Deep in the lush hills of Haiti’s northern coast, Bridget was in pain; a battle between gnawing aches from her swabbed face and wrapped leg, dragging her back towards reluctant consciousness.
Slowly, her thoughts became coherent, and she remembered arriving in Haiti and being taken to the luxurious private estate in the hills overlooking the shore. Then she remembered the doctor and the preparations for surgery. She opened her eyes, the blur before her gradually resolving into the dour visage of the Swiss plastic surgeon.
An unaccustomed tightness on her face reminded Bridget why she was there, and in a hoarse whisper, she asked, “Did it go well?”
The surgeon nodded. “Yes, and you will feel better in a few days. Your leg took the most work; there was some damage to a tendon, as well as the risk of a scar. I believe all is well in that regard. The cosmetic procedures to your face were quite routine, and I believe you will be quite pleased with the results, once you have healed. I performed a facelift, an eye tuck, cheek implants, lip augmentation, and some light dermabrasion. I do wish to make you aware; your face will swell and redden. This is harmless and normal, though some find it disquieting if they see it before being warned. I’ll be back to check on you in a few hours; for now, I’ll give you something for the pain, and it will help you sleep.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Bridget replied, a moment before she felt the cold touch of an antiseptic swab, and then the dull sting of a needle.
The doctor exited the plush suite, nearly blundering into Billy, who was standing outside the door.
“Is she going to be okay?” Billy asked.
The doctor nodded. “She’ll be fine, although she’s going to be a bit groggy until tomorrow.” The doctor glanced at his watch, and added, “Your procedure won’t be as extensive, so you will have even fewer effects.”
Billy blinked. “Huh? Me? What procedure?”
The doctor stifled a smile; he’d suspected as much. “Didn’t they tell you? You’re next. I’ll be doing you in the morning. Your face may be known to the authorities, so it was decided that I’d be doing you as well. Just some minor work; an augmentation of the cheekbones to make them prominent, and some reshaping of the nose. You’ll also need some dental work to correct that gap in your front teeth, though you’ll need to see someone else for that; I don’t have the equipment or training needed for dentistry.”
“But this is some kinda mistake, it’s gotta be; I don’t need an operation!” Billy protested.
The doctor gave him a humorless smile. “Cosmetic surgery is quite common, nothing to worry about. You don’t have a say in the matter any more than I do. Look at it as an opportunity. Come to my office and we’ll look at some pictures of various nose styles, so you can pick a new one. You’ll come out of this quite handsome, I assure you.” In the plastic surgeon’s opinion, Billy had an attractive but plain face. By giving him a new nose and augmenting the cheekbones, the plastic surgeon felt he could improve it, as well as making Billy far harder to recognize. “You’ll need a new hairstyle and color, and that can be done here; we have an excellent stylist on call.”
Billy swallowed once, and nodded. He wasn’t happy with the surprise operation, but decided to make the best of it. “Okay, let’s go look at noses,” he replied.
Aboard Kookaburra, there was commotion and confusion. Greg Fowler had given specific instructions to the HMAS Perth’s weapons officer, and now Kookaburra had been declared a crime scene.
Everyone aboard had been ushered ashore, and the Naval Police Coxswains had been called and asked to begin looking for fingerprints and other clues. While they waited for the Naval Police to arrive, the customs officer took Trevor aside. “They’ll likely take a few hours. You and your friends can’t roam around the base, so you can either wait in my office, or head ashore for a while. Under the circumstances, using the base bus service may be inadvisable, so I’d be happy to run you and your friends to Perth and drop you off. By the time you get back, you can stay on your boat again.”
Trevor cast a wary glance at Kookaburra. “I’d prefer to stay with my boat, but… okay, Perth sounds good, thanks.”
An hour later, Trevor, Shane, Lisa and Joel were afoot in downtown Perth. The guys were all mindful that Lisa was flying out the morning after next, so they made it her day, letting Lisa choose what to see and do. They spent the rest of the afternoon sightseeing, and then made their way to a shopping mall. While there, Trevor checked in with Greg Fowler, who told him that Ned Kelly needed to speak with him.
