Sam wanted to go to the Temple Bar, located on Fleet Street, to start off his annual leave in Dublin in 2001. He didn't know where he would position himself in the bar, but as long as there were women bypassing his seat, that was where he wanted to be.
Instead, Sam found himself north of the River Liffey, on Gardiner Street. The cab driver stopped at a bar close to one of Dublin's last pawn shops. "I told you this isn't the Temple Bar," Sam said to the cab driver when the cab stopped.
"Yes it is," the cab driver said. "This is the Ivers Temple Bar."
"That's not what I meant. I meant the—"
The one thing that kept Sam from arguing with the cab driver was the advertisement for Heisler, one of Sam's favorite beers, in the bar's window. Granted, it was the Irish-brewed version of Heisler instead of the American-brewed version, but Sam didn't care. In his opinion, Heisler tasted the same no matter wherever you went in the world.
"Actually, this is exactly where I wanted to go. Thanks, buddy." Sam paid the cab driver and walked into the Ivers Temple Bar.
As the cab driver drove off and Sam was about to walk into the Ivers Temple Bar, he felt something push his side. "Hey…" His voice trailed off when he saw what passed him. Three people, all wearing trench coats, were headed towards the pawn shop. Sam felt something was up with the people in trench coats. He paused and took a look at them instead of walking into the bar. If there was something wrong, he knew legally he could make a citizen's arrest until officers from the Irish police force, the Garda, could apprehend possible suspects.
Leading the way was a woman, about five feet two inches tall, with wavy brown hair all the way down her back. She was limping, but there was nothing that indicated she was suffering from any physical ailment. Behind her was a man with wavy brown hair down the length of his neck who was about five feet ten inches tall. Behind them was another man with brown hair in a bowl haircut who was about six feet. The two men walked without any physical impairment, but Sam could see bulges poking from the right sides of their bodies. Sam knew the trench coat party was armed. He followed the trench coat party inside the pawn shop, hoping they wouldn't notice him. They didn't.
After the trench coat party bypassed the pawn shop's outdoor camera, they put on black balaclavas before stepping into a booth. The booth, unlike some pawn shop booths in Dublin, was protected by a few metal bars. Other pawn shops moved on from metal bars to bulletproof glass with few openings to prevent any possible contact. Despite the three being cramped in the booth, they all waited for the pawnbroker on duty to attend to them.
When the pawnbroker on duty stepped in front of their booth, the woman stepped back, opened her trench coat, and pulled out a shotgun from a holster. She pumped the shotgun and pointed it at the pawnbroker. Her associates pulled out handguns from their side holsters and pointed them at the pawnbroker. Sam walked closer to the booth's door, but he didn't attempt to enter.
"I came to take out a permanent loan," the woman said. It was clear she was Irish from the sound of her voice.
The pawnbroker raised his hands. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"You're Leon Albright. Your money bought and paid for a bombing that killed a man near Belfast. I'm here to make sure you don't fund any more bombings like that in the future."
Sam remembered reading about a recent bombing at a marketplace near Belfast in the Irish Independent before he left his hotel. The bombing left one man dead. Maybe Sam wouldn't have to do a citizen's arrest after all.
Leon pulled out a revolver from behind his back. He pointed it at the woman's head.
"Leon, I have a shotgun. You have a revolver. I have more firepower here. Your shop's money, Leon. Now. Or I shoot holes in your stomach."
Sam walked behind the booth, pretending to be oblivious to the robbery and standoff in progress. "Hey, I've been waiting for a while to pawn my pinky ring," he said in a horrible Irish accent. He pointed to his pinky ring. "I've got to be somewhere else in an hour."
The men behind the woman aimed their guns at Sam.
Sam stood up and raised his arms. "Sorry about the accent, but I'm not the one you want to shoot here." He looked up and pretended to be surprised at the standoff. By now, he dropped his Irish accent. "You know, this doesn't have to end this way, sir," Sam said to Leon. "You and I only have one revolver between us. You're going up against a shotgun and two semi-automatics here. I'm thinking you're trying to get a jump on her 'cause she's a woman, but I know shotguns. Let me tell you, this woman knows how to wield a shotgun. If I were you, I'd do what the lady's telling you to do and put the gun down so we can both get out of here alive."
Leon put the gun back in his pants. He put his arms up.
"That's better," the woman said. "To your safe, Leon. Boys, follow me. Take Hawaiian shirt guy with you."
