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Fanfiction: Angel Wolf - Part II

For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

Part 5

Hawke was pleased to see a British Intelligence agent he recognised as he disembarked from Airwolf on the hotel helipad. Harry Carmichael was a good man who had once saved Hawke’s life. He helped Hawke from Airwolf and shook hands.

‘It’s good to see you. I just wish it was under different circumstances.’ Carmichael said.

Hawke waved at his companions. ‘You remember Caitlin?’

‘Of course.’ Carmichael shook hands with her quickly before turning to the pale man standing beside her. ‘And you must be Archangel?’

‘Any news on my daughter?’ Michael asked urgently as the men began walking across the roof to the stairwell.

‘No. I’m sorry.’ Carmichael shook his head. ‘None. We found the body of a room service waiter in one of the hotel storerooms. It looks like she was drugged. The remains of the food were laced with a heavy, fast working sedative. The autopsy we rushed through on the young man found dead in the bathroom revealed that he had very little in his stomach; orange juice, some bread, but there were traces of the same sedative.’

‘So?’ Michael asked impatiently.

‘We think the food was drugged to incapacitate them both.’ Carmichael continued smoothly as he led them down a corridor bustling with police and plain clothes officers Hawke tagged as other agents. ‘Your daughter was evidently targeted. They knew where she was and that she wasn’t alone. As soon as the sedative took effect, they came in, retrieved her and shot the boyfriend.’

Carmichael didn’t see Michael flinch at the term but Hawke did. None of them had known Angelina had been seeing someone.

‘The hotel has security cameras.’ Carmichael continued. ‘We’ve got a laundry trolley being seen leaving the building with unknown personnel at approximately seven this morning; camera caught them loading the trolley into the back of a non-descript blue van. The registration details were traced back to a stolen Ford Escort so dead end. Maid found the body at nine.’

‘They would have switched vehicles anyway.’ Michael muttered.

‘That’s our thought.’ Carmichael agreed. He stopped outside an open hotel room and pointed at it. ‘This is it. We’ve left it as we found it apart from removing the body but we’re going to need to remove everything for evidence so please; don’t touch anything.’

Michael pushed his way past Carmichael and entered.

Hawke sent Carmichael an apologetic look before he went in after the spy. The room was a mess; the residue of forensic dust and debris was evident.

Michael stood frozen. ‘My God.’

Caitlin patted his arm absently as she walked past their friend and Hawke followed her to the bathroom. His heart pounded uncomfortably at the pool of dried blood and outline of the body in the shower. He pushed past his fear for Angelina and focused on the bathroom. The shower stall with the opened soap and small complimentary bottles almost used; the toothbrushes side by side at the sink; the towels stacked on the shelf…the discarded robe behind the door. He frowned. His wife was examining the toiletries on the bathroom counter using a pen to look through the contents of a cosmetics bag without touching the contents.

‘What do you think?’ Hawke asked quietly.

Caitlin turned back to her husband and gestured at the room. ‘The grab was planned meticulously. The good news is that whoever has Angelina wanted her alive.’

‘Otherwise she would have been shot alongside…’ Hawke waved at the chalk outline. He couldn’t remember if they’d been told the boy’s name. ‘Was he in on it?’

‘Hard to say.’ Caitlin crossed her arms over the lilac uniform. ‘All the food was drugged so as Carmichael says that suggests that they meant to incapacitate both of them but he evidently planned a shower rather than to eat with her. He could have had the juice and toast as a bluff to make her think the food was OK and he could have been double-crossed.’ She sighed. ‘Or he could just be an innocent in all this.’

‘How do we think it played out?’ Hawke asked, changing the subject.

‘They got up; she showered first. There’s a robe and towels missing.’ Caitlin commented.

Hawke nodded; he’d noticed the same.

‘He ordered room service; it arrived and she sat down to eat while he showered.’ Caitlin continued. ‘She must have realised something was wrong, maybe cried out. The smashed plate suggests she tried to leave the table before she lost consciousness but the noise of the shower in here probably covered any disturbance in the bedroom.’

