*** Book 5 in the Extreme Travel Series ***
The vice president and his family have been kidnapped in Venezuela. It's up to Kes and her team to rescue them, accompanied by some Secret Service agents. However, they also accidentally get involved in a rebel coup, making their lives a lot more difficult.
The security alarm to our home beeped. My head lay on my husband James' lap, while our friends Ben and Anita visited with us in the family room of our very large home.
Ben and James grabbed their guns from the end table and jumped out of their seats, running into the formal living room next to us. As soon as my human pillow left, my head hit the couch with a thud.
"Lower your weapons," an unknown male voice yelled. "It's just me. James, you changed the code again."
I glanced over Anita, who was terrified. "Don't worry," I said. "It's just a friend of ours. He's trying to see if he can break in again."
The alarm tone changed to a screech, but stopped after a split-second. James, Ben, and two of our friends named Ian and Jerome entered the room.
Ian was a very good-looking doctor and computer genius, with blond-haired, brown eyes, and tons of muscles. As he stepped closer to my couch, he laughed while on the phone to our security company. "Yeah, Harry, it's Ian again. How's the family?" He listened for a moment and smiled. "Yes, James changed the code to his anniversary. I should've guessed it." He listened for a minute more and chuckled. "I'm sure it's still Madrid from when James changed it this morning, but if you want to talk to him, he's right here beside me."
James put his hands on his hips in anger, moving beside Ian.
Madrid was my maiden name, and James had just changed the password for the security system to that name. I was very sure Ian had hacked into the security company's files and found the new password, just for fun.
Everyone in the room was a CIA agent except for Anita, but very few people on the outside, including family, friends, and Anita, knew it. We all had cover jobs, to keep our real jobs classified.
James scowled and left the room when Ian handed him the phone. Ben, Jerome, and Ian all sat on chairs near the couch. I pulled down a pillow from behind the couch and laid my head on it.
Ian shot me a concerned look. "How do you feel, Kes?" Ben and Jerome stood on either side of him.
I really wanted to slap Ian's face, just because. He'd been promoted because he was the highest-ranking member of the Denver CIA office, making him the one in charge of everyone.
I had to get rid of him. "Just the flu. I'll be fine in a day."
All three men laughed while Anita cast a glance at me. She seemed to feel as I did, and these men were just annoying.
"Yeah, right. The flu," Ben said with a chuckle. "Kes, we all know what's wrong with you."
Ben, who was blond-haired, blue eyed, good-looking, and muscular, had a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. His best skill was in reading people because of his minor in Psychology.
My husband James had a Ph.D. in Psychology. Ben and James were writing a book together about me. I was so lucky to have all these jokers in my life.
"What's wrong with her?" Anita asked Ben. "It does look like the flu to me."
"Nothing that a few days won't cure," Ian said. "Is it cramps or a headache this month?"
I sat up a bit. "It is the flu, and I know it." I fell back to the pillow and closed my eyes.
Ian was extremely bright. He not only had multiple degrees in computer science, but was also a surgeon, assigning himself as my personal physician. I hated him for it, too.
James returned to the room, lifted my head, and removed the pillow from under it. He threw the thing at Ben, who caught it on the first try. James sat down and rested my head back on his lap.
"How long has it been this time?" Ian asked James.
James stroked my long hair. "About a day."
"You know, Kes, we can take care of that," Ian said. "I have something to help you."
Anita glared at all the men and addressed me. "Are you going to put up with this sexual harassment?"
I smiled at her. "No, actually. Thanks for reminding me." I sat up and covered my head with my hands for a moment. Once I was certain everyone was watching me, I stood up and walked out of the room. Yes, I was acting, but no one else needed to know just yet.
Ian joined me with his arm over my shoulders. Oh yeah…he was also infatuated with me, like Ben, Jerome, and James, which made this more difficult, and made James very jealous.
"I'm here for a reason," Ian whispered. "It's not what you think."
Anita hopped to her feet and followed behind me. "If you want rid of this guy, let me know."
"I don't think we've been formally introduced." My personal physician turned and shook Anita's hand. "I'm Ian and you must be Anita. Now, aren't you supposed to be taking care of Ben or something?"
"Not when my friend needs me," Anita said. "And from what I see, her husband isn't going to protect her from you, so I'll have to."
