A Watch Doesn’t Just Tell Time

By JSRobertson



Janet Crane was in Lee’s office when the phone rang.

“Commander Crane’s office, can I help you?”

“Hello, Mrs. Crane, this is Admiral Johnson.  Is Lee there?” he asked politely.

“Yes, he’s right here,” she told him.  “Lee, Admiral Johnson is on the phone,” she said unhappily, because when he called it usually meant that he wanted Lee to go on a mission. 


“Yes sir, I have worked with her before,” Lee sighed into the receiver.  “Isn’t there anyone else who can accomplish this mission?

I see. Yes, I can be ready to leave for Paris by Monday. I’ll report Sunday night,” Lee replied and hung up the phone, turning to Janet, “Well, you heard. I’m going on a mission and need to leave in two days.”

“Can you tell me about it?”

“I need to go to France and pick up a watch.  That’s really all I can tell you.”

“Pick up a watch? What kind of mission is that? And just who is ‘she’?”

“Liddy Novak...and,” he hesitated, “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I can tell you that we have to pretend to be married for this job, a purchasing trip to Washington as jewelers. Shouldn’t be gone no more than a week.”

“Why can’t I go as your wife, after all,” she waved her ring in front of his face, “I have the marriage certificate to prove it.  And Mr. Super spy, it’s not as if I’m a rookie with the Agency. Well, not much.”

“We need a trained agent for this. Liddy and I’ve worked together before and...well, you may not like this but we actually dated for awhile. We know how to read each other. You won’t be getting all upset now will you?”

“That depends.  Does she know you’re married now?”

“I’m sure Johnson’s told her, but I’ll be sure to tell her, just in case he forgot...hey, wait a minute, why the third degree?  This is no different than you and Jason Weldon pretending to be married.”

“I didn’t date him before the assignment!” she snapped back at him.   “I’m sorry Lee, but you know how I hate it when ONI sends you off on a mission. And...I guess I’m a bit jealous. Oh, not of the mission. Of ‘her’.

“I know it can’t be easy for you, Sweetie,” he embraced her, their kiss lasting far longer than intended.




 “I just hung up with Admiral Johnson,” Admiral Nelson stormed into Chip’s office, “damn it, Lee. Not again! And to top it off, your partner is Liddy Novak!” 

“Oh gawd,” Chip moaned, “you didn’t tell me that, Lee.”

“Does Janet know?” Nelson asked.

“Yes, about both.”

“And?” Chip asked.

“Well, she’s not happy about it. Or the assignment. But she’s accepted it.”

“Does she know the details about you and Liddy?” Nelson asked.

“Not exactly. I did tell her we used to date.”

“Don’t you think you should have told a little bit more?” Nelson raised an eyebrow, “remember, you almost lost Janet the last time you weren’t totally honest with her.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Lee rubbed a hand through his hair. “I...oh all right, I’ll inform her tonight.”




Later that afternoon, when the couple had returned home, Lee suggested they take a walk on the beach.

They’d gone about a mile, arm in arm, when Lee stopped and pulled her toward him.

“Sweetie, you already know that Liddy and I dated, but,” he hesitated, “I have to tell you, I...I almost asked her to marry me.”

Marry you?”

“Listen, please, before you get all riled. Liddy and I had been on several missions together. Dating each other just seemed normal and, well, to be blunt, we fell in love. At least I thought she felt the same way. We were out one night when I asked her when she could move to Santa Barbara to spend more time with me. Believe me; the ring was burning a hole in my pocket. But she surprised me when she said there was no way in hell she’d move, that she couldn’t give up her life in Washington. Then she told me that if we wanted our relationship to grow, to take things to the next step, you know, we needed to live together. That I needed to give up Seaview and come work full time with her at ONI.”

“Oh sweetie.”

“It was then that I suddenly realized that I couldn’t, wouldn’t do that, not even for her.  So, were both at an impasse and realized that if neither of us was willing to compromise, to make each other happy, then what we had wasn’t the kind of love that marriage is all about. We agreed to call it quits and haven’t seen each other since.”


“When did all this happen?”


“About six months before I met you.  I didn’t really know what love was before I met you...and I want you to know you can trust me that the flame Liddy and I had will not be rekindled in any way, shape, or form.”

“Oh, Lee,” she gave him a passionate kiss before they walked back to the house and went upstairs to their bedroom.




Oh boy!  That was a shock.  Janet thought later that night.  She knew he had gone out with other women, certainly, but she never suspected he would have considered asking one of them to marry him.




It had been arranged that Lee meet Liddy’s flight at LAX for Washington, but she’d called in with a change of plans at the last minute and would fly directly to Washington from Hawaii. Janet had hoped to meet her, but she was glad in a way that the woman wouldn’t be on Lee’s flight. She was also glad that Chip was driving the couple to the airport. The freeways here were very confusing; nothing like the ones she was used to in Chicago. 


Before long Chip was pulling into the drop off point at the bustling airport.  Hopping out of the car, while Chip popped the trunk open, she grabbed her husband.  

“Honey, I’m going to miss you, please be careful,” she hugged and kissed him.

“I wish I didn’t have to go.  I’m going to miss you too.  I’ll call you when I arrive in France, but after that...well...probably not going to happen,” he sighed.

