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 23: Unseen Eyes

 

 

 

A quarter of a  mile offshore, under two thousand feet of water, a six-hundred yard wide slab of underwater mountainside was on the move, surging westward down the slopes of La Palma after being shaken loose by the earthquake that had heralded the eruption. The ocean, following the path of least resistance, had rushed into the void it left behind, creating a short-lived crater in the sea. As the waters rushed in, the sea level had rebounded, and a pulse of water, the genesis of a small tsunami, raced out in all directions like ripples on a pond. Most of it would dissipate harmlessly given distance, but the near shore of the island would preclude that for the eastbound segment of the wave. The only warning sign of its approach had been the sudden fall in sea levels along the coast. Small tsunamis, triggered by underwater landslides, were not an uncommon occurrence, and the steep, unstable underwater slopes of La Palma experienced one or more every few decades.   

Astride the shuddering beach, the minister glanced back at the retreating sea. Remembering what he’d heard about tsunamis, he yelled in thickly accented English, “Sea wave coming. Go to high ground.” That was to prove easier said than done.

Racing to the foot of the steep cliff as the earthquake ended, Eric stopped at the beginning of the only path up its face and yelled, “Get to the top, fast!” Most of the guests didn’t need to be told and were already hustling up the path’s first steps. When his mother hesitated, Eric gave her a gentle push. "Go! I don't want to lose you again.”

After shoving Barbra on ahead, Helen stood aside at the base of the path. Eric glanced anxiously at the sea, which had ceased dropping, and pushed Helen towards the path’s entrance. “You go first, we’ll be right behind you. You can't chew me out if you don't make it to the top!” As soon as Helen was on her way, Eric grabbed Jansen and Keith and shoved them towards the path. “Don’t argue. Get moving, we’re right behind you.”

The line of wedding guests struggled upwards, their task complicated by the occasional rocks and boulders that had shaken loose from the cliff and now lay strewn on the narrow path; the guests struggled upwards as the ground tremors returned, though with far less force than before. 

Having waited until all their guests had entered the path, the members of Instinct followed, leaving the doomed beach behind, though not quite fast enough.

A tsunami builds to its greatest heights when it encounters a long, gradually shallowing sea floor. The coast of La Palma, plunging precipitously into deep water, did not offer the slope that it needed. Roaring ashore, it swept over the place where Brandon and Chase had recited their vows, towering just four feet above the sand. However, unlike a wave that has built to a great height, it still retained much of its velocity, and surged across the beach with vicious power, slamming into the base of the cliff and reflected upwards, following the path of least resistance. Jon, who was last in the line, fell victim to its abating fury, getting drenched in a column of dirty froth.

The wedding party, shaken but unhurt, gathered at the top of the path, silently staring at the massive ash column still roaring from the peak of Cumbre Vieja. The roaring noise, punctuated by an occasional mutter of thunder from the lightning that seethed in the angry, roiling Plinian column, did little to calm anyone’s nerves.

Finding her voice, Helen said, “I wish that thing could have waited a few more minutes.”

Still catching his breath, the minister said, “I think we can continue, with nature’s glory as our backdrop.” Turning to face Brandon and Chase, he said, “I now pronounce you joined in the bonds of holy matrimony.”

Smiling in spite of the stress, Brandon and Chase did not wait for the minister’s permission, but leaned forward, to partake of their first kiss as married men.

Helen relaxed slightly as her adrenalin rush began to abate. Appearing at Eric’s side, she said in a voice low enough for privacy, “Did you tell them that the volcano was erupting?”

Shaking his head, Eric replied in a hopeful tone, “I never had the chance, but I’m sure they’ve figured it out, so why bother them with details?”

Suppressing a chuckle, Helen resisted the urge to make Eric squirm. “You couldn’t have known that it would blow during the ceremony. It started erupting once the plans were set, so there’s little you could have done. I think everything will be okay, except for one problem: the wind is carrying all that ash east and that’ll close the airport. We’re probably stuck here for a while.”

Shuddering inside, Eric said, “What about Brandon and Chase? They were supposed to leave tonight, for their honeymoon. If they have to spend their honeymoon at close quarters to an exploding volcano, they’re gonna kill me!”

“Look on the bright side;” Helen said with a reassuring smile, “The volcano might get you first.”    