I walked up the stairs toward our bedroom. It seemed as if Ian was outnumbered, so he turned around and put his hands around his mouth. "Ben!" he yelled.
I heard running up the stairs just as I turned the corner to our bedroom. While ignoring my guests, I headed toward the king-size bed, pulled down the covers, crawled in, and closed my eyes.
"Kes, we need you, now," Ian said.
I removed the pillow and placed it over my face, then peeked out of my 'cave' to see who had followed me upstairs. Ben stood beside Anita while Jerome and James leaned up against the wall to our bedroom with crossed arms. I glanced at Jerome who was finding it all very amusing for some reason. He was a gorgeous, muscular, black man with a very white smile and a heart of absolute gold.
"Sorry, Ian," I said. "Not a good time. Can't you see I'm sick?"
He pulled the covers and the pillow off me.
I opened my eyes, ready to give him my full wrath.
"You're not sick," he said. "You'll survive. Team Kes has been called and we need to talk."
Ben turned to Ian with lowered eyebrows. "Team Kes? Are you sure?"
"What's Team Kes?" James asked.
Ian faced Ben. "Two hours." He glanced toward Anita and Ben nodded.
Ben looked down at his watch. "Will you look at the time? Anita, we have to go."
"You can all go if you ask me." I shut my eyes again. "It is after ten and I need my beauty sleep."
"What's this all about?" Anita asked, making me open my eyes. "What's Team Kes, and why are all of you men in Kes' bedroom?" She glanced at James. "Except for you, Mr. Hamilton, of course."
Anita was beautiful with long flowing chestnut hair and brown eyes, and worked in the personnel department of James' newspaper. He was the owner and everyone at the office called him Mr. Hamilton to his face. Behind his back, though, I knew they called him other less-desirable names, because he could be very controlling when he was at work. I used to work for him as a reporter and a photographer until the fateful trip to Zimbabwe with him and his ex-fiancée. That's when I saw a different side to him and eventually married him.
Ben grabbed his girlfriend's hand. "Anita, sweetheart, Team Kes is a codename for all of us at Kes' new travel agency. James wasn't told yet, because he's been working at the newspaper. It was just formed today."
James didn't want me working for him fulltime at the newspaper. Instead, he had this bright idea to start a travel agency and make it a cover for our agent friends. I still wrote some freelance articles for the newspaper, published under the 'Extreme Travel' section once a quarter. Ben was my 'employee' even though the travel agency didn't even exist. I was sure he'd told Anita that all our other agent friends were employees of mine as well.
Ben shot Ian a look of silent male communication, and then continued talking to Anita. "We have a lead for Kes to go on an Extreme Travel trip, and it's an opportunity she doesn't want to miss."
"Yes, I do want to miss it," I said with my eyes still shut.
"Kes, cramps or headache? I have meds for both," Ian said in a low tone.
Ian and Jerome pulled me out of bed and stood me on the floor.
"There's plenty of time for that," Ian said. He reached into his pocket and took out two bottles. "Which one?"
"Both, actually." I crawled back into the bed.
All this time, James just watched. "Ian, is this wise?" He had very light blue eyes, medium brown hair, and a very sexy slightly British accent.
"James, Team Kes needs her now. We have two hours to catch a flight." Ian gave James a funny look like he should understand.
James finally nodded, walked to my side, opened both bottles, and grabbed some of each of the tablets. He went into the bathroom, got a glass full of water, and returned to our bed. He shoved the tablets into my mouth, sat me up again, and poured the water down my throat with a determined look on his face. Water dripped from my lips and onto my favorite polo shirt.
"Now, get up," he demanded. "We need you and you know it."
I wiped the water that drenched my shirt and frowned. "My favorite shirt, too."
"It'll dry. Now get up."
"You men are brutes," Anita said. "If someone treated me that way, I'd…"
Ben thrust his hands onto his hips. "You'd what?"
"Get really upset?" she asked in a meek tone. She then backed off.
"Anita, we're going home," Ben said. "We need to have a little chat on the way, too."
"No, Ben," Ian warned. "Not yet, and you know it."
Ben nodded, looking more than frustrated. "Yeah, I get it. Just make sure you wait for me."
They left amidst Anita's complaints and I fell back to the bed again. I closed my eyes and rolled over to my stomach, burying my head into the pillow beneath me.
