tagRomanceA Thankful Blizzard Pt. 05

A Thankful Blizzard Pt. 05

byrexspaulding©

Author's Notes:

Here it is. The finale, the conclusion! This is going up in the Romance category, as, well, Paul and Kat have experienced most everything in the First Time area. Here we get to see... well, you'll find out as you read it.

A few disclaimers: names are used as reference points to enhance the plot. This is, after all, a work of fiction.

I'd also like to thank GaiusPetronius, who, once again, helped me to polish off my rough edges. I went over his edits and changes, so I claim responsibility for any remaining errors.

If you haven't read the previous four parts, this one will make little sense to you.

Otherwise, please enjoy the exciting conclusion of A Thankful Blizzard.

*****

Chapter 11

I glanced over to Kat in the pre-dawn gloom. She was such a remarkable woman. She'd been through so much in her life, yet she was so... alive. Her vitality made me feel like a zombie in comparison, or rather an inert, noble gas. Sure, I'd written some papers. They'd been published, attracted some attention, but I didn't consider that anything spectacular. I always had support for what I was doing, save for the few scathing letters I'd received from the big corporate PR folks, taking aim at my findings. On the other hand, both Kat and Edmond McMahon thought they were significant. As I thought about it, I supposed it was a significant discovery - using lettuce, a renewable resource, to form the catalyst for a 'super-scrubber' as I thought of it.

"Paul?" Kat interrupted my thoughts.

"Hmm?" I realized I'd been sitting at a stop light after it had changed to green. "Oh, right. Drive."

"What's on your mind, Babe?" Kat rested her hand on my arm. I decided I really liked being called pet names by Kat. And her hand felt warm and comforting.

"Well, honestly, I was just thinking about how much you've accomplished, with everyone practically forcing you in the other direction. It's inspirational, really, downright awe-inspiring."

"Thanks, Paul, but you've done a lot too!"

"You're right... but I've had constant support and help along the way. I only met resistance from my parents when I was choosing to go off to graduate school. But, as I pointed out to them, Caltech's satellite campus in Colorado was the best in the nation for my field of studies, second best in the world only to a German research facility. Everything else has been supportive, encouraging... I haven't been kidnapped because I'm heir to something, I haven't had someone forcing me to take over something I don't want to, I haven't had all that, so my accomplishments seem to pale in comparison to yours. Sometimes I think I just haven't really done much of anything...

"Stop it!" Startled, I glanced over to Kat, who was looking at me with a scowl - the first I'd ever seen on her face. "Paul Jacob Goodman! How can you talk about yourself like that?" Kat yanked on the steering wheel, pulling us over to the curb abruptly. I jammed on the brake to avoid jumping the sidewalk.

"That's not the man I fell in love with! That's not the man who stormed a factory with nothing but smoke bombs, not knowing what could be inside. That's not the man who drove willingly into the face of danger and threats to be with a woman he cares for. Paul... it doesn't matter, all those things you said. What we accomplish is unique to each of us. Our paths have been different, and they've made us into the people we are now." Kat reached across and grasped my hands off the steering wheel. She had turned in her seat to face me fully. "Paul, I fell in love with you because you are an incredible man. I thought I was brave, defying my father and refusing the company, going off to art school on my own. But since you picked me up, I've seen real bravery. Especially since yesterday; oh God, that was just... amazing. You've inspired me to keep trying harder, to never give up." Her eyes began glistening. "You've shown me what unconditional compassion is. You didn't flinch or care that I was heiress to a multi-billion dollar fortune. Most guys drop me when they discover I can hold an intelligent conversation; most of the others treat me like a china doll or a fairytale princess - always afraid to say or do something wrong around me. But you, Paul, you've made me feel alive. Like a warrior - your own Xena the Warrior Princess." She smiled, a tear leaking out of her eye. "It's obvious you love me. It just pours from you." I reached a hand up, wiping the tear away from her cheek. She made some pretty epic points. "So, please, don't become that other Paul. Be you. I love you, Paul." I felt myself tear up a little. "So kiss me, then get us out of this mess." She snickered and leaned forward, giving me a kiss that spoke volumes of the love and compassion she had for me. It felt warm, familiar, comforting... it felt like love.

