Seth woke up as the sun shined into the battle wagon’s bedroom window. Kaitlyn was still asleep, her body rising and falling, her breathing relaxed. He snuck out of bed, slipped on a shirt and his sweat pants, and went into the salon to start the coffee maker, then looked out the windows. Nobody was up yet. He picked up his phone. Only six. Geez.
“Hey, you up already?” Kaitlyn asked from the bedroom. He walked back in there.
“I woke up because of the sun shining on my face,” he said. “You don’t have to get up yet, if you’re not ready.”
“You could always come back in bed, you know,” she said, pulling back the covers to show herself to him.
He moaned and joined her. They kissed passionately.
“You still have clothes on,” she whispered, tugging the shirt over his head. He slipped out of his sweats and ravished her, both of them caught in the moment together, not caring about anything or anybody but each other.
“Wow,” Kaitlyn said as Seth rolled off her. “This just keeps getting better.”
“I know,” Seth said. “When are we getting married?”
“Maybe today, if things aren’t crazy,” Kaitlyn said. “Everybody’s here.”
“Yes, everybody’s here,” Seth said. “What were you going to tell me about your mom and dad?”
She looked at him, her eyes showing pain. “It didn’t work. They’ve been unhappy for a long time. The elders let them dissolve their marriage.”
“Oh,” Seth said. “I’m sorry. Where is your dad? Is he with us?”
“No, he left the tribe for a while,” Kaitlyn said.
“You don’t look too upset about that.”
“We never got along,” Kaitlyn said, “and by the way, he has a big problem with women in the tribe wedding men from outside.”
“You never seemed worried about that.”
“I knew this was coming, and I knew he’d be leaving. Happened earlier than I thought.”
“So, your mom really was flirting with Garrett, then, wasn’t she?”
Kaitlyn giggled. “Not seriously, but I’ll bet she’d give him a good roll in the hay.”
“He does like her,” Seth said. “I could tell by the way he was looking at her.”
“She’s a little on the hefty side,” Kaitlyn said. “A little bottom heavy. I’m liable to get that way, you know.”
“Yeah, especially after you have all the babies I’m going to put in you.”
“Stop it,” she said. “You just can’t wait, can you?”
“Neither can you,” Seth said. “Deny it.”
She looked at him, her eyes misting. “No, I don’t deny it. You’re my man and I’m your woman. It’s what we do.”
“It is,” Seth said. “Can I get up now?”
She grabbed her pillow and hit him in the head.
“Oh, you want to play, do you?” Seth asked, picking up his pillow and doing the same.
“Stop! We don’t want to break these. They aren’t ours.”
Seth laughed. “Okay, okay. You’re right.” His phone dinged.
“Uh oh,” Kaitlyn said, eyes showing fear.
Seth looked at the phone. “No worries, it’s just a meeting. In an hour.”
“We should get up and eat, then,” Kaitlyn said.
“Don’t worry, they’re feeding us breakfast,” Seth said. “This is early for a meeting. Must be something important.”
“Well, if we don’t need to eat, maybe you can keep me occupied for a while,” Kaitlyn said.
“Yeah, maybe,” Seth said, turning towards her. Then there was a knock on the door. Seth laughed. “So much for that.” He went to the door and looked out the window.
“Who is it?” Kaitlyn asked,
“Angel and Megan,” Seth said. “Get dressed.”
“Okay,” she said.
Seth cracked the door. “Give us a minute. We’re not decent.”
“We already knew that,” Angel said.
“Hardy har har,” Seth said as he shut the door. He got dressed in the bedroom. Kaitlyn opened the door while he finished.
“Good morning,” Megan said.
“Good morning to you,” Kaitlyn said. “Uh oh, what’s up? I’ve seen that grin before.”
“We had a little chat with Tyler,” Megan said.
“You did, did you?” Seth asked as he came out of the bedroom. “We were just talking about that.”
“Backing out already?” Angel asked.
“Yeah, right,” Seth said, pulling Kaitlyn close to him. “I can’t wait, and that’s the truth.”
“You got the meeting notice, right?” Kaitlyn asked.
“Meeting notice?” Angel asked, reaching for his phone. “Oh, yeah, here it is. My phone ringer was off.”
“Oh, crap, what now?” Megan asked.
“Just a meeting with breakfast,” Angel said. “Ji-Ho and Garrett are holding it.”
“Well, I hope it isn’t something that will foil our plans with Tyler,” Kaitlyn said.
“Me too,” Megan said. “We’ve got to get this done sooner rather than later.”
“There’s that look again,” Kaitlyn said.
