“The Mummy” has always been a favorite episode of mine. I can’t explain it either. But that episode, and oddly, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, inspired this little story. It features my characters Serena and Wendy.

Case of the Mummy's Case

Sharon H

 

~<<>>~

 

Harriman Nelson ducked behind a stack of crates, wishing his wildly beating heart wasn’t thumping so loudly. The way it was galloping around in his ribcage he was certain it was going to give him away. Right now there were two gunmen out there searching for him. Why, he had no idea. One minute Lee, Chip, and he were wandering through the nearly empty museum waiting for Serena when gunshots rang out and the three had found themselves being used for target practice. In a desperate attempt to lose their shooters, the three men had split up. Nelson had no idea where his officers were now and furthermore he had no idea where Serena was. Worry for his friends and his daughter ate at him and that was probably the reason he didn’t hear the light footstep or sense the gunman as he came around the corner of the stack of crates Nelson had chosen to hide behind.

 

“Did you think you could hide from Habib, American?” the Arab gunman snarled, giving Nelson a start.

 

Harriman whirled around and found himself staring up at the business end of a gun aimed right at his head. How does a quick visit to see my daughter while the crew gets in a few hours of shore leave turn into a shoot out and a foot chase? Nelson wondered as he raised both hands in a placating manner and moved to get his feet under him. “I’m sure we can talk this over. Just what is it you want?” Nelson asked. Slowly he got to his feet, trying to buy some time. The admiral's mind was in overdrive as he tried to formulate a plan.

 

“You take our heritage away from us. You dig up the bones of our ancestors like rocks to be pried from the sands. The gods are not pleased. And to make matters worse, you send a woman to take our ancestors away. A woman! What does a woman know about our past, about our history?”

 

“It’s not like that! Believe me, your government only wants to protect your history. Doctor Harrison is only trying . . .” Nelson started but Habib was in no mood to hear any explanations.

 

“SILENCE!” Habib thundered and lunged for Nelson. The two men grappled, Nelson trying to get the gun away from Habib. Habib was holding his own as they traded punches. He reversed his hold on the gun and lashed out, catching the admiral in the jaw. Harriman reeled backwards and crashed into the stack of crates he had been hiding behind. His head snapped back and connected solidly with the heavy wooden crates. Slowly he sank to the ground and lay still.

 

“Samir!” Habib called out and a second similarly dressed Arab appeared, glancing down at the unconscious admiral.

 

“Is he dead?” Samir asked, reaching down and feeling for a pulse. He found a steady beat and stood, having answered his own question. “What do we do with him? If he is found before we move the mummy there may be suspicions. There are still the two other Americans who could make trouble if we don't take steps.”

 

“Simple. Amun-Aten-Hotep is being shipped out separately in a special crate. Put the American in the sarcophagus. We will dump his body in the desert and the gods can determine his fate. Move. There is little time. The woman will be back soon.”

 

The two men levered the limp form of the unconscious admiral up and carried him across the room to the empty sarcophagus. Had Nelson been conscious, he would have recognized the sarcophagus as the same one he and Lee had transported from New York several years earlier. Habib swung open the hinged lid and the two of them dropped Nelson’s body in the empty cavity. Habib dropped the lid closed just in time.

 

Serena Harrison barreled into the room. She stopped just inside the door and paused, hand on her hip while she raked her fingers though her bangs. She grimaced, feeling the buildup of sand and grime thick in her auburn hair. She saw the two men standing by the case and arched one eyebrow in question.

 

“What are you two doing? You’re supposed to be moving crates. I need that case,” Serena pointed to the ancient artifact in question, “loaded and ready to go. By the way, has an American man about five foot nine with red hair and blue eyes come through here? I seem to have misplaced him,” Serena said. She eyeballed the now closed up sarcophagus. She didn’t really trust these two but she was pressed for time and help and had to use what she could get. The fact she these two might be up to something nefarious had crossed her mind several times but she could never prove anything. Habib gave her an oily smile.

 

“No lady, no American has come in here. We will have the sarcophagus loaded for you and ready for transport in the next hour.”

 

“How about we get that case loaded now? I want to make sure it’s strapped down for the drive to Cairo. I want it on the road and on the way before I ship out the mummy.”

 

Samir and Habib exchanged glances but made no further comments. The two of them hefted the now much heavier case and followed Serena out to the loading docks and a waiting truck. The archaeologist never seemed to notice the case weighed more than it had before. Habib and Samir loaded the sarcophagus into the back of the truck.

