10. In the Defense of the Nation
Reinhardt looked at the briefcase that sat in the corner of his office. He had removed it from the JCS vault earlier in the week, leaving in its place a case full of documents of no great worth to anyone. The NorthStar command console had been locked-up in the JCS vault since Forrestal shut down the project, ordering all technical and procedural documents to be shredded and the nine rings distributed to the main players to make it impossible to use the console without joint consent. That was in September, 2007 a year before the 2008 election. Reinhardt had not protested the sleight of hand that made it disappear. He understood the risks of even saying that the project to place nuclear weapons in space had been researched would open a Pandora ’s Box. The fact that NorthStar existed and was nearly operational was a danger to the security of the nation.
Reinhardt left the Pentagon at nine. He met no one on his way out the River Entrance. When he arrived home, he stored the console and the four rings in the safe. Outside, the streets had turned icy in Georgetown. Snow arrived early this year. With Christmas approaching, he could almost taste his freedom. His retirement was to begin on December 23rd and he was paying for a farewell party at the Mayflower that was being covered live by both C-Span and WNN.
He poured himself a glass of wine, and sat down ready to kick off his shoes, when the phone rang. It was Rothstein.
“How long has it been since you slammed me in the Post, Ted?”
“A couple of hours, but I’m laying off you for few weeks, at least until after your retirement party Helmut.”
“What do you want?”
“A favor, Helmut, nothing too much I think.”
“What kind of favor?”
Reinhardt sat back on the couch and studied the snow coating the window. It had been treacherous driving home from the Pentagon, but likely more dangerous talking to a reporter like Ted Rothstein.
“Beer and dinner for old times.” Rothstein suggested.
“Tonight, we can meet at Clyde’s on M Street. I’ll even buy dinner.”
Clyde’s was packed, but the owner was an admirer of the General so a table was quickly found near the rear of the bar area.
“Okay Teddy, what gives, no bullshit either about a book you’re writing. I read the last piece. You’ve lately been making me sound like a fascist. You know me better than that.”
“You’re starting to sound like one to me Helmut. Why the sudden interest in right wing politics? Next thing I know you’ll find religion and be born again or going down the route taken by the last Republican nominee and insult broad swaths of the American electorate. It never works when you pander to the far right, they’re the biggest group of hypocrites I know, and you know that too. You’re anything but a hypocrite.”
“Now,” he smiled remembering the times they had almost died together with some fondness, “you’re my political and spiritual advisor.” Reinhardt laughed. “Thanks, but I think I can handle the politicians just as well I handled those terrorists. Not much difference between the two groups really. And, pandering, as you call it, to the far right worked quite well for young Sanders didn’t it? Honestly it’s the only damn way to get nominated in the new Republican Party.”
“Then you’re running?”
“Don’t you think I would make a good President Ted?” Reinhardt asked. “After all there are lots of bad guys left in the world despite what the Kirsten Anderson and her husband might want to believe, I simply reminded the incoming administration that the risks remain and have to be dealt with. They are real and not imagined.”
“Don’t you think Kirsten Anderson knows that too?” Rothstein asked.
“One mistake, Rothstein, and it’s over, you know how dangerous the world is now that we’ve planted the dragon seeds in such fertile soil.”
“The mushroom cloud again Helmut? I get it; you don’t like the incoming administration? Still, you’ve worked for both sides over the years. Why the sudden switch from neutral to partisan. It’s a little late for a coup d’état don’t you think and the next blow-up, at least legally, is four years from now.”
“I don’t believe they’ll be tough enough. They’re too trusting.”
“Judith Wilson isn’t as dovelike as you portray her, General”, Ted countered.
“She’s likely to get her tits stuck in the door if she tries to merge the services. Fuck, Ted, you know traditions are what cement lifelong relationships. Men fight for their brothers in arms; they take pride in the units they belong to. That’s why we spend time teaching soldiers traditions and unit histories. The Romans knew that. Gaius Marius, back in the first century B.C. used Silver Eagles to inspire men to face certain death to protect them. It turned headcount, rabble, into the best fighting units in the world at the time. To lose an Eagle was to dishonor all the men who had ever served and died under its wings. Frankly,” he laughed, “I’d love to see her tell Bull Stanton that she’s going to turn the Marines into the Ground Infantry and see his reaction. It would be priceless.”
