Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living, dead, space aliens, goats, forum posters, editors, beta readers, musicians, or writers are purely coincidental. There may be sexual content so if this, in any form, offends you, please cease reading this lest it send you screaming from the room. If you are not of legal age to read this, please don't.

 

Chapter 15: Worth a Thousand Words

 

Checking the LCD screen of General Bradson’s camera, The Scar noticed that just two photos resided within its memory. Nodding to himself, The Scar said, “Yuri, make a copy of the contents of this device’s memory card. I believe that we will find hidden data files. It is how I would transport them.”

Yuri took the camera and extracted the SD memory card, breathing a silent sigh of relief as he found a compatible slot on The Scar’s laptop, and set to work copying the two files, which were all that he could find. 

Once the files had been transferred to the laptop, Yuri displayed the two photos side-by-side on the screen. “Perhaps there are codes within the data for these two, but they open as photographs,” Yuri said.

Switching his attention to the General’s handheld GPS, which he had just powered up, The Scar did not bother to glance at the screen. Instead, he said, “This device also has a memory card, yet it does not appear to have anything more than a standard North American mapset available.” Powering down the device, The Scar, as skillfully as his single hand allowed, removed the memory card. “It appears to be the same type as the one in the camera. See what you can find on it.”

Yuri ignored the two open photos, and then accessed the new memory card. “Sir, you appear to be correct. The file names are sequential, but the size varies greatly. Several of them are many times the size of others.”

The Scar paused in his examination of the General’s satellite phone to look at the computer screen. “Yuri, see if you can open them, though I suspect that you cannot. They will likely be renamed with false extensions. My guess would be that some sort of encrypted file compression would also have been utilized. I do not think that we will be able to break it, not with our current meager resources. I would suspect that they contain some of the maps and intelligence data that we shall need, and thus the General will share them with us at some point. We will simply ask the good General, perhaps when we next see him. He thinks he needs us, after all.”

The Scar glanced at the screen and then returned his attention to the satellite phone for a moment. Snapping his gaze back to the laptop display, he leaned forward for a closer look. After several seconds intensely scrutinizing the photos, The Scar cleared his throat and said, “Ah, the annoying one. This explains our General’s mysterious friends who facilitated his arrival. As you can see, the photos were taken in a private jet. Bradson must have jumped from it. And this one,” The Scar tapped at Eric’s image on the screen, “I’ve had the displeasure of dealing with him before. I would not mind meeting him again to settle that particular score. Obviously, he’s involved in the General’s plans, to one degree or another. I think it would behoove us to find out how and why. We can brook no surprises regarding our endeavor. One place to start is to use our contacts to check flight plans filed for the Eastern Atlantic area.”

Faced with a monumental task, Yuri tried to explain the problem, “But sir, all we know is that it was a business jet. The amount of records to be searched–”

With a smug smile creasing his ruined face, The Scar again tapped at the laptop’s screen. “Yuri, it is always wise to look for the unexpected. In this case, the information we need is right here before us. Look closely.” The Scar zoomed in on the center of the photo.

It took Yuri a moment to comprehend what he was seeing. Behind Eric, in magazine pocket, Yuri noticed the pamphlet. Snatching up a pencil and paper, Yuri enunciated the words as he wrote them down, “Consolidated Jet Charters.” Yuri nodded, and then smiled. “We know the name of the company, and the General’s arrival date. This should not be hard. I shall begin right away.”

The Scar nodded. “Find out what you can. In the meantime, return the General’s possessions immediately, as I have a hunch that he will make short work of Felecia’s war games.”  

 

 

Chasing the sun across the sky, the time zones worked to the Learjet’s advantage, enabling it to land in Los Angeles in the early afternoon, on the same day it had left the Canary Islands. The only delay had been due to a southerly arc to the jet stream, casing additional headwinds and a half hour delay.

Pressed for time, Eric paid his bill, carefully placed his copy in his pocket, and fired up his motorcycle for the race back to the studio.

