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C James

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  1. Chapter 42: Passion in the Dark When Eric let him into the blacked-out suite, Jansen used the keychain light to lead the way to the sofa, where he deposited his backpack on the coffee table. Eric suddenly realized that Jansen intended to spend the night. What Eric didn’t know was in what way. Eric knew what he wanted, but… ‘What if he doesn’t want to? Or what if he does, and I screw up again?’ Eric thought, paying close attention to Jansen, trying to decide what to do and what to say. Sitting down on the sofa, Jansen waited until Eric joined him, an
  2. Chapter 39: Zeus Triumphant The shouted questions at last subsided, and General Bradson was able to launch into his speech. He gave the reporters a slightly abbreviated but detailed account of the mission to Iran, omitting only Bill’s part, and the fact that he had acted without authorization or approval from Washington. He wrapped up the story of the mission by announcing that Earl Johnson and Brian Bradson had been rescued. The General also told of Instinct’s role as brokers to get the bombs out of the hands of the mercenaries and Felecia’s help in fac
  3. C James

    Trapped

    Chapter 40: Trapped All it took was one person with a radio and news of the volcanic warning spread like wildfire in spite of the cable and phone outages. Part of that news was that the resort and its environs were dead center of the massive block of land, miles in extent, that was predicted to slide into the ocean during the lateral collapse. People no longer cared that there were no remaining accommodations on the north end of the island. They wanted one thing and one thing only: they wanted out. In an exodus that often bordered on panic, almost e
  4. C James

    Fallen

    Chapter 38: Fallen The morning of the news conference, chaos reigned. Helen took charge, dealing with each item in turn, or trying to. Some things were to prove beyond even Helen’s ability to control. The first bit of news came from Jim, who told Helen that his wife Linda had grown suspicious that something big was going on. With a sheepish expression on his face, Jim then said, “Helen, that press conference is in a few hours and Linda would see that... I felt I had to tell her about the bombs, but I swear I didn’t tell her their location. I’ll tell
  5. Chapter 37: The Best Laid Plans... Their minds still awhirl, Jansen and Eric walked side by side through the dark resort grounds, feeling the cool air and smelling the soft scent of pines intermingled with the tang of volcanic sulfur. The sulfur scent had been so prevalent in the prior days that they now almost didn’t notice it. Almost. It was always there, a stark and persistent reminder of the volcano on which they stood. The recent addition of nuclear warheads to their situation had caused them to focus even more on the here and now. Always, lurking j
  6. Chapter 35: Special Delivery Standing on the tarmac of the deserted La Palma airport, General Bradson turned and said to Eric, “Drive safely. Not too fast. See you soon.” Eric nodded, and then waved at Jansen, calling him over. Jansen arrived at a jog, wondering what was going on. He’d seen the two cylinders loaded onto the truck, but his angle had concealed Brian from his view. Suddenly realizing that he had yet another issue on his hands – how to tell Jansen – Eric said, “We’re heading back to the resort in the truck. General Bradson is
  7. C James

    Convergence

    Chapter 36: Convergence Dashing inside the resort’s main entrance, Brandon used the hotel phone to alert Helen. “General Bradson is here and he’s got a woman named Felecia with him. Chase is taking them to the pavilion–” Helen didn’t even reply, she hung up and rushed out the door of her suite. After listening to the dead line for a moment, Brandon hung up, shrugged, and took off at a run, soon catching up with Chase, the General, and Felecia. They arrived at the pavilion and knocked. Brandon said, “Open up.” Hearing Brandon’s voice,
  8. Chapter 34: Miscommunications After a quick glance at his navigational display and then his watch, General Bradson said, “Time for another call,” and flicked on his satellite phone. Helen answered on the first ring. “Hi, how do things stand?” the General said, still observing caution regarding the open phone line. Taking a deep breath, Helen answered, “The boys and I will do it, provided they and I approve of the collateral you mentioned. How will you be doing this?” General Bradson gave Felecia a thumbs up and a grin, and then answered, “I’m b
  9. C James

    Rendezvous’

