Friday, January 04, 2013




Chapter 1
Victoria recognized the expected incoming call immediately upon opening her phone and began to yell, “I don’t think this is safe!”
“It’s not your job to think.” The English overshadowed with a deep Russian accent was barely recognizable.
She slowed her pace along the walkway heading to the beach, knowing one of the Russian operatives must have called to simply let her know that she was being watched. “What happens if I don’t make the drop?” she asked in English to challenge her caller.
He converted to Russian. “I don’t think you really want to know.”
After the connection died, she dropped the phone back into her bag, and forced herself to keep walking. Keenly aware of the presence of both the American and Russian operatives nearby, Victoria stopped for a brief moment at the end of the wooden walkway leading to the beach in order to study the pounding surf caused by a tropical storm off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. While both governments thought she worked exclusively for them, and not the other side, the Pack, an international crime syndicate owned her. She could almost sense a sharpshooter focusing the cross hairs of a sniper’s scope on her head.
No, she didn’t see any red dots−yet, but she had been working for both sides too long. She trusted neither one of them to save her from the Pack. While the Americans and the Russians played games, the Pack concentrated on their plan to destroy America and place the blame on Russia later. Being betrayed by both, she felt like she had no way out. She had to think of a plan, and had to do it now.
As her right hand fought with the wind for control of the heavy surfboard and her left hand struggled with her beach bag, she stepped off the wooden walkway onto the sand. She forced herself to relax, and look normal. She knew they had the technology to zoom in on her face and hands to monitor every inch of her movements. Any moment could be her last. She forced herself to concentrate. The instructions given to her by the Russians were simple: she must drop and cover the canister containing the flash drive with sand after she completed five steps forward and five to the right. Damn, she wanted to glance around, but she knew better.
The cool, yet gritty sand under her feet squished as she counted the steps. She stopped on the fifth, and turned to her right. Without moving her head to the side, she strained to study the skyline of the condos behind her as hard as she could out of the corner of her eye. While she saw nothing, she knew someone, and perhaps even both the Americans, and the Russians, were on top of one of the condos, and monitoring her moves. She wished she knew exactly where the bastards were lurking. If given the chance to escape, she knew she might have no choice but to take it.
Victoria couldn’t turn back now, as her feet continued to march in the sand and she counted off the last five steps. Her instincts told her the operation wasn’t going as planned. The storm in the Atlantic whistled loud in her ears, making any further contact impossible. She worried about the time when the Russian operative finds the canister, and the transfer is completed, that her future services might be considered unnecessary, and even her very existence considered a liability. An icy shiver racing up her spine suddenly forced her to have further second thoughts about making the drop. She leaned over to adjust her beach bag, letting the board hide her hand reaching into her bag to find the small canister. She studied the canister to examine the seal one more time before holding it high enough to make sure her monitors saw it.
 It was now the moment of truth. Ohmigod! She finally decided to abort the scheduled drop, and placed the canister back in her bag while it was still hidden behind her board. She quickly stood and kicked her feet in the sand, attempting to convince those monitoring her that she had, in fact, completed the drop. She hoped that both the Americans and the Russians thought she was covering the canister, which was such a small sand-colored plastic container that was designed to keep out the water and salt. As she remembered loading the flash drive earlier with the data, her anxiety started growing. Damn! If they knew the truth, would they shoot me on the spot? Still . . . she heard no shots ringing out. They must have assumed she completed her drop. Good. This will buy me some time.
After turning toward the water, she walked quickly, and hoped to make it closer to the crowd on the beach who were watching the surfers. She continued to feel the increasing force of the violent waves which were crashing against the shoreline, and producing a salt-filled spray mixed with sand. With the storm out in the Atlantic raging, the high winds kept slapping her face. Despite all of these uncomfortable conditions, this was also perversely why the surfers were here. It was during tropical storms like this that the waves in Jacksonville attracted the serious surfers. As the high gust of winds repeatedly tried to tear the board away from her, the savagery of the storm scared her, but not nearly as much as the terror behind her. She had to think.