“Got everything, Lee?” Morton met them on the curb.

“Yes, except perhaps my sanity for  accepting this damn mission. Chip? Please take care of her.”

“No problem.  She’ll be fine. Take care of yourself too, Skipper.”   




“I know this is none of my business,” Chip asked as he drove them home from the airport, “but did Lee tell you about Liddy?”

“Yes, Chip. He told me everything,” she replied.  “I must admit I was a little surprised. He’d never mentioned her before, not that I expected him to tell me about all his old girlfriends. Did you and the Admiral like her?”

“Not much. A bit too self-centered.  We all knew Lee’s first love was Seaview and Liddy was jealous of her. Liddy always wanted first place.  I don’t really know what he saw in her.  She wasn’t like any of the other women Lee’s dated.”

“Chip, is this mission dangerous? I mean, as much as the other ones he’s taken?”

“I wouldn’t know. Like you, I’m not privy to all the details. But with Lee, yeah, both Nelson and I are worried. Like we always are when he’s off being James Bond. ”

“I know what you mean,” Janet sighed and stared out the window.




As promised, Lee called from Washington to tell Janet that he’d arrived safely and would call her again before the flight overseas. Then all too soon, he had to end the call to go see Admiral Johnson. Lee felt like such a heel leaving her alone to worry about him again. Perhaps he should turn in his resignation after this assignment.




“Hello, Admiral,” Lee saluted, “good to see you again, sir.”

“Good to see you too, Lee.  You remember Liddy Novak don’t you?”

“Yes, nice to see you again Liddy,” Lee said without enthusiasm, “you haven’t changed much.”

“Same here, Lee,” Liddy replied, looking at him as if she were appraising him. “God, you still look wonderful.”


 “Your flight leaves tomorrow morning at 08:00,” Johnson interrupted. “Your covers are Conrad and Irene Cornwallis. You own a jewelry store here called CIC Jewelers.  You’re going to France on a buying trip for your shop. You’ll be staying at the Hotel la Demeure.  There, you’ll meet Edward Denning. You won’t like this Commander, but I have to tell you that he’s from the People’s Republic, one of their own secret agents. But, in return for asylum in the U.S., which has been granted, he’ll be working for us in this operation. This is his picture.  He’ll be at the Marche St. Ouen flea market in Paris on Wednesday morning. He’s going to try to sell you a watch. Make sure you haggle a bit about the price. It’s expected. Then purchase it. The watch has a microchip in the case with plans of the People’s Republic new class of nuclear submarines.  So you can see how important this assignment is. Now, before you meet Denning, you shop around Paris and purchase other items to make your cover legit.  Once you have the watch and leave Paris Thursday morning, you bring it to me personally.  You are to use these cell phones only,” Johnson told them as he handed Lee and Liddy a phone.  “Leave your own personal cell phones with me.....thanks.   You are to check in with me on Tuesday night at 6:00 and again on Wednesday at 11:00 Paris time. Any questions? No? Good. Now, get to your hotel and get some sleep. And have a safe trip.”


“Wait,” Lee said, “I’d like to call my wife...”

“You can use the phone at the receptionist’s desk...”




“Hi sweetie, how are you?” Lee asked after the receptionist punched in the numbers, and handed him the receiver, not caring if Liddy heard his sweet nothings to Janet or not. “We just finished meeting the Admiral. I have to leave my cell phone here.  I won’t be able to call you in the morning before I take off, after all. Sorry. Yes, I’ll be careful, darling....I love you so much, or should I say je t’aime for when I get back, or maybe Je veux te faire l'amour...


“You sure you’ll be up to it?’ Liddy snorted, as she passed by him.




“I’m surprised you actually found someone who doesn’t mind being second fiddle to that old submarine of yours,” Liddy whispered as they waited for the cab to take them to their hotels.

“Her name is Janet, that’s Mrs. Crane to you, and she works for NIMR and aboard Seaview.”

“How convenient for you both, Captain.  I hope the cabin is soundproofed.”

“You married?” Lee asked, ignoring the comment.

“Not yet. Oh, and Commander, do try to act romantic when we’re in Paris.”

“Not all couples get along,” Lee said. “We’re more interested in making money.”

“That’s not part of our cover.”

“It is now,” Lee hailed a separate cab.




It had been a seven hour flight, but Mr. and Mrs. Cornwallis, had barely spoken to each other, though they had used exaggerated ‘darlings’ to each other but only when necessary. It wasn’t that easy to ignore each other when the cab let them off at the hotel. The front desk staff seemed determined to welcome the couple to the City of Lights and romance.


“It’s only got one bed,” Lee whispered, disheartened, after he’d tipped the bellhop, closed the door and checked for bugs.

“What did you expect?” Liddy laughed. “We’re married, remember?”

“I’ll take the couch,” Lee said and sat down wearily.

“It’s not big enough; besides, I won’t bite. I’ll even sign an affidavit that there wasn’t any hanky panky between us, just for the little woman, if you like.”

“Don’t tempt me. Look, I’m hungry; let’s go get something to eat before unpacking.”

“Fine by me.”




“Don’t look now, hubby,” Liddy put her arm in Lee’s, as they walked along the busy sidewalks, “but I have a feeling we are being watched.”

“You too?” Lee remarked.  “I’ve had that feeling ever since we got off the plane.”