    Chapter 33: Rendezvous’ On board Flight Three, flying low in the amber light of dawn over the Red Sea, General Bradson said, “We’ll tell your men that the base in Sudan has been compromised so we’re heading back to the Cape Verde Islands. En route, we’ll level with them. We’ll tell them they’ll have a million each, in a numbered Swiss account, confirmed to their satisfaction, by the end of the day. I’ll stay with you after the turnover and I’ll get you and your men to safety. I’ll also make sure that the U.S. Government leaves you the hell alone. You’ll
  10. C James

    Wings of Fire

    Chapter 31: Wings of Fire Tapping lightly at the door of his mother’s suite, Eric wondered if she was already asleep. He didn’t have long to wonder as the door swung open. The first thing he noticed was the puffiness around her eyes. ‘She’s been crying,’ he thought, and gave her a wan, sympathetic smile as he walked through the doorway. As they sat down on the couch, he said, “Sorry to come by so late, Mom, but I was worried about you.” Jane stared at her son for a moment, and then, her upper lip quivering, reached out and drew him into a hug.
  11. Chapter 32: A Favor to Ask The Strait of Hormuz is the sole access to the Persian Gulf. Over a hundred ships of all sized transit the Strait every day. At night, these ships are usually brightly lit. The MiG was over a thousand feet above the C-130 and passing half a mile to its west. Looking at the Iran Air jet, the MiG pilot could see in his peripheral vision the lights of several ships in the Strait, well to his east. That was to be expected. What was not expected was what he saw next: the lights of a large tanker appeared to blink out for a fra
  12. C James

    Feelings

    Chapter 30: Feelings “We need to talk,” Jane said without preamble as she walked into Jon’s suite and took a seat, leaving Jon standing by the door he’d just opened. Helen arched an irritated eyebrow, not at all pleased that Jane’s imperious tone had returned for an encore performance, nor the fact that Jane was barging into a business meeting. Brandon and Chase looked up with concern as Jane continued after a long pause, “Eric is planning something that would be a disaster for Instinct’s career. A strip club. Helen, this is your bailiwick. Did you know about his pla
  13. C James

    Ignition

    Chapter 29: Ignition “So, how am I doing?” Eric asked, his breath coming in short, heated gasps. “Pretty good so far, especially for a beginner,” Jansen replied, and then added, “Thrust a bit harder, don’t hold back, work your hips.” Eric thrust his hips forward, once, then again. “Thanks for teaching me this. It’s hot.” “It’s hot in a lot of ways. We’re both soaked,” Jansen replied with a smile, accompanied by an admiring glance at Eric’s sweating torso. “We’ve been working at this all morning. Let’s take a break.” Following Jansen
  14. Chapter 28: Blood and Time “Hi,” Eric said with more than a little unease, as he took a seat across from Jansen, who would not meet his eyes. Keith, still standing by the door, said, “I’ll take a walk, back in a few.” The sound of the door closing behind Keith was replaced by an awkward, oppressive silence. After several long seconds, Jansen, still staring at the bottle of scotch in his lap, said, “Sorry… I blew it and I know it.” Eric could tell that Jansen was indeed sorry, and that was enough to mollify Eric’s own hurt feelings. Feel
  15. Chapter 27: Drums out of Darkness ‘So far, so good,’ General Bradson thought, as they raced down the corridor towards the main door of the guardhouse. There, they joined up with the two mercenaries who had been searching for keys and who had stayed to guard their only exit. One mercenary, an ex French Foreign Legionnaire by the name of François, shrugged and then said in his thick Gallic accent, “We finally found some keys, but you had already blown the doors.” François held up the keys for a moment, before sliding them absently into his pocket. He had
  16. Chapter 25: Satan's Own Thunder As the lunch ended with a palpable tension still in the air, Eric followed Jon back to his suite. Plopping down in a chair, Eric said, “I don’t want Brandon and Chase to find out, but last night, I had some tequila. I didn't do it intentionally, and I promised them I'd stay off the stuff. I thought it was whiskey until I drank it.” Settling into a chair across from his brother, Jon remembered Jansen and Keith handing Eric a shot glass. Suspecting the answer, he asked, “How did that happen? Who gave it to you
  17. Chapter 26: The Scorpion and the Frog The soft touch of Jansen’s hand on Eric’s bare shoulder sent a shiver down his spine. Turning to face Jansen, Eric looked him in the eyes and smiled, as the hand remained in its place. “Does that bother you?” Jansen asked in a soft voice, indicating his hand with a glance, and wondering if what he desired was possible. “I like to be touched,” Eric said, lost in Jansen’s sapphire-blue eyes. Eric took a slow step forward, closing the gap between them to nothing. The rattle of the door cause both guy
  18. Chapter 24: Confrontations Felecia raced out from behind the sheltering fuselage of Flight Two with total disregard for the possibility that there were more snipers. Looking up, she swore under her breath as she spotted two bullet holes in the engine cowling. Fearing the worst, Felecia summoned the mechanic. General Bradson and The Scar arrived at a run as the mechanic opened the inspection hatch and then delivered the bad news. “Looks like at least one hit the synchronization controller. I don’t know where the other one went. I’ll need to open the access
  19. C James

