Gia Doyle makes a new start in a new location, but will her mysterious past follow her?
The Knights Templar
Seize the day - Seize whatever you can
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day - the grace from God’s hand
And nothing can stand in your way - Seize the day
-- Carolyn Arends
Gia Doyle wasn't due to arrive at the Legacy House on Smith Island for another two days. Haunting dreams had affected her so severely, she'd considered taking an earlier flight to the intriguing Midwestern destination, but instead nervous energy coursed through her veins. Was this due to the blond blue-eyed man in her dreams or her new assignment at the Legacy House?
She sipped Mexican coffee, her favorite luxury, while planning her next move. The clock ticked silently away and the display glaring the red digits 12:00; it now read 2:30. Her eyes drooped and her mind spun into a dream...
Cast in shadows, the room was painted in shades of blue and black. His skin, the skin she knew to normally be sun-kissed, shone blue in the dim light. The harsh contrasts of the shadows made his body seem more angular, more sensual somehow, as if the blue of the moonlight suited him as much as the golden rays of the sun.
While he slept, she could only stare. His face was more handsome than any man had a right to be. She ran her hands across his broad muscular chest tempting him out of a deep slumber. He was definitely beautiful and she was lucky to have found a man like him. For a moment in the streaming lamp light, she saw only him, tall and lean, his straight blond hair giving him the look of an Adonis.
As nearly as she was able, in that instant, she loved...
Gia jerked back to a fully-alert state, her heart racing. The clock blinked 3:30. She eyed the suitcases in the corner. They were neatly stacked and packed awaiting her trip to Salem. She didn't have many belongings. What she did have was stored in those few totes. It was actually quite ridiculous how little she owned. She paced her small apartment sipping her now-cold Mexican coffee and again considered her options.
Before the first light of day peeked across the bayou, Gia was gone, leaving the New Orleans Legacy House far behind. The stately mansion located in the French Quarter loomed large over her as she stepped out of its humble threshold, bags in hand, and a fresh start ahead of her.
No one knew she was leaving except Philip Lancaster, the director of the New Orleans House, but he hadn't expected her departure until Wednesday. They both had talked via video phone to Shane Donovan, precept of the main Legacy House, earlier in the week. Philip needed her to do research, and Shane had agreed to accommodate them. There had been many strange occurrences in that area over the past few years and Philip wanted to know if the cause was really a local mafia boss or some sort of paranormal activity.
Philip was immensely interested in the occult and theology and how they linked together. The main Legacy House seemed the perfect site to discover if the two had correlations of monumental proportions. From all the reports Philip had read, the area seemed as eerie as the Bermuda Triangle and just as baffling.
In front of Gia lay an ornate book, centuries old. The leather was stretched taut over the cover, embossed with the letters KT. It's well-worn surface told of the many battles it had seen and the ages it had endured. The book was the journal of Philip of Orleans.
Philip Lancaster, precept of the New Orleans Legacy House, had given it to her as a gift. He claimed Philip of Orleans, one of the few Grand Masters of the Knights Templar, was his ancestor. Gia doubted it and teased the older man relentlessly that he was related to Philip the Fair instead. Philip the Fair was the king who had caused the downfall of the Templars. Philip had never taken her teasing very well, which only prompted her to continue her barbing on a regular basis. By now Philip Lancaster was probably convinced, mainly from her teasing, that he was indeed related to the evil king of the Dark Ages.
All she could do was laugh when she thought of the memory. How many times had she taunted, teased and down-right humiliated him over this issue? The number was too high to count, but it was all in good fun. Philip had actually been quite generous to her. He knew of her yearning to know more about this obscure order of knighthood, which had been why the gift was so precious to her. It was a book from his family's library. Knowing he had never been that interested in genealogy, she had accepted the offer.
One aspect of the Knights Templar captivated her. The mysteries surrounding the order. She had even conjured a few theories of her own.
Just then her cell phone prattled. She answered it while boarding the red-eye. The flight attendant gestured to the area where her seat was located and Gia found it quickly.