 

"Make sure that lid is also tied down. I don't want it to accidentally open and get damaged on the way to Cairo," Serena said. Without a word, Habib and Samir worked to run several lengths of rope around the case, cinching the double-hinged lid tight. Under Serena’s watchful eye, they tied the case securely down in the back of the truck. When they were done, both men climbed out of the truck and Habib slammed the tailgate closed. He then pulled the canvas tarp tight over the open bed and secured the corners. The case was now hidden from view. Just like Serena wanted it.

 

“Peachy. Go on back to the storerooms and make sure we’ve gotten everything out. If we're lucky, we can get the last of this stuff out of here in the morning. Then I can be done with this mess.” The two hired hands nodded in assent and left, heading for the back storerooms.

 

Once out of earshot of Harrison, Habib whispered to Samir, “The other two Americans. They’ll have to be disposed of if we are to take possession of Amun-Aten-Hotep tonight. Find them. Do what you have to do.”

 

Serena watched them go then turned on her heel and headed back into the museum. This whole project had been a mess from the minute she arrived. Bad management over the last few years had led to virtually no inventory list. Serena had her hands full trying to determine what pieces belonged to what exhibits. With this museum closing down and everything being shifted to the Cairo Museum, Harrison had her work cut out for her as the deadline for the move drew near. Taking a few minutes for herself, Serena plopped down on a stack of crates with her back to the loading dock. She snatched up a worn walkie from her hip.

 

“Wen, remind me again that I'm a MARINE archaeologist. How the devil did I get roped into this project anyway?” she asked, with more than her fair share of disgust dripping from her words.

 

Serena’s current project coordinator, best friend, and bodyguard, Wendy Morton, answered over the walkie, “Because it was your stepfather who originally found the tomb and the museum wanted to honor him by allowing his stepdaughter the privilege of overseeing the transfer of Amun-Aten-Hotep to his new home in Cairo.”

 

“I'm touched. Really I am, touched in the head for letting myself get talked into this. Once we get this thing moved, reminded me that sand is for beaches. By the way, what the blazes has happened to Lee, Chip and my father?”

 

“Don’t know. I thought they were in the main hall, waiting for you.” Wendy’s voice squawked back through the walkie. Serena shook her head even though she knew Wendy couldn’t see her.

 

“I just came from there. It’s empty. No sign of Seaview’s dynamic duo and I have no idea where my father went.” she said. She heard a long breath being let out on the other end of the walkie.

 

“Girl, this is just ducky. We’re getting word from the director in Cairo that there may be an attempt to steal the mummy before we can get it to Cairo. It seems there is some weird faction who believes that it’s against the wishes of the gods to move Amun-Aten-Hotep from his ancestral home.”

 

“Great. As if I don’t have enough problems now. No inventory list, mismatched exhibits, questionable help, I seem to have lost a four-star admiral and two officers of the Navy reserves and now you tell me I’ve got a bunch of cultists plotting to steal Papa’ Arch’s mummy? Peachy. Why is nothing ever simple? ” Serena growled just as she heard the engine on the truck roar to life. She jumped to her feet and spun around to face the loading dock just in time to see the truck with her mummy case crash through the doors closed dock doors and speed away. Serena caught a glimpse of who could only have been Habib and Samir, both shouldering rifles as they disappeared out the broken door after the truck

 

“What the blazes is going on?” she snarled and ran after the truck, just as Wendy appeared on the other side of the dock.

 

Wendy jammed the walkie back into its catch at her hip and tossed her long white-blond braid back over her shoulder. Summer sky-blue eyes scanned the dock, taking in first the redhead on the far side then the remains of the dock door. “What did you do this time?” she demanded, refocusing on the other women.

 

“Me? Somebody stole my sarcophagus!” Serena shouted to Wendy.

 

“It's that faction! I told you! Didn’t I tell you?” Wendy growled back. Serena jumped off the loading dock and hit the ground at a dead run. Wendy had no choice but to follow. A second museum truck was parked just outside in the alley. Both women headed straight for the empty truck, but Wendy’s longer stride beat Serena to it. She yanked open the driver's side door and slid in behind the steering wheel. Serena bounced up into the passenger’s side.

 

“Come on, move this thing, it’s getting away!” she yelled, pointing to the just disappearing tail end of the stolen truck.

 

Wendy cranked the engine and it rolled over, miracles of miracles. “We’ve never done a car chase,” the blonde woman said, flashing Serena the famous family high wattage smile.