The wedding party returned to the resort as the current eruption abated, and with the volcano still on everyone’s mind, Helen decided to make the best of it. With Barbra by her side, Helen clapped for attention before saying, “We appear to be safe enough here. I’ll check to be sure, but for now, let’s go ahead with the reception. We’ve got a wedding to celebrate!”

The resort’s front desk gave Helen what little information they had: Cumbre Vieja continued to vent ash, but at a far lower rate. The expectation, based on the mountain’s observed history, was that intermittent ash eruptions would continue, for days or weeks, and then the volcano would, as in the past, begin emitting lava flows. Helen was somewhat reassured, though still deeply concerned. However, there was little that she could do; the front desk had confirmed that the airport had been closed by the engine-clogging ash.

Jon, still dripping from the unexpected drenching, made a detour to his suite to shower and change, while the rest of the guests headed for the reception hall, which had been decorated in a more traditional nature than it had been when it was the site of the recent stag party.

Eric, though, had inserted a few of his own special touches. The wedding cake, ordered before he knew that his mother would attend, was the first. Chase had, in the past, expressed his disdain for traditional wedding cake, so Eric had made special arrangements. Instead of the traditional multi-tier white cake, Eric had ordered banana nut bread, which he knew to be a favorite of both Brandon and Chase. With Christmas a week away, he had Santa hats placed on the heads of the two plastic tuxedo-wearing gorilla figures that played the role of grooms.

The cake was largely unfrosted, but not undecorated. The cake, in three layers of brown, formed a small, stepped pyramid, with bananas fixed in place by frosting all around the perimeter of each level. The half-pealed bananas had been placed with their bare tips pointing upwards and outwards. The top of the cake consisted of two enormous bananas, sticking upwards and leaning inwards, so that they touched to form an arch under which the two plastic gorillas stood.

The guests, still badly rattled by the eruption and the narrow escape on the beach, found some degree of solace in the act of attending a wedding reception, which provided a veneer of normalcy to the surreal atmosphere the volcano had engendered.

To everyone who had seen the stag party cake, the phallic symbolism of the wedding cake was obvious. A smattering of suppressed laughter, coupled with a few hearty laughs, greeted the cake as it was wheeled into the hall. The laughter clued in Helen, and she shot Eric a withering glare.

Helen was not the only one to figure it out. Jane’s jaw dropped open as the realization hit, and her eyes instinctively sought out Eric, who was standing next to the cake, sporting his most innocent smile.

Seeing his mother’s gaping mouth and shocked expression, Eric shrugged, and turned away, his cheeks taking on a reddish hue.

Having scanned the impressive assortment on the food table, Jansen and Keith stood nervously at the side of the room, wondering if they would still be sitting with Helen. Jansen fought to avoid laughing as he spied the twelve-foot long sandwich that Eric had ordered, which had arrived prior to the eruption. He thought it was a little lowbrow for a celebrity wedding, but felt that it fit well with what he’d seen so far; except when it came to business, the members of Instinct didn’t seem to be caught up in the trappings of their fame.

With more than a little apprehension, Jansen and Keith joined Eric and Helen at their table. It did not escape either dancer’s notice that Helen had picked a spot that afforded at least a little privacy, courtesy of being near the speakers and a little way away from the other tables.

As soon as they were seated, Helen introduced herself in a dry, businesslike manner. She made a point of staring down both Jansen and Keith, each in turn, before turning to tell Eric, “Hon, go get me some of that sandwich, a slice of that obscene wedding cake, and a glass of champagne.”

Eric knew what Helen was doing, but decided to ignore her subtle demand and instead, motioned for a waiter. Helen flicked a thumb towards the food table as she told Eric, “Take the hint Eric, scram. I need to talk to Jansen and Keith alone for a minute.” Helen was enjoying herself. She needed to impress upon the dancers that she was the power they needed to consider, and more importantly, fear. Ordering Eric around had filled that requirement nicely and the fact that she had a legitimate business reason to embarrass him made it so much sweeter.

Knowing that Helen would get her way in the end, Eric gave a shrug, and got up. As he turned to leave, he said with a wink at Jansen and Keith, “Good luck.”

As soon as Eric was out of earshot, Helen told the two dancers, “I’ll make this brief. I’m going to be keeping a very close eye on the business venture that Eric has proposed to you. If I see even so much as a hint that you are taking advantage of him in any way, I’ll make you regret the day you were born. Is that clear enough for you?”

Seeing in Helen’s eyes that the threat carried even more weight than her words alone implied, Jansen and Keith each nodded once, as their faces became a few shades paler.

