excerpts
Alanna’s lover and mentor, Dario De Santes is killed. Pages 84-85
Just as she broke from cover, and began running an evasive course toward Jeremy and Dar, one of the searchlights zeroed in on their exit point. Seeing the light headed in their direction, the men had quickly fallen to the ground, where they lay prone, hoping they would not be detected. But the perimeter around the factory had been designed to eliminate any hiding places, and, in this case, flat on the ground was not shelter enough to keep them from being spotted.

The guards and their dogs were closing in on their point of entry fast. Seeing that the guards had the advantage, she increased her speed and changed course, making straight for Jeremy and Dar’s position. To save valuable time, she had abandoned any attempt to avoid the searchlight’s beam, and, in doing so, drew considerable fire from the mounted emplacements atop the factory’s roof.

To give her cover, Jeremy and Dar were returning the fire with their automatic weapons. She had almost reached them unscathed, when she felt as though she’d been punched in the back with a fist. Adrenaline and shock kept her going. As she stumbled into Dar’s arms, he dropped his gun, grabbed her, and lifted her to the top of the fence, while Jeremy kept up the covering fire. When Dar was sure she was over the top, he’d picked up his gun and resumed firing. Up until that point not a word had been spoken, but as she slid down the other side of the fence, she’d heard Dar yell to Jeremy, “Get out of here. I’ll cover for you.”

“No... No!” She’d remembered clinging to the chain link fence and screaming at him through the sound of the gunfire. “Throw me your gun, Dar. I’ll cover for you. Hurry!”

He had looked at her with great sadness in his eyes, and said, “You have to go, Alanna. I’ll always love you, Cariña!”

Then, he’d looked quickly over at Jeremy, and using his gun to point the way to safety, he ordered Jeremy to take her and leave. “Take her and go, or we’ll all die,” he’d said, and with that he’d turned his back on them, loaded a fresh magazine into the weapon, and fired off another burst.

She remembered Jeremy grabbing her by her arm and dragging her off towards the woods that bordered the factory, ignoring completely her pleas to stop. She had been in tight spots before, but never had she felt so out of control. It was her worst nightmare come true, and it was happening before her eyes in surrealistic, slow motion.

Her attempts to free herself from Jeremy’s grasp were initially hampered by the rough, slick terrain they were attempting to negotiate, and, later, by a sudden, burning pain in her chest. Despite her best efforts to ignore the pain, it soon began to sap her strength, and not long after that, to make her feel light-headed.

By then, they had heard Dar’s final, agonizing cries. Knowing she no longer had any reason to go back, Jeremy released his hold on her.

“Hurry! We’re almost there,” he’d said, as he, unknowingly, moved off alone into the darkness ahead of them.

She had not followed him. Having been suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of well-being, she stood her ground. The pain was gone, and instead of the blackness they had been maneuvering their way through, she seemed to be engulfed in a bright, warm light. She’d felt safe, and happy. Tentatively, she’d touched the wound in her back and felt the warm, sticky blood that had saturated her clothing. It was then, that her body, weakened by the loss of blood from her wound, had allowed her legs to give way, and her to sink to the wet, forest floor.

Rakeland makes contact, page 228
Rakeland made a great show in front of his window of watching TV, then preparing for bed. He turned out the apartment lights, and went to bed. When he felt he’d lulled his surveillors into a stupor, he used the soft glow from the room’s nightlight to make his way to the far wall and his desk. Taking an ordinary looking 3x5 piece of paper from the desk drawer, he made a list of supermarket items on it, then slid it behind the calendar located in the front of his pocket secretary. He removed a headless straightpin from the back seam of the pocket secretary, and proceeded to insert the pinhead into almost imperceptible holes in the calendar’s days, dates and numbers sections, affecting an encoded message. He, then, took the paper, and inserted it into the inside pocket of the sport coat with the spot on it that he had rehung over the oak valet.

The next morning, as two men from security watched from their car, Rakeland carried the soiled sport coat into the laundry and deposited it on the counter.

“Take care of that jacket,” Rakeland said to the clerk, “It’s made out of China silk.”

“Not to worry,” the man behind the counter said. Recognizing the words China silk as an identifying code, he immediately did a check of all the pockets, stopping long enough to finger the message in the interior pocket. “We handle all delicate items with extreme care.”

Handing Rakeland a claim check, he said, “Your jacket should be ready tomorrow afternoon, if you care to pick it up then.”

“Sounds good to me,” Rakeland replied, and turning to leave, said, “Have a good one!”
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