Total Pageviews

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

("Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again.")…Simon and Garfunkel…The Sounds of Silence

MAKE A LITTLE GIRL'S WISH COME TRUE...>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Thirty-four

LA General Hospital, Tuesday, August 25th, 2005…10:00pm

Elizabeth Andrews had been back on the graveyard shift for a couple of weeks now. She hated that term, graveyard shift, it sounded so "Addam's Family" and it was depressing as well given the nature of her work. Actually it wasn't even time for her rotation. She had requested the change when Katie Tate suffered a second stroke on the twelfth of August in the wee hours of the morning. One helluva way to celebrate your 10th birthday thought Lizzie as she stood outside of Katie's room reading through a chart that had become sadly predictable. The little girl's parents continued to stand vigil staying with her 24/7 and alternating between them the routine tasks of life as they waited for a miracle. Truth be told Katie's mother Anita had surrendered to the inevitable a long time ago, but her father Wallace was holding out. Lizzie had heard him say in calm frustration on many occasions "IT'S ALWAYS TOO SOON TO QUIT!"

She both admired and pitied the man for his steadfast optimism but she didn't think that he actually believed his own words. Lizzie chalked it up to a stubborn Irish trait, a characteristic she was all too familiar with growing up at the bootstraps of her own Irish father and her Uncle Ethan, the two of them as stubborn as the day is long. The both of them were her male role models from infancy and as hard headed as they may be no other man could come close to the depth with which they love their families, their wives and their children, especially their children. Children are special to the Irish, they give reason to smile, laugh and cry, and they make the sun and the moon rise and set. Wallace Tate reminded her of the two most important men in her life so far. He was cut from the same cloth even if he was an Englishman a few generations removed.

Mr. Tate would sit beside Katie's bedside and hold her hand, pretending that she could hear his soft voice and the secret words of love that he whispered as he prayed after Anita had gone to sleep. Lizzie waited until he stopped speaking and rested his head on the rail of her bed, pressing her limp hand to his face before she entered the room quietly. Wallace Tate did not acknowledge her but she knew that he knew someone had come in. Anita Tate did not stir on the narrow torture rack the hospital loosely called a roll away bed. She looked exhausted. Lizzie stood at the foot of the bed and waited for Mr. Tate to make the first move. It wasn't a long wait.

"You needn't check in so often Dr. Andrews, believe me, if there's any change you'll hear me shouting from any floor," said Katie's father softly without lifting his head from the rail.

"I know Mr. Tate, it's no trouble. And besides, looking in on Katie is way more than just part of my j-o-b, it's what I look forward to every day. And stop calling me Dr. Andrews, it's Lizzie to family, how many times have I told you that, honestly!" Lizzie answered.

"Sorry Elizabeth. You don't mind if I skip the Lizzie term of endearment, let's save that for Katie when she comes to," replied Wallace Tate apologetically through a long yawn.

"You know, in Med School they try and teach you to be clinical and distance yourself personally from your patients. I think you should know that I failed that class...twice," she replied in a hushed tone so as not to disturb Anita.

"Why doesn't that surprise me," Mr. Tate said, chuckling softly.

"Well, it didn't keep me from graduating, but it still hinders me at performance review time with the Chief of Staff," Lizzie said closing the metal chart.

"So, any words of wisdom or encouragement from Doogie, err, I mean Dr. Soo, in the chart tonight?" Mr. Tate asked sarcastically.

"Afraid not, I'm sorry," answered Lizzie meekly.

There comes a time in cases like these when there just aren't anymore words to say, when they make no sound as they fall weakly onto deaf ears. When the hospital starts sending more social workers and administrators than doctors and nurses to help with the "transition" from hope to reality you know the "end of life" talk is about to be laid on you. Lizzie knew that the Tate's were close to that talk, days away likely and it made her sad to think about it. She had never had to deliver a speech like that and she felt guilty about the relief that came with knowing that the task would fall onto Carrie Soo's shoulders. Clutching the metal chart close to her breast she settled into the chair on the opposite side of Katie's bed to spend a few quiet moments with her adopted family.

"It's peaceful this late isn't it?" Wallace Tate asked his voice slightly above a whisper.

"Yes," answered Lizzie, closing her eyes and relaxing for the first time in days.

"Do you ever wonder what she's thinking, what must be going on in her mind so close to the end?"