"Gia, glad to have caught you," Philip said, slightly annoyed.
"What's wrong?" His Scottish accent was stronger now. She knew from experience that he slipped into his normal speech patterns when upset.
"Nothing, love. I wasn't expecting you to leave quite so quickly. I hadn't had a chance to brief you on new developments in the case."
Gia could tell it wasn't the case that was bothering him. It was because she hadn't consulted with him before leaving the Legacy house early this morning. Glancing out the airplane's small porthole, she saw nothing but a black dark void. The hint of dawn nipping at the edges of the horizon.
"If you're getting an early start to see the Templar exhibit, it won't be in town until next week."
"Oh, that's a shame," she said breathlessly, with a sarcastic edge to her voice. "I guess I'll just have to wait one more week."
Philip knew she was looking forward to viewing the medieval artifacts and that one more week wasn't going to kill her. She'd learned one thing in her four years with the Legacy: patience. She had an abundance of patience. This fact alone told her that he had another reason for calling.
Shane knew the female Legacy member's past as well as his own. Gina wasn't the only name she went by. He held a list of aliases two pages long. The only thing he couldn't figure out was how she kept them all straight.
Disappearing was her strong suit, and her disappearance four years ago was perfectly in character for her. He should know, she was his sister after all.
Growing up she had a flair for art and music, but it was history that had fascinated her -- especially the Crusades involving the Poor Knights of Christ in the Temple of Solomon, an order of warrior monks she preferred calling the Knights Templar.
Gina came up with a theory when she was just a young lass; a theory Shane had always found intriguing. Once the Templars were killed off, the Knights of St. John were given all of their riches as a reward.
Could the Knights Templar and the Knights of St. John be one and the same? And if so, was the real treasure they guarded still in their safekeeping? Even after all these years? Could the Holy Grail King Arthur sought in legend really exist in this time and in this place? Could the very cup of Christ be within their grasp?
The mere thought of such an occurrence scared Shane. What would he do if Archer Santos ever found out such an all-powerful item was on the verge of being discovered? And by his sister no less? The real question was, did he know this already?
Shane paced the floor of the main Legacy House wearing a burgundy robe. His flight had barely landed before the storm front moved in. Lightning streaked across the sky mocked by thunder two seconds later. For a while the sky had been stone silent. No lightning. No thunder. Just high winds and rain. Now the storm had progressed and grown. It didn't look like it would be letting up anytime soon.
Rain streaked down the window like a little girl's lost tears. They continually welled up and zigzagged down the clear glass, effectively blurring the island view he was normally used to seeing. The humidity was still high and he was glad for the comfort of the air conditioning. He held a cup of steaming coffee in his hands and stared blankly out the kitchen window.
Mike Hastings was still too groggy to help them, and Shane, for one, wasn't interested in half-ass answers. Their female researcher hadn't gotten him to say anything remotely interesting when she impersonated his girlfriend. Shane had decided to question Mike himself. That's why he brought Mike back to town.
The blond doctor was upstairs resting in one of the many rooms in the Legacy mansion. Shane had always liked the mansion's castle-like comfort and he'd sought solace here on many occasions. But today his motive was not solace. He wanted to know the whereabouts of his sister. And Mike Hastings was going to tell him. Shane knew he would get the information out of him one way or another.
The lights in the west peeked over the horizon as Ethan Fairchild landed the Legacy commuter plane. Runway bulbs spilled pools of murky light onto the long stretch of concrete. As he taxied toward the hanger, a figure running around the metal building caught his eye. He couldn't say exactly what had triggered his instinct, but that person wasn't a mere airline worker.
Ethan disembarked the plane, leaving his prisoners strapped in their seats. They were drugged and wouldn't be going anywhere. He drew his gun, checked the chamber for a bullet and headed off in the direction the man had gone.
He had radioed before landing to call attention to the security staff, but so far they were not responding. It seemed these men, whoever they were, knew what they were doing. He imagined the security staff were either having their beauty rest early, or they were dead. Dead was more likely.