Taking daredevil chances, weaving in and out of the building traffic, Eric felt the dark thrill of speed, his heart racing from the adrenaline coursing though his veins as he gunned the engine, tearing across the city. He’d promised to be there by three o’clock, and hoped to make it. That deadline was more excuse than reason, and savoring the thrill, he kicked the shifter up into third gear, the engine screaming at high RPMs as he darted in and out of a line of traffic. Thirty-five miles an hour, then forty-five, clearing the stationary vehicles by feet and then inches, Eric threaded the needle, charging between the parallel lines of traffic on the four-lane street, where one opening door, one mistake, could spell disaster.

Seeing a clearer path, Eric slowed, cutting between vehicles to his left and crossing the Rubicon of the double-yellow line, then twisting the throttle and racing ahead in the tantalizingly clear opposing lane.  

A small side street, barely more than an alley and one of many, lay concealed, hidden in the deep and dark recesses of the afternoon. From shadow unto sunlight it lumbered forth, alabaster and grime, belching a demon’s breath of diesel smoke. The garbage truck, its driver intent on tuning his radio, turned head-on into Eric’s path.

With a line of traffic on his right, and the garbage truck looming large dead ahead, unable to see into the curb lane and not knowing if it was clear, Eric froze for a split second. Taking the chance, his only recourse, he swerved into the curb lane, missing the truck by bare inches as its driver tardily sounded his horn. Straightening out and braking just a little too much, Eric was at once relieved to see his path clear ahead, and terrified by the wobble as his Yamaha began to lose its grip on the asphalt.

By luck more than skill, Eric released the brakes, barely managing to regain control. Temporarily chastened, he slowed to a crawl and rejoined the line of traffic to his right.

Five minutes after three, Eric raced from the parking garage to the sound stage, charging in to find Brandon, Jon, and Chase setting up for a recording session. Eric swept up his bass guitar and bounded onto the stage.

Jon couldn’t resist a good-natured ribbing at Eric’s expense. “Hey, you’re late,” he said, grinning while Eric tuned the bass guitar.

Not seeing his elder brother’s grin, Eric, distracted by his task, replied, “Gimme a break, I’m only five minutes late. Not my fault anyway; we hit headwinds due to the jet stream or something.”

The reply caused Jon to double over as he fought to hold in a laugh. Brandon and Chase exchanged an amused look as well, and Helen, sitting nearby and watching like a hawk, rolled her eyes. Jon and Helen knew where Eric had been, but Brandon and Chase, while fairly sure he wasn’t going to San Francisco, didn’t. Eric, in his distracted frame of mind due to jetlag and his close call on the motorcycle, had just planted his foot squarely in his mouth.

With levity dulling his lingering anger at Eric, Chase asked in an innocent tone, “Jet stream? Damn, I didn’t know that was anything you’d have to deal with on a motorcycle trip from San Francisco.”

Giving himself a mental kick, Eric shrugged. He’d planned to tell Brandon and Chase soon anyway, some of it at least, but he didn’t want to ruin the surprise of the location. “Uh, okay, I didn’t go to San Francisco, I went somewhere else. It’s for the bachelor party and that’s all I’ll say until I’m ready. Speaking of ready, are we gonna lay down some tracks or what?” Brandon signaled the sound booth, and their first rehearsal track of the day began.

After a grueling five hours of non-stop rehearsals and recording sessions, Eric, shirtless and sweaty like the rest of his band mates, breathed a sigh of relief as they wrapped for the day. Seeing his chance, Eric hauled Jon to the side of the stage, out of Brandon and Chase’s earshot, and whispered in an agitated tone, “Helen knew about my trip. How the hell did she find out?”

His eyes opening in surprise, Jon replied, “Don’t look at me, bro. I didn’t tell her.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think you did. I swear, it’s like she knows everything I’m doing. Anyway, it’s a go; I found a perfect place. Now I guess I have to get Helen’s okay, but if she didn’t stop me going, maybe she’s okay with it,” Eric said, hoping that it was true.

Jon shrugged. “Either that, or she just wanted to play with your head. I guess you’ll find out pretty soon.”

Following Jon’s eyes, Eric turned to see Helen, at the far end of the soundstage, crooking her finger in his direction. Wondering just how she would react, Eric grabbed his duffle bag and followed her in silence to a small office. With ostentatious grace, she offered him a seat, even pulling the chair out for him, which set off Eric’s mental alarm bells.

