The story so far:
The day crept by in Austin. Kate did everything she could think of to keep her mind busy. She went running, she rode her bike to get breakfast tacos, she even cleaned her house from top to bottom. All the while her attention was firmly focused on the phone in her back pocket. Five o’clock finally came with a sigh. She took out her personal phone and dialed Ali.
“Hey, want to get together for a drink?”
Thirty minutes later Kate was sitting on an outdoor patio studying an Aztec statue in the middle of a fountain.
“The statue weirds me out,” Kate finally said.
“The statue always weirds you out,” Ali replied, lighting a cigarette. “Are you holding?”
“Stupid question,” Kate laughed, pulling out her orange and blue pencil bag. The door that led to the bar inside opened and Kate quickly put the bag back in her purse. She relaxed when she saw that it was a few of her friends joining them with fresh drinks. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” a shorter blonde, Heather, said, sitting in the metal lawn chair next to Kate.
“Oh my God, what happened to you?” another friend, Janice, asked, sitting across from Kate. Kate took a gulp of beer and shrugged.
“A light umbrella fell down during a photo shoot,” Kate lied. “I caught it with my face.”
“Good thing you’ve got a hard head,” a young blonde man, Jay, said, sipping from a bottle.
“You have no idea, Jay,” Kate laughed. Jay settled in a chair next to Ali and rubbed her thigh under the table. Kate smirked and locked eyes with Ali. Ali blushed and shook her head.
About an hour later all of the friends were well on their way to being drunk when another friend, Mal, joined them.
“Did y’all hear about what happened in London today?” she asked, settling down between Heather and Janice. Kate’s attention snapped away from Ali and Jay to Mal.
“What happened?” Ali asked. Kate’s heart began to race.
“Heathrow got shut down because of some security breach and then there was a break in at the Prime Minister’s house. CNN didn’t say anything else, just that some precious jewels had been taken,” Mal shrugged. Kate’s heart stopped.
“Was that the press release?” Kate asked, sipping on her third beer.
“Yeah,” Mal said.
“Those were the exact words they used?” Kate asked. The others glanced over at her.
“News junkie much?” Ali laughed, the others joining in. Kate managed a weak chuckle.
“I don’t know, here let me pull the story up on my phone,” Mal said, pulling out her smart phone. After a few clicks she handed it over to Kate. Kate kept her face neutral while a bead of sweat dripped down the side of her face.
“What’s it say?” Heather asked.
“Um, at noon London time there was a security breach at Heathrow, the Prime Minister’s plane was diverted to Gatwick and he was not harmed. When he returned to 10 Downing Street it was discovered that there had been a break in, resulting in the loss of some precious jewels. It is believed the two incidents are unrelated,” Kate read, her right hand shaking by her side. She gripped her knee in an attempt to stop it but that only resulted in her knee bouncing under the table. She calmly handed the phone back to Mal.
“Eh, the Prime Minister can probably afford to lose a few jewels,” Heather said.
“Just not the family jewels,” Jay joked.
“Not these jewels,” Kate muttered. The phone in her back pocket vibrated. With a deep breath Kate pulled the phone out and put it to her ear. “Kate Mitchell photography.”
“How fast can you get on a plane to London?” Kelly asked without greeting.
“A wedding this weekend? In Dallas?” Kate mused for the benefit of her friends. “I can do it if you’ll pick up half my travel expenses… I can be there tomorrow.”
“Let me put it this way, Kate, there is a private jet waiting at the airport, close your tab out and catch a cab.”
“Tonight’s a little soon, I have to get my gear together,” Kate said. The others were now listening intently to her conversation. “How much… you’ve got a deal, I’ll be there in the morning.” Kate hung up the phone and stood, chugging the last of her pint. “Guys, I got to go, big **** wedding in Dallas, at the Nasher sculpture center. Big money.”
“**** A, man, congrats!” Ali said, smiling. The others followed suit, clapping Kate on the back or raising their glasses to her.
“Yeah, but I got to book. I’ll see you guys when I see you,” Kate said. She quickly crossed the patio, went through the bar and onto sixth street. By divine providence there was a yellow cab out front, waiting. She got in.
“I need to get to the airport as fast as you can go. Make it in less than twenty minutes and I’ll pay double,” Kate said.
The driver made it to Austin Bergstrom Insternational Airport in less than fifteen minutes. Kate paid double, plus a sizable tip.
“You, sir, are the man,” Kate said, smiling. She entered the main terminal and went downstairs where the private lounges were. While walking she dialed Kelly back. “Have they gotten a ransom demand?”
“How the **** do you know what’s going on?” Kelly yelled.
“I read the news release. Every intelligence operative that works for Britain knows that code.”
“Not yet. Your plane will stop at Dulles to refuel. Call Jack and get her here. I’ll handle Max,” Kelly said.
“What about Emily and Iris?”
“They’re already at work, Simeon called Fran as soon as it happened,” Kelly said.
“Got it, see you in a few hours. And Kelly?”
“What?” Kelly snapped.
“Hug Jolie and Jake for me will you?”
“Yeah, of course,” Kelly said. “Hurry, Kate.”
“If I have to put a gun to the pilot’s head to make him fly faster I will, Kelly. See you soon.” Kate ended the call and then dialed Jack’s number. “Jack, you need to get to Dulles in less than three hours. I suggest flying.”
“What’s going on?” Jack asked.
“The Prime Minister’s ten year old daughter has been kidnapped.”