Ted changed the subject. “Does Project NorthStar mean anything to you Helmut?”
“Nothing,” Reinhardt answered, but far too quickly. He was taken off guard by the question.
“Really? I’ve seen some records listing you as Project Manager when you ran Systems Command back in 2003. Quite an honor, the head honcho as a lowly project manager. Something very secret and very dangerous I would bet.”
“The records are wrong. There was no Project NorthStar. Change the subject Ted, for your own good.”
That was confirmation enough for him.
“Remember when Clinton went after Ibrahim at that Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan Ted?”
“Thirty cruise missiles against some tents?”
“They almost got him, but he’d been warned. Cruise missiles and aircraft are too slow and too noisy. From launch to impact it was more than three hours. Predators are easily spotted and have too limited firepower to make much of a dent unless you happen to get lucky. ”
“Granted,” Ted said motioning for more beers.
“Imagine, Ted, a weapon system that didn’t leave a trace, that was silent as the wind, with a kill radius in miles rather than feet.”
“Sounds like some kind of strategic system, something nuclear, something too dangerous to use Helmut.”
“I’m talking about something that could do the job, not fuck it up, Ted. Nukes or high explosive, it doesn’t matter, that’s the kind of weapon we need to fight these bastards, not in New York, but where they hide and plan and wait until we let our guard down. Americans want security, but fear surveillance. Toure had to limit the NSA after all those revelations, but at what cost. We’ve been lucky so far, but our luck will eventually run out. We let ISIS metabolized in Raqqa and Mosel long enough to spread their filth all over the world because we were too worried about collateral damage, but Russia didn’t have any qualm about killing civilians. Now the cancer has spread, far and wide, and it’s too late. And, Ted, you are aware that I know what the hell I’m talking about. And what about the nut case in North Korea, Young Kim, with his nukes and his ballistic missiles and goal to reach the US mainland? We made a mistake when the Korean War ended, we let them rebuild Seoul too close to the DMZ and in range of long-range artillery. Even if this were a purely conventional conflict, he could kill a million men, women and children in Seoul in the first hours of the war from guns too deeply buried to be reached with conventional weapons.”
Reinhardt stopped. He knew he had said far too much to a man, like Rothstein, a reporter with understanding of military strategy, already.
Rothstein understood the reference, but he let it pass. That was part of the past that he’d agreed to keep hidden. “The system you just described would have to be able to reach a target quickly. No aircraft could do that, cruise missiles take too long to get there even if their launch platforms are close to the target area. Am I right? Launch a ballistic missile and you start World War III. Has to be,” Rothstein guessed, “something so dangerous that it was abandoned, something in space I guess. Am I right?”
He watched for some response from Reinhardt, but the General didn’t raise an eye brow, but it was confirmation all the same. ”
“Are you really prepared to royally piss off everyone, Helmut? It would be destabilizing to the strategic balance.”
“I’d piss off God, if it helped save American lives, Ted.”
“Was that what Project NorthStar was about?”
“No! No! No! Not NorthStar. NorthStar was a failed communications and electronic intercept program. A stupid idea that we spent too much time and too much money on trying to make it work as advertised. No administration, not even Sanders had had the balls to put nukes into space.” He smiled and went back to looking at the menu.
11. Sarah’s Dilemma
Sarah tried to make sense of what had happened at the Ranch that night as they flew east After she’d put Susan on a flight back to DC and promised to help her find the girl, Molly. Susan was sick, with what, she didn’t know, but given the symptoms it was likely cancer, the kind that women get and from which if left untreated too long leads only to one conclusion, death.
“Two things,” Sarah said as they had waited for their flights, “Here’s three hundred dollars; go to a doctor and find out what’s wrong. Do that for yourself. If you need more, call. I have money. And second, about Molly, someone screwed up; there was a cover-up for sure, but I promise we’ll find her and get her back.”
Susan took the money and hugged Sarah. She didn’t feel so alone and helpless anymore.
The visit to the ranch, however, had opened a Pandora’s Box. No longer was the story simple and straightforward. It involved a secret government program and a major cover-up, including the kidnapping of a child. Randall didn’t like to take chances. Moreover, WNN made money from far right advertisers and it’s commentators were known for their lies and half-truths and twisting of word. They took pride in the fact that they could influence elections seeing their ‘slant’ as in the cause of free market capitalism and conservative principles of limited government interference and oversight. In the minds of the suits upstairs, mindful of the significant advertising from defense companies, DoD and decorated four star generals, like General Reinhardt, could do no wrong. The mysterious object they found was not a meteor, but it was possibly evidence of some secret government program long buried. Yet, without pushing for the truth as to what happened that night so many years before, how could they hope to find Molly or know what really happened that night.
