On the River

July 4

“I could think of a lot of ways I would rather spend July 4th,” the tall dark-haired young man wiped sweat from his forehead as he turned the Sabre 42 Salon Express boat in the middle of the Hudson River and idled the powerful engine. “It’s barely 11:00 a.m. and the temperature’s already in the nineties with the humidity ratio not far behind.”

“How’s this?” he asked the young man and woman who were with him.

Federal Bureau of Intelligence Agent Natalie Wade scanned the shoreline through her binoculars. “Close enough. We have a great view of the dock, all three deck levels, as well as inside the house. I can’t see much of the front side of the house, but I can see enough of the driveway to tell who’ll be coming and going.”

“I don’t think we’ll find a better spot than this,” agreed the second young man. “Of course, I doubt he’ll miss seeing us.”

“That’s part of our purpose for being here. He knows he’s a suspect. We want to keep reminding him of that.” Daniel Mangan, Special Agent with the FBI, sat down on the bench next to Agent Wade. He accepted the bottle of Coke she offered, popped off the top and took a long drink.

“Although it’d be nice to cool off in the water, maybe pretend to be fishing or something today.” Dan watched as the catering staff set up tables for a large celebration at the house they were observing.

“He usually only entertains clients at these big galas, but he includes family on the Fourth. I figure he’ll feel more vulnerable today. I doubt his family even visits at his other houses and we know this is the only time he invites them here.” The second young man continued to peer through his high-powered binoculars. “I wish there were some way to let him know that he has over a dozen ATF and FBI agents in the area who are just waiting for him to slip up; not just the three of us sweating in the middle of the river.”

“He’s slick. He probably knows exactly how many agents have been assigned to this case. How long have you ATF people been watching him?”

“Five years. Five damn years and…” Agent Casey Quinn of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stood up and stretched. “But we haven’t had the manpower to get serious about him. Good thing he got cocky, decided to deal with the IRA, and now you Fibbies are on his tail too. So here we sit and sweat, waiting to see if any of your former friends show up.”

“Not exactly friends! His playing with the IRA means we now have MI5 watching his flat in London, too.” Dan added.

“Don’t forget the Coast Guard. Without them, we’d be sitting in some dark sedan along the side of the road.” Natalie fanned herself. “At least we can go inside the cabin to cool off. What’s this sell for anyway?”

“Around $650,000 new. This may be the nicest craft the Coast Guard has ever confiscated. We’re only using it because it’s all they had available that might keep up with that Go-Fast sitting over there.” Dan pointed towards the fiberglass racing boat tied up to the dock. “I think it’s reserved for when they’re trying to impress someone; not three humble agents like us. I actually wish he’d take off in that thing so we can test what this baby can do.”

“I’d love to test either one of the two,” Casey added.

“I seriously doubt that’s going to happen, gentleman. We’ll be spending the next 14 hours baking in the sun and watching a bunch of his relatives eating gourmet food, swimming in his infinity pool, and playing on his expensive water toys. Once it’s dark, they’ll all ooh and ah at the illegal fireworks he loves to set off.” Natalie broke in. “But there’s a reason he bought one of those. Who other than a drug-runner has a need for one?”

“He may just want to impress the cousins.” Dan laughed.

“Looks like some of those cousins have arrived.” Natalie pointed over to the house. Several young children were running towards the pool. Their squeals of delight could be heard across the water. “Gee, I wish I could dive into that pool with them.” She pulled her straight blonde hair off her neck and into a ponytail holder, then grabbed a tube of sun block. “At least you two won’t have second degree burns by this evening.”

“My dark hair does nothing to protect my fair Irish complexion from the sun. I’ll be blistered too by tonight. And we could all get sick in this 90 plus heat. Why don’t you take a break inside the cabin, Natalie? We should each rotate time inside and out of the sun and heat.” Dan took the binoculars from where Natalie had set them down and focused on several people walking up the driveway towards the front entrance of the house.

“Call me back up when it gets busy.” Natalie disappeared into the air-conditioned cabin.

“Okay, I recognize this group as his sister, brother-in-law and their four kids.” Dan traded the binoculars for a camera with a large powerful lens and began snapping photos. “Looks like more relatives following.”

“Who are these people?” Casey asked as he began taking photos with a second camera. “Wait. I think you’ll recognize that tubby guy in the Hawaiian shirt, but who’s the blonde with him? And are those other people with him?”

Dan watched as a group of people headed across the driveway towards the front entrance. A grossly overweight man blocked the view of the others. “That’s Micky Reilly. I’ve had just a few encounters with him. Mean SOB. Can’t see the woman…”

“Oh, dammit. What the hell is she doing here?”

“Who? The blonde? You know her?” Casey set down the camera and looked over at the other agent. “I’ve heard of Reilly, but who is she?”

“That’s…It’s…Oh, damn. It’s Trixie…Trixie Belden. She’s my…”

On the Shore

New York, New York
Earlier in the day

“Damn,” Trixie said as she rolled over and glanced at the alarm clock. It read 9:00 a.m. She could have sworn she had set it to go off at 6:00 a.m. Rolling on to one arm she examined the clock and swore again. She had set it for 6:00 p.m. instead.

Jumping out of bed she rushed around her apartment throwing a swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes into her beach bag. She showered quickly and then ran a comb through her shoulder length curls and she was out the door in twenty minutes.

It might be Independence Day but she was working. For the past six months she had been working undercover trying to infiltrate the DiSalvo cartel. It hadn’t been easy.

She had started frequenting Mama Maria’s a restaurant in the Little Italy section of Manhattan. Sometimes she’d show up with Honey Wheeler or Jim Frayne although neither one of them knew why she had chosen that particular establishment. The fact that it had the best veal marsala in the city didn’t hurt.

She had observed the inner workings of the DiSalvos who owned the restaurant. The restaurant itself was above board but it was also the meeting place for some high-powered meetings of the underworld part of their business.

Armed with all of the information she had gathered about the cartel, she was able to observe the comings and goings of the army of underlings Guido DiSalvo had working for him. She soon knew who his closest allies were.

She had been surprised to learn that Micky Reilly was one of Guido’s most trusted employees. Micky was well known on the streets of New York as a shrewd and underhanded business in his own right.

When she had discovered his connection with Guido and reported it to her supervisor, George O’Malley, she had been met with disbelief. Micky had been very careful up until now to protect his association. By careful observation, she had discovered that Micky was indebted to Guido.

Immediately after that discovery, George began to press Trixie into trying to make a move. She had protested. It wasn’t that she wasn’t willing to complete the assignment, she just felt like it would be better if she had more information about the inner workings of Guido’s business dealings.