"Sometimes," Lizzie replied softly.

"I think about it all the time lately. I want to know what she sees in that darkness. I need to know what she knows. I don't believe all this equipment, with their alarms and squiggly lines and whatnot. I can see her eyes moving under her lids and I know she's trying to communicate somehow, if not with me then with what or who?" Wallace rambled in a horse whisper.

Lizzie had seen this sort of frustration before in other cases when a loved one tries desperately to rationalize the irrational aspects of the unpredictable and seemingly invulnerable disease draining the life from the innocent. But no one felt more helpless than the physicians tasked with making sense of it all, tasked with fighting an enemy that didn't play by the rules, an enemy that in fact made the rules. At the end of the day all medicine could offer were empty explanations when a battle was lost or give the credit for God's mercy to the pharmaceutical juggernauts getting rich off the suffering of humanity. If that sounds bitter and angry it's only because it is. Lizzie was feeling the weight of Katie's situation and there was nothing more she could do to help. All that was left was prayer and she was doing that right now, this very minute as she rubbed the small gold crucifix around her neck, the same one that her mother wore when she served in Vietnam. Her mom had always said it was a miracle that she made it home alive. Lizzie prayed that there was one more miracle in the little cross and chain, just one more.

30,000 feet over the Mid-Atlantic, Wednesday, August 26th, 2005…9:30am GMT

The Global 5000 long range Bombardier business jet, owned and operated by Standard Pharmaceutical, cruised along effortlessly at MACH 0.88 a safe ten thousand feet below the airline heavies above. The small flight crew busied themselves with checks and cross checks as they made their way to Paris and the Charles Da Gaulle international airport. The passenger manifest was extremely small for an aircraft of this size, five people on a plane that easily sat nineteen, even with the custom modifications. The number of passengers wasn't unusual as far as Captain Butler was concerned, but the group travelling with the boss was a little out of the ordinary. They definitely weren't part of the Peck's typical country club crowd with whom they occasionally vacationed. No, these guys didn't fit the mold, not even in their $5000 Armani suits. Captain Butler had seen their type before, they were mercenaries. They had the 1000 yard stare, a look that he knew all to well from his service back in the day. He immediately disliked them and he wondered what Mr. Peck was doing associating with this rabble. They were trouble with a capital "T" and the sooner they got to Paris the better!

Seated in the forward section of the large business jet were three of the four men that Captain Butler was anxious to unload on the French. The two large ones flanked the smallest of the three, one on each side keeping watch as if someone might burst in from the heavens and do God knows what. The smaller man was average height, around five feet ten inches and was obviously in charge. He didn't speak; he didn't have to as he had that air of command about him that said he was accustomed to being obeyed. He was studying six 8 x 10 photographs laid out on a round coffee table set in the center of a ring of four leather seats. The man picked up one of the photos and held it close enough to his face to cause one to suspect a stigmatism. He didn't see Sanford Peck arrive from the aft section of the plane, or if he did he gave no noticeable indication that he did.

"Well Mr. Price, have you had enough time to memorize every little detail of your targets?" Peck asked with a tone that declared himself as the alpha dog in the pack.

The smaller man, now unmasked, remained silent and did not answer right away. He marked his territory with a chilling silence that affected even the cold hearted Sanford Peck. The powerful executive sat patiently and waited for a reply. He knew instinctively not to press. A moment later Mr. Price set the photograph he was holding back onto the table with the others. He tapped it with his index finger gently and looked at his employer, making eye contact before he spoke.

"All of them then, this one included?" he asked in a voice softer then one would have expected.

"Yes, all of them, did I not make myself clear?" Sanford replied, sarcastically answering a question with a question.

"You did, I was just giving you a chance to change your mind," explained Mr. Price calmly with an expressionless face.

"I assure you that your offer was completely unnecessary. Have you ever known me to change my mind once the wheels are in motion?"

"No I suppose not. But in this case I expected you might, you surprise me."

"I didn't think that was possible," Sanford said curtly.

"It's rare admittedly, but it happens," replied Mr. Price with the same blank expressionless face.

"I trust this revelation will not interfere with your precision then," replied Sanford Peck.

"It will not. On the contrary, it may sharpen it. I like the personal angle here, it excites me," answered Mr. Price, a small grin betraying a personality beneath the grim mask that had been his face up until then.