‘Maybe the TV was on back there too.’ Hawke suggested.

‘Maybe.’ Caitlin nodded. ‘That would explain why he was still in the shower when he was shot.’

‘He didn’t hear them coming.’ Hawke sighed. ‘Sedative in the juice slowed his reactions.’

‘They knew how long it would take for the sedative to take effect.’ Caitlin mused out loud. ‘As soon as the time was up they came in, grabbed Angelina and placed her in the linen trolley…’

‘No-one would think it was strange.’ Hawke realised. ‘Just cleaners moving in early on a room.’

‘Right.’ Caitlin nodded. ‘They shot the boyfriend probably with a silencer attached as no shots were heard and left.’

‘Made their getaway.’ Hawke grimaced. ‘Come on.’

Michael was staring at the dressing table. He gestured for them to join him and pointed at the strip of photos attached to the mirror. ‘Did either of you know about him?’

‘Not me.’ Hawke said firmly.

‘Me either.’ Caitlin shook her head.

‘She’s wearing an engagement ring.’ Michael pointed out tersely. ‘In the photos.’ He whirled abruptly and stalked out.

Hawke and Caitlin exchanged a worried look and she patted her husband’s arm. ‘I’ll stay here and take another look around. See if we missed anything.’

He nodded and left her to it. Caitlin’s background as a cop made her a good choice to continue their investigation such as it was. He paused in the corridor.

Carmichael waved at him. ‘He headed back up to the roof.’

‘Thanks.’ Hawke said. ‘For everything.’

Carmichael nodded. ‘We’ll continue tying up the details here but I would think whoever grabbed her has already left the country.’

‘Yeah.’ Hawke agreed sadly. He turned and walked back along the corridor. He found Michael by Airwolf. The spy was leaning heavily on the side of the helicopter.

‘Michael.’ Hawke said softly.

‘Am I that bad a father?’ Michael blurted out.

‘No.’

Michael turned back at the single word answer. ‘Just no?’

‘She’s a twenty year old woman testing her wings, Michael.’ Hawke said by way of explanation.

‘Why didn’t she tell me?’ Michael said, pacing away.

Hawke didn’t answer; he figured Michael already knew what he would say. Angelina probably hadn’t told any of them because she didn’t want her boyfriend under the microscope. Michael would have run a check and Hawke knew he would have flown out to look the guy in the eye even if Michael had restrained himself.

Michael stumbled to a halt by Airwolf’s nose and looked at Hawke panicked. ‘What are we going to do?’

‘We’re going to get her back.’ Hawke said forcefully.

Michael held his gaze. ‘Is that a promise?’

‘It’s a promise.’ Hawke kept his gaze on Michael’s good eye.

Michael nodded sharply.

Footsteps had them turning to greet Caitlin. She was carrying a beige folder and she waved to them with it as she approached.

‘Carmichael gave me everything they have.’ Caitlin said. She took a deep breath. ‘In all honesty, I think we would be better heading back home.’

‘Angelina…’ Michael began furiously.

‘Michael,’ Caitlin interrupted him, ‘everything points to Angelica being abducted.’

‘Yes so…’

‘So, they have a purpose in taking her.’ Caitlin pointed out gently, the wind ruffling her hair into disarray.

‘Airwolf.’ Michael realised with a sigh.

‘Or a ransom or some other thing they think you can give them.’ Caitlin agreed. ‘They’ll be in touch, Michael.’

‘And in the meantime there’s no point us hanging around here.’ Hawke said. ‘Whoever’s got her’s long gone.’

‘There must be someway to track them down.’ Michael said passionately.

‘Carmichael’s got his guys running down every private flight that logged a flight plan since seven this morning,’ Caitlin confirmed, ‘but Michael…’

‘I know, I know.’ Michael thumped Airwolf’s armour. ‘They were organised and they probably didn’t log a flight plan.’