Slowly she had begun to lay the groundwork. Her first inclination was to go after the big guy. But after doing some research on his family she decided to approach the project from a different angle.

Guido was married to a socialite who had inherited money from a spinster aunt. As far as Trixie knew Alice DiSalvo had no idea that her husband’s dealings involved highly illegal transactions. She was about twenty years younger than Guido. They had two adorable little girls who were ten and seven years old, and a son that had just turned two. They had two nannies that watched the children while Alice spent most of her days working on pet charity projects that included, ironically, working to rehabilitate drug addicts and street gang members.

Micky, on the other hand, had a wife that was truly just an arm ornament. Tiffani Reilly was a bleached blonde, also about twenty years his junior. She played the part of the dumb blonde to a T. She spent her days at the salon tanning or shopping on Fifth Avenue. Micky didn’t seem to mind her spending habits as long as she didn’t cause a scandal and always looked elegant when she accompanied him to social functions. He did not introduce her to any of Guido DiSalvo’s people.

Trixie also discovered that Micky had a wandering eye. He seemed to like curvy blondes who couldn’t put together a complete sentence that had more than five words in it.

Once she had decided to set her sights on Micky, Trixie had her work cut out for her. It took several weeks to figure out what kind of schedule he had. He wasn’t consistent in his schedule except that he visited his mother in a nursing home every Sunday afternoon and met with Guido DiSalvo every Thursday night at Mama Maria’s.

With the help of some other agents, she was able to discover where his offices were and had them run round the clock surveillance on them. She learned, that in addition to Micky having an eye for blonde bimbos, he did everything he could to keep his underworld dealings quiet.

After several weeks of observing, Trixie had gone in for the kill. First, she needed to change her look a little bit. With the help of a salon, she lightened her hair. Gilles, her hairdresser, had blown out her curls out into style that would have made any one from the 80’s jealous. She had even agreed to wear a tight spandex skirt with a form fitting plunging t-shirt. When she looked in the mirror, she thought she looked like a bimbo.

It started out with Micky buying her a drink and as the weeks progressed he began buying her dinner and taking her to concerts. She did her best to fend off his friendly advances. He had admitted that he was married so she used that as an excuse.

It was getting harder each day to fend off his advances and he had even told her he was going to divorce Tiffani. First, he had sent her off on a trip to Las Vegas and invited Trixie to a Fourth of July Celebration.

Trixie had been disappointed that she would miss getting together with the Bob-Whites in Sleepyside but there was no getting out of this. She was sure something was going to go down today and she had to be her sharpest. Running late was not helping her. Fortunately, luck was on her side and she found a cab right away. She had told Micky she would meet him at Mama Maria’s and they would go together from there.

When she finally met up with Micky, he seemed preoccupied. Trixie, playing the airhead, tried to cajole him. While she didn’t like to be manhandled, she was disappointed he hadn’t even noticed the tight fitting navy blue skirt coupled with a tight, low cut red and white striped sailor shirt she was wearing. After several minutes she had given up and just sat next to him in the car.

When they arrived at Guido’s, Micky tensed even more. He hesitated as he got out of his chauffer driven Lincoln Town Car. After helping Trixie out of the car, he straightened his shoulders and, as if a light switch had gone on, he bent down and nuzzled her neck, whispering in her ear what he wanted to do to her.

Trixie tried not to visibly shudder as they approached the entrance. They walked through the house and onto the verandah. Trixie noticed a high-powered luxury boat moored out on the water. Something didn’t feel right.

On the River

Dan traced his fingers the length of the bottle of Coke, absently collecting the beads of moisture. Condensation, he decided, was a strange thing. Sure, he knew the scientific explanation of why moisture collected on warm days. He'd even read about people hanging canvas water bottles out of their car windows in order to keep the water as cool as possible as they drove across the desert. It didn't change the fact that condensation was an odd sort of phenomenon.

And it didn't change the fact that he'd rather ponder the mystery of a slick bottle of Coke than give thought to the fact that Micky Reilly obviously believed that he had some sort of a claim to Trixie Belden.

And he really wasn't thinking about the fact that Trixie was allowing it. Playing into his hands: Literally and figuratively.

Trixie, what have you gotten yourself into?

The bottle of Coke slid from his fingers and landed with a solid thunk on the coaster. Dan wiped his hands on his slacks, wishing that he'd been able to wear shorts. The day was hot, and he was covered in something that might look like condensation, but unfortunately didn't smell like condensation.

"Your turn to go below deck," Casey said, his head emerging from the narrow opening to the cabin.

Dan shook his head wordlessly. Natalie and Casey had both taken a break from the unrelenting sun, but he couldn't bring himself to do the same.

Not when Trixie was dancing with danger in the form of one of the nation's most wanted men.

Casey exchanged a meaningful glance with Natalie, and then took a seat beside the FBI agent. "Okay," he said. "Here's the deal. You keep an eye on your bird and her date, and Natalie I will watch the others."

Dan frowned at the offer. Of course he wanted to focus on Trixie and Micky. But it seemed unprofessional for the others to take up his slack.

"It's not like anything is going to happen today," Natalie said, adjusting her oversized sunglasses and settling herself comfortably. She smelled of sunblock, Dan realized. The coconut kind. Again, he thought, it was odd what his brain would choose to pick up on when he was trying to avoid freaking out over the way Micky was hanging all over Trixie. With his meaty, disgusting hands and beady, lascivious eyes.

"Okay," he agreed, knowing that he was pretty much going to be concentrating on Micky and Trixie whether he had the team's permission or not. "But I feel it only fair to warn you that things tend to happen whenever Trixie is involved."

Natalie frowned and picked up the binoculars. "What kind of things?" she asked, and Dan had the feeling that he wouldn't be the only one watching the blonde a little more closely from here on out.

"Mostly kidnapping, life-and-death situations, and successful captures of criminals," he supplied.

Natalie and Casey were good; he would give them that. They didn't snort or stare at him as if he'd taken leave of his senses. Casey did, however, raise an eyebrow in a silent request for more information.

"Trixie is…" he paused. How did someone attempt to describe the force of nature that was Trixie Belden? "She's been tracking down criminals since she was thirteen," he said. "I kid you not," he said in response to Natalie's raised eyebrow. "She was fourteen when she brought down an international arms smuggling ring in Mississippi."

"I read about that," Casey said with a low whistle. "Pierre Lontard, right?"

Dan nodded. "Longest night of my life when he kidnapped Trixie and Honey and left them tied up on his boat."

Was that from where part of his worry stemmed, he wondered? The situations were almost too similar. Still, Dan was the one in the boat this time. Not Trixie. And while he couldn't guarantee that she'd be any safer at the party than on a boat, it still seemed like the better option.

