“Fire & Ice”, Ch. 40: A Former Colleague Becomes an Ally, 8/06/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #246)
[I will illustrate my story with images of actors representing my ‘dream cast’–including Richard Armitage and Anne Hathaway for the lead characters of Thomas and Caroline, respectively, as noted in the image credits. There are also images of Blair Brown for Amanda Pritchett Holder and Sam Elliott for Jake Holder; Brian Protheroe for Martin, Mary McDonnell for Mary, Seth Green for Todd, Raven Symone for Fiona, and Logan Lerman for Allen. The images representing Trevor are stock photos from MS Office Clip Art.]
[(1) Fire & Ice story logo left]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Fire & Ice” is a romantic thriller. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes and some passages involving intrigue and some violence. I will label those chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings I provide, then please don’t read those chapters. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Story Recap: After settling into their Bed & Breakfast Cabin at the Bison Creek Ranch, Thomas, Caroline, and Trevor–under the aliases of Kevin, Julia, and Billy Johnson–had met the lady owner when they checked in. Amanda Pritchett Holder is a former colleague of Thomas’. As Caroline and Trevor walk into the lodge restaurant with Jake Holder, Thomas fills Amanda in about their predicament.
“Fire & Ice”, Ch. 40– A Former Colleague Becomes an Ally
Amanda closes her office door behind her so they won’t be interrupted by any other guests that might wander in. Thomas looks around the office. It is a woman’s office with some elegant design elements of elegant drapes and comfortable yet upscale furniture selections that counteract the rather roughhewn bones of the room–including the steer skull and horns on the wall that Jake had bought her as a housewarming present before they were married. Amanda is definitely in love with her husband to keep such a gruesome object so close at hand. Though sometimes, Amanda will throw a scarf over it so she doesn’t have to look at the poor thing. And at Christmas time she strings lights on it. So she has made peace with its placement in her office. She and Thomas lock eyes knowingly.
Thomas: “Amanda, I’m sorry to come to you like this. But we had nowhere else to go.” He [(2) right] shakes his head ruefully as he leans on her desk for support. The strain of having to run for their lives and worry about what might happen to Trevor, is weighing heavily on Thoams.
Amanda: “Hmmm. I guess my wondering if Julia knows who you really are is a moot point.”
Thomas: “Hhhhh!” He nods his head.
Amanda: “We don’t have much time before we have to rejoin the others. Give me the short version.”
Thomas: “Four, maybe six people are dead already trying to get to us.” He looks at her with fear and forboding in his eyes.
Amanda: “Issssshhhh!” She hisses. “You don’t go in for half measures, Thomas. What is going on?”
Thomas: “We don’t know. Caroline and I reconnected last weekend as a couple after being separated for nearly four years. Trevor is the son I didn’t know I had. And after Caroline’s first day in my Division at the Company on Monday this week, we had to flee for our lives Monday night. We’ve been on the run ever since.” He throws up his hands in frustration.
Thomas: “No! We only know that the Director Peter Wendt and another Division Chief Paul Foster are somehow involved. I need to go onto the net to see if my Division team has uncovered anything and planted some information–if, indeed, my team is still alive.” He says forlornly.
Amanda: “Why do you think your Division team might be dead?” Amanda asks as she tries to grasp the enormity of Thomas’ dilemma.
Thomas: “Trevor and his sitter Mrs. Burns were stalked Monday in the park. We don’t know if the man was just watching Trevor or trying to kidnap him for leverage. That tipped us off that something was up. So I called in a few favors from the old gang.”
Amanda: “’Let me guess. The Grissom Group?”
Thomas: “Yes. But they never showed up. I don’t think they made it. And Trevor’s sitter Mrs. Burns was killed when she stalled for time so Caroline and Trevor could get away.” Amanda flinches. “Look, I’m sorry to put you in this position. And if it were just Caroline and I, we would run and no one would ever find us. But with Trevor, his life can’t be about hiding and living in fear all the time. He deserves to have a normal life. We have to face this somehow and fight back.”
Amanda: “Well Thomas, you’re in luck. I haven’t completely retired, as it were. I still have a few tricks up my sleeves.” She opens a lower desk drawer and then thrusts a laptop into his hands. “This is Bertha, my little insurance against a rainy day. She has satellite hookup. And you can surf the net all you want on her and it isn’t trackable.”
Thomas: “Thanks Amanda.” He sighs gratefully. Thomas sets the laptop on the desk and opens it up and turns it on. “I just have to see if there are any coded messages left for us.” Thomas scans a few web sites, not seeing what he hopes to find.
Amanda: “Have you thought of simply going to the Company web site? So many hackers try to get in on a daily basis, there’s no way they could track you even if they did get past Bertha’s defenses.”