‘Look,’ Caitlin said, taking a step toward him and laying a hand on his arm, ‘I really think we will be able to do more if…’

‘If we’re back at home.’ Michael concluded. He looked at Hawke who raised an eyebrow; it was Michael’s call. ‘OK.’

They all climbed back into the helicopter.

‘I called Marella.’ Caitlin said as she took her old place at the engineer’s console. ‘She’s arranging for a fuel pick-up and she’s also going to talk to Chrissy.’

‘Chrissy?’ Michael turned back to look at her as he took his own seat.

‘Angelina may not have confided in us,’ Caitlin pointed out, ‘but it would be unusual if she hadn’t confided in a girl friend so…’

‘So you think she talked to Chrissy.’ Michael nodded. ‘Good call.’

‘Carmichael know we’re leaving?’ Hawke asked as he started the engines. He felt the reassuring thud of the rotors.

‘I told him we’d get out of his way.’ Caitlin confirmed. She checked the systems. ‘We’re showing green back here.’

‘Let’s go.’ Hawke said, raising the helicopter from the ground in a seamless vertical move. ‘As soon as we’re clear give me turbos.’

‘You got it.’ Caitlin said.

An instant later, they were flying back home.

Part 6


Angelina tugged at the unfamiliar top. It was a plain white t-shirt; no motif, no label. It was her size but it was tight and she was aware that the outline of the bra she wore could be seen through the thin material. The skirt she was wearing wasn’t much better; a thin strip of material that landed mid-thigh, revealing most of her legs. She kept tugging the material to ensure it didn’t reveal the white panties she was wearing. The outfit made her feel vulnerable. She guessed that was the point.

She sighed and sat down on the single bed. It and a wooden chair were the only pieces of furniture in the room she was locked in. She had woken up with a headache and it had taken her only a few moments to work out she was a prisoner. The door was locked and she couldn’t open it. There were no windows. The only vent was too small for her to fit through. She had thrown herself back on the bed and cried her eyes out until a sense of exposure in the thin bathrobe had driven her to dress in the clothes that had been laid out on the chair. There were no shoes, probably to stop her running away.

She was petrified, Angelina admitted to herself. Not only for herself. She hadn’t seen Henry and she could only hope that they had left him injured at the hotel or had him in another part of the building. Her finger brushed her bare finger. They must have removed her ring, she mused, blinking back tears. But it wasn’t about her. They weren’t interested in her specifically, she thought. Her father had always been worried that someone would try to use her to get to him and she figured that was what had happened. The fact that the clothes were white; the bed linen were white; the wooden chair was painted white. It was the signature colour of her father’s codename, Archangel. She had been taken to get to him.

Uncle String would find her, Angelina reassured herself. Uncle String and Airwolf. They would find her and rescue her – and Henry. She had to believe he was still alive. She had to believe that. She wiped her eyes and took a shaky breath. In the meantime, she had to be brave. She had to remember all the defensive training Marella and Caitlin had taught her. She had to keep herself alive until Uncle String found her.

The sudden click of the lock being turned brought her to her feet. Her heart began to pound loudly and her breathing hitched as the handle turned. She tagged the man who entered as in his thirties; sandy brown hair, tanned skin, and piercing grey eyes. Her eyes fell to the gun he was holding. She realised she was twisting her fingers together and placed them behind her back.

‘You’re awake.’ The man said brightly. She could detect the faint hint of an accent underneath the carefully spoken English. ‘And dressed. Good.’ He motioned with the gun. ‘Come with me.’

Angelina figured it would be better to comply than to argue. She made her way out of the room slowly. Her feet hit linoleum on the other side of the door and she looked around, determined to make sure she remembered the layout.

It looked like some kind of medical institution or a lab, she thought as she felt the cold plastic hit her soles. The corridors were a uniform green colour; the doors were grey. The lighting was artificial; long tubes of white fluorescent. She could see large internal windows partially obscured with blinds where she could see people in lab coats doing something scientific. She swallowed convulsively. She was beginning to feel like a lab rat.