The conversation with Ned gave Trevor some good news; the refit of Atlantis was going well. More good news was that the rail shipments to Geraldton were ready for pickup; everything from new appliances and crated fittings to the new boom and flooring. Kookaburra would, as they’d long planned, be used to deliver the freight to Ned’s yard in Carnarvon. Trevor let Ned know that he would be in Geraldton in seventy-two hours, assuming he had Kookaburra back, and asked him to make the arrangements. All throughout the conversation, they were both careful to avoid mentioning Geraldton by name.
Trevor called Greg Fowler again, and asked, “Uncle Greg, I’d like to sail right after Lisa flies out; what about that tracker?”
“Trev, let’s not talk about that over the phone, but it won’t be a problem. Speak with the customs officer when you get back to base, he’ll fill you in on some of it.”
Trevor already had a good guess, so he replied, “Thanks, Uncle Greg. I’m supposed to call him when we’re done in the city. Uh, I forgot to ask what time he works until…”
“No worries, either he or his relief will be at the number he gave you. Have fun in the city,” Fowler replied.
Aboard Kookaburra, the weapons officer from HMAS Perth was, at Fowler’s insistence, in charge of the delicate task of examining the tracking device. He soon deduced its general type and range and, after a careful analysis of the device and signal, he felt confident that a brief interruption would do no harm.
An hour later, everything was ready. With deft care, the weapons officer unhooked the transmitter’s connection to the mast, and with the aid of a midshipman, hurriedly carried it and its battery to a storage shed a few yards from the dock. There, he attached it to an old ship’s whip antenna he’d scrounged up from the parts yard, and radioed HMAS Perth to have them run a detailed check of the signal. The results were as he’d expected; the signal was indistinguishable from what it had been when aboard Kookaburra.
The immediate problem was solved, so the weapons officer turned his attention to Fowler’s other request; creating a second transmitter set that would mimic Basingstoke’s.
It proved an easy job; the transmitter was emitting a simple timed pulse on VHF 20, so all the weapons officer had to do was hook a pulse generator – a very simple circuit – to a VHF transmitter, which would be powered by a car battery. By the end of the day, he had boxed up the modified transmitter and dropped the parcel off for delivery to Fowler.
After a casual meander through the mall, Lisa spotted a women’s shoe store and darted inside, leaving Trevor, Joel, and Shane sitting outside to wait. That suited Trevor just fine, because it gave him the chance he’d been waiting for; to talk to Joel without Lisa around. He grinned at Joel, and said offhandedly, “You’ve been having a blast with Kookaburra, huh? And you enjoyed that charter we did in the Mediterranean too, right?”
Joel gave Trevor a puzzled look. “Yeah, why?”
Trevor smiled. “Just an idea I had… I think you’d make a great charter captain. You could do it part time while in college, then full time after if you want. This would also solve your problem of finding a place for you and Lisa to live while in college. Long story short, Shane and I want to do charters here in Australia for part of each year for a while – I want to get to know my family – so we’re leaving Kookaburra here for now. We’ll have Atlantis in Florida. While you and Lisa are in college, you can live on Atlantis while Shane and I are in Australia and you can do occasional charters. We can even swap once in a while, and you and Lisa can have Kookaburra in Australia. After you’re out of college, we’ll all run both boats, wherever we decide – it’s a good living. You and Lisa would have Kookaburra, and Shane and I would have Atlantis.”
Joel’s jaw dropped open. “Wow… uh… wow. That’d be awesome, I’d love living on a boat and chartering… Trev, I just thought you and Shane would run both boats?”
Trevor shook his head and grinned at Shane, who took his cue and said, “Trev and I talked about this when he learnt Kookaburra was his. You know what happened to my mum, and how I don’t like being at the helm or in the driver’s seat much. The other part of it is Trev and I don’t like being apart, any more than you and Lisa do. Running a boat is a great thing for a couple, but running two would be hard.”
