Our Little Secret Ch. 10


"What if the next one is in Europe, or Africa?" Joel asked.

"We've thought about that. Our first priority is protecting American interests. We will assist others if that's what's needed to protect ourselves."

"And what would my role be?"

"Just what you're doing now. You will be the man on the inside -- the man who understands what's going on."

"You don't want to use my powers in the field?" Joel asked.

"Are you offering?" Colonel Greene asked.

"Under the right circumstances," Joel shrugged.

"Yeah," Greene shook his head, "we're stuck on that one. The risks are too big with the Government behind that kind of action on US soil. Maybe in foreign theaters." Greene dried his hands. "Anyway, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's solve your impossible problem first, then we'll talk."

"And you'll take over my surveillance team," Joel assumed.

"Not for now. We need to talk about that, but not here." Joel figured he was in one of the most secure establishments there was. If not here, then where?

When they returned to the control room, everyone was waiting.

"Everyone good to continue?" Colonel Greene asked without singling out the woman major.

They started up the four synchronized videos again. Joel pointed out another screen. "This is Jessica Morgan," he announced, recognizing her from her picture. "She is the one who was killed." They watched her fellate the tall large man, and then bend over the table, and yell when he started fucking her.

"Can you pause please," the woman major asked. The captain looked at Joel, and he nodded. "I just have a question. I have noticed several women, including this one, in discomfort or pain during sex. Do you know why?"

"The power makes women compliant, but not amorous," Joel explained. "If anything, they are frightened and nervous. Their natural lubricants are not working at this point. Couple that with the roughness of their ... ah partners, for lack of a better word ..."

"Okay, I get it," she nodded.

Joel nodded to the captain, and he continued. After the overweight man fucked Jessica, her owner ordered her to masturbate on the table, and one of the cameras documented the entire episode. When she finished after ten minutes, Joel said, "Pause." The captain paused the video playback.

He looked at all four screens. "Does anyone know what happened to Jessica's partner -- the tall fat guy? Where is he?"

"I haven't seen him for a while," Major Steven said.

"I think he made her masturbate and left," the woman major said.

"Look at her," Joel said. "Watch her face. I think that's what went wrong."

"Explain," Colonel Greene said.

"She was ordered to obey her partner, but her partner left. So who is she obeying?" Joel looked at blank faces in the control room. "She is like a cruise missile," he used an analogy he thought they would understand, "that, after launch, lost all targeting and navigation logic."

"She's a floater?" the woman major asked.

"I think so, and no one picked up on it." He nodded at the captain, and play resumed. Most of the men had finished with their girls, but one was still fucking a girl. "That's Ryan Bradley," he pointed at the man standing on the inside of the table, fucking a girl. "He brought Jessica to the dinner party, and he is dead too."

"Look at her eyes," the woman major called out. "Look how focused she is. She's locked on to him. I think this cruise missile found a new target."

The bell rang. "No!" they all yelled in the control room, as the close-up of Jessica panned away from her. "Right screen!" someone called out. It was a wide shot of the whole room, but you could just see Jessica. Ryan was gone. Jessica had her back to the table. Then Ryan stood up on the outer edge of the table. Just as he reached full height, Jessica spun around. She was holding a knife, and the long blade disappeared into his gut.

"Pause," Joel barked out. "Back up ten seconds. Can we blow up that right screen?" He zoomed in one area of the right screen where Jessica was standing, and then restarted from ten seconds earlier, but all the other screens were still normal. "There!" Joel pointed.

"The knife went right through him!" Major Steve called out as the tip of the knife appeared momentarily in his back. Ryan staggered backward, hitting the table, and she stabbed him again, and again, and a further time, before someone off camera yelled "STOP!". A different camera panned toward the voice, and there plain as day was William Fieldman. "That, ladies and gentlemen, is William Fieldman, known in last night's episode of Insight as 'Jim'." There was a general cheer as they now had solid evidence William Fieldman was behind this.

"Slit your own throat hard!" Fieldman called out, and a close-up went to Jessica on another screen. The terror in her eyes was unmistakable -- she knew what she was doing when she drew the knife hard across her neck with both hands, and cut it deep into her flesh. "Oh Jesus Christ!" Major Steve cried out as the blood spurted clear across the room, and Jessica collapsed forward onto Ryan, and they both toppled into a heap on the floor.