The man walked just behind her, telling her when to turn. They walked down a stairwell and she blinked. The institution suddenly turned to a beautiful, grand home. Lush carpet warmed her feet; the smooth polish of the wooden banister helped keep her steady. Her eyes darted from one object d’art to another; a wonderful Renoir adorned the room they entered above the antique mantel.

‘Please take a seat.’ The man pointed the gun at the turquoise chaise lounge and she dutifully sat.

He sat on the Queen Anne chair next to it and kept the gun pointed at her as a maid poured them coffee. ‘I understand you take yours black?’

Angelina accepted the cup hesitantly.

‘Drink.’ The man smiled humourlessly. ‘This one isn’t drugged.’ He pointed the gun at the cup.

She took a small sip to satisfy him.

‘My name is Andrei Kinskov.’ Kinskov smiled at her. ‘I expect you don’t know me.’

She remained silent.

‘I used to know you.’ Kinskov continued. ‘My father knew your mother. Your biological mother, I mean. You were a child back then, of course.’

Angelina couldn’t quite suppress the flare of interest at the mention of her mother but she bit her lip and took another sip of her coffee.

‘Has your father ever told you the story of him and your mother?’ Kinskov’s smile was feral. ‘It is perhaps not the Romeo and Juliet of the spy world your father has told you. Your father was sent after an East German scientist called Karl Kruger. He was brilliant. He specialised in brain-washing.’

Angelina dropped her gaze. She didn’t want him to know she was fascinated. Her father hardly ever mentioned her biological mother, Maria. His version of Kinskov’s story began and ended simply; that they had met when they had both been agents in the field; that they had fallen deeply and briefly in love, and that ultimately they couldn’t be together because their differences were just too great.

‘Archangel wanted Kruger. Badly. He knew Kruger was having an affair with an East German agent called Maria von Furster. He arranged a seemingly chance meeting with Maria in Paris. He began his seduction. Maria fell into his trap but Kruger realised something was wrong. He talked with Maria and she realised that she could not continue to betray him.’

Angelina’s hands trembled around the cup.

‘Archangel escaped vowing he would have his revenge on Kruger and your mother.’ Kinskov continued. ‘And with Airwolf, he finally had his opportunity. He tracked Kruger and Maria to this place. He brought Airwolf; guns blazing.’

She kept her gaze down; her stomach churning.

‘He stole Kruger’s work and killed him.’ Kinskov said conversationally. ‘But that wasn’t enough. When your mother showed up and tried to defend herself, his friend Stringfellow Hawke killed her.’

Her eyes flew up.

‘Ah!’ Kinskov smiled. ‘I see that got your attention.’ He waved the gun at her. ‘Did your father not tell you? That it was Hawke who pulled the trigger.’

‘That’s a lie.’ Angelina spoke for the first time. Her blue eyes flashed with anger. ‘It’s all lies.’

‘I have security footage if you would like to see proof.’ Kinskov said easily. ‘My father tried to get revenge for your mother but your aunt.’ He shook his head. ‘She betrayed him and warned Archangel.’

‘He tried to kill me.’ Angelina stated furiously. ‘Your father would have killed me. He killed my aunt.’

‘She betrayed him to Archangel. He had no choice.’ Kinskov grimaced. ‘But I admit; he went too far ordering your death.’

‘I don’t believe what proof you have.’ Angelina said strongly. ‘I don’t believe you.’

‘Pity.’ Kinskov sighed dramatically. ‘I had hoped to do this the easy way but…’ he lifted his free hand from the arm of the chair and gestured. ‘You will believe me when we’re done with your treatment.’

Two men in lab coats entered the room. Angelina sprang to her feet and threw her coffee at Kinskov. She vaulted over the chaise lounge and ran for the door. Another man appeared in the doorway; he was holding a gun. She skidded to a stop, breathing heavily. Her shoulders drooped; there was no way out.