Leon led the woman, Sam, and the two men to the employee entrance and the pawn shop's safe. When the safe was opened, the woman's associates stuffed all of Leon's money into plastic trash bags. While her assistants were filling their bags, the woman pointed her shotgun at Sam.
"Nice grip," Sam said to the woman. "Index finger pointing out but you're not obscuring the ribs. I've seen way too many knuckleheads cover up the ribs while holding a shotgun."
"Are you flirting with me while I'm in the middle of a robbery?"
Sam chuckled. "I wanted to make some small talk so we don't get bored while you're robbing this terrorist."
"Hey, I could say the same thing about you robbing a pawn shop owner in plain daylight with two other men."
When the safe was empty, the woman smacked Leon in the face with the butt of her shotgun. As she put the shotgun back in her holster, she checked to make sure Leon was out cold. He was. "Grab Hawaiian shirt guy," she said to her associates.
One of the woman's associates hid his gun and grabbed Sam's left arm. The other associate did the same when Sam's left arm was secured. The woman and her associates walked to the hiding place where they took off and hid their balaclavas before stepping outside. They tied up their trench coats.
The woman walked up to Sam and looked him up and down. "Let's take him back to my place."
The woman led the way out of the pawn shop. The woman's associates, looking like they were best buddies with Sam, weren't far behind.
The woman drove a van from the pawn shop to her apartment, which was about eight kilometers away. And for those fifteen minutes it took the woman to get to her destination, the men with handguns aimed said handguns on Sam's head.
Sam sat in the van as still as he could, but much to his kidnappers' chagrin, he wouldn't shut up. "Hey, lady, can you take me back to the Temple Bar if you can? My cabbie abandoned me on Gardiner Street for some reason."
"You want me to get arrested, don't you?" the woman said.
The men aimed their guns higher at Sam's head.
"No, I just want a beer," Sam said.
"We're not going to the Temple Bar. We don't have the time."
The men put down their guns when they reached their final destination. They pushed Sam out the back of the van. Sam stood for a few minutes and watched the men take out the cash they stole to an apartment with a Georgian Dublin-style doorway. Sam walked into the apartment and noticed the woman was already inside. To Sam's surprise, the men pointed their handguns at his head again.
The woman took off her shotgun holster. "I've got Hawaiian shirt guy. I'll give you your takes sometime tomorrow."
"I can go home to my wife now?" the man with the bowler cut asked the woman.
The woman nodded and smiled. "Go home to your wife, Thomas."
Thomas lowered his gun and put it back on safety. He put the gun back in its holster and left the woman's apartment. The other man, however, kept his gun around Sam's head.
"Sean, I said put the gun down."
"We don't know this bastard, Fiona," Sean said.
"Does it look like he's going to kill me? He's not armed. I want to talk to him and let him go. Put the gun down."
Sean refused to put the gun down. Fiona stared at Sean.
Sam turned around and grabbed Sean's head. He kicked Sean in the groin with his knee and slapped the handgun out of Sean's hand. Sam grabbed the gun and pointed it at Sean.
Fiona walked to Sam and lowered Sean's handgun in Sam's hands. "It's okay, Hawaiian shirt guy. That's my brother, Sean Glenanne. He's a bit hotheaded, like me. I'm sorry. The guy who left is also an older brother of mine. Thomas Glenanne."
"So that must mean you're Fiona Glenanne."
"That I am."
Sam put Sean's gun on safety. "So let me get this straight: you were robbing a pawnbroker because he funded a terrorist bombing?"
"Yeah. It's a long story. I'm with the IRA."
Sam blinked. "You're with the IRA?"
"Been about twelve years now. I got in because I heard the man who killed my sister Claire was a British Army solider. My brothers and I still haven't found the bastard." Fiona shook her head. "I've been thinking about getting out. But at least I know Belfast like the back of my hand." Fiona shrugged.
"So now you go around and exact justice on behalf of other people when you're not doing terroristy things."
"Yes. And no. If there's a certain bastard that's pissing me off, I might go after them. But I make most of my money running guns. It pays well, and I love guns." She raised her eyebrows.
Sean groaned. He was still on the floor, but now in a fetal position.
"I think we need to put your brother in a bed and get him some aspirin," Sam said. "This sounds like it's going to take a long time to explain."
Sean writhed on the floor. "I don't need any fucking aspirin!"
"He's right, Sean. You're going to need aspirin. And some ice for your bollocks. Let us put you in my guest bed."