"So whom does she work for?"

Dan hid his wince, but only because he'd been expecting the question. And dodging it. For years.

"Ah," Natalie said. "Say no more."

Dan let out a breath. "Thanks," he said shortly. Working with different alphabet agencies was a dicey proposition—you never knew how freely the information would flow, or how conflicting interests might impede an investigation. The fact that neither Natalie nor Casey were pressuring him for more details was a good thing, but he couldn't help hoping that they weren't holding out on him in return.

"Trixie's good," he told them. "Very good at what she does. But I wasn't kidding about the danger level being significantly higher when she's involved." Tracking Trixie's movements as she flitted through the crowd, he watched as she giggled and flipped her hair.

"I think it's safe to say that there will be no shortage of fireworks tonight," he surmised, and reminded himself that his earlier words were true. Trixie was good at what she did, and his worries were unfounded.

But that still wouldn't stop him from keeping her in his sights if at all possible.

On the Shore

The DiSalvo Estate

Meeting Guido DiSalvo was somewhat anti-climactic. Trixie had expected more from a man rumored to be the most wanted drug and arms smuggler on the Eastern Seaboard. The man who shook her hand and welcomed her to the party was polite, charming even. Micky, one sweaty hand grasping her tightly at the hip, made the introductions.

“Guido, this is Beatrix, but I call her Bunny. Bunny, this is Mr. Guido DiSalvo. He owns Mama Maria’s.”

“Oh!” Trixie widened her eyes as she giggled breathlessly. “Oh, I am so happy to meet you. I love your veal marsala! Do you make it yourself?”

The man barked a dry laugh. “No, I have chefs to do that, but it is an old family recipe.”

“It’s my favorite thing,” Trixie continued, in full airhead mode. “I could eat it every day, if it weren’t bad for my figure.” She giggled vacuously, and added, “Mama Maria’s is where I met Micky. He thinks the world of that place.”

Something shifted in the man’s face. It was subtle, and Trixie would have missed it had she not been watching him so closely. His dark eyes went from bland and benign to dangerously menacing. At the same time, Micky’s fingers dug into her side.

“We should let Mr. DiSalvo enjoy his party,” he said, increasing the pressure.

“Oh!” Trixie extended her hand again, and Di Salvo took it, raising it to his lips. “Thank you again, Mr. DiSalvo, for inviting us. Your house is totally fab!”

“The pleasure is all mine, Miss…” He paused, but when neither Trixie nor Micky volunteered a surname, finished with, “…Bunny. Micky, perhaps I could see you later. Say, around seven, before we start the fireworks. In my office.” They were statements, not questions.

Micky swallowed hard and nodded. Trixie heard the audible gulp, but kept her expression vague, her eyes staring vacantly towards the water. As Micky escorted her away, she focused, again, on the luxury boat still moored out in the river.

By five-thirty, Micky had hit the bar, leaving her to wander the estate on her own. He was more preoccupied than before, and drinking like there was no tomorrow, but Trixie wasn’t complaining; his obsession with the martini glass kept his hands off of her body. She slipped inside the house to use the restroom—and take a second look around. She hadn’t been inside more than ten minutes when her cell phone chimed, signaling a text message. She fished it out of her bra and scanned,

Hey, Cuz! Howz TriX? I’m out fishing. I hope ur outside 2. Wanna get 2gethr for fireworks? D

Suddenly, she understood the fancy boat outside on the river. Fishing, indeed. Mentally shaking her head at the overprotective nature of one Agent Dan Mangan, she tucked away the phone and decided to return to the outdoor section of the party. No reason to cause the man an ulcer before dinner was served.

“Oh! Hello!” Trixie had turned the corner so quickly she had nearly knocked down the small girl standing at the foot of the stairs.

She was adorable. Trixie recognized her from one of the file photos of the DiSalvo family. Dark, curly hair worn in twin pigtails and tied with red, white and blue tulle and ribbon scrunchies, wide, dark eyes, and a nose that would someday be a patrician as her mother’s. This had to be Julia DiSalvo, Guido’s middle child. The little girl tilted her head and looked up at Trixie. “Hello,” she said quietly. “Why aren’t you at the party?”

Trixie bent over as far as she could and still maintain decency. In a conspiratorial whisper she said, “I had too much lemonade. I needed to use the bathroom, and then I got lost. This house is really big.”

Julia smiled, showing a gap in her teeth and dimples that rivaled those of Trixie’s little brother Bobby’s. “Me, too. But mine’s upstairs in my room.” Then, her smile faded. “You didn’t go in Daddy’s office, did you? Nobody’s allowed in there.”

“I barely found the bathroom,” Trixie confided, her mind weighing the moral correctness of mining a child for information. What the heck, her brain decided. “I don’t even know which door goes to your daddy’s office.”

“It’s that one,” Julia said, pointing down the hall. “He has a secret bookshelf and everything.”

“Wow! I’d love to see that,” Trixie exclaimed.

“No.” Julia shook her head, sending her curls bouncing. “Nanny Georgia took us in there, once. That’s when Lottie found the secret room. Daddy was really mad about that. He told us we can’t go in there. Not never. Then, Nanny Georgia went away, and Nanny Debra came instead.” She held her hand out to Trixie. “I’m Julia. Who’re you?”

“I’m Bunny,” Trixie told her. “I came to the party with a friend of your dad.”

“Daddy has lots of friends,” Julia told her. “Mommy says he’s a ’portant man.” She changed subjects with the ease of seven. “I’m hungry.”

“Me, too,” Trixie said. “Would you mind showing me where the best food is?”

She smiled again, her tongue poking through the hole left by her missing tooth. “Do you like cheese?” Trixie nodded. “Me, too. We have a whole cheese table outside. It even has cheesecake.”

Trixie pretended to be shocked. “Cheesecake?” she asked. “I love cheesecake!”

“I can’t reach the table.”

“I bet I can.” Trixie held out her hand, and Julia took it willingly. “I’ll make you a deal. You show me the good stuff, and I’ll help you fill a plate. Deal?”

“Deal.” With another dimpled, gap-toothed grin, Julia led the way back outside.

Trixie spent the next hour with Julia DiSalvo, perusing the sumptuous offerings, sampling, and helping the little girl reach the treats she wanted. The whole time, she kept herself visible to the ‘fishing vessel’ and her ears and eyes open, filtering the family noise, and trying to sort out the employees from the business associates and family members.