Having delivered her first warning, Helen said, “Fine, just remember that. Now, down to business. Eric was overly generous with you two regarding the split. However, he is adamant on that, and in spite of it, the venture looks profitable for him. Therefore, I will be making only one change; Eric will have total equity ownership and final authority. It’s his money, so you’ll need to use some of your share of the profits to buy out part of his equity over time. He will never have less than a fifty-one percent interest unless he sells out entirely, in order to avoid any deadlocks. Other than that, I’ve given this venture my tentative approval. One thing to bear in mind: Eric’s reputation, and by extension that of Instinct, is paramount here. I will not countenance any scandals or bad publicity connected to Eric. You will keep everything clean and above board and if you have any doubts, come to me directly. Are we clear on that?”

Again, the dancers nodded, not yet having uttered a word. Not giving them the chance, Helen said, “All contracts will be reviewed by me, in advance. Anything requiring Eric’s signature will be reviewed by me, in advance. I’ll also be checking on things as I see fit. Work with me, and you’ve been handed a golden opportunity here. Work against me or lie to me and I’ll hunt you down like dogs.”

Knowing of one particular issue that Helen might not yet be aware of, and with the threats clearly in his mind, Keith said, “There’s one thing you should probably know. Jansen and I claim to be a couple, but we’re not. We’re brothers, and the whole couple thing is just to keep from getting hit on and pressured as much.”

Nodding somberly and declining to show surprise – her private investigator had managed to miss that detail – Helen asked, “Is Eric aware of this?”

Keith nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.”

Wondering if they were straight and suspecting that if they weren’t, things could get complicated, Helen decided to dismiss that potential looming issue as mainly personal between the dancers and Eric. So far, though she wouldn’t show it, she approved of the two dancers. With a brief nod of her own, Helen softened slightly. “What sold me on the idea was emerging bands using the club as a venue. That takes the focus off the stripping, and not only is it sound from a business point of view, it also keeps everything upscale and Eric’s name in the clear. Keith, I’ve been told that you’re the business whiz, so prove it; tell me what you need to get a big buzz and a kick-start, launching the club the right way.

Keith had been meaning to float the idea to Eric, but Helen was asking now. She was also the one who could make it happen, so he simply said, “Instinct plays on our opening night.”

“Close enough. You’ll open mid-week, then Instinct will play there that weekend for both nights and an occasional return visit as our schedule permits. Very well, you’ll live – for now,” Helen said, with a mirthless smile that chilled the dancers to the bone.

Eric’s return brought the grilling to an end. Taking her food and drink from Eric, Helen said cryptically, “They seem okay, so far. I’ve given my tentative okay, for now. Have fun, and I’ll be seeing you all later.” Helen delivered the last phrase, along with a menacing scowl, in Jansen and Keith’s direction.

Eric settled into his chair as he watched Helen’s retreating back, and then turned to ask with a smile, “So how many times did she threaten you?”

Letting out a relieved sigh, Keith replied, “That depends. Do you mean just death threats, and if so, does hunting us down like dogs count? And does ‘you’ll live, for now’ count as a death threat?”

With a casual shrug, given for effect, Eric said, “I think she must like you guys. You aren’t even injured. I think you saw the nice version of Helen.”

His eyes opening wide, Jansen said, “That’s the nice version? Jeeze... if that’s your definition of nice, why don’t you introduce us to mafia hit men or a squad of Hells Angels... that sure sounds nice to me!”

Jansen’s words gave Eric an idea, and suppressing the urge to grin, he made a mental note to call Mad Mike and his chapter with an invitation as soon as they were all back in Los Angeles. Shifting the subject slightly, Eric said, “Don’t worry about Helen. She’s a little gruff sometimes, but her bite’s much worse than her bark.”

Jansen coughed once as Eric’s words sunk in, and then Keith asked, “Don’t you mean that the other way around?”

“I don’t think he does,” Jansen said.

Deciding that he’d wound the dancers up for long enough, Eric said, “Seriously, she can be hard-nosed, especially when it comes to business, but I consider her to be family. She even took a bullet – and I mean that literally – for me once, back in Telluride. Yeah, she can be a pain and a hard-ass sometimes, but I love her.”