Taking a seat herself, Helen smiled sweetly and asked in a honey-sweet voice, “So, Eric, welcome back. How was San Francisco? Did you happen to bump into anyone we know?”

His face coloring slightly in embarrassment at being so deftly caught in a lie, Eric pulled his laptop from his duffle bag and set it on the desk between himself and Helen. As the computer booted, Eric said in a crestfallen voice, “You know I did. General Bradson gave me a couple of pictures for you. How did you know where I was going?”

Helen let Eric twist in the wind for a couple of seconds, as her smile shifted from sweet to evil. Then she said, in a self-assured tone, “Oh, I have my ways. I always have my ways. So, you want to have the party and the wedding in the Canary Islands, do you?”

Eric began to launch into a hurried explanation of why the Canary Islands would be such a good choice, and Helen held up her hand. “Whoa, I’m just winding you up a bit, I’ve gotta have my fun. Actually, I think it’s a great idea; a far better location than Massachusetts. What I’m not on board with is hijacking Brandon and Chase to the islands without their okay. It’s their wedding, after all. For the party, perhaps, but not the wedding. You need to tell them. I think they’ll agree, but it has to be their choice.”

Slightly crestfallen, Eric nodded his reluctant agreement. “Okay, I’ll tell ‘em. The place I found is perfect, they’ll love it.”

Helen considered Eric’s words for a moment. She’d been impressed with his initiative and resourcefulness. Never before had Eric taken upon himself a major responsibility, and to Helen, that was a sign that he was growing up. Slowly, in his own wild way, but she had to admit, he was maturing. That thought filled her with a melancholy air, much as it would for any parent – She’d long since come to think of the Carlisle brothers and Brandon as her own family. Deciding that Eric deserved some support and encouragement, Helen said, “You’ve done well. You found a better location and took the initiative. I’ll help in any way I can.” Helen began to smile as a thought occurred to her, and she gave in to the temptation of one more friendly jab. “You just get to convince Brandon and Chase that an island with an active volcano is the perfect place for their party and wedding. Have you got everything set up okay?” Helen said, as she made a mental note to check up on the wedding plans.  

Chuckling, and somewhat amazed that Helen had voiced her approval of the party, and more shockingly, him, Eric grinned. "Yep, everything is pretty much set." He clicked on the desktop icons for the General’s two photos. “Here’s the pictures the General took. I’d just opened my eyes and saw him in the first one, and he’d just told me you knew about my trip in the second one.”

Helen looked at the pictures, and began to laugh. Eric’s shocked and stunned expression, complete with a gaping mouth, was in her opinion priceless. She decided, then and there, that she’d have the pictures blown up and framed. ‘That first one would make a perfect picture for Instinct’s annual Christmas card,’ she thought, fighting the urge to laugh aloud.

 

 

Thousands of miles away, on the island of Santo Antão, another set of eyes were pondering the same pair of pictures. Looking up from his laptop’s screen as Yuri entered the room, The Scar waited in silence for his henchman’s report.

“Finding the information proved easy enough to do. I checked with a contact at the American Federal Aviation Administration, and they pulled the files for me. The aircraft is a Learjet, and it was a private charter to La Palma Island, in the Canaries. There was one excursion during their stay: a filed plan for a familiarization flight west of La Palma. I would say that’s when they dropped our guest off,” Yuri said, and then added with a smile, “My contact was also conscientious enough to add a copy of the flight manifest and bill. The credit card used belongs to an Eric Carlisle, and with the card number, it was a simple matter to phone the credit card agency posing as a personal assistant concerned about some questionable billing items and ask if there were any charges on the day the General arrived here. They would not discuss amounts for security reasons, but they did give me the name of a hotel on La Palma.”

Nodding, not quite sure, yet, what he would do with the information, The Scar returned his gaze to the photos. “Thank you, Yuri. The age of computers is wondrous, is it not? Such vast quantities of information, instantly available for those clever enough to find it.” The Scar tapped at the computer screen. “Now we know where the annoying one is, or at least was, and that he is aiding General Bradson. This may prove useful. I wonder what he was doing there, of all places. It seems an odd location for that band to be giving a concert.”