"Be that as it may, I need this taken care of straight away. I want this whole mess tidied up by the time we return from this G.A.W.D. gala Alma Donnelly has dragged me to Europe to attend. I swear if it weren't for the Gateway billions I would have added her picture to that pile in front of you.

Sanford Peck leaned forward and picked up the photo that Mr. Price had been studying. He rubbed it as if it were alive and for a nanosecond a queer look of compassion washed over his face. Mr. Price noticed it but said nothing. The question had been asked and answered. There would be no reprieves. Peck tossed the photo back onto the table and rose to return to his suite in the aft section of the larger business jet. He straightened his tie, cinching up the Windsor knot as he turned to walk away. He paused a moment and said without looking back at his hired assassin, "take you time with the others, do what you will, but make sure Jackson doesn't suffer. Two in the head, quick and painless, he is my son after all," Sanford said calmly as he walked away.

"As you wish," replied Mr. Price.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

("By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes")…William Shakespeare…Macbeth


Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Thirty-three

LE PAPOUNET , Saturday, August 22nd, 2005…2:30pm

Randy Patel was seated at a small table outside near the railing at the busy restaurant. During the off season this place would be pretty much deserted at this time, but as August was the height of tourist season there were enough hungry travelers stopping in on their way to or from Cannes, Monte Carlo or Nice, the Holy Trinity of hot spots on the French Riviera, to keep the all five of the owner's kids working double time schlepping over priced pies that bore no resemblance whatsoever to what I was accustomed to back in the States. Actually, as I walked over to join Randy I overheard a couple patrons grousing about where they could find a decent slice in this town? They were obviously New Yorkers, an easy guess given their thick Bronx accents. Randy was staring out over the marina, sipping on a bottle of mineral water as the warm sea breeze brushed his long hair back and away from his face. He didn't notice me as I walked up to his table and was startled when I sat down across from him without announcing myself.

"JESUS PAT! You scared the shit out of me!" Randy blurted nearly dropping his bottle of fancy water over the railing.

"Sorry, I didn't want to disturb your concentration, you looked like you were thinking hard about something," I replied, apologizing as I took my seat.

"Well, at least you didn't say something stupid like penny for your thoughts," he muttered as he set his water down and wiped the sweating bottle down with the cloth napkin in his lap.

"Yeah, well that would have been quite an understatement given the current situation don't ya think?"

"Funny, you're a funny guy dude," Randy replied sarcastically, miffed and confused simultaneously at my cavalier attitude.

"Yeah, well it's too late for crying and too serious for panic so what are ya gonna do, right?" I said signaling for the waiter to stop by so I could order a vodka tonic.

"So Jack's on his way, I guess you heard that already," Randy said timidly.

"Yeah, so I heard. We both know why too so let's get our ducks in a row before he gets here," I said as the waiter arrived.

"Yes sir, what can I get for you?" he asked in perfect English without a trace of an accent. That was curious I thought?

"Vodka tonic please, with an extra lime and make it a double," I said ordering.

"Top shelf?" he asked.

"Sure," I answered.

"Grey Goose?" he added.

"Of course," I replied genuinely impressed. Usually I got the nose in the air treatment by the locals, I wasn't prepared for this level of attentiveness, grateful, but unprepared. The young man smiled and walked away, I smiled back and gave Randy an approving nod. Randy grinned, apparently the exchange had amused him and some of the tension seemed to have left his face.

"He's and exchange student from Hermosa Beach, California. Or so he says, who knows, for all I know he's a Parisian with a serious case of Yankee envy," Randy said, sipping his mineral water.

"Maybe, anyway it doesn't matter, it was nice stepping out of character for a minute," I replied.

"Now, I need you to explain to me in layman terms and with small words how you stumbled onto this jackpot file and how you went about covering your tracks when you routed the dough to the G.A.W.D. Foundation," I said calmly, doing my best to keep the conversation light.

"Well, essentially I triggered a cyber key when I hacked into the ship's computer system and somehow mirrored an encrypted code that must have been mistakenly layered close enough to the surface to allow my decipher algorithm to tap into both the ship's bank account and this hidden file's bank account, understand?" he asked. There was a brief moment of silence while I chewed on this information and Randy appeared annoyed by my puzzled expression.

"I lost you after cyber key, didn't I?" he asked disgusted by my ignorance.