Kinskov strode over to her and grabbed her by the chin. His grey eyes were dark with fury. ‘That was stupid.’ He shoved her away. ‘Take her to the tank.’

Angelina felt a hand clamp around her upper arm and propel her through the open doorway. She stumbled as they pulled along the corridor and into another room. She stared at the tank of water with horror. She felt a prick in her arm and the world went black again.

Part 7

‘His name was Henry Markham.’ Marella sat down beside her husband at the briefing table and took hold of his hand. ‘He was a doctor working in Oxford; talented and bright. He was orphaned at the age of twenty; no siblings. He had just secured a prestigious post in a London hospital.’ She paused. ‘Chrissy didn’t have any other personal information; I have Cerys pulling together a full background check on him.’

‘What else did Chrissy say?’ Caitlin asked as she poured another mug of coffee and wondered how long all of them could continue without sleeping.

‘She said Henry and Angelina met in the second week. They started dating.’ Marella continued. ‘Chrissy said Angelina was head over heels for him.’

‘Why didn’t she tell us?’ Michael wondered again.

‘Because she was in love.’ Caitlin pointed out as she sat down. ‘She was enjoying her freedom.’

‘She still should have told us.’ Hawke said. ‘How many stories have we told her about people trying to get close to get their hands on Airwolf?’

Caitlin conceded the point, inclining her head in silent agreement.

‘Apparently, the engagement was new. Henry asked Angelina to marry him a couple of weeks ago.’ Marella continued.

‘Wasn’t that around the time Angelina confirmed when she was coming back?’ Hawke asked.

‘Yes.’ Michael confirmed thoughtfully. ‘What are you thinking?’

‘It could have been part of the strategy.’ Hawke said reluctantly. ‘She says she’s coming home,’ he shrugged, ‘it might have been a way of ensuring he was part of her plans.’

‘So he could help set up the abduction before she got back to the US and our protection.’ Michael concluded. He leaned back in his chair. ‘There’s been no contact; no ransom demand.’

‘They took her alive for a reason, Michael.’ Caitlin assured him.

‘That’s what worries me.’ Michael admitted. He pointed at her with a sigh. ‘Where have we got to on the investigation?’

‘Carmichael and his team checked out the flights but they all checked out and I think we all know how easy it can be to sneak past radar.’ Caitlin said. She sipped her coffee. ‘He’s also reinterviewing all the hotel personnel.’

‘Someone had to have given them inside information.’ Marella muttered.

‘Right.’ Caitlin agreed. ‘Even if Henry supplied them with the room details and alerted them to the room service request, they still needed someone to give them access to staff uniforms and arrange a clear exit path.’

‘What about the other guest rooms?’ Marella asked.

Caitlin nodded. ‘ Carmichael’s checking through those too. It’s possible they hid in one room while they put their plan in motion.’ She paused. ‘I have Airwolf double checking any information which is computerised, looking through the staff and guest financial records.’

‘Maybe we can pick up a lead.’ Marella said.

‘Why they haven’t called?’ Michael said tiredly.

‘Maybe because they’re not ready.’ Hawke said. He frowned. ‘This reminds me of when Horn had Caitlin.’

‘Brainwashing?’ Michael grimaced but his eye narrowed thoughtfully. ‘But why? She can’t give them Airwolf.’

‘She could get close enough to kill you.’ Hawke pointed out.

‘It might not be brainwashing.’ Marella suggested slowly. ‘Maybe Angelina isn’t the only target.’

Caitlin exchanged an anxious look with Hawke; Nicky and Amelia were with Saint John. She reached hurriedly for the phone and began to dial Santini Air. Her heart was pounding as she listened to the ringing tone. ‘Come on.’ She muttered. ‘Pick up, pick up.’

She gave a brief sigh of relief as the ringing stopped.

‘Hi…’

‘ Saint John,’ Caitlin began urgently.