“How’s it going?” Randall asked a week after her return.
“Okay,” she said without explaining.
“Ten thousand dollars and you came up with nothing, Sarah. It’s damn hard to take,” Randall groused.
“Tough luck Ed,” she had, after all, warned him that might be the result. “We have some good footage of the process they go through. Winnie says they often don’t find anything at a site. We both knew it was possible that we’d come up empty on this one.”
“Yes,” he said with a laugh, “you did warn me, Sarah. Try to finish up by next week; things get hectic around the holidays.” Randall walked a few feet, stopped suddenly and looked back. “Had an argument with my son last week? He told me that a meteor, 10 kilometers across, striking the earth is equivalent to setting off a 100 megaton bomb.”
“Try 10,000 megatons, Ed.”
“Now, that’s something we should be worried about.”
“Very low probability, but not so long ago there was a near miss, and if it had hit it might have wiped out the West coast of the United States. I met some people at JPL that are working on some technical solutions. A little shove,” she pushed him away slightly, “and they’re off to terrorize some other planet or reporter.”
“Have graphics mock up a demo of a robot in the image of that actor who played in the movie, what was the movie’s name, something with Failsafe in the title. Check with legal to get permission to use the image. Should be a great show,” Randall was now fully distracted by her earlier comment and the thought of life-ending events. Then he remembered why he had called her into his office. “I’ve got you lined up to talk to the advertising guys tomorrow at nine. We want some short segments and voice-over to get some public interest. The show will run it at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve and then several times during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Even the European guys are willing to kick in for some of the costs.”
It was close to ten o’clock when she walked into the apartment. An early winter snowstorm had come from the south dumping nearly a foot of snow on the city. She was cold and her feet were wet. She dropped her coat on the floor, happy to be home at last. The apartment, like her life lately, was a total mess.
The phone rang a minute later. Sarah searched for the receiver under old newspapers.
“Teddy!” Sarah recognized his voice.
“Who else calls you? I understand from some good sources that you’re now taking up virginity as a profession.”
“It’s been a while.”
“What’s wrong?” He sensed something missing in her voice, confidence, invincibility, he could hear doubt, self doubt, the kind that led to depression or worse.
“I have lots of problems.”
“Where the hell should I start?”
It had been three years since she sent him packing without an explanation. Something he said had set her off and, then it was over. Nice guys like Teddy are too precious to waste in relationships that usually end badly. She needed him more as a friend, than lover. They lived together for five years after graduate school before he went off to Europe on assignment. When he returned, the magic between them seemed over. He left New York for Washington taking the foreign affairs position at the Post, and she accepted the job at WNN. He’d told her then that it would be the kiss of death for her career as an investigative journalist.
“Come see me, Ted. If you love me, come see me now.”
She waited anxiously on the platform at Penn Station for the ACELA high-speed train from D.C. to come to a stop. Rothstein was easy to recognize, even from a distance. Tall, ruggedly handsome, he walked with a sturdy gait. He didn’t slow when he approached her, so she fell in next to him.
“Okay, what’s for lunch,” he took her hand as they walked. Sarah noted that even as he took her hand, he turned his head slightly to follow with his eyes two young girls rushing down the stairs in their tight fitting jeans, trying to catch the northbound train.
“You never grow up Rothstein, do you?”
“I wanted to grow up with you, Sarah” he said mournfully.
“What about Marco’s?” She answered his first question about lunch. It was instinctive, Marco’s, where they had first met and had spent long years over overly starched, but cheap, Southern Italian cuisine.
“You are getting serious,” he laughed. She loved his laugh. Nothing seemed to bother Teddy Rothstein, life rolled off him like water off a seal. “Come on. I’m hungry.”
Marco’s was a West Village hangout. The first restaurant Ted had taken her to when they started graduate school at Colombia. It had been three years since they’d last been there.
A carafe of house red on the table, neither Ted nor Sarah needed to look at the menu. It had never varied in all the many years they’d been coming here.