    Unseen Eyes

    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 ri
  20. C James

    Surprises

    Chapter 21: Surprises Picking up the phone, Eric dialed the front desk and then slammed the receiver back into its cradle. “It’s busy,” he said, “Let’s head over to the front desk and see what’s going on.” Driven by the fear that the volcano could ruin everything, Eric dashed out the door, racing across the resort towards the main building. Jansen and Keith snatched up some shorts, yanked them on, and ran to follow. Eric jogged into the foyer, and instantly saw the staff occupied with the ringing phones, deluged by a flood of calls from worried guest
  21. Chapter 22: Prelude to Ragnarök It was an inauspicious beginning, but it was a beginning nonetheless. The roar of the C-130’s four engines diminished as the pilot throttled back, beginning their final descent through the dark skies to the improvised base in Somalia. The improvised base consisted of just a stretch of dirt road, some fuel bladders, and a collection of tents, all under the watchful eyes and protection of a local warlord with whom The Scar had cut a deal. In what even he considered a stunning display of unoriginality, The Scar had christ
  22. C James

    Revelations

    Chapter 19: Revelations The smell… it was the smell that reminded him, even more so than the pain, that he was far from home. Pungent, a mix of stale concrete, sweat, and the stale, lingering odors of spices, suffused with dust. An echoing sound of boots on concrete, growing ever louder, intruded rudely into Brian Bradson’s clouded mind. Deprived of more than a few meager snatches of sleep, he was barely able to focus, but he knew what mattered: they were coming for him, again. Like so many times before, the senior guard led the way, unlocking the ce
  23. C James

    Explanations

    Chapter 20: Explanations Gasping for breath, Jansen stared at Eric’s now-grinning face and sputtered, “Y-you know?” Throwing his head back and laughing, Eric said, “Well, duh, of course I know! I was suspicious the first time I was at your apartment. Keith said ‘my bed’ instead of ‘our bed’ plus there were a few other clues that made me think you guys had separate rooms. Then there’s the fact that you guys look a lot alike, said you first met two years ago but later you said you grew up together and went to high school together, and Keith gets nervous when
  24. Chapter 18: Errors of Omission The second night at the club proved somewhat better than the first. Keith had succeeded into rounding up two part-time strippers, which helped avoid the burnout problem with the audience they’d had the night before. Eric had repeated his performance behind the bar, donning the mask and leather shorts again, but he limited himself to a dance on top of the bar, well aware that he’d made a hash of it onstage the night before. It irked him a little: a challenge he hadn’t yet mastered. After closing, Keith paid off Charlie and the
  25. Chapter 17: The Show Must Go On Letting himself into the club, Keith found the main room empty. “Hey, Janse, you here?” he yelled as he relocked the door. “Yeah, back room,” came the reply. Trotting towards the back room, Keith said, “Fucking Craig’s pulling a no-show and I’m sick of being left hanging and the rest of his shit, so I d–” Keith stopped cold as he entered the room and spotted Eric standing near the sink, wearing nothing but white briefs and toweling off his hair. Keith looked to his side, to see Jansen, stripped down to his boxers, rins
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