The sun was beginning to set, casting an indigo glow over the festivities when one of the nannies came to retrieve Julia. Trixie watched them walk away, a smile on her face. A shadow caught her eye, and she followed it; two men, overdressed for the occasion, were escorting Micky into the house. Reilly was sweating profusely, his face florid. Something was definitely afoot.

Cursing her inappropriate shoes, Trixie slipped them off, looping the straps over her wrist. As the guests headed toward the river to ready themselves for the fireworks, she slipped stealthily into the shadows, and eased her way around the house. It was obvious that Micky was meeting with DiSalvo, and she would bet her badge that the meeting was taking place in ‘daddy’s office’.

As she had hoped, there was a window, but it was shuttered. Trixie sank her acrylic nails into the sill of the window, and used her mostly bare feet to hoist herself up into a position that allowed her to peer through the slats. It was a tenuous and uncomfortable position, and her sightlines were poor, but it was better than nothing.

The two goons pushed Micky into the room. They unceremoniously forced him into a leather-upholstered club chair. Micky’s portly form appeared to be wedged into the classic chair, and he shifted uncomfortably. Someone rose from behind the large, mahogany desk. DiSalvo, Trixie thought. Guido seemed calm. He walked around Micky, hands clasped behind his back, and Trixie wished she could hear what he was saying. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good news for Micky. The fat man was pale, his bright Hawaiian print shirt limp and sweat stained. His mouth moved, but his words were cut off when DiSalvo turned his back on him. One of the goons stepped forward, and as Micky started to rise, his body was suddenly yanked back by the cable that had draped around his throat. Pudgy hands scrambled for the garrote, as Micky tried to fight his assassin. Trixie froze in horror at the sight, just as two hands landed on her hips.

On the River

“Dammit!” Dan tossed his binoculars onto the cushioned seat beside him and grabbed the high-powered camera next to where it fell. “I’ve lost them. Both!”

“Did they go inside?” Natalie adjusted the long lens of her camera, trying to see inside the house. While almost the entire side of the house facing the water was glass, the blinding sunlight made it nearly impossible to see inside the darkened house, but she still had to try. “It has seemed strange that all these people are sitting around outside when they could be enjoying the air conditioning. And they’ve made certain no one can see into Guido’s office. It has to be dark as night with those wooden shutters and heavy drapes drawn.”

“I think they’re trying to block audio and video surveillance, but Stan and Hank planted bugs all over that place last week.” Dan referred to two FBI audio technicians who had managed to get inside the house. “They’re sitting in some van near here, listening to every word said.”

“And given some of today’s guests, let’s hope they’ve said a lot,” Casey added.

“Of course, if the curtains were open, we’d be able to confirm who might be saying those words!” Dan took his cell phone out of his pants pocket and typed a short message. “At least this way she’ll know we have her back,” he mumbled to himself as he hit Send.

“Clearly there has been some kind of meeting inside,” he continued. “There must be a hundred kids swarming all over the lawn and swimming in the pool. Their mothers obviously have been ordered or at least know to stay outside with them, along with a bunch of low-level flunkies or associates of the cartel all afternoon. The rest of the men are inside, behind those damn drapes.”

“Most of the men may have ventured inside, but they don’t stay long,” Natalie corrected. “My guess is that they are venturing into the inner sanctum to pay their respects.”

“Inner sanctum? Pay respects? I think someone has been reading The Godfather,” Dan teased the other agent.

“And you don’t resort to an Irish brogue and colloquialisms from time to time?”

“Anything you’ve heard about my Irish background is speculation.” Dan continued to scan the house and surrounding grounds, hoping that Trixie hadn’t left the party with that slimy Mick Reilly. “Where the hell did she meet him?” he mumbled. “I thought she was…Does she know just how dangerous he is? And wearing that skirt? He’s had to have had those beefy hands…”

“Calm down, Romeo,” Natalie warned. “I heard every word. I thought you said she could take care of herself.”

“She can,” Dan said sheepishly. “But…”

“I’ll be in the head.” Casey got up and walked over to the cabin entrance. “Which is probably where your friend is.” A blast of cold air hit Dan when the other agent entered the cabin. “Maybe Trixie wasn’t so dumb,” he thought. “Enjoying a party at a house with air-conditioning, and indoor and outdoor pools, and wearing next to nothing.”

Dan walked over to the large cooler, lifted the cover and reached for a bottle of Coke. He hesitated before putting it back and digging into the melted ice for a bottle of water.

“Good idea. I think the sugar and caffeine from all those Cokes has made you jumpy.” Natalie hesitated before continuing. “You never said what the blonde is to you. What was her name?”

Dan glanced at his phone as he rubbed the bottle across his forehead and held it against the nape of his neck. Seeing no response, he twisted off the cap and took a long swig. “Trixie. I told you. I’ve known her since we were kids.”

Natalie laughed. “There’s more to it than that.” She continued to watch the crowd through the camera lens, occasionally snapping a photograph.

“Anything you hear is just speculation.” Dan took another long drink and grabbed a second camera while Natalie shook her head in disbelief.

The two agents continued to watch the party on shore in silence. To Dan’s relief, Trixie returned to the party outside. Micky appeared to be busy at the bar, so she’d found company with a young child who led her to the sumptuous buffet. Dan’s stomach rumbled loudly as he watched them sampling food and filling their plates. There was Trixie, enjoying all that gourmet food, paid for with money from illegal drugs and weapons sales, when he’d had nothing to eat all day except a soggy turkey sandwich.

A large white panel truck arrived and two men went inside the house while others began checking the fireworks that had been set up earlier along the water’s edge. The lengthening shadows and their arrival served as signals for people to begin staking claims to the best places to sit and watch the show.

Dan was wondering if there was some way he could join Trixie during the fireworks display, and possibly get something from that buffet. It wouldn’t be the first party he’d crashed. His daydreams about food were interrupted when he noticed a woman dressed in conservative gray cropped pants and a navy polo come up to Trixie. They chatted briefly, and then the woman walked away with the child. Must have been the nanny, he thought. She had given off a distinct ‘Miss Trask’ vibe.

“What the hell is she doing?” Dan said as Trixie slipped off her high-heeled sandals and moved into the shadow of the house. He continued to follow her through the powerful lens as she tried to climb up the wall and see into the shuttered, draped window.

“Oh, damn! Dammit!” Realizing what she was trying to do, Dan threw down the camera and ran over to the other side of the boat. He was starting to climb down the ladder on the boat’s side, when Casey came out of the cabin.

“Just heard from Stan and Hank. Guido’s flunkies just killed Reilly. Got it all on tape. We need to…”

Dan cursed and jumped on a jet ski tied to the side of the boat.

“What the? Mangan?”