 

Serena gave her friend a crooked grin, “First time for everything.” She was jerked backwards as Wendy floored the gas and the truck shot forward. Cranking the steering wheel wildly, Wendy pulled out and spun after the receding stolen truck and its precious cargo.

 

Serena leaned forward, eyes fixed on the receding vehicle. Without taking her gaze off the truck ahead of them, she held out one hand and snapped her fingers.

 

“Gimme your gun,” she ordered. Wendy snapped her head around then zipped it back to watch the road. They hit a pothole and the entire truck bounced and rattled ominously.

 

“What the hell for? You can’t hit the broad side of a barn,” the blonde snapped.

 

“I know that, you know that, but the crackerjack who stole my case doesn’t. Beside, I’m not aiming for the driver. I just wanna take out the tires.”

 

“Just be careful with that thing. It’s not a toy.” From under the faded black shirt she wore over her gray tank top, Wendy pulled her Sig from the shoulder rig and handed the gun to Serena.

 

“You just drive,” Serena commanded as she leaned her frame out the window of the truck and aimed low for the tires of the speeding truck and squeezed off her first shot. It PINGED harmlessly off the tailgate of the truck. With a scowl, Serena took aim again.

 

~<<>>~

 

“Lee, LOOK OUT!”

 

The rusted out truck crashed grill first through a fruit stand and then an already falling down fence line, sending goats and sheep running in every direction. The driver of the truck was a lean, dark haired young man who had the wheel in a white-knuckled death grip. He wrenched the wheel hard to the right, narrowly avoiding a five-foot stone wall. Two figures in stained and tattered Arab robes, probably the same gunmen who had been targeting them at the museum, were in position along the top of the fence, rifles aimed and ready. Gunshots ricocheted off the cab then shattered the windshield, showering the occupant with glass.

 

“Ops, sorry about that . . .” Lee Crane apologized to his passenger without taking his eyes off the track in front of him. They were far from out of the woods yet.

 

“Maybe I should drive,” suggested Chip Morton from his side of the truck. One knee was braced against the dash while the other leg was bracing him in the seat against the floor. He had his own grip of death on the seat, his fingers digging into the cracked and split leather of the seat under him.

 

“No can do, pal. Remember the rules. My truck. I stole it, so I’m driving.” The truck hit a bump and they hung on. Another round of gunfire blasted by them and both men ducked, hoping the bullets missing anything vital, like gas tanks and internal organs.

 

“Next time,” the truck hit another hole, “I get to steal the truck,” Chip replied, hanging on for dear life.

 

Lee ducked to avoid more gunfire. “What are they shooting at us for? Who are these people and what do they want? We haven’t done anything,” Lee asked, not really expecting an answer.

 

“Maybe they’re after the admiral. It wouldn’t be the first time. We got separated and I have no idea what happened to him,” Chip said. He swiveled in his seat to glance behind them. A second truck was coming up fast. “Lee, we got company,” he warned. Lee grabbed the rear view and adjusted it till he could see the second truck.

 

“Great,” he said and floored the accelerator, trying to coax the ratty truck to go just a little bit faster. Their pursuers also sped up and actually gained a little bit.

 

PING!

 

PING!

 

Chip ducked instinctively but the bullets had come nowhere near him. It took a second to realize what was happening. “The tires! Lee, they’re trying to shoot out the tires!” he exclaimed, turning again to look behind them. The grime covered back glass, combined with the dirt-encrusted windshield of the pursuing truck made getting a look at the driver impossible.

 

“Hold on, I’m going to try and lose them.” Lee said and yanked the truck to the right, down an alleyway. The truck behind them kept pace but didn’t gain any as the two trucks sped recklessly down the narrow alley. Ahead of them, a tall, rickety wooden fence turned the alleyway into a dead end street.

 

“Lee,” Chip called out in warning, gripping the dash even tighter. Lee didn’t stop. With a prayer that there wasn’t a brick wall on the other side of the fence and a quick “hold on,” directed at Chip, Lee hit the gas and careened through the fence, scattering boards and splinters in his wake.

 

~<<>>~

 

Harriman came to with a brilliant headache and a terrific jolt. Frantically he tried to remember where he was but his mind refused to supply that information. The last thing he could remember was the scuffle with Habib. His jaw and his head continued to throb as a reminder. Another jolt rocked him and Nelson realized he was in some kind of crate or box and it felt like he was in the back of a truck, moving along at a pretty good clip.

