I'm glad that, so far you are enjoying my new endeavor. I was asked a couple of interesting questions recently so I might deviate a bit in the next couple of days, but never fear I will continue to post each chapter of my new book as well.
When last we left Cali she was in a compact being driven by an assassin, in the rain, somewhere in Italy, to an unknown destination. She was remembering how she got into this position to pass the time. Let's see where she is now.../////
They came to an intersection. On one corner was a gas station. Nickola pulled in. The sound of the rain beating on the roof, abruptly ended when he pulled under the small roof protecting the two gas tanks. They were old. In fact, the entire station looked like it hadn’t changed a thing since the Great War. What American collectors wouldn’t give for just one of those clear glass topped gas dispensers. They looked original. The red Pegasus globes that sat on top of them looked original too, and they were only faded a little. The little roof apparently protected them well from the elements.
Nickola got out of the car. He leaned his head in. “Do you need anything?” She shook her head. He nodded. “Stay in the car. I’ll be right back.”
Cali didn’t argue. Since her conversation with Angela, she had sharpened her senses quite a bit. This was no ordinary gas station. This was a check point and a guard house. The men inside would be heavily armed. Any person heading down whichever road it was that they were guarding, would be stopped and turned around before they had the chance to see anything. If they didn’t listen, they would be shot, and their bodies would become fertilizer for the crops that lined both sides of every road for fifty miles in any direction.
The agents that had been following her, had been lost yesterday. She had been in Rome. The man that had been her body guard in Tahiti had taken the same flight to Rome as she. He had sat next to her. His name, so he said, had been Jacque. No-one would have thought him to be anything but a business man. He was well dress, well-spoken and handsome. The CIA agents on the other hand, now that Cali was looking for them, stood out like sore thumbs.
Once they arrived in Rome, Jacque walked away. She had not seen him since. He handed her off to Robert, a young man with sandy blond wavy hair and a million dollar smile. Cali was told to go out bar hopping. At one bar, the last bar she saw that night, someone threw alit string of firecrackers into the middle of the dance floor and tossed several dozen cherry bombs in key places, like the toilets and behind the bar and DJ. In the confusion, Cali slipped out and hopped onto the back of a moped with Robert. Three vehicle changes and four changes in body guards later, Cali was signed in as Penelope Pitstop, at a tourist resort and spa, somewhere on the west coast of Italy. She was fairly certain that she was in the Province of Tuscany, but that was based solely on the vast number of olive groves that she had passed, both getting to the resort and again now. Cali had never been to Italy, she had only read about it.
The trip to the resort had been a whirlwind. After a short hop on the moped with Robert, she was stuffed into the back seat of an older vehicle with five other women that had the same general features as she. All of them were carrying on as if life was a party. She was ordered to join in. That vehicle ride was short, yet longer than she wanted it to be. When the car stopped everyone piled out as a group. They shuffled into an apartment complex, still whooping and hollering. As they passed a series of doors, one of them flew open, and Cali was sucked inside. She was at first panicked but, before she could react, she was told to relax, they were working for Ms. Vinccencio. The room looked like a maintenance closet, but it had aback door. She was swept out and rushed down a long narrow corridor that probably ran behind the apartments. At the end was an open car door. She did not hesitate when she saw it. Inside the seat was empty and the windows were blacked out. As she sat down a voice came over the speakers. “When the car stops, the door will open. Do not think, step out of this car and into the waiting car. Keep your head down. Move quickly. Do not worry about closing the door behind you. Do you understand?”
What could she say? “Yes, I understand.”
The ride was in silence. The car was sound proofed and probably bullet proof. She could see the rain drops on the darkened windows, and not much beyond that. She had no way of telling time or direction. If she was being kidnapped, then she would be totally lost. Sometime later the speakers came to life again. “Get ready. Sit by your back left hand door.” She slid over. Suddenly the car stopped. It must have been going fairly fast because she felt it. Then the door popped open. She did as commanded. She didn’t think. She just stepped out, with her head down, and expected the other open door to be there. She was not disappointed. She stepped into a car that could have been a twin to the one that she had just stepped out of. The door shut behind her, and the car sped forward in the opposite direction. The brief glance that she had taken before stepping into her present vehicle told her that, she had just changed cars in the middle of an Italian freeway.