He found the officers minutes later, each with a bullet wound to the head. Their bodies lay crumpled in the security checkpoint between the two airports.
Ethan caught up to the shadowy figure as he ran alongside the runway and carefully he followed him into Scott Air Force Base.
The figure suddenly vanished. Ethan kept his trained eye marked on the man's last location, and his senses were ready to attack if warranted. Mere seconds lapsed before the figure stealthily moved again through the air base. He was now holding a rather small oblong box. It must have been waiting for him, which meant this man had inside help to obtain the object he was carrying.
Turning back toward the civilian airport, the figure sprinted ahead, leaving Ethan in the dust. He tried to keep up, but the man was much faster than him. By the time he reached the hanger where his plane was waiting, the figure had vanished once again.
The interior of the plane was dark when Ethan boarded. Before he could position himself into the cockpit to taxi into the hanger, a large object made impact with his skull. He tried to draw his gun, but the wound was too new. His head swirled and he passed out slumped against the empty passenger seats.
Once the plane had passed the storm, turbulence had been minimal. Gia sighed. Never a fan of flying -- she did it out of necessity rather than enjoyment -- she, for one, was glad the flight was over.
The plane had been diverted to a small airport outside of St. Louis. She had never heard of it but it wasn't surprising since it was a relatively new establishment. A strange art deco piece hung from the ceiling of the terminal like a gigantic chandelier without lights. Fluorescent bulbs buzzed and cast a dim green light in the hallway.
Across the way, Gia spotted a logo she recognized. It was the crest of the Knights Templar. The aircraft containing the exhibit had probably been diverted there as well, which was only natural since the storm was one of the worst the area had seen in over one hundred years.
As she made her way toward the packing crates, Gia noticed two strange men eying the boxes. An inborn instinct took over her body and she followed the men into the hanger.
When Ethan regained consciousness, the same shadowy figure he'd been following darted across his vision. But now it was joined by two others. Those two were close to each other, the other figure lagged not far behind.
Ethan shook the cobwebs out of his head, which throbbed double time now that he'd found the man he'd been following. Carefully, he rose from the awkward position in which he'd been lying. It was obvious what had happened. The drugs he had given his prisoners had worn off and his two passengers had ambushed him!
Gia noted a man departing a small commuter plane. He held a hand to his head while he watched the two men she was following. He eyed her as well, but she slunk into the shadows, effectively vanishing.
The man held his gun like a pro: knees bent, both hands on the gun. There was noticeable concern on his thirty-something face.
Gia made a run toward the men who were opening the packing crates, but the pro caught her movement.
"Hold it right there," he said with a cool tone.
"As far as I've been able to ascertain, mister. We're on the same side."
Gia held the small firearm steady in a professional stance. The only obstruction between her and the other man, who had an even bigger semi-automatic gun, was a wall of cardboard boxes. She expertly maneuvered through the cardboard maze anticipating his move and countering it. Her cat-like fluid motions left silent footsteps. By the time he reached her previous position, she was secure in another location.
"Smooth, very smooth. Almost like a professional," Ethan said, inwardly cursing himself.
"A professional like you, I assume."
His one word response was all the information she needed. She glanced toward the packing crates containing the Knights Templar exhibit. The goons were gone and so was one of the exhibit boxes.
"Good, I'd hate to think I'm going through this nonsense for an amateur."
Before he knew what hit him, Ethan Fairchild, a professional secret agent, was staring down the barrel of a small hand-held pistol.
"Checkmate, my friend." Gia smirked. "Now, if we're through playing this silly game of cat and mouse, why don't we team up and stop those men? They have the armor, and I, for one, am not going to let them get away with it."
Ethan glanced back toward the oblong box in which the tracking system was encased. It was still intact, lying on one of the packing crates. They had either forgotten it or were more interested in what lay in the stolen boxes. What had Archer's men stolen then, if not the tracking device? All he had was questions. This woman had the answers.
"How do I know I can trust you?" he asked.
"It's simple. You can't."