They found an outdoor café and were quickly served. Liddy took the liberty of using her fork to transport a bite into Lee’s mouth. Though surprised, he responded in turn with her, the image of a romantic couple; All the while on the alert for anyone observing them too closely.


When they returned to their room, Lee checked for bugs again, and found one in a lamp.  He destroyed it by putting it down the sink.


“So much for an easy mission,” he told Liddy.


The couch really was far too small for his six foot two inch frame, so Lee ended up trying to sleep fully clothed on the very edge of the bed and on top of the blankets, which made Liddy literally shake with laughter. He didn’t get much sleep.  But then on the first day of new mission he never could sleep.  At least Liddy kept her promise by not trying to tempt him into something untoward, at least for now.




Morning finally came and Lee took his shower and changed into fresh clothing while Liddy was still sleeping.  He was going out to get coffee and rolls to bring back for breakfast.

“Where are you going this early?” she asked stretching, in her slinky nightgown.

“Getting breakfast.  Be back soon,” he replied curtly.

“You sure are grumpy in the morning, hubby.”

By the time Lee came back with breakfast, Liddy was dressed.


“Okay,” Lee said, sipping his coffee, “we are going to go to several jewelry stores this morning and have our purchases shipped back to Washington. By the way, this brew is horrible. I suppose the rolls are better.”

“What are we going to buy?”

“Let’s decide that when we see what they’ve got.  This afternoon we will go to the flea market at Portides Vanues.  We will buy a few more items from there.”

“Then what?   A romantic evening before we leave?” she purred.

“Did you forget I’m married?” he hissed.

“We still have to act like we are, Agent Crane.”




They were walking down the street toward a jewelry store from  a list of jewelers that ONI had provided, when Liddy grabbed Lee’s hand.

“Before you get mad, there’s a man in a blue jacket that has been following us since we left the hotel,” she whispered.

“I noticed him too. He started a few blocks back.  Do you recognize him?  He could be one of ours.”

“No, I’ve never seen him before either.”


They went into the store and purchased an expensive necklace and earrings and arranged to have it shipped to their shop in Washington.  They left the store and did not see the man who had tailed them everywhere.


They hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to a well known jeweler which dealt primarily in diamonds. After the cab let them out, they looked in the window, and saw, as expected, their tail watching them from across the street.  They went into the store where there was another customer.  They were looking around when Liddy spotted a bracelet she wanted.


“Oh honey, this is beautiful. We’re sure to get a buyer for this.” Liddy leaned against Lee’s shoulder.

“I don’t know sweetheart.  Our clientele’s not this sophisticated,” he frowned looking at the bracelet.

“Well, how about for me, then?” she kissed his cheek.

“Okay darling. I’ll buy it for you.”

“Let me wear it now. I want to show it off.”




“Do you think it’s safe to continue to Portides Vanues?” Liddy asked as they emerged from the shop and hailed a cab.

“We don’t have a choice. At least our tail’s taken a hike for now.”

“Can’t we stop for lunch first? I’m famished.”

“No, let’s get this over with...here’s our cab.”




“Look at all the merchandise they have here,” Liddy remarked at the flea market.  “I have never seen so much in one place.”

“Let’s look for a couple of watches” Lee said, “we may need them for decoys,” he added under his breath.


They bought two silver watches to wear on the spot, then purchased a few more items and went back to the hotel.  As they got out of the cab, they saw the man in the blue jacket again from across the street.  He smiled at them.


“Lee, he’s giving me the creeps,” she whispered, “Let’s call Johnson and ask him if he has anyone covering us.”

“I’d like to, but we can’t contact him for an hour. Let’s go have dinner and then call.”


They found a small cafe down the street from the hotel. As they were eating dinner, they talked about the items they bought for their shop in case someone was listening to them.  They hadn’t seen the man that had been following them since earlier. After dinner, and their return to the hotel, Lee checked the room again for any bugs and found none.


He called Admiral Johnson as scheduled.


“Hi Conrad,” Johnson said, “how is it going?”

“Fine, we purchased several pieces that should be there in a couple of days.  Did you send someone else to help us?”

“No. Problem?”

“Maybe, we’ll let you know.  Also, could you please tell my secretary not to worry about cataloging the new pieces until I get back?”

“Yes, I’ll let her know.”

“Thanks.  Talk to you later,” Lee hung up and frowned.“Johnson didn’t send anyone.”

“What was that about him calling your secretary?” Liddy asked sharply.

“I wanted him to call Janet and let her know everything was okay.”

“She’s your secretary?”

“I thought I told you that already.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Well, it doesn’t really matter if I didn’t, does it? I’m going down to the lobby. Don’t wait up.”




Admiral Johnson called Janet to let her know that Lee had reported and was fine. She was surprised he didn’t just as a staff person to call. Maybe he felt guilty for all the problems he had caused the couple. 




When Lee returned to the hotel room, Liddy was already asleep.  He got on the bed.  He was bone tired and hoped he would get some sleep.  I sure miss Janet, he thought before falling asleep.




Lee woke up early. He showered and was already dressed by the time Liddy woke up.  She got ready while Lee ordered room service.

“Liddy, give me those watches we bought yesterday. We may need them.”


