More surprises await Frank once Shay arrives. Not only has he found out that he’s Mable’s great-grandson, he also discovers that Shay’s team has had him under surveillance. Not only that, their cameras recorded the vandalizing of his car. Not Ralph Penwarren or some unnamed, faceless “spook”, but a tall, attractive, very angry blonde.
“And you know this why?”
“I’ve been watching you,” Clark replied defiantly. “I’m head of the surveillance team.”
“And you didn’t catch the guy at my house?”
“Our job was to watch you, not your house. My team and I have been keeping an eye on you for the last three years.”
“How did I not know that?”
“We’re very good, Frank. We blend,” Phil said with a smirk.
“Right. . . .”
“If I told you who my people are, you’d be stunned. I’m the silent, unknown watcher who sits outside in all kinds of weather. Rain or shine, snow, sleet or fog. . . .” Clark continued.
Frank laughed, shaking his head. “You’d be noticed.”
“True, so mostly I sit in the blue house on the edge of the property and watch from there.”
“Wait a second. What?” His laughter increased. “I had this flash of that little, modular home chock full of super spy equipment.”
Clark didn’t laugh, neither did the others. Frank sobered, suspecting he’d hit the truth.
“Why move now?” He asked quietly.
“Because you were starting to remember bits and pieces. And you’ve done some research. Why do you think your passwords still work? Not cause we’re careless,” Phil said in a smug tone.
“I’ll be going now,” Marka said from the foyer.
Frank leaped across the room, taking her gently by the arms. “Please stay. I’m so sorry. I overreacted. That’s the problem with doing what we do.” He gestured to include the other men. “You get so paranoid, you see conspiracy everywhere. I believe you. Can you forgive me?” He took her hands, gazing deeply into her eyes.
“Can you trust me, Frank?”
“Because I have to know you’ll trust me, or I can’t help you.”
“I don’t just want your help,” he whispered. “Surely you know that?”
“If you don’t trust me—completely—just like you say, this can’t go any further.”
Frank sighed, nodding. Forgetting that they had an audience, he took her face in his hands, kissing her compellingly.
“I trust you, Marka. And I’m wild about you. That’s all I’ve got. . . .”
Their kiss lasted longer this time. A soft clearing of the throat caused them to break apart. Frank to turn around. Shay stood by the chair.
“One or two more things, Frank. First, we’re continuing our surveillance. If nothing else, we can keep an eye on you both. Second, the woman.”
“What woman?” Marka asked.
“The blonde who trashed his car,” Phil replied.
“What are you talking about? I thought that was Ralph?” she appealed to Frank for clarification.
“Clark saw some woman trash it,” he explained, shrugging.
“Know any stunning, tall, blonde women about your age who hold a grudge?”
“Not really. I mean, I know some attractive blonde women about my age, but not any that hold a particular grudge. I’m a pretty nice guy. I don’t go out of my way to piss people off.”
“No disgruntled employees? Ex-lovers? Old girlfriends?” Clark continued.
“My ex-lovers were rarely violent,” Frank said. “Amicable breakups. Maybe a little disappointed. . . .” He shrugged, grinning when Marka poked him.
“Being honest. I aim to please.”
“Otherwise we don’t get laid,” Phil, who was only a little older than he, intoned, offering his knuckles.
“Damn Skippy.” Frank tapped knuckles with the Major.
Shay and Clark, both of whom wore wedding bands, looked at the antics of the younger men with amused smiles.
“I did get a couple pictures,” Clark said in a more sober voice. “Can I borrow your laptop?”
“Sure. Knock yourself out.” Frank gestured toward the computer which was on the floor beside Shay.
Shay handed the computer to Clark. The Major whipped out a flashdrive and plugged it in after the computer booted. The shots he showed Frank were of a woman about 5’9″ dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt who was swinging a hammer at his headlights. Her blonde hair was pulled up in a ponytail. Some pictures were from a distance, the others were up close with a very sophisticated telephoto lens.
“You couldn’t go out and stop the bitch?” He complained. “Shit, Clark! That’s my ride, man.”
“There was a lot going on, Frank. You noticed the date/ time stamp. It was around the time all hell was breaking loose inside. She heard the ambulance coming and took off.”
“Does she look familiar?” Shay asked.
Frank squinted at a closeup, frowning as he concentrated. There was something familiar about her features. He couldn’t place it. Suddenly,
recognition dawned. © Dellani Oakes