Seth laughed. “Damn, dude, you knocked her up already, didn’t you?”
Angel snickered. “Knocked her up? How crude.”
“Megan?” Kaitlyn asked, looking her up and down.
“Alright, alright, I’m late. Might be nothing. It has been a little stressful, and that plays hell with my clock.”
“Why’s your face turning so red?” Seth asked.
“Yeah, imagine if she was a white girl,” Angel said. Megan elbowed him.
“Stop that,” she said. “Don’t tell anybody else, okay? This is bad enough as it is.”
“Not even Trevor?” Seth asked, a sly grin on his face.
“Oh, geez, then Kaylee would know,” Megan said.
Seth laughed. “You’ll be lucky to beat those two.”
“Are they getting married?” Megan asked.
“Not with Tyler,” Kaitlyn said. “I think they want to go into town and find a Justice of the Peace.”
Angel looked at Megan. “Do you want to do it that way too?”
“You mean instead of Tyler?” she asked.
“No, afterwards,” Angel said. “It probably makes a difference in California, you know.”
“Indian ceremonies aren’t valid here?” Seth asked. “Never heard that.”
“No, you’re not getting me,” Angel said. “It’s all about the marriage license. All kinds of things are affected. You know that.”
“Oh, yeah,” Seth said. “It’s not like we have to do a second ceremony. We just get the license and fill it all out.”
“Maybe I want to have that kind of ceremony too,” Kaitlyn said.
“Yeah,” Megan said.
“See what you started, man?” Seth asked. He and Angel laughed.
“Let’s go get a good seat for breakfast,” Megan said.
“Yeah,” Angel said, “and no mimosas for you, mother of my children.”
Megan punched him in the arm as they left the coach.
“We’ll be along in a few minutes,” Kaitlyn said. “Save us some seats.”
Megan turned back at her and nodded.
“Whoa,” Seth said as he closed the door. “Think Megan is right?”
“About being late? She would know that.”
“No, about being pregnant,” Seth said. “You know what I meant.”
She giggled. “Yes, I know what you meant. I’ve been late once too.”
“No, really? You didn’t say anything.”
“False alarm,” she said as they stepped out of the coach.
“Oh,” Seth said. Kaitlyn grabbed his arm and stopped, turning towards him.
“Crap, you’re disappointed that it was a false alarm, aren’t you?”
“Maybe a little,” Seth said. “I told you what I was feeling about this, remember?”
“I thought it was just about tying the knot.”
“It was about everything,” Seth said, face turning red. “Sorry.”
“Sorry? Are you kidding?” she asked, pulling him in for a kiss.
“Hey, people are watching us,” he whispered.
“So what,” Kaitlyn said. She got a wild look on her face and then kissed him again, harder and longer. They broke it, their breath coming fast.
“You’re something,” Seth whispered.
“We’re in love, and everybody knows it,” Kaitlyn said. “Why hide it?”
“I wasn’t trying to hide it,” Seth said.
“Uh huh,” Kaitlyn said as they climbed the steps of the veranda. Anna was just inside the door of the house.
“Great, you’re here,” Anna said. “Kaitlyn, want to assist me with Hasan? We need to check his dressing.”
“Sure,” Kaitlyn said. “See you in a few, sweetie.”
Seth nodded and went looking for Angel and Megan. They were at a table near the far end of the big room, and waved him over.
“Where’s Kaitlyn?” Megan asked.
“Assisting her mom with the prisoner,” Seth said.
“Oh, yeah, I was gonna ask you about that,” Angel said. “Is he going to be as useful as I’ve been hearing?”
“Depends on what you’ve been hearing, I guess,” Seth said as he sat down.
“C’mon,” Angel said.
“He was doing hacking for the enemy. He was part of the intel team.”
“No crap?” Angel asked.
“How do we know we can believe him?” Megan asked.
“We don’t know, yet,” Seth said. “We’ll see how his stories play out.”
“Where are we gonna keep him?” Angel asked. “When I saw him sleeping, he had a leg iron and a wrist iron on. Didn’t look comfortable, not that he was noticing at the time.”
“Yeah, he was out,” Megan said.
“I heard Garrett talking about the jail at Dodge City,” Seth said.
“They have a jail?” Angel asked. “Figures.”
“Garrett likes Kaitlyn’s mom,” Megan said.
“He likes women,” Seth said. “I’ve seen him check out every woman here. Not in a bad way, exactly, but he enjoys looking at them.”
“Wonder if there are women at Dodge City?” Megan asked.
“I’d assume so,” Angel said. “Here comes Kaitlyn.”