Sean writhed away from Sam. Sam was able to grab Sean's right shoulder and help him on his feet. "Hey, Fiona, can you help me with his left side?"
Fiona glanced at Sam. "I've been roughhousing him since I was a girl."
Fiona grabbed Sean's left side. The two put Sean in a bedroom, laying him on the room's bed, and shut the door.
"We promised Sean some aspirin," Fiona said. "Let me get it for him. Can you wait in my kitchen?"
"I don't have any place better to be right now. Why not?"
Fiona and Sam went to Fiona's kitchen, where she grabbed Sean a glass of milk and aspirin. "Do you still want that beer?" she said as she returned from her spare bedroom. "I've got some Harp Lager here."
"Hey, I'll take anything you have. There are worse beers out there. If you ever end up in Liberia, don't drink the club market beer there. It's a nightmare."
Fiona took out the lagers from her fridge and opened the lagers with a bottle cap opener. "You sound well traveled, Mister…"
"Axe. Sam Axe."
Fiona sat down at a table and handed Sam his beer. Sam sat down with her. "That sounds nicer to say than 'Hawaiian shirt guy.' Are you a frequent traveler, or…"
"I'm a Navy SEAL Commander. So it's technically Commander Axe, not Mister Axe. But I'm not a demanding hard ass that insists on always being called Commander. Calling me Sam is fine."
"Here's my tattoo, sister." Sam rolled up the right sleeve of his shirt to reveal his SEAL tattoo.
"That doesn't prove anything. Any tool can get a tattoo on their arm."
Sam pulled out his wallet. "Oh ho. I have pictures." He took out a few pictures from his wallet. "See here? That's my squadron." He pointed himself out in the pictures.
"I just told a Navy SEAL I'm a gunrunner."
"Don't freak out, okay. I can't arrest you for gun trafficking here. I'm on leave. I mean, I was going to put you and your brothers on citizen's arrest, but that was before I found out Leon was a scumbag."
Fiona's eyes widened.
"Besides, I'd have to be in full uniform to throw you in the slammer. And I gotta admit—any woman who's ballsy enough to rob a crooked pawnbroker with her brothers has my respect."
Fiona sipped her beer. "Nice to know you won't be throwing me away in prison any time soon."
Sam folded up his pictures and put them back in his wallet. "I wish I could do the same thing myself. I'm kinda like you, except legal by US standards. I gotta do what my bosses tell me to do."
"We're both company men."
"Until we retire."
"Right." Fiona drank more of her beer. "We never talked about why I robbed that bastard. Leon Albright isn't just a pawnbroker. He's a money launderer. His front is his pawn shop. And Leon has friends in the IRA."
"I’m guessing they're not your friends."
"Far from it. I happened to hear from a contact of a contact of mine about that bomb Leon Albright funded outside Belfast. The bombers' target was Grace Archibald. She spoke out against some crimes the IRA were doing in Belfast. They meant to kill her at that marketplace. They ended up getting her father, who was doing errands for her, instead. So I went up to Belfast and asked some contacts of a contact of mine about the whereabouts of Grace. When I found her, I promised her I'd get her some money so she could flee Belfast."
"So now all you have to do is go to Belfast to give this woman the money."
Fiona nodded. "I was going to go with Sean, but since you kicked his bollocks and you don't seem to be doing anything at the moment…"
"How far is it?"
"It's about a four-hour long round trip. We should get to Belfast before sunset, and we'll be back in Dublin after nightfall, sometime before seven. As long as you help me ration the money and put it in some gym bags."
Fiona knocked on the door of a terraced house in Belfast. Sam was behind her, holding the money she robbed from Leon.
The door to the terraced house opened. A woman, with short red hair and glasses, stood in the doorway. "Fi, is this your boyfriend?"
"His name's Sam," Fi said to the woman. "He's not my boyfriend. Just a friend of mine I picked up along the way. Sam, this is Grace, my client. Grace, Sam. Sam's American. Go easy on him."
Grace nodded and laughed. "Okay, Fiona."
Fiona and Sam walked into Grace's house. Fiona pointed at Sam when the three were all inside. "Sam has your money, Grace."
Grace took the gym bag from Sam and unzipped it. Her mouth dropped. She pulled her head back. "I don't need this much money."
Fiona nodded. "Yes, you do. I'd suggest getting out of the United Kingdom altogether. I hear Paris is nice. This money should cover a plane ticket and any other transportation and temporary housing you need."