Two video screens went dark while the other two followed the floor as the cameramen scurried out of the room. Then all screens went dark. Joel checked the clock. It was nearly midnight.

"Okay, guys," Colonel Greene said to the group. "Now we know what we're up against. If these guys can do this, they can bring down a 747. They can crash a train, sink a ship. And they can do it all by charming someone else to do the dirty work."

Colonel Green paused, and then continued. "We are going to need every advantage we can identify, locate, and neutralize this enemy. And make no mistake. We are fighting an enemy of the United States of America, as decreed by your Commander in Chief." Greene waited for that to sink in."

"Go home to your families and to those people that are precious to you, and know in your heart why you are here. Law enforcement cannot touch these guys. At least, not until they make laws to deal with this kind of domestic combatant. We, ladies and gentlemen, are what stands between that," he pointed at the blank screens, "and the American people. Take the weekend. Be with your loved ones. Then come in on Monday morning, and then be prepared to work your God damned asses off for the next year."

"Sir, is he going to help us?" Major Steve asked, pointing at Joel.

"We certainly hope so," Colonel Green nodded.

"Honestly, Sir, I don't see how we do this without him."

"I'm putting the thumb screws to him next," Colonel Greene smiled. Joel suddenly became certain Colonel Greene would, in fact, accomplish the impossible -- and at a steep price.

- - -

Jenny was into her second week at Google. Already she was weighing into HR issues while drinking from the fire hose of knowledge. She knew coming up to speed in a new position would take a lot of work, so Jenny poured herself into her new job. Jenny preferred exhaustion to the pain and humiliation that came from spare moments when she thought of Joel.

Jenny always knew there was something wrong with that first night -- the night she brought him home and had sex with him on a first date. She had only slept with two other men, and never on a first date -- hell, not until a tenth date -- and with Joel, it wasn't even a proper date.

And those pictures she asked him to take of her, and then she even emailed one to him. Jenny never did things like that -- never. She knew better. Jenny chalked it up the beer, but in her heart she knew that wasn't it. Jenny had been more inebriated than that before, and hadn't lost that kind of control.

Something was wrong with that night, and Jenny could never put her finger on it until the moment she saw that horrid Sally Jamison story on Insight. And then she knew. She just knew what had happened that night.

Joel raped her. There was no other way to say it. Worse, he made her think it was her idea. Everything in their relationship after that was a lie.

It made Jenny feel sick to her stomach to think she was considering a long term relationship with the man who raped her and tricked her into loving him. So Jenny immersed herself in work, day and night.

On Tuesday September 15, Jenny was celebrating her first week's anniversary at Google. She stayed late as usual. Don was leaving the office, and he poked his head in her door. "Jenny," he offered, "we know you don't know everything on day one. You can take some time to come up to speed."

"I know," she sighed. "I just want to get this transition document done, then I'll go home."

"Ellie would like to have you over for supper on Thursday night, after work. I have always found it best to agree with Ellie in these matters," Don mused. It had already come up in casual conversation that Joel did not come out with Jenny, and Jenny offered no further details. Don avoided any embarrassment by not mentioning him.

Jen looked up. She knew there was more to it than that. Don was concerned Jenny was going to burn out on start-up. She let out a deep sigh. "Tell Ellie I would love to come over. I don't have the cool sports rental car for the boys, though," she smiled. "What can I bring?"

"Ellie mentioned a salad," Don guessed.

"Thursday, right? I'd love to," Jen smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow morning."

On Wednesday night, Jen bought fixings for a salad on the way home from work. The temporary house Google found was fine, but it lacked many amenities, like a proper salad bowl, so she bought an olive wood salad bowl and serving forks for two hundred dollars.

The corgis barked and spun around as Jen carefully opened the door. This house did not have a vestibule like her Boston home, so she had bought a child gate to put across the hallway, but twice already the industrious pooches had defeated it. This time they were still behind the gate.

Late on Wednesday night she made the salad and dressing, and tossed it into the new bowl while the dogs played in the back hard. She covered the salad bowl with plastic wrap, put the salad in the fridge, brought the dogs in, and then Jenny collapsed into bed. She set the alarm early enough to take the dogs for a run.