"You know... you could always pitch in an idea, too." I grinned at her. She laughed and lightly slapped my arm.

"You've been the brain here, always coming up with these incredible plans of action. Ok, tell me how your mind works. You said we have to get the FBI to come to us?"

"Well, yeah. Your statement earlier, about me finding you - that's the key. If Edmond McMahon and his resources are tracking, or at least I assume they are, most of our available outs, plus the cops and the FBI field office here in Phoenix, they'll know if we call or drive in with our direct problem."

"So what can we do? Call them up and falsely claim something?"

"Well... yeah. But we have to be believable. That's where..." A plan was hatching in my mind. Not just any basic plan, but the beginnings of an elaborate, yet effective course of action. I pulled back onto the road, lest we become highly suspicious, just sitting there this early in the morning. "Ok, I got it. What makes the FBI respond to any incident?"

"Um, federal crimes, right?"

"Yeah. Or really intense situations that could use the assistance of the FBI. Now, kidnappings, especially when they cross state lines, are federal offenses, immediately checked out by them. We could say something about you, but that would probably alert the McMahon gang. What we will do, however, is have you pretend to be the girlfriend of one of McMahon's thugs. You're tired of being abused, you're afraid to go to the cops, and you suspect he's part of a massive drug smuggling operation. They'll ask how you know; you'll say that you overhear him and his drunken buddies bragging about hiding drugs in those new snowcones. They may hem and haw, pass you from reception to some kind of desk agent, but keep pressing until you get to a field agent. Don't give up your identity, no matter how hard they press for it. Mention that you have some really sensitive information and you're afraid they might be listening in on your conversation, you want assurance you're speaking directly with a field agent, ideally the special agent in charge of the Phoenix field office. You keep hinting that it's Edmond McMahon who's running the drug operation, but don't actually say his name; my guess is they already have a profile on him and are looking for the killer strike to hit him with. Once you get that special agent, tell the story, mention you know it's McMahon, and then drop the bomb - tell them you overheard him saying they have Katherine White. List the details of what you were wearing when they had you kidnapped - the snow pants and the shirt with "precious" written across the front. That will get their attention, and hopefully get a search warrant and have the FBI and DEA show up at the warehouse - which we'll find by following one of the trucks. "

"Holy shit!" Kat had been staring at me, her eyes widening as each detail of my plan came out of my mouth. "You're going for the jugular, aren't you?"

"My dad always told me that the quickest way to kill a rattlesnake was to cut off its head. He also said that if you attack the king you gotta kill the king - not just wound him. I'm thinking Mr. Irony does a lot of dealings with Blanco's Sno Cones as his cover. So, exposing that, with his name linked directly to it, will likely open up investigations into his other businesses."

"Good God, Paul, remind me to never get on your bad side."

I grinned. "Well, you're definitely on my good side now, my Love."

"I'm relieved," she chuckled. "And you can keep calling me that. It's sweet."

"Ok, Kat my Love, we'll need to find and follow one of those trucks and see if it heads to a suspicious looking warehouse."

"Ok, that sounds like a great plan and all... but what about the fact that they found us, but haven't been following this car?"

Damn, she was right. How had they found us? I'd given out fake names at both hotels, hadn't used credit or anything. I had a phone that wasn't linked to me. I'd even checked my clothes and my person for any tracking device... but... I hadn't checked Kat. She had to have some kind of homing device on her, leading the thugs to us, but not knowing what car we had.

No sooner had I finished that thought than I felt the tail end of our car swing out, leaving us spinning out in the middle of the road. Kat let out a startled scream. I craned my neck around and caught sight of a white sedan circling back. It looked as if they had come barreling out of an alleyway and clipped the tail end of our Honda. I was immediately thankful for the time my roommate and I used to spend racing go-karts every summer, driving like maniacs and sliding around corners. I just hoped this old Honda could summon up some kind of race-car performance.

"Hang on!" I yelled to Kat. She was clutching the door, wide-eyed, but otherwise didn't seem too panicked. I punched the accelerator, turning away from where the sedan was aiming for us. The tires squealed, found traction, and had us lurching forward. In the rearview mirror, I could see the sedan turning to follow us.