Thomas: “Maybe I should try again after lunch. I don’t want to be away from Caroline and Trevor too long.” He turns off the laptop, closes its lid, and slips it into a soft over the shoulder carrying case that Amanda hands him.
Amanda: “Of course. Oh and Thomas, we have one more asset on our side.”
Thomas: He likes the fact that she is phrasing her statement as a we–indicating that she will help them. “The fact that we’re in the middle of nowhere?”
Amanda: “Well, there is that.” She smiles. “Jake, he’s retired Navy Seals.”
Thomas: “You’re kidding!?!” He asks incredulously. “He seems so folksy and fits right into the mountain man mold.”
Amanda: “Oh, Jake is from around here. But we had worked together twelve years ago in DC. And when I retired, he kept pestering me to join him out here. So a few years ago, I finally relented. And I’ve never looked back.”
Thomas: “Will he help us?” He wonders, since Jake doesn’t know them.
Amanda: “My Jake never walked away from a fight. If you have to make your stand here, we’ll be on your side.”
Thomas: “Thanks Amanda, I was hoping you would say that.” Thomas clasps her on her shoulder, grateful for his former colleagues’ support and assistance.
Thomas and Amanda leave her office rejoin the others in the lodge restaurant.
Meanwhile 12noon Mountain time zone is early afternoon Central and Eastern time zones in Chicago and DC. And Thomas’ team is hard at work. First, Martin and Todd conduct a video conference call to the State Department about their suspicions.
Martin: “Secretary Baker, thank you for taking time out of your busy day for us.” Martin [(4) right] says solemnly and respectfully.
Sec. Baker: “What is going on? Your Director, two Division Chiefs, and a new analyst are missing? And at least four people are dead?”
Martin: “Todd, this is your research, you’re on.”
Todd: “Thank you Martin. Mr. Secretary we think it is related to the recent UN and State Department funds missing in Kamirastan. We don’t know how yet. But if government officials in Kamirastan are embezzling funds, they would need U.S. help to cover their tracks–or at least delay being discovered.”
Sec Baker: “How much money are we talking about?”
Todd: “Roughly 10 Billion dollars–give or take a million.”
Sec Baker: “And you think this was the reason for the killings and missing people?”
Martin: “We do. Thomas Kane had indicated to Director Peter Wendt that he was planning to alert the UN and the State Department that they should activate forensic accounting protocols in Kamirastan. That is why we think he and his family were targeted.”
Sec Baker: “His family?”
Martin: “The new analyst was an old flame of his, Caroline Walters, started on Monday. They had reconnected over the weekend and she revealed that her 3.5 year old son Trevor was Thomas’ son, too.”
Sec Baker: Seething he asks. “There is a child in danger in all of this?”
Todd: “As yet we don’t know if he is part of the problem or collateral damage. We’re interviewing Foster and Wendt’s wives this afternoon to see if we can learn more information.” Todd [(5) right] informs him succinctly.
Martin: “Our next step is to conference call the UN. Care to stay on the line for that?” Martin asks hopefully.
Sec Baker: “Yes, patch me through.”
So, the next 30 minutes, the information is relayed to a Ms. Myra Stoltzi of the UN via conference call. It is agreed that since both domestic and international interests are at stake, both the FBI and the CIA will become involved–but discreetly. The UN will also instigate investigation protocols. Of course, the utmost secrecy is requested by all parties so that nothing is leaked to the media prematurely.
However, Martin and Todd feel that their covert plan to quietly leak information via social media sites is still the best one. Transparency and shining a light on issues tends to brighten up the darkest hours. Martin and Todd approach Allen and Bernie in Allen’s Office cubicle.
Allen: “Yes, Bernie and I have set up random number generators to issue false ISP site addresses. Nobody should be able to track where this is coming from.” Allen [(6) right] grins broadly.
Todd: “Bernie, are you equally as confident that this leak can’t be tracked?”
Bernie: Rubbing his stubbly chin containing two days of unchecked beard growth, he says. “I actually have the leaks pointing to a government building in Kamirastan.” Bernie smiles with glee.
Martin: “Alright, go!” He says and Allen hits the send button that launches a pre-programmed cascade of Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo News, and other Social Media site posts about the embezzlement scandal. No mention is made of the deaths and missing Division personnel yet–since that information might too directly link back to the Chicago Division offices.
Over the next hour, Thomas’ Division Team watches as the world gradually wakes up to the realization of what happened to over 10 billions dollars in aid to Kamirastan–and the embezzlement scandal goes viral. CNN and the other major news stations immediately reroute their Eastern European reporters to Kamirastan in hopes of getting a news scoop. Martin and everyone hopes that bringing this scandal to light will help call off any assassination squads that might be looking for Thomas and Caroline–because killing them would not serve any purpose now. The secret is out. They just hope that there won’t be retaliation.