This one had an intercom as well. “Welcome, we have a fairly long drive ahead of us. If you need anything please ask. On the seat in front of you is some clothing, and some paperwork that you will need for the remainder of your stay in Italy. Please change into the dress before you leave the vehicle, and leave all that you are presently wearing in the car. There are bags of clothing and personal hygiene items in the trunk. Your property will be returned to you when your business is concluded. Tomorrow morning, you will awaken early and dress in comfortable pants and tennis shoes. You will do whatever you need to do to be ready to travel for several hours by car and be out most of the day, if not all of it. You will meet a man by the name of Nickola at 9 am. He will find you on the dock. He will take you to a place that you requested to see. I am told that Nickola is very meticulous. I do not know him. But he might contact you this evening in some manner. Please follow his instructions to the letter. Are there any questions?”
“Yes, actually. You say that this is going to be a long drive. Do I have time to take a nap? I’m still suffering a bit from jet lag.”
“Yes, of course. I anticipated this possibility. There is a compartment under the seat in front of you. Inside you will find a blanket and pillow. The seat that you are in reclines into an almost flat position. I will wake you in time for you to change.”
Cali was awakened as promised. She changed and put her clothing in the bag. A new passport and some brochures that a tourist would pick up were also in the bag. She removed them and then slid off her rings, her watch and the locket that was around her neck. The manila envelope that had contained her new passport and other papers would be perfect for keeping her treasures. Normally the thought of leaving these items behind would have never crossed her mind. But this was Angela’s operation. Whatever she said, was how it was going to play out.
She sat back on the seat and waited. It wasn’t long before the car stopped. She waited. The door popped open, but this time a handsome young man in a tidy black suit held it. He extended his hand to her. She took it and stepped out of the car. They were in front of a very nice hotel. She read the plaque on the wall and corrected her assessment, she was at a very rich spa.
The young man had not let go of her hand. She turned to look at him. “My mistress asked me to give you this.” He pressed something small and hard into her palm and closed her fingers over it. “She asked that I remind you that, you are not in your world any longer. You are in her world. If you remember the rules that you were taught when you were young, everything will be fine. If you need help, Nickola is there as your guild and your body guard, and you know how to contact her. But… she really wanted me to emphasize this… remember the rules.”
Cali understood the message. It was loud and clear. She opened her palm and saw the Vinccencio family ring. It was her ring. She couldn’t help but smile. She had left the ring in her home in a secret, apparently not that secret, compartment in a jewelry box. Cali slid it onto her finger and looked back up at the handsome young man. “Tell her that I understand, and thank you… oh, and thank you to you as well.”
He smiled and showed an award winning set of teeth. “It is my honor to serve the house of Vinccencio.”
It was easy to register in the swanky spa. She was now a Vinccencio, and apparently the name was highly respected in the area. At first she wasn’t sure of what to do but, the second that her right hand landed on top of the counter, clearly displaying the Vinccencio family crest, the staff snapped to attention and everything was handled for her. Nobody scoffed at the obvious pseudonym of a name and she was given the red carpet treatment. At the same time absolutely no-one asked her a single personal question. They didn’t want to know her name. They didn’t want to know where she came from or where she was bound. All normal small talk, that generally accompanies a check in, especially at such a customer friendly type of establishment, simply did not happen. The entire staff eagerly, almost desperately, wanted to serve her every whim, and at the same time, wanted to know absolutely nothing about her. She was doted on until she actually dismissed everyone. It took only a few simple words about wanting to be alone and the staff that had only moments before been hovering, disappeared like smoke.
That is when her phone rang, the room phone. “Hello”
“Hello Ms. Pitstop, my name is Nickola. Do not speak. Listen. Do not wear pants tomorrow. I will have something appropriate sent up. Women of the family do not wear jeans and tennis shoes for an inspection. We will discuss tomorrow how this will be handled.”
“It is my honor to serve.”
Cali couldn’t help but wonder how that line had gotten started. She was dying to call Angela but, she figured that Angela knew where she was, if she thought that it was necessary and safe she would have called.
The day was still fairly early, and she realized that she was hungry. She readjusted her makeup and headed down to the dining room. Every employee that she passed snapped to attention. Word had gotten around. They had not even needed to see the ring. This is going to be a very interesting stay. She smiled to herself. I could get used to this.
///// Back story takes some time. I am trying not to bog it up with too many unnecessary details. Anyway, I'm hoping that you're enjoying it.
Live well and be good to each other.