“Hey, guys,” Kaitlyn said, sitting next to Seth. “Breakfast is almost done. Of course, they had to clean up our operating room before they could cook.”
“Eeewwwww,” Megan said.
“Oh, don’t worry, mom and I cleaned it up pretty good after we were done.”
“Where’s Hasan?” Seth asked.
“In the bedroom on the south-east corner of the house.”
“I don’t know east from west,” Seth said.
Kaitlyn rolled her eyes. “Paleface.”
Megan and Angel laughed.
“So sue me,” Seth said. “I’m no Daniel Boone.”
“He’s up the stairs, on the back hallway, all the way to the left,” Kaitlyn said. “Better?”
“Yeah,” Seth said.
“Food is ready,” Ji-Ho said from the kitchen archway. “Line up, get food, then we talk.”
People got up quickly and headed for the line, a mixture of tribal folks, Garrett’s men, and the original group.
“I think I’ll wait until the line dies down a little bit,” Kaitlyn said.
“No problem,” Seth said. Anna walked over, drying her hands with a paper towel.
“That wasn’t so bad,” she said. “Mind if I join you guys?”
“Sure, mom,” Kaitlyn said.
“By all means,” Seth said.
“Can we join too?” Trevor asked, walking over with Kaylee.
“Have a seat,” Angel said.
“I’m getting in the food line first,” Kaylee said, setting her bag down on the table. Trevor nodded and followed her to the line.
“I figured you’d be sitting with Garrett,” Megan said to Anna, a twinkle in her eye.
“Stop,” Anna said.
Kaitlyn chuckled. “We’re all on to you, mom. Forget it.”
Anna got a sly grin on her face. “He’s one of the speakers.”
“Oh, so that’s why you’re with us instead,” Megan said.
“There’s nothing going on between Garrett and me,” she said. “We just like talking to each other.”
“Oh, you’ve spoken since we did the procedure last night?” Kaitlyn asked.
“A little,” Anna said.
“What’s a little?” Kaitlyn asked.
“Okay, we talked for a few hours last night,” Anna said. “It’s no big deal.”
“Were you horizontal when you were talking?” Megan asked. Angel laughed out loud, then covered his mouth.
“Sorry,” he said.
“It was an innocent conversation,” Anna said. “Really. Probably won’t get you guys to quit teasing me.”
“Probably not,” Kaitlyn said. “Don’t get hurt.”
Anna chuckled. “Please. I’m not looking for a relationship with anybody, but I enjoy the company of men. Always have. You know that.”
“Yes, I know that,” Kaitlyn said. “I’m getting in line. Coming?” She got up and Seth joined her.
“I need to have a talk with Megan,” Kaitlyn whispered. “I don’t want her saying stuff like she just did to my mom.”
“The horizontal comment,” Kaitlyn said. “She’s still my mom. I don’t like to think about her like that.”
Seth shook his head. “Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that to come out of her mouth. Either was Angel. Good thing he didn’t have a mouthful of food when she said that.”
“Seriously,” Kaitlyn said. The line moved quickly. Soon they all had their breakfast plates, and were back at the tables. Ji-Ho got up in the front of the room, helping a couple other people move things around. Then they brought in a flat screen TV, sitting on a tray with wheels.
“Wonder what that’s for?” Megan asked.
“That was a drink tray,” Seth said. “I saw it in the parlor.”
“I remember,” Anna said.
Garrett joined Ji-Ho and the others near the TV, and helped connect a cable to the back. They plugged it in and turned it on.
“Can I have attention, please?” Ji-Ho asked.
The talking came down to a soft murmur. Ji-Ho took out his phone, and plugged it into the cable. “Please watch screen.”
The screen showed a map program.
“This long-range application developed by General Hogan’s group,” Ji-Ho said. “See icons? Each represent one enemy fighter.”
“Where is that?” asked Kaylee.
“El Cajon,” Ji-Ho said.
“Hasan was right, then,” Trevor said. “Where is he, by the way? We need to make sure he doesn’t hear this. Isn’t he in the house?”
“He’s on some really strong pain meds,” Anna said. “He’ll be out for several hours.”
“And there’s two guards right outside his door,” Garrett said. “We’re fine.”
“Do we have access to this technology now?” Clem asked. John and Sarah were next to him, eyes glued to the screen. Sid and Yvonne were at their table too.
“This would’ve saved our friends at the RV Park,” Sarah said softly. Yvonne nodded in agreement.
“General Hogan’s group has provided access to the leadership team only,” Sam said, getting up to stand next to Ji-Ho. “Fortunately that will be enough. Want me to explain how the apps work and what they do, Ji-Ho?”
“Please, your English much better.”
