Jules walked back into the house after the others left the meeting. He pulled out his phone and hit Ivan’s contact. When it clicked, he punched the speaker button, then put it on the bar in the living room, freeing his hands to mix a drink.
“Finally,” Ivan said. “How’s it going? You settled in for the night?”
“Yes, Ivan. I drink your friend’s booze. How’s it going up there?”
“We’ve got everything in place. We’ll knock the UN out of power even quicker up here.”
Jules took a sip of his drink. “Which first? Frisco or Sacramento?”
“We’re hitting Frisco first,” Ivan said, “I’ve got a lot of recruits up here already. You guys are going to be PR at first. That’ll be as important as the number of UN thugs you actually kill.”
“PR? What is PR?”
Ivan laughed. “We need you guys to make a big show. We’ll have as many people with video cameras there as you have in the attack force. I’ll break into the TV stations again and make a big deal.”
Jules chuckled. “That good, boss. Rally citizens.”
“How’s the team dynamics?”
“You never ask before? Worry about? What different this time?”
“You’ve got a bunch of damaged women with you,” Ivan said.
“Some already fought,” Jules said. “We had management meeting. Rate team. Better than I expect. These women tough as nails, boss.”
“Glad to hear it, but remember that your objective is the job, not protecting your new girlfriends. Think you can handle that, Jules?”
“I do okay before, no?”
“I understand that, but now there’s all these women, and I saw pictures. At least the UN thugs have good taste.”
“They be fine,” Jules said. “Trust.”
“When we get to a good break, I want you guys to help Ji-Ho,” Ivan said.
“I do what can,” Jules said. “We go down south first?”
“No, we have to plant the seeds up here, in both cities,” Ivan said. “It’ll snowball. Then you’ll go down there.”
“You got plan already, boss. I hear in voice.”
Ivan laughed. “You know me too well, old friend. Yes. Have six more battle wagons almost completed. We need to get them to Ji-Ho’s team. They’ll finish cleanup in the Inland Empire and San Diego County, outside of main city.”
“Feds still control San Diego?” Jules asked.
“Feds don’t control San Diego anymore,” Ivan said. “Top secret. Don’t tell the team yet. Understand?”
“The Feds don’t know that they don’t control the Navy anymore,” Ivan said.
“So, who control?”
“At this point, they control themselves,” Ivan said. “They work with General Hogan part of the time. Same with the US Air Force, but the enemy has infiltrated there more than the Navy. There have been some regrettable incidents. The Air Force leadership is trying to lock it down. It’ll take some time. Hard to tell who’s good and who’s bad.”
“I don’t see help from either of those forces,” Jules said.
“They’re keeping outsiders from joining the battle,” Ivan said. “Much more danger of that than you know. The UN has been pressuring the EU countries to help the Feds in the areas with martial law. They don’t have enough peacekeepers to handle the job.”
“Like Cali,” Jules said. “We kill lot of UN punks.”
“Yes, like here, and also Washington state, and all of the eastern seaboard between Maine and North Carolina. The citizens are fighting back almost everywhere now.”
“Air Force threaten?”
“Air Force, Navy, and our main Allies,” Ivan said.
“Who main allies?”
“Britain, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and Israel. A handful of Eastern European countries.”
“Let guess,” Jules said. “Countries that reject globalist tyrants.”
“Pretty much,” Ivan said. “We’re lucky Britain got out of the EU when they did.”
“They still have warrant for our arrest?” Jules asked.
Ivan chuckled. “In the open, yes, but I’ve been dealing with them through back channels for a while now. Where do you think I got the mini-guns?”
Jules chuckled. “The limeys give? No way.”
“Ji-Ho got his through Asia, but the UN figured it out and clamped down on the arms dealer he was working with. The final straw was that stupid drone. The CIA found out.”
“Well, at least he almost get Saladin with it. Wound him, no?”
“He’s recovered, and now he’s acting like a wounded animal,” Ivan said. “The only good thing to come out of that was his manic reaction. Saladin spent too much time and resources chasing down Ji-Ho. Made our job in LA County easier.”
“Where Saladin now?”
“He’s building a big base in Utah,” Ivan said. “His team thinks nobody knows.”
“They’re stupid, no?”
“Saladin’s not stupid,” Ivan said. “The people who surround him aren’t that bright, though.”
