Title: Where Eagles Fly
Copyright © Sage Amante 2003, 2004. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
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Parallax - Part 10
Max was exhausted - emotionally and physically exhausted. His mind reeled at the thought that Lark might be dead. 'If you're out there, partner,' he thought, 'you'd better contact me pretty soon because I don't think I can take this much longer.' He drove slowly toward his home, his mind whirling as he replayed the events of the night before over and over in his mind.
Max pulled into his driveway and sat slumped over the steering wheel. He didn't notice when his wife came out, still in her robe, to pick up the morning paper. He was startled as the passenger door opened, and he heard his wife's voice.
"Max, what's the matter?"
He raised his head from the wheel and looked into her eyes, knowing he would find strength and comfort there. "I love you, Katherine," he said.
She slid into the seat beside him and put her arm around his shoulder. "Talk to me, Max. What's wrong?" she asked, pulling his large head to her small shoulder.
"It's Lark," he said softly. "There's been a plane crash. She may be dead. We just don't know."
The couple sat together in the front seat of the car, the small woman's arms placed protectively around her husband's shoulders as he poured out the happenings of the night before.
There was a time, not too many years ago, when Katherine was jealous of her husband's partner, a time when she wondered if their relationship was only business, but over the years she had come to know the tall, stoic agent and had come to love and respect her as well. If Lark was dead, Katherine knew that she would feel the loss almost deeply as Max.
Meriam looked down at the blonde in her arms and listened to the ragged cadence of her breathing. Every few breaths the woman would moan and her body would shiver against Meriam's. It had taken all of Meriam's resolve not to break down herself as the small woman cried herself to sleep. Now, holding her, feeling Lonnie quiver in pain even in her sleep, Meriam knew without a doubt just how much this woman loved her friend.
A slide show of Lark clicked through Meriams mind - Lark with a knife wound, Lark with broken ribs, Lark with a gunshot wound. 'You've got yourself into a hell of a fix this time, Agent,' she thought. 'I've patched you up more times than I can remember. I'd give everything I have to be patching you up one more time.'
Lonnie opened her eyes slowly, certain that she was awakening from the worst nightmare of her life. At first she was confused at the feeling of another womans body warming her own.
Lark! Lonnies heart jumped in her chest until she came fully awake and saw the ebony arms holding her.
Meriam, Lonnie thought as a wave of disappointment flew over her. She rolled over on her back. "Im sorry," she said. "That cant have been too comfortable for you."
Meriam stretched her arms over her head. "Im just fine." She smiled affectionately at Lonnie. "Its been a while since Ive awakened with a beautiful woman in my bed."
Lonnie smiled back sadly. "I dont feel so beautiful." She glanced morosely at Meriam. "I dont know what to do," she said plaintively. "God, I am so used to being in charge, to knowing exactly what to do and when, but Im at a loss here. I know they wont let me anywhere near the crash site."
Lonnies voice broke, and Meriam reached over to stroke her arm. The soft touch sent Lonnie into a paroxysm of tears. "Ive got to find her," she sobbed. "Shes out there somewhere, and Ive got to find her."
Meriam sighed. "Come here," she said, pulling Lonnie back into her arms.
Lonnie didnt resist, grateful for the strength she felt coming from the tall woman.
"You have to face it, Lonnie," Meriam said, her voice filled with compassion. "The chances are it was Larks plane that went down. I spoke with Joe at the airport while you were asleep. He said that as far as he could find out, Larks was the only small plane that had requested permission to land at the time of the crash. Joe stayed at the airport all night waiting for news. He says it doesnt look good."
Meriam felt Lonnie shift in her arms.
"Meriam, do you believe in soul-mates?" Lonnie asked quietly.
"To tell you the truth, Ive never thought about it. Its not something thats in my frame of reference," Meriam replied.
"Well, I do," said Lonnie. "I believe with all my heart that Lark is my soul-mate. I know what I saw, and I know everyone around me believes its inevitable that Lark is dead. I keep telling myself shes dead but in my heart I believe that if she really was dead, Id know it, Id feel it in my soul. But I dont feel that, Meriam, I just feel numb."
