Jan felt so terrible the next morning that she didn't even want to open her eyes. She flicked on her light and sat up in her bead. She took off her urban BDU's and looked in the mirror. Her skin had already healed. There were faint pink circles where the bullet holes had been hours before, but the bullets were still there. So was the weird feeling. Jan went to take her shower. She felt so weak that she could hardly move, and any quick movement sent a wave of nausea through her. Finally her stomach could take no more. Jan rushed to the toilet stall and threw up everything in her stomach and heaved for minutes more after her stomach was empty. The girls in the area looked, but said nothing. They didn't know what to say. By then all of them knew what had happened. For months they had heard and been around the indestructible Jan Caufield, the same girl who was puking. Kennedy, from Jan's team, came into the bathroom and put her arm around her while she still crouched in front of the bowl.
"Are you ok?", she asked tenderly.
"I don't know", Jan answered while trying to blink back tears. Kennedy helped Jan clean her face and after getting dressed carried Jan's tray in the breakfast line.
Jan didn't want to eat anything, but she knew she should try. Kennedy sat Jan's nearly bare tray down. Jan poked at the food and took a few bites. Alisha and Sarah to Jan's left with Kennedy and the rest of the team to her right. They all shared looks. Jan looked terrible. She had a fever, anyone near her could tell and her skin had lost color. Her eyes looked tired. Jan drank a cup of room temperature water. She reached for the cup, but her hand spasmed and she turned it over. The team hurried to contain it.
Angie James, another team leader, poked her friend next to her and whispered, "Looks like little miss indestructible isn't so indestructible."
Brandi Miller shot up from her seat and slapped Angie's fork from her hand. "She saved our lives in that building doing what she did! If she hadn't come into the building I'd be on a slab. If you think of anything else to say, you'd better keep it to yourself." Brandi, never one to show a temper, glared at Angie. Angie looked down at her plate and picked up her fork.
Brandi stared at her for another second or two before sitting back down. She was sure the whole room was looking at her, but she didn't care. Jan reached her arm under the table and patted Brandi on the leg. She mouthed 'Thank you'. Brandi took Jan's hand and gave it a little squeeze. Jan took a few more bites before slowly walking from the cafeteria. It was time to see the doctor.
"So Doc, how bad is it?", Jan asked weakly. She was having trouble sitting up straight in the chair.
Doctor Louis Brown was a tall brown skinned black doctor who had treated Jan before after the mine explosion. He looked in the chart and then at the x-ray images hanging in the viewers.
"Well, Miss Caufield, normally I'd only be looking at x-rays like this at a post mortem. You are a unique case. One of the bullets is sitting against your spine, and there is another dangerously near your heart. Normally that sort of placement wouldn't be very easy to reach."
Jan managed a smile. "Doc, as bad as I feel, I'm still not normal. I don't want to have surgery. I never thought I'd ever have to have surgery. It's funny how life has a way of playing out."
"Yes, life can throw you a change-up or two. At any rate, I can get those bullets out as soon as you're ready. We'll put you under a general anesthesia, then remove the three bullets. I'd like to tell you how long the recovery would be, but not too many people would recover from this."
"Doc, I'd feel better just to have the bullets out of me."
"Can you do it now? I can't even keep any food down. My head starts swimming for no reason. I'm so tired and weak I can't even hold a glass of water."
Dr. Brown nodded. "It's the bullet near your spine. It is touching several nerves. Once it is removed, the headaches and nausea should stop. The other bullet is lodged against the aorta. Its constricting blood flow quite a bit. Let's get those bullets out." It took over two hours for the team to prepare Jan for surgery. Finally they had her prepped and they gave her the anesthesia. Ten seconds later, Jan closed her eyes.
Jan opened her eyes suddenly. She started to sit up, but felt a hand on her shoulder gently push her back down. She craned her head to see an upside down image of Dr. Brown looking down at her.
"Don't sit up just yet. Let me get a look at the incisions. I didn't bother to suture them." The doctor came around and ran a finger over the wound just below her sternum. It had antiseptic on it and looked to be closed. He pulled her up gently and looked at the one on her back. "Looks good", he stated. "How do you feel?"
Jan sat up slowly and swung her feet over to the floor. "Just about normal. Thanks, Dr. Brown.
Ms. Worthington stepped into view. "I'm glad you're feeling better. We have another mission for you and your team."
"Yes, ma'am, but don't we usually rotate down for a few days?"