"I told you SMALL WORDS!" I said defending myself.

"Right, well in a nutshell someone fucked up on Team Standard Pharm and left a calling card and a path to what I suspect was a slush fund. I say was because I'm reasonably sure it's been closed by now and the same someone is likely looking to erase any loose ends. By the way, in case you're wondering that would include us." Randy said calmly.

I hadn't considered the slush fun angle but I had thought about the repercussion part. Actually that was what I was concentrating on when I was counting ceiling fan revolutions back at the Châteaux. Randy seemed calmer now and I wondered why? Usually he was such a nervous Nelly? I chalked it up to "gallows peace" which is what most condemned men exhibit in the hour before their death. That may have been a bit melodramatic but then Randy was every bit the drama queen when it came down to it. No use winding him up, it would all come out in the wash when jack got here tomorrow. For now I just needed to know all of the facts.

"I see, so someone or some persons unknown were or are skimming a fair amount of cash from Jack's daddy Sanford? How much was in that account you tapped into exactly?" I asked.

"There was exactly 3.75 billion sitting in that little nest egg," Randy said with a wicked grin on his face.

"Are you kidding me? How do you hide that kind of loot from the company without setting off all kinds of forensic accounting alarms?" I asked aghast.

"Refresh my memory, how much of that did we funnel of there to G.A.W.D. again?"

"I pulled out the .75 part or 750 million and ran it through my wiz-bang washer dryer cyber-system," Randy answered before I could ask another inane question.

"That's HUGE! What were you thinking?" I managed to ask before he finished his confession.

"I wasn't thinking I was reacting. The program I wrote worked so well that it was onto the hidden file before I even knew it had found one. And before I could stop it there were all these zeros staring me in the face," he explained, the grin on his face turning to look of bewilderment. He continued, cutting me off before I could get a word in edgewise.

"I realized that somehow this file had bypassed all of the standard security countermeasures that ALL the offshore banking institutions had imbedded in their computer systems. Which meant that we were looking at a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I went for it, I just went for broke, ya know?" he said, his nervous Nelly characteristics beginning to show on his face now.

"Yes but really, Randy, three quarters of a billion dollars? How were you able to transfer so much so fast and not leave a trail?" I asked, feeling a little like a nervous Nelly my own self right about now.

"That wasn't hard. My program is cutting edge and allows computers to talk to each at a speed that the "experts" would say is impossible with today's technology. The pompous egghead pioneers of innovation in the world aren't able to fathom the complexity of my work. Even Jack will scoff when I explain it to him tomorrow. It would take him months to grasp the concept of my breakthrough. Think Star Trek and the difference between impulse power and warp speed. It's an order of magnitude on that scale, its brilliant!" Randy ranted, his pride trumping his fear for the moment.

I considered Randy's words for a couple of minutes and let him come back down to earth before I started in with the tough questions, like who in Standard Pharmaceutical would be bold enough to steal from Sanford Peck from the inside no less and right under his nose, and how far would they go to remain anonymous? What about Jack? What prompted him to beak with protocol and come out here so far ahead of schedule, and risk tipping off his Dad's infamous and formidable security team? And how secure was Randy's Laundromat anyway? The Princess Grace heist was just around the corner, are we a go or not? We were making a difference back in the world. G.A.W.D. had grown quickly thanks to Grover and Alma, not to mention an unwitting Sanford Peck. We had to keep going, we just had to!

"Was that lo-tech enough for you boss man?" Randy asked sarcastically, startling me back into the conversation.

"Yeah, oh yeah, sorry dude, I was just thinking that whoever that slush fund belongs to has to have balls as big as church bells to steal Big Daddy's cash from right under his nose , ya know what I mean?" I replied.

"I had the very same thought, and I did a little reverse engineering on that file's properties. And can you guess whose name came out in the wash? Never mind, you'll never guess. It was none other than the big cheese himself, Sanford freaking Peck!"
'You mean he's ripping off his own company? That doesn't sound right, that doesn't even make sense. Why?" I asked.

"No, it makes perfect sense really. Look the guy's spent most of his adult life building an empire on the seed money his old lady got from Daddy War-bucks, Grover Gateway. You didn't know that did you? Yeah man, Killeen Peck is Gateway's granddaughter, the old dude raised her himself after her parents were killed in a plane crash."

