Wolf Creek Ch. 19bysr71plt©
William Hagen met Ada at the top of the gangplank up to the deck of the Ada George. The two were still hugging tightly when Ada's son, Daniel Raven, puffed up the ladder and put foot to deck.
"I see you've found Mr. Hagen," Dan said dryly. "He wouldn't stay home, and if it hadn't been for him, this wouldn't have happened—at least as quickly as it did."
"Good, sweet, reliable William," Ada was murmuring through her tears of surprise and relief. "And is this the last of your surprises, Dan? Mother's not at all sure she could survive another."
But there was one last surprise and not a particularly welcome one, although survive it Ada did.
Dan and William quickly escorted Ada through a door and to a somewhat cleaner and more refined cabin area below the deck of the merchant steamer. While doing so, both men examined the harbor area around them, looking for any sign that the boarding had been observed by the Japanese or anyone who would serve the Japanese.
As they entered a small lounge and mess area that was to be shared by the cabins of the secret travelers, Ada gasped at what was blocking the doorway. J. Harvey Kincaid in all of his charismatic glory, fairly glowing in the waning light from beyond the portholes and holding his arms wide to embrace his erstwhile lover. Ada went on the offensive, giving him a brief hug of her own to keep up appearances but dancing away from his enclosing arms before he could catch her up in his enticing web once more.
The four sat at the mess table, while Dan and William provided some explanation—and Kincaid sank into a somewhat pensive mood.
". . . and so, with the congressman's help and the help of that ambassador, we had the means to do this," Dan was saying. "But it took Mr. Hagen to show us how well and how quickly all of the pieces could fit together. The Ada George was already here, preparing to take in a cargo of tapioca for export to Brazil. That met our needs perfectly. Dan and I flew out to Australia by the southern route, keeping out of the Japanese areas as much as possible. And then we took a smaller steamer up here. We could have brought you out sooner, if we'd arrived sooner."
"And Mr. Kincaid?" Ada asked. She had noted that Dan hadn't mentioned Seni Pramoj directly or given specifics on how she had been whisked out of Malaya. She also noted that J. H. hadn't figured in Dan's rescue plans as he described them. So why was he here, she wondered. And having wondered it, she voiced the question to her eldest son.
"Ummm. He comes in on the money end," Dan replied.
"I'm already a war correspondent, Ada," J. Harvey spoke up for the first time. "You know me, quick to the mark."
Boy did she know that was the truth, Ada thought bitterly. Always the opportunist.
Kincaid caught the facial expression that went with the thought, and it gave him slight pause. He never had been able to figure out why Ada had suddenly gone so cold on him. Of course it hadn't particularly worried him either. He wasn't given to pondering the needs or emotions of those around him. But then he continued.
"I'm working for the Times now. I already was in Australia, looking for a way to get to southern China, when the Japanese pounced. I met up with your Dan there, and I made a call into the Times and cleared a little change in my assignment. The Times threw some extra money into the rescue project's kitty, which helped Dan, William, and me to get on the boat up here through dangerous waters. And, here I am." He smiled broadly as if no other explanation—or greater event—was desired than that he deigned to be here.
"Your assignment? What's your assignment?" Ada's suspicion was only outweighed by her confusion.
"You. You're my assignment. The famous artist and ambassador's wife escaping from the Japanese. You, Ada Raven."
Ada gave him that "you're kidding" look.
"It's true. You're news, Ada. Or at least the Times can make you news. My original assignment was tracking the mystery of the disappearance of Estelle and her husband over Hainan Island. The Times had already published my preliminary articles on that. And Estelle and Quinten had been headed for a visit to you when they disappeared. I convinced the Times that I could reangle the story since now there's no way I'm getting the Hainan island, not with the Japanese crawling all over the South Pacific. But I can segue out of that story line with a scintillating story of the rescue from Japanese invasion of Ada Raven, the famous painter and widow of a hero ambassador. You know that your Stanfield is already a tragic hero in the States for his evacuation efforts, don't you?"
"And rightly so, I'd say," Ada said somewhat heatedly. She was in no mood to discuss her husband with a former lover.
"So, now," Kincaid said, taking a pen and small pad of paper from his jacket pocket. "The boys here have been pretty sketchy about this daring rescue. It's time to titillate our readers."
"No, I don't think so," Ada said somewhat haughtily. "I certainly won't tell you any more than they have. People put their lives on the line for me—and what they did for me was only a kind side service for more important activities. You're just going to have to make a fascinating story from what can be passed on in general. I think you can do that, J. H."
Kincaid chose to take this in stride because, of course, he could easily weave a great story out of this for the readers of the Times. "You know me so well, Ada," he simply said. And both Dan and William gave him somewhat startled looks when he said this, because neither of them had any inkling just how well Ada had known Kincaid—or how often and deeply he had known her.
Later in the evening, after they had taken a light dinner, Kincaid at last was able to isolate Ada enough from her son and Hagen to whisper a message in her ear.
"Tonight, my love. I will visit your cabin tonight."
But she whispered back. "And if you do, you'll find the door locked."