She nearly forgot the salad in the morning, so Jenny ran back into the house and when she did, Connie the corgi escaped out the front door. She whizzed across the street without looking. Jenny tore after her, but it took twenty minutes before she finally recovered the dog. Jenny put the corgi back in the house, and thanked her lucky stars Connie wasn't killed. She arrived at work late, but remembered to put the salad bowl in a fridge, and powered her way through the day. By four in the afternoon, Jenny realized she had forgotten lunch. She grabbed a quick snack. She was supposed to go home at noon to let the dogs out. She decided to work another hour, then go home. Time flew by, and Don darkened her door at six thirty, asking if she was ready to go.

She decided the dogs can go another few hours, so she grabbed her salad in its new bowl from the employee fridge, and followed Don to his house in her rented car. Carl and Steven were in the front yard playing basketball again. They dropped the ball to greet their father. He introduced Jenny to them, and they were bitterly disappointed she didn't have her sports car this time.

They ate around seven thirty, and the boys abandoned the table and ran upstairs an hour later. Ellie went up to check on them, and then came down. "Jenny, we're going to watch this incredible Insight story -- it's the third one of the series. Have you been following it?"

Although she missed most of the first interview, she caught up during one of the reruns they aired all week. Jen watched the second installment last week in her temporary California home. All the time she was thinking about Joel. She had a loathing fascination for it. Jenny said sure, she'd stay and watch it with them.

They were sitting in the TV room off the living room in some other wing of the house, watching the show, when Steven came in, saying he couldn't find his toothbrush.

"Donald!" Ellie called over, and Don quickly paused the live show on his PVR. The show was completely unsuitable for children, and Don instantly understood Ellie's meaning when she barked his name. Jenny had never heard Ellie call him 'Donald' before, only Don. Clearly it was a code married couples learned. A hidden, non-negotiable meaning in a simple name. Jenny liked that.

Ellie went upstairs and helped Steven find his toothbrush, and came back down. Don pressed play on the remote, and resumed the live show.

About half way through the interview, Sally Jamison was asking 'Jim' if all catnap men were endowed with this 'charm'. Jim used the term charm to depict commanding a girl to do what he wanted.

Jim replied.

Well, I don't know. I'm guessing some don't, because I was in Boston once. In this little shit hole of a bar, called Moody Monday, Terrible Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, or some stupid name like that. I recognized this catnap guy -- he didn't see me. Anyway, he's talking to this girl who's out of his league, you know what I mean? And I realize, he's just talking to her -- he's not charming her or anything. So I'm thinking, if this guy had the charm, he'd definitely use it on a fox like that. I mean, how else is a guy like him going to score on a girl like that, right? So I watch him, and he gets up and goes to the bathroom. And while he's gone, I figure I'll just help him out a little. So I go up behind the girl -- she never sees me. And I charm her to take him home and this guy's brains out -- you know, I charm her to do whatever he wants. And then I charm her to take a picture of herself naked, and send it to him. I figured he needed her picture to prove to his friends he could score on a fine girl like that. You know what I mean. "Oh sweet Jesus!" cried Jenny. Don and Ellie both looked at her stricken face, and instantly knew something was horribly wrong.

"Jenny, are you okay?" Don asked, pausing the show.

"Can you play that back again -- what that guy said -- about being the bar?"

Ellie didn't need further understanding. She stood up, walked over to Jenny, and sat beside her on the sofa, and put her arm around Jenny. Don rewound the show to the beginning of that segment of the interview, and played the whole thing back. Tears streamed down Jenny's face and her chin trembled as she watched the interview a second time. At the end, she buried her face in her hands and cried.

"Jenny," Ellie asked very softly, "he's talking about you, isn't he?" Jenny nodded but couldn't speak. "You broke up with Joel because you thought he did that." Jenny nodded again. "But now you know Joel didn't do it." She shook her head.

They sat in silence except for Jenny's sniffling of tears. "I need to go," Jenny finally said after several minutes. She wiped the tears off her face.

"Yes, you do," Ellie said, "and I'm going with you."

"No," Jenny shook her head, wiping off new tears, "you don't understand. I need to go to Boston."