‘You’ve reached Santini Air. We’re not available…’

‘He’s not picking up.’ Caitlin slammed the phone down, trying to stop her rising panic from overtaking her. Her eyes met her husband’s. ‘Hawke…’

Hawke was already pushing his chair back. ‘Let’s go.’ He gestured at their friends. ‘Michael…’

‘I’ll contact the others.’ Michael promised. ‘Go!’

Caitlin was right behind Hawke as they made their way out of the offices and back to Airwolf. She climbed in and took her place at the engineer’s console.

Hawke pressed the button to bring the engines online and start the rotors. ‘Try the airfield again.’

She dialled Santini Air and closed her eyes in disappointment when she heard the answering machine again. She stopped herself from ending the connection and waited until the message finished and the beep sounded. ‘ Saint John, this is Caitlin. Look, if you’re there, pick up, this is important.’

She waited anxiously and felt her heart seize at the continued silence. ‘ Saint John, we think someone could be after the kids. If you get this message, contact us and take the kids to Red Star.’ She finished the call and pulled her attention back to the systems in front of her. ‘We’re green.’

Hawke glanced back at her and she met his determined blue eyes worriedly.

‘Hawke…’ She said huskily.

‘They’re going to be OK.’ Hawke said firmly.

She nodded, clamping her lips together.

Hawke turned around and a second later he had them in the air. ‘Turbos.’

‘Turbos.’ Caitlin confirmed.

Airwolf shot through the air. Caitlin tried to keep herself busy with checking the systems and scans but eventually she gave up the pretence.

‘God.’ She muttered. ‘I don’t know why we’re worrying. I mean, Saint John’s probably just taken them for a ride in the chopper, right?’

‘Probably.’ Hawke agreed.

‘He does that.’ Caitlin continued as though he hadn’t spoken. ‘We’re probably over-reacting. We’ll get there and wonder why we were so worried and…’

‘Cait.’ Hawke looked back over his shoulder.

Caitlin stumbled to a halt. She pressed her lips together. ‘Sorry. I’m sorry.’ She sighed. ‘It’s just…I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared.’

Hawke held her gaze. ‘Me either.’ He turned back to the sky. ‘We’re almost at the airfield; run the scans.’

She quickly typed in the commands. ‘Running.’

Airwolf hovered above the airfield.

‘It all looks normal.’ Hawke said, peering out at the familiar hangar.

‘There’s no-one there.’ Caitlin said. ‘The Santini Air chopper is missing too.’

‘Try raising him on the radio.’ Hawke suggested, already turning Airwolf away before she drew too much attention.

‘This is Airwolf calling Santini One, come in.’ Caitlin waited impatiently. She tried again. ‘This is Airwolf calling…’

‘This is Santini One.’ Saint John Hawke’s voice crackled through the airwaves.

‘ Saint John, are the kids with you?’ Hawke asked urgently.

‘Of course, they’re with me.’ Saint John said, not bothering to hide his annoyance at the question. ‘Where else would they be?’

‘Angelina’s still missing.’ Caitlin answered. ‘We think she might have just been the first target.’

‘You think they’re coming after the kids?’ Saint John’s voice rose in volume.

The incoming communications beacon sounded in the cockpit.

‘Hold on, Saint John. We’ve got another call coming in from Red Star.’ Caitlin patched the communications through.

Michael and Marella appeared in the monitor.

‘Hawke, Caitlin. Have you found…’

‘We found Nicky and Amelia.’ Caitlin confirmed quickly. ‘ Saint John’s got them.’

‘Michael.’ Saint John spoke up. ‘I’m sorry to hear about Angelina.’

‘Thank you.’ Michael said stiffly. He looked intently through the camera as he leaned forward. ‘Hawke, we haven’t been able to raise Sarah.’

Caitlin closed her eyes again as a wave of guilt hit her that she wasn’t as concerned about Sarah as she had been about her children.

‘That’s where I’m headed.’ Saint John said. ‘I have a job; I thought Sarah could take the kids.’

