this is over, the car has to be checked every time it’s out of our control.
“While I’m checking the car, tell Storm to get rid of her cell phone and take Lou to Hawaii as soon as he can travel. Get her a cashier’s check for $500,000. Tell her to use cash. No credit cards. Their contracts will be honored for the next year and then we’ll see about the future. Tell her the risk is real, but no details. Also, no contact with family or close friends. In Hawaii, she can get a prepaid cell phone and a new notebook using a different name or a variation of their names. Ask her to send a postcard to our lawyer, Lee Jensen, every month indicating their hotel. Don’t scare her to death but impress her with the need to be careful. The sooner they are away from here the better. Tell her to make the plans but don’t implement them until you tell her to go.”
“Got it. Storm is not going to be happy.”
“Being alive is better. This should all be over, one way or the other, in a month at the latest.”