“What about EU? I hear grip of globalists starting to fall apart.”
“Where’d you hear that?” Ivan asked.
“Sister in Belgium,” Jules said. “She say ministers worried. France run another conservative. Better chance to win than before.”
“They had the last one killed,” Ivan said. “Those globalist creeps are capable of anything. They might pull that off again.”
“They might, boss. Wish we could help. German leadership on ropes too, no?”
“Same situation,” Ivan said.
“Jules?” a woman’s voice asked from the entry way.
“Who’s that?” Ivan asked.
“Shelly,” Jules said. “Woman on team. Good one.”
“Oh, I see,” Ivan said. “We’re done. I’ll talk to you later. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Jules chuckled. “Talk later, boss.”
“I here, Shelly. In living room, at bar. Want drink?”
He heard her footsteps, slowly moving into the room. Shelly poked her head into the archway, her short, shiny blond hair swaying. “Oh, there you are.” She smiled and walked over. “What’s you drinking?”
“Gin and tonic,” Jules said. “You want? Tonic a little flat, but okay.”
“Sure, what the hell,” she said, sitting on one of the barstools. Jules mixed her a drink and handed it to her, pausing for a moment to watch her pretty face. She noticed, turning red.
“What you do? Are others settled in?”
She took another sip of the drink. “This is good.”
“I think Dana wanted me to make myself scarce,” she said.
Jules chuckled. “She make time with Sparky, no?”
“She’s trying,” Shelly said. “Made me feel a little uncomfortable. I told them to take the bedroom. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Fine,” he said. “I might stay here tonight. You join?”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” she said.
“We drink, then decide, no?”
She giggled. “I’m sure that seems like a good idea to you. What were you doing in here, anyway? Everybody else is in their coaches already.”
“I talk with Ivan,” he said.
“Oh, did I interrupt something important?”
“No, it fine,” Jules said. “We done anyway.”
“Anything wrong? Are we safe here?”
“Safe?” Jules asked, smiling. “World too crazy. There no safe anymore. Not yet.”
“That sounds a little more pessimistic than you let on in the meeting.” She gulped down the rest of her drink.
Jules snickered. “Meeting for rally troops. This just you and me. Another drink? I have one.”
“Sure, why not,” she said. “I’ll probably regret it, but what the hell. Might be dead in a couple of days.”
“You not be dead,” Jules said. “I make sure of that.”
“What, you’re going to protect me?”
“You valuable,” Jules said. “I see.”
“What do you see? You don’t know me.”
“You like to organize. I see in warehouse. What job, before?” He slid a fresh drink to her, then mixed another for himself.
“You don’t care about that,” she said.
“Come on,” Jules said. He took a sip of his drink, eyes on her.
She giggled. “That’s so European.”
“You take a sip but your eyes are still glued to the person you’re talking to.”
“Oh, that,” Jules said. “Maybe I like what I see. Where worked?”
She sighed. “You see, this is the problem. I know I’ve got a look that men like. We can tell when you’re looking at us that way, you know.”
“You missed last part of question. Where worked before?”
She was about to shoot an answer back at him, but stopped herself, thinking for a moment. “Why do you care?”
“I see management and organizational skill. Trust me, I good judge. Run business as manager. Know types, and how to use in organization.”
“Okay, I’ll bite,” she said, downing her drink. She set the glass on the bar and slid it over to him, smiling demurely. “I was a producer for a fashion magazine. I arranged things, and got teams together. For shoots, mostly. They gave me some video production stuff to run right before everything went crazy. I was hoping I’d make it into TV eventually.”
Jules smiled. “Exactly what I expect. You do producing job for us.” He mixed her another drink and slid it towards her.
“Thank you,” she said. “What I was doing is nothing like what this world is going to throw at us.”
“You wrong about that,” Jules said. He tossed back his drink and mixed himself another. “You gather resources and decide how to use. That skill translates everywhere. You manage one thing well, you can manage others. Trust me. I see.”
She took a big sip of her drink. “You’re just trying to butter me up so you can get into my pants.”
“No,” Jules said. “Not that I don’t want to be in your pants. We have small team. You only person other than me and Ted that has demonstrated skills.”
She giggled. “So what, I get the job if I put out?”
“No,” Jules said. “You get job no matter what. If we get together some day, all the better, but not requirement. We need to win and stay alive. You understand that, no?”