“So, we’re back here. Why? Change your mind? Offers have time limits, Sarah. Words have consequences.” He hated saying it after he said it.
“Don’t start Teddy. I made mistakes. I’m sorry.”
“I’ve noticed, Sarah, that when times are tough, you call on old reliable Ted. That’s right, isn’t it?”
“Stop it,” she said, realizing how she must have hurt him. “It never was about you; you’re smart enough to know that it was about me. It’s about the secrets I carry inside.”
“What’s changed, Sarah?”
She didn’t answer. The truth was that she was scared about growing old and being alone. But that was not the real reason. He was worth a hundred of her, she had thought, I’m too much a burden with my fears and worries. What she loved about him was what she would, not immediately, but in time destroy. And so she had broken off their affair. But that was then, and this was now. Finally, after a long introspective pause that he noted, she answered simply. “I made a mistake. I’m in love with you Rothstein, always have been, but I’m not really that much in love with myself.” She smiled and looked down at the fast dwindling bowl of marinara and began to eat fearful to look directly at him.
After lunch they walked through Washington Square Park, under the arch, and up Fifth Avenue towards Gramercy Park and mid-town. For a long time they didn’t speak; the cold wind and drifting snow dampened conversation, and the heavy clouds added to a feeling of impending doom. Despite the weather, Sarah was happy to be with him. She felt, for the first time in months, safe even though nothing between had been resolved.
They stopped for coffee around 28th street.
“Okay, why now? What’s changed?” Rothstein asked. Since Marco’s in the Village the question had been turning over and over in his head.
“Something unexpected happened in New Mexico that set me to thinking,” she tried to find the words to explain the confusion she had felt about why he wanted her and her alone. Despite her looks, her success, she had never felt that she was worth much. And it was that lack of self-respect she felt about her own self that had stopped her from letting Ted get close enough to see her fear of losing a friend to gain a lover who would, she was certain, lose interest and hurt her. Sarah had needed a friend more than a lover at that moment, but now, now with her fortune at its lowest, she needed a man who had stood by her in good times and bad.
“I listened to Susan Spenser talk about the ranch, about her parents. I thought about why any relationship, much less one with someone who I truly loved and cared for and didn’t want to be hurt, was something to be feared, stopped, before it went too far. I was afraid, Ted, to love you. I was afraid that I’d wake up some morning and you would be gone. So I couldn’t let myself get too close to anyone I truly cared about for fear of losing him and going to pieces for the loss.”
After a long monologue that rambled in free form from one poorly defined reason to another, he took her hand and held it tight, looking into her eyes. “That’s enough of a confession. What’s happening with your job?”
“WNN is too right of center for me, and it doesn’t let its hosts interact with its commentators like other networks do. Maybe I don’t have what it takes to do investigative work again, but I want to try, I want to believe that my work has meaning.”
Ted knew enough to change the subject. He was curious what else, other Susan Spenser’s belated confession about her child, which had set Sarah afire. “At the ranch,” Ted asked finding it easier to move the topic away from the personal to the professional, “what did you discover that shocked you?”
“It wasn’t a meteor. It was a missile test that must have gone terribly wrong. We found a guidance module in the ground that the Air Force missed finding when they came that night to clean up. But, Ted, there’s more, when Susan was a junior at Smith, she became pregnant. She left Smith at the end of her junior year, gave birth to a daughter; her parents were raising the girl as their own daughter. ”
“What happened to the child? Did they find the body?”
“No, apparently, she was in the barn when the warhead struck. There was a witness--an old Indian who had worked for Mr. Spenser. He told us that she was brought to a man he called ‘the Chief’ and flown away in a helicopter that night.”
“You have all of this on tape?”
“Yes, but as sure as the sun will rise, they won’t touch the story or the truth with a tenfoot pole. I’m including it, at the end, but Randall will cut it for certain.”
“WNN is in the pocket of the special interests and right wing billionaires; they wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole especially if it turned out to embarrass a Republican administration.” Ted reached across the table for Sarah’s hands. They were ice cold.
Outside the snow had started again. It was freezing cold. He remembered another cold, blustery day, a dangerous day along the Afghan – Pakistani border and another hike in cold, forbidding mountains, but this time with General Reinhardt setting the pace.
At the apartment, Sarah struggled to find her key and open the door.