“Please just give them to me,” he said impatiently, and put them his pocket.


After breakfast, which was too fancy for Lee, though he managed a little, they went down to the lobby.  They hailed a cab to take them to Marche St. Ouen flea market again.  It was 9:00 in the morning, so the place wasn’t too busy. 


They walked around the booths, looking for some more items to purchase when they spotted the agent they were to buy the watch from.  Lee and the agent nodded acknowledging each other.  Lee purchased a couple of gold and silver watches. The agent discreetly let Lee know the silver one was the watch with the microchip.    


While Liddy was looking at some of the clothes at another booth, Lee headed to one of the outdoor urinals, common to France, and, partially hidden, took the microchip out of the silver watch, and transferred it to one of the silver watches they bought yesterday and hid it in the heel of his shoe.  He put a bogus microchip, courtesy ONI, into the watch they just purchased.


“Liddy could you please put these watches in your purse.” Lee said upon his return, “This silver one is the one I think our clients will argue about.”

“I know I would. Here, why don’t I wear it?” she pulled it onto her wrist.

“Too easy...”

“I know another place...be right back,” she dashed to one of the more private ladies toilets.


They were getting ready to leave the flea market when someone grabbed their arms.

“Just walk to the car over there,” the voice demanded as Lee felt a gun at his back. “I’ll blow her away if you don’t cooperate.”


As they obeyed, they saw that the driver was man in the blue jacket. The man with the gun kept it aimed at Libby’s head, as if he enjoyed daring Lee to do anything.


They were driven to a deserted store not too far from their hotel.   After being shoved out of the car they were ‘escorted’ into the vacant space.  Liddy was pushed into a chair and Lee was tied to a pole in the middle of the store.


“Welcome, Mr. & Mrs. Cornwallis,” the man who was apparently in charge said sarcastically.

“Who are you and how do you know who we are,” Lee demanded.

“Me? I’m Harold Chandler.  I live in Casha, a small island in the Pacific Ocean.  But that shouldn’t concern you. You see, I know you’re here for the American government. There is a microchip in your silver watch.  I’m going to sell it back to the People’s Republic.  With the money I get, I can outfit my army and take over my country.  Also, ‘Conrad’, you are in no position to demand anything and how I know who you are is none of your business.  All I want is the silver watch you bought at the flea market this morning.”

“Irene, give them the watch,” Lee said.

“No, I won’t give it to him.  Who do you think you are, Chandler, kidnapping innocent people?” Liddy yelled at the man.

“Cut the act, Ms. Novak. And we know you are Lee Crane and you both are ONI operatives.” 


Chandler signaled the man in the blue jacket to search Liddy’s purse and Lee’s pockets.  He found a gold watch, but no silver one.


“Where is the silver watch?” he asked again.  “If you don’t give it to me, I’ll take it out on each of you. I’ll start on Crane.”

“I don’t have it,” Liddy said, “in fact, I lost it. I never told Lee. Not a good thing to have a mission bust.”


“Like I really believe you,” Chandler nodded to ‘blue jacket’ who hit Lee in the face a couple of times and then in the midsection. Lee’s lip was bleeding and his jaw hurt. He knew he was going to have a black eye.  He could feel it start to swell already.


“Change your mind, Ms. Novak?”




He hit Lee in the face again and in his ribs.


Liddy, give them the damn watch, will you?” Lee yelled now bleeding from his both lips and cheeks and gasping for breath.

“Okay, okay,” she dipped into her cleavage, and pulled it out and tossed it to Chandler, “here’s the damn watch.”  

“Very good. You just saved your ‘husband’ from being shot.”


Before the two men left, they tied Liddy to the chair and left Lee tied to the pole.

“I wouldn’t think about escaping. You see,” he pressed the knob on his own wrist watch, “I’ve just set this building to implode in less than a minute. Why, there won’t be anything left of either of you under the rubble.  Goodbye Mr. and Mrs. Cornwallis.”

Laughing, the men ran out of the building.


“Liddy, work your chair over here so I can untie you.”

“Why hell did you tell me to give them the watch?” she wiggled her chair toward him, “now they have the microchip,” she spat.

“No they don’t.  I still have it.”

“I guess I’m out of practice reading your mind.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Lee said as they managed to untie each other. “Let’s get out of here...over there, the side door.”

No sooner than they’d run out of the building, as Chandler had promised, the explosives began to detonate.




It was easy to blend in with all the other debris and dust splattered people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  When they got to their hotel room, Liddy wet a towel and ministered to Lee’s facial wounds. Working a little too long on his lips, he pushed her hand away, took the towel and finished wiping his lips and cheeks.

“I need some ice.”

“There isn’t any in the ice bucket...I can call for some.”

“No, never mind.”

“Lee, I’m really sorry they beat you up. I’m surprised your ribs aren’t broken. ”

“Who say’s they’re not? Just kidding. They might be cracked though. But I’ll be fine. See if you can get Johnson on the phone. I don’t want to speak to anyone else. We’re overdue. I could use acetaminophen,” he headed to the bathroom.

“I have Johnson,” Liddy handed him the phone in minutes as he returned and sat on the edge of the bed.

“It’s about time you called,” Johnson told Lee.

