Lighthouse Keeper VI

The Lighthouse Keeper VI – Remember

Chapter 1


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Edmund Burke


Shanon rested her head upon Jack’s shoulder as he drove down Pacific Coast Highway.  The final mission was only hours behind.  Both were exhausted, mentally and physically.  Cuts covered their bodies as bruises and blisters from exposure to the tropical elements.  It was time for a new beginning, one without secrets or separation.   Project Nine’s regime was but a memory.  Still their corrupt control would take years to unravel.  The global damage incited upon the earth, through caustic pesticides infused in seeds, fluoridation of public water systems, would take longer to repair.  Millions of innocent lives sacrificed, could never be replaced.   The central players of the empire now deceased.  It was up to the Keegan Administration to insure sub-membership would not rise to form another hierarchy of global control.  A handful of moral soldiers toppled the dynasty.  The fate of the world now rested upon the new generation of forbearers.


The operatives of Black Covert Corp returned to their secluded lives.  Wingless angel’s, aged, battled, worn and wounded, took on the illusive nine and prevailed.  Frank Donovan returned to his home in the woodlands of Maine.  Steve Rybek’s beachfront home hidden away in Mexico, offered serene privacy.    Casey Knudson chose the desert of Arizona as his retreat.  Rich “Shadow” Sheppard liked the view from his mountain home in Colorado.  Kevin Cooper, lived in the lights of Florida.  Jesse Skye chose the intimate beauty of Connecticut.   Paul Givens returned to Mexico without prosecution.  The extenuating circumstances surrounding his moment of betrayal was understood by the men but not forgotten.  Jack stood for Paul in brotherhood with redemption.  Paul betrayed Jack when he gave Gabriel Shanon’s location and history.  In the end, Paul guided Jack to Shanon’s location then became the diversion enabling Jack to storm the compound.


Jack pressed the security code as the gates to their paradise opened.  He kissed his wife’s head then drove down the drive.  “We are home angel.”


“When will the kids be here?”


“Tomorrow, mom and dad are driving them back from Arizona.”


“Jack, I was afraid we would never see them again.”  Shanon looked into his dark blue eyes.


“I know Shanon.  I had my moments too.  I have a lot of explaining.  Why don’t we sit in the shade of the patio and talk.”


“I am ready to listen Jack.”


Jack took her hand as they walked into the front door.  Rosie rushed to greet her beloved ones.


“Missy, Mister Jack, thank God.”  Her olive complexion flushed as she wrapped her arms around the women who hired her then made her a family member.


Shanon wrapped her arms around Rosie.  “Yes, thank God Rosie.  I can honestly say the divine powers gave us all and we cannot push it ever again.”


“Missy, he will always watch over you, Mister Jack, Madeline and Jack Jr.”  She grinned touching Shanon’s flushed face.


Jack wrapped his arm around Rosie, kissing her head.  “It is a gift to be together and to be home.”


“Mister Jack, I had faith you would find our Missy.  Now can I make lunch for the both of you?”


Shanon looked at Jack and smiled.  “We ate before leaving Florida.  I am not hungry, but I will not speak for Jack.”


“I could eat one of your hero sandwiches Rosie.”  Jack kissed her cheek.


“Mister Jack I will gladly make your favorite.”  Rosie reached up and touched his face then departed to the kitchen.


Shanon and Jack sat in the shade of the covered patio.  They had spoken to Madeline and Jack Jr. on the phone.  At this time it was best the children believe their parents had taken a vacation.  Neither Shanon nor Jack was comfortable with deceiving their children.  There was no reason to share the truth.  Their children had been through a lifetime of loss, healing and hiding.  It was not appropriate to share the past few weeks with them.   Jack finished his sandwich and drank down a cold bottle of water.  He reached over taking Shanon’s hand, in his eyes a lifetime of regret.  Exhaling slowly his dark blue eyes carried the stain of burnout more profound than fatigue.