Finding a spot next to the crowd of sand sharks, she dropped her board and bag and prepared to chillax for a while. She felt safer now that she was closer to them, and especially with the flash drive containing the stolen data still in her bag. She knew if they were going to shoot her, she would be dead by now. She breathed easier for the moment as she reached into her bag, removed her towel, and spread it openly on the beach.
A tall, lean girl in a thong bikini glanced at her and her board. “You’re not going out in this, are you?” she yelled in a rough voice over the sound of the surf.
Victoria smiled, and pointed out to the waves. “That’s why I came.”
“Good luck. The waves are wicked today. It’s much more fun to be a groupie and just enjoy watching the guys.” Her slim legs, which were covered in tattoos, stretched out on a large beach towel. Victoria suddenly realized the reason for the white-framed sunglasses this tattooed girl wore. The sunglasses were not needed for any sun glare protection, since the sun was hidden behind massive clouds. However, the wind which kept hurling torturous sand and salt at the crowd made the sunglasses indispensable in focusing on the guys surfing. She quickly found her glasses in her bag and put them on so that she could give her eyes some relief. 
After being able to see better, Victoria focused on the guys working the waves, and had to agree with the other woman. Even from the long distance to the beach they looked great. As she turned toward this girl with a small ass, but huge boobs, she shouted back, “I’m not a great surfer, but I think this is the best way to learn.”
“My hat’s off to you girl!” The wind roared so loud that the girl’s shouting could barely be heard.
“Look!” the girl on the far side yelled.
A lone surfer in the water sprang into action, and started working hard to get on top of the wave. As she strained to see him catch the wave, a new wind gust suddenly hit Victoria, and blurred her vision with mist and sand.
“He’s up!” the first girl squealed as she jumped to her feet.
As Victoria’s vision cleared, she watched this guy who began working the curl by cutting back and forth, and thus preventing anyone else from frigging his wave. She witnessed the violent crashing surf being controlled by a master who demonstrated his ability to not only stay up on top but obviously wanting to drain it for all it was worth, and even begging for more. From the squeals Victoria heard coming from the other girls, she knew that his muscular body dominated their interest. For Victoria, his performance penetrated her soul, and recorded a dream-like fantasy that was much more powerful than she could have ever imagined. It rendered her into a trance where the world and all of its problems completely vanished. “Wow!” Victoria finally managed to whisper.
After he finished the ride and splashed his way out and onto the shore, he grabbed his board and ran to his towel. Several of the land sharks brought their hands together for him. While the sound of the wind continued to bellow too loud for any applause to be heard, he did give them a quick hand wave and a big smile which was full of brilliant teeth.
As Victoria studied the water dripping down his long, but curly, blond strands of hair that hung shoulder length, she watched him reach for his phone, and stare at it, as if checking his messages for a moment. After he uncapped a bottle of water, he took a long drink before heading back out to the surf. On his way he quickly waved at the girls, as if to politely acknowledge their praise. But Victoria understood, as he glanced back out at the waves, that his mind was consumed with surfing right now, and nothing else.
The girl next to Victoria yelled at her over the wind, “I don’t know who he is, but he’s da kine.”
“I’ll agree. He looks . . . delicious.”
The girl smiled, and glanced back at her sideways. “So . . . are you going in after him?”
“Let’s just say that if he wants to give lessons, I’m available.” The brief chatting took her mind off her fears. She felt like she would be safe for a while, since the operative would not retrieve the canister until after everyone had left the beach area. “I think I’ll take a small walk first, and get my nerve up before I tackle these waves.” With the container still hidden in her hand, she quickly walked down the beach a hundred yards, or so. She soon stopped in front of a large piece of driftwood stranded on the beach. This would have to do. She walked over to it, and turned her back toward the beach before counting off the steps. After turning around to face the ocean, she dropped the container. A quick kick of sand covered it. The high winds would cover both her tracks, and the canister, as well, within minutes.
   Now she had to think. She had to plan a way to escape from her monitors before it was too late.

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