"You're kidding me, right?"

"So we've been holding up Peck and my G.A.W.D. partner at the same time?"

"Yep! Well, wait a minute, not exactly. You see Gateway never actually invested in Standard, Killeen's money was a gift, it was her dowry if you will, a fact that has troubled Sanford the rat from the beginning. Sanford Peck doesn't like having to share power with anyone, and with Grover gone maybe he's fretting about Killeen wanting to assume a role with the company, their company actually as technically she is the controlling shareholder. Yeah, I found that out too."

"Wow, this is too much," I said thinking aloud.

"Yeah it is and it gets better. Killeen and Jackson Peck are Grover Gateway's sole beneficiaries, the Gateway publishing empire goes to them after probate and get this; Jack is the sole heir in Killeen's personal will." Randy said excitedly, making a hollow clicking noise with tongue and winking back at me.

"How the hell did you dig up all of this personal information, isn't that lawyer/client privileged stuff?" I asked, impressed by the depth of Randy's ingenuity.

"I let the computers gossip with each other and just recorded the transcript. I'm freaking brilliant, remember!" he answered, buffing his nails on his shirt playfully.

"I see, sorry, what was I thinking? Man, if I were Killeen or Jack I would be a little nervous right about now," I said apologizing sarcastically.

"Ya think! Dude, there are some not very nice reports on file with a certain HMO hospital that suggest without saying so directly that Killeen Peck is already well aware of what Sanford is capable of. For that matter there are few files on Jack as well. This guy is a real tool and brother we ALL have something to worry about where he is concerned!" Randy exclaimed in a hushed tone as he leaned back in his chair and finished the rest of his mineral water.

"That explains why Jack was so eager to work with us. Looks like it had nothing to do with charity, I guessing more like revenge or retribution, and that makes me nervous. The apple rarely falls far from the tree and I'm wondering what Jack's thinking, especially now that I know his motivation," I said reading Randy's concurring expression.

"Jack's the lynchpin in the whole operation Pat, especially now that he is on the inside shielding us from Peck's security team," Randy said.

"I know, so I wondering how should we play this tomorrow when we hook up with him?" I replied.

"My mother always said honesty is the best policy. I say we lay all the cards on the table and see how he plays the hand. My gut says he's coming here to do the same. I think that whatever he's planning he needs us as much as we need him," Randy suggested.

"Your mom's a smart lady. My wife used to say the same thing. She said the truth was always best even when it hurt. Of course she was always better at giving her advise than taking it herself," I replied, concurring sarcastically.

We sat for a moment in silence and just stared past one another. I finished my vodka tonic and signaled our attentive young waiter to bring another. There were still a lot of details to discuss but we had gotten past the panic mode and could get on to a game plan for tomorrow. The others would have to be told about Randy's discoveries. I would get them all together on board Heckle later this evening. I made a mental note to bring plenty of pizza for the meeting to help keep Sandy from flying off the handle on a WTF rant. Change was his nemesis and food was the cure for the paranoia brought by any change to his fragile comfort zone. Well, food and plenty of beer!

"Okay, let's get back to the minor deets so I can intelligently follow the conversation tomorrow with the professor," I said winking at Randy.

"Deets?" he replied puzzled.

"Details," I explained.

"Oh, why didn't you just say so?" he replied in an annoyed tone.

"Sorry, just lay it on me dude, okay?" I said in my own annoyed tone.

He smiled weakly and pulled out a yellow quad pad and a ballpoint pen from the backpack resting beside his chair. Randy never went anywhere without his laptop and portable office, he was the consummate geek. I leaned forward onto my elbows and assumed my "paying attention" posture, prepared to be dazzled and confused by a whirlwind of facts and data. Oh joy…

Saturday, July 16, 2011

("It’s a still life water color Of a now late afternoon And the sun shines through the curtain lace And the shadows wash the room")Simon & Garfunkel

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Thirty-two

Mandelieu Marina…France, Saturday, August 22nd, 2005…1pm

Situated halfway between Cannes and Monaco is the beautiful seaport of Mandelien-La Napoule. While summertime in the south of France can be on the crowded side, this small hamlet if you will; was an enclave of peace and quiet. Why it didn't attract the same throngs of Kodak moment tourists that Cannes and Nice did was a mystery to me, but it was a pleasant mystery nonetheless and a useful one that suited our purpose perfectly. The less attention we attracted the better. I or rather Jean-Luc was staying in a small, modest Châteaux courtesy Jackson Peck and his family's wealth, overlooking a small natural harbor. This perk allowed me to continue to play the role of a wealthy French aristocrat / philanthropist as well as keep an eye on the progress Papa and Wesley were making as they outfitted the two new boats, Heckle and Jeckle. How ironic I thought that the very mogul we were fleecing was unwittingly bankrolling our entire operation, right down to these ostentatiously comfortable digs. I almost felt sorry for the rat bastard, well, almost.