Dan cursed again as he fell onto the jet ski, banging his knee and twisting his ankle. He lowered the jet ski into the water and unhooked the chains that held it to the boat.

“Mangan, you can’t…We need to head over…”

“The hell I can’t!” Dan sat down and started the motor. “Tell them an agent’s in danger. No, she’s down! Tell them an agent’s down and get them…I’m…Now, dammit, now!” He called out as the ski roared around the boat and across the water.

On the Shore

The DiSalvo Estate

Caught off guard, Trixie lost her balance and tumbled off the window sill and onto the owner of the hands that had grasped her hips. She didn’t wait to see who had grabbed but instead used her elbow in a well placed area. Immediately, the hands fell away.

Glad that she didn’t have to contend with her impractical sandals, Trixie took off. At first she thought of running around to the front of the house where no one would see her but she decided it would be better to run towards the party. Guido would not risk injury to his family and friends. Or so she hoped.

As she briskly walked through the crowd of people, she heard a little voice call, “Hey lady, where are you going? Do you need some more cheesecake?” Trixie realized it was little Julia. She panicked. Should she ignore the girl or use her as a shield?

She looked over her shoulder and saw two brutes approaching her. One of them was the one who had taken out Micky. Trixie tried to stay calm. She was a trained agent but this situation was challenging all of her training. Looking back at Julia, she made her decision.

“Julia,” Trixie said. “I was looking for my friend Micky, the gentleman I came with. It will only be a few minutes. Why don’t you go and get a piece of cheesecake and we can share it? I’ll meet you over by the dock. We can watch the fireworks together.”

Once Julia had taken off, Trixie headed in the opposite direction. Her small stature helped her move through the crowd with ease. When she glanced back to seek if she was being followed she noticed the two men were having a more difficult time getting through all the people without creating a stir.

As she walked she took note of her surroundings. She noticed that the fireworks were set up on the dock that was located right in front of the house. She was surprised that there was only one person on the dock presumably guarding the pyrotechnics. The nearest next-door neighbor was located several hundred yards downstream. She spotted Mrs. DiSalvo and made her way over to talk to her.

Once she had Mrs. DiSalvo’s attention Trixie gushed in her most airhead voice, “I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful party. It’s been real fun.”

Alice DiSalvo politely replied, “It was a pleasure.”

“You haven’t seen my Micky have you?” Trixie asked. “I seem to have lost him.” She giggled and then continued. “I always seem to lose him, but eventually he’ll find me.”

Mrs. DiSalvo started to say something but Trixie walked away asking anyone that would listen if they had seen Micky.

The goons were getting closer to her. Trixie racked her brains trying to come up with an escape plan. The route that she had planned when she arrived at the party ceased to be viable when she fell off the windowsill. She noticed several long fireplace lighters sitting along a ledge. She assumed they would be used to light the tiki torches when the sun began to set in a few minutes.

Quickly, she grabbed one and tucked it into the waistband of her skirt, praying it wouldn’t end up on the ground at her feet. She made her way over to the dock where the fireworks were. Glancing at the boat that had been tied to the dock but was now moored off shore she noticed someone had decided to take out a jet ski. At first it didn’t register but finally she realized that it was Dan who was driving the machine. Things were falling into place.

When she reached the dock, she stopped for a minute to adjust her sailor shirt. She pulled it down as far as she could, trying to expose as much cleavage as possible. The guy guarding the fireworks had his back to her.

She purposely bumped into him. “Oh, excuse me,” she giggled. “I didn’t see you there.” She shimmied up to him.

The guy turned toward her. He looked like he wasn’t much over twenty-one. “Hey, you’re not supposed to here,” he said. He perused her with his eyes but they never got higher than her chest.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “The water looks so inviting. I thought I could sit on the dock and dangle my feet in it. I won’t be in your way.” She batted her eyelashes, flounced her hair in a way that would make Diana Lynch proud, and bent over as if to sit on the deck making sure the kid got an eyeful.

He stuttered before reluctantly saying, “I’m sorry. You can’t be here. Only authorized employees of Mr. DiSalvo are allowed on the dock until after the fireworks. It’s for safety reasons.”

Trixie slowly straightened up and pouted. “Can’t you break the rules for little ol’ me? I promise not to get in the way. Maybe if you joined me it won’t be so bad. No one’s going to bother the fireworks. They all want to see them fired off.”

She bent over again this time sitting on the dock. She patted her hand indicating he should sit down next to her. It didn’t take too much convincing for him to join her.

She didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Finally she asked, “So what’s your name?”

“Tony,” he replied.

“Well, Tony, how’d you get lucky enough to guard the fireworks today?” She lightly touched his arm and turned to him.

“Uncle Guido asked me to. He said he’d pay me real well if I didn’t screw up. It’s been a pretty easy job. No one has even come down to the dock until you.” Tony’s eyes continued to stare at her chest. Carefully she removed the lighter from her skirt and took a deep breath.

Before Tony knew what was happening, Trixie turned, sparked the lighter and lit as many fuses as she could before he called for help. As the fireworks started to explode, she quickly dove into the water and headed toward the jet ski.

On the River

It was days like these, Dan thought, that he really appreciated the swimming lessons Honey had insisted on giving him the summer after he'd moved to Sleepyside. Not that he'd have to put those lessons to the test today. No, he thought, spinning the jet ski in a tight circle so that he and Trixie would be able to make a clean break for the boat, Trixie could more than handle herself in the churning water.

And she probably wouldn't even have needed help hoisting herself onto the jet ski if she hadn't been wearing such binding clothing. Still, all it took was one strong tug from him and she was able to heave herself onto the jet ski behind him, her wet body pressing tightly against him.

"Go!" she panted, her mouth next to his ear as she wrapped her arms around him and hung on. Dan acquiesced, opening up the throttle and high-tailing it out of Dodge.

"That was close," Trixie gasped, her breathing still ragged.

"Was close?" Dan questioned grimly, steering hard to the left and away from his intended destination. "It's still close," he informed her, listening to unmistakable sound of a bullet hitting the water entirely too close to them.

"Oh, crumb," Trixie cursed, and Dan found himself smiling despite the gravity of the situation. Only Trixie, he thought, would react to being shot at with a curse word that was safe to use around children. He stopped smiling, however, when the balance of the jet ski shifted and he felt her hands skimming over his chest.

"What are you doing?" he demanded, compensating for her movements and zigzagging in a new direction. "You're going to—"

“Looking for your weapon,” she told him tersely. You do have one, don’t you?”

“To your left,” he instructed. “The holster shifted when I hit the water. Just be…” His words were cut off by the sound of an engine behind them. The Go-Fast was up and running and headed their way. “Crap,” he shouted over his shoulder, “they can overtake us.”