“Our cover was blown. A Harold Chandler kidnapped us.  He thinks he’s going as going to sell the watch back to the People’s Republic. But we still have the real microchip.  Admiral, he knew who we were and that we were on assignment with ONI.”

“Damn...any idea who the leak is?”

“Not a clue.”

“Are you okay to complete the mission?”

“Absolutely not!” Liddy grabbed the receiver, “Lee’s hurt.”

“It’s not that bad,” Lee took the phone, “we’ll complete the assignment, sir,” he hung up. “Don’t ever do that again, Liddy.”

“Okay okay. Lee, where do you have the watch hidden?  We were both searched...”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m your partner on this job!  I need to know where it is in case you’re captured or killed!”

“Not until the time is right,” Lee laid down on the bed and closed his eyes.

“I’m going out to get us something to eat. I don’t want any questions from room service.”

“Fine. Bring back some coffee. I don’t care how bad it tastes.”




“We have a problem,” Liddy said quietly into a cell phone that she hadn’t turned in to ONI, “we were kidnapped by Harold Chandler from the island of Casha.  Yes, I never heard of that country either.  He let us go when I gave him a watch. No, he doesn’t have the real one; Lee swapped it with one of ours. No, I don’t know where he put it.  I also found out Lee’s married. I need a picture of his wife. Out.”




Lee was snoring, so Liddy gingerly searched his pockets. It was difficult for Lee to stay asleep, but he managed to pretend that he was out to the world, then a few minutes later opened his eyes a slit and watched her then rifle through his suitcase. As soon as she sat down with a disgusted sigh, Lee gave an exaggerated yawn and stretched.

“Manage any coffee?”

“Yes, but...”

“I know, I know...tastes like shit...”

In minutes the pair had scarfed down the meal, and Lee most of the coffee.




When Lee awoke the next morning, he found Liddy cuddled up next to him, her head and hand on his chest.  He shoved her off and got up.  His ribs didn’t hurt too badly. His eye was swollen but he could still see out it. His lips and cheeks were still red and sore.  He took a long hot shower and went out to get some breakfast.   Liddy was awake when he returned. 


“Here, eat this and let’s go,” he said angrily, handing her a croissant and fresh coffee.

“What’s your problem this morning?” she snapped.

“Among your unwelcome attention, I saw you rifling through my suitcase. Find what you wanted?”

“Lee, I’m only being a good agent. You’re keeping me out of the loop and I don’t like it. I need to know where the watch is. Johnson will back me up on this.”

“And as I told you before, don’t worry about it,’ he said sharply.




They were checking in at the airport, when the clerk told them that their flight to Washington DC had been cancelled.

“Cancelled? Why?” Lee asked.

“Severe weather front. Doesn’t look as if it will dissipate by the time the plane would get there.”

“All right. How about any flights to London?”

“Yes. In fact, there’s one leaving in just an hour.”

“Good. We’ll take it. Mr. and Mrs. Cornwallis.” Lee handed the clerk their identification. “You can also book us the next available flight from London to Washington.”

“Might not be until later tonight if even.”

“Go ahead and book it. We’ll take our chances.”




“Lee, why are we going to London?” Liddy asked as they headed toward the gate.

“We need to leave here as soon as we can.  If Chandler finds out he’s been duped, he’ll come looking for us.  He won’t know we went to London. I’ll call Johnson about our change of plans.”


“Lee, I’m going to the restroom before we board our flight. I hate the ones on airplanes, I’ll be right back.”


In the relative privacy of the crowded restroom, Liddy made another phone call.  “We’re going to London. Leaving right now.  Meet me there.” 




“Nelson, I need a favor,” Admiral Johnson called almost as soon as he’d heard from Crane.  “There was a problem in Paris.  Lee’s hurt, but will be able to complete the assignment. I want a backup team to fly to London. After all due consideration, I want to use Janet as one of the team members.”

“Janet? She can’t, not without Lee’s written permission...”

“I know that...but if you sign for her...”

“Lee’ll have my hide!”

“You’ll sort it out afterwards, I’m sure. You always do. Jason Weldon will be her partner and...”   

“The only way I’ll put my neck out and sign this for you, is if we send Chip Morton instead of Jason Weldon. Lee won’t be as upset. He can trust Chip with Janet.”

“Very well. Use the flying sub. That weather front’s stalled out most flights from London to the eastern seaboard. I’ll let Crane know that Janet and Morton are coming. Crane and Morton can work out the details regarding the watch. Have Morton call me as soon as the flying sub gets there. And don’t forget the paperwork regarding Janet.”

“I’ll fax it right away…it will take about eight hours for the flying sub to get to London.”

“Agent Joe Howard will meet them at Heathrow’s special landing area, and take them to a hotel.  And, Harry, thanks for your help.”

“I’d better not regret this Johnson. It’s bad enough you have Crane. Now you have three members of my staff in harm’s way.”




After a very weary Chip and Janet finally landed, Chip punched in the security code to secure the craft at the airport.  Howard was waiting as promised.  

“I think we have a problem,” Howard said. “Nobody told me there’d be a woman.”

“I don’t see what difference that makes,” Janet said.

“I only reserved one room for you.”

“I’m so tired I don’t care if I have to share a bed with Commander Morton.”

“No need for that, ma’am. It’s one of those double bed rooms.”




