(Excerpt from Chapter 1:)
Friday, August 26, 2005
K minus sixty-two hours
Richard Fitzwilliam closed
the trunk of his wife's car. "You have everything, honey?"
Olivia Fitzwilliam was just
securing their daughter to the car seat. "I'll gas up north
of Hattiesburg, and we'll break up the trip at a rest stop somewhere
in Alabama for a few hours before continuing to Atlanta."
She and Megan were evacuating to her parents outside of Atlanta.
By leaving on Friday night, they were certain to avoid the traffic
jams, well remembered from Huricane Ivan.
Fitzwilliam nodded and waited
by the back door of the car until Olivia was finished. He then
leaned in and kissed his daughter. "Be a good girl, now."
"Come with us, Daddy!"
"No, sweetie. Daddy has
to protect the city. You have a good time at Grandma and Grandpa's,
and I'll see you real soon. I love you." He kissed her again
and closed the door. He then took his wife into his arms.
"When do you report?"
"Right after you leave.
I'll be at Third District for the duration."
"I wish -- oh, Fitz, I
wish you were coming with us. Goddammit, I hate your job."
Fitzwilliam said nothing; he
only held her close. A couple of breaths later, they shared a
"Call me when you stop,
Fitzwilliam thought of something.
"You have the charger for the cell?"
"Right in the car. I'll
plug it in as soon as we leave." Olivia kissed him again
and then got in the driver's seat.
Fitzwilliam stood in the driveway
of his home and watched his family drive away, his mind already
focused on the job ahead.
K minus sixty hours: Lafayette
Elizabeth was back in her hotel
room by the time William called her again. She told him Chris
and Marianne had decided to go through with the ceremony the
next day, and they talked about how quiet the rehearsal dinner
"What time does the
wedding end?" William
"It starts at one, so
we should be at the reception hall by two-thirty. Why?"
"Okay. I can have the
jet land at four. Will that be long enough?"
"Jet? What are you talking
"The DGS jet. We're
flying out of here with Lakefront Airport being so low. It'll
hole up in Oklahoma City until we can bring it back. I can have
it pick you up at Lafayette Airport at four o'clock."
"You're going to Oklahoma
"I'm not -- you are.
I've got to stay here and manage things."
Elizabeth almost dropped the
phone. "I'm not leaving! I'm staying here with you!"
"Honey, please. You'll
be safer out of here."
"And what about you?"
"I'm staying in the
city until Sunday. I'll hunker down at Pemberley during the storm."
"Let me get this straight.
It's too dangerous for me to stay, but it's not too dangerous
for you? That makes no sense!" Elizabeth tapped down her
anger at William for making plans without her input again.
"Look, I'll feel better
if you're somewhere safe."
"I'm not leaving. Either
we both leave, or neither of us does."
"Lizzy, please, listen
"No." She knew facts,
not screaming, were the best way to change William's mind. "You've
told me Dansereau Plantation is built like a tank. It has a natural
gas generator that can run the whole house. All that satellite
equipment is there. If it's safe enough for you, it's safe enough
"Yeah, but what if
we got hit by a tornado? The house can't stand up to that! If
something happened to you--"
"Elizabeth pleaded, "Will,
don't you see? What makes you think I would want to be somewhere
else if something happened to you at Dansereau? Do you think
I would want to live without you?" There was silence on
the other end. "Baby, if we had children like Jane and Chuck,
it would be different. But it's just you and me. I want to be
with you. I need to be with you. Don't do this; don't cut me
There was a pause. "You're
making this real hard, Liz."
"I'm not trying to be
a problem, but I'm not abandoning you, and I'm not going to let
you leave me behind. Besides, I have my work, remember? EDNO
will need me if we get hit. So, there you are. You'll just have
to put me up for the duration."
Another pause. "All
right, you win."
"Will, this is NOT about
winning or losing. It's about us being a couple, being a team."
It was important that he understood that.
"I DO think of us as
a team." She could hear him sigh. "What are you going
to do tomorrow?"
"After the reception,
I'll drive to Pemberley. I'll be going against traffic, so it
shouldn't be too bad."
"I'll have Mrs. Reynolds
open up the house for you. She'll be staying with us."
Elizabeth tried to lighten
things up. She hated fighting with William. "Will, it'll
be all right, you'll see.."
"Yeah, I just love
you so much, it's scary."
"It's scary for me, too.
We'll get through it together."
"All right. I better
go. I've got to have the flight plan changed, and there's this
call I've got to put in to London at midnight."
"Okay, honey. I love you.
Don't work too late."
"I'll get some shut-eye
after the call. Talk to you tomorrow."
Elizabeth's mind was still
unsettled after she hung up. She understood William's concern,
but he was wrong. She only hoped she handled it properly, that
she didn't insult him. The old Elizabeth would have gotten angry
and stormed about. The new, more mature Elizabeth used reason
instead of emotion, and it seemed to work much better.
As she undressed for bed, she
knew she still had work to do. She had convinced William she
wouldn't be a burden during this emergency. After she got to
Pemberley, she would have to prove it.
Upper Ninth Ward, New Orleans
Greg Wickham watched the hurricane
coverage with a smile on his face. The governor had declared
a state of emergency and had recommended that people in the New
Orleans area evacuate. Wickham had no intention of following
the governor's advice, but he hoped others would.
Wickham had found it impossible
to rebuild his empire in New Orleans. Other gangs, large and
violent, had a stranglehold on the drug trade. But this storm
might be just the chance he needed to take a few of them down.
Wickham knew where several
of the gangs stored their product. If a major hurricane threatened
the city, some of the gang members might flee. The drug caches
would be only lightly guarded. If one heavily armed man was daring
and fearless, he could reap a fortune.
He glanced at his closet. He
still had a half dozen hand grenades from the Columbian boat
massacre so many months before. That kind of firepower should
give him an edge.
Wickham sat back and tossed
a few potato chips into his mouth. If everything went right,
G-Daddy would spread a little chaos in the city in a few days.