"What the fuck!?" Kat finally said. "How'd they find us again??"

"Your clothes! They must have put something on your clothes! You need to get rid of them!" Normally, when Kat strips, it's glorious, entertaining, arousing, and simply beautiful to behold. Now, however, she was frantically tugging off the coveralls from Blanco's, then stripping out of her clothing. She laid the coveralls aside and then sent each article flying out the window. I was left sitting next to a momentarily very naked woman.

"Man, I really liked that shirt! I wanted to keep it to remember you and my first blizzard and everything!"

"I'll get you another," I promised her. It was hard not to stare at her perfect breasts, but the sudden lurch of the sedan running into us from behind had captured my full attention.

The steering wheel twisted left to right in my hands, but I wrested control of the vehicle, keeping us on the road. We needed to lose them, and fast. I glanced over to Kat, who was pulling the coveralls back onto her body. Just as she finished, clicking the seat belt into place, the sedan bashed into the car again. I fought to maintain control over the tiny Honda. I took a sudden turn into an alleyway, seeing the sedan screech past the entrance. I had a few seconds lead on them now.

I raced as fast as I dared down the narrow alley, swerving around dumpsters and trashcans. At the next intersection, I sped out and swung hard right, the tires sliding and groaning in response. Eyeing the rearview mirror, I saw the sedan just pull out of the alley as I was making my next turn. I kept up the twisting and turning, asking for every last bit of performance from the poor little Honda that it could manage. The little car somehow delivered, keeping us always just ahead of the sedan chasing us.

I saw our escape with an underground parking garage. The rearview showed that the sedan was still well back from us, so I made a sudden move and zipped into the garage, swerving to a stop. We had caught another lucky break: it was a free public garage, and we didn't have to stop for a ticket or pass through a gate. Kat and I scarcely breathed while we waited.

Seconds dragged on into a full minute, before we resumed breathing normally. It appeared we had lost them.

"Wow... Paul, is there anything you can't do?" Kat chuckled.

"I can't ski."

"No shit! You lived in the mountains of Colorado and you can't ski??"

"Never tried it, actually. I was too busy studying most of the time."

"Add that to our list."

"What list?" I looked at her, wondering what she was hinting.

"Our list of things to do together. Once this all clears up, I want to do all sorts of things with you."

"That sounds nice." I paused, thinking. "But, we gotta get out of this current mess. They've seen this Honda, so we can't keep using it."

"Well, we're in a parking garage, all these cars around us... Maybe one of them is a bit too trusting?" I didn't really like it, but I didn't see any other alternative. I eased the Honda into an available parking spot. Kat and I got out.

"I'll start on this row. You want to start over there?" I pointed at the opposite row of cars. Kat nodded and walked off. I can't believe we were getting ready to steal a car. I hoped, once this was all said and done, that the FBI didn't hold these crimes against us.

Several minutes passed and I had just finished checking the row of cars. Sixteen cars, all of them locked. Glancing at Kat, I saw that she was at the last one, getting ready to check. Whom was I kidding? This was downtown Phoenix. People would be smarter than to leave their doors unlocked, even in an underground...

"Paul!" Kat called over to me. "Got it!"

Wow. Leave it to Kat to find these things. I started over to the last car, suddenly noticing it. Seriously? The owner of a fancy-looking Audi had left their car unlocked?

The engine purred to life. They left their keys too?? That was almost asking to get stolen. I hurried over to the passenger's side, climbing in next to Kat.

"Wow... look at this! Can you believe they left their keys in here, unlocked and all?" Kat was grinning, but I felt uneasy. I doubted someone would be that forgetful, or naïve, or stupid.

Sure enough, we heard a voice start yelling.

"My car! Hey, what are you doing with my car!" A guy in a business suit and fancy overcoat was jogging toward us. I knew it seemed too good to be true.

"Hang on, Paul!" Kat threw the car in gear, backing up and speeding out of the parking garage. This was bad. He was going to report it stolen. A car this new probably had some kind of built-in GPS, too.

"Crap, this isn't good, Kat!"

"I think this will work: trust me!" Kat looked determined. It seemed there weren't really any other options anyway.

