Denoument

No one says anything for awhile. There is an awful lot of new information to process, yet there are still a lot more questions to be asked. Sarah jumps off her lounger and goes to the wall which protects them from everything going on in the penthouse on the other side. She puts her ear to the drywall and listens intently, then goes to the keypad. She looks at it uncertainly.  Jeff guesses what she might do, and half rises from the couch.

"Don't  do it Sarah," he says.

"I just want to see what's going on."

"No you don't.  Even if you did open the safe room entrance, you wouldn't see anything. The bedroom is probably full of smoke by now. Besides, you're running the risk of exposing all of us."

Sarah clenches her fists and leans against the wall beside the keypad. She folds her arms and turns toward Jeff.

"I just want to do something. This waiting around is driving me crazy," she says."

"Well settle down somewhere. You're enough to make a stone gargoyle jumpy. Do you want to know about all the events leading up to now, or not?"

Sarah pushes herself off the wall and returns to her lounger. "Fine, I'll settle. How did you go from being Andy Wisniewski to being Jeff Harmon?"

"I was already working for the CIA when I joined Phoebe's team. I couldn't be part of the final bust if I was going to get free, so I was deliberately careless, and put the team at risk. I was asked to leave, and that's how I became Jeff Harmon. I was still working with them, but from a distance. There is an FBI agent named Ralph on the inside, feeding me information. He and Phoebe are the only ones who know me as Jeff Harmon."

"Won't Phoebe give you up in exchange for her own freedom?" Melissa asks.

"Phoebe is a proven killer who is not expected to survive tonight's raid," Jeff says quietly.

The sobering thought silences everyone for awhile, then Sarah gets up to stretch her legs. She needs time to digest everything. She turns toward Sammie on the couch.

"What's your involvement, Sammie? Are you in the mob too?" she asks, disappointment and pain in her voice.

"No. I didn't know anything about Jeff's past at all, until earlier today. We met Ralph in a field somewhere, and he gave Jeff an encryption code for me to break into an American Government site. It led him to a jail where the warden had details about the Polish mob which would help in tonight's raid." Sammie answers.

"Couldn't you do your own hacking?" Melissa asks Jeff.

"I'm a bookkeeper. I only deal in the numbers. I need a hacker to get me into the targeted sites. The hacker on Phoebe's team was a CIA agent that was killed last year. He was replaced by Ralph, who was still in the thick of it. I needed Sammie to do the hacking, because Raph would raise suspicions if he did it himself."

Melissa hangs her head, chastened. She knows that it was her rookie mistake that had gotten the CIA agent killed.

Sarah is still pacing. "If all you had to do was a bit of hacking, how did you get involved in this mess, Sammie?" she jerks her head toward the safe room entrance.

"Jeff was going to drop me off at home, then come up to the penthouse to fulfil his side of the bargain with law enforcement. When I got the urgent call from you up here, everything changed. We couldn't put the three of you in harm's way, so I was supposed to come up here with a couple of cops and get you out while Jeff made arrangements for the raid. That didn't happen."

"What did happen? This is all so confusing," Melissa sighs.

"The FBI stopped us," Jeff says. "They were working with the CIA, and they wanted in on the raid, so Sammie went with them, and I came up here after I picked up the rest of the money from my safe deposit box. I expected Sammie to be already here with you three, ready to leave, but she wasn't. The text I got from her told me that she needed to stay with the FBI to get them into the penthouse.She didn't have the key to the elevator, because Sarah had taken it. They could only go up to the floor below, and use the private staircase to go up to the penthouse. Sammie had the passcode to open the stairway door. She wouldn't give it to the FBI, because she couldn't trust them to keep you guys safe. She knew about the safe room, and suggested I get you in here before the raid began, so that's what I did."

"So what happens now?" Dom asks.

"We wait. There will be a helicopter on the roof just above us when everything is over. They'll take us to a safe house until the whole thing dies down in a few weeks or so. None of you are known to the crime family, because I kept this part of my life completely secret from them. Your safety is very important to me. Sammie and her parents are the closest thing to a family I've ever known. I wasn't raised in a cohesive family unit like you were. I was fostered out to learn different facets of a criminal upbringing. I lived in fifteen different places before I became an adult, and not one of them was a home. There was never anyone I could call my mom or dad. That's why I want out so badly. I want a home of my own, and a real family - with you, Sammie." Jeff says, as he turns his attention on her.

"With ... with me?" Sammie gasps.