Trevor chuckled. “The four of us can do charters together on one boat sometimes; both boats have five cabins if you count the crew cabin forward, so as long as no more than three are rented out, there’s plenty of room.”
Joel’s eyes glazed over for a moment. “Uh, I have no idea what Lisa would think. I think she’d like it… but I have no idea, and, uh, there’s the France problem.”
Trevor responded to Shane’s puzzled look by explaining, “Lisa’s mother moved to France and turned her back on her when she went to see her, so Lisa has bad memories of France, and never lets me forget that Atlantis was built there. Kookaburra was too.” Trevor returned his attention to Joel, “This is why we wanted to talk to you first but before Lisa flies out.”
Joel took a deep breath. “I’ll talk to her. I want to do this, but I can’t if she doesn’t. I think she will though, she’d be nuts not to. Thanks, Trev.”
Trevor gave Joel a hug and a pat on the back. “Gotta keep it in the family, right, bro?”
A few minutes later, Lisa emerged from the store, purchase in hand, and found an agitated Joel waiting for her. “Where did Trev and Shane go?” she asked.
Joel nodded across the mall. “They’re in that store, shopping, I-”
Lisa chuckled. “Trev, shopping for clothes? Is he feeling okay?”
Joel relaxed a little. “They want me to talk to you alone. When you went into the shoe store…” Joel went on to tell Lisa what had transpired.
Trevor and Shane emerged from the clothing store to find Lisa and Joel waiting; Joel sitting on a bench, looking away, and Lisa standing, arms crossed, her foot tapping. “Trev,” she began, “Did you really think I’d want to live on a boat that’s made in France?” Trevor blinked, and Lisa chuckled. “I wish I had a camera, your expression is priceless. Now, as for the real answer; yes, you goof! I love Kookaburra, she’s red!”
Trevor, with a bemused look on his face, stuttered as he tried to explain to Shane. “Lisa likes red, it’s her favorite color.”
“Yep, I know that already,” Shane replied, with a chuckle.
“Trev is a bit slow on the uptake,” Lisa said, and then returned her attention to Trevor. “Kookaburra was overhauled and upgraded by Ned, including new bows, so as far as I’m concerned, she’s Australian now. And she’s red! And I love her! Haven’t you noticed that I never call her a tub the way I do Atlantis? And I hate to tell you, but I do like Atlantis, I just call her a tub to bug you. I’ve never been on a charter, but I think I’d like it. More to the point, Joel loves it, so if he’s happy, I’m happy. And besides, I already don’t like working as a cashier, so even if I wasn’t as happy chartering as you, so what? It’s a job with a freaking huge load of side benefits, and I’d be insane to say no. I’ll even be happy on Atlantis, and guess what; the idea of coming back to Australia to live for a few months is awesome too, because I love Australia and wish I didn’t have to go home. So yes, you dope, and thank you!” she said, pulling Trevor into a tight hug. “How could you even think I wouldn’t love this idea?” she asked, giving Trevor a hearty pat on the back.
“I did think you’d say no… You said it yourself, you’d be insane to, so I thought…” Trevor muttered, pulling away just in time.
“Hey, you’re the crazy one here, not me!” Lisa replied, with a mock scowl, and then a laugh, as Joel stood up to join them, and the four shared a hug.
They spent a few more hours enjoying Perth, and then Trevor decided to treat them all to dinner at a good Indian restaurant to celebrate.
After a sumptuous meal, the bill arrived, and Trevor’s eyes opened wide when he saw the total: almost ninety dollars. Shane peeked over Trevor’s shoulder at the bill, and smirked. “Is there a hospital close by? I think Trev is having heart palpitations.”
Trevor’s mouth opened, and then closed, as he stared at the bill. “This stuff sure does add up fast,” he mumbled, reaching for his wallet.
