This is Chapter 6, written by Elizabeth Eyles. Visit her at her blog: elegsabiff
Forrest rubbed his head groggily after his heavy sleep and looked around. They’d been left in the helicopter with two young soldiers, one peering out the door as though waiting for a signal.
“Where are we?” he asked the other in Hebrew, with no response.
“How long were we asleep?” Angie tried in English, and the soldier just shook his head. Forrest and Angie exchanged glances.
“Frying pan, meet fire?” Forrest asked softly, and tugged at the medallion round his neck restlessly.
“Damn, I’m starving! And this thing actually feels hot, it’s really bugging me –” he squinted down at it, but the chain was too short to give him a clear view. “I was a kid when my father hung it round my neck. There’s a lump that feels like a clasp but I’ve never tried to take it off before and I can’t see the clasp to work out how to undo it.”
“Let me look” Angie leaned in towards him to peer at the chain. He was very aware of her warm scent, overlaid with the sharp tang of sweat. “Forrest, this is a weld, not a clasp. He welded the chain on to you!” She slid the medallion round to look at it more closely. “It looks really old. There’s an emblem – a square, with a circle inside, then a diamond shape inside that.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” he nodded, then sat up sharply. “Hey! That was the warning emblem on my computer screen! I didn’t even realise at the time, I just knew it was important –” he stopped as the soldier who had been peering out ducked back inside and nodded to the other.
“We go now – put on these hoods, please.”
The hoods, unlike blindfolds, at least let them see where to put their feet as they were guided across the helipad, up age-mellowed stone steps and into what was, as best they could tell from their fleeting glimpses, quite a mansion. When the hoods were removed they were in a luxuriously furnished suite, facing a table with snacks and drinks. Two sets of fatigues were draped over one of the beds.
“Eat, drink, you can change clothes if you wish. We will take you to the Commander in fifteen minutes,” one of the soldiers said as they withdrew. Forrest hardly heard them, his attention fixed on the table. Angie was at least as hungry – it was hard to judge the time, but their stomachs were pretty sure it was late afternoon and for a couple of minutes they ate in concentrated silence. Forrest loaded a plate with a second helping and carried it across to the window. Angie, her second sandwich in one hand, started opening the internal doors of the suite.
“Shower room here” she called back to Forrest, who was staring out of the window as he chewed.
“What can you see?”
“A park – well, grass. Trees.” He shrugged, turning back towards her. “Some kind of country retreat, at a guess, a long way from the fighting, anyway. You want to shower first?”
“We could shower together?” She met his eyes squarely and he was briefly shaken by the depth of his desire for this girl who had become so very important to him in such a very short time.
“Ah –” he had to clear his throat and try again “I don’t think I could stop at soaping your back and the Commander –”
“I’ll be two minutes,” she promised, her voice husky. When she emerged wrapped in a towel, her skin rosy and damp tendrils from the knot of her hair clinging to her face, he was ready to consign the Commander straight to hell. She laughed at him, reading his mind easily. “Your turn, and quick, remember?”
He abandoned his sweat-soured clothes with relief and was still buttoning the fatigues shirt over the crisp damp curls on his chest when the soldiers appeared again to take them along a carpeted passage to a library, where a tall older man was waiting for them next to a large old-fashioned desk.
“Ananiah Yedidya” the man nodded to him “And Angela Tolstoy. I’m afraid, Miss Tolstoy, that you’ve been caught up in events. I can arrange to have you taken to a place of safety immediately, if you like.”
“No” Angie shook her head violently “I want to stay with Forrest – I mean if you don’t mind?” She glanced at Forrest, who grinned back at her. Mind? He didn’t mind!
“Take a seat then, please, both of you. I am Commander Yurdissen. Do you prefer to be called Ananiah or Forrest?”
“Forrest.” He held a chair for Angie, then sat slowly. Were they finally going to learn what this was all about?
As though the older man had read his mind, he picked up a pair of wire cutters. “May I have the talisman?” As Forrest nodded he stepped forward, slid a finger under the chain, and snipped it through. He held the talisman almost reverently as he went back to take his seat behind the desk.
“You must have many questions. This talisman is the key to most of the answers, and we are now close to its final activation. Over the centuries men have died to steal it, and more have died to get it back. Your father, behind his other affiliations, was a key member of the most secret society in history; he killed himself while wearing a decoy replica of this so you could escape. A very brave man, a hero. You’ve been under our surveillance since the day he welded it round your neck, but the enemy finally learned your general location and started closing in on you a few weeks ago. We were preparing for them to launch a surgical strike, we only learned thirty hours ago they intended instead to level the entire section of the city around your building. The Israelis were among the quickest of many friends to mobilise in defence and have managed to contain the worst. You should have been picked up last night but -” he paused, looking a little sheepish. “The security detail lost track of you.You vanished. I’m sorry you were put in such peril today as a result.”
“Yeah, well.” Forrest remembered, as though from a distant lifetime, plunging out spontaneously for a long walk after Chrissie rejected him. “I’m not sorry. Angie would have been in that building if I hadn’t been there to intercept her. But I have so many questions! And you don’t sound, or look, Israeli?”
Yurdissen shook his head. “I’m not. The Israelis have a huge stake in this, but the society is international. You’ll learn more of this in the days to come, but we knew you must be shocked and even traumatised by the events of the day, and you were entitled to know why this has been happening.” For a moment he looked very tired, then straightened his shoulders and pressed a bell on his desk. The door behind them opened again and he rose to his feet in obvious dismissal.