Jeff gets off the couch and  kneels on one knee in front of her, and takes her right hand. "Yes, with you. I love you more than anyone else in the world. When this is all over, I want to take you away to someplace far away from this living nightmare. I want to marry you. Will you be my wife?"

"Yes, yes, yes!" Sammie cries and propels herself into Jeff's arms.

They kiss for a few minutes, then Jeff pulls her up to sit on his lap in his lounge chair. Sarah and Melissa blush at being witness to such an intimate moment, but it doesn't affect Dom at all. He still wants to know what's going to happen.

"So you and Sammie are just going to ride off into the sunset and we'll never hear from you again?"

"We'll have to go to some secluded island, I think. We can't be anywhere in North America without putting you at risk - the Polish mob's influence is that far reaching. There are ways we can stay in contact, though. I understand that you're quite a prolific writer, Sarah. You're a long-standing member of a writer's site called Pro ... Program ... Process ..." he shakes his head. He can't remember.

"Protagonize," Sarah offers. I've been trying to get Sammie to join for months. What's my writer's site have to do with anything?"

"Well, Sammie could join the site using a prearranged user name. Then she can collaborate with you on a story where the fictitious characters have lives parallel to our own. You can swap daily details with each other in your chapters. That way you can communicate with each other," Jeff says.

"That sounds ideal, but what about my parents?" Sammie cut in.

"We'll tell them as much as they need to know before we leave, then we'll make arrangements for them to join us when it is safe for them to do so."

It has been a very long exhausting day, so when it seems that there is nothing more to say, they all lapse into silence, mulling over their own thoughts. Melissa joins Dom in his lounge chair and falls asleep. Sarah stretches out on the couch and goes to asleep also. Sammie and Jeff discuss their future quietly. The sudden buzzing of Jeff's phone startles Sammie so badly that she almost jumps off Jeff's lap.

"Yes?" Jeff answers. He listens carefully, then says "okay," then hangs up.

"We've got to wake everybody up now. It's time to go," he tells Sammie.

Sammie shakes Sarah awake, while Jeff pounds the arm of Dom and Melissa's chair to wake them up. "Time to go now," he says.

Sarah sits up and yawns, while Dom stretches, and Melissa rubs her eyes. They all get up and follow Jeff to the far side of the room beside the bathroom. When he gives a segment of the panelling a sharp rap with the heel of his hand, a door opens to reveal a stairway. He begins to climb it with Sammie in tow behind him. The others follow him up. When they reach the roof, they see a large Bell helicopter sitting on the flat surface, its blades momentarily still. A tall black haired man in an FBI jacket stands at the open door, ready to help everyone get in. Jeff and Sammie go first, then Dom and Melissa. When it's Sarah's turn, the handsome agent lifts her bodily into the chopper, and deposits her into one of two empty seats. He gets in beside her, and reaches across and engages her seat belt for her. He straps himself in, then offers her his right hand. 

"Hi, I'm Ralph," he says in a thick Mexican accent as he shakes her hand.

"I'm Sarah," she answers.

"Jeff never told me he had such a beautiful friend. Are you seeing anyone?"

Sarah shakes her head and blushes. She isn't used to such overt flirting. He puts a headset on her, then dons one of his own.

"It'll get pretty noisy in here once we lift off. We can communicate through these headsets."

Sarah nods, suddenly shy. This hunk of an FBI guy certainly holds attractive possibilities for her. She decides to get to know him better during the trip.

"Do you like cocktails?" she asks. "I can make the most amazing Pina Coladas," she says. 

As the two of them talk about mixed drinks, the rotor blades begin to spin. The helicopter is soon airborne. It banks steeply to the right to make a turn. Sammie looks out the window to see the sun just rising over the horizon. They are moving away from the building when she happens to look down. There are many police cars, and unmarked agency vans. Three bagged bodies are being pulled on gurneys toward an oversize ambulance. She knows instinctively who they are. Jeff had already said that he didn't expect Phoebe to survive the raid, and the two bigger bodies could certainly be her two henchmen.This saddens her, but she knows that if they had lived, they would have gotten the death sentence anyway. Jeff had told her that Phoebe and her two pet goons weren't squeamish about committing bloody murder. 

She sighs and sits back in her seat and rests her head on Jeff's shoulder. She is going into a very uncertain future, but she knows it will be alright. Jeff will see to it. He loves her as much as she loves him. In the two seats behind them, Melissa is fast asleep against the window frame. Dom watches her breathe, and realizes he doesn't want to go through the rest of his life without this woman whom he loves so much. As soon as they are released from their safe house, he is going to buy her an engagement ring. 


THE END

The End

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