"How'd you get—"
Fiona hushed Grace. "I wouldn't ask that question. Just get out of here as soon as you can. Like we are." Fiona motioned for Sam to come near her; he did. "And pretend you never met us," Fiona said as Sam and her walked out of Grace's home.
When Sam and Fiona arrived at Fiona's home, the two stopped in front of her guest bedroom, where Sean was still inside.
"I think we should take Sean home," Sam said.
Sam was about to open Fiona's bedroom door when Fiona grabbed his hand. "No, I'll take him home. Sean might try to kill you. Can you hang around for a while?"
"How long are you here for?"
"The rest of this week. I mean, I have a hotel room already booked—"
"Once I get Sean home, you can stay with me. I'll get you some fresh bed sheets when I get back."
Sam blinked. "Really?" He looked on Fiona's mantle. On it were a few snow globes with various miniature landmarks in them, like the Eiffel Tower and a gondola and two striped poles representing Venice. "I get to stay with you and your snow globes?"
"You're a good man. You deserve a good place to stay while you're here, not some shack in the center of town."
"We're friends now. All my friends call me Fi."
"Do you have plans to come back here for your next annual leave?"
Fiona grabbed a sheet of scrap paper and wrote her number on a piece of paper. "Just call me up before you get here, and I'll have my room for you all ready to go. And leave me your number just in case I need to call you up. I can use someone like you every once in a while."
A month later, Sam received a phone call at three in the morning. Sam thought the phone call was from one of his superiors. Sam fumbled with the phone for a few seconds before he was able to answer it. "Captain?"
"If you want me to be one." It was Fiona.
"Fi, it's three in the morning here. I need to be on the base in about four hours for training."
"Best time to call you, then. I like taking the piss out of you. Listen, I'm going to be in and out of my apartment for a few months. I'm helping this guy look for the bastard that killed his sister and nephew. That means I'll be doing a bit of traveling. I won't be calling you for a while."
"When will I know when you get back?"
"When I call you again at three in the morning, your time. Bye, Sam."
The next time Sam visited Ireland, in 2002, it wasn't on leave. It was on assignment.
About a month before Sam was scheduled to go on leave, his squadron was deployed from Virginia to Dublin on an order from the CIA. The CIA found a man running guns between Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Libya, Keith Hannon. The CIA agent in charge of the Hannon mission wasn't identified by the CIA, to protect his identity. But he and his asset cornered Hannon, along with some Libyans who were willing to sell him the guns, in a hangar.
Sam and his squadron were escorted first by SUV to the Cathal Brugha Barracks. Paired up with drivers from the Irish Army Ranger Wing, Sam and some of his squadron were escorted in light tactical vehicles to the hangar the CIA agent cornered Hannon in. The plan was to surround the hangar without shooting at anyone or anything—a simple cordon and search.
When Sam and his squadron arrived at the hangar, they cordoned it off. When Sam walked inside the hangar, his face grew pale. Michael Westen, his best, and only, friend, and Fiona, in a trench coat, were standing opposite Hannon and the Libyans. At that moment, it hit Sam—Michael was the CIA agent in charge of the Hannon mission. Fiona was his asset. They met sometime after Sam returned to active duty. And Michael lied to Fiona to get closer to Hannon.
To keep up the façade, Sam ordered his men to arrest Michael and Fiona. He'd try to talk to Fiona in prison after all the weapons Hannon was going to buy from the Libyans were impounded.
Michael wasn't surprised when Sam arrested him. Fiona, on the other hand, was livid.
Sam next saw Fiona sitting in an interrogation room, still sitting in her trench coat. Her arms were crossed.
Fiona scoffed as Sam sat down in a table in front of her. "I should've known. The SEAL I met nearly a year ago was setting me up to be duped by a CIA agent."
"Fiona, I didn't know Michael was going to recruit you for his mission. He's a classified field agent. No one outside the CIA or the military's supposed to know what he looks like or his real name. I bet there are a lot of things he hasn't told me. I mean, aside from this mission."
"So his name isn't Michael McBride."
Sam sighed. "No. What I know is his name's Michael Westen. He's not from Ireland at all. He's from Miami. He hasn't been there since he was seventeen."
"What about his sister? His nephew?"
"I think he mentioned a mother and a brother from there. He doesn't have a sister or nephews he knows of. That's all I know."
"Where is he?" Fiona raised her voice.
"I hate to tell you this, but the CIA recalled him back to the States. Because Mikey didn't inform the CIA about him knowing me, he blew his cover. He's set to fly back out tonight. I'm sorry."