 

 

Standing by the improvised runway, General Bradson watched as Smith, the only living person on the aircraft, taxied Flight One into position, and took off. The plane was carrying less than a full load, so Smith was able to coax the old wreck into the air one final time with comparative ease. General Bradson, watching through binoculars, breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the landing gear retract. The damaged parts had held for long enough. The Scar, standing by the General’s side, used his encrypted satellite phone to inform the fishing boat he’d hired in the Persian Gulf, “The package is on the way. Expect it on schedule.” 

Geography and time dictated the sortie schedule: Flight One needed to reach its target half an hour before Flight Three launched its assault. Flight One had a longer journey, coupled with a slower airspeed, so Flight Three was scheduled to take off one and a half hours later. Flight Two was slated to launch an hour before Flight Three; loaded with fuel bladders, its mission was to land in a remote area of northern Oman, not far from the Straits of Hormuz, and act as a refuel point for Flight Three during the egress. The timing was critical; General Bradson wanted confirmation that Flight Two was on the ground and ready before Flight Three passed the point of no return – the moment when their diminishing fuel would preclude the ability to abort to Sudan. From that point on, Flight Two would be their only hope of refueling. 

With General Bradson busy giving a final briefing to the pilots and jumpers of Flight Two, Felecia busied herself with checking and re-checking the weapons load on Flight Three, re-inspecting the Russian-made RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade launchers and the satchel charges. General Bradson didn’t know about the latter items, which Felecia had hidden in one of the weapons storage crates. After a quick glance over her shoulder, Felecia checked on four other items. They were small, and not weapons, but were they to be discovered by General Bradson, Felecia had no doubt that he would instantly deduce the real purpose of the mission. Working quickly, Felecia checked the batteries in each device, ran a check in test mode, and returned them to their hiding place.

As Felecia descended the cargo ramp, she found her employer waiting. After ushering her under the wing for some privacy, The Scar said in a hushed voice, “I want to be certain that we are completely clear on your orders. The General’s little assault on the guardhouse will keep both him and the Iranian guard force occupied for a while. Let him go ahead with it. If he survives, kill him and anyone he rescues on sight. You and your men will be paid very well indeed if you succeed in your operation, but as you have known all along, ensuring Bradson’s death is part of your job. You surely realize how he would react to our real mission, so he has to die.” Felecia nodded once, and The Scar added, “Very good. I’ll see you in Sudan. I’ll be flying there as soon as you launch. Contact me directly if you need anything, anything at all.” The Scar handed Felecia one of the two satellite phones he was sending on the mission. The Scar spared a moment to savior the delicious, exquisite irony: the man who had foiled his last operation was about to die remedying the loss he’d caused.

Once Felecia had returned to her inspections, The Scar strolled casually around the perimeter of the tent cluster. The mercenary who served as his cook saw him, and slipped away for the pre-planned clandestine rendezvous, joining The Scar behind a tent. The Scar wasted no words as he handed the second satellite phone to his erstwhile cook. “Contact me if anything looks amiss.” 

The mercenary merely nodded and pocketed the satellite phone. He returned to his duty, already mentally counting the million-dollar bonus The Scar had promised him, in return for acting as The Scar’s own operative during the mission. The part-time cook, who went by the name of Billy, had no qualms about reporting on Felecia, or if need be killing her. Money was money, after all.    

 

 

In the hills to the east, the unseen eyes of a rival warlord had watched with almost palpable desire as the final items were loaded aboard the three aircraft. The warlord, a blood enemy of the one The Scar had co-opted, didn’t know what was in the aircraft, but he knew one thing; if it was worth flying, it must have value.

He cursed the fact that one plane had already escaped in the time it had taken him to assemble his forces. Deciding that he had to act immediately or not at all, he gave orders to his three snipers, sending them forward on their mission. They needed to get within five hundred yards of the aircraft, but given the small perimeter that he could see, he assumed that would not be difficult. His expectation was that his snipers could disable the aircrafts’ engines, and then he could summon his main force and attack without fear of his quarry escaping.

The enemy warlord was not the only one to make that assumption. Hunkered down in a ditch a half mile from the aircraft, Wilhelm studied the small cluster of hills intently. They were the obvious vantage point for an observer, as well as sitting astride the obvious approach route, and Wilhelm had deployed his sentries accordingly, preferring to let the enemy walk into an ambush on ground of Wilhelm’s own choosing.