“Shanon, it seems I have spent our life apologizing then making promises I could not keep.  I had to finalize this mission.  It was personal.  I wanted to take down Haney.  He gave the order to take our child from inside of you.  Yet, in the end Gabriel was behind everything, I mean everything.  From your first assault in Seabrook to the Yurchenko brothers, Guantanamo and the obvious, Gabriel was the architect of taking down Project Nine.  Eight other individuals were too many pieces of the pie.   I knew about Project Nine years ago.  I had been in the CIA about ten years when one of their members approached me.  At the time I was stateside working a project at the United Nations.  Let me just say I was given the offer of a lifetime.  It was an offer like the one I was given when I had my band.  Only Project Nine’s organization far exceeded the reach of organized crime.  From that moment forward there was a target on my back.


My selfish need to punish Vice President Haney and to take out the membership cost me the life I promised to love, honor and respect.  I did not take into consideration how you would feel.  Shanon, you have spent our life picking up pieces, living on borrowed moments while constantly looking back, then analyzing as you look forward.


I brought my nightmare to you, to our kids again and again.  I tried to die to stop the hell.  I tried to stop the need to exact justice then walked into the bay.  I tried to leave you in the care of Vincent.  Every time you rose to take me on without hesitation.  When I could not think, barely function you stood beside me.  You are the one that suffered most.    I cannot in clear conscience ask you to forgive me and I cannot begin to ask you to believe me when I look into your eyes and tell you no more.  I swear on the God who saved us, my days of seeking justice are done.  When we were in the jungle and you were gripping the branch of that tree with landmines surrounding us I promised the great one above if he allowed you to live, I would never again seek redemption bent on personal vengeance.


Shanon you had every right to walk away from us.  I did not blame you in fact I wondered what took you so long.  To lose you Shanon is losing my life.  I am stuck Shanon.  I want to honor your choices at the same time, I beg you to let me be your husband.  A regular, everyday, boring husband.”  His bloodshot eyes were glazed as he lifted her hand to his lips, tenderly kissing her fingers.


Shanon’s heart raced in understanding and deep sorrow.  “Jack you could never be regular, everyday, or boring.”  She began as an expression of unconditional understanding shadowed her face.  “Jack, I have never wanted you to be anyone different than the man I fell in love with.  I knew then your soul was centered in being a savior of the injustices in this world.  To ask you to be different is to expect you to subjugate everything that makes you Jack Smith.  If I ask you to accept a way of life alien to your true call, it makes me no different than Yurchenko, Haney, and Gabriel.


In the beginning, I believed, once we finished the mission you would be free.  There was no measure of love that could free you from the self-imposed sentence that was of your design.  You journeyed into the choice of redeemer.  In doing so you changed the lives and this world by your gallant perseverance and constant sacrifice.  You are my flawed yet perfect hero.    I believed the constant love I held you with could free you from the demons buried in your soul.  Those demons were the result of second-guessing every mission, every decision you made.  I understand now the essence of you.  After spending time with the likes of the Yurchenko brothers, assassins and then Gabriel… how could one ever walk away unscathed without carrying ghosts?


I finally see everything clearly.  Expecting you to be anyone other than the man I love would not be love, not our love.  That would be control.  Jack it was never my intention to control your choices or your life regardless how those choices impacted our family or us.    When President Keegan and group showed up at the villa I knew they needed you and honestly I did not care at that moment what crisis demanded your expertise.  All I could see was pieces, putting together pieces.  I wanted to run far from our life Jack.  In actuality I was running from my personal demons.  I have lost you too many times.  At the same time, I knew the consequences from the beginning.

Jack, I am at an impasse.  I love you more than life itself.  With or without you, I am not capable of loving another man.  How can I demand you alter the core of your sole while proclaiming unconditional love?  You must understand I am still terrified of losing you.  Yes I know how to rebuild to care for our children but to live without you Jack is to exist in a world black and white.”  Shanon’s defeated eyes cast a shadow of conflict into Jack’s heart.