“Haven’t changed a bit, have you?”
“No, what can I say, Ted. Like old times,” she stopped herself from saying more.
He looked around the apartment. She would never be a housekeeper.
Sarah poured two glasses of decent cognac and handed one to Ted before sitting down. Kicking her shoes off, she settled down on the couch.
They sat together watching snow fall just outside the window. Sarah finished her brandy and stood up. She walked to the sideboard and picked up the sphere and handed it to Ted.
“Know what this is?”
He studied the ball for a few minutes.
“I could use some more light.” He now could not read the words engraved on the nameplate.
“Drapper Labs,” he noted on the label with the MilSpec numbers, “probably an inertial guidance module. Where did you find it?”
“Buried, a foot and a half deep, under the house. It didn’t show up on the metal detectors either.”
“That is interesting, probably made out of titanium.”
“What’s interesting Ted,” she happily squeezed down next to him.
“NorthStar, I asked Reinhardt about it yesterday.” He showed her the nameplate.
“Reinhardt was involved,” Sarah, said, “I saw his picture in Carlton’s office. It was a souvenir from the program that he kept tacked on the wall. Why did you ask him about it?”
“Randy asked me to ask Reinhardt. Reinhardt was the project manager considering he had three stars and was running Systems Command at the time so it is highly unusual. Must have been something very black for when I asked about NorthStar, it was as if I had hit him with a cannon ball.”
“Let me show you some footage, shot in California two weeks ago.”
He stood up and followed Sarah to her home office.
“You know who Roger Carlton is?”
“JPL, works with robotic devices in space; he gave a talk on the use of robots in unmanned space vehicles at the Press Club last year.”
“Fifteen years back Carlton was hard at work on Project NorthStar.” She stopped the frame with the photo on the wall clearly visible and enlarged it to fill the screen. “Recognize anyone?”
“Reinhardt’s in the middle, just behind the NorthStar project logo. Carlton is on the one on the far right, but the others, I haven’t a clue. Is there a date on the picture?”
It would have been cutting it close, but Ted and Reinhardt had made it back from Afghanistan by June 10th of that same year. Taking the brandy, Ted walked back to the couch. He had much to think about.
Ted had met Reinhardt at the start of the Afghan war. Three years later, around 2007, Reinhardt organized a trip to inspect Air Force units deployed there; the General was transitioning from Systems Command to Vice-Chief of Staff. They landed at Kandahar just as the Army had lost an Apache Attack helicopter while working with troops from the Tenth Mountain Division, along no-man’s land on a ridge of high mountains separating Pakistan from Afghanistan.
“You can’t say I’m not qualified, can you Colonel?” Reinhardt smiled, “I certainly outrank you by a long shot.”
At that point the Army Colonel gave in, but there would be hell to pay if a three star Air Force officer died trying to rescue two Army warrant officers. Reinhardt quickly organized the rescue mission–a single copter, flying at night, with Reinhardt at the controls, and a squad of Army and Air Force Special-Opts troops. Reinhardt shoved Ted into the copter, as if this was just part of the job for a Washington Post reporter.
“Think of it as a chance for a Pulitzer,” he’d shouted over the din of the helicopter before pushing him into the back with the Special Opts troops.
“I remember the sound of bullets hitting the copter. The noise was terrifying; when a few rounds cut the fuel lines the engines sputtered then stopped, but Reinhardt was able to nurse the copter down by counter-rotating the blades.” He had no time to recover from a ‘miracle’ safe landing before 50 caliber machine gun rounds were turning the thin aluminum shell into scrap metal. As he sat, next to Sarah, in the darkened apartment, the terror of that moment came back in full.
“Get the wounded out of the copter, Rothstein, now,” the General ordered as he came back to inspect the damage. “Wouldn’t look good to have a Jew killed by Islamic extremists would it? Okay move.” Reinhardt lifted one of the injured to his side, while shouldering his pack and weapon. “And, guys, make sure we get all the equipment out. That side looks less dangerous.” He pointed to the side door. “I want you three out there first and lay down a field of fire use the copter as cover, when we’re all clear we move back to those rocks just to the left. Now get a move on it.”
Ted knew then what others knew now that Helmut Reinhardt was one of a kind for there was no hesitation as to what needed to be done. He was in command, unfazed by the steady gunfire that raked the side of the copter.