Meriam pulled Lonnie closer and gingerly rubbed her hand over the blonde head. "Lonnie, there may never be any answers, and you cant hold on to false hope. Lets just take it one day at a time. Okay?"
Lonnie mumbled something unintelligible and burrowed her face into Meriams shoulder.
Meriam ignored her and continued. "Why dont you go freshen up, and Ill get us some coffee and something to eat."
Lonnie nodded and slid from Meriams arms.
Meriam watched Lonnie shuffle to the bathroom before getting out of bed herself. Meriam went into the other bathroom but took only a couple of minutes to splash cold water over her face and brush her teeth before heading to the kitchen.
She flicked the kitchen TV on but quickly turned it off when she saw a teaser come on about the crash at the airport. She didnt want Lonnie to walk in on that.
Cipriano Antonelli paced the floor with a phone to his ear as he counted the tenth ring before it was answered.
"Joe, where the hell you been?" He shouted. "I told you to keep me advised of what was happening!"
"Ive been over at the crash site, Mr. Antonelli," Joe answered.
"So what did you find out?"
"Nothing specific so far. A piece of the tail was found but only the N and the first two numbers - 72 - were readable. Everything else was incinerated. Uh, even the body, sir." Joe hesitated, waiting for some response from Antonelli.
Joe was certain that It was more than likely it was Antonellis plane that had gone down. 72 were the first two digits of the N-number of his plane, the one that Lark had been flying, and Lark was the only one who had requested permission to land.
Joe was one of the few people who knew that Lark was Antonellis daughter. He had heard her call Antonelli "Papa" as they got ready to take off on one of their infrequent flights together. He had never mentioned to the woman or Antonelli that he knew; Joe was certain that too much information could prove deadly.
"All right. You keep me advised of whats going on down there," Antonelli ordered.
"Yes sir!" Joe replied.
"And, Joseph, you call me every hour on the hour until I tell you different. You got that!"
"Yes, sir! Every hour. Ill call you, sir," Joe said.
Antonelli slammed the phone in its cradle. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat on a barstool at the small island in his kitchen tapping his fingers on the marble counter. He knew he had to plan Terrys funeral. He also knew that he had to do it surreptitiously and that he couldnt even attend. He wanted to reach out to the little blonde that Terry seemed so attached to, yet he wasnt sure that he could.
A judge, yet, Antonelli thought. What the hell were you thinking, kid?
He grabbed a small pad and began to make notes.
1. Arrange funeral
2. Call Sam
3. Call Max
4. Meet with the blonde?
5. Call contact at FL Sun Sentinel
He crossed out number 4, thought a moment, and then rewrote it, leaving off the question mark. He didnt approve of that part of his daughters life, but the little blonde was part of it, and hed just have to accept that. When he was finished writing his list, he had 11 things to do. He read the list over twice and then, by habit, tore that paper and the one beneath it from the pad and burned them.
Antonelli was just about to pour himself another cup of coffee when he saw a breaking news headline flash across the TV screen. He clicked off the mute button and listened as the Channel 4 reporter began to broadcast from a corner of the airport. The camera picked up the debris of a crash in the background.
"We re here at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport," the reporter intoned, "at the site of a small plane crash which occurred last night. Although we have not been able to confirm this, sources say the pilot of the plane was Lark Mingye, a local FBI agent returning from FBI offices in Washington, DC. Viewers may recall that this is the same agent who was part of a recent daring rescue of Judge Hattie Lonigan, a Broward County Judge, from atop the Broward County Courthouse. Judge Lonigan was the target of at least one and possibly more assassination attempts. She is currently under protective custody with the FBI. More at noon. Stay tuned."
Cipriano Antonelli saw the pictures of his daughter and Harriet Lonigan fill the screen as he switched off the TV and began to make his calls.
Continued in Part 11
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