She looked at him, not sure what to say, then pushed her glass away. “Maybe I’ve had enough.”
Jules downed the rest of his. “I have enough. Can still fight after three. More, no.”
“You expect to fight?” she asked.
“Wartime. Never know. We talk tomorrow about job. If you want.”
She eyed him cautiously. “I’m not sure I can trust you.”
“You can trust,” he said. “Not Hollywood trust. Real trust.”
Shelly snickered. “Oh, please.”
“I mean what say, but you learn on own. You want to take bedroom here? Inside house?”
“I’m not sleeping with you,” she said.
“And I’m not sleeping with you either. Many bedrooms. Pick. All upstairs.”
She eyed him again. “How do I know you won’t sneak in later?”
He laughed. “Hey, you don’t trust, go back to rig and sleep with Dana and Sparky.”
She thought about it for a moment, her mind starting to cloud as the gin hit her system.
“You okay?” Jules asked.
“Maybe I drank too fast,” she said, getting off the barstool. She felt dizzy and had to grab the bar to keep from falling over.
“Okay, let’s sit on couch for while,” Jules said. “Talk more. I grab snacks from fridge. Sober up.”
“Now I feel like an idiot,” she said, watching as he came around the bar to her, taking her by the arm, helping her to the couch. “I make toast to soak up some. Jam?”
“Just butter would be fine,” she said, leaning back, looking up at the ceiling. “I actually feel kinda good.”
“Don’t look up for too long. Get spins.”
“Oh, shoot, you’re right,” she said.
Jules went to the kitchen, shaking his head. He found the bread and the toaster. The butter was buried in the fridge, but he found it just in time for the toast. He rushed back out with two pieces on a plate.
“Here you go,” he said, handing it to Shelly. She studied his face as she took it.
“Sorry, I feel like an idiot,” she said.
“You were victim of bad things,” Jules said. “Maybe a little drinky is a good thing, you know. Help little, no?”
She nodded and took a bite of the toast.
“So how you get fashion magazine job?” Jules asked.
She laughed. “Believe it or not, at first I was a model. It was when I was very young.”
“You are beautiful,” Jules said. “I can see.” He watched as she took another bite of toast.
“That didn’t last,” she said. “By the time I was nineteen, my hips got bigger, and I quit growing. I’m just over five feet. Neither of those things are good if you want to be a model.”
“You went from that to producer?” Jules asked.
“They took pity on me and gave me a job as an assistant to the producer I worked with. I did well at that. The rest is history.”
She finished the toast and set the plate down on the coffee table. “Thanks. That was a good idea. I already feel a little better.”
“Good,” Jules said. “I’m tired. Go upstairs.”
“Okay,” she said. “I think I need to sit up a little longer.”
“Feel free,” Jules said. “I’ll be in room at top of stairs, to right.”
“Why did you tell me that?”
“So you don’t stumble in there later and get big surprise,” Jules said with a grin. “I not touch you. Okay? I promise.”
She looked at him, then shook her head. “You’re something. I never know what you’re going to say, and after you’ve said it, I never know how to take it.”
“You get used to me,” he said. “Tomorrow I start training you. That’s okay, no?”
“I don’t know. I think I’ll sleep on it. Maybe I just want to shoot bad guys.”
“Don’t worry,” Jules said, standing up. “We all get chance for that.”
She watched as he went up the stairs, and then leaned back on the couch. It felt good to be comfortable, but the dread was building. The dread of those dreams.
Trevor was sitting at the dinette in Ji-Ho’s rig. He’d opened the curtains, the bright mid-morning sun shining in.
Kaylee came out of the bedroom. “I expected you to be there when I woke up.”
“Sorry,” he said. “Got this idea about Seth and Angel when I woke up.”
“What time is it, anyway?” she asked.
“After eleven,” he said. “I didn’t wake up until half an hour ago. We both needed the sleep.”
She nodded, then went to the coffee machine and turned it on. “What about the rest of us?”
“Haven’t seen any of them up and around yet,” he said. “Battle fatigue.”
She snickered. “Okay, I could see that. What’d you do about Seth and Angel?”
“I sent them a cryptic text, suggesting where we are. Also threw them a hint about using the walkie talkie.”
“Oh, so that’s why it’s out,” she said. It was sitting next to Trevor on the table. “Think they’ll bite?”