Getting dressed the next morning took awhile as Janet and Chip both decided to use  the small bathroom to avoid any potential voyeurism. Not that they wouldn’t divert their eyes, but just thinking that an accident might happen, well, Lee would never let them forget it.


Chip was starving as usual, despite having scarfed down the sandwiches Cookie had made for the trip.

When they returned from the hearty breakfast, Chip called Admiral Johnson.


“Everything okay so far, Commander?”

“Well, Janet was too nervous to have any breakfast. Pecked at it like a bird…which is hardly surprising as she’s a Crane now.”

“Morton, I haven’t been able to get through to Crane or Novak.  The phones just ring.  Perhaps it’s the weather front. I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait until I can I reach him.”

“Aye, sir.”



“Can’t we call him?” Janet pleaded after Chip told her what Johnson had said.

“No, we’d blow his cover, and remember they both had to turn in their cells. They’re using the ONI issue ones. And Johnson didn’t share those numbers. 

“So, what do we do?”

“Just wait.”

“I’m not good at waiting,” she said as she paced back and forth.

Chip just smiled.




“Damn,” Lee said after Johnson finally reached him, “the static was so bad, I couldn’t hear most of what the Admiral was telling me. Something us getting backup, but I couldn’t make the agent’s names. I think I heard Hawk Hollow as our rendezvous at 13:00. We’re to give them the watch.”

“Just let them take over our assignment?”

“Look. We were tailed. Chandler might still be trying to. The news said no bodies were recovered. This way, we’re the decoy and the mission is accomplished.”

“It’s still not fair.”

“Live with it.”

“Well, since we don’t have to meet them for a couple of hours, I’m going for a walk,” she slammed out of the room.




“Are you in London?” Liddy spoke into her illicit phone. “Good.  Johnson sent backup.  We will have to move a lot sooner.  We’re meeting them at the Hawk Hollow restaurant at 1 o’clock to give them the watch.  Be there.”  She noticed a picture had been sent to her phone, and she opened it up.  “Thanks.”


While Liddy was gone, Lee took the watch out of heel of his shoe.  He removed the real microchip and placed it in the gold watch.  This was the one he’d give it to the back up agents.  He put a different chip silver watch and returned it to his shoe.  He had his suspicions about Liddy and wasn’t about to let her in on the switch.




Chip’s phone rang, startling him as he was so on edge.


“Johnson here. I got through to Crane, but it was a very bad connection. I’m not sure how much he actually heard. Be at the Hawk Hollow restaurant at 13:00.  I’ve contacted Joe Howard.  He’ll take you to the place and he’ll stay there just as a precaution.”

“Yes, sir.  We will be ready,” Chip took his gun and put it in his jacket. “Janet? You decent?” he called toward the bathroom.  “We got our orders.”




Chip, Janet and Joe arrived at the restaurant at 12:45. While Joe headed to the bar, Chip and Janet sat together waiting for Lee and Liddy.  When Lee and Liddy walked into the restaurant Lee spotted Janet and Chip but they hadn’t seen him yet. 


What the hell? Wait until I get back to Washington.  I’m going to tell Johnson I quit. He knew I had to give my written permission for her to go on assignment. At least he sent Chip with her.


Liddy interrupted his thoughts by telling him she needed to use the restroom, pretending not to have seen Chip and Janet.


“Where are you?” she spoke into her phone.

“In the bar.”

“Stay there out of sight.  I don’t want Lee to see you.”





Chip’s phone rang, and he was surprised that it was Crane.

“Make like you are talking to the Admiral,” Lee ordered, “I doubt I’m wrong about this, but are you two our back up agents? Don’t tell Janet I’m here. Bring your gun?”

“Yes,” Chip answered.

“I think Liddy’s a double agent. For now, Janet’s your wife. Call her anything, just not her name. Understood?”

“Yes Admiral, everything is fine here.”

“Good. Now, tell Janet she needs to go to the restroom, now.  Tell her she has make-up under eye or something like that.”

“What?” Chip questioned.

“Just do it.”

“All right, Admiral, I’ll take care of it.”


Lee hung up the phone.  When Liddy came out of the restroom he was waiting for her and escorted her toward the restaurant’s entrance where he told her to wait while he called Johnson hoping the connection was good enough to see who the back up agents were so they knew who to look for.  He walked around the corner away from the front lobby.  




“Janet,” Chip said, “you have a make up smudge under your eye.  Looks really awful. Maybe you should check it out in the ladies room.”


“Oh brother.  I’ll be right back,” she said with a frown and headed for the restroom.  Just as she was walking past a broom closet, a hand came out, grabbed her by the arm, as another hand was put over her mouth. She was dragged into the closet, the door shutting behind them.


“Don’t scream!  It’s me.”


“Don’t get any ideas. I’m not happy you’re. But I do need your help.  When I give  you the watch, hide it  in your purse. How did you get here, in FS1?”

“Yes.  It’s secured at Heathrow. How are you?  Johnson said you’d been beaten.”  She couldn’t see his face because there was no light in the closet except from the cracks in the door frame.

“I’m fine. Now look, as soon as we are done with lunch you and Chip are to leave London and fly to Washington.  Give the watch to Admiral Johnson personally when you get there.”

“Can’t you come with us?”