Hawke was already changing course. ‘We’ll meet you there.’ He glanced at the monitor. ‘Any news?’

Michael shook his head.

‘We’ll be back as soon as we can.’ Hawke said gruffly.

Michael gave a sharp nod and the monitor went black. Caitlin clutched the edge of the console as they shot forward again. She only hoped they’d found Sarah as easily as they had found Nicky and Amelia.

Airwolf

‘Ignore it.’ Mike advised as Sarah reached for the phone. He twirled her around away from the ringing and dipped her, kissing her deeply.

She laughed and smacked him as he set her upright. ‘It could be Chris.’

He reluctantly let go of her and continued buttoning up his shirt as she picked up the phone.

‘Hi…’ She sighed and waved the receiver. ‘They must have got impatient.’

‘They’ll call back if it was important.’ Mike said. He straightened his shirt and reached for his jacket. ‘So, dinner?’

‘Dinner’s good.’ Sarah said.

‘I’ll pick you up at seven.’ Mike promised as they made their way into the kitchen. He frowned suddenly and his eyes lifted to the ceiling.

‘What’s wrong?’ Sarah asked.

‘I thought I heard…’

They both heard the rotors overhead and rushed to the French windows that led onto the deck at the back of the house.

‘It’s the Santini Air chopper.’ Sarah said panicking.

‘And Airwolf.’ Mike pointed grimly.

She clutched at his arm. ‘What’s going on?’

‘I don’t know.’ Mike hurried out of the beach house with Sarah beside him. They ran over the sand, slipping and sliding over the uneven dunes as they watched Hawke and Caitlin take their children from the Santini Air chopper.

‘What are you guys doing here?’ Sarah yelled.

‘Why haven’t you been answering your phone?’ Saint John yelled back.

Sarah blushed. ‘I didn’t get to it in time.’

‘Angelina went missing.’ Caitlin explained as she approached with Amelia.

Hawke’s hand was steady on Nicky’s shoulder as they joined them. He frowned at Mike. ‘What are you doing here?’

Mike looked quickly at Sarah and back at Hawke. ‘I…uh…just dropped by to thank Sarah for…uh…’

‘Picking him up from the hospital before he went to Florida.’ Sarah supplied quickly. ‘Never mind about that.’ She insisted. ‘What’s this about Angelina?’

‘Angelina went missing in London yesterday.’ Caitlin said, her blue-green gaze narrowing on her sister-in-law suspiciously. ‘We think she’s been abducted.’

‘Oh God.’ Sarah murmured. ‘Poor Michael.’

‘We think there may be a chance whoever took Angelina is after the kids.’ Hawke said. ‘Where’s Chris?’

‘He’s staying with a friend.’ Sarah said, paling.

Mike instinctively put his arm around her shoulder. ‘Hey. He’s probably OK.’

Saint John looked at Hawke who looked back at him with the same concern.

Caitlin cleared her throat. ‘We need to get back.’

‘I’ll go with Sarah and get Chris.’ Saint John said. ‘We’ll meet you back at Red Star.’

Sarah shook her head, her eyes filling with tears. ‘Chris won’t come if I turn up. You know how he is.’

‘I’ll go.’ Mike offered, squeezing her gently. He nodded at the house. ‘Come on. Let’s get the house locked up.’

‘OK.’ She smiled at him gratefully and they turned and walked back up to the beach house.

‘String, are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ Saint John began furiously as he watched the couple.

‘I don’t know what to think but I sure hope not.’ Hawke cut in.

‘Fellas.’ Caitlin snapped. ‘A little focus here. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on between Mike and Sarah.’

Hawke and Saint John both ducked their heads abashed.

Caitlin sighed. ‘Nicky. Come on. Let’s get you and your sister in Airwolf.’ She jerked her head at the Lady. She walked away and Nicky gave his father a knowing look before he followed after his mother.