He closed his eyes briefly as the heart of a warrior beat the music of fear.  His hands perspired as tightness consumed his stomach.  He leaned in placing his moist hands upon her perfect face.  “Shanon, this time was different.  I knew before Gabriel took you that I was done.  I do not want to live this life any more.    I put my need to find redemption above you and our kids.  I took advantage of your strength and constant love.  When I found out Gabriel had you, fear paralyzed me.  I knew I deserved to be in hell but you, never.  The entire time we were on that island, I felt our luck had run dry.  Shanon I believed we were going to die on that island.


I swear to you, with my life I will never again take on another mission.  I have aged out and honestly; the only redemption I will find comes from above.  There is no crisis that will take me from you or our kids again.  Please…believe me Shanon.”  Jack’s eyes were never more compelling or convincing.  He moved to his knees holding her hands to his lips.

Shanon moved into him, gently wrapping her arms around his shoulders.  She rested her face next to his.  His body quivered, in release and desperation.  Placing her hand upon his face drawing him near, with supreme tenderness she pressed her lips upon his.  Jack’s soul became calm under her power.  Wrapping his arms around her body with the love of his being.


“Jack, there has not been a moment when I stopped loving you.  All I have ever wanted was to be whole.  I cannot split you into two people.  I would not even if I had the power.  This must be your choice Jack without thought of my conditions.”  She whispered holding his eyes.


“Shanon, I have never once doubted your love or devotion.  You are right I cannot live two lives.  There is only one life I ever wanted, to be Jack Smith husband and father.  Can I try again to be your husband?”  His eyes were clear and moist.  He looked into her soul and pleaded without words.


Tears of silent, vital, surrender slowly seeped down her cheeks.  With slow breath rising and leaving her chest a smile pressed in eternal clothed her face.  “You are the only husband I need or will know.  Let me love you from this life time to the next.”  She spoke softly as the wind carried her words into the universe of eternity.  Two weary souls surrendered garments of battle, tarnished weapons and humanities cry.  The red moon could not call them.


They climbed the stairs nestled safely upon the bed.  Entwined in the arms, which gave each life, the fatigued lovers slept.  The warm, salty air brushed over their bodies as the afternoon turned to early evening.  Jack slipped out of bed.  He quietly opened his duffel bag.  Hidden deep inside a secret compartment he removed their wedding rings.  Raising hers to his lips, closing his eyes remembering the moment his life began slipping it upon her finger.


Shanon began to stir sensing his absence.  Opening her eyes she saw him standing at the foot of their bed.  An instant smile dressed her face.  “Jack, it is six p.m., we slept four hours.”


“Didn’t it feel good?”  He grinned moving to the side of the bed.


“Yes, it was perfect.”


“I have something for you.”


“You do?”  I did not realize you left the room.”


“I didn’t.”  He took her left hand in his, sliding her ring upon its home.”


She sat up kissing his tender lips.  “Thank you.  Do you have your ring?”


“I happen to have it right here.”  He said placing it into her hand.


“Thank you Jack.  With this ring, I give you my soul.”  She said placing it upon his finger.


He lifted her into his arms, kissing her lips and face.  The sound of his stomach growling broke the silence.  Shanon began laughing.


“I guess I am starved.”  Jack laughed.


“Me too.  What should we eat?”


“What would you like my princess?”  He smiled, staring deep into her eyes.


“Pizza.”  Shanon smiled.


“Yea, that sounds great and a pitcher of cold beer?”


“Perfect.  Just let me change clothes and I will meet you in the car.”  Shanon slipped out of bed and into the closet.


Jack and Shanon walked into the Pizzeria.  The outside patio only feet from the beach of Malibu are where they preferred to sit.   It was a small establishment but the Italian cuisine was as good as Del Monaco’s in Maine.  The advertised New York style pizza lived up to and exceeded every expectation.


“Jack, next week I would like to go back to “The Center”.  I enjoy the work and helping those women begin again.”


“Shanon I would not tell you not to do what you love.”


“I know Jack.  I certainly will not work eighteen-hour days like before.  I will take the kids to school then go on to “The Center”.  The greatest percentage of the women who end up there are victims of abuse, in Maine most were victim of economic times.  And these women are not always of the low-income bracket.  Women who seek our help are from West Hollywood Hills, Westwood and even Beverly Hills.  Often the men abusing these women cannot be touched.  They are either protected politically, are connected to those in the legal community or are what we like to call, “lawyers without borders”.”