Wilhelm had seen a glint of reflected sunlight, and now he could see two poorly camouflaged men crawling downhill through the wadis. He could guess that they were snipers: the ploy was an obvious one. After sending two of his sentries forward to ambush the snipers, Wilhelm radioed Felecia and said, “Hostiles inbound. Snipers, intending to disable, from the look of it. I’ll take them out, but then whatever force they’ve got will likely hit us, dead-on. Time to make some smoke.”

Wilhelm shut off the radio and smiled, feeling his chest swell with pride. He, and not General Bradson, had come up with the plan for dealing with this contingency. He’d done it on the fly, a week before, when Felecia had briefed Horst and himself on the real mission, and the expected situation in Somalia. It had pleased him beyond measure that Felecia had approved it instantly, and that General Bradson had enthusiastically endorsed it. 

Though still in his twenties, Wilhelm had been fighting as a mercenary in Africa for half a decade. He knew how the locals fought. The plan itself was simple; protect the aircraft and make it appear that they were disabled. To that end, he needed silent kills of the snipers, in order to let the enemy believe they had accomplished their mission.

Fifteen minutes later, his two sentries signaled, a few moments apart, with two clicks each from their radios. With that confirmation, Wilhelm raised his own rifle and began firing single shots, a few seconds apart, toward the aircraft, but aiming a hundred yards high. All he needed was the sound, for the observers he was certain were still in the hills.

Acting per the plan, Felecia ordered the two aircraft to start their engines, as if preparing to leave. They both pivoted clockwise, interposing their fuselages between the distant hills and their port wings. As soon as they had done so, a two-man team triggered smoke flares under the port wings, and soon billowing clouds of white smoke, carried by the propwash, raced out across the desert. Crossing her fingers that the ploy would work, Felecia ordered the aircraft to shut down. 

The third sniper, unaware of the fate that had befallen his comrades, watched through his scope. From his vantage point, he’d seen the teams run under the wings, though he’d not yet guessed that he was seeing a deception. Unsure as to whether or not the aircraft could still take off, and wanting to avoid the wrath of his commander, he took careful aim at the outer starboard engine of Flight Two, and fired. 

Wilhelm heard the thundering crack of the shot, estimating it as coming a hundred yards to his left. Discarding all caution, he leaped to his feet and ran at full speed towards the sound of the gunfire, as the sniper took a second shot. Focused on his target, the sniper didn’t notice Wilhelm’s approach.        

The sniper prepared for a third shot, slamming the bolt of his rifle forward to chamber the round. Wilhelm saw the movement, and raised his own rifle from a hundred feet away. Flicking the selector to semi-automatic, Wilhelm fired, pulling the trigger of the AK-47 as fast as he could.

The first of Wilhelm’s shots slapped into the dirt a foot from the sniper’s head, causing the sniper to flinch. Hearing the sound of the first gunshot as the second of Wilhelm’s rounds slammed into the ground by his side, the sniper rolled to his left, swinging his rife around. He never made it; Wilhelm’s third shot ripped through the sniper’s torso at a shallow angle, straight through his heart. He was dead before his rifle hit the ground.

Wilhelm saw the sniper drop the rifle, and gave himself a moment to aim before pumping three more rounds into the sniper’s corpse. Wilhelm advanced at a trot, rifle at the ready, to within thirty feet of the sniper. To be sure – he’d learned long ago to always be sure – he put a round through the man’s head.

 

 

The bartender, whose home was closer to the volcano thus causing him concern, had left early. With him went Helen’s warning about tequila. Seeing a way they could help, Jansen and Keith headed for the bar in order to serve a last round of drinks, and seized the opportunity to put their own plan in motion. Remembering something that Eric had asked when he’d first met them, and having no way of knowing what it was they were about to unleash, they slipped behind the bar.

Neither Jansen nor Keith thought it particularly odd that conspicuous by its absence from the large selection of wines and spirits was anything made from the Agave cactus.

Here again, the fickle hand of fate intervened. Not knowing that the bar would be fully stocked, Jansen had stopped by the resort’s convenience store before the wedding and procured a small gift for Eric. Pulling it from his pocket, he opened the little bottle of Jose Cuervo and openly filled a few shot glasses atop the bar. No one noticed that seemingly routine activity, and the bottle was returned to its hiding place.

Grinning, Jansen and Keith began serving drinks, reserving the tequila-filled shot glasses as their treat for Eric.  

As the party wound down, Eric strode across the room to see Brandon and Chase, intending to share the final drink of their party with them. Carrying the drink tray, Jansen intercepted Eric and said, “I wanted to return the favor from the other night. Take a shot.”

