How Much Is Gold Worth?
by Cat Connor
part 1 of 2
Dana walked quickly down the gangway. As she approached the terminal building she scanned for a familiar face. He wasn’t hard to spot. His muscular six foot four frame leant against a wall opposite the door she exited. His sunglasses dropped over his eyes as he ambled toward her.
“Yeah. Quiet sea, got some reading done.” She tapped a book she carried, Faeries and Other Small Beings, with her free hand.
He nodded and held his hand out; she dropped her luggage tags into his palm. "Two red canvas weekend bags.”
They were nearing the luggage carousel area. He whispered in her ear, “Wait outside. Cameras.”
She veered casually toward the outer door. The late afternoon sun warmed her as she waited, casting an eye over a throng of people heading away from her toward the hub of the tiny harbor town. She recognized most of them from the ferry, the three-hour trip gave her plenty of time to scope the 250 passengers, mainly tourists.
Raven appeared next to her carrying her bags. "Let’s go.”
He led the way to a dark blue Ford Territory parked on the far side of the lot. Neither of them spoke, Raven drove. Dana watched scenery fly past as they headed south. Five hours later Raven nudged Dana from her stupor. Dusk had given way to night, street lights and store signs glowed in the still air.
“I booked us into a motel by the University.”
“I have no idea where that is,” she replied, realizing they were now in a suburban area.
“It’s where we need to be.”
He turned down a long driveway and pulled into a bay in front of a garage. “Wait here. I’ll go next door and get the key.” He inclined his head to a hedge and what appeared to be motel buildings. Obviously there was another entrance.
Dana peered out the window at the small house on her left. "Nice.”
“Private,” he replied, shutting the car door firmly.
Dana rolled her eyes. A small smile flitted across her lips; it wouldn’t hurt him to lighten up a little. She contemplated his seriousness further and concluded they had been apart too long, he’d forgotten how much fun they used to have.
Raven approached, she watched him in the side mirror; he tapped the truck roof before opening her door.
She trailed behind as he headed for the townhouse, then followed him down the hallway, through the dining room and into the spacious living room.
“Three entrances, the door we came in, this ranch slider and...” he turned toward the far wall and pointed, “that solid door. Both these doors lead to the back yard and a gate to the garage. The yard is also accessible from the gate by the front door.”
She nodded. "Entire area fenced?”
“Can we be seen from the driveway?”
“No. The first bedroom has a fence between it and the driveway, it’s a private drive, there are four houses off it, two owned by the motel and two private.”
Dana poked around investigating the rooms. The whole place appeared spacious and airy, painted a creamy off-white with honey colored wood trim around the doors. The living room furniture was large and comfortable and neutral in color. “Is this serviced every day?”
“Yes, it will be the same person every day and at the same time.”
Dana grinned. "Excellent. Now, Raven, tell me they have a coffee maker in that kitchen.”
He smiled. "Of course. You sort the coffee out. I’ll get our bags in.”
She busied herself locating and preparing the necessities of life: strong, black, mud-like coffee. Raven called to her as he passed the dining room doorway, “Putting your stuff in the end bedroom, I’ll take the one by the driveway.”
Dana went from making coffee to ordering pizza. Then settled at the table waiting for Raven to stop whatever he was doing and join her. Within minutes he slid into a chair facing her. “Nine tomorrow we recon the venue. I have the plans with me. We can go over them now then do a walk-through tomorrow.”
“Good. What time do we pick up our job?” Dana asked.
“Plane arrives at 7 a.m.” Raven rocked back on his chair. "How long do you think... before you are noticed?”
She smiled. "I have no idea, I think we’re okay so far. Just keep me away from cameras.”
“He received twenty-five credible threats. Twenty of those came through my office. He’s become public enemy number one, and they all seem to know I am running his security.” Dana exhaled slowly. "Who’s looking? Hell, Raven, everyone. They all want me to move so they know where he’ll be next.”
It suddenly became clear to Raven why she had passed the assignment on to him. “I got a funky feeling about this.”
Dana acknowledged his feeling with a light kick of her boot on his foot. “Tonight we’ll go out to the airport and review security.”
He nodded in agreement. "Who’s working with us?”
Dana smiled. “Family friend.” She tapped his leg with her foot. "Pour the coffee?”
A few moments later Raven placed a hot cup of coffee in front of her. "So tell me about this ‘family’ friend.”
Dana chuckled, reached for the telephone that sat on the counter close by her, dialed a phone number, and sat back looking very relaxed as she waited for an answer. She winked at Raven as a gruff voice answered her call.
She spoke. "72A Creke Road. Now’s good.”
“I ordered pizza, can you pick it up?”
Dana chuckled. "Yours.”
“Twenty minutes.” He hung up.
Exactly twenty minutes later there was a quiet knock on the front door followed by the lock releasing and the smell of pizza approaching from the hallway. A gun appeared in Raven’s hand, obscured by the table top. He watched, muscles coiled, as a large shadow fell over the table.
“How the hell?” he uttered as a pizza box slid onto the table.
“What can I say? It’s a skill,” replied the owner of the shadow, “You must be Raven.” He extended his hand as his mouth did some kind of twitch.
Raven dropped the gun into his lap. “Yeah, you must be the family friend,” he replied, shaking his hand firmly.
“Most people call me Mark.” His mouth twitched again. "You can call me Sir.”
Dana roared with laughter. "Yeah and most people call me Dana despite the fact I am a goddess.”