Jack placed his mug of beer on the table and shook his head.  “It is wealth and influence in the highest power.  We have seen this before Shanon.”


“I know Jack but to see these women.  Most of them never leave.  Often there are children involved, and it is difficult to restart life.  They do not want to trade in the mansion for a two bedroom furnished apartment.  Many of these women did have a career before marriage.  In these economic times it is almost easier to help those who have less to lose.  The women with less accept our assistance.  I do have compassion and understand why these woman do not want to give up their beautiful environment yet at the same time, they could lose their life.”


“Shanon I know you can help these women the most wealthy to the individual living on the street.  You make a difference honey.  The hardest part is accepting that regardless of the choices you give them, some will always go back to the abuser.”


“We are very aware of that scenario.  Still…it feels good to make a difference.  You know that truth more in depth than anyone.”


“I’d like to think that Shanon.”  He reached across the table touching her face.

Chapter 2

Jack and Shanon spent the week with their children, as much as Madeline and Jack Jr. would allow.  At fourteen, Madeline was involved with friends, texting and surfing.  Madeline was still painting and her paintings were maturing into works of deep emotion.  Most often she painted Native American Warriors in tribal dress as well as Native American women.  Spending time in the Maliseet Village left an everlasting imprint on Madeline’s soul. Jack Jr. also had many interests.  He too liked to surf.  Soccer was his passion as well as football.  Jack taught both his children to surf as Shanon had taught them how to swim.  They were indeed a family of diverse talents and expertise.


Shanon returned to work at the center.  Jack took the kids to school each day and picked them up when school ended.  He spent his days working on the boat, vast yard and began a landscape project.  He wanted to create a garden, like the one in Seabrook only larger.  Jack visited local nurseries to stimulate his creative nature.   Unlike in the past Shanon reduced her hours to approximate twenty-five weekly depending on the workload.  The Smith family melted into the Malibu hills living in normalcy.  The only conflicts that demanded their attention were the ones between a brother and sister.  Jack Jr. loved to annoy his sister and her friends.  He also loved to spy on Madeline and her friends and he managed this often without being detected.  Shanon would shake her head confirming what she always believed; her son was a mirror portrait of his father.


Shanon was in her office setting up job interviews for two clients living at the facility, a facility constructed through the generous donation of Vincent Lebeaux.  Shanon had just hung up when a soft knock on the door broke her concentration.


“Come in.”  Shanon smiled looking up to find Alexandra Clemens.  Alexandra created “The Center” ten years earlier.


“There is this gorgeous man in the lobby who claims to be your husband.”  Alexandra smiled.  “He does sound like the man I spoke to once on the phone.”


“Really what a wonderful surprise.  Is he tall blonde and handsome?”  Shanon moved from her desk.


“Oh yes and more.”  Alexandra laughed.


“Then that is Jack.”  Shanon walked into the lobby, reinforced by bulletproof glass and steel doors guarding the inter offices protecting the women and children who seek shelter.


“Hello my love.”  Shanon walked into his arms, kissing his lips.


“Wow, I like that greeting.  I was in the area, thought you might let me take you to lunch.  There is a bistro down the block.  I hear they serve one delicious lunch.”


“What a perfect offer.  I need to grab my bag.  Men are not allowed past this fortress, but I can make an exception for you CIA agent Smith.” Shanon kissed his cheek and took his hand.


“I don’t want to break any rules.”  He grinned.


“Since when Jack.”  Shanon laughed.


As they walked down the hall, passing the various rooms, from the office for initial assessment of each individual’s personal need, to computer library for training, submitting job applications and sending correspondence. One large room held wardrobes of clothing, shoes and underclothes.  This was Shanon’s initial project.  Not only did the women find clothes for daily wear but also professional attire for job interviews.   Shanon closed her office door as Jack looked around the room.  She unlocked her desk and pulled out her bag.  “It is a cozy office.”  Shanon smiled.