Yuri replied with a silent nod; he’d heard from his employer at length how that particular band, along with General Bradson, had gotten in the way of The Scar’s last operation, the one that had culminated in his disfigurement.

Typing slowly with his remaining hand, The Scar consulted a search engine, seeking any news items that referenced both Instinct and La Palma. Finding nothing of relevance, he began reading some of the articles, not knowing quite what he was looking for. Ten minutes later, he knew he’d found it. His ruined face contorting into what passed for a smile, he told Yuri, “There is much speculation regarding the impending wedding of two of the band members. Apparently, the location is a closely guarded secret. However, the approximate date itself is not. I suspect that we now know what the press remains in ignorance of: where the wedding will be held. I find it disturbingly coincidental that it falls so close to our mission in Iran. It is possible that all this may not prove relevant, but I dislike coincidences and I firmly believe that one can never have too much information. We’ll look into this matter further.”

“There are other coincidences which concern me,” Yuri said, broaching a subject he’d previously raised. “General Bradson could be acting as an agent of his government, with us as the objective.”

Smiling, The Scar replied, “You are developing a suspicious mind, Yuri. I commend you for that. However, I have confirmed that Bradson’s son is indeed captive in Iran. There is also one other fact that proves beyond doubt that the American government does not suspect who I am or what we plan to do. If they had but an inkling, we would no longer be breathing. They would have attacked us here, immediately and with overwhelming force. Therefore, I do not suspect treachery. Fortune, which so oft favors the bold, smiled upon us and delivered unto us the man we need.” The Scar gazed at his computer screen, pondering the issue and savoring the sweet siren song of revenge. 

 

 

Easing back into her chair, Helen thought of two other things she needed to ask. “Eric, did General Bradson get where he was going okay?”

His smile fading, Eric began to share his concerns regarding the pilot’s evasive answers. Helen listened, paying attention to every word, and at the end, she agreed that something just didn’t smell right, but said there was nothing that they could do. Eric tapped the front pocket of his Levis and said, “I’ve got the detailed bill from the plane: looks to me like they were in the air four and a half hours. That’s time in the air, not on the ground, but that might be enough to figure out where they went, if I dig a little.”

For several long seconds, Helen mulled the idea over. She absolutely did not want Eric getting involved in whatever the General had planned, but Eric’s idea was limited to figuring out where he had gone. That much would be nice to know, and she was about to agree, when she remembered who she was dealing with; Eric had an uncanny ability to find trouble, and insert himself in it. Deciding that there was no point in taking a chance, Helen held out her hand. “The General might be up to something that’s very illegal. The less we know, the better. There’s no way we can help him, so it’s best to keep out of it. Let me have that bill and I’ll let you know if I find out anything.” Helen was well aware that the latter part of her statement might well be a lie. In her concern for Eric’s well-being, Helen had forgotten the second thing she wanted to say: a reminder to Eric to tell no one of the General’s presence on the plane.

After hesitating a moment as he made up his mind, Eric withdrew the folded bill from his pocket and handed it to Helen. It had been an easy decision; he already knew the information on it, so if it made her happy to have the bill, he was fine with that. It might, he hoped, leave him a little more freedom in which to poke around on his own. 

Helen slipped the bill into her purse, and then glanced at Eric. “Now you get to go tell Brandon and Chase the news. Have fun,” Helen said, with her trademark sweet smile topped by malicious eyes.

With a chuckle and a shrug, Eric got up to leave, heading for Brandon and Chase’s suite.

As he navigated the studio corridors to the adjoining hotel, his thoughts were not so much on the issues Helen had raised, but on whether or not Brandon and Chase had forgiven him for what he’d done in Telluride. With that worry on his mind, Eric tapped apprehensively at their door.

The door swung open to reveal Chase. A moment’s awkward silence was all the confirmation Eric needed that all was not well. “Hey,” he said, trying to act as if nothing was amiss, “Helen sent me up. I need to talk to you guys about your party and wedding.”

Chase led Eric to the suite’s living room, where Brandon sat on the couch, writing in the tattered notebook he used for composing songs. Eric took a seat in a recliner as Chase plopped down beside Brandon. Feeling the unease, trying to put it in the past, Chase said, “Does this have something to do with your mysterious journey, and encountering the jet stream on a motorcycle?”

