1       Jess and Derek’s Decision


Derek Wright watched as his wife, Jess, entered their elaborate hotel bedroom suite. Her white sundress accentuated her blonde hair and tanned skin. She smiled at him and slowly sank into one of the elegant gold brocade chairs.

The children were brought along, because the vacation to Rome, Italy, was truly for relaxation and play. After touring the ancient churches, statues, wonderful art museums, and eating pasta with coffee at the outside cafes, the Wrights had driven to Louisa Renaliere’s apartment in the city. The fact-finding mission was arranged, and they met her yesterday.

Louisa shared her library the previous day with their children who were now in the next room immersed in a pirate book. Their son, Justin, was reading to their daughter, Sami. Derek wondered how much his son was embellishing the story. Their children would be occupied for a while. It was a good time to discuss important facts.

He notified his security people that his family was staying in their room until this evening, giving his team personal time off to sightsee.

Jess watched her husband as he slowly approached the small desk where the telescope stood. She knew to be quiet. Taking a break from his job as investigator in Los Angeles, they knew this visit could change things.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” she responded.

Jess and Derek received enough information from Louisa Renaliere to plan their next year’s vacation. The information divulged was churning in both their minds. It was hidden within the Renaliere family for at least two centuries or so. Louisa miraculously shared the same information with Dean Crain when he was alive. Only she hadn’t shared the telescope.

“I believe her story.”

Derek nodded. “I do, too. She said there was a small paper inside the lens. If so, the cargo could definitely be that something word.”

The Wrights’ special language to each other revolved around this word in the past. It’s meaning was a multitude of things, such as a dead body, a crime, or anything dangerous. It could mean the opposite such as something above everyone’s expectations. It also stood for more, a grand scale, or magnificent object. Something meant way beyond the norm. It was an item that should be explored. Usually, the timeframe was as soon as possible.

In his job, he met all kinds of people, and Louisa Renaliere was the genuine article. He looked at the mahogany and brass ship’s scope, touching the smooth surface of the wood and noticed a small dent in the brass. He knew other men handled the telescope long ago. The oil from their hands darkened the wood in spots. How many revolutions occurred during the telescope’s earthly existence? The history of those years added up to a floodgate of tremendous knowledge. It was amazing the object survived. It was more startling that Louisa would part with a treasured family item. She, evidently, loved the piece and locked it away all these years.

The question arose in a person’s mind of why it was locked away. Obviously, the scope held importance with the Renaliere family’s own history. Was it to hide knowledge from tyrants? There was a whole conversation that could exist about those facts. It was a mystery to be explored. Derek knew his wife was a keen investigator and explorer. She would have been on the first boat to somewhere else. At times, he believed that he married an explorer or gypsy. But then, he was a wanderer, too. They would have started their own revolution together. He laughed. He could see Jess with a sword. She would have been proficient at the skill.

He looked at the scope. He was intrigued. It represented an earlier time of cunning and danger. No one was safe from deceit. Even nations had their problems like the current politics. Everyone had an opinion and then some. Knowledge was for sale everywhere. The tricksters were messing with the news and every aspect of the flow of information in today’s events. He was brought back into the room. There was only the telescope waiting for him. He tried to see inside the scope. This piece looked just fine, except it belonged in a museum.

Also, little did Derek know, there was private information passed to his wife by the old woman during their visit. Jess was always good at secrets and hiding things. Derek was glad his wife was relaxed today and in good spirits. He thought that he had seen a flicker of her disappointment in him yesterday. He worried about what was bothering her. He sighed. He knew to wait for her to talk to him about any bothersome feelings. He blew out a full breath of air.

Jess, indeed, was a good actress. Remembering the strength of the old woman and her young daughter, the bond was there. It was a bond fueled by real strong energy. There was more than one secret revealed. Louisa provided Jess with a piece of news that was of utmost importance.

When the time came, Jess gladly left Louisa’s apartment. Jess learned something about her husband that she didn’t know. Louisa gave her the names of some gang Derek caught earlier in his career. Louisa thought those two people would bring the Wrights trouble in the future. Jess would need to be prepared for danger and protect her family. Louisa hadn’t wanted any harm to come to them. Derek never told her about this case. There must be a good reason for this fact. Jess needed to be in the moment in their hotel room. Resigning herself to forget about the information for now. When they returned home, she would read the newspaper article about Amy and Minnow Surf and a foiled bank robbery.

It was not the correct time to talk with her husband about that story. There was another story with more important revelations. The object sitting on the desk shone when the morning light filtered in the window. The brass was a pinpoint of light where the sun’s rays hit it in one spot. Jess remembered her dear friend, Dean Crain, and wished he was here. Dean gave Jess and Derek his friendship, love, and introduced them to a mixture of his old crony friends. He helped steer the two of them together in what seemed like another lifetime. He was a great poker player who loved adventure. The bad guys were just con artists or other dirt bags to be collected in the garbage. He was always ready to enter the chase to catch them.

When their friend, Dean, passed away he left them his motorboat, helicopter, and moneyed holdings. But he also left them an auction brochure which showed a large diamond and emerald necklace that originally was owned by the Renaliere family. In his note, he told them that it, too, had been stolen and was still missing. He bought a sub, and his intent was to search for a strange and illusive ship. The Wrights were stumped and curious. They coordinated this visit to check out the last survivor’s story. Jess concentrated her view towards her husband. He had hesitated. She wondered what was going through his mind. The scope was on the table.