“At that moment I knew who he was,” Ted said to Sarah remembering the vision, “he was Julius Caesar reincarnate and he had Caesar’s luck, and that luck would save me again.”
“They’ll try to come in for the kill and get what they can from the aircraft,” Reinhardt explained, settling Rothstein down behind rocks. “Bunch of vultures, unless you’re their guest, then, they’ll kill anyone who tries to harm you. He handed him the extra AR-16. “Rothstein, when you see a bad guy in the sight, which you will, shoot to kill please. They’re bad, they will kill you if they can, and you need to kill them first. Understand!”
Reinhardt moved on to the next position. Ted sighted towards the heights above. He looked over at Reinhardt, joking with the troopers, as he scurried from rock to rock.
“Despite his bravado,” Ted said coming out of his dream, “I knew that we were pinned down, probably out gunned too. If he realized that, he didn’t show it. ” His mind wandered to what happened next.
“We have two men badly injured from the crash, another two when they shot up the copter, so we can’t stay here. Radios were shot when they hit the copter and the guy with the spare is back in the copter that, if I’m right, will blow at any moment, so we have to find a way out on our own.” Reinhardt motioned to the others to come closer. “We’ll have to get the wounded to a place so the doc can have some time to work on them. Not far from here, on the other side of the mountain, there’s a good, easily defended, cave. Before we can do anything, we’ll need to get rid of these vultures. Let me see what kind of munitions we saved before the copter burned.
“What happened next?” Sarah asked for Teddy had never told her the story in such detail although she’d read the book’s account. She let her hand ruffle his hair. She could see the tension in his face, as if he were still hunkered down behind the rock.
“It was strange. Once Reinhardt set his mind on the problem, he solved it. There were five good soldiers left, six if you included me, but I wouldn’t put my skills in their class. Three went up the left side; Reinhardt and I covered them, and the last man took a roundabout route, almost crawling up a near vertical incline, taking his time and remaining hidden from the men shooting at us. Once he was above the insurgents, the rest was simple. It took all of fifteen minutes, but the route was cleared. There was no doubt in his decisions, no second guessing, no panic, and the men reacted to his calm with a professionalism that I’m certain no other officer, Army or Marine, could command”
As he talked to her, he re-lived that first night in Afghanistan. He could see the cave; he could hear Reinhardt calling out orders, asking questions, all the while filling one pack with what he and Ted would need.
“ Morris, Spenser, Roberson -- keep anyone from getting within fifty feet of here, unless they know who won the World Series last year. Ted and I will go and get help. It’ll take at least three days, one day out, one day to organize and one day back. Chris, you’re the senior man in charge. If we’re not back in five days, then try to make your way to the closest friendly village on your own. I marked a couple reasonably safe ones on the map. Ready Ted?” Reinhardt threw a half filled pack in his direction, then picked up his own. He saluted the men, went to each of the wounded, offering a few words and, they were off into the night.
“He knew the land, the people, the customs, and the language. He shed blood with these men, along with sharing bread and salt. There was a sense of invincibility about Reinhardt, as if he could not be killed by ordinary means.” Ted recalled.
“Here,” Reinhardt explained, as they hiked up narrow, twisting trails, through hidden slot canyons high above a roaring river, “hospitality is everything. Pashtun honor demands that they protect guests. So, don’t worry,” Reinhardt, grinned, “we’ll not be murdered in our sleep.”
Sarah let her hand rest on his, she ran her other over his face and pulled him back to the present. He had that faraway look again. She’d seen it before. Just after he’d come back from his first trip to Afghanistan.
“You’re thinking of Reinhardt, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” he stood up, “something he told me last night.”
Pouring two more cognacs, he walked back into the room and handed one to her, then sat down.
“What did he tell you?”
Ted stretched out, resting his head against the back of the couch, and looked up at her. “You’re so beautiful, Sarah Fisher, you are so beautiful,” he let his words drop off and he started to close his eyes. “And, I think I still love you.”
“What did he tell you,” she shook him. “What?”
“It’s a long story, and it’s not for now, not for tonight Sarah, tomorrow we have time to think. Too much cognac, too little sleep,” he mumbled.
She helped him to the bed. He undressed slowly as she watched. It felt good to have a man close again.
The complete story, The Rings of Armageddon, can be purchased for a small amount at Amazon Kindle either in e-book or print formats.