Shane stayed his hand. “For the sake of your health, Trev, I’ll get this,” Shane said, pulling out his own wallet. “I don’t want to see you have another panic attack, or worse.”
“Me too, he’s allergic to spending money, so I’ll chip in a couple of twenties to be generous,” Joel said, nodding in agreement and reaching for Shane’s wallet.
“Hey, keep your paws off,” Shane said, swatting Joel’s hand away and chuckling. “I can tell that you two are brothers; that’s something Trev would do.”
“Hey!” Trevor grumbled, snatching up the bill. “I said this as my treat, and it is. I’m not that cheap.”
Shane glanced around in concern. “I think we ought to have an ambulance standing by, just in case.”
Lisa nodded, laughing aloud. “Probably a good idea.”
An hour after dinner, Trevor called the customs office at Fleet Base West, to ask for instructions for getting back on the base. To his surprise, he was told that they would be picked up in Perth in an hour.
A customs officer, driving his own car, made the pickup, and on the way back to base Trevor asked, “What’s the situation with Kookaburra? Did they find anything, and did they get that tracking device off?”
The customs officer smiled. “It’s gone well; they got fingerprints off the transmitter, and maybe some DNA as well, though it’s too soon to tell. It took a while to figure out how to get it out of there without shutting it off, but they did it; it’s now hooked up in a dockside service shack, and has an antenna. It’ll look like you’re still docked after you go. We’ve got a few things planned if we don’t get that imposter first.”
“Any idea who he is, or what he’s really after?” Trevor asked.
The customs officer sighed. “Nothing firm, but it’s not looking good. Best guess is he’s after either the boat, or you. Opinion is split on which, and we can’t figure out why he’d be after either one, or both. The police did search the boat in case it was something aboard, but they found nothing that they think anyone would go to such trouble and risk to get.”
Shane shuddered, and after a worried glance at Trevor, asked, “So, what can we do?”
The customs officer glanced in the rear view mirror, to meet Shane’s eyes. “Keep out of sight for a while; we have some plans if he comes back, and with any luck, we’ll get him even sooner than that. I can’t go into detail, of course, but we’re confident.”
“He’s a professional killer – a hit man,” Trevor said, giving voice to his fears.
“We don’t know,” the customs officer replied, keeping to himself that he believed the imposter to be just that.
Trevor glanced back at Shane, with pain in his heart, knowing there was one way to keep Shane safe.
The next day, Lisa’s last before going home, they took the Zodiac to Rottnest Island, a large island ten miles off Perth. There, they spent the day sightseeing, including some close encounters with the island’s tame wild quokkas; cat-sized marsupials that most resemble a small, squat kangaroo.
The island’s name, Rottnest, came from the Dutch, who thought the Quokkas looked like giant rats, and named the island ‘Rats Nest’.
Throughout the day, Shane noticed that something was amiss with Trevor, but chalked it up to Trevor’s sadness over Lisa’s impending departure.
That night in bed, though, Trevor climbed in and rolled away, and Shane began to suspect. He wrapped his arms around Trevor from behind, working his way down to the boxer shorts Trevor almost never wore in bed. Getting no response, Shane snaked his hand lower, cupping Trevor’s package, and asked quietly, “What’s wrong, Trev?”
Trevor hesitated, and then, still facing away from Shane, replied in a quiet, even voice. “I think it’s time we… spent some time apart. I think it’d be good to test our relationship that way, and it’s something I need to do. I’m going to call Martin and have him pick you up in Carnarvon.”
Shane had his hand on Trevor’s balls for a reason, and now he knew he’d been right. With a sigh, he squeezed, gradually increasing the pressure as Trevor began to squirm. “Trev, you’re a rotten liar. I believe you about wanting me gone, but I’m not quite thick enough to think it’s not about that flying imposter. So, you’re doing the whole noble self-sacrifice thing, kinda sorta breaking up with me so I’ll go away and not be in danger. I know you, Trev, and part of that is knowing you’d do just this.” To emphasize his point, Shane tightened his grip.