 

He raised both his hands and pressed against the lid of the crate. It gave about an inch then stopped. They must have tied the lid down. Nelson thought to himself and tried again. No give. Harry braced himself against the walls of the box as the truck bounced again and concentrated on keeping from being bounced around so much. Until they reached their destination, there wasn’t much he could do. He was trapped.

 

~<<>>~

 

“Don’t let them get away!” Serena was yelling as she leaned out the passenger’s side window and took aim at the tires one more time. The driver of the lead truck was a slick piece of work, she had to give him that. He seemed to sense when she was about to fire and always managed to swerve the truck just out of her line of fire.

 

Suddenly the lead truck swerved to the right and headed down an alley. Wendy let out a whoop of joy. “HAHA, we got ‘em now. This alley's a dead end!” she exclaimed and let up on the gas. The end of the alley was a nine-foot tall wooden fence. Only the lead truck didn’t stop. It sped up and crashed through the stockade fence, sending debris in every direction.

 

“Don’t these people play by the rules? You’re supposed to stop at a dead end!” Wendy snarled and floored the gas. The truck shot forward and plowed through what was left of the fence.

 

Too late, Wendy saw the ditch line. She braked hard, throwing Serena against the dash as she cranked the wheel hard to the left to avoid the ditch. The back of the truck fishtailed as the sand under the tires shifted, but the truck finally came to a stop. The first truck wasn’t so lucky. It plowed straight for the irrigation ditch, skidding to the left as the driver tried to turn the truck to avoid the four-foot deep trench.

 

~<<>>~

 

“LEE!! Watch out for the ditch!” Chip yelled as the truck crashed through the fence. Ahead of them a deep drainage ditch cut through the desert and the truck was heading straight for it.

 

Lee snarled as he yanked the wheel hard to the left, but the truck had too much speed behind it. The sand shifted under the weight of the truck as Lee slammed on the brakes. The truck slid onto and over the edge of the ditch as Lee leaned on the wheel, trying to keep the wheels from sliding over the edge.

 

It was pointless. The truck’s tires slid off the bank and the truck overbalanced onto its right side. Chip and Lee could only hang on as the truck rolled over and slid to a screeching halt.

 

~<<>>~

 

Nelson felt the truck tip and roll. He clearly heard the snap as the tie downs on his coffin-like prison gave way with the sudden strain. Another powerful jolt shook the already battered admiral. The box slammed down onto the ground then actually rolled three or four times before coming to a complete stop. Nelson lay still, closing his eyes and fighting back a wave of nausea, dazed and too stunned and sore to make any sudden moves.

 

~<<>>~

 

Serena flew out of the truck, her borrowed gun still in one hand as Wendy shouted out to her, “You stay away from that truck, Serena! You hear me? Don’t go near it!” the blonde ordered as she ran after the redhead.

 

Serena froze and whirled around to glare at her friend. “That’s a three thousand year old artifact! I wanna know who stole it!” she spat out.

 

With a growl, Wendy snapped back, “Stay here. Don’t move. The admiral will have my hide if some random Arab shoots you or something.”

 

Serena crossed her arms over her chest. “This whole bodyguard thing is starting to get on my nerves. I thought you were my coordinator,” she shot back.

 

Wendy only snorted. “It's all part of the deal, you knew that when I signed on as your coordinator. You don't like it? Take it up with your father. I’m just doing my job. You check out the sarcophagus, I’ll check out the truck.”

 

In the meantime, as the blonde and the auburn haired women were debating the finer points of who was to do what, a figure was slowly emerging out the driver’s side window of the truck, followed by a second. Serena could only stare as her brain slowly recognized the blond and brunet duo.

 

“Lee?” Serena called out, completely forgetting she was still holding Wendy’s Sig Sauer. Lee Crane looked down at her from his perch on the edge of the truck. His eyes tracked to the gun still clutched in Serena’s hands. Behind him, Chip was climbing to his feet, noticing the two women, one being his very own baby sister.

 

“Wen? What in the name of common sense are you doing here?” Chip snapped seeing his sister and Harrison staring back up at them. Both men climbed down from the truck and Lee advanced on the archaeologist with Chip right behind him.

 

They don’t look very happy, Serena thought. She took a deep breath, determined not to let Crane intimidate her. She set her feet and planted her fists on in her hips, the gun still clenched in a tight grip.

 

“YOU! You were the one shooting at us! What is wrong with you? We could have been killed!” Lee barked, fire in his eyes. Chip had crossed his arms and was standing by his captain, his own eyes dancing like points of angry blue flame.