"Teams 1 and 2 are both involved in this one. Usually we would send seasoned teams from CIA or Army for this, but hell every special operator in the military is either in Afghanistan or Iraq right now. We need this done quickly, like within 24 hours. Jan, do you think you're going to be ready?"
Jan wanted to say no, but she couldn't. "Yes, Ma'am. I'll be ready."
"Good. Oh and Jan, next time someone shoots at you, duck." Ms. Worthington smiled.
Jan wasn't sure she'd see her smile before. Jan smiled back. "I'll try to remember that."
Jan's face was painted in shades of gray and black to match her urban assault outfit. The rest of the team was dressed the same. All twelve had been hiding for hours in an abandoned warehouse watching several drug dealers wait on a very large deal that was about to go down. The police were going to raid this particular deal. They had already been tipped off. Jan's team had to get down in the confusion and snatch the main seller, and more importantly the information he had stored on several memory sticks. Jan didn't know what was on the sticks, nor did she care. Jan was group leader of a mission she had barely had time to plan for. That worried her. She was also worried about herself. She still didn't feel quite right, but she couldn't let on. The teams had started drawing strength from Jan's strength. They had complete confidence and believed that they could do anything as long as Jan was there. Jan hoped everything would go smoothly, but knew better.
Finally the warehouse door opened and three black Navigators drove in and parked close together. Fourteen men in dark suits jumped out and spread out to secure the perimeter. They didn't come near Jan or any of her team members who were stationed along the back wall.
"All clear", she heard one of them yell. Jan just smiled to herself and waited.
The dealers had set up on one side of the large building near the windows for light. Eleven black cases were laid out on the ground. The buyers walked over slowly and confidently. Some of the men shook hands, while others nodded in greeting. They started talking to each other. Then three more cases came out. They laid the three on the ground and opened them. Jan could see the crisp green bills. They almost shined like gold itself. She shook her head and kept scanning the situation. The real deal was taking place off to the side.
Two men stood near each other and talked briefly before the transfer took place. There was no cash. All that had been done electronically. Jan just waited for the memory stick to change hands. That confirmed the identities of the buyer and seller. The police made their move suddenly. It looked like a scene from a movie. An armored personnel carrier burst through the main door with four police cars coming in quickly behind it. The skylights shattered and officers started zip lining in. The dealers and the buyers looked at each other wondering how something like this could happen. They reacted quickly and badly. Jan wasn't sure who fired the first shot, but a police officer was the first to go down. The crooks scattered to find cover while the cops used the personnel carrier and returned fire. Helicopters could be heard overhead. The noise was confusing and exciting. Jan had to make herself calm down.
A block of old offices covered the other side of the warehouse. Alisha and her team had been hiding there. They were on the move now. They quickly got into position behind and beneath some old machinery. Alisha knew that this was her chance. Each team had a tranquilizer pistol with one shot to take down the target. Brandi had the pistol, took aim and fired. The shot was silent compared to the gunfire. No one even turned. The target slapped at the back of his neck, but was on the ground before taking two more steps. The other men looked at him, but in the confusion didn't know what to do. They left him. Alisha smiled and nodded again. Three girls started out after the unconscious man.
Jan had her target, the buyer in sight and took the shot. She hit him in the neck, just below the ear. He dropped immediately, but he was not alone. He had a bodyguard. Jan couldn't get a good look at him he had been in the shadows the entire time, but he picked up the unconscious man and took off towards the old offices.
"Shit!", Jan yelled. She hurried towards the offices with the rest of Team 1 in tow. They went in dodging stray bullets and quickly fanned out. They had to get that guy and more importantly the information stored on the memory stick. Jan moved quickly, but silently. She saw a smudge on the dust and opened the door slowly before bursting into the room. It was empty, but the door to the next room was open. She crept to the door and looked in before going all the way in. Her breath caught in her throat. She saw the target lying on the floor, but her eyes went the other way. Not many things had ever given Jan Caufield pause, but this guard was the biggest human being she had ever seen. The huge black guard had to be near 7' tall and weigh 400 pounds, but it was 400 pounds of the biggest most dense muscle Jan had ever seen. His arms were easily bigger around than her waist. The reports had said that the buyer had a guard named Mel who was formidable and well trained, but this was ridiculous. Jan did something she didn't ever think she was going to do. She reached down to her hip, smoothly pulled out her custom Springfield 1911, disengaged the safety, and pushed the door open.