Eric nodded. “Yeah, it does. The whole San Francisco thing was a ruse. A while back, I had an idea for your party and wedding so I went to check it out. It looks great, and I think you guys will like it a lot better than Massachusetts.”

Feeling touched that Eric had gone to such an effort, Brandon asked, “Okay, so, where is it?”

Eric opened his mouth to answer, and then closed it again. He could feel, on many levels, the tension in the room that they were all studiously ignoring. Deciding to meet it head-on, Eric took a deep breath. “First things first. Brandon, Chase, I’m really sorry for what I did in Telluride. I wish it would just go away, but I can tell it hasn’t, and I miss things being the way they were.”

Brandon and Chase exchanged a glance. Chase handled the answer. “I’m trying. I guess I just need to know that you’ll never do it again.”

Thanking fate that he hadn’t given in to temptation, Eric smiled softly as he looked Chase in the eye and replied, “It was the tequila, and what happened made me realize I have to give it up, for the sake of everyone around me. When I was on the island, a bartender offered me tequila. I was there alone. I won’t say I wasn’t tempted, but I said no.”

That comment triggered another exchanged glance between Brandon and Chase, and this time each wore an expression of surprise. Brandon looked back at Eric, and nodding once he said, “Wow. That’s… great. Look, that night, it was partially my fault too. I was kinda out of it, and I should have stopped you sooner. Speaking for myself, we’re cool, it never happened.” Brandon reached forward to tap fists with a relieved Eric.

Knowing that it was his turn to speak up, Chase thought about it for a few seconds, long enough to realize that he couldn’t stay mad at Eric, and that he missed his relationship with him. With a lopsided smile and a bob of his head, Chase let go of most of his remaining anger. “Okay, I miss you too, you ass. If you stay off tequila, we’re fine as far as I’m concerned. You’re forgiven, but I can’t forget, not yet. Just stay off the tequila.” Chase leaned forward to tap fists with Eric, and then leaned back next to Brandon before asking, “Now, what’s this about an island, bro? Spill it.” Chase’s grin let Eric know that the wounds were, at least, mostly healed, and his gift for reading people confirmed that the unease was largely gone from Brandon and Chase. Eric hoped that, given a little time, it would disappear entirely.

Breaking into a grin, Eric tapped himself on the chest. “I chartered a jet and went to the Canary Islands. They’re in the Atlantic, off the coast of Morocco, kind of near where Europe meets Africa. They’re owned by Spain, and Spain has gay marriage. It’s fantastic, a really cool place, and I found a perfect spot for your party and wedding. You guys want to get hitched on a beach, right? This place has ‘em, and all kinds of scenery, and a perfect place for the party–”     

“Whoa, okay, that sounds… great. The whole Massachusetts thing was because it’s one of the few places with gay marriage, but an island?” Chase locked eyes with Brandon. Brandon could see Chase’s unrestrained enthusiasm for the idea. The fact that Brandon shared Chase’s preference for getting married on a beach made the decision easy, and he broke into a grin and nodded. Chase turned back to say to Eric, in an excited, enthusiastic tone, “Man, that’s a fuckin’ great idea. Okay by us… Thanks bro! So, how do we get everybody there? And where is it, exactly? There’s more than one island, right?”

Choosing his words with care to avoid revealing one small volcanic detail, Eric replied, “I was thinking we could charter a jet. That’s how I got there and back. As for the place, it’s a kick-ass resort, right on the ocean, on the opposite side from the airport and main town. Private, quiet, pools and stuff, and a perfect place for a party. I picked the island because I found out that most of the Canary Islands are pretty barren, but this one isn’t. It’s got loads of green stuff, trees and everything, like bananas and palms. I guess that’s why they call it the Island of Palms. You’ll love it!”

Brandon, unlike Chase or Eric, knew a few words of Spanish. The translation clicked in his head, and feeding on Eric’s contagious enthusiasm, Brandon said, “Sounds perfect. La

Palma, right? I know the name but that’s it. Sure beats the cold and wind of Massachusetts, especially in December. The weather was okay, right?”

