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Sunday, August 14, 2011

("Against the wind. I'm still runnin' against the wind. Well I'm older now and still runnin' against the wind")…Bob Seger

WISHES CAN 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-seven

Mandelieu Marina…France, Friday, August 29th, 2005…4pm

Where the hell was Wesley, Jack wondered, glancing at his watch. The freaking Aussie had been gone better than half an hour on a five minute errand, WTF? Did he have to do everything himself Jack groused while he finished integrating his cloaking software with the electronic countermeasures Randy Patel had developed for the run on The Princess Grace? For a while there Jack wasn't even sure if there'd be a run on the flagship of his father's Mediterranean cruise line. When Pat and his crew ambushed him the other day with their 21st century version of the Spanish Inquisition, Jack had thought for sure they would all opt to bail on the whole operation and lay low before his father's security team caught up with them. They weren't fools, they knew that Sanford Peck didn't play by the rules and they suspected he was capable of just about anything.

They were right about that and they should have followed their instincts instead of buying into his convincing line of bullshit. They were to a man fiercely loyal to Pat, who of course was driven by his blood oath to keep a dumbass promise to his kid. Jack didn't give a flip what happened to any of them. All he cared about was this run on The Princess Grace. That was going to his father's Waterloo. That was Jack's promise to himself and to his mother, albeit a promise she was ignorant of. A mountain of cash wouldn't be the only wealth the rat bastard would lose tomorrow night. His heart would drip rubies onto the Promenade Deck before Jack was through extracting his own form of vengeance. Sanford Peck would bleed just like Jack and Killeen Peck had bled on so many occasions over the years by his hand. It was time to pay the piper as they say. Sanford had always said he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Well, he was about to learn first hand how true the old saying "be careful what you wish for, you just may get it" could be, especially for him. For Daddy Dearest it would be more prophesy than witticism.

"Hey Professor, need you topside ASAP!" shouted Sandy Lucci from Jeckle's deck above.

Jack rolled his eyes, what now he thought. "Give me a minute I'm almost done here,"
he hollered back as he stripped the insulation off of black three ground wires.

"Make it snappy egghead, we got problems up here," Sandy replied, his voice trailing off as he hurried away, not waiting for a reply.

Jack busied himself with the last few connections between the two devices. He took his time in spite of Sandy's urgings. Too much was at stake to risk a foul up by rushing and crossing wires. Whatever the problem was it could wait until he was sure the installation was complete and perfect. Besides, he knew the likely cause of the panic was Mr. Price. All the more reason to be sure that things were done right as time was running out. Jack inserted the three bare copper wires into their slotted nests and clamped them snugly in place with a quick twist of a screwdriver. Trading the hand tool for a battery powered nut driver he replaced the back panels of the two devices and fit them back into the equipment rack mounted on the galley countertop. Jack powered up each unit and smiled as a line of LEDs illuminated like a traffic light, red, yellow, and green.

"Perfect," he muttered, patting the black boxes stuffed with miles and miles of wires, integrated circuits, microprocessors, and whatnot, the fruit of his genius, and Randy Patel as well, Jack thought smiling, giving his former student an honorable mention.

"JACK-O! Come on man, shake a leg dude we got issues!" Sandy bellowed, rapping the deck overhead hard with his fist.

"I'm coming, keep your shirt on!" Jack bellowed back, as he jogged aft to climb out of the cabin.

"MAKE A HOLE!" Jack shouted climbing the teak ladder swiftly, taking the rungs two at a time.

We were all waiting for him when he popped out into the sunlight, all of us except Wesley that is. Jack squinted slightly as his eyes adjusted and Randy tossed him a pair of sunglasses as he set foot set foot on the deck. Jack coolly caught them and put them on in one fluid movement. He looked my way then at everyone in turn, counting noses. He gave a head nod and asked, "Where's Wesley?"

"That's what we came to ask you dude," Sandy answered icily.

Jack sneered at Sandy and replied, "All I know is that I sent him over to Heckle to get the volt meter from Randy. That was almost 45 minutes ago?"

"I never saw him," Randy said holding up the aforesaid volt meter.

"Interesting? I take it you haven't been able to reach him on the cell either?" Jack said speculating.

"Nope, what do you make of it professor?" Sandy quipped accusingly.

"Can it Sandy!" I said getting between the two of them.

"Look Jack, you said your dad's goons would be right behind you. Do you think this has something to do with them?" I asked searching his face for any trace of deception. Papa was doing the same from another angle, neither of us expecting him to give us a completely honest answer. Jack removed his shades and rubbed his eyes.

He gave the lenses a quick polish before putting the sunglasses back on his face and replied. "If Wesley isn't answering his cell it's because he can't. He can't because he's dead."

"What are you talking about man," Sandy said, lunging at Jack.