“I am surprised you do not have photos of the kids on your desk.”


“Jack, there are many people that come in and out of our offices.  Alexandra feels it is best if we do not have personal photos in view.”


“I can understand her reasoning.”  Jack answered.


After lunch Jack walked Shanon back to work.  As they walked into the lobby Alexandra was racing out.


“Shanon, I am on my way to Sherman Way and Canoga Avenue.  Molly is hurt and she has a flat tire.  I phoned a toe truck but I want to get her out of there immediately.”


“Did you phone the police Alexandra?”


“We can’t right now.  I will be back as soon as I can.”


“Wait, give me a description of the car and of Molly and I will get her here safely.”  Jack said looking directly at Alexandra.”


“She doesn’t know you.  It is a kind gesture but she does not trust anyone except Shanon and me.”


“I will go with him Alexandra.  Call her and tell her I am coming with my husband.”


“Ok, thank you both.”


Jack pulled out of the parking spot.  “Please tell me that you and Alexandra do not make it a habit of rescuing women on the run from unstable husbands.”


“Not usually Jack.  Sometimes we set up safe meeting places with them and pick them up.”


“Shanon…I don’t want you in the line of fire, we are past those days.”


“I understand your concern Jack.  I promise you, I will not step into any situation blindly.  Most often we call the police to meet us at the meeting place.”


“Promise me your days of meeting clients on the run are over.”  Jack’s expression was as serious as in the agent mode.


“I promise you Jack.  I wish…”


“That I could be at the office for emergencies.”  His eyes quickly scanned her face.


“That is one idea.  Actually I wish you could teach a self-defense class to these women, like you taught me.  I can certainly hold my own.”


“Sure I would do that and yes you can more than hold your own.  You clear the way.  Give me a schedule and I will be there.  We are coming up on the turn.  Is that her silver BMW?”


“Yes, it is.  I will clear the way Jack.”


Jack stopped directly behind the car.  “Stay here for a minute, let me approach the car.”


“Jack she doesn’t know you and…”


“Just wait here Shanon.”  Jack looked over his shoulder then exited the SUV.  Shanon could see he was saying something but did not hear him as he slowly approached the driver side.  He did not lean into the vehicle but motioned for Shanon.  Shanon quickly slipped out of the SUV rushing to the passenger side of the vehicle.


“Shanon!  Is it true, is this your husband?”  Molly said her face swollen, right eye swelled closed.


“Yes, Molly, this is Jack, please get your bag, and come with us.”


Jack opened the door and gently took her forearm.  He escorted Molly to the back seat of the Navigator.  Inside Shanon shuttered when she saw Molly.  Her face once beautiful was covered in bruises and contusions.  Her thin arms had imprints of a man’s strenuous grip.


“Molly if you will give me your keys I will change your tire and drive your car to the center.”


“You will…I don’t want to inconvenient you or Shanon.”


“Molly it is not a problem.”  Shanon smiled speaking calmly.


As she handed Jack the keys her hands were trembling.  Jack smiled taking the keys.  He leaned into Shanon, kissing her lips.  “Call Dan, see if he can meet you at the center.  Maybe he give her a check-up and take photos.”


“Ok.”  Shanon smiled touching his face.  “Be careful.”


“I am always careful.”


Shanon climbed in locking the doors and drove immediately away from the vicinity.  “Molly, I am taking you back to the center.  Jack and I have a friend, Dr. Dan Givens.  He is a trusted confidant.  I am going to have him check you over and record your injuries.”


“Shanon, my daughter is at school.  William will have someone pick her up and I may never see her again.”


“Molly.  She can’t see you like this.”


“Shanon please!  I will not return to him but I have to protect my daughter.”


“Molly, has William harmed her in any way?”


“No, but I don’t trust him Shanon.”


“I understand.  Where is her school?”


“She is at St. Michael Academy.”


“That is the school my children attend.”  Shanon answered turning in the direction of the Academy.”


“Shanon, I didn’t know you had children .”


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