“I just hope they’re alive at this point,” Trevor said. “They might not be, you know. We need to prepare ourselves for that possibility.”
“Oh, God,” she said. “Did they receive the text?”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Trevor said, getting up. He got two coffee cups down from the cupboard above the sink. “Think we should take this out of siege mode?”
“We can get in and out like this, right?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I slipped out and plugged in the electrical when I got up. Figured the batteries would need it by now.”
“Then just leave it,” she said. “You never know when we might get attacked.”
“Well, there is that,” Trevor said, looking at her. “You’re always so pretty.”
She laughed. “Yeah, right. My hair’s a mess, I probably stink, and I haven’t had any makeup on since before we left South Bay. I’m a real prize.”
“Yes, you are,” Trevor said, pulling her close, arms going around her waist. She turned her head up to him and they kissed passionately.
“I was hoping you’d be ready for some play time this morning,” Kaylee whispered, looking into his eyes. “We still have some unfinished business there, you know.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I was so worried about my friends. Still am.”
“I know, me too,” she said. “I hope we hear from them. I’ll make coffee.”
“Maybe playtime later, okay?” Trevor asked.
“We’ll see,” she said as she fiddled with the coffee machine. The walkie talkie squawked. They looked at each other.
“Hope it’s them,” Trevor said, practically leaping over to it. He pushed the button and talked.
“Seth. Where are you guys?”
“Oh, thank God,” Kaylee said. Trevor smiled at her.
“We’re outside of Dulzura. Where are you?”
“In Dulzura,” Seth said.
“Good,” Trevor said. “Drive south on Highway 94. I’m going out to the front of the road. Watch for me on your left side.”
“Roger that,” Seth said. “We’re in two of Ji-Ho’s Jeeps. See you in a few minutes.”
“Well there you go,” Trevor said, beaming.
“You didn’t want to tell them the road?”
“Nope,” he said. “This isn’t very secure communication. Get dressed, and let’s get out there.”
“Okay,” she said. “We can take our coffee with us.”
They were dressed and leaving the coach in a couple of minutes, Trevor carrying his Winchester, Kaylee with her M16.
“I’ll send a text to my uncle,” Kaylee said.
“Good idea.” They rushed out the gate and down the road. “The highway is further than I thought.”
“He was happy to hear that they’re okay,” Kaylee said. “He still sounds like a bundle of nerves, though. Something’s going on with him.”
“Maybe just battle fatigue, like we’re having. Hell, like we’re all having.”
“There’s the highway,” Kaylee said. “We can slow down now.”
“Yeah,” Trevor said. They got out to the intersection, half in the trees, and watched the road.
“They’re probably gonna be here quick,” Kaylee said. “The town’s not far from here.”
“There they are!” he said, stepping out and waving his arms. Angel was in the lead, and turned on his signal for the left turn, Seth right behind him. They pulled over about twenty yards from the highway.
“How about a ride?” Trevor asked.
Angel smiled at him. “Dude, I’m so glad to see you guys.”
“Seriously,” Seth said from behind in the other Jeep.
Megan pulled back the rear cover. “One of you can take shotgun in this one. The other can take shot gun in Seth’s vehicle.”
They got in and rolled down to the gate, pulling up next to the two motor-homes.
“Ah, very good,” Ji-Ho said, coming down the steps. Sid and Yvonne followed, then John and Sarah, and the rest.
“What happened?” James asked, rushing over. “We were so worried.”
“We were in a motel in Jamul last night,” Megan said.
“Yeah, and we got attacked this morning,” Kaitlyn said.
“They found us pretty easily,” Seth said. “Hope this place is safe. We’re so tired of running.”
“Come on in,” Ji-Ho said. “Tyler and Kenny are cooking pancakes.”
“Sounds great, man,” Angel said.
Everybody headed towards the veranda.
“I’m gonna go lock up the coach,” Trevor said.
“I’ll go with you,” Kaylee said.
They walked over hand in hand.
“I’m so glad they’re back,” Trevor said.
“You catch the vibe?”
“What vibe?” Trevor asked.
“They’re couples now,” she whispered. “They’re bonded.”
“That’s good, right?”
“We need some bonding too,” Kaylee said. “I want some us time later.”
Trevor nodded as he locked the coach. The two joined the others in the house.
To be continued…
Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!
The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”
Copyright Robert Boren 2017