"Oh, no you don't." James returned me to a sitting position. "You're needed and you know it. Now get up and get packed. It's a matter of your job and probably someone else's life."
"As soon as Ben gets back, I'll explain everything," Ian said.
James picked me up from the bed and placed my feet on the floor, holding me up the whole time. He could be such a control freak if he wanted to be, and since there was no changing the controlling nature in him, I let him rule. I pushed my hair back from my face and yawned.
James and Ian stayed at my side and directed me back downstairs. Jerome followed behind me, just laughing. Whatever he thought was funny was probably the truth. I could never fool Jerome.
"Hey, nice place, Kes," Jerome said. "I think you could house a whole small country's population in here. This place is huge."
I turned toward him. "It seems really small to me right now. I can't even be alone in this mansion." I forced tears to my eyes and wiped them away with extreme drama, just to prove a point.
"We'll get you a nice cup of tea and you can relax," Ian said. "After that, Ben will be back and we can talk all about it. Okay, Kes?"
He could be really annoying, ticking me off more. "Not okay, and quit patronizing me. I'm really tired, and my leg isn't even healed from the last mission."
On the last mission, Ben had decided the only way he could get a kidnapper to let go of me was to shoot me in the leg. I'd recovered, but was taking the time to make sure it healed completely.
"You were fine about a week ago," Ian said. "You're well enough to be on active duty again. It's been about a month and a half since the Philippines, and you've been lying around doing nothing."
We'd just entered the huge open kitchen. I spun around so I could see him and give him my full wrath. He had to know I wasn't happy from the nasty glare I gave him along with my set jaw. "I have not been lying around doing nothing. I've had a course in German from the CIA, I've started the plans for the tourist agency, and Wilson's been sending me more than thirty reports every week to rewrite because all of you agents are completely illiterate." I pointed at his chest, moving closer to his face. "Don't you dare say I've been doing nothing." I crossed my arms and stared at him with my chin stuck out. "You have no idea what you're talking about so knock it off."
He raised his hands and backed off with a grin. "I stand corrected."
James stuck a cup of water in the microwave with a teabag. I was sure it was decaf, also irritating me. I needed coffee, but because of Ian and his idea that I had low blood sugar, he limited my coffee and caffeine—enforced by James, my personal food guard. I plopped onto a stool and dropped my head onto the counter.
"Did she eat today?" Jerome whispered to James.
I picked up my head and rested it in my hands. James placed the tea in front of me and leaned on the other side of the kitchen bar across from me. All CIA agents in the entire world knew everything about me because of a book Ben had written about my personality and the distraction work that I did for the CIA. They also knew I had to eat or I'd be mean.
"She ate a little bit," James said. "She really has been sick and I'm not sure it's all what you think it is."
"How sick and why didn't you call me?" Ian asked.
James crossed his arms, staring at me. "She wouldn't let me. It seems she has a phobia of shots and doctors now, because of all the needles you've poked into her."
I waved my hands in the air. "You know, guys, I'm right here if you want to talk to me."
Jerome leaned up from his stool and grinned at me past Ian, who was between us. "We know."
"Where does it hurt?" Ian asked me. "I probably jumped the gun, because we don't have a lot of time."
"That's not very helpful. Let me know if the meds James just forced down your throat helped at all. If not, I'll find something else." He rubbed my back and studied my face. "You are kind of pale."
I turned to see him. "Think so? I'm actually better than I was this morning."
He grabbed my chin and turned my face toward him. "Better? You were that bad?" I hated when he behaved like a doctor. He pulled on my chin to make me open my mouth, then pulled my eyelids open wider to look at my eyes. I moved away from him, grabbed my cup of hot tea, and ignored him.
"She was worse than now?" Ian whispered to James.
I could see James nodding out of the corner of my eye, so I picked up the hot cup and carried it back to the family room, followed by my male harem.
Ian followed me. "I can find you more meds if you want."
"I'll be fine. Now, what's this Team Kes stuff all about?"
"As soon as Ben gets here, I'll tell you. I don't want to have to repeat myself."
Ian continued to watch me while I sat down on the couch. James sat in his usual seat and flipped on the television. I put the tea on the coffee table, then plopped my head back onto his lap. He surfed through the channels until he found the news. We all watched the weather and sports until the door opened and the security system chirped once again. I knew exactly who it was, too. Oh, boy. Here we go.
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