"I wish you'd go with him."
Sam looked down at the table.
"You have to be in full uniform to arrest me." Fiona snorted. "How prophetic." She took a breath. "Are you going to go on leave soon?"
"Yeah. Next month."
"Don't bother coming to Dublin. You'll have no quarter at my apartment." She took another breath. "When can I get out of here?"
Sam got from the table and walked out of the interrogation room. "I'll tell the authorities to let you go. You won't be charged for anything." He sighed as he left the room.
Two things happened when Sam returned to his base in Virginia. Sam's superior found out about Sam's ties to Michael and Fiona. Sam's superior was so incensed he ordered Sam to his office once Sam's feet hit land.
"You knew Michael Westen?" Sam's superior said when he walked into his superior's office.
"Yeah. I've known him since 1992. We've worked together on some missions, but I don't see the guy a lot. He does the job and disappears most of the time."
"And you didn't inform us that you knew him?"
"What, I'm supposed to snitch on every friend I have working for the government?"
"It would've been nice to know you knew Michael Westen so we could've deployed another team to Ireland."
"You never asked if I knew any CIA operatives before you deployed my team to Ireland."
Sam's supervisor groaned. "And you knew Fiona Glenanne too?"
Sam nodded. "I was on leave when I met her last year, Captain. She was attempting to rob a branch of the Bank of Ireland with two other men. I tried to make a citizen's arrest, but she and the men got away from me. I didn't know she was with the IRA."
Sam's supervisor nodded. "You're on warning, Axe. If I ever find you doing something else I find objectionable again, I'm sending you on a mission you won't like."
Hours later, after Sam retired to his bed, he received a phone call. Sam got up and fumbled to pick up his phone. "Hello?"
"I'm sorry, Sam." It was Fiona. "I was a bit harsh. Yes, Michael misled me for his mission. But you were doing your job. I bet you'd be in trouble if your superiors knew I'm talking to you right now."
"I almost was in trouble. But don't worry. I phrased it so it looked like I tried to arrest you during some botched bank robbery. My superior won't suspect a thing unless he twists my arm."
She took another breath. "Are you going on leave soon?"
"Not yet. But I already booked my tickets to Miami."
"Miami." Fiona was disappointed.
"I haven't been since before I was deployed to Operation Just Cause."
"I don't know these SEAL missions, Sam."
"It's also known as the United States invasion of Panama."
"I don't think I was paying attention to the international news then."
"Oh, come on, you're old enough to remember the late '80s."
"I remember leg warmers and 'La Bamba' in the '80s. I'm telling you, I don't remember the US invading Panama."
"Forget about it. Listen, I've been itching to sit at a hotel's restaurant and watch the—the cars drive by. Yeah, the cars."
"Sure, Sam. But let me know if you ever want to come back to Ireland. I've always got a spare room for you."
Sam paused until he thought he heard Fiona about to hang up on him. "Actually, I could swing by for a couple of days and hang out with you. I never did get to the Temple Bar. Could you take me there?"
"Of course, Sam. As long as you'll agree to meet my family. I don't live far from the homestead. We're from Sandymount Village on the Southside of Dublin. You'll stand out because you'll be wearing your Hawaiian shirt, but I'll teach you to duck from the wealthy types."
"The wealthy types?"
"Sam, where do you think I get my taste in dresses from?"
Sam gulped. "Deal."
For the next few years, Fiona called Sam to talk about their lives with the IRA and the SEALs, respectfully. Fiona's and Sam's phone calls were lighthearted affairs. That all changed sometime in 2004, when Fiona started out her phone call with "I did it."
Sam yawned. "Did what?"
"I left the IRA."
"You left the…oh."
"I acquired hundreds of guns for them. I made them a lot of money. And I'm no closer to finding who murdered Claire than when I joined them."
"Why did you leave?"
Fiona took a breath. "I thought about us. How we were talking about being company men in my flat. And how we hated it. I hated the IRA telling me what I could do. They wanted me to kill someone who was going to inform on some of the bastards in the organization. I don't hurt innocents. I never have, and never will, hurt an innocent. And then it hit me, why I care so much for innocents. That's how I lost my sister. I don't want other people to end up angry and scared and loud and confused as I was when she was gone. I didn't want innocent people to make the mistakes I made after Claire's death." She took another breath. "So, what about you? You still with the SEALs?"
"Don't let the SEALs destroy you, Sam."
