WHAT YOU SEE….
Isn’t Always What You Get.
by Ann ♥♪HB♪♥
Some things are certain, and some things are an illusion. The Hardy brothers have just finished a dangerous case that landed one of them in the hospital. A new situation appears suddenly when a businessman, who does business by killing those who don’t comply with what he says, threatens them to hand over an item he wants desperately. This case could prove even more dangerous than their previous one. The Hardys aren’t ones to ever give up, no matter the odds. Sometimes the odds just need to be evened up. And sometimes you can make the odds work for you.
Dark hair glinting in the sunlight, he slipped a pair of sunglasses over equally dark eyes. Taking a deep breath, he looked up into the sky for a minute and then strode confidently over to the expensive metallic-blue sports car. Moments later, he was taking off down the road, hoping his plan would work. If not, he had a lot of explaining to do……
He relaxed a little as he drove, appreciating the powerful engine, which had played a part in a recently completed case. Grateful clients had extended the rental period of the dream car. He could tell the car wasn’t even nearing its potential and he was very tempted to test it out. Getting a ticket, however, was definitely not in his plan.
Instead he tapped the brake right before turning onto another road, just as he was coming to an underpass. You go under an overpass and over an underpass, he thought, the corner of his mouth lifting in amusement at the irony. The smile disappeared as the next thoughts came to remind him of what he was attempting – namely saving his brother’s life. That was his focus and that was why he was on his way to meet certain, potentially deadly, individuals who were interested in getting back some very incriminating data.
His lips set in determination, his stomach felt uneasy as he recalled the phone conversation. The voice on the other end had, in careful words, threatened him, his brother, and his entire family if he didn’t, by a certain time, return a book to a particular office building. The caller had given his name with the attitude that the Hardys already knew who he was and had his book, but was wrong on both counts. The Hardy brother had taken the initiative by contacting his dad, Fenton Hardy, and getting information on the caller.
He turned smoothly onto a one-way street as he neared downtown. If anything happened to his brother or any of his family…..he wouldn’t even think about that.
Nice day for a meeting with da family, he thought, pulling into the parking lot of the fine Italian restaurant. Parking, he turned off the satellite station that had just finished playing a certain movie theme that had caught his attention as he’d scanned through the channels. Appropriate, he thought, as he walked toward the entrance. Now, rock and roll…..
The aloof maître d’ greeted him suspiciously and asked if he had reservations.
“Jimmy called me.” The sunglasses remained on even as he stood there in the lower lights of the restaurant foyer. Sounds of clinking glasses and low murmuring of dining guests drifted toward him along with the aroma of deliciously tempting food. He really hoped his stomach wouldn’t growl.
“Tell Jimmy, he requested to talk with Frank Hardy.”
At that the maître d’ excused himself and disappeared. Within minutes he was back.
“Yes, Mr. Hardy, this way.”
Ignoring the opulent décor as he followed the maître d’ down the few steps into the sunken dining area, his eyes took in the intimidating group of men seated at a well-laden table.
“So, Frank Hardy, you dare show your face here? How’d you find me?” asked the largest and least friendly looking of the men. Probably Jimmy.
“So, Jimmy, are you going to invite me to sit down?” he asked, taking off the sunglasses and giving Jimmy a steady, even look. “Was it supposed to be difficult for someone to find you?”
The mob boss raised his eyebrows. “You’ve got nerve. Okay, so I admire that. Sit down.”
After being frisked, he sat down and looked over at Jimmy, “You wanted a certain book. I have a certain book.”
Somehow Jimmy’s eyebrows rose even higher than before at his bluntness. “Do you really? You better. So let’s have it.”
“You’re kidding me. I don’t have it with me right now.” An arched eyebrow and an amused smile were added to the answer.
“So whaddya want?” Jimmy asked. “Money? What?” He would let this Frank Hardy guy think they had a deal, but at the end of the day, he would make certain he had the book with all of that information his stupid accountant had written up, and no witnesses. That includes Frank Hardy and my former accountant, the mob boss was thinking as he waited for an answer. He found out his “guest” he’d threatened had a question in response instead, apparently wanting to find out as much info as he could before putting all of his cards on the table.
“How did you get my phone number?”
“I got people who can do just about anything,” Jimmy bragged. “That was easy. Now, how about making a deal to get me back my book.” He slurped the oyster dinner he had been working on. “Let me put it to you this way. Give us the book, you live. If not, you’re dead. Can’t get no simpler than that.”
“What a choice.”
“Yeah, where you gonna find a better deal, huh?” Jimmy wiped his mouth before taking a drink of his wine.
“Why didn’t you believe me when I told you I didn’t have the ledger when you called?”
“My people told me you had it. They’re seldom wrong. Because when they’re wrong, they’re dead.”
“Nice way to do business.”
Jimmy shrugged in false modesty, “It gets things done, I have to admit.”
While that meeting was taking place, Fenton Hardy waited at an airport in Seattle, Washington, anxious for his flight so that he could see his sons. He’d gotten the information for them a short time ago, and it somehow seemed that it was even more urgent for him to get there and confirm they were truly alright. With one in the hospital and their previous case wrapped up, the fact that there was a request for data on a possible crime boss didn’t do a thing to relieve his concern.
Noting he had a call waiting for him, Fenton quickly answered it. On the phone was Iola Morton, Joe’s girlfriend and a very talented researcher. “Hello, Iola, what’ve you found out?”
Iola’s clear voice responded quickly, “I just heard back from you-know-who.” ‘You-know-who’, an important contact with resources to obtain hard to find details, had been contacted earlier and had gathered more intel on the crime boss, including known associates. “I sent the encrypted info that we were waiting on to your phone. I wish I could come help!”
“Well, you’re helping there,” Fenton said with a smile at her feisty willingness. “How are your shoulder and ankle?”
“Practically fine!” she told him.
Two days previous, Iola had been in a bike race benefitting a local ‘everyone needs food’ charity. She had earned a lot of money for it, but a slick spot on the road had caused her to fall. Callie, Frank’s girlfriend, had also been in it right before she left to visit a cousin. Both girls had heard about the injured Hardy brother, who had insisted he’d only be in the hospital one or two days at the most. So far he’d been correct and hoped he’d get to come home to Bayport shortly.
“Sure,” Fenton smiled briefly at her intent-on-convincing-him tone. “The hospital stay is going to be as short as possible, as you can imagine.”
“I understand though, to wait so the flight home won’t aggravate his injuries.”
“We’ll try to make sure he’s up to it. I know both of my sons are anxious to get home after that prior case.” Fenton paused a moment, thinking not about it, but about the current one they were suddenly working on. “I’d say the situation is pretty normal for a Hardy.” He was just as anxious as they were to get home. His own case had taken him to Canada and back twice. He missed Laura and his boys so much. His missed his sister, Gertrude, who was away on a trip to Israel for two months. She’d been so excited about it and was enjoying it immensely. They’d all been to Israel before and was always ready to go again.
After Fenton got off the phone with Iola, he thought over their current case as he waited for his flight. Then he prayed in his soul that everyone would be safe. The knowledge that they could be hurt by the constant danger involved in their cases never got any easier or ignorable. Prayer was the most important factor of any true strategy plan. And this case, like the others, would require a lot of both prayer and strategy.