He felt Trixie grasp his Glock 22 and slide it out of the holster, twisting and taking aim on the rapidly approaching boat. Just as she fired, the jet ski hit the wake and spun sideways. Dan struggled to keep it upright and Trixie suddenly went still, her chin against his back. “Trix? You okay?” he yelled, his heart in his throat.

“Uh, yeah. I’m fine. I dropped your gun. Now we’re unarmed.”

She probably felt his exasperated sigh. “Check the storage compartment. The boat’s outfitted to the teeth. Maybe there was overflow.”

He felt her rummaging around, and tried to adjust his balance even as he increased acceleration to the max. Then, she let out a squeal and a loud, “Perfect. But I’m going to need two hands.”

“What did you find?”

“JBL with three tips. This one is explosive. WoooHooo!”

“What are you going to do?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

"Stop them dead in their tracks," she retorted, contorting her body and maneuvering herself until her back was to his. "But only if you let them get a little closer."

"Closer?" Dan's eyes bulged. "Trixie! They're shooting at us!"

"Well, yeah," she said. "I kind of expected them to after they caught me trying to peek in on their little meeting. But seriously, Dan, just a little closer and I'll be able to—"

A bullet grazed the side of the jet ski, and Dan's curse was less child-friendly than Trixie's. "Close enough?" he asked, turning back to the boat and hoping that Natalie and Casey were prepared. They'd brought plenty of firepower with them; he only hoped that they were ready to use it.

"Almost," Trixie said, and even without looking at her, Dan knew that she would be wearing an expression of utter determination, her blue eyes intently focused, her bottom lip caught between her teeth.

"Just a little closer…" she coaxed, as if willing their pursuers to gain ground.

'Only Trixie', Dan thought. Only Trixie.

"Perfect," she breathed, and the jet ski lurched again as Trixie fumbled with something in the compartment by her legs. When Dan heard the unmistakable ping and felt the recoil as Trixie leaned back against him, he couldn’t believe what she had done.

'Only Trixie.

"Did you hit them?" he asked, already steering the jet ski directly to the boat. He already knew the answer, though. The shouts of the men in the pursuing boat were audible even over the roar of the explosion. So were the splashes of the men as they dove into the choppy water. He couldn't quite make out what they were yelling, but that was probably for the best anyway.

"Of course I hit them," Trixie retorted. "Never take a shot unless you know you can make it, right?"

Dan grinned. In his haste to rescue Trixie, he'd forgotten that even the jet ski was equipped with a weapon or two. Trixie had made good use of the mini spear gun she'd found.

It would only be a matter of seconds before they reached the yacht.

"You weren't kidding, Mangan," Casey called from the rail of the boat as they scrambled aboard.

"About what?" Trixie asked, futilely attempting to tug down her too short and too tight skirt.

Casey grinned and pointed to the wreck of their pursuers' Go-Fast boat, the fiberglass hull a ball of fire and black smoke only fifty meters away from them. "Dan promised us fireworks if you were involved," he explained, and only laughed when both Trixie and Dan elbowed him in the ribs as they walked past him in search of dry clothes.

“Casey and…Nicole?” Trixie asked, rubbing her sopping hair with the towel.

“Natalie,” Dan corrected, “Natalie Wade. Casey Quinn.”

“Right. Natalie,” she repeated. “Nat’s Feebie like you, and Casey is a BATman.” She grinned at him and twisted more water out of her hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll be nice.”

“You’d better be,” he warned, a teasing light in his dark eyes. “They’ve been in radio contact, while we’ve been dodging bullets and destroying property. If you want an update, you should probably not be a NuiSAnce.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. “It’d be hard to pull rank since my division doesn’t technically exist. Especially while wearing an extra large tuxedo shirt and borrowed underwear.” She rolled up the baby-blue sleeves.

He gave her an appraising look. “You can pull it off, Freckles. Blue’s always been your color. Besides, it covers more than that get-up you were wearing.”

Trixie glared at him. “Under cover, Mangan,” she told him. “Un. Der. Cov. Er. It’s when an experienced agent pretends to be someone else, in order to catch the bad guys. Remember?”

“Vaguely. But when I was under, I was more covered.”

She wrinkled her nose at him and finished with her hair, drawing a brush through the tangled mess. It was damp-dry, and would frizz, but there was no fighting nature. With a stifled sigh, she wove her tresses into a single braid and secured it with a rubber band Dan handed to her. “I’m ready,” she told him. He turned to go up to the deck, but stopped when she called out, “Danny?” He turned, and she said very seriously, “Thanks for having my back out there.”

The smile he shot back told her everything she needed to know. “Any time, Trix. Always.”

Natalie briefed them while Casey steered the boat to the prearranged dock. “The ground team is on the property. They’ve arrested eight—including DiSalvo—and have the rest of the ‘guests’ pretty much locked down and awaiting clearance. The house and property are being searched, but they haven’t found much—except for Reilly’s body. Special Agent in Charge Drake is not happy. We’ll rendezvous with our transport and join the party.” She eyed Trixie. “Agent Belden. Your presence has been requested.”

“Of course, Agent Wade,” Trixie acquiesced. “What about the two we took out?”

“It’s Natalie, please,” she replied, “Casey dropped a couple of life preservers and called for backup. Coast Guard had them in custody before you’d finished washing the river out of your hair. Nice shooting, by the way.”

“Thanks, and call me Trixie.” She glanced at Dan and asked, “Are we slowing down?”

“Feels like it. I’m going to help Casey dock the boat,” Dan said. “All we need now is to have Quinn put a scratch on this baby. The Coast Guard would never let us hear the end of that.” With that, he bounded up to the fly bridge.

“I asked them to bring you something to wear,” Natalie told her. “I figured you’d want to be a little more comfortable if we’re going to help search.”

“I appreciate that, thanks.” Trixie wasn’t quite sure what else to say. It didn’t seem the place for trivial small talk, and she’d never been very good at that, anyway. Fortunately, she was spared from extraneous conversation when the boat pulled up to the dock and Dan tossed the bow line to a waiting figure. Relieved, Trixie grinned at the FBI agent. “Guess we’re here.”

On the Shore

The DiSalvo Estate

By the time Trixie had changed into the pair of drawstring pants and the FBI windbreaker that had arrived with their ride, the keys to the Sabre 42 Salon Express had been returned to a Coast Guard pilot. Sitting between Dan and Natalie in the center seat of the van, she joined all three of the agents in donning tactical gear. While it was unlikely that DiSalvo had set booby traps in a house that housed his family, it was better to be safe than sorry. Concentrating on the vests and weaponry kept the fifteen-minute drive from dragging.