“No, I need to come back on a commercial flight. I don’t want to cause any suspicion if we’re being watched.  We’re booked on a flight this evening weather permitting. Get a hotel room in Washington, and I’ll fly back with you to NIMR on the flying sub. Also, you’re Chip’s wife. I don’t know what name he’s decided on yet. ”

“He’s knows all about this?”
“Not everything. Tell him about the flight plans.  I’d better go.  Don’t want Liddy to get suspicious as to where I disappeared to.  I’ll see you in Washington.”

“Lee, please be careful.”

“Always,” he gave her quick kiss and slowly opened the door to make sure that the coast was clear. In seconds she returned to her table.




Liddy was still waiting for Lee where he’d left her.

“Well?” she asked. “Did he tell you about our backup?”

“Yes, you remember Chip Morton?”

“Of course, but why the hell would your XO be here? He’s no agent.”

“There weren’t any other agents available and Chip has done some work for ONI before, so he’s here with his wife, who is an agent.” 

“I see.”

“Now, come along. Let’s get this over with,” he took Liddy’s arm. “There they are,” he nodded as they passed by a few of the tables. “I’ll give them the watch. Then if we’re stopped for any reason, we’re free and clear. ”

“So you can get home to the little woman.”

“Yes,” he said with a smile.


They walked over to the table where Chip and Janet were.  When Lee and Liddy sat down, Janet could hardly restrain herself when she saw the black eye and bruises on Lee’s face. Chip grabbed her hand under the table and gave it a squeeze.  He knew she wouldn’t say anything.  After Chip introduced ‘Sandra’ to Liddy and Lee, they ordered lunch. Chip ate his meal with gusto.  Janet, Lee and Liddy barely touched their plates. When Chip was done, they left the restaurant and went to the parking lot.  Just as Lee was going to give the watch to Janet, Liddy pulled out a gun and aimed it at him.


“Give me the watch, Commander,” Liddy demanded.

“Okay, Liddy. The game’s up. Why are doing this? Who are you really working for? The People’s Republic?”  

“So what if I am. I’m tired of ONI. There’s no gratitude, no recognition. Besides, I’m going to get a lot  of money for this watch. ”


“Do it, Commander,” Edward Denning suddenly appeared behind them, pointing a gun at Chip and Janet.

“Why am I not surprised,” Lee shook his head.

 “Cut the chatter.  Give me the damn watch or I’ll kill you, your XO and your pretty little wife,” Liddy spat. 


“Okay, you’ve convinced me, “Lee removed his shoe, opened the heel and took out the watch and gave it to Liddy. 

“How do I know this is the real microchip and not a fake one like you gave to Chandler?”

“Come on Liddy, how many chips to you think I carry with me,” he put his shoe back on. “I guess you’ll  have to trust me,” 

“Fat chance trusting you. You forget, I’ve worked with you before and I know what you are capable of doing. Until I can prove this is the real thing, Chip and ‘Sandra’ or should I say Janet, are going with Denning until I let him know I have the real one.  Yes, I know she’s your wife.”


Suddenly, two motorcycle cops pulled up, lights flashing alongside a sleek limousine.

“All right you blokes, drop the weapons.”

“Oh sure,” Liddy said, “like we’re shivering in our shoes. You Brit cops don’t carry guns.”

“We’re called ‘copper’s or bobbies’, and it’s true we don’t carry guns,” one of the ‘bobbie’s said, “but MI 6 does,” he nodded to the occupants of the limo emerging, with their guns at the ready. “Care to test them out?”

“You can’t arrest me,” Denning said as one of the British Secret Service agents handcuffed him. “I’m an American citizen. I demand to see the American Ambassador.”

“Suit yourself,” the man nodded to the only other occupant left in the car, “Sir?”

“I’m the American Ambassador,” the man got out, “ but they get to deal with you first.”

“Lee Crane you will regret this!”  Liddy screamed as she too, was handcuffed and taken away to a fast approaching squad car.

“I’m glad I’m not on her bad side,” the Ambassador said.

“We’re very grateful for your help, sir,” Morton said.

“Nonsense. All we knew from the car dispatch was that someone in the bar had informed MI 6 that a Code Feather, whatever that means, was going down and that some yanks were being robbed. They were about to call Special Forces in, but we were right in the neighborhood, so I said to go ahead and do whatever needed to be done...”

Just then one of the MI 6 men whispered to the Ambassador.

“Really?” he muttered, raised an eyebrow at Crane, then, “I think, perhaps, you’d all better come along with us. I’m headed to number ten and you can tell us all about it there, especially you, Agent Crane.”

“Do I have to?” Lee sighed. “Besides, I won’t be able to explain much.”

“Sorry, young man. We’re guests in this country and MI 6 seems to know there’s more to this robbery than meets the eye.”


“What’s number ten?” Janet asked as she helped Lee into the limo.

“Number Ten Downing Street,” Chip whispered, “the Prime Minister’s house.”

“Oh god...um, what about Joe? He drove us here...”

“We’ll have him follow us,” the Ambassador said, “now, let’s get going.”


Joe Howard, having observed things from the window , managed to call  Admiral Johnson and tell him what had taken place before he was approached by the Bobby, and was soon also  on his way to Number Ten.




“The Americans, sir,” the butler said as he ushered Lee, Chip and Janet in. “The other is on the way.”

