Kelly was back from taking Sam home. She found the Brandon house full of activity. Kathy was gathering up all the weapons used in any of the day’s events for dumping in the river. She hated to dump her SOCOM, but if any bullets were found at the cabin, they could match the SOCOM. Shadow was pacing around, sniffing everyone who came in, as if he knew they had left him out and wanted to know what happened. Lou was being discharged from the hospital tomorrow. Storm was taking him to Hawaii when he could travel. In the meantime, she rented a condo in Leesburg.
Storm was in the operational center watching several screens of news and commentary about the day’s events. No one, it seemed, really knew what happened. Storm thought with all the shooting in broad daylight, you would think someone would have seen something. Even the talking heads were stumped, trying to find a thread to tie all the events together. Some were waiting for a group to claim credit. The CIA, FBI and the Pentagon all deferred comment until the investigations were completed. One commentator said she thought some deep national security issue would eventually come out to explain these strange and deadly events. Storm thought. I was involved and I don’t understand everything that happened.
Jack went down to talk to Storm. He wanted her to know that both she and Lou had jobs with the Brandon team as long as they wanted one. He said, “We want and need your computer and organizational skills. Lou has a great operational planning mind. He doesn’t need to be an active shooter. We need him. One lung won’t be a problem. He will have to judge when it’s time to lay up for a while.”
Storm thanked him and told Jack she and Lou appreciated the offer. Please give them some time to work out their plans.
Jack and Kathy had a private talk with Kelly. Kathy asked her about her thoughts. Kelly said, “Everything happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think. I now realize just how dangerous this work is, and I know why you pay me so much. If I’m going to keep doing this kind of work, I need much more preparation and training. All the action I was in, one of you gave me complete direction. On the hillside today, without Jack’s move-by-move coaching, I would have been ineffective, dead or both. Sometime, I may not have one of you at my side. I need to be ready for being on my own. I want to continue with your training program and, at the same time, finish my degree at Pitt. When I’m ready I want to see where my mother was killed.”
Jack said, “Granted. One piece of advice before you go back to school. Kathy, jump in any time. We both saw the budding interest between you and Sam. It is, of course, your business, but you should know the spouse or lover of an intelligence officer seldom can have a career of their own. A relationship between two strong career-oriented people seldom works out. The internal competition puts a strain on the relationship.”
Kathy said, “Very true. I was married once to an intelligence officer. It lasted less than a year. I was glad to get out. Take your time. Get your degree or degrees and stay close to us. You’ve been wonderful. And Kelly, take the SRX with you. It may fit your lifestyle better. We don’t want it in front of the house, in case someone might have seen it at one of today’s violent scenes. I’ll sign the title for you, so you can get Pennsylvania plates.”
It was late, Jack had just gotten back from dumping the guns in the Potomac. Kathy was in bed trying to make her nails presentable when Jack got in bed and said, “You know I’m a traditionalist, and I have a serious question, Will you marry me soon? Here’s the ring to seal my offer.”
Kathy threw her arms around him and said, “Yes, I’ll marry you, with or without the ring. I’ll also stay with you, without the vows. I’m your woman forever and always.”
Kathy opened the ring box, and Jack slipped the three-carat diamond on her finger. “Jack, I love it. When did you have time to get it?”
“We all have secrets. If you look closely, you will see even the diamond has a traditional ‘mine’ cut. And I have another request.”
“It’s yours, no matter what.”
“Shadow is getting a bit long in the tooth. I want to get a puppy for him to train. It will be at least three years before the pup will be ready to work.”
“Okay, as long as Shadow approves. I owe that dog my life. Now come here, and let me show my appreciation.”