Michael cleared his throat and began softly. “Natalia, Honey? Daddy’s here. So is Momma. Can we talk to you?”
Natalia looked up. “Oh, Daddy, I missed you and Momma so much!” She threw her arms around his neck. He wrapped her in his arms, hugging her as he used to. “Are you coming to my wedding?”
He smiled. “Yes, Baby. And we will bring Shasta and Dan. Oh, and your brother Sasha.”
Sasha Dean Morrow had been a baby when she’d left. His arrival had been rather unexpected, but it had helped her grow up a little. She looked at her father. “You have a grandson, Daddy. His name is Matthew. He is three now. I didn’t know I was pregnant when I left. But he has been a blessing to me. And so smart! He is so smart! Smarter than I ever was.”
Michael smiled, though he wanted to cry. “Oh, Honey. You were always smart. You are a very intelligent woman. Don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise. You are, after all, a Morrow. You just weren’t interested in the things your sister was. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart. It just means you have different tastes.”
She began to tear up. “But I wasn’t able to see through Toby’s lies. I couldn’t see what he wanted until it was too late. I was stupid, Daddy. stupid to trust him.”
Michael lifted her chin and wiped away the tears. “Honey, no one expected him to do what he did. Maybe we should have, but shoulda-coulda-woulda all are things we can’t dwell on. What happened is in the past.
“Momma and I do not blame you for what happened. We never did. We knew who was to blame, but he is beyond any of us now, so let it all die with him. Baby, it is time for us all to move on. You have a man who loves you very much and two families,” he looked around, “Ok, three families who love you dearly. and we are all here for you. Just as you are there for little Matthew.”
She threw her arms around him again. “Oh, Daddy, Don’t leave. Please stay.”
He chuckled. “Honey, we will be staying for a week. Don’t worry, we’ll be back for your wedding. But we came to see you and we are going to get all caught up and then Momma and I will go back to Des Moines. We’re only a phone call away, Honey, so don’t be afraid to call.” He looked up at Tom, then over at Charles. “You have two strong men here looking over you. Not to mention your future husband. The three of them won’t let anything happen to you.”
Tom smiled. “Your father’s right, Natalia. We are here to make sure you are safe.”
Trent grinned. “And loved.”
Laughter rippled through the room. The reunion continued into the wee hours of the morning, Michael and Valeria leaving at almost one-thirty in the morning. It had been very fruitful. They had healed the wounds, soothed the hurts.
Kendrick Wells was on the last flight to Saigon. His mission was classified. He alone knew all the details. And no one was certain whether he would ever return.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to return. He knew that if he did, he would have to face his crimes. Murder had stiff penalties. And his conscience was beginning to eat through his lack of emotions. He was beginning to feel guilty.
If he returned, He would have to come clean. He would end up turning himself in. He couldn’t allow himself to do that. It was not a part of the deal.
He huddled in a corner of the transport, trying to get a little rest. The rest of the unit sat restlessly joking and chattering a small distance away. One kept pressing his luck, making smart remarks about Ken’s lack of interest in what was going on.
Ken’s hand flashed suddenly, pinning the youth against the side of the plane. He looked up grimly. “Ever kill anyone, Kid?”
“N-no,” came the choked reply.
He glared at his adversary. “I have. Twice. You and I, we ain’t alike. You are fresh meat for the war machine, I am a killer sent to kill. I am little more than an assassin. No I ain’t no soldier. Not like you.
“Hell. You ain’t worth my time. Besides. We share the same enemy out there. But I will seek him out and kill him in the shadows of his own camp. You? you’ll go out on patrols and be damn lucky if you return to camp alive and in one piece.”
Ken released the young man, allowing him to sit back down. Silence fell over the occupants of the plane and Ken sat back down and returned to his attempt to get a little rest.
Tom sat on the edge of the bed, thinking. Nearby, Susie lay waiting for him to lay down next to her. He wondered where Ken was. Had he found something he could finally live with? He put his head in his hands.
He had known Kendrick since they were children. Hell. They had grown up on the streets together. They had even joined the Mob at the same time. But, then, he decided to go and do something patriotic. In his case, he joined the Army. From the army. he made his way to the CIA. But Ken followed him. Yet, his friend had decided to go over to the FBI for a while and they had temporarily lost contact.
But, even Tom knew. Once a part of the Mob, always a part of the Mob. Even if you weren’t active. Like any family, they checked in on you to make sure you weren’t betraying their trust. And Tom never betrayed anyone’s trust. Hell. He no longer knew who controlled what.
All he knew was that he could call upon the boys if he ever needed anything. Like he had after Ken came to him. But he always regretted it. Deeply. It was, in essence, going against Susie’s wishes. And Susie was everything to him.