Sam hung up. He forgot about the phone call as soon as he went to bed, but as soon as he went to training, all he could hear was her voice.
Sam did end up going to Ireland a year later, but it was under more demanding circumstances. It started off with a phone call from Fiona at three in the morning. This time, Sam wasn't in Virginia. As part of the graymail deal he made to keep the disastrous events of Operation PROVIDE SUPPORT secret, Sam was able to move to Miami. He found a girlfriend, Veronica, and he sweet-talked his way into getting his own apartment without putting down fifteen thousand dollars a month on rent.
This time, Fiona's call was brief. "Sam, are you on leave?"
"No, Fi. I left the SEALs. It's a long story."
"I need you to come to Ireland and get me out or a couple of men might kill me." She hung up.
Sam was never one to leave a friend hanging in a time of need. He decided he could take a break from lounging in front of Hotel Victor to help Fiona.
Sixteen hours later, Sam returned to Dublin Airport with a new pacemaker near his heart and a card in his left hand.
Sam pointed to his heart for airport security and shrugged. "My old ticker isn't working right anymore. Can you believe it? My doctor said I can't go through metal detectors. Hell, I can't have one of those little detectors near my heart. I guess you'll have to pat me down." He gave security his hospital's card stating he was using a card for cardiac rhythm management purposes. His physician's name was Chuck Finley.
Sam was taken to a different part of the airport where he was patted down by airport security. Once he was through security, Sam went to the bathroom. Before Sam left Miami, he fashioned a storage compartment that looked like a pacemaker. He put a big piece of gauze and some medical tape on his left chest to make it look like the compartment was a pacemaker that was just implanted into his body. Sam took the gauze off and opened the storage compartment. Inside the compartment was a fake Garda badge. He put the badge on his wallet and hid his actual ID for a fake Garda ID card. He disposed of the gauze by folding it up and hiding it in a wad of paper towels.
Sam walked outside to the airport's nearest drop-off zone. He walked in front of a car that was about to leave the drop-off zone.
Sam took out the fake Garda ID and waved it in the air. "Chuck Finley, plainclothes Garda," Sam said, bringing back his horrible Irish accent. "I'm going to need your car, sir. We need to stop a high speed chase in Swords. The suspect leading the chase stole my car."
"Am I getting the car back?" the driver asked.
Sam shook his head. "Probably not. You're going to ask insurance to comp your car."
"Hurry it up, fella. You know I can't keep a fugitive of the law waiting."
The driver surrendered the car to Sam.
Sam threw his fake Garda ID, along with the badge, in a river north of Dublin. From there, Sam drove to Dublin and Fiona's apartment.
Sam knocked on Fiona's apartment door. Fiona opened the door to her apartment after she checked the peephole.
Sam looked down at Fiona. "You cut your hair." She cut a foot of it off; although her hair was shorter, it was still long.
"A girl's gotta keep her locks healthy. I can't be running around here like a clothed Lady Godiva. Get in here."
As he walked inside Fiona's apartment, Sam noticed that Fiona's apartment was bare, aside from the furniture in it. In the middle of her living room were two duffel bags. "What happened to your snow globes?"
"They're memoirs of my jobs, Sam. Every time I complete one, I collect a snow globe. I'm a bit of a sentimentalist, in a way. I can't leave them here so O'Neill or Armand can get them."
"Wait a minute. Who's O'Neill and who's Armand?"
Fiona shook her head. "O'Neill is Thomas O'Neill, this ultraradical bastard who makes me look like a saint. He doesn't give a shit about how many people die at his own hands. As long as he thinks he's advancing his causes, he'll do it. I met him while I was with the IRA, looking for who killed Claire. I thought he could help me. He thought I was just like him. He made the mistake of telling me about a bombing he was planning for a Northern Ireland prep school. I intercepted the bomb before it went off and disarmed it."
"You can disarm bombs?"
"If Claire didn't die, I would be a chemist—a scientific chemist, not some dope working at a pharmacy. The IRA got wind of my knowledge of chemicals and things that go boom, so I helped make them a few bombs. I made sure the bombs went towards our enemies, not children or the innocent. That's why I was fine with making the bombs for them for a while. Then I made them for myself. They're pretty useful if you need an escape hatch."
Sam's eyes widened. "An escape hatch."
Fiona nodded. "You'll see. O'Neill was forced to go into hiding for years because of the failed attack. His signature bomb has rat poison in it."
"It thins his victims' blood. Looks like they lost a lot of blood after they're blown up. That's why he hid—so he wouldn't get caught."