Thinking that Jansen was referring to the scotch – which he was – Eric assumed that the shot glasses contained whiskey. Snatching one up, he said, “Thanks, man. Here’s to you guys,” and downed the double shot in a single gulp.

Feeling the familiar burn and taste, Eric said in a quiet, stunned tone, “Tequila...”

Misreading Eric’s expression, Jansen grinned and nodded, “I remembered what you said when we first met you; you wanted to be sure we could pour shots of tequila. They didn’t have any behind the bar, so I got you a bottle of Jose Cuervo.”

Eric, not yet under the influence of the tequila though he knew it was coming, ushered Jansen and Keith aside, taking them a dozen paces away from the nearest guest. There he said, “Guys, I know you were doing me a favor and had no way of knowing, but I have to make this quick: tequila makes me go a little nuts and if anyone finds out I’ve had any they’ll be pissed at me, bigtime. Keep an eye on me; get me out of here soon – sooner if I start to act crazy. But whatever you do, don’t tell anyone.”

It was Eric’s tone that conveyed the urgency of his request to Jansen and Keith. Not yet understanding what they’d done, they nodded in agreement. Before they could ask any questions, Brandon and Chase sought out Eric. Chase reached out, pulling Eric into a bear hug. “Thanks bro, for everything.”

Taking care to try to conceal his breath, Eric ignored the familiar feel of the tequila as it began to course through his veins. “Glad to do it. I had a blast setting this up; you guys should get hitched more often,” Eric said.

Brandon laughed before saying, “This was great, man. Thanks.” Brandon reached out and shook Eric’s hand, and then pulled him into a hug. Holding Eric tight, Brandon chuckled and said, “Don’t stress on the volcano. We knew it was active before we got here. We just wanted to make you sweat a little. Not your fault it blew during the wedding.”

Eric couldn’t help it, he laughed. “Damn, you guys got me good on that one.”

Chase thought that Eric was taking the news far too well, but thanks to the alcohol and thoughts of his wedding night, he dismissed the notion.

Watching Jon, Brandon, and Chase head off, and now feeling the rising tide of the tequila, Eric’s thoughts turned to fun and he spun around, intending to head for the pool, only to almost run over Helen.

“Hi,” Eric said, forgetting to shield his breath. Helen’s eyes flew open as she caught the familiar, acrid scent of tequila, and her face darkened as she said an angry tone, “Eric, you promised–”

Jansen realized what was happening and cut Helen off to say, “It’s not his fault.” Jansen glanced at Eric, who had resumed his dash for the pool. “He thought it was whiskey. I gave it to him; I didn’t know that there was a problem. Will he be okay?”

A resounding splash echoed from the pool as Eric cannonballed in, fully clothed. Reigning in her anger, Helen asked Jansen abruptly, “Exactly how much has he had, and when?”

Paling slightly, Keith handled the reply, “One double shot, a couple of minutes ago. Once he realized what it was, he asked us to keep an eye on him and get him out of here. He said it makes him a little crazy.”

Helen shuddered slightly as Eric’s soaked shirt, hurled from the pool, hit the side of her head with a splat. Having had a considerable amount to drink herself, she was in no mood to deal with Eric. Assuming that one double shot would wear off soon enough, and also wanting to give Jansen and Keith a taste of what Eric could be like, she rolled her eyes skyward as she said, “God, forgive them, for they know not what they have done.” Lowering her gaze, she glared at Jansen and Keith before adding, “But they are about to find out. I have a rule: whomsoever tequilas the Eric gets to deal with the results. Welcome to Hell, and may God have mercy on your souls.”

Jansen and Keith shared a look of concern, bordering on panic, before Keith asked in an urgent tone, “Will he be okay? What should we do?”

“Pray,” Helen said with a cold smile, before taking pity on the two dancers and adding, “Just keep him out of trouble. Do not, under any circumstances, let him out of your sight. Keep him away from tequila at all costs and he should be back to his normal annoying self within an hour or two. If I were you, I’d consider tying him up and tossing him in the volcano, but it’s your call. Oh, one other thing; don’t trust anything he says. Good luck, you’ll need it.”

Helen watched with a mix of concern and amusement as Jansen and Keith darted over to the pool and became instantly drenched by a fusillade of water from a maniacally laughing Eric.  

 
 

© 2009 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