Once they arrived back at the house, they were led through the house and into the mysterious office. To Trixie, it smelled of death and sweat and frustration. As crowded as it was, crawling with agents and forensic specialists, the temperature and humidity was worse than it had been outside at high noon. She could literally feel her hair beginning to frizz. Beside her, she watched beads of sweat forming on Dan’s forehead. She hung back a little, holding her tongue and observing.

'He has a secret bookshelf and everything.' Julia’s words popped into her head. Lottie found the secret room. Bookshelf. Secret room. A memory hit her next, an image of the secret passage between Green Trees and Rosewood. She stepped toward the interior wall facing the desk, slipping between the workers and taking care to cut well around the chair in which Micky had met his end. The wall was a reader’s dream; a bookcase with thirteen bookshelves, six feet in length by her estimation, stretched from the floor to the ceiling, loaded with leather-bound tomes. Tilting her head, Trixie scanned the titles. Classics, for the most part: Steinbeck, Dickens, Austen, Hemingway, Wharten, Joyce, the list went on. Four shelves up from the floor, she found an anomaly. The shelf held collections of plays: Shakespeare, Williams, Miller. But fifth from the left was one title that didn’t quite fit. The cover was of the same quality, rich, textured leather in a deep blue. It was the title, embossed in gold leaf that held the clue: The Blue Fairy Book. It didn’t fit in with the others. She crouched down, not touching, but checking the spine from each angle.

“What’d you find?”

Dan’s voice startled her, but Trixie didn’t budge. Instead, she quietly sing-songed, “One of these things is not like the other…”

“Definitely not the same,” he agreed, handing her a pair of gloves. “What made you look here?”

“Something DiSalvo’s daughter said to me,” she replied. She reached her now gloved hand toward the book. It slid about halfway out and then stuck. Trixie tugged a little harder, and the bookcase began to move.

Dan grabbed her shoulders and tugged her back as the whole wall seemed to pivot, swinging back to reveal a dark hole in the wall. The room went still, every eye focused on the hidden room. The silence lasted half a second before guns were drawn and half the room was converging on the Bob-White agents’ position.

“Mangan? Belden? What the hell…?” SAC Jeanette Drake’s grey eyes were wide in disbelief. “How did you find that?”

The two shared a look, but Dan spoke first. “Agent Belden was following a lead she…picked up earlier.”

“I spoke to one of DiSalvo’s kids,” Trixie explained. “It was just casual conversation, but she mentioned a secret room and a bookshelf. Since this is the only bookcase in the room…”

“Good work. Let’s see what you’ve found.” Agent Drake turned, assembling her team in seconds. Gesturing for Trixie and Dan to follow, they started in, lights ablaze.

The 4 by 6 room itself was not terribly large—smaller than Diana Lynch’s walk in closet—and the black painted walls were completely bare, but the stairwell at the end looked promising. The advance team went first, headlamps lighting the way, guns pointed and ready. Fourteen steps. Trixie counted them silently as she followed Dan and Agent Drake down the narrow steps. Fourteen steps, ending in a tunnel barely four feet wide. Trixie moved her flashlight over the walls. Concrete, well constructed: Professionally constructed, she corrected herself. Well braced, smooth walls and floors and…recessed lights in the roof? Huh. It was a step up from the last secret passageway she’s been in, but she doubted there would be an emerald necklace waiting on the other end.

The procession halted less than thirty feet in. “What is it?” Trixie whispered.

“Door,” Dan replied, moving slightly so she could see around him. “They’re taking it down, so stay back.”

“Duh,” she replied, rolling her eyes at him, even thought she knew he couldn’t see her. Still, she pressed her back against the wall as the lead team used C-4 to blow the door lock.

“Jackpot!” The triumphant shout came from the end of the tunnel, and Trixie shot Dan a victory smile. It faded slightly when a second shout echoed back, “Agent Belden!” She pushed herself away from the wall and made her way down the passageway.

“Yes, Agent Drake?” she asked.

“Take a look,” the woman told her, stepping aside to let Trixie peer into the room. It was large, probably 20 feet square, and stacked six feet high with boxes. The lead team had opened several, and Trixie was shocked to see the array of weaponry now displayed: Boxes upon boxes of semi-automatic, automatic, and tactical assault weapons and ammunition.

“Gleeps!” she exclaimed, “This is the mother lode.”

“Indeed,” Agent Drake agreed. “DiSalvo isn’t getting out of this one. That wall over there is loaded with drugs; heroin, cocaine, even some weed—and that’s what was in just the first four we opened. And look at those. That other door leads down to the river. Between that and Reilly’s murder, we’ve got him, thanks, in large part, to you.” The grey eyes were serious. “If you ever decide to change agencies, give me a call. I’d bring you on my team any day.”

“Thank you, Agent Drake,” Trixie told her. “I appreciate the offer, but I’m happy where I am, at least for now. I’m just glad I could help you bring him down.”

“Oh, he’s down, all right,” Drake said, “We’re going to bury him so deep he’ll never dig himself out.” She grinned. “ATF and DEA will be taking over here. I’m sending Mangan, Quinn and Wade home. They all look like they got a little too much sun today. You should go, too. I’m sure O’Malley is waiting to hear from you.”

“You know George?” Trixie asked.

“I used to work for him,” Drake told her, “back when it was all computers and telephone. I left because I wanted more action.”

“Some of us get more than enough action,” Trixie admitted. “Or we would, if we existed.”

“Well, for not existing, you do a damn good job. Keep it up. Now, get out of my crime scene, you NuiSAnce ghost.”

“On in, SAiC,” Trixie said. “One thing, though. Could you keep an eye out for something?”

“What?” Trixie leaned in and whispered in the other agent’s ear. Drake frowned and nodded. “I’ll make sure it gets checked out. I hope you’re wrong, but it makes sense.”

“Thank you,” Trixie said. “I’ll drag the others out. Dan was griping about being hungry, and I think I owe them all a stiff drink for the quick save.”

“It’s after midnight. Good luck with that.”

“Luck is my middle name,” Trixie called over her shoulder, “My parents owed me for naming me Beatrix. “ Drake’s laugh followed her down the tunnel. It was turning out to be a good day at work after all.

On the Shore

Sleepyside, New York
July 11

The sun was sinking slowly in the west, cooling the humid summer day. Two of the seven Bob-Whites sat on the dock, a soft sided cooler between them, dipping their feet in the Wheeler’s lake.

“So?” Dan handed her a strawberry soda and popped the cap off his bottle of Guinness.