"Hand's up!", Jan yelled.
He did so slowly. Jan felt her fear swell as the man turned, then he looked at her. His eyes were focused on her, sizing her up. He had a shaved head and long Egyptian style chin beard that make him look all the more menacing.
Jan didn't let her fear show. "On your fucking knees, and lace your fingers behind your head!" He complied. Only then did Jan let herself relax, a little.
"Come to room 1A, subject is on the floor", Jan said into her comm. She glanced down at the man laid out on the floor. That was all the time Mel needed.
Faster than she thought a man that size or anyone for that matter could move, Mel jumped to his feet, slid next to her and grabbed both of her wrists and wrenched the gun from her hands. The pressure had been enormous. In one motion, he threw her over his shoulder against the cement and brick wall hard enough to crack the old masonry. Her eyes darkened for a moment. Her uniform had snagged against a piece of jagged metal and was torn nearly in two across her back. Jan could feel blood drip down her back. Then her head turned. The rest of the team was almost to the door. Mel was waiting. He would tear into them, she couldn't let that happen. Jan jumped to her feet and launched herself at Mel. She kicked him in the back of the knee and then sent a beautiful kick to the side of his head. He stumbled, but did not fall. Jan was surprised. That kick had put down everyone even people wearing pads. The team burst in then. They stopped wide eyed. The huge man staggered, but regained senses. He went towards Kennedy, but another kick from Jan made him turn back to her.
"Get the target!", Jan ordered.
Mel went to protect his charge, but Jan was going to have to make sure that he paid attention to her. The rest of the girls might not have a chance even if they shot him. She kicked Mel in the small of his back. He roared and swung blindly at her. She dodged and kicked him again the stomach as she turned. He turned again, but the girls had already dragged his charge into the next office. He wanted to go after them, but that bitch wouldn't leave him alone. Well, he had really been hired to protect the merchandise, and the merchandise was in his pocket. Now he only had to get this bitch off of him. He turned and threw a punch at Jan's head. She dodged it and caught his massive wrist. She tried to throw him, but he didn't budge. He pulled her back to him instead. His elbow waited for her. Another punch from Mel had Jan seeing stars. She grabbed at him. He laughed and threw her across the room again thinking that he was finished with her.
Jan didn't have time to think about what was happening. She had to keep Mel busy while her team got the target clear. There was still a gunfight going on too. She could hear men yelling and cursing and shooting. Mel started after her team. Jan picked herself up, tore the ruins of her uniform top off and lunged after him.
Jan ran to Mel again and this time jumped up and wrapped her arm around the huge man's bull neck. She flexed her bicep and squeezed as hard as she could and jerked down. The man bent backward. Jan wailed on him with her left. She sent blow after blow into his face with the heel of her fist. He brought his arm up to protect his face. Jan hip tossed him towards the middle of the room knocking over old chairs and breaking old desks into splinters.
"How the fuck do you like it!?", Jan yelled. She bent down to look for her pistol.
It had been a long time since anyone had even made Mel break a sweat in a fight. This was kinda nice in a way. He looked at this tall bitch. Not a bad looking chick and strong as a horse. He liked the way her body flexed when she moved. And she had tossed him, that was no easy feat. Mel shook his big head. It would be a shame to beat this girl into a plastic surgeon's chair or a morgue, but a job was a job. He hurried behind her and with enough strength to kill a regular man kicked Jan in the side.
The impact exploded against her ribs. The air shot from her lung and all her organs actually moved from the impact. She dropped to her knees spitting up blood and phlegm.
"Don't know when to quit." Mel's voice was as scary as the rest of him. Jan looked up just as his fist came down at her. She moved. Mel's fist smashed into the floor and through the concrete. He pulled his hand up and went after her. Jan tried to get away, but he caught her arm. He snatched her off her feet and pulled her close and wrapped his right hand around her neck and squeezed. He held her up off the ground even with his eyes while he choked off her air. Jan looked back into his eyes. She wondered if she had had the same look when she had been doing the same thing to Heather all those months ago. She knew one thing that was different, this man had no intention to stop. Jan pulled at his hand. It was like a vice. He poured on more pressure. She could see his forearm flex. Jan looked for something to grab for something to poke, but his arms were longer than hers. Then she looked in his face. He was smiling.
Jan's fear melted. Hot seething anger replaced it. He didn't know who the fuck he was dealing with! Jan wrapped her long legs around Mel's waist locked her ankles and squeezed as hard as she could.