Hawke turned to his brother. ‘So you’re going to talk with Mike, right?’

‘You bet.’ Saint John said.

His younger brother nodded in satisfaction. ‘Good.’ He turned and walked back to Airwolf.

Saint John climbed into the Santini Air chopper and ran through a quick check as he waited for Mike. His thoughts kept moving back to Angelina and Michael. He and the spy didn’t have the easiest of relationships. Michael was his brother’s best friend so they tolerated each other but Saint John couldn’t help empathising with Michael as a father. He had lost his own daughter; he knew what that felt like and he wouldn’t wish it on anyone – not even Michael.

He dragged his mind back to the present and glanced up in time to see Mike escort Sarah from the beach house and help her into Airwolf. The black helicopter took to the sky and Mike jogged back to the standing Santini Air chopper. He closed the door as he took his seat and reached for the headphones. Saint John lifted the chopper from the ground and hovered.

‘Where are we going?’

‘The Franklins.’ Mike said. ‘They live a few miles down the coast.’

‘Yeah, I know them.’ Saint John said sharply.

Mike looked at him nervously. He cleared his throat. ‘You’re, uh, probably wondering what I was doing at Sarah’s.’

Saint John looked at him. ‘Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like this?’ He sighed.

‘I care about her.’ Mike said simply.

‘Mike, you say that about every girl you’ve ever dated.’ Saint John pointed out angrily.

‘Sarah’s different.’ Mike asserted strongly. ‘Do you really think I’d risk our friendship or my partnership with your brother over something trivial?’ He held Saint John’s gaze. ‘I’m serious about her and I think she’s serious about me.’

‘It’s a crush.’ Saint John said bluntly.

‘It was.’ Mike allowed. ‘But not now. Your sister’s a woman, Saint John.’

‘She’s also my sister.’ Saint John pointed out brusquely. ‘You’re my best friend. If this doesn’t work out…’

‘It’s going to work out.’ Mike said gruffly. ‘I love her.’

Saint John fell silent for a long moment as he registered Mike’s sincerity. ‘You really mean that.’

It was a statement not a question but Mike decided to answer anyway. ‘Yeah, I do.’

‘You hurt her and String’ll break your legs.’ Saint John said seriously. ‘You know that.’

‘I know.’ Mike breathed a sigh of relief.

‘And I’ll break your arms.’ Saint John added as he swung the chopper around a protruding cliff.

‘I know that too.’

Saint John looked at him hard. ‘And our friendship will be over.’

Mike nodded solemnly. ‘I get it, Saint John.’

‘Good.’

There was silence as Saint John focused on the flight.

‘Jo called me.’

Mike’s eyes snapped to his friend. ‘When?’

‘Last night.’ Saint John said. His voice was even but his fingers tightened on the stick.

‘How is she?’ Mike asked softly.

‘She’s coming back.’ Saint John said. ‘For the anniversary of Dom’s death. She said she wanted to show her respect.’

‘Well, that’s good, isn’t it?’ Mike probed, wondering at Saint John’s bitter tone. ‘It’ll give you guys a chance to talk and work it out.’

‘She’s not staying.’ Saint John informed him. ‘She said she wants me to buy her out. She’s going back to Italy.’

Mike sighed and rubbed his nose. ‘I’m sorry, Saint John.’

‘Me too.’ Saint John spied a good landing spot and headed for it. ‘I thought we had something.’

‘She’s just hurting…’

‘So am I.’ Saint John snapped. He took a deep breath and blinked back the tears that pressed against the back of his eyes and throat. ‘Bella was my daughter too.’

Mike nodded, feeling the punch of grief himself.

‘I hope to God they find Angelina.’ Saint John said as he landed the helicopter.

‘We’ll help.’ Mike said.

‘Yeah.’ Saint John switched off the rotors and pushed open his door. He jumped out, walking over the dunes to the Franklins’ house.

Mike rubbed his shoulder and followed after him. He guessed it could have gone worse.

Continued in Part III.
 

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