“Let go of my nuts!” Trevor gasped, trying in vain to pry Shane’s hand open.
Shane squeezed a little harder. “Nope, no can do, not until you accept the fact I’m bloody well staying. We’re in this together, whether you like it or not, and I’m not leaving you. So, I’m just going to keep tightening my grip until you either come to your senses, or you’re a permanent soprano. Choose wisely, mate.”
“You’re hurting me,” Trevor groaned, as Shane gradually tightened his grip.
“By trying to send me away, you’re hurting me,” Shane replied, with a touch of pain creeping into his voice.
It was the tone of Shane's voice that broke Trevor’s will. “Okay, okay, you’re right,” Trevor gasped.
Shane eased off, loosening his grip and easing the pressure. “I’m always right, haven’t you learnt that yet? Now, no more nonsense about me going, okay?”
“I don’t want you in danger because of me,” Trevor replied.
Shane began tightening his grip again. “Trev, we’ve been through this; it’s my life, my choice. I love you, and I’m staying.”
“Okay, I won’t do it again, I’m sorry.”
“You should be; that was manipulative… and stupid as well,” Shane replied, while partially loosening his grip.
“And blackmailing me with my balls was what, exactly?” Trevor replied, caressing Shane’s hand with his own.
“A successful strategy that saved us both a lot of heartache… but blackmail is such an ugly word. Better to call it ballmail, I think, though I hope I didn’t cut off the circulation,” Shane replied, giving Trevor’s nuts a gentle rub, which had its desired effect.
Trevor rolled over, wrapping his arms around Shane and pulling him close. “I’m sorry, I’m just… scared, for both of us, and I love you,” Trevor said, before pulling Shane into a kiss, which soon led to more.
At the Jindalee command center at RAAF Base Edinburgh, data processing was underway; a filtering and processing of the recorded radar data, to see if any trace of the Customs Service’s target could be discerned. Algorithms were applied, along with a mathematical model of the ionosphere gleaned from the data itself. The results took time, and were not wholly satisfactory, but it was enough for the operations officer to make a call, and inform the customs service that they had a possible track on something that may have taken off from the area the target had vanished in. The new target had soon vanished, while on a bearing for the town of Merredin.
The Customs Service took it from there, making inquires at airports in the region, and finding what they needed from the fixed base operator at Merredin airport; a Beechcraft Debonair had refueled, and one of the things that had been logged was the takeoff time and tail number. The Customs Service now had the tools it needed.
With the aid of maps and the range of a Debonair, they began checking the few airstrips that were in range to the east – they were unaware that Basingstoke had added an extra fuel tank, but Basingstoke was a conservative pilot who did not like being in the air with less than a quarter of his fuel load, especially over the barren reaches of the Nullarbor Plain. After leaving Merredin, Basingstoke had flown to Balladonia Airport, which mainly served a roadhouse on Highway 1 and was the last place he knew, eastbound, to get aviation fuel. His next stop was the first with fuel in South Australia: Yalata Mission Airport, nearly five hundred miles to the east.
The paucity of airports with fuel in the region made things easier on the Customs Service; they were able to trace Basingstoke as far as his third stop, east of Adelaide. From there he had flown to a small private dirt strip east of Melbourne: his home base. The Customs Service – aided by the Federal Police – had lost Basingstoke after his last refueling stop, but they now knew his aircraft’s make and model, along with the tail number his plane was currently wearing, though they suspected it might be a fake.
Although they had not been able to trace Basingstoke past his stop near Adelaide, two clues pointed at the Melbourne area as his destination; that was where Barney Fitzroy, under questioning, had admitted to selling the garlic crusher, it was also the home of the security company Basingstoke ostensibly dealt with, and the tail number of the plane was traced to a hanger in Essendon Airport, northwest of Melbourne.