Papa thought that the boats would be ready for a shake down test run in a week or ten days which allowed me plenty of time to host the G.A.W.D. Foundation fundraiser scheduled for the 29th in Monte Carlo. It was an end of summer gala planned by Alma Donnelly, the First Lady of wealthy land baronesses from central California. It had been Alma who had introduced me to Grover Gateway and the rest as they say is history. The kindly old woman with the down home sense of humor had taken quite a shine to Jean-Luc Rojier, which wasn't hard to imagine as I was actually quite charming in my role as the French do-gooder, much more so than I was as Mr. Nobody Special, the blue collar welder from San Pedro. The trinity of friendship between Alma, Grover and I was an advantage that opened doors otherwise closed, and established G.A.W.D. as a legit venture. The Foundation was the engine that would allow me to keep the promises I made to Gabriel, and to Monica for that matter, God rest their souls. I doubt that they would have approved of my methods, or the risks associated with them, but they couldn't argue with the success so far. Robin Hood had nothin on this crew; we were on a roll with loaded dice!

The telephone startled me out of my daydream, beeping loudly in that mellow yet maddening, uniquely European ring which I have yet to grow accustomed to. Two quick baritone beeps followed by a quarter note rest and then repeated over and over until someone lifted the receiver from the cradle and ended the insanity. I walked briskly over to the small antique writing desk where the nagging instrument pestered me for attention and picked up the handset, answering in a clear calm voice, mindful to stay in character.

"Oui," I answered in French.

"It's me Frenchy, you can drop the act Pat," replied Sandy's familiar voice.

"Right, sorry, just playing it safe dude which is exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Why didn't you call me on the cell phone, you know the protocol man?" I said, scolding Sandy for his breech of procedure.

"Protocol? You're sounding more like the professor every day! Look man, I called your cell like five times and only got voice mail every time. Speaking of the professor, the dill hole called your Pop and told him that he would be arriving on station tomorrow and that he wanted to get us all together for a little pow-wow," Sandy said, dishing out a little scolding of his own.

I reached for my waistband and felt for my cell phone and quickly realized that I had left it in the charger in the master bedroom, several rooms away from where I was which is why I never heard it ring. I felt stupid and scolded myself silently before eating crow and apologizing to my old friend. Nobody hates being wrong more than I do and nobody enjoys proving me wrong more than Sandy does. Well, nobody since Monica that is, he assumed the top spot in that category after her passing. I kicked at the Persian rug beneath my stocking feet. Even now I still followed Monica's Asian household rules. And exhaling deeply I replied, "Alright, sorry dude, I left the thing in my room. Call me back in five on the cell, nes pa?" I replied, hanging up without waiting for a response.

I jogged out of the foyer and down the long hall to the master bedroom suite determined to get to my cell before Sandy rang my number. I knew he would start dialing the instant I hung up on him just to spite me. Sure enough I entered the spacious room greeted by the loud ring tone of my iPhone, the green LED on the charger blinking frantically as if to say hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!

"You're a piece of work, you know that!" I hollered into the cell.

"I know. Now like I was saying, Jack is coming in from the States tomorrow to meet with all of us. Must be pretty important because he wasn't due to arrive here until next week, right?" Sandy replied calmly.

"No he wasn't. Did he say anything else? Did you talk to him directly or did he just send a message?" I asked him.

"He talked to Randy Patel a couple of hours ago," he answered.

"Why didn't Randy call me then?"

"He did nimrod, check your phone for messages. When you didn't answer he called me and told me to track you down. I'd have come over there but I was eating lunch."

"Of course you were. Where's Randy now, I want to talk to him?"

"He's hold up in his geek cave back at our apartment playing with his toys," Sandy answered sarcastically.