 

Serena stood firm and fired back at the man who towered over her like a dark cloud. “You stole my sarcophagus! How was I to know it was you? It's not like you were carrying a sign, Hi, my name is Lee Crane and me and my buddy just stole this struck,” she shot back.

 

“What are you talking about? What sarcophagus?” Lee demanded as Serena pointed to the case laying off to itself. Lee tracked the motion of her hand and blinked in disbelief. No, it couldn't be . . .

 

“Lee, is that the same . . .” Chip breathed even as Lee was nodding his head, moving slowly forward toward the case.

 

“Yeah, it is. It’s the same case. Serena, ah, where’s the actual mummy?” Lee asked slowly, his voice taking on tones of deep concern.

 

Serena raised an eyebrow. “Back at the museum. It’s supposed to be packed in a special case for its trip to Cairo. Why?”

 

Lee didn’t have the chance to answer. From the sarcophagus came the sound of someone or something pounding against the inside case. The hinged double lid strained against the ropes wrapped around it as whatever was inside tried to break out. Lee snatched up the gun from Serena’s hands and advanced on the case.

 

“Lee, wait, think about this . . .” pleaded Chip as he pounded after Crane. He clearly remembered the last time Lee came face to face with this thing and he certainly wasn’t ready to deal with all that again. But Lee wasn’t listening.

 

“Chip, whatever’s in that case can’t get loose. We have to stop it.”

 

“Then you cover the case, I’ll get the ropes,” Chip replied, digging into his back pocket for his pocketknife. Behind them, Serena darted after them, only to have Wendy grab her by the arm and jerk her back.

 

“Oh no, you don’t. You stay here, let them handle this,” Wendy ordered. She wasn’t about to let Serena out of her sight. Look what happened at the museum! She turns her back for two minutes and Serena takes off after a stolen truck. The woman was impossible.

 

Serena didn’t argue but was clearly not happy with the turn of events. She watched as the two men advanced on the now slightly rocking case. Chip slipped the blade of his knife under the ropes and they snapped. The double lid flew open and out popped the auburn hair of one very shook up Admiral Nelson.

 

“Admiral?” Chip and Lee chorused together, exchanging surprised yet relieved glances. Lee lowered the gun as Chip offered a hand to help Nelson climb out of the case.

 

”Nice to see the two of you. Would either of you like to explain the wild ride I was just subjected to? I wasn’t aware that Disneyland had a park in Egypt,” Nelson ground out as he heaved himself to his feet, feeling every bruise and bump from the none-too gentle landing.

 

Blond and brunet glanced nervously at each other. Neither obviously wanted to explain. Glancing around Nelson noticed they weren't alone. The female contingent of their little get-together was standing not that far off. Harriman turned and addressed the two. “And what part do the two of you have to play in all this?”

 

Serena Harrison and Wendy Morton exchanged glances. “Us?” they asked in unison. Green and blue eyes blinked in concert at the question.

 

Nelson glanced at his daughter and her friend, then back to Lee and Chip. What on earth I have gotten myself into? All four individuals tried their hardest to look as innocent as possible. Nelson was beginning to get the impression that bringing Wendy in to keep an eye on Serena might not have been the brightest of moves. Those two seemed to attract as much trouble Lee and Chip ever did!

 

~<<>>~

 

The five made their way back to the museum after loading the mummy case onto the back of the still drivable truck. Nelson, Serena and Wendy crammed in the front of the truck while Lee and Chip bumped along in the back. Once they got back to the museum, Serena made a quick check to make sure the mummy of Amun-Aten-Hotep was still packed away. Happy that all was well, she could turn her attention back to the current business at hand.

 

All five were camped out in the edge of the dock, using various boxes and crates as seats. Serena collapsed in a heap next to her father, giving her tired feet a rest as she listened as Nelson explained what happened to him.

 

“The last thing I remember was the tussle with your porter, the one called Habib. Next thing I knew, I woke up in that blasted sarcophagus and in the middle of the worst roller coaster ride I’ve ever had the misfortune to be a part of.”

 

Serena let out a disgusted sigh. “So that’s what those two were up to. I knew it was a mistake to bring them onboard this project. I’ll bet they were part of that faction who doesn’t want the mummy to be moved. So they dumped you in the case then I come along and stupidly have you and the case loaded into the back of that truck,” Serena added.

 

Lee coughed up a short bark of laughter. “So Chip and I stole the truck to get away from the two gunmen chasing us, neither of us realizing you or the sarcophagus was in the back.”