“So, what?” Trixie asked, taking a deep drink.

“Are you going to tell me what you were doing crashing my op? Or is it a matter of national security?”

She shrugged, and he thought that she might pull the secrecy card after all, but she didn’t. Instead, she lowered her voice and said, “We picked up the communication between DiSalvo and the IRA last year. Another agent, Gia Soriano was sent in to investigate. She went in undercover, as a nanny. She was in about three months when she reported that she had found something. Then she disappeared.”

“Do you know what she found?”

Trixie shook her head. “We didn’t, because she didn’t have a secure line. All we knew is that she was excited, and her last known position was at the Hudson house. Now though, I’m pretty certain Gia found the secret passage. From what little Julia told me, ‘Nanny Georgia’ was replaced right after they tripped it. That was Gia’s cover, so it tracks.”

Dan gripped the bottle a little tighter, but he kept quiet, letting her spin out her story.

“My boss set me on course to be the next to infiltrate, but I couldn’t go in the same way. It took a lot of research and strategizing before we decided on Reilly. It was chance that put us in the same place, on the same day.” She scowled. “Well, chance and the fact that my group is pretty much nonexistent in our world.”

“I know,” Dan said, shaking his head in disbelief. “I still don’t know how you managed to convince everyone—especially your brother Mart—that you spend your days analyzing emails and telephone conversations.”

“People tend to believe what they want to believe,” she answered. They sat in silence for a few minutes, and then she took up the story again. “My boss, he wanted to take down DiSalvo in the worst way. Gia was the first ghost agent lost in over ten years, and it happened on his watch. I didn’t know her well, we only worked one case together, but you know how it is.”

He did. In more ways than she might understand. It was the camaraderie and respect that an agent felt toward his or her fellow operatives. Defend and protect was instilled deep, and it went even deeper when friendship figured in. It was that sentiment that had pushed him to send her that text, and driven him to risk the mission with his jet ski rescue attempt. He settled for a quiet, “Yeah. I know.”

“Well, in the end we got him, dead to rights, and George can rest easy because we recovered Gia’s body.” She sipped from her can. “Of course, it’ll take a year or more before DiSalvo actually gets to trial, but I’m glad enough people turned on him to get his bail denied.”

“Only took his wife two days to file for divorce,” Dan commented, turning his eyes to the lake.

“She seemed nice enough,” Trixie replied, “at least in the four minutes I spent with her, and I know his daughter deserves better.” She smiled at him. “That little girl was my lucky charm. I don’t think we would have been so successful without her help.”

Dan chuckled. “I don’t know. After all, luck is your middle name, right?”

“You heard that? Oh, sheesh!” Her face flamed red.

“It’s true, you know,” he told her. “In fact, I think it’s my middle name, too.” He looked up the hill where five familiar forms were making their way toward them. “Meeting all of you was my lucky day.”

She followed his gaze, and nodded her agreement. “For all of us. Happy belated 4th of July.”


Author’s Notes

In 2010, we collaborated on a story about Dan as part of the 10th Jixaversary Celebration. This was the first time the four of us had attempted to work together, and the first attempt at any type of group story for some of us. We had so much fun plotting and planning and writing that when the CWE#8 Challenge was issued, we agreed to take a second stab at working together. Unlike when we wrote Ring of Fire, we were not allowed to plan or plot together in advance. Pat made a general suggestion and we began writing round-robin style. Each person wrote until she became stuck or reached a logical place to stop, and then passed it to the next author. Once we’d completed two full rounds (and it was getting close to the deadline) Ronda brought it to a conclusion.

From Ronda:

I have to admit that not being able to plan made for some interesting angles and sub-routes. I was the fourth to write, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! Writing with Pat, Ryl and Wendy was as much fun as it was back in 2010. The Group Story is a great challenge, and one I would face with these talented ladies on any given day.

* * *

From Pat:

Just like writing Ring of Fire, I found working on this story to be “challenging, stimulating, inspiring and enjoyable”, and I was honored to work once again with Ronda, Ryl and Wendy. As always, I hope the reader enjoys this story as much as I did helping create it.

* * *

From Wendy:

Writing this story has been great fun. I thoroughly enjoyed working with PatK, Ronda and Ryl on this project. They are all terrific authors.

* * *

From Ryl:

It was a real treat and a privilege to work with Ronda, Pat, and Wendy on this story. Group stories are a great way to celebrate Jix and Jix friends.

* * *


FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation serves as both a federal criminal investigative organization and an internal intelligence agency. Agents are sometimes call Fibbies, Feebies or G-Men.

ATF (BATF): Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (a federal law enforcement with responsibility for the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms, explosives, acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. Agents are sometimes called Batmen.

NSA: National Security Agency This group is sometimes called the No Such Agency because they were definitely on the down low. In the past 13 years, they’ve had a higher profile. The NSA is the group that monitor communications (telephone, computer, written correspondance, etc…). The NSA does not have field agents/investigators. At least, not officially. I figure that if they did, it would be perfect for Trixie. I have heard the NSA called NuiSAnce, but mostly due to the information they review. Ghost agents are those whose existance is not recognized through official channels.

IRA: The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was an Irish revolutionary military organization that waged a guerrilla campaign against British rule in 1919-1921. The Provisional IRA emerged in December 1969, following a split in the IRA in reaction to a Catholic civil rights campaign that had begun the year before in Northern Ireland. It also has used guerrilla tactics in Northern Ireland as well as a bombings throughout England during the 1970-80s. The campaign was supported by arms and funding from Libya and from groups in the United States.

MI5: Military Intelligence, Section 5, is the United Kingdom’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) focused on foreign threats.

JBL 38-SPECIAL XHD Triple Sling Spear Gun is a “harpoon” type gun with a stainless steel shaft, carbide tips and Hi-Mod bands that feature stainless wire wishbones. Its three bands and hardened tip will punch through any fish and, in this case, the fiberglass hull of a boat.

SAIC: Special Agent in Charge. This is what you call the FBI person in overall charge of an investigation or operation. Said individual can also be called an AiC, or Agent in Charge.

A Sabre 42 Salon Express is a fast, powerful luxury boat that retails new for around $650,000, equipped with flat screen television, secure storage lockers, two state rooms and capable of sleeping up to six persons.

Go-Fast Boats are long slim fiberglass boats favored by smugglers. The deep V racing hull design make them difficult to detect with radar and the powerful 1000+ horsepower engines allow them to move at more than 80 knots in calm water.

DISCLAIMER: Trixie Belden® is a registered trademark of Random House. This story and its authors are not affiliated with Random House in any way and no profit is being made. This story is written solely for the enjoyment of the reader.

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