Drake stops his story and asks, “Did you ever find out where my parents are being held?”
Working for the CIA has taught me how to lie, if anything, so I tell the boy, “They haven’t gotten back to me yet. As soon as I know, I’ll tell you. Get back to your story.”
The boy looks down at his hands and starts cracking his knuckles in a nervous manner. It almost looks like he blames himself for his parents’ position. I get the feeling that this is the real Drake Fletcher. He’s caring and scared, but he hides this with cleverness and strength. A see in this boy’s eyes a compassion that equals his determination.
He’s too lost in his own head it looks like to pick up where he left off. I decide to jog up the story again myself. “Any idea why your parents would’ve been storing that amount of money?”
“No,” he answers, not fully back.
“Did it ever cross your mind that the money might not have belonged to them?”
“No,” he says a little more defensively. “My parents were many things, but a thief is not one of them.”
Worked up and angry is the last thing I want Drake to be, so I change my angle. “Aurora to Los Angeles; that’s a long drive,” I comment.
“Yeah, it was,” he says, still not fully back.
“You stop any along the way?”
“A few times for food and gas,” he says, “other than that, it was a straight trip.”
“Did you ever feel like you were being followed?”
He shakes his head. “Unless they were watching us via satellite, we were in the clear. We kept our eyes peeled; never looked like a car was following us. Heck, there were times when we didn’t see anyone else on the road for miles.”
They checked into a cheap motel outside of Los Angeles, getting separate rooms, and Drake just passed out on his bed. Fifteen hours in a car was a nightmare that he hoped he never would live through again. Never mind the bed was uncomfortably stiff, it wasn’t a car seat, so he loved it.
When he woke up again, it was nine in the evening. Someone was knocking at his door. Groggily, he walked over to the door and opened it a crack. Kari was standing there, and she had two pizza boxes in one hand and a liter of Pepsi in the other. “I figured you were hungry,” she said. “Mind if I come in?”
Drake opened the door and let her in. She set the food down and they just started eating. They ate quickly and quietly, neither of them talking until the food was gone. In forty-five minutes both pizzas were gone, and so was the liter of soda.
“So now what?” Drake asked after flopping back on his bed.
Kari stood up, stretching to her full height. “I went into town and ordered the pizza,” she said. “I also took the opportunity to scope out Mr. Tennyson’s place. I just drove by it a few times, but from what I could tell, he’s there. I guess we managed to beat our friends from Aurora out here, but we must assume that they’re right behind us.”
“So we go first thing in the morning?” Drake asked, closing his eyes.
Kari sighed. “We’ll eat breakfast downstairs and we’ll check out.” Drake nods with his eyes closed. “How do you feel about all of this, Drake?”
Drake takes a deep breath and considers it for a minute. “I want my life back, and I hope Mr. Tennyson can help me get that back.”
The next morning they got up bright and early, ate a quick breakfast and checked out of their rooms in an hour. They parked a few blocks from Tennyson’s house and walked up to his front door. It was a Saturday, and people were out in their lawns enjoying the nice weather. Two people out for a walk didn’t stand out in the slightest in this California neighborhood.
When they got to Tennyson’s house, they stopped. It was a beautiful modern house fronted with glass and metallic sidings. No cars sat in the driveway, but Drake could hear music come from inside, so someone was home. Drake looked up to Kari, who nodded, and they walked up to the house.
“You want me to do the talking?” Drake asked.
“Why, did you want to do the talking?” Kari responded in a tone that said she really didn’t care.
“I just figured since they know me better, or I know them better, I’d do the explaining.”
“Fine, you talk, I’ll look pretty.”
They got up to the door and rang the bell. Immediately they heard the music turned down and someone walking toward them. The door was answered by a woman in her early forties with short brown hair and thin square glasses. “Can I help you?” she asked politely.
“Is this the Tennysons’?” Drake asked awkwardly.
“Yes, I’m Mrs. Tennyson,” the lady answered politely.
“Yeah, hi, uh,” Drake started. He looked to Kari, who gave him a look that clearly said you do the talking. Drake turned back to the woman and continued, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m Derek and Alexis Fletcher’s son, Drake, and this is—”
Drake was cut off when the woman suddenly hugged him. “Oh my gosh, I thought I recognized you! You look so grown up now. What’s it been, two years?” She finally let go of Drake, still stunned by her greeting. “Who’s your friend?”
Drake regained his composure and said, “This is Kari Morgan.”
Kari then stepped in. “I’m Jefferson Morgan’s daughter.” Mrs. Tennyson’s face lit up when she heard that name, and gave Kari the same embrace she gave Drake, but Kari was better prepared going after Drake.
Mrs. Tennyson let Kari go, and then her face changed as if she just realized something. “Why are you two here alone? Where are your parents?”
Drake looked at Kari, indicating it was her turn to talk. “Mrs. Tennyson…” she began.
“Please, call me Kristen,” Mrs. Tennyson interjected.
“Okay, Kristen,” Kari restarted, “Something’s happened to our parents, and we need your and your husband’s help to figure out what exactly.”
Mrs. Tennyson’s face turned somber. “My husband passed away last year, but I think I know what you’re here about.”
She hurried them inside and closed the door after them. She pointed them over to the living room and called for her son, Christian, to come into the living room, too.
Christian Tennyson appeared just as everyone else sat down in the modern style living room. He was Drake’s age, short black hair gelled back, and poindexter style square glasses. He was about the same size as Drake, but the sense he gave off was more computer nerd than athletic. Chris looked more like his father than his mother.
“Mom, what’s going on?” he asked. Then he noticed Drake and Kari on one of the couches. “And who are they?”
“Chris, this is Drake Fletcher and Kari Morgan,” his mother explained, indicating to each as she said their names. “You remember Drake, right? We visited him and his family a few years ago in Colorado.”
Chris seemed to remember quickly; he gave Drake a curt nod and shook both his and Kari’s hands.
“They’ve come a long way for our help,” his mother explained. “This is about what your father was a part of in college.” Chris sat down in the chair closest to Drake as his mother began. Even before she started, Chris looked like he understood, so whatever was going on, Chris already knew about it.
“Kids, what your parents did in college is very difficult to explain,” she began. “Chris’s father was also a part of all of this, and he explained everything to me before Chris was born.”
Chris then took over. “I found out three years ago by accident. I was snooping around my dad’s office here and found a file. He caught me before I started reading it, but he could see that I wasn’t going to drop it. He then explained everything they did to me.”
“Explained what?” Kari asked expectantly.
“That he, along with your parents, were spies that stole secrets from governments around the world.”