Janet and Diego are happy for a time, until Coffey comes back into their lives.
“You—Men! Going off to fight your damn wars! And we stay home….”
“We fight to protect you,” Coffey began.
“We stay home, have babies, raise families, work, keep house, and you think you can waltz in and out of our lives as you please. We’ll be there, breathless sex toys for your hiatus f**king! Well, it doesn’t work like that!” She punched the colonel in the chest.
“Janet….” Coffey tried again.
“You can’t call me that. You come in here and ruin our happiness. I hate you! Get out of my house!” She pulled back with her other hand to hit him.
Diego stepped between them. “Let Lane speak, babe. We really can’t talk about this on the street.”
Shoving past the men, Janet went to the kitchen, leaving them to talk while she made coffee. She might loathe the man, but he was Diego’s guest. Her mother’s training was ingrained, whether she admitted it or not. When she got to the living room, Diego was showing Coffey pictures of their boys. Danny, seven, was identical to Diego at that age. They looked up, smiling. Janet set the coffee things down with a rattle. Diego took her hand, pulling her onto the couch beside him.
“Listen to the job, please. And you decide if it’s important for me to go.”
“Normally, we don’t discuss missions this openly,” Coffey said, reaching into his breast pocket. “But you’ve proven, over the years, that you can keep a secret.”
Janet refused to be flattered, glaring at him.
“A group of doctors with World Health Organization went to a country I’d better not name.”
“On the other side of the world?”
“Pretty much.” He smiled slightly. “They were captured. The men, six of them, were executed right away.” He laid pictures of six smiling men on the table. They ranged in age from thirty to sixty.
“The women are hostages. The people holding them demand ransom from their governments—the US, UK and Japan.” He laid more pictures down. This time of four women in their thirties and forties.
“Policy is not to negotiate with terrorists,” he said quietly. “But we can’t let these women suffer any longer. We need Diego to lead the multinational rescue mission to retrieve them.”
Janet burst into tears. “You unmitigated bastard! You knew I couldn’t tell you no. He has to go, but it’s going to be horribly dangerous.”
Coffey nodded. “I need the best on this. Diego is the best. These women, their husbands and children, need Diego.”
“I need him too,” she whispered. “What about his wife and children?” She couldn’t cry. The tears refused to come. Dry eyed and furious, she glared at Coffey. “I really didn’t think I could possibly hate you more….
“Is that a go?” Coffey asked.
“That’s a go,” Diego replied. “Can I have time to say goodbye to my boys?”
“I can give you an hour. I’m sorry. They’re threatening to kill Dr. Lacy.” He tapped the picture of the youngest woman. “In forty-eight hours if we don’t comply.”
“So soon?” She gazed into Diego’s face. “You knew about this. You knew he was coming.”
“When I heard about it, I suspected.”
“Heard? This hasn’t been in the news!”
Diego eyed her levelly. He didn’t have to say that he had other ways of hearing about things. More reliable ways. He’d probably known about it within hours after it happened.
“You can’t give us a little time—together?”
“It’s a long flight to Langley,” Coffey replied. “But I can give you time for your sons. No father should disappear without a goodbye.”
Janet bit the inside of her cheek, holding in the angry tears. She refused to let Coffey see that kind of weakness.
They drove to her father’s house a few blocks away. Coffey followed in his car. The boys were playing in the yard. Coffey waited in the car while they got out and greeted them. Evander came out in the yard, smiling.
“I was setting up the grill. Can you stay to supper?”
©2020 Dellani Oakes