Ken moved from shadow to shadow, tracking his prey. Where the common soldier saw nothing, he could see their boot trails. Fresh. All these trails were fresh.
That meant that they were nearby. So did the booby traps. They had been here recently. Too recently.
He cursed under his breath. He had to find their stronghold. Their secret spy-holes. He knew that tunnels ran the full length of nearly every path system in the jungle. That meant that they could be under him right now.
He stopped in a tuft of jungle grass and hunkered down to watch. Someone was bound to pop out of the ground sooner or later. Or maybe he would get lucky and spot the cover sooner. Not likely, though. The enemy was really good at keeping their entrances well camouflaged.
He smiled grimly. He hated this waiting game. He looked down. Oh, hell. He was standing on top of one of their entrances. Damn.
He removed a couple grenades from his vest, lifted the lid. Pulling the pins, he threw the grenades in deep one at a time then dropped the lid and made a hasty retreat. Looking up at the treetops, he watched for snipers. He found one. Two. three. But nine had spotted him.
He strung his bow and knocked an arrow. He sighted in on the first. Released. Waited. Heard the gun hit the ground. Knocked the second. Sighted in. Released. Waited. Then the third.
The caves behind him exploded with screaming Vietcong. His grenades had done their work. Too bad it hadn’t been dynamite. Would have done more damage.
But damp dynamite didn’t light very well and in the jungle, it became very volatile, sweating like it did. Sweating was where the nitro leached out of its clay sticks, beading up on the thin wrapper generally, only old dynamite had that problem, but the humidity here made everything a nightmare.
The insects. The snakes. The plants. The whole jungle seemed to be against him.
Ho Chi Min knew his jungle well. Ken gave him that. But Ken was smarter. He was more dangerous. And better looking.
He smiled. The soldiers who’d come running out of the rabbit hole were mortally wounded. The shrapnel from his grenades had seen to that. And even better, they hadn’t seen him. Still, he dared not enter their rabbit hole. There were still too many of them down there.
It was time to head for camp. He needed something with a little more bang for his buck. Moving from tree to tree, he looked up to make sure there were no snipers. At this rate, he would get back to camp on the Mekong. If the camp didn’t have what he needed, he would head to Da Nang. The base would definitely have his type of explosives…or know who would.
Tom sat in his study. He’d received a cryptic note from Ken after the wedding. Something about going on a suicide mission. He shook his head. The man was in bad shape.
He only hoped that his friend would finally find himself, wherever he had gone. If not , he would get himself killed. No one wanted that. Ken was a good man.
Susie entered the study. “Thinking about Ken again?”
He nodded. “I got a note from him. Something about a suicide mission. Not something I wanted to hear from him. I had hoped that he had gone to seek help. I guess not.”
She wrapped her arms around him. “He didn’t want help, Tom. He wants to die. Can’t you see that? He feels as if the only way to end the cycle he has started is to just die.”
He frowned. “Damn. He had such a good heart. I just hope whatever got screwed up inside him straightens out before he actually succeeds in getting himself killed.”
She tightened her arms around him. “I pray so too, Love. But I doubt it will. He has already decided that it is too late to go back, to live on. He doesn’t want to live.”
Trent and Natalia had arrived in Honolulu at 5 PM. The cab had picked them up at the airport and summarily dropped them off at their hotel at 6. They had unpacked and then went to find a restaurant where they could dine. The hula dancer had told them that the luau would be at eight, so they hurriedly ate and went back to the hotel and changed.
They took a cab to the beach where the luau was going to be held and chose a spot where they could watch the show. The dancers and the fire breathers wowed them. The second meal, though unneeded, was a wonderful diversion.
The evening was perfect. Romantic. Intoxicating. Almost erotic.
Natalia was happier than she had ever been. She was married to the man of her dreams. She was in an exotic place, away from it all. And she had no worries.
Susie and Trent’s mother had both promised to take good care of Matty while she was away, and she trusted them. Her mother had also opted to stay and help, so there were three ladies doting on her son. She smiled. He was definitely going to be spoiled by the time she got home.
It was nice to have her family back. She had missed Momma and Daddy. Hell. She had missed Shasta. And Sasha.
With the marriage to Trent, she had gained more family. A little brother and little sisters. Not to mention aunts and uncles and two sets of grandparents. It was like a dream come true.
After they returned to the hotel from the luau, Trent began to get ready for bed. He looked over at her and noticed a twinkle in her eye. He smiled, uncertain of its meaning. He watched her disappear into the bathroom.
She emerged, a few seconds later, in a terrycloth robe. the belt was tied loosely. He turned to face her. As he did, she untied the belt and let the robe slip from her naked body. Their honeymoon had begun.