Eric nodded, happy to change the subject a little. “Yeah, I even got to lay out by the pool; warm and sunny. You guys will love it, I promise.”

The words ‘La Palma’ rattled around in Chase’s mind, just under the surface of conscious thought, until he realized that he recognized the name. Still grinning, but arching an eyebrow, Chase asked, “What’s La Palma known for? I’ve heard the name somewhere.”

Stifling a groan, keeping his face cheerful and his demeanor unconcerned, Eric replied, “Bananas, I think. Mountains too…. Lots of mountains, real tall and cliffs all over the place. Super scenery and I wasn’t recognized once, as far as I could tell. You guys will love it.”

Chase, due to knowing Eric all his life, instantly spotted his brother’s attempt at a smooth deflection of the subject. Still smiling, Chase leaned forward and tapped ‘La Palma’ into the search bar of Brandon’s web browser. After a few moments reading the resulting topics, Chase bit his lip, and as Eric sat fidgeting, Chase asked in a confused tone, “Why do the terms megadisaster, tsunami, and volcano show up in almost every search hit? Okay, here’s a scientific paper. The abstract says; Geological evidence suggests that during a future eruption of the Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the Island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, the volcano may undergo a catastrophic failure of its west flank. An area twenty kilometers long and five kilometers wide, containing up to five hundred cubic kilometers of rock, could slide into the sea, causing a tsunami over a thousand feet high, and the wave would hit the eastern coast of North America in about nine hours, slamming into the eastern seaboard with hundred-foot waves that would go miles inland.’” Chase glanced up from the screen, his eyes opening wide in shock. “Uh, Eric…” he mumbled, his voice trailing off due to having no idea what to say.  

Brandon’s jaw dropped and he leaned forward to read the screen. Eric, who had known that Brandon and Chase might raise that particular issue, gave an openhanded shrug. “I checked; it’s just hype. A couple of geologists made the claim, and they made a TV program claiming all that could happen, but it can’t happen. They claimed the fault line is far longer than it is, slipped a lot more than it did, and a bunch of other stuff. So, just hype. No way half the island can fall into the sea, and even if it did, so what? If they’re right, you’d be just as dead on the coast of Massachusetts as on the island, but I checked, honest. Just keep looking, you’ll see, it’s all hype; there’s no danger. The volcano isn’t even erupting right now.”

Less than totally convinced, Chase did keep looking, with Brandon following along over his shoulder. A few clicks revealed an article, which said approximately what Eric had, but in more detail. Chase tried another link, and found roughly the same explanation. Had Chase looked at the second page of results, he’d have seen a geological news item that was only days old. With a grin and a shake of his head, Chase looked at his brother and said, “Yeah, okay, it looks like you’re right.” Turning to look at Brandon, Chase said, “I’m still okay with it if you are.”

Brandon smiled, and with a bemused nod of his head replied, “Yeah, it can’t be that bad if there’s resorts there. Let’s do it.”

Grinning with relief, Eric laughed. “I’ll finish setting it up. We’re gonna have a blast, I’m telling you, it’s just perfect.”

With that taken care of, and knowing that his relationship with Brandon and Chase was well on the way to healing, Eric returned to his suite, intent on getting some sleep after his very long day.

As soon as Eric had left, Chase began to crack up. Holding his side, he regained control long enough to say, “Only Eric would pick a place best known for megadisasters for us to get married in. I think it’ll be great, but damn, only Eric…”

“Yeah, I think it’s pretty safe,” Brandon replied as he joined in the laughter, “This page says that the fault runs only a few miles, not the whole way. So, only a few miles of the west side of the island might slip, and even for that it might not happen for thousands of years, if ever. Going there is probably safer than crossing the street. Hey, want to make a bet? I can tell you, without even looking, exactly where that resort is that Eric’s booked for us.”

Chase laughed again, shaking his head, “No bet, but where is it and how do you know?”

Grinning, Brandon opened Google Earth and began zooming in on the Eastern Atlantic view of the virtual globe. “Easy. He never tried to tell us that the resort was on the safe side of the island, so it’s just gotta be on the west side. He also said it was the side opposite the airport. Here’s the islands, wait, no, that’s Madeira. Okay, that’s it, La Palma, and look, the airport is on the east side, so that means the resort is on the west side. Told ya!” Brandon said with a laugh.      