“Ohmygod. It is you, ” the Prime Minister grabbed Lee’s arms.

“I take it you know each other?” the Ambassador asked.

“Commander Crane’s been very helpful in Her Majesty’s Service. Unfortunately, it’s not within my prerogative to go into details about it.”

“The other gentleman is here, sir,” the butler interrupted.

“Mr. Howard. I should have known you’d be involved.”

“Not much. I was just the chauffer in this operation.”

The phone rang and the PM punched a button.

“Admiral Johnson’s on the line for you sir,” the switchboard operator said.


“The head of ONI,” Lee, Chip, Janet, and Joe said in sorrowful unison.

“Very well, I’ll take the call,” the Prime Minister held the receiver as the long phone cord twisted around as he meandered around his desk.  “Yes, Admiral, this is the Prime Minister. Now, what’s Commander Crane gotten himself into this time? Yes, I understand it’s privileged information, but...of course, you’ll have Her Majesty’s Government’s full cooperation…yes. I have a doctor that makes house calls... Crane won’t get away...trust me, I’ve had to deal other psudo James Bonds myself.”

Lee winced.

Apparently the call had ended as the Prime Minister punched another  button. “Please have my physician report immediately. Tell him to bring an assistant. Make that a couple of assistants.”

“Well?” the Ambassador asked.

“Their mission, whatever it is, hasn’t been accomplished yet. Commander Crane? ONI is convinced you’re still in great danger. So I’m afraid after you’ve been cleared by the physician, you’ll have to fly back home on a commercial airliner as already planned. But, I’ll assign a couple of our finest agents to accompany you.”

“Sir, really, I don’t need…”

“As far as the criminals are concerned, they’ll be transported back to the U.S. for your government to take care of. Commander, you’ll be able to speak to Admiral Johnson after your physical. Meanwhile, perhaps your friends would like to freshen up...”




“Admiral?” an aide entered Johnson’s office the next morning. “Commander Morton and Mrs. Crane have arrived.”

“Show them in.”

“Admiral,” Morton saluted as he and Janet entered.

“About time. I’ve been wearing down a path on my carpet waiting for the flying sub to get here. The watch, girl.”

She retrieved it from her purse and handed it over.

“This is the real one?”

“Lee said it was.”

“Very well. You may both consider your part in this operation concluded. Good day.”

“That’s it?” Janet piped up. “We risk life and limb, that’s all the thanks we get?”

“Apparently,” Morton took her arm. “C’mon, let’s go get some breakfast...hey, it was a long flight, even for FS1.”




“You sure Lee knows where we’re parked?” Janet asked as they paid the cab driver and headed to the Coast Guard annex where the Flying Sub was waiting.

“Janet! Chip!” a familiar voice called out, from the dock.

“That answer your question?”


In minutes Janet was swept up in a passionate embrace, while Morton simply patted him on the back and climbed into the small sub.


“Did you have any idea that Liddy Novak was a double agent?” Janet finally asked as they joined Morton.

“Not until things weren’t adding up. Apparently she was working with the agent from People’s Republic all along. We still don’t know anything about how our cover was blown.  Can’t even find Casha on the map. ”

“Lee, you okay? You’re so black and blue..”

“I’m fine,” he pressed his fingertips to her mouth, “and I have a doctor’s certificate to prove it,” he pulled out a small document, “sort of...”

“Can we go now, Skipper?” Morton buckled himself in the co pilot’s seat.

“I’d rather you take the stick, Chip,” Lee yawned. “I’m dead on my feet.”

“Aye sir,”

“Oh, by the way, get me Nelson on the radio as soon as we’re airborne. I need to speak with him about his blatant use of privilege in ‘authorizing’ my wife’s assistance. In fact, I have half a mind to quit ONI all together after this. ”

“For real, Lee?” Chip asked.

“Just get us home, will you, Morton,” he climbed into the recessed bunk and was asleep before they even launched.

Chip decided to wait on making the call, at least until Lee woke up from his nap.



They landed at NIMR a little after noon.   The rumpled Lee handed Jamison his ‘cleared to return to light duty’ slip from the Prime Minister’s doctor, then briefed Nelson privately, with ONI’s permission,  about all that had taken place.

“Chip told me you might be quitting ONI,” Nelson poured both men a drink afterwards.

“What possibly compelled you to authorize Janet’s part in all of this?” Lee ignored the question.

 “Lee, I didn’t have much choice. Johnson practically compelled me...”

“You know you damn well only I have that authorization.”

“Yes, Lee, but...er, are you quitting ONI, then?”

“I’ll let you off the hook, this time. After all, you did send Chip with her...”

“About ONI, son....”

 “Excuse me, Admiral,” Angie voiced over the intercom, “but Mrs. Crane wants to know when she can have her husband back.”

“I’m all hers, Angie,” Lee punched the reply button.

“You haven’t answered my question yet, Commander,” Nelson demanded.

 “Later,” Lee winked and departed.



 Lee was very quiet when they got home. 

“A penny for your thoughts?” Janet asked him softly.

“Oh, I was just thinking about Liddy.  I never would have thought she’d ever betray her country, especially for money....sure am glad I never married her,” he joked.

Janet simply replied with a kiss and led him upstairs.


The End.