“Diana, are you ready to go home?” Sam asked her.
“Yes, Sam. I want to get started on this adventure.”
“Then I will take you back to Texas. Pack your things and we’ll take the Gulfstream. You have completed training and are ready to begin your fun.”
He asked Caitlin and Catherine, “Do you guys want to come with us or stay here?”
“Will you be back soon?” Caitlin asked.
“I hope so my love. I will try to come right back,” he told them.
“I am staying here, and taking care of business,” replied Caitlin.
“So am I,” Catherine answered.
“How about you, Angie?”
“In a couple of days but for now, I need to get some things done,” she told him.
“Ok,” Sam said. “I’ll see you three tomorrow. Let’s go Diana, our future awaits us.” The two of them left and headed for Texas.
“I think I know what they are going to do on that flight and when they get back to the house,” Caitlin said.
“It’s perfectly all right with me,” Catherine agreed.
“What are you guys talking about?” Angie didn’t understand.
“Sam loves us all,” Caitlin answered, “and Diana is one of us.”
“Do you mean he and she are going to get together in that way?” Angie asked.
“Bet on it,” Catherine replied, “but don’t worry he will be back with us tomorrow. In the meantime, we have work to do. Besides, we are still together.”
“Yes, we are,” said Caitlin, “and we have a wonderful hotel and excellent service. Let’s go back there, order room service and settle in.”
Catherine and Angie embraced her and gave her a kiss. They called the limo and went back to their hotel. The evening was splendid for all of them.
Sam and Diana landed in Texas with the limo waiting for them. Shortly, they were at the lake house. Diana wanted his attention and got it. She went to sleep with him in the big bed, satisfied, and worn out.
The next day, Sam had a very important phone call to make. He left the bed without waking her and went into the living room to use the secure phone. His call was to one of his old friends, a former Texas Ranger who was now the principal of Trinity Security, a Texas firm that drew heavily on ex-Texas Rangers.
His old friend answered the call.
“Trinity security,” the voice said.
“Mark, old sleuth, this is Sam.”
“Sam, my favorite old hustler, what can I do for you?”
“I would like to have a chat with you, Mark.”
“I understand,” Mark replied. “Where?”
“Let’s take a boat ride,” suggested Sam.
“Pick me up at the marina?” Mark asked.
“Sure,” Sam answered, “forty-five minutes?”
“I can make that,”
“Great!” Sam said. “And bring your bug spray, the mosquitoes might be out.”
“Depend on it,” Mark agreed. “See you then.”
“Take care, brother,” Sam cautioned him.
“I always do, Sam,” Mark replied. “Soon, my friend.”
Mark hung up. Sam prepared for his visit. He had to be very careful, but help was on the way. His reference to “bug spray” was code for what he wanted Mark to do. They had been down the road together and understood each other perfectly.
No one knew that Sam had met Mark at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, during Sam’s educational experience. Peter had sent him there for an intense course in corporate security. He and Mark were partners throughout the training and had covered each other on several occasions. They were fast friends.
Sam drove Destiny to the marina and Mark was waiting for him at his secluded slip among the other boats. They could meet there and go unobserved. Mark boarded, and they shook hands while Sam maneuvered the boat out into the main body of the lake. Sam stopped out of sight of the marina and took the boat out of gear while keeping the engines running. Their rumble would mask whatever they said. Mark used his portable scanner to check Destiny before they had their conversation. He found no threats.
“Ok, Sam. What is this bug problem you are having?” Mark said insightfully.
“I have taken control of a major investment company in New York and I want to know with what I am dealing. You know me, I want to know about my people beginning with security. My house here will be the hub for a project we are undertaking locally as a pilot project. I had my security people scan the premises, including all the vehicles, and this boat. They installed detection devices, and a lot of good stuff. I want to know if they left anything behind that might be of interest to me.
“You don’t trust your own people?” Mark asked.
“Let’s just say that I want to know if I can trust them, I hope I can. Paranoid? You know what we learned at the academy, ‘Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean that they are not after you.’”