Chuckling, Chase pointed at the screen as Brandon zoomed in on the island, which was shaped roughly like an elongated triangle with the tip pointing south. “If you go west from the airport, you’re to the north of the volcano symbol anyway, right?” Chase asked, assuming incorrectly that Eric had meant due west. 

Nodding, Brandon said, “Yeah, not too close, and anyway we’ve been to Hawaii before and that’s got volcanoes. But I’ll tell you one thing I like about this…” Brandon said, letting his voice trail off.

As Brandon had expected, Chase asked, “What’s that?”

With an evil smile, Brandon replied, “We’ll always be able to bug Eric about setting us up to be married on a volcano. He’ll never live that down.”

Laughing, Chase leaned against Brandon’s side. “Yeah, there is that. It was damn nice of him to do all this. I’ve never known him to make this kind of effort without being pushed. He must have set all this up before he told us that San Francisco stuff, and that means before Telluride… and ya know what? My jaw nearly hit the floor when he said he’d turned down tequila.”

Grinning while shaking his head, Brandon leaned back into the sofa. “Maybe he’ll be okay after all, if he stays away from tequila. I think we all will,” Brandon said, and then, not above the occasional bad pun, he added with a wicked grin, “You’ve just got to learn to think positively about the volcano situation: one way or another, this wedding is gonna be a blast.


Author's Note: The issue regarding the danger of a collapse of the west side of La Palma, resulting in a massive tsunami aimed at the west coast of the United States, might seem somewhat far-fetched. However, it happens to be a real theory. This link will take you to a study, in PDF format, by the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz California, entitled: Cumbre Vieja Volcano -- Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands

I'm not saying it will happen in the story, only that it is a real (though debated and far from proven) issue.  

 
 

© 2008 C James

Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.

Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"  

 

Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.

Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading, support and advice, and for putting up with me.

Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice. 

A big "thank you" to to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice , and to Captain Rick for his advice. 

Any remaining errors are mine alone.

 C James' Home

Chapter 1
Wedding Bells
Chapter 2
Mission to Idaho
Chapter 3
Pursuits and Auditions
Chapter 4
Islands in the Sea
Chapter 5
Expeditions
Chapter 6
Travel Plans
Chapter 7
Laying the Groundwork
Chapter 8
Telluride
Chapter 9
Train Wreck
Chapter 1O
Dance with the Devil
Chapter 11
Morning Serenade
Chapter 12
Departures
Chapter 13
Falling to Earth
Chapter 14
Prelude to Battle
Chapter 15
Worth a Thousand Words
Chapter 16
Surfer Strip Show
Chapter 17
The Show Must Go On
Chapter 18
Errors of Omission
Chapter 19
Revelations
Chapter 2O
Explanations
Chapter 21
Surprises
Chapter 22
Prelude to Ragnarök
Chapter 23
Unseen Eyes
Chapter 24
Confrontations
Chapter 25
Satan's Own Thunder
Chapter 26
The Scorpion and the Frog
Chapter 27
Drums out of Darkness
Chapter 28
Blood and Time
Chapter 29
Ignition
Chapter 3O
Feelings
Chapter 31
Wings of Fire
 
Chapter 32
A Favor to Ask
Chapter 33
 Rendezvous'
Chapter 34
 Miscommunications
Chapter 35
 Special Delivery
Chapter 36
 Convergence
Chapter 37
 The Best Laid Plans...
Chapter 38
 Fallen
Chapter 39
 Zeus Triumphant
Chapter 4O
 Trapped
Chapter 41
 Pushing the Limits
Chapter 42
 Passion in the Dark
Chapter 43
 Nemesis
Chapter 44
 Countdown to Ragnarök  
Chapter 45
 Ragnarök  
Chapter 46
Out of the
Frying Pan...
Chapter 47
Fatal Mistakes
Chapter 48
Desperate Measures
Chapter 49
Falling
Chapter 5O
Refuge and Allies
Chapter 51
Changing the Game
Epilogue