Mel gasped. Jan felt the power of his choke wane. Jan smiled now and poured on more. Mel reached down with his left to pry her off, but his hand felt the steel hardness through the pants. Jan's legs squeezed hard and harder. Finally he let the choke go and tried to pry her off with both hands. Jan's body didn't move. Her entire body was flexed as she poured more and more into her legs. Blood dribbled to the corners of his mouth as he writhed and bucked under Jan's squeeze. He went to his knees with Jan's quads flexing through the tough fabric of her uniform. Sweat ran down her forehead and her face was a mask of concentration as she tried to squeeze Mel flat. It was her turn to smile. Mel was nearing the end. She could tell. Mel tried to punch her, but his blows were too slow and too weak. This fight was near over. He grabbed at her and finally he caught her arm. With a burst of energy and strength, Mel pulled Jan up to him so that their torsos were touching. He reared back and came forward as hard as he could. Jan didn't have time to react. The back of her head slammed into the reinforced concrete and through the it down four or five inches to the gravel fill beneath. Her legs dropped to the ground and Mel rolled off of her coughing blood and trying to fill his lungs. He staggered towards the door without looking back.
Jan's head was in a hole and concrete rubble and dust covered her face. Mel thought she was dead. After nearly thirty seconds she coughed a breath and pulled herself out of the hole. Her head pounded. She could still hear the gun fight outside and knew where she was, but it took another few seconds for the headache to fade a little. She pulled her comm unit from her side and stuck it back in her ear.
"Target buyer does not have the package. I repeat, target does not have what we're looking for." Jan looked at Mel and knew that he had it. She sighed. She wanted no more of him, but she had to complete the mission. She pushed the link button, but nothing happened. She looked down at it. It was broken. She shook her head and stood up.
Mel heard the noise and turned. He was still in pain from the scissors hold and turned slowly. Their eyes met and there was a moment where both realized that they didn't want the fight to continue.
"Give me the stick and I'll let you go!", Jan yelled over the sound of the gunfire outside.
Mel had regained his composure. "Don't think so. You're pretty tough. I'll give you that, but you ain't getting this stick"
"I'll just shoot you or have one of my team come in here and blow you away."
Mel laughed loudly. "If you had another gun you'd have shot me by now, and if any of your little girls come in here, I'll tear them in half." He did a quick crab flex to make his point.
Jan laughed now, and flexed.
"Not bad", Mel said as he nodded his head. "I'm not giving this stick to you. You want it... come and get it!"
There was a smugglers exit out of the warehouse. That was the
escape route for the teams. It took them out past the police to a field
where they were going to be picked up. Every member of the teams except
one was in the tunnel waiting. Alisha finally had had enough.
"I'm going back in. Get those assholes out of here and then get back here if I'm not back with Jan." Alisha turned and started back up the tunnel.
Jan dodged a punch from Mel, but didn't see the kick. It hit her in the ribs and knocked her five feet away against the wall. He came towards her, but she lunged at him and drove her shoulder into his stomach. She lifted him off the ground and ran until they slammed through a steel support pole and then through a wall separating offices. The ceiling crashed down behind them and old furniture flew around. Finally Jan slammed him to the ground. She mounted him with her knees on his shoulders and didn't hesitate in pounding her fists into his face as quickly as her arms could throw punches. Mel's head bounced against the concrete as Jan punched him hard enough to kill any regular man, but Mel wasn't regular.
Mel bucked his hips and pulled his elbows together lifting Jan off him and tossing her over his head into a pile of chairs. Jan pulled herself out and charged.
Alisha and Brandi had worked their way into the block where the offices were. They knew they had to hurry. The police had the crooks surrounded and had already made one arrest. Alisha had to get Jan out before the police had the entire building secure. It didn't take long to find Jan, she heard the fight. She ordered Brandi to keep a lookout and then she ran down the hall. Alisha had her black Glock 23 out as she turned to look though the doorway. She saw Jan fighting with the biggest man she had ever seen. She raised her gun, but couldn't get a clear shot.