 

“Then I saw the truck bust through the back doors. I didn’t know it was you and Chip who had stolen the truck, all I knew was someone had stolen my sarcophagus. So Wendy and I took off after you. I thought if I could shoot out the tires, you’d give up the truck and I could get the case back,” Serena added.

 

“No, YOU took off after the truck, I took off after you, Wendy interjected, "by the way,” she eyed Crane with an arched eyebrow “I need my gun back.”

 

Crane reached behind him, pulled the borrowed weapon from the small of his back and handed the weapon over. He watched as the blonde, rather smugly, tucked the Sig Sauer back into the shoulder rig on her left side. She dropped the shirt over the gun and flashed Lee one of those smiles, but said nothing further. Her brother, however, did not miss the action.

 

“Is there a reason my sister is wearing a shoulder rig?” he queried.

 

Wendy continued to smirk. “Cause if I hang one on my belt, it digs into my hip,” she replied but wouldn’t elaborate further. She completely omitted the fact she was wearing a cell phone and a walkie-talkie clipped to her belt. At least she was taking her job as Serena’s bodyguard seriously.

 

“Well, once the mummy is moved, what are your plans? You’ve been rather busy over the past few weeks,” Nelson said.

 

“Once the mummy is settled into its new home, unless something comes up, we’re catching the first flight back home. Once I get home, I plan on taking a six-hour bath and lose ten pounds of sand then I’m going to sleep for a week. Serena is on her own.” Wendy said dryly. Serena stuck her tongue out at her friend before answering her father.

 

“I don’t know yet. I guess I’ll see if anything comes up once I get to Cairo,” she said, somewhat distractedly.

 

Nelson nodded and Lee recognized his that employer’s mind had just shifted into overdrive. Nelson shot Lee a look and somehow he knew what the older man was thinking. Wendy dropped down next to him and Lee draped an arm over her shoulders as the blonde woman leaned against him.

 

“Just general mapping, admiral. Nothing unless something comes up between now and the time we get home,” Lee replied in answer to the silent question.

 

“Very well. Serena, how would you and Ms. Morton like an all-expense paid trip home, first class, of course. Your own cabin, an excellent view of the ocean, and the services of a first class chef.”

 

Wendy and Serena traded raised eyebrow looks. “Beats the heck out of flight back to the States,” Wendy said slowly.

 

Serena nodded. “It might be nice to enjoy a meal not seasoned with sand.”

 

“You need some down time, Serena. You’ve done nothing but run in the last few weeks. You need to slow down.”

 

Serena rolled her eyes. “You need to chill and not worry so much,” she hissed.

 

Wendy hissed back, “Just doing my job, Dr. Harrison.”

 

Serena decided a change of subject was in order. “How long a ride are we talking about here?” she asked, addressing her father.

 

Nelson glanced over to Chip. “Three or four weeks. It depends on if we run into anything odd in the mapping,” Chip answered.

 

“What do you think? Four weeks out. If something comes up, we’re stuck.”

 

Wendy shrugged. “Like I said, you need some down time. I say go for it.”

 

“Okay then. Sir, we accept. We can be ready to leave by late tomorrow afternoon. Won’t take long to get that mummy settled in. I want to be out of there before the press catches wind of everything.” Serena replied. Silently she wondered what the heck she had just let herself get talked into. Four weeks, stuck on board Seaview, in constant contact with Chip. Chip Morton, whose smile distracted her like nothing else and whose khaki regulation trousers fit him all too well…

 

She shook her head and tried to focus on what her father was thinking, only to catch Wendy watching her. Serena frowned and gave her head the barest of shakes. Not now, the look said and with a delicate shrug, Wendy stayed quiet.

 

“I think this run will be interesting. We’re not on a schedule and you and I can catch up on things,” Nelson was saying.

 

“Interesting. Nice choice of words, sir,” Serena replied somewhat weakly with a sideways glance at Chip, whose attention was on the admiral. Chip grinned and Serena felt her stomach flip. Great. Four weeks of this. She thought.

 

“I don’t foresee any problems. Unless something odd presents itself. I honestly don’t know what that could be, do you, Lee?” Chip asked. He liked the idea. It would give him a chance to figure out what his sister was up to and maybe he could get to spend a little down time with Serena. There was always that hope at least. He was still a little at odds concerning his exact feelings toward her. He was half afraid of her, wondering if she’d trigger another round of forgotten memories.

 

Lee was leaning against the crates, his arm around Wendy and one leg crossed over the other. He grinned at Chip’s question. “It’s just mapping, Chip. What could possibly go wrong with taking routine readings off the ocean floor?”

 

End

Srh

 

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