Sam walked to Fiona's kitchen. "Did you leave out some glasses?"
Fiona followed him. "Yeah. I didn't pack my glasses. I can buy some nice ones when I get to Miami. Isn't there a mall or two I can go to there? "
Sam frowned. He was in no mood to joke. "I need some water." Sam pulled out a glass from one of Fiona's cabinets and filled it with water. He sat down at Fiona's dining room table. "O'Neill's out of hiding, isn't he? And now he's after you."
"Well, what about this Armand guy?"
"Armand's a guy I used to date. He knew my criminal record. What I didn't know was he killed a British customs officer who spent years trying to capture me. This customs officer stopped Sean and me once while we were heading to Belfast with a trunk full of assault rifles. The customs officer spent years trying to build a case against me when he realized Sean wasn't involved in the black market like I was. When Armand killed the customs officer, the customs officer was about to demand the Republic of Ireland extradite me to Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom for trial. I would've been in prison for about fifteen years. Between Armand killing an innocent man and prison time, I would've taken the prison time instead. And I hate prison.
"Armand called the murder a favor. I didn't ask for this favor of his and I dumped him after I found out about it. But Armand resurfaced in my life when he heard about my O'Neill problem. He offered to get me out of the country, as long as I play lookout for him in one of his jobs. I don't have a good feeling about what he's going to do in this job. I agreed to it…"
"But you're scared of him."
"I'm afraid he's going to kill me if I don't do it."
"That's where I come in."
Fiona looked down on her floor and sighed. "I know it's crazy, calling a guy up at three in the morning five time zones away. But you're the only one I can trust outside of my family. That Michael guy could help us out, too, but we don't know where he is. He seems pretty reliable, aside from that Michael McBride business."
"That's what Mikey does best. He disappears until he wants to be found. At least I know why you called me here."
"My family's tough. We've been spat at and shot at for our beliefs, but this is something I got myself into. I don't want to put them at risk because of something I did. I would hate myself forever if I lost any of my brothers or my mother or my father the way I lost Claire."
"So what are we going to do?"
"Did you bring a car up here?"
"It's not attached to your name or anything?"
Sam laughed. "No. My Garda pal Chuck Finley stole the car from the airport. I do feel bad for the person who owns the car, though. Maybe the airport will give them a car rental on the house."
"We're going to put all my bags in your car and leave. I know my family will be upset and my landlord will be pissed. But I have to go or I'll die."
"Fi, this Armand guy sounds dangerous, not to mention that O'Neill guy. And I'm unarmed right now—"
Fiona put a finger to Sam's mouth. "Do you like guns?"
"Why wouldn't I like guns?"
Fiona motioned for Sam to follow her back into her living room. She unzipped one of her duffel bags.
"We're going to be fighting off these guys with little black dresses and stilettos?"
Fiona moved around the dresses and shoes to reveal a couple of handguns. She pulled out the smaller of the guns. "A Walther for me…" She put the Walther in her jeans behind her back. She handed the larger gun to Sam. "And a Beretta for you, since it's the type of gun you military types like."
Sam grinned. He hid the Beretta in his pants. "You do know your guns, Fi."
Fiona zipped up the duffel bag. She handed one of the duffel bags to Sam. "Let's go."
A car pulled up beside Sam's stolen car as soon as Sam and Fiona finished putting her duffel bags in the car's trunk. The driver rolled down his window and poked his head out of the car. His brown hair was tied in a bun. There were also two other men inside the car. Both of them were wearing black balaclavas.
Fiona, near the driver's seat of the car, pulled out her Walther. "I'm out, Armand."
Armand shook his head. "You owe me a favor."
"I wouldn't call shooting someone the lady didn't want killed a favor, buddy," Sam said.
"Picking up confused tourists as your bodyguards? This is below you, Fiona."
Sam pulled out his Beretta. "I'll show you a confused tourist." He fired a warning shot above Armand's car. It was enough to allow Fiona and Sam to get into Sam's car and get a head start on Armand and his men. Once Fiona was on the streets of Dublin, she sped Sam's car up.
Although he was strapped in with his seatbelt, Sam grabbed his seat. "Fi, are you crazy?"
"I wish my ma gave me that middle name."
"You're going up a one-way street."
Fiona shrugged. "It's been done before. I pull it off better than drunks and people stupid enough to deal drugs and get caught."