Papa and I quickly got between them and held Sandy back, no easy task where my angry friend was concerned. Randy stepped back a step or two, staying clear of any altercation. I was grateful that Roman hadn't made the trip or we'd have a bigger problem right about now as he would have sided with Sandy and beat the shit out Jack just for GP. Jack stood cool as a cucumber, never even flinching. He stood and stared at us while we struggled with Sandy for a moment before reacting. He turned and walked forward to the wheelhouse and sat in the Captain's chair, spinning it around to face aft.

"Look, let's all try and keep our heads here, okay? I guarantee we are being watched right now," Jack said nodding his head toward the buildings across from the dock.

Sandy stopped struggling and looked over his shoulder. Papa and I relaxed our hold him and the three of us stopped breathing hard. We all looked back and forth between the dock and Jack waiting for whatever he was going to say next. We didn't have to wait long.

"We don't have much time to adjust the game plan from 5 to 4. We're a man short now and we need to compensate straight away," he said calmly, without any emotion whatsoever.

"Are you nuts? We're done her Jack-O, this whole op is buster man!" exclaimed Sandy as he caught his breath.

"He's right Jack, I don't see how we can go forward now under the circumstances," Papa added taking the seat beside Jack in the wheelhouse.

"Is that how you feel Pat?" Jack asked, looking at me eye to eye through the reflection of his sunglasses.

"I don't know Jack, I don't want to quit but what choice do we have. Nobody was ever supposed to get hurt, that was the one rule we all agreed to," I replied rubbing the five o'clock shadow on my face.

"Come on Jean-Luc, what bout the promise to your kid? Are you willing to renege on that?" Jack asked poking at my Achilles Heel.

"That's not fair Jack, don't listen to him son," snapped Papa.

"Yeah, come on Jack, we can just lay low for a while and wait your dad out. He'll forget about us and we will think of some other way to fund the Foundation and keep Gabriel's promise," Randy said finding his voice.

"I suppose we could do that but the Foundation's got legs now and Jean-Luc's wealth is a myth. Without Standard Pharmaceutical's fat "donations" G.A.W.D. will just dry up and blow away. Another fair weather charity fallen by the wayside. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, nobody ever cares for long, am I right?" Jack replied, nudging at my convictions with my wife's favorite line.

I stared past him for a minute or two before saying anything. He was right of course about G.A.W.D. fading away quickly. Especially at the rate we had been handing out funds to children around the world. The right thing to do was fold up shop and beat it on back to the States to fade into anonymity. That was the safe thing to do, although our anonymity was not guaranteed as it was painfully obvious that Sanford Peck had us in his cross hairs. That fact had already cost one man his life and my brain was screaming at me to do the right thing. But I was beyond thinking rationally, my heart was in charge now and it was determined to risk everything, with or without the rest of them. I had become drunk on the elation of keeping my promise one child at a time. I couldn't stop now, too many needed me to keep trying, too much was at stake, God's work was at stake, I truly believed that.

I looked at my friends and my father, making eye contact and holding it a few seconds with each one of them. I didn't have to speak, it was if they could read my thoughts and they each nodded in the affirmative, Papa sighing audibly as he did so. My heart swelled with pride and love for their loyalty and devotion to the cause and to my son. It was decided then, silently, we would go ahead with the assault on The Princess Grace next weekend. In the mean time I would attend the G.A.W.D. Foundation gala tomorrow night in Monte Carlo with Alma Donnelly as Jean-Luc Rojier, just as planned. I would shake Sanford Peck's hand and stand eye to eye with the man I held responsible for Gabriel's and Monica's death as well as the murder of my friend Wesley Allendale. I was unsure how much he knew, for all I knew he would be shaking Jean-Luc's hand but staring into Patrick Bouchard's eyes. The thought was disconcerting but I wasn't going to let it shake me loose from my resolve. I was in this for the long haul and even that evil man could not change that fact.

"We go as planned," I said finally, staring directly at Jack, silently warning him with my expression. If he planned to betray us, he'd not live to boast about it.

"Good! Let's fire up these boats and shake my father's goons. François, you pilot Heckle and follow me," Jack said spinning around in the Captain's chair and turning the ignition switch. The powerful twin inboard engines roared to life as Randy leaped onto the dock and jogged over to Jeckle's sister craft. Papa leaned over toward Jack and shouted over the engines, "Where to? What heading?" he asked.

"I'll let you know when we get there," Jack shouted revving the engines to clean out the fuel lines.

Papa turned and ran off the boat, jumping down to the dock and tossing me the bow line. Sandy and I simultaneously decided to ride with Jack, just in case. Part of me worried about what I just committed us all to, part of me grieved for Wesley and his sacrifice, and part of me anxiously awaited whatever fate had in store for us. Whatever happened next would be God's will. I still had faith enough to admit that.

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