by Toni Walker
by Toni Walker
The days after realizing his mother was alive were difficult and mind-numbing at best. Most of his life he had taken on faith that his mother was dead and buried. Not once had he even considered that she was alive. It made him wonder about the strange things that had happened leading up to her death. His father, Graham Gray, shut down soon after her death becoming uncommunicative. It had been up to their housekeeper to raise them and not much later Nigel Bennett, their father's assistant was thrown into the picture.
Nigel was only a few years older than they were. And during his ruminations Phoenix wondered if maybe Nigel had some insight into what was really going on with their father.
The American Embassy building in Athens loomed above the street like a mighty icon of safety. Phoenix had always felt at home there. But walking into the main foyer, he received the immediate impression that things in the world of Embassy business weren't as safe as he might have thought.
Many of the security guards had changed since his last visit but one man, Kahler, at least looked happy to see him.
"It's been a while Mr. Gray," Kahler said by way of a greeting. He glanced over his shoulders at his slightly meaner looking co-workers and offered Phoenix a wan smile.
"Looks like there have been a lot of changes." Phoenix signed the guest book and Kahler handed him his visitor's pass.
"Yes, yes," Kahler said with a nervous twinge to his voice. "You could say that. Who did you come here to see?"
Although the answer wasn't obvious, the question surprised Phoenix. "Dad's usually too busy to see me so I've stopped by to talk to Nigel."
Kahler's eyes grew wide. "I'm afraid that's not possible."
The apartment Nadia Kassoff rented wasn't large or swank, and it didn't need to be considering what she did for a living. There was no television and barely a stick of furniture. Scarlett Gray paced around the apartment like a caged cat. She wanted to talk to her mother, find out where she had been all these years, but her brother and this new Nadia person wouldn't let her out of either of their sights.
Nadia lounged on the bed spewing out a stream of cigarette smoke that literally managed to choke her. She waved the disgusting smell away and begged her jailer one more time for release.
"Why won't you let me see my mother?"
"Not safe. Your brother has a big issue about you being safe. I mean, Abraham Moses is out to slam his ass in jail. He doesn't want Moses to use you as bait in order to capture him." She flicked the still lit cigarette butt out the window and lit up a second.
"I still don't see what Abraham Moses thinks my brother has done." Scarlett stepped back a few paces to keep herself way from the smoke which was rapidly filling up the apartment.
"It's all about Faith. Last time she was seen, she was with your brother. Bulgaria, I think. He's being real closed-mouthed about what happened and where Faith ended up. Faith is a pretty important gal to some high-ranking LEGACY agents. And let me tell you. You don't want to go pissing those people off."
"Yeah, I know Faith... and her two brothers. I still don't know how Faith or my brother got out of that monastery alive. The thing literally blew up on top of them."
"Phoenix is a pretty resourceful guy. And knowing his code of honor, he wouldn't leave Faith in there to die alone." Nadia held her cigarette out the window and flicked the ashes into the street.
"He could have gotten out. Kevin did. But he said my brother stayed behind."
"He's either pretty brave or an idiot."
The apartment door slammed open and Phoenix marched in with a grim expression on his face.
"That was a useless trip."
"What's wrong? Did Nigel not know anything?"
"I have no clue. Nigel doesn't work there any more," Phoenix's pause was intentional. "And get this... neither does dad."
"No way," Nadia jumped off the bed to hear more of the juicy details.
"Kahler told me in private, away from the new security team, that Nigel works for a place called the Knights Foundation."
Scarlett was familiar with the organization. She ought to be. The place was run by her grandfather and a council of other men.
She couldn't believe that this bizarre story kept coming back to what happened in Bulgaria with Faith. Their grandfather had come to rescue them when he learned of their existence. Graham Gray wasn't one to stress the importance of 'family time.' Until that moment, Scarlett didn't know she had any living grandparents.
"You mean our grandfather Chandelor's Knights Foundation?"
"Looks that way."
Nadia grabbed her coat off the single chair in the apartment. "Road trip anyone?"
While Phoenix set up plans to meet with their grandfather, Nadia took a moment to pull out her cell phone. The streets of Athens were bustling so she walked to a quieter corner of the neighborhood to place her call.
"If you want to do this, you're going to have to make it soon. They're going to visit their grandfather in order to find some guy who worked with their father. I think he's English. Nigel something."
Solomon cursed. He didn't want Phoenix or Scarlett anywhere near the Knights Foundation or their grandfather.
"What about the girl? Julian said he wanted her."
Solomon stalled for a moment. He couldn't let Scarlett become a prisoner of the Black Council. He at least owed that much to her mother, Roanna.
"I'll send some of Julian's men out there. Don't worry about it. We won't blow your cover."
"So, does this mean I get a little fighting action? A gal can only go so long without kicking someone's ass."
Solomon shook his head. This girl was sick. "Have as much fun as you want, but don't kill any of Julian's men. I don't think he would appreciate the gesture."
"Sure thing. But I may mangle a few."
After he related the area for the ambush, Nadia clicked off her cell and joined the twins at the car.
"Nice ride," Nadia said sliding her hand over the leather seats. "Yours?"
Phoenix didn't answer which meant one of two things. He was either still in a pissy mood over his father not leaving a forwarding address or this car was stolen and he didn't want his clean cut sister to know.
Helms Solomon opened a hidden compartment and withdrew a satellite phone. He could place a call from it making the signal virtually undetectable. He dialed a familiar code. The receiver on the other end rang only once and a machine picked up. There was no voice, only a tone.
"I need you to set something up for me," he said to the answering machine. "The kids are trying to reach their grandfather. Make sure that doesn't happen."
He ended the connection and replaced the phone into its hiding place.
If Phoenix and Scarlett were to reach Chandelor Knight, it could mean disaster for them all.
A nurse walked out of the darkened room next to where Solomon was standing. She was shaking her head and mumbling.
"What's wrong," he asked. "Did she wake up?"
"No, sir. She's still asleep, but her fever is rising again. None of the other servants want to come near her. Neither do I. This will be my last visit." She started to run away, the bowl of cool water she held sloshed when Solomon grabbed her arm, stopping her.
"You can't leave. She needs medical attention."
"The sickness is growing. There is nothing more I can do for her."
"Yes you can, you can help me."
The nurse shook her head. "I'm sorry, sir. She is in God's hands now."
Solomon cursed and strode into the darkened room. The figure on the bed was frail and sweating. She tossed and turned. The nightmares had taken over her dreams again. She couldn't get past them. And he wanted to kill the monster who had given them to her.
A British voice from behind him had Solomon looking toward the door.
"How is she?" Nigel Bennett sat on the bed next to the sickly girl.
"I think she's getting worse and to make my day all the more peachy, the damn nurse just quit." Solomon's voice was full of venom.
"You know that they have this same thing planned for your daughter, don't you?"
Solomon rose from the girl's side and strode toward the door but didn't walk through. He pounded his fist on the wall. "Tell me something I don't know."
"The real Helms Solomon is cracking, Gray. We are very close to getting him to reveal the cure to us." Nigel wiped the girl's forehead with a damp cloth.
He turned to her.
"Did you hear that Faith? You could be better any day now."