The lead to the hangar was immediately followed; the local police sent a unit to the hangar, where they found a Beechcraft Debonair with the tail number Basingstoke had recently been using. That Debonair, shrouded in dust and with its engine on a stand, had obviously not been flown for months, but it was one more hint at the Melbourne region as Basingstoke’s base of operations.
There was little more they could do with the information they had. They didn’t know Basingstoke’s name – even the name ‘Basingstoke’ was merely an alias he used – but they assumed he’d return to his hunt for Kookaburra. With that hope in mind, the Customs Service alerted the airports at either end of the Nullarbor Plain to report any Beechcraft Debonair in transit westbound.
After landing at the small dirt strip, Basingstoke taxied towards an aged, rusty, tin hangar. Once his plane was safely ensconced inside, Basingstoke glanced at its registration number on the tail. He’d changed it while overnighting on the dirt road, but now he knew he could do a better job of it.
The size of the tail number varies from aircraft to aircraft, generally depending on the whim of the owner. Basingstoke’s were six inches tall, which made them hard to discern from a distance. The digits themselves – all letters, like all aircraft registrations in Australia – were stick-on black decals, which he peeled off. Basingstoke checked a list he kept of Beechcraft Debonair registrations, and selected one, gathering up and applying the decals to match.
With that task done, Basingstoke drove off in his car – a Holden Astra – which he’d left in the hangar.
After a half hour’s drive, an exhausted Basingstoke arrived at his home, intent on some much-needed sleep.
In Carnarvon, Greg Fowler waited while Ned took a seat in the office. “G’day, Ned. I have some interesting news. The Federal Police did more digging on that security system salesman, and noticed a little detail they’d missed before; he’s dead as a maggot and has been for over forty years. He died in infancy, and your salesman is using his identity.”
Ned blinked. “That’s quite a little detail to miss. How’d they manage that?”
“I asked that myself. The gist of it is that when they checked before, they turned up his business license and driver’s license, and it all looked legitimate. However, this time, they did a more detailed check, including looking at death records, apparently. They sent me an e-mail with his driver’s license picture attached, and they want you to have a look at it,” Fowler said, while turning his computer monitor so that Ned could see.
Ned scowled, and then shook his head. “That’s not him. It looks similar, but I don’t think it’s the same guy.”
“What if your salesman was wearing a disguise? The Federal Police said he could do quite a bit with makeup, some cheek padding, a mustache, and a change of hairstyle. There were differences that you and Trevor noticed when you compared notes, like hair color and a mustache,” Fowler asked.
Ned squinted at the picture for a few moments. “I don’t think so… but maybe. The thing is, how the bloody hell would he get a driver’s license with someone else’s picture on it, even if he’s using a fake name?”
“The Federal Police think it’s likely he’s connected with organized crime. The owners of the security monitoring service he signed you up for have been on their radar for a while; nothing firm, just under suspicion. If he’s hooked up with organized crime, that would explain a lot.”
“What do you think he’s after?” Ned asked.
Fowler was silent for a moment, before replying, “At first, we thought he was after the boat or something on it, but that makes no sense now. He was obviously aboard, likely in Kalbarri, so he could have gotten anything he wanted, or the boat itself, then. Instead, he planted a tracking device. That makes me fairly certain; it’s Trevor he’s after. Somebody still wants him dead.”
“Sounds like it to me as well,” Ned replied.
“I’m very worried, but we have two edges. One is he has no way of knowing that his tracking device has been found, and the second is we probably know what he’s after. How are things going with Atlantis?” Fowler asked.
“Ahead of schedule, just like you asked. I’ve done most of the hull work – except the bows – and all the prep work and wiring. I’ll be ready for the gear Trevor is bringing when he gets here. I have a mechanic doing the rebuild on the engines.”
“What about giving her a paint job like Kookaburra? She’d only need to look good from the outside, the interior doesn’t matter,” Fowler asked, with a cold smile.
