It took mere seconds for her to regain any composure she might have lost at the shock of seeing him. She grew up within the British intelligence community and they had trained her young to be quick on her feet.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I came to get you. We have to go.”
“He’s back in London. Someone else was after your mark apparently. They want to know who beat them to it, and they’re making noise.”
“Oh?” she asked. “Anyone we know?”
“No, these are young thugs. No discipline and certainly not polished.”
“Well, I suppose we should go then.” She turned and headed to the cabin. Luke started to follow, and then stopped. She felt him pause and stopped to look at him. “Coming?” she asked.
“No, I’ll wait here.”
“Suit yourself.” As she turned back she smiled to herself. He doesn’t want to go in, she mused. He’s as afraid to remember as I am to forget. She might have laughed at this idea, if she thought he wouldn't hear her.
She understood his resistance. If she had any sense, she would’ve resisted it too. This cabin was a safe house they found together, quite on accident. They were on a hike after a job in the area and ran across it. It was perfect, nestled as it was so far from anything, yet still accessible by car. Although the house was a common house for anyone in the crew, there was no denying it belonged to her and Luke. They spent a lot of time there and managed to make it their own.
When she walked back out shortly thereafter, she glanced over at Luke. He was still positioned exactly as she had left him. When he saw her, he walked over and grabbed her bag. They got in the car under a blanket of silence and drove away.
When they reached the road that led to the clearing, she noticed it didn’t seem as narrow as it had when she drove in. Suddenly everything about this road seemed apparent. I suppose it was the darkness, she thought. It always hides things. And that is why I prefer the night.
“Why don’t you rest,” Luke suggested. “This may be a long ride.”
Hope nodded and leaned back in her seat and shut her eyes.
She woke when the car came to a stop. The sun was just setting over the horizon.
“Where are we?” Hope asked.
“Just crossed into Austria. I’m going to gas up before we head into the mountains.”
She got out to stretch her legs and get a drink. After they got back in the car and pulled out onto the road, Luke began to speak.
“I know where you’ve been, what I don’t know is why. It was my understanding that you were never going back there. So tell me, how are the folks?”
He knew he had hit a nerve, no matter how unintentional. “I’m sorry, Hope. I wasn’t referring to your birth parents. I was talking about Jane and Max, the ones that raised you.”
“I know,” she said. She looked out the window at the passing scenery to collect her thoughts before speaking again.
“Jane and Max are fine…now. I went back because I had too. They needed my help and I couldn’t refuse them. They got mixed in with some bad informants. I had to help get rid of their excess fat.” She paused. “But that’s not why I left. I left because…” she stopped short of finishing the sentence.
“Because of Benny?” he asked. “Was him getting set up the reason you left?”
“Yes,” she said quietly.
They were in complete darkness now. The sky was clear, and the only lights aside from the car were from the distant stars.
“You know it wasn’t your fault,” he said.
“Yes it was. If I hadn’t told that prick of an agent why we were in town, he wouldn’t have got caught.” The memory both saddened and angered her. And she could never decide which emotion was stronger.
“No, I’m telling you, it wasn’t your fault. That’s why I had Jack call you back. I wanted to let you know you were the one that was set up to take that fall.”
“Excuse me? Are you telling me someone got the drop on me?”
He gave a little grin at that statement, knowing it bothered her tremendously to not always be on top. “Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”
“Who the hell was it?” she growled.
“It was Benny. He set you up to set him up so he could flip without it looking like that’s what he was doing. He doesn’t know I’ve figured that out, but I’ll confront him one day.”
She started to say something else when she noticed a reflection of light bouncing off the side view mirror. As she turned around, Luke looked in the rearview mirror.
“It seems we have company,” he said.
***tbc (just one more time :)