Jan came at Mel who was waiting. He raised his hand and caught her punches. She pushed against him, but Mel had the leverage. He leaned over her and pushed down. Jan bent back as Mel pushed down with all his strength. His arms shook as he pressed her down. Jan pressed back, but Mel was so much taller, his leverage was too much. Jan had rarely poured all of her strength into anything. Her strength was always so random that it wasn't worth trying, but Jan could feel the strength in her body. She was giving all she had, but it seemed to not be enough. Jan looked at Mel grimace as he pressed her down. She looked down at the ground and took a deep breath. With all the energy she could manage, Jan pushed back. A low guttural growl escaped her lips as her muscles flexed and bulged to fight back.
Jan's blood smeared, dirt covered arms flexed like never before. She reached deep within herself and found the power. She looked up and met Mel's eyes with hers. Jan's abs hardened and she started to straighten herself. She was able to put her right leg back for leverage and push Mel back more. Jan's triceps flexed harder now as she straightened her arms. She pulled herself closer to Mel. She could almost feel the power radiating from him. She hoped he could feel her's.
Mel was shocked. No one had ever been able to stand up to him. No one had ever been able to challenge his strength, and ever since he had started taking the 'juice' he had become even stronger. He was several times stronger now than he had been years ago and now this little girl was overpowering him. His mind was almost frozen. He squeezed his hands tighter and redoubled his effort.
Jan grimaced as Mel's vice like grip squeezed her hands. She squeezed back and continued to push. She could feel him pushing harder, but her muscles were so hard and ripped. Her power was like nothing he had ever felt. She was going to win. She started pulling down Mel's arms. His big shoulders flexed to keep his arms where he wanted them, but Jan's lats flared and she continued to pulled down the huge man's arms.
Mel couldn't believe it. He was loosing. He never lost. Mel yelled and pushed with what he had left. His muscles swelled even more. Jan was caught off guard. She lost her balance. Mel saw his opening. He turned and in one smooth motion flipped Jan over his shoulder onto her back. Still holding her arm, Mel stepped over her and twisted her arm against the axis of her shoulder. Jan cried out in pain, but the tendons wouldn't tear and the joint wouldn't dislocate. Mel tried again this time twisting harder, hard enough to rip a normal person's arm clean off. His own bulging muscles flexed harder as he poured all this immense strength into Jan's right arm. Jan tried to pull free, but couldn't.
Alisha saw an opening. She burst in the room. "Let her go and step the fuck away!", she yelled.
Mel looked up then down at Jan. He jerked Jan up off the floor and pulled her in front of him. He held her with one arm around her neck and the other pulling against it putting more pressure on her neck. Alisha had lost her shot. But instead of moving away, he moved towards her. Alisha wisely backed away. She backed through the broken wall into the office where the fight had started. Mel stalked her even though she had the gun. Alisha tripped and lost balance. Mel saw his chance, dropped Jan and took off after Alisha. That was his last mistake for the day.
Jan didn't fall, instead she jumped up and grabbed hold of a steel cross member. Her biceps flexed hard as she brought herself up quickly and pushed her legs out. She caught Mel between her calves as he ran. Jan braced herself. Her abs flexed inhumanly hard as she brought her legs up and Mel off the ground. She pulled herself up more with her arms. Her legs vibrated with the strength and power she poured into Mel's neck. He clawed at her legs. He tugged and pulled, but did no good. He ripped her pants, but Jan didn't care. She struggled to control Mel as best she could. He fought against her, but she had him off the ground.
Jan looked at Alisha. "Check his pockets and get the stick!" Alisha didn't want to go near him without first putting a few holes in him with her pistol, but she did it. Mel bucked and tried to resist, but Jan threw her head back and squeezed tighter still. The head of her calf muscles cut deep into Mel's thick neck. Her legs just got harder and the squeeze tighter. His eyes rolled in his head from the pain as the jagged muscle cut into his neck and he stopped resisting.
"Got it!", Alisha yelled as she pulled the cracked stick from his pocket.
Jan's face contorted once more in effort as she grunted a final squeeze before letting Mel drop to the floor.
"Ok let's go!", Jan said through deep breaths. Her face was streaked with dirt, her torso was too, but Alisha could tell that she wasn't too bad off.
"Here", Alisha said and held out Jan's pistol."
"Thanks", Jan said as they hurried out the door towards their exit. Jan pointed for Brandi to start moving.
"No problem", Alisha said as they started down the tunnel. "That's what I tripped over by the way."
"Oh sorry, my fault." Jan laughed as they broke into the light of day. They hurried into the waiting vans and back towards Livingston.
"Who the hell was that you were fighting?", Alisha asked after they had made it back and had time to clean themselves up and debrief.