“You want me to do another scan of your place, then?” Mark understood perfectly.
“Yes. Surreptitiously and undetectably. I want to know, and I don’t want anyone else to know.”
“Would this evening be too soon to do it?” Mark asked.
“The place is yours as soon as you can get your team out there.”
“Yes, as sophisticated as possible. Use your imagination as to what the possibilities are. I also had a new communications system installed that will allow me to reach any spot on the globe. You might want to look at that, too.”
“Damn, Sam. What have you gotten yourself into, my friend?”
“Mark, it is big, it is exciting, and I want to make sure to get off on the right foot. If I have problems, we will create a strategy to handle the situation. I don’t want to give you more incentive to find anything that might be amiss, but if there is something here. I have a skyscraper in the financial district in New York City that might also be at risk.”
Mark thought for a minute and rubbed his chin. “Would seven o’clock this evening be ok with you?”
“Perfectly,” Sam agreed.
“Take me back to the dock. I have some arrangements to make.”
“Thanks, Mark. I will be there awaiting your arrival.” He put the boat in gear and returned to the marina. The two friends shook hands, and Mark left. Sam sighed his relief. He knew he could trust Mark with his life, and had on several occasions, as Mark had trusted him, back when. His return to the boathouse was enjoyable, and he was confident that soon, he would know, one way or the other.
The team from Trinity arrived right on time and as prearranged, Sam opened two of his bays so that they could park their vehicles out of sight. He left nothing to chance. Sam had sent Diana over to see Penny and told her to talk with her about her new opportunity. He knew she would stay there for several hours, and the team could do their work without her knowledge. It was between Sam, Mark, and the security team. By the time Diana returned, they had finished and left the premises, but not before Mark gave Sam his report.
Mark signaled Sam to come with him. They took the stairs down to the first floor and Mark led him away from the house. When they were a suitable distance away, Mark spoke.
“Your intuition was right on, as usual, Sam but you are not going to like this.”
“Let’s have it, Mark, what did you and your guys find?”
“The unwelcome news is that you are being bugged, your phones, your cloud connection, and your conversations, and several locations around the grounds. We are clear here, though, so we can talk freely.
“I knew it, I just knew it,” Sam responded.
“What else, Mark?”
“Your detection devices can be manipulated, so that whoever controls them can come in whenever they wish.”
“Damn!” Sam exclaimed. “I can’t have my people here until we resolve that.”
“Sam, someone is setting you up. Do you have any idea who it might be?”
“No, I don’t. Can you trace the bugs to who is getting the information?”
“Yes, we can.”
“Can you secure this site in such a manner that whoever is doing this won’t know they have been discovered?” Sam asked.
“Yes, but it will be expensive,” Mark replied.
“How much do you need, up front, Mark?”
“Do you want me in New York?” Mark needed to know.
“Yes, are you licensed there?”
“We are licensed in all fifty states, and we can do the job there if you need us.”
“Ok. I will transfer one million dollars to your firm in the next fifteen minutes to get you started. We need to get this done now,” Sam told him.
“I will need three bays for my vehicles. We can finish here by morning. Is that suitable?”
“Yes, call your people. I will have the funds transferred now,” Sam said as he shook Mark’s hand. “It is good to be working together again, Mark. Let’s get these assholes.”
“You can bet on that, Sam. When do you want me in New York?”
“We need a plan. Maybe a false alarm or a suspicious device to clear the building and get everyone out so you can do your work?” Sam proposed.
“That might work,” Mark started thinking about it.
“First, make me secure here without alarming the bad guys, and I leave for New York as soon as we are clear. Do you want to take in a show?” Sam asked him jokingly.
“I have a feeling that the show I see will not be on Broadway,” Mark returned his humor.
“I would think not, my friend. It looks like the Texas Rangers are going to take over my security function. Gear up for it. I must have faith in my security operation, worldwide.
“I will need more people if we are going to go worldwide.”
“No one you don’t know. Rangers, preferably.”
“Call your people. I need to be able to communicate securely, and I don’t want any eavesdroppers.”