Ned returned the smile. “That I can do. Give me two weeks, maybe two and a half. Let me ring Trevor and I’ll ask about the bows,” Ned said, reaching for the phone.
The call caught Trevor at Perth International Airport’s domestic terminal, where they were waiting for Lisa’s flight to begin boarding.
“Hi Ned,” Trevor said, as soon as he recognized the voice, his words provoking an automatic scowl from Shane. Smiling at Shane’s response, Trevor held the phone so that they could both hear.
“The reason I rang is you need to make a decision on the new bows for Atlantis. One option is for me to order Lagoon 55 bows, which will take a while and cost more. I could build molds and make them myself, but that’d cost more than ordering new bows. The other option is for me to use the molds I made for Kookaburra’s bows – I couldn’t risk ordering those. The Lagoon 57 bows handle chop a bit better, and just by doing this you’d pick up around a knot of speed. It’d normally require a slight change in square footage to the foresail to keep proper thrust balance, but you need a complete new set of sails anyway,” Ned said.
Trevor wrinkled his brow, thinking. He was of two minds; the Lagoon 57 bows sounded like an improvement, but he also wanted to restore Atlantis to what she had been before the pirate attack. “What about using the old bows from Kookaburra?” Trevor asked.
“Not possible, mate; I crushed those and got rid of them right after the conversion; they weren’t something I wanted around the yard, due to the questions they could raise, plus the unlikelihood I’d find use for ‘em. One was damaged anyway; you’d be better with new ones. One other thing for you to consider; it’d cost less to go with the 57 bows, and I’ll credit the difference to the deductible, around a thousand dollars.”
Trevor blinked, and looked at Shane, who whispered, “Your call, you know this stuff way better than me.”
“The 57 bows sound great!” Trevor replied, his mind fully made up.
“Then that’s what she’ll have. And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk paint. What about the color scheme Kookaburra has on her hulls?”
Lisa heard that, and gave Trevor a look he couldn’t misunderstand; go with red.
Trevor had already considered the idea, and had decided that having the two boats look almost identical could serve many purposes. He smiled at Lisa, and told Ned, “Sounds great.”
“I’ll see you soon; you’re all set for the pickup in the morning. You won’t go to where you docked before; go to the westernmost marina. Don’t go to the floating docks; there’ll be a place for you quayside. They’ll bring your cargo with a forklift; the rail freight yard is just a few dozen meters from that quay. There will be a police car there as well, so no worries,” Ned assured Trevor.
“Thanks. We should be there when they open; we’ll be sailing in a couple of hours,” Trevor replied. He had a quick chat with Fowler, a call that ended not long before the first boarding call of Lisa’s flight.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. Lisa gave Trevor a hug, holding him tight as she said, “You take care of yourself, and come home safe.” Lisa then gave Shane a smile, and then a ferocious hug. “Welcome to the family, Shane, it’s been great getting to know you. You keep safe, and look after Trev.”
Joel walked Lisa a few steps towards the gate, and gave her a passionate kiss. “I’ll be home in just over a week, just a few days after you get back from New Jersey. Be real careful when you get home; after all that happened with Bridget, I’m worried.”
Lisa held Joel tightly, dreading letting go. “You be careful here. I’ll pick you up at the airport… I’ll be counting the hours.”
After another kiss, Lisa reluctantly pulled away, and after a final wave to Trevor and Shane, she turned and walked to the ticket agent at the gate.
Lisa had a long and grueling flight ahead; Perth to Sydney, then on to Los Angeles, and then finally to Newark, New Jersey, where her father and grandmother would be meeting her.
Click here for an interactive map of the Perth region, starting out centered on Fleet Base West's Warship Row. The map can be panned, zoomed, etc.
A Discussion thread for this chapter is in my forum, please have a look and join in. direct link here. The forum enables conversations so in many cases it's a far easier to use format than the "leave a comment" section on this page, so I suggest having a look, but use whichever (or both) you are more comfortable with . :)