Fiona drove up one-way streets and turned against traffic in the small and congested streets of Dublin. Armand's men were shooting at Sam's car. Fiona ducked her head as low as she could so she could keep driving. "They're aiming for my head, Sam. Cover me."
Sam rolled down his window, dodging whirring bullets while attempting to aim at Armand. He eventually ran out of bullets in his Beretta. "Gonna need your gun, Fi."
Fi pulled out her gun from her back and handed it to Sam. Sam continued to aim for Armand. Although Sam did manage to shoot some bullets through Armand's windshield, Armand wasn't injured or dead.
Sam threw Fiona's Walther on the floor of his car. "We're out of bullets."
"That's where the escape hatch comes in. Open the glove compartment."
Sam opened the glove compartment and found a mobile phone.
Fiona looked over and saw Sam holding the phone in his hands. "When I tell you to press the call button on the phone, do it."
Fiona drove down and sped up down the wrong way on a one way street lined with parked cars. Armand and his men followed her. She looked to her right as she was driving the car. She nodded as she passed by the car she was looking for. "Press the call button."
Sam pressed the button on the mobile phone. A parked saloon car with a build from the late 70s blew up and rolled in the middle of the street. Armand and his men were forced to stop and attempt to get out of the one way street before Garda arrived. No way could they catch up to Fiona and Sam.
"See?" Fiona said. "That was an escape hatch."
Sam and Fiona stole another car before the two went out of the Dublin metropolitan area. Fiona took the car Sam stole and drove ahead of Sam. She first threw away the Walther and the Beretta in a river. Then she drove Sam's car in the middle of a field. Fiona grabbed her luggage and put it in the second car's trunk before climbing back into the passenger seat.
Fiona shut the door of the car. She looked at Sam, smiled and nodded. "I'm free, Sam. Thank you for doing this for me."
"I'd do anything for a friend."
Fiona smiled at Sam. Then she leaned in, grabbed Sam's face, and gave him a kiss. His eyes widened.
Sam backed out of the kiss after a few seconds. "Wait, how'd we get to first base?"
"I thought we were almost there."
"I got a girlfriend in Miami. She gave me my own place. I can't take you to my place and have you hanging around in it."
Fiona made a face. "I have money stored in an account in Switzerland. All I need to do is smurf the money out of that bank, send it to another bank in Miami, and I'll be able to get my own place."
"I thought you hated money launderers."
"In Ireland, there are good money launderers and bad money launderers. I only work with the good ones that don't fund the IRA and don't tell my enemies where I'm hiding. But you're invited to my new apartment in Miami, Sam. That is, unless you prefer the company of this woman you're calling your girlfriend by mistake. Now, who's your girlfriend again? This woman that gave you your own place because you're willing to rub the corns on her feet, or me?"
Sam blinked twice. Then he smiled.
"That's what I thought."
Fiona leaned in and kissed Sam again. This time, Sam returned the kiss. He ran his fingers through Fiona's hair as he kissed her, resting them on her chin.
Two years later, Michael was burned while he was working a job in Warri, Nigeria. He was beaten up while he was working the job, but he did manage to escape on a plane and pass out.
When the plane arrived in Miami, the place where Michael was forced to return to as well as his hometown, Fiona received a call from a maid in a small Miami motel. Just before Michael was recalled out of the Hannon mission, Fiona agreed to be his emergency contact. Michael never bothered to take the information out of his wallet or to ask for someone else to be his emergency contact.
The two went to the motel and asked for the key to Michael's room. After they arrived in the room, Fiona picked up his identification card and sat near Michael's bed. Sam stood beside her, rubbing her back.
"He's faking it." Fiona now spoke with an American accent. She kicked Michael in his back with a platform shoe.
"What, you couldn't shake his body, Fi?"
Fiona twirled Michael's identification card in her left hand. "I've worked with Michael long enough to know when he's faking it."
"I've worked with Mike longer."
"Have you shared a bed with him unconscious?"
Sam stared at Fiona. His jaw dropped.
Fiona looked at Sam, smirked, and chuckled.
"You're a lucky man." Fiona continued to twirl Michael's identification card. "That many bruises, anyone would think you fell under a truck."
Michael opened his eyes. "Fiona, what are you doing here? Why are you talking like that?"
"The maid got curious, went through your stuff." Fiona ignored what Michael said to her. "You still have me in your wallet as your emergency contact."
Michael blinked before laying his eyes on Sam. "Sam? Sam, what are you doing here?"
Sam winked at Michael. "Wouldn't you like to know?"