Sam nodded as Ji-Ho took a seat, and then he went through the short-range and long-range app, showing them how they work and where the enemy fighters are, both locally and nation-wide. The people watched in awe.
“Any questions?” Sam asked.
“Why aren’t they just releasing these wide?” John asked.
“The final piece not in place yet,” Ji-Ho said.
“What is the final piece?” Sid asked.
“Name and rank,” Ji-Ho said.
“Oh, so they can use this to ID the traitors in Washington DC,” John said. “Smart.”
“Yes,” Sam said. “But remember what I said. This is top secret. Anybody on the leadership team who gets captured must destroy their phone, if at all possible.”
“There’s a good chance they wouldn’t notice the apps anyway,” Garrett said.
“True, if we are captured by the usual run-of-the-mill Islamist,” Sam said.
“Hasan would figure it out in a hurry,” Seth said.
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “You right about that.”
“How long are we gonna keep Hasan?” Sarah asked.
“As long as he’s willing to cooperate,” Sam said.
“I suspect that will be for the duration,” Anna said. “He was only partly lucid when we changed his dressing. He really does hate the Caliphate. He was babbling on about it.”
“Yes, I agree,” Kaitlyn said. Erica saw her from near the front of the room and shot her a smile. When the presentation was done, she made her way over.
“Hey, kiddo,” Erica said. Kaitlyn got up and hugged her tight. “Sorry I didn’t come look you up last night.”
“Oh, please,” Kaitlyn said. “How long were you two up during the last part of the trek?”
“Thirty-six hours, give or take,” Erica said.
“Sam is your man now, isn’t he?” Anna asked.
Erica smiled. “Don’t tell anybody.”
Megan laughed. “Everybody knows, dearie.”
Sam walked over. “How are you all doing? Congrats on the battle.”
“Same to you,” Trevor said, shaking Sam’s hand. “It’s going to get easier now.”
“Within a specific window, yes,” Sam said. “They’ll figure out we can see them pretty quickly.”
“Won’t they just start removing the chips?” Kaylee asked.
“No, they won’t,” Anna said. “Those were put in way too deep. I think somebody put them in that deep to discourage deserters. Digging that chip out of Hasan was about as far as I’d go without being in a clean operating room. He might get infected because of this. We’ll have to keep a close eye on him. No way would the enemy be able to remove thousands of these things without losing a lot of their soldiers.”
“You think so?” Erica asked.
“Sounds like something Saladin would do to me,” Sam said.
“Maybe they’re not all planted that deep,” Trevor said. “We’ve got to deal with the other two bodies, right? Maybe instead of just burning them up we should dig the chips out first.”
“That’s a good idea,” Sam said. “We should do that. Do we know where the bodies are?”
“They’re behind the house,” Trevor said. “I helped the team drag them over.”
“Then let’s do it,” Kaitlyn said.
“Wait a minute,” Anna said. “I’ve got to go change into my other clothes. I’m not ruining two outfits.”
Kaitlyn and Megan chuckled.
Trevor was sitting silently for a moment, thinking. Kaylee noticed.
“What’s on your mind, honey?” she asked him.
“We need to understand more about these RFID chips.”
“How do you mean?” Sam asked.
“Well, for one thing, can they be hidden by shielding,” Trevor said. “Say they come in a special vehicle that’s shielded somehow. They might show up without us seeing them on the apps.”
“Crap,” Megan said. “Now we have something new to worry about.”
“I wouldn’t get worried quite yet,” Sam said, “but it’s smart to consider that. Wish we could test.”
“Maybe we can,” Trevor said. “Wonder how much internet research we can get away with doing?”
“None,” Ji-Ho said, walking over. “I hear conversation. Good thoughts, but no internet search on this. We have to assume we under surveillance. Hasan make that clear with his comments. He know lot about us.”
“He’s right,” Erica said. “They might be watching what we search for, and if they see those kinds of searches, they’ll know that we know.”
“Okay, I see your point,” Trevor said.
“We still should check how deep those chips are in the others,” Sam said.
Anna sighed. “Oh, all right, I’ll go change. You’d better too, Kaitlyn.”
“Yes, mom,” Kaitlyn said. The two women left, one heading for the stairs, the other to the door. Seth looked at Sam.
“Maybe we ought to be asking Hasan about this.”
Sam shook his head no. “We don’t want him to know what we know yet, either. What if he escapes, or can get a message out somehow?”
“Dammit,” Megan said. “Just when I get to thinking we’re out of the woods, I get reminded that we are still in a war for our lives.”
“Good thing to keep in mind,” Ji-Ho said.
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