On the flight from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Gideon wandered around the plane like a seasoned flyer. After checking everything out and getting into an open cabinet of snacks, he curled up beside Shadow in the back of the plane.
Jack told Kelly and Sally about the consequences of the kidnapping and rescue. They sat around the small conference table and Jack said, “Neither of you can go back to your before life. The police don’t know what happened and we’re not going to tell them. You both know no talking to anyone, and I mean anyone, about the last week. But when people working with the kidnappers see Sally, and they will, they will connect a few dots. They will know that the people who followed her and set up the kidnapping are dead. They will know the men taking you to Amelia Island are missing without a trace and so is the boat. We don’t know the identities of the people who first spotted you and alerted the kidnappers. When you go back to your previous life, they will see you and alert their contact. You will then be their number one target. They’ll want to know what happened. Something you obviously know. No matter how you rationalize what happened and what you can now do in your old life, your chances of living two weeks more are marginal at best. They will find you and kill you. Kelly, your chances are better but not much. Your close association with Sally is known. Showing up with her after the kidnapping ties you to her. If they can capture Sally alive, they will make her talk. Then all of us are in danger. Kathy and I can handle the risk. Neither of you are ready for that yet.”
“You’re telling us we have to disappear?” Kelly said, taken aback.
“No. Just move somewhere else and don’t tell anyone. I want you to keep working with us but you have to cut your contacts here.”
“How about Sally? Can she work with us?”
“You know the price of joining us. The commitment, difficult training, limited ability to develop a relationship with anyone, and more than little personal risk. I believe she has what it takes but the commitment is serious and not easily changed. We’re open to the possibility. We need to hear from Sally.”
Kelly turned to her friend. “Sally, you’re on. What say?”
“Will I be in a kind of witness protection plan?”
Kathy broke in. “No. You can keep your name for now. But you must cut your ties here and move somewhere else. The bad guys are not super smart. Just don’t make it easy for them.”
“What about the training Jack talked about?”
“Let me answer that one,” Kelly said. “The training is hard, both physically and mentally. Jack and Kathy are really good instructors. I never felt like quitting or questioned whether I was doing the right thing. I’m happy and feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. There is no public credit. Many times we work outside the law doing what no one else seems to be able to do. It may not be legal but it is the right thing. I’ve given you my position. I love these people. They are my family. No regrets.”
Sally sat quiet for a minute. “Will you take me? I’ll work as hard as I can. My faceoff with death or worse made my life so far seem frivolous. I want to make a change. I can go anywhere. Can Kelly and I be together?”
“We don’t want either of you to be alone for a while,” Kathy said. “The buddy system works. Your training may be different at times. And you will be on your own at times. Mostly the training is faster and better if done with a partner. There are some rules. No stupid mistakes, no not following orders, no telling anyone outside the four of us anything about what we do, have done, plan to do, or any personal information about any of us. Jack is extremely hard about security. There will be no second chances. Lastly, don’t hold anything back.”
“What is your financial status?” Jack asked.
“I’ve a small trust from my family that I can draw on up to $40,000 per year. I’ve used that money and some more to finance my education. I have some savings from my work in a law firm. I passed the Montana bar exam last year and specialized in cases involving the acquisition and sale of land. Someday I might want to open my own firm.”
“Tomorrow I’ll open an offshore securities account for each of you in the range of five million dollars, mostly in foreign stocks and gold certificates. You will be partners in an overseas security firm my attorney set up last year. Not only for cover purposes but also to give both of you a way to pay U.S. taxes. Your training will start when we get you both relocated. Kathy suggested you move into our house in McLean, Virginia. Kelly knows the place. Be prepared to go there tomorrow. I suggest you leave everything behind. Including cars. Sell them if you can. If there is something you must have go get it. Go together and be discreet. Kathy and I will join you in McLean in a few days. If you owe anyone money, pay in cash. If you break a lease, leave enough to pay the rent for three or four months. Tell them they can rent it immediately. Family problems forced you to go home. Do not leave any addresses or phone numbers with anyone. Any questions?”
Kelly nodded. “We’ll check in to a hotel tonight. See you in a few days.”
“Wow! Talk about action,” Sally said, wide-eyed.
“You should have seen the planning and action it took to rescue you and the other 23 young women. Everything was at warp speed.”
“When we get off the plane, you two get a taxi to a hotel and begin your planning to get out of Pittsburgh tomorrow. Listen hard now. Stay together! Kelly, carry your SOCOM. Sally, cancel your current cell phone account and throw your cell in the river. We’ll get you a special iPhone in McLean. Kelly, introduce Sally to Paul Kim and get her started on a hapkido program to round out her Aikido. Get used to training together. You both need it,” Kathy instructed.