"Ok. Now we need to get to the factory to follow..." I trailed off, as just ahead of us, a truck with Blanco's Sno Cones emblazoned on it pulled out. "That guy," I finished. I hoped this one was heading to the special warehouse. "Kat, can you use the phone and follow this guy at the same time? We have to hope that he's heading to the warehouse we need."

"Yeah, I think I can." She was maintaining a wide enough gap from the truck so as to not draw suspicion. Grateful for my memory with numbers, I dialed the number for the Phoenix FBI office, putting the phone on speaker for Kat. It rang a few times before a recording answered the phone.

Thank you for calling the Phoenix field offices of the FBI. If you have an immediate emergency, please hang up and dial 911 now. Para Español, opprima ocho. To find out more information about our offices, please visit our website. To report terrorism in your area, press one. Kat and I looked at each other with grins. Wow. It seemed silly, but sad at the same time that an option like that was available. The recording continued. To report foreign intelligence operations or espionage, press three. To report cyber-based attacks or high-technology crimes, press four. To report any level of public corruption or criminal breach of the public trust, press five. For major white-collar crimes, press six. For all other inquiries or reports, please stay on the line and an agent will be with you shortly.

Smooth jazz began to play out of the speaker phone. I couldn't help but snicker, after that extensive menu that just played, followed by the serene-sounding jazz. I was about to whisper something to Kat when a female voice picked up the line.

This is the FBI field office of Phoenix, how can I help you today?

"Uh... hi... um... I need to report something, and... I'm not sure how, or who to say it to... but I'm afraid for me... for my family... uh, and I think it involves a lot of drugs." Wow, Kat sounded frail, pathetic, and depressed.

Ok, Ma'am, I'd be happy to try and assist you, can I please have your name?

"Uh... no, no... I'm afraid he'll know and... hurt me again." Kat was whimpering into the phone. If I hadn't been sitting next to her, I'd be worried and want to help her any way I could.

Who would hurt you, Ma'am?

"Uh... my, my, my boyfriend. He... I think he's involved... smuggling."

Ma'am, normally drug related offenses are handled by the DEA. We can assist by passing your report along to them. You can be assured all tips are kept in the strictest confidence and your name won't be released.

"I... no, I still can't. He might..." Kat began whispering. "He might be listening now."

One moment... There was a clicking noise, a slight hiss, then the voice resumed. I can assure you that no one else will hear this call. Do you at least want to provide your first name?

"Uh... Gina... you can call me Gina." Kat was doing an amazing job. All of this was going on as she was following the truck.

Ok, Gina, you suspect your boyfriend is involved in a drug smuggling operation?

"Uh, yeah. A big one."

Gina, how did you come across this information?

"He, uh... he has parties, and some friends of his come over. They get real drunk and brag about snowcones."

Snowcones? What do you mean? I could tell the voice had changed. It looked as if my hunch might be correct.

"Yeah... you know... those single-serving, wrapped baggie things, things you twist."

Ok, one moment, Gina, let me get you to an agent here. The smooth jazz resumed for a few minutes. I looked at Kat and mouthed 'wow' to her. She just grinned and winked at me. A brief click sounded before we heard a male voice speaking.

Hello Gina. This is Special Agent Olivero. You are absolutely certain they were speaking of snowcones?

"Uh, yes. They said it on... uh, many times. One, uh... one guy even kept describing them, the bag that freezes them on the spot."

Ok. Did they give any information on where these cones go, where they might be headed?

Kat paused for a moment looking at me. She gestured to the truck in front of her and mouthed, "Should I say I'm following them?" I tried to mouth back to her, but she must have had a sudden inspiration, or thought, something, which caused her to jerk her head back to the road and speak up to the agent.

"Um... I'm following a truck right now."

Pardon?

"Uh... he thought I been acting strange, so... he told me if he saw any, uh... fuckups, he'd... he'd do the same to me. Fuck me up, he said." Fuck, Kat was either really gutsy or crazy. Would they believe her? And if they did believe her, did we have the right truck? "I decided to call and follow a truck... but you have to help me. I'm... I'm scared, I think he'll... he'll hurt me i-i-i-if he finds out." There was a sudden muffled noise, then what sounded like voices, only as if we were listening to them from several rooms away. Another muffled noise and the agent returned.

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