Raven chuckled. "No, hun, it’s bitch they call you!”
“Same diff.” Mark replied slapping Raven jovially on the shoulder blade jolting his body so much the gun fell to the floor. Mark stooped and picked it up, passing it back to Raven. “Yours?”
Raven grinned, took the gun, and slid it back into his hip holster.
Dana grimaced and opened the pizza box. “Well I’m eating. You two can carry on doing whatever.”
“Welcome to the party, Mark,” Raven said taking a slice of pizza.
Silence fell as the two men and the goddess ate pizza then washed it down with strong coffee. With enough food on board to keep them all going for a few hours they settled into work mode.
“Show me the venue floor plan.” Dana rocked back on her chair.
Raven cleared the table then spread out the plan. With a marker in hand he traced their route into the building and pointed out any troublesome areas. The foyer of the venue caused concern, having a mezzanine floor with exterior access.
“How much trouble are we expecting?”
Raven and Dana stared at Mark. He blinked. “Oh that much.”
They nodded. It wasn’t as if Dana hadn’t tried to persuade their Irish charge to postpone this trip; she had used everything in her considerable verbal arsenal to point out how dangerous this was. Her warning went unheeded, and tomorrow was set to go ahead. Saint Patrick’s Day would dawn and there would be more than green beer on tap.
“Tell me again about the threat.” Mark leaned back in his chair folding his arms across his chest. “And who exactly are we supposed to be protecting?”
Dana rocked back in her chair, looked Mark directly in the eyes, and stated with calmness, “Professor Patrick Kennedy.”
Marks eyes narrowed to slits. “And he is?”
Her expression didn’t alter. "The only known living person to have ever seen a leprechaun.”
Mark’s eyes opened, his eyebrows arched, his mouth twitched violently. “What?”
“You’re serious?” Mark shook his head slowly. "You’re off your rocker.”
Raven interjected his opinion: “I hate to be the one to break this to you, but she’s telling the truth.”
Mark scrutinized the pair in front of him. He recalled newspaper and television news reports ten months or so ago that spoke of someone claiming to have captured a leprechaun. He adopted a slightly friendlier tone. "Patrick Kennedy — the man who apparently caught a leprechaun — needs protection?”
“Yes,” Dana replied with a nod, “he has received many death threats, most of which say that the event will be on March 17th.” She smiled at Mark. "I’m presuming you know that is Saint Patrick’s Day.”
He nodded. “So why is this person making a public appearance on the day that most threats have pinpointed as his day of death?”
Dana shrugged. “I couldn’t talk him out of it.”
Mark’s eyebrows rose again. "Wow, he must be determined.”
“Determined or stupid, I haven’t figured that out yet.”
Raven stood slowly, stretched and rotated his shoulders. “We’re going to need someone on the mezzanine floor.”
“I have someone.” Mark replied, “but I can’t guarantee he will agree to being involved with this act of sheer stupidity.”
Dana smiled; her eyes lit up with amusement: she knew who it was. “Bryce,” she whispered.
Mark nodded. “How do you think he’s going to react to this one?”
Dana replied, hoping not to give herself away, that she had already been in contact with Bryce. "Job’s a job, the money’s good.”
Mark growled, “When he stops laughing it’ll be 2007.”
Mark chuckled inwardly; his face bore a stony facade. “So what the hell is this guy doing tomorrow that is so damn important?”
“He’s giving a lecture on urban legends and myths. He’s a surprise guest speaker.”
Raven rolled his eyes. "Yeah, big surprise. Surprise the building blew up! Professor Kennedy and the five hundred people jammed into the lecture hall to hear the St. Pat’s Day lecture on myths died in an explosion. No one knows where the leprechaun is.”
Dana started to laugh.
“Is he bringing the little person with him?” Mark asked, watching Dana’s valiant efforts at controlling herself.
“We don’t know,” she replied, struggling to maintain her composure. The term “little person” echoed in her head, sending images of a wee man wearing green with a funny red hat and pixie face clutching his pot of gold. She bit her lip hard.
“Isn’t it bad luck to capture a leprechaun?” Mark asked, suspecting the Professor had already realized his luck wasn’t so good. A person wanting you dead wasn’t a good thing; many people wanting you dead was a worse thing. “You ain’t gonna catch me running after some pint-sized cobbler!”
“I’m not sure if it’s bad luck or not, but I am sure the lure of his crock of gold was a deciding factor for the Professor.” Dana looked around for the book she had with her, located it, and handed it to Mark. “Here you can read about the fictitious leprechaun.”
Mark accepted the book. With a large dose of skepticism flowing through his veins he began to read. Ten minutes later, he looked up. “I still can’t believe we are protecting some nutter and his supposed leprechaun.”
“Amazing, ain’t it,” Raven muttered. “Wasn’t there something that says the leprechaun must be watched all the time or he will vanish?”
“I read that,” Mark said. “Don’t suppose that’s easy.”
They both looked to Dana for an answer. “Don’t look at me. Stopping him vanishing isn’t my problem; keeping Kennedy alive is my only concern. You can ask him yourself.”
Mark began to clarify things for himself. "What do we do with Kennedy tomorrow prior to the lecture?”
“We keep him here.”
“How well are his whereabouts disguised?”
“There are seven conflicting unconfirmed reports of where he’ll be for St. Pat’s Day.”
Mark’s mouth twitched. "Let me guess: seven locations throughout the world?”
Copyright © 2008 by Cat Connor