"I see, well, do me a favor, call him and tell him to meet me at "LE PAPOUNET" over on Place de La Fontaine in an hour, okay?" I asked, listening to him chew as I talked.

"You mean the pizza joint? I didn't think Jean-Luc Rojier would be caught dead in a common pizzeria?" Sandy replied, chuckling with a mouthful of whatever he was grazing on.

"Just tell him smartass, I'll meet him around 2:30, alone," I said, hanging up before he could ask me why.

I put the cell back into the Apple charging station/radio/digital clock and flopped onto the tall oversized bed beside the nightstand. Staring up at the ceiling fan, I watched it rotate slowly overhead while I calmed myself by counting the revolutions, a tactic I had perfected whenever Monica was on a pillow talk rant over our finances. I knew exactly why Jack was coming and why he wanted to talk with us. Randy had confessed to me that he had taken some liberties on the heist of Peck's Mexican Flagship, the Riviera. Apparently he had stumbled onto a path and had been able to access much more than the casino accounts when he was transferring the ships bank through his elaborate laundering system that circumnavigated the cyber-world into the G.A.W.D. Foundation's coffers in Zurich, much more! There hadn't been time to warn Jack about that revelation and what the ramifications might be on his end as the person in charge of dispensing with the party or parties responsible for larceny of this magnitude.

Essentially Randy had hit the jackpot and had greedily raided Peck's piggy bank to the tune of three quarters of a billion dollars. It was a drop in the bucket given the size of the piggy bank however it would likely be a big enough drop to put us on Sanford Peck's personal radar, a reality that Jack would be dealing with right about now I suspected. Randy called me yesterday afternoon to inform me about all of this, and I did try to reach Jack but he was in a Board Meeting at Standard Pharmaceutical with his father. I decided to look on the bright side and postulate that since he was on his way here to meet with us that the lid hadn't blown off yet. But I needed to get all of the facts together for him when I met with Randy at the pizza joint.

If we're lucky and the coast is still clear we'll need to cover any trail that Randy might have left when he raided the cookie jar. If Randy's lucky the professor won't beat the stuffing out of him tomorrow at the team meeting. If we can get through tomorrow without killing one another we're be in business here in the Mediterranean, and Heckle & Jeckle's maiden voyage will take place just as planned in a few weeks. The Princess Grace was our mark, the flagship of Peck's Mediterranean fleet. Her ship's coffers would be fat with Euros belonging to scads of wealthy tourists from all over Europe and Asia as they cruised the deep blue on blue waters, sailing from Sicily to Gibraltar, directly into the path of our waiting speed boats and right into the skilled hands of our little band of pirates.

I stopped counting the fan blades rotating above me and closed my eyes for a few moments. The restaurant was only five minutes away by auto so I could afford a ten minute catnap. Truth was I had been expecting Jack's call and had been fretting over his reaction. I needed Jack to keep G.A.W.D. afloat. He was the lynchpin to its success and to my ability to keep Gabriel's promise. I knew that, and so did he…

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

("If you're down & confused. And you can't remember who you're talking to. And if you can't be with the one you love, honey love the one you're with")


Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Thirty-one

Engine Co. No. 28…Los Angeles, Wednesday, August 19th, 2005…8pm

It had been quite a while since Linda had been on an actual date. Truth be told this wasn't much of a date, for her anyway. She felt guilty about accepting the invitation all of the sudden, buyers remorse she guessed. She didn't want to date as much as just get out of the house, out of her routine, and away from her lazy cat Miss Jo, named after Louisa May Alcott's character from Little Women. Actually Linda had no desire for a relationship, she had had the one she always wanted and she ran away from it. That seemed so silly now that she thought about it, as she sat idly playing with the food on her plate and staring past the poor fella who was yammering on and on about something or other from work, trying to impress her with his wit and charm. She had thought a year would be enough time to forgive and forget but she was wrong. You don't forget the "love of your life" even if you can't bring yourself to forgive him. Oh she told everyone who'd listen that she did, even Nikko, but that was a soft white lie, the kind that she always forgave herself for, but never anyone else.