After a yummy stew lunch with Amanda and Jake, Thomas and Caroline decide to check out the web again to see if they have any coded messages left for them. But as they walk back through the main lobby area, their attention is drawn to the television in the sitting area. A news anchor is giving updates about a lead story and a news crawl also gives more information.
News Anchor on TV: “The State Department is denying any direct knowledge of an embezzlement scandal involving over 10 billion dollars in aid to Kamirastan.”
Thomas’ head jerks around to focus on the broadcast as he quickly makes his way to the sitting area. Caroline wonders what the matter is as she tries to keep Trevor from getting to restless about wanting to ride a pony.
Trevor/Billy: “Mommy, I want to ride my pony now.” He [(7) right] pouts.
Caroline/Julia: “Billy, you just ate. We don’t want you throwing up your food because of being jostled on a pony ride. Let’s have you take a nap first.”
Trevor/Billy: “I don’t want to! I want my pony!” Trevor is a bit petulant. And since he’s been a good boy up til now, Caroline can’t really fault him for acting his age.
Jake: But Jake intervenes. “Your Ma’s right, little feller. The horses have just eaten too. And we really don’t want to see them throw up, now do we?” Jake stares Trevor down. Jake is good at that. It worked with Russians during the Cold War and it works with toddlers. “What say we visit the ponies now, then you and they can have a nap before your ride later? Hmmm?”
Caroline/Julia: Smiling, she [(8) right] says gratefully. “Thanks, Jake.”
Jake: “My pleasure, Maam.” He tilts his head to her.
Caroline/Julie: Now turning her attention to both Thomas and Amanda who are watching the news intently. “Kevin, what’s happened?”
Thomas/Kevin: “Something I had heard earlier now seems to have hit all the major media sites–about an embezzlement of 10 Billion dollars in US and UN funds in Kamirastan.” He looks at her pointedly. And Amanda looks at Jake pointedly.
Trevor/Billy: “Is that real money or play money?” He asks cutely. All the adults turn to look at little Trevor–puncturing the tension in the room with his 3.5 year old viewpoint.
Thomas/Kevin: Scooping up his son into his arms and hugging him tightly, he says. “Its very real. Now let’s go see your pony so you can take and nap and then have a pony ride later. Hmmm!”
Trevor/Billy: Hugging and kissing his Daddy back, he says. “Yes, please daddy.” Thomas looks over at Caroline as if to say, maybe things will be alright. But they can’t talk openly until they get back to their cabin and put Trevor to bed.
Amanda: “I’ll just be in my office looking up a few things on the web.” She mentions for Thomas’ benefit.
Thomas/Kevin: “Thanks Miss Mandy, for everything.” He pats big Bertha in the briefcase slung over his shoulder.
Amanda: “My pleasure, Mr. Johnson.” She smiles warmly at Thomas and his family. Caroline smiles her thanks as well.
Then Jake leads the Johnson’s out to the pony corral.
To be continued with Chapter 41
(1) Fire & Ice Story Logo is a composite of MSOffice Clip Art images:
fire (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=fire&ctt=1#ai:MP900438774|mt:2| ); block of ice (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=ice&ctt=1#ai:MP900402236|mt:2| ); and a heart (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=heart&ctt=1#ai:MP900399589|mt:2| ), 5/13/12grati
(2) Image representing Thomas Kane is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Series 1 (2010 on Sky 1), episode 3 (pix 12) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/StrikeBack/album/series1/Episode3/slides/ep3_012.html
(3) Image representing Amanda Pritchett Holder is that of actress Blair Brown and was found at http://www.listal.com/viewimage/1221823
(4) Image representing Martin is that of British actor Brian Protheroe and was found at http://www.brianprotheroe.co.uk/Brian_Protheroe/Brian_Protheroe.html
(5) Image representing Todd is that of American Actor Seth Green and was found at
(6) Image representing Allen is that of actor Logan Lerman and was found at http://www.zimbio.com/Logan+Lerman
(7) Image representing Trevor Thomas Walters Kane is a stock photo of a young boy with pumpkins found at MS Office Clip Art at
(8) Image representing Caroline Walters is that of Anne Hathaway and was found at http://www.hairstyleswatch.com/UserFiles/Image/2008%20JULY/Anne%20Hathaway.jpg
(9) Image representing Jake Holder is that of actor Sam Elliott and was found http://silverfoxes.provocateuse.com/show/sam_elliot
Previous “Fire & Ice” Story Link