"I do understand Jenny," Ellie replied softly," and I'm going with you. You are in no shape to fly across the country alone." Jenny put her arms around Ellie and sobbed out loud for a long time.

Ellie looked across the room to her husband. "Donald," she said one word, and Jenny recognized that same tone. Ellie wasn't asking. She was going to Boston, and Don was damned well helping her.

Ellie insisted Jenny was in no shape to drive. She asked Don to drive Jenny to her house. Jenny would pack what she needed, and bring her suitcase and the dogs back to the McLean house, and Don and the boys would look after the corgis while Jenny and Ellie flew to Boston. With the dogs safely ensconced in the McLean mansion, Ellie drove Jenny to the San Francisco airport, leaving Jenny's car in the McLean driveway. Ellie parked her car in the long term parking lot, and they checked in together to a seven o'clock morning flight.

They arrived at three thirty in the afternoon local time. Thankfully, Ellie only flew business class, and they both managed some sleep on the plane. Ellie rented a car out of Logan airport. Jenny knew Joel's address by heart, and Ellie programmed it into the GPS.

When they arrived at Joel's low-rise apartment building, Ellie said she would wait in the car while Jenny went upstairs. Jenny stepped out of the car and pulled out her cell phone. She called Joel from the sidewalk.

Joel saw the incoming call from Jenny. He had watched the last night's Insight as well, and was not surprised to see her call.

"Hi," Joel answered evenly.

"Hi Joel, it's Jenny," she started. "I know I have no right, and you have every reason to say no, but could I come up and talk, please? I'm downstairs."

"Sure," Joel said, "I'll buzz you up," and he hung up. Jenny heard the buzzer at the door, and she took the elevator to the fourth floor. To her surprise, Joel wasn't waiting at the door like he did in past times when she stepped out of the elevator. She knocked at the door, and Joel opened it.

Jenny had her whole spiel rehearsed. When she heard Joel at the door, Jenny sucked in a big breath. As soon as Joel opened the door, Jen stepped inside. "Joel, I just wanted to ... who's that?" she asked, looking over Joel's shoulder. A familiar looking black man was in a service military uniform. "I know who you are," Jenny now realized. "You're that Air Force guy from that interview on Insight."

"Colonel Brian Greene," he held his service cap his left hand and extended his right hand to Jenny.

Jenny stepped back without shaking his hand. "Are you here to arrest Joel?" she asked Colonel Greene warily.

"No, ma'am" Colonel Greene answered in his official tone. "I am here to thank him." Joel ushered Jenny all the way in and closed the door.

"Thank him ... what for?"

"Well, ma'am, if you promise, and I mean under penalty of imprisonment, if you promise to never, not ever tell anyone, I can show you."

Jenny gulped. "I promise," she croaked, and then cleared her throat.

"Ma'am, there's something about Mr. Winkman you don't know." Jenny said nothing. At this point, she wasn't willing to venture anything about Joel after her last colossal misreading. "What do you know about his new business?"

"He does investing in companies," she said flatly.

"Has he ever told you about any companies he invested in?"

"Well, no," she said, "but he wanted to establish a portfolio first."

"And have you ever heard of any investors yet?"

"No, but ... Joel what's going on?" she turned to Joel. Joel wished he knew, because he didn't like Colonel Greene's line of questioning.

"Ms. Riverton," Colonel Greene pressed on, "don't you find it strange Joel has been travelling all across the country all the time, and he has no companies to invest in and no investors?"

Now Jenny was frightened. "Joel, what the fuck is going on!?"

"Perhaps you heard recently about people with certain powers," Colonel Greene continued without letting Joel answer. Jenny nodded, trying not to cry. "Some people use their powers for good deeds, some use them for bad things, and then there's Joel, here," he said, pointing his cap toward Joel. "Joel uses his powers for something else." Colonel Greene waited.

"For what?" she shrugged her shoulders with open palms with annoyed impatience.

"He hunts down the bad ones, and helps the women who were affected."

"He hunts ... Joel what is he talking about?"

"Ms. Riverton, your friend here is a hunter. And a good one too. Did you see those Insight interviews?" Jenny nodded. "Jim's real name is William Fieldman. While Joel told you he was in Pheonix, he was actually in Albuquerque hunting Fieldman down, and when Joel found him, he turned Fieldman over to us."

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