He did visit and the door was locked. He tapped on it for a few minutes, but Ada was planted on the bunk of her cabin, her eyes held tightly shut, her fists covering her ears, and her mind summoning up the visage of Sun Li and calculating how she could return to his side—just as soon as it was safe enough to do so.
Ada had resolved after she had awakened from the harrowing nightmare the previous afternoon on the Maha Chakri, and able, even if she hadn't wanted to, to remember every damning, guilt-ridden aspect of it up until Sun Li had entered the dream and had entered into her and calmed her, that she would return to him as soon as possible. It would only add shame to guilt to reject all of the trouble her loved ones had gone to to rescue her and to fly back into his arms now—if, of course, there was any way to do that through enemy lines. But as soon as the blush was off this episode, she would find a way to return. She didn't care that there was a world war raging. Her happiness was in Sun Li's arms. And Sun Li's world was removed enough from her own that if she was with him, she wouldn't be planting further grief in the lives of her family and friends.
All of this resolve dissolved later the same day, however, as Dan came out and sat beside her in the deck chairs in the covered passage outside their cabins. It was perhaps a bit soon for them to be out on deck, but Ada simply couldn't be cooped up any longer in that confined space with three men who had been such an overwhelming part of the life she wanted to leave.
"Mother, you might be wondering why Hugh isn't here too," Dan said as he sat down beside her. They were keeping to the shadows and below the railing as much as they could. They had steamed pretty far out into the Gulf of Siam already, but they were following the curve of the Thai coast, and all of the land they could see now was in Japanese hands. They, by no means, were anywhere close to safety yet. The world had been tossed into danger and uncertainty. They would be looking for the wake of torpedoes all the way across the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
"Oh, Lord, no," Ada said with a quick little laugh. "I'm overwhelmed that any of you are here. Hugh has a family and a ranch to look after."
"Well, no he doesn't, actually, Mother. Hugh is in Norfolk, Virginia."
This news took Ada's breath away. "What? How? When?"
"Right after Pearl Harbor, he signed up for the Navy. He went right off to Norfolk. I don't know if he's been assigned a ship yet, and we probably wouldn't be told if he had. But I know he isn't at the ranch."
"So, is Jess . . .?"
"No, Mother, the world is just exploding. Jess Wolf was in the Colorado National Guard. He's already been enlisted in the Army and has shipped out for Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The word is that the Colorado Guard guys will be going to the European Theater soon."
"Oh . . . then our ranch . . . and Jess's too . . .?"
"Beth is doing a great job, but it's overwhelming for her. She wasn't born to it. And Aunt Martha and Thad are there, but Thad isn't doing well at all . . . and they are getting pretty old . . ."
"And they need me to come back to Wolf Creek. . . ." Ada saved Dan the trouble of saying it by saying it herself. And thus ended her brief fantasy of running away from her rescuers into the Genting Highlands and Sun Li's arms. The greater world was going to keep its grip on her after all. She had responsibilities, and she would step up to them as fully and loyally as her friends and family had done in arranging this daring rescue of her from half way across a war-torn world.
She was still somewhat stunned and feeling sorry for herself after Dan left her side and when J. Harvey Kincaid slid into the deck chair beside her. He was carrying a deck blanket, which he proceeded to stretch over their laps.
"It's cold out here," he said with a sloppy grin on his face, "We wouldn't want to catch our death's of cold, would we?"
"Cold?" Ada said with surprise. "It's not cold. I'm sweating. It's hot."
"And likely to get much hotter, my dear," Kincaid said, as he reached for Ada's hand under the blanket and brought it to his crotch, showing her how much he wanted her.
"J. H., no!" Ada said sharply, trying to pull her hand away, trembling at the renewed knowledge of the strength of him and desperately wanting Sun Li between her legs. He grasped her wrist tight in his hand, though, and held it to the bulge in his trousers. He was cupping her mound roughly under the blanket with his other hand. He was assured of himself. He had known Ada intimately many times already. He would get what he wanted.
Ada forced her eyes to look over his shoulder and down the stretch of corridor. "Dan!" she said, as if in surprise that her son was standing there.
Kincaid flinched and turned his head, giving Ada the opportunity she needed to escape his grasp and bound out of her chair. No one was really there, of course.
Ada had escaped Kincaid physically but not necessarily emotionally. For all her resolve to remain true to Sun Li at this point, Kincaid had aroused her appetites. She was distraught and disgusted with herself that she had these appetites that could so easily be aroused. She lay, naked on her bunk that night, quietly crying. Her breasts where trembling and shimmying and she was panting shallowly, as she rubbed the fingers of her hand between her thighs, bringing herself to the brink and then cooling down and then bringing herself to the brink again. Seeking release and relief from the needs she could not deny she had and would have to fight against across two oceans—knowing that powerful, masterful, desirable relief was just two cabins away from her.
Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, William Hagen built up the courage finally to ask Ada to marry him.
With great sadness and an obviously difficult effort to control her emotions, Ada regretfully declined.
"Is there someone else?" was all once-again disappointed Hagen could ask.
"Yes, there's someone else, I'm afraid," Ada answered in a small voice, her thoughts going to that waterfall cascading outside the Genting Highlands open pavilion of her lover tribal chieftain.