"That was the guard Mel, that they had told us about. They didn't say that Mel was like five really huge men put together." Jan shook her head.
"Yeah, but you handled him."
"I wouldn't want to fight him again. Yeah he was big, but he was stronger on top of that. He could actually hurt me with his bare hands. No one's ever been able to do that."
Alisha slapped Jan on the shoulder. "Don't get all fuckin' serious on me now. The mission is over and we were victorious again."
Jan smiled finally. "Thanks for coming back in for me. I didn't get a chance to say that earlier."
"Thanks?", Alisha asked puzzled. "What the hell did you think I was going to do? You would have come back in for me wouldn't you?"
"Without a doubt."
"Then fucking relax. Mel's probably going to get ten fucking years in prison."
"Yeah, Jan agreed. "The suits were sure interested in hearing what I had to say about him at the debrief."
.... Six months later
Melvin Maurice Johnson had saved his money well and hired the best team of lawyers he could find and been convicted. But Mel was no fool. He knew that he was going to be convicted. He had hired all those lawyers not to get him off, but to get him a light sentence. It had worked. He had been sentenced to three years in prison with a chance for parole in 17 months. He could do that without blinking an eye.
Mel arrived at the state prison and instantly had to prove that his muscles weren't just for show, but after that, he settled in and most guys realized that Mel wasn't really a bad guy. He got along with most of the inmates in his block and the guards too. They realized that he wasn't a trouble maker and his presence alone kept fights down. Mel didn't like to be disturbed when he watched tv, played cards, or worked out. One night three months into his sentence, his cell door opened and four men entered quickly. Mel opened his eyes only to see the barrels of four rifles pointing at his head. They got him up from bed and took him down to the basement and sat him down in a chair. The room was poorly lit. A blond man came out of the shadows and approached him. The man was taller than average and wore a perfectly tailored Italian suit. The man looked like a Wall Street power broker which was what he wanted people to think, but Mel could see past that. This was a serious man. Mel decided to play it cool. Besides he didn't want to get killed.
"Mr. Johnson, my name is Byron Livingston. Nice to finally meet you in person. I've heard quite a bit about you. Problem is that you've been working for some unsavory characters for the last several years."
"They pay the bills my man... they pay the bills", Mel rumbled his deep voice.
Bryon nodded. "They pay well, but the people I work for are willing to pay more and give you something they can't"
Mel turned and looked around at four men who had their weapons aimed at his head and smiled when he turned back towards Byron. "I'm all ears my man."
"I know your brother didn't kill that police officer in New Ork, and I know your mother didn't mean to assault that other cop at your brother's trial. The people I work for can get them both released, pardoned and set back on the right track in life. Your brother was a good high school football player. He's only 19 right. Well I know a few schools that would take the young man."
"You must work for dear old Uncle Sam. So what do you want from me?"
"I want your cooperation. I want you to work for us. You see there are people in this world who want much more than money or simple power. They want control. Just because these terrorist have taken center stage doesn't mean there aren't other threats. They want you to work for them. You, sir, are a dangerous man with dangerous skills. They salivate over a man like you."
"You want me to tell them to fuck off?"
Byron smiled a slyly. "One of their representatives is going to meet with you in a few days and offer you something to join his organization. I don't know what he's going to offer, and I don't know how he's going to approach you, but when he does, I want you to accept. I want them to think they have you, but you'll pass any and all information to the US government."
"What if I flip?"
Byron shook his head and sighed. "Your mother and brother are going to be released within hours of your agreement. After that, they will be relocated and even given new names if they want. I want them to have a long and happy life, but I would like to think that your loyalty is to your nation of origin without having to worry about the rest of that. So, do we have a deal?" Byron walked up close and reached out his hand.
Mel sat still for a moment before standing up slowly. Byron didn't move. Mel reached out and took Byron's hand in his and shook it. "I accept. Might be fun. Besides, I knew what kind of deal this was when you told me your name."
"Excuse me?", Byron asked.
Mel laughed. "This is one of those take my offer or they never see you again type deals!" He slapped Byron across the shoulder. "You have balls, I like you."
"You'll get confirmation of your family's release within 24 hours. After that we start making deposits into your bank accounts and set up the information chain."
Mel nodded. "Sounds cool to me. At least I don't have to worry about the damn checks ever bouncing, and this beats the hell out of working in the prison laundry."
They both laughed, then Mel was taken back to his cell.
comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
to be continued...