“Consider it done, Sam.” Mark went to his vehicle and summoned his troops. Within the hour, they arrived and worked their magic. Sam was much relieved.
Diana returned before the new security team arrived. Sam took her for a walk and explained the situation to her. She took everything calmly and with resolve. He knew she would be an asset to him as they made their preparations.
“On your cell phone, call this number. It’s Catherine’s cell,” he instructed her. She did.
“Catherine answered, Hello, Diana. What’s up?” Diana gave the phone to Sam.
“Hi, Cat,” he used her nickname to let her know something was up. “How are you guys doing?”
“I think we are doing fine,” she answered. “What’s up with you guys?”
“Great, except for the mosquitoes,” he said, “had to get the exterminator up here to get rid of all the bugs. It’s that time of year.”
“Poor sweetie,” she understood what he was telling her, “maybe you need to come back to New York.”
“It seems that they are just as thick up there, LOL!” he said.
“Oh, are they?”
“Yes, don’t go out without insect repellent, understand?”
“Yes, dear. When will you be back?”
“Not sure, Monday, I hope. Diana is doing great down here,” he added. The rest of the conversation was pleasant, but mundane. Catherine had gotten the message though, and that was all that mattered. After the call, she motioned Caitlin and Angie into the bathroom and turned on the shower, so she could whisper and only they could hear her. She told them what Sam had warned her about. They were okay and composed themselves despite the new circumstances. The restaurant called to them, and they went downstairs. They didn’t sleep very well that night.
Diana joined Sam and Mark in the living room. The team had already begun to secure the intrusions and mask the real activity with fake messages that sounded like the real things. They had cleared the living room and the three could talk freely.
“Mark, I want twenty-four-hour security here, and I want Diana to have security with her when she visits our various sites of endeavor. A driver might be an option, with an armed guard if needed, but I will leave that up to you. We might want to secure the driveway gate and install cameras on the grounds. Could you put a plan together to secure this site?”
“Sure, Sam. Leave it to us.”
“When the rest of us are here, I want to have guards on the property at all times. I am not going to risk the well-being of my people.”
“Consider it done.”
“When can you come to New York and take care of that?” Sam asked.
“A weekend will be perfect. Most people will not be there and for those who are, we can set up something that will get them to leave.”
“My colleagues are there now, and I want them protected as well.”
“Who are they?”
“My wife, Caitlin, the mother of my first children, Catherine who is also very special to me, and a member of our family, Angelique, or Angie. Their suite could be vulnerable, and they need security. The same organization that installed the security and communication system here, are providing their security. That makes me nervous.”
“How do we get them out of the loop?” Mark asked.
“Make sure Diana is safe here, get your people to New York, and bring my family home. Should I go with you?”
“No, you and Diana are secure here, and will be for the future. We will get the others out of New York.”
“I have a plane standing by for you and your men. How soon can you go?”
Mark’s phone jingled. He saw that the deposit had reached the Trinity bank account. “We’re in, Sam.”
“I knew you would be, my friend. Take all precautions.”
“You don’t have to tell me that. We’ll be ready.”
“I know you will.”
He went to oversee the work his men and women were doing and left Sam and Diana alone, together. She looked scared. He embraced her and gave her a tender kiss.
“Are Caitlin, Catherine, and Angie going to be all right?” she asked him.
“Yes, love. Call Catherine again and tell her what is going on. They must know. Also tell her that Trinity is coming to get them back here. Get them packed and ready to go.”
“I understand, dear Sam. She did as he said. Do you have to go up there?”
“No, my sweet Diana, Trinity will make sure they are ok, Peter too. He has taken all of them under his wings. I have arranged security for them through Trinity, not Global, so they will be fine.”
“Am I going to have you alone tonight, then?” she said submissively.
“Yes, my dear, Diana. Tonight, you belong to me.”
She snuggled against him with her head under his chin and let him embrace her tenderly. Her smile said all that needed saying. He carried her back to the newly secured bedroom and let her know his joy that she had joined the family.
“I will be right back, sweetie, I have to go talk to Trinity. Stay there.”