Her heart still belonged to Nikko and likely always would, she realized that now, the big rat! Linda Bradley fancied herself a tough, savvy and practical 21st century career woman, but in reality she was a tootsie roll girl, hard on the outside and soft in the middle, the kind who still believed in and longed for a fairy tale ending. She thought she had one coming with Nikko, but when he turned out to be a normal human being instead of the prince she thought he was, the prince that he led her to believe he was, well, that was just too much for her to accept and so that was it for him. As far as she was concerned her vows and promises were just words on paper at that point, and she quickly moved heaven and earth to erase him from her life. To say she was reactionary was say rain is wet, because that wasn't how she worked, but it was how she lived. At work she was slow and methodical, always sure before acting. At home, with her family, with those that she loved she tended to draw quick and emotional conclusions and make quick and emotional decisions based upon them. It's what made her appear mean and insensitive. She wasn't really, she felt and cared deeply, but that part of her was camouflaged by her bluntness and impatience.

When Nikko's financial history caught up with him, when he was cornered as she liked to put it, Linda circled her wagons as fast as she could and pushed him away as far as he was willing to go. You know if it had only been about money she might have softened her stance, but where he was concerned fact and fantasy tended to overlap and it made it too hard for her to trust him. She knew that his deceptions were never meant to harm her. They were his sad way of trying to measure up to her high expectations. In a sense she provided the motive for his lies. That didn't mean she was asking for it, it just meant that that she inadvertently enabled his addiction. And that was the root cause, the lies were an addiction. She learned that after exhaustive research on the Internet as she looked for answers that he couldn't or wouldn't provide.

She claimed to those who were in the know, her family confidants, as well as to herself, that her actions were a justified self defense, a necessary move to protect everything she had worked so hard for, which was partly true. What she didn't admit to was the SAB factors, the spite-anger-bitterness factors. That part was ugly and not at all how she saw herself, and definitely not how she wanted to be perceived by others. Her personal insecurities could never allow that! Even now, so many months later, she hated herself for still loving him while she simultaneously and paradoxically hated herself for not trying to work things out. Nikko had always been there for her, she acknowledged that. He never denied her anything if it were within his power and his means, and, he was the most loving and attentive man she'd ever known. He never asked anything more of her than to smile and be nice. How sad he turned out to be a liar. Why would he do that? He really was the "love of her life," why did he do that, why did he do that to her? She couldn't get past that question, and it's what kept her from being able to help the man she loved, to help them. "Words on paper" she told herself, the marriage was just "words on paper," that was how she justified her actions. Ironically, "words on paper" was exactly how Nikko saw the quickie divorce she bullied him into signing. Even in the heat of the moment the man refused to deny her, she didn't get it, but for now was grateful. She just wanted her life to be simple right now; there was enough drama to deal with at work given Sanford Peck's recent obssession with micro management. Still she wondered, what if…

SNAP SNAP SNAP…Linda was startled by her date snapping his fingers rudely in her face.

"Hey, I'm dropping more than a few bucks wining and dining you tonight! You're a million miles away, what's up with that?" asked her date sarcastically.

"Um, sorry, it's just been a long day," she replied looking for a reason to leave, this whole evening was turning out to be a huge mistake. She didn't have to look far or wait long as her horny co-worker provided the out she was searching for.

"You're going to have to be extra nice to me later then to make up for ignoring me right now," he said with a crooked little smirk that revealed more than his average white teeth.

"Is that right? Well, why don't I start by freshening up, I'll be right back, okay?" she replied, lying with her words as well as her fake smile. She excused herself and left the table with out looking back

"I'll be waiting right here," Mr. Smooth said confidently after her.

"Yes you will asshole, with your dick in your hand," Linda muttered as she passed the restrooms and exited the restaurant. Thank God she drove herself she thought, fishing her car keys out of her purse and giggling as she picked up the pace, racing toward the parking lot before the "mistake of her life" got wise and chased after her.

Tomorrow was Saturday. Maybe she'd break her isolation rule and give Nikko a call. Maybe he'll answer the phone. She hoped that he would, but she prepared her heart for silence. Let's face it; a lot of time had passed. In the end she had hurt him far more than he had hurt her. She was ready to admit that. Maybe he could teach her how to forgive? He'd always been the sensitive half between the two of them. Only now did she realize that that quality was more strength than weakness. Climbing into her car she buckled up, hitting the auto lock, forever the Girl Scout, "always be prepared." She glanced up and smiled at herself in the rear-view mirror. He'll answer she thought, he'll always answer…

Follow by Email