Derek ran his hands through his brown hair. He was nervous. It was very similar to opening Pandora’s chest or entering a police interview room. A person never knew what they would find. He paced back and forth. The love-hate emotions entered the room. He stopped and took another deep breath after looking at his determined wife. Her mind was already searching for the writing on the paper. Jess trusted that the item was inside the scope. She was positive there was information there. He was doubtful.

He undid the segmented draw of the telescope. His strong hands broke the dusty seal. Carefully, laying the old thick lens down on the hotel notepad, his fingers searched. Slowly, circling the inner rim, he touched softness. The paper was fragile. The hotel pen was used to nudge the paper forward. Inside was a piece of old papyrus with barely distinguishable writing. The lens he laid on the table also picked up the light from the sun. Derek pulled the drape to stop the second reflection.

He wasn’t sure why he was surprised there was an old papyrus inside. His heart pounded. Even more slowly, he unwrapped the fragile-yellowed paper.

Derek recognized the three different sets of figures which were coordinates written on the paper. He pulled up the three-hand-written coordinate sets on his computer and sent himself a note with the grid information. Copying the note, next, he placed the small paper back inside the telescope.

Jess viewed the three coordinate sets when her husband rotated the notebook computer screen in her direction. Neither were surprised by the destination. Derek clicked the map view to appear larger. The coastline of Africa came into their line of vision.

Jess looked Derek in the eyes. Her own pale gray eyes bright with excitement. Whenever she looked excited, they developed a warmer blue-violet color.

Derek grinned.

The anticipation reflected in her voice and a curve gently nudged her pink lips as she spoke. She took a bite out of the red grape she held in her hands and handed some to Derek. He popped several in his mouth and continued to watch his wife. Shifting in her chair, the white lace from her slip peeked out from her dress. He was amused. She was taking her time to respond. It always drove him a little crazy and she knew it.

“It’s a very long way away,” said Jess. Her long eyelashes blinked, looking up at him.

“Yes, it was.”

Derek sat down in the other gold brocade chair so that he could be closer to his amazing wife. She was toying with him, and he liked her expression. He laughed with relief. It was his turn to tease her.

“Honey, are you in for our first enterprise in the diving world? It might be a rich adventure to search for sunken treasure in Dakar with our motorboat. Or we might have more fun high-rolling in Las Vegas. We could try poker. I’m pretty good with cards.”

Jess raised her eyebrows.

“I know Dean always let me win. But I could try to win. Which adventure would you prefer? Or should we flip a coin?” He started digging in his pocket.

Jess smiled. “Stop, you know my answer.”

Derek touched her hand. He knew all along which choice she would pick.

“I can find a company to move the motorboat to the harbor. There was an excellent firm from Dean Crain’s list that is the same company that I would have chosen. Dean expected to help Louisa retrieve her family’s jewels, only he ran out of time. It could be fun for us dipping into the ocean together. You can write the book you have always wanted. It could be a book about our adventure. I can help you with the underwater photos or any videos. There’s lots of software for almost anything. Did I guess the correct answer?”

Jess hugged her muscled-six-foot husband’s frame that was scrunched into the delicate chair. “Oh, yeah, most definitely. You read my mind so well.”

She hesitated. “It might be dangerous. We will need to hire security and the experienced people that Dean Crain left on his other lists. He researched the divers for the sub and their backgrounds. That will be a good place to start.”

“All right, but let’s not even think dangerous or perilous. This is a simple case of vacation and exploring the ocean. We have great equipment and will locate those experienced divers. There shouldn’t be anything to signal the bad guys or bring them into our sphere of treasure hunting. We will need to be careful and let people believe we are on a lazy, joyful mission exploring the Atlantic for a new book.”

Derek thought about their past encounter with murderers and evil people with agendas of their own. He started to worry a little bit. Jess was a magnet for trouble in the past.

He stood and looked out at the blue ocean and knew there was no way to stop the forward motion this mysterious adventure was headed. Ever since they saw the sub that Dean Crain left them, it was impossible to steer Jess away from their next project. She was already sold on the possibilities. At least, they were wealthy. Their worldly experience and great friends were valuable resources.

“It should be a great time,” said Jess.

Derek laughed once more. “This adventure is going to be good. Any time alone with you, my lovely wife, was worth it. Most definitely can this be fun a thousand times over.”

He crossed over to her chair, bent down, and kissed her. Their favorite calypso song was on the motorboat. It was a surprise for her when they returned to Los Angeles. It was re-recorded and changed. The song was at a slower tempo or andante. He loaded it as number 6.5. The knowledge that his wife would be pleased made him feel warm.

The surroundings around Dakar would become the beginning of very dangerous liaisons. It was one of those times when Derek would think back on his thoughts about the trip. The scene would feel like walking into a meta-universe. The bizarre people somehow leaked from their creature world over into earth’s space. They weren’t smart enough to build a space craft, but had maybe found a forgotten portal and were shoved through by a storm. Derek would wonder if their arrival was a mistake.

The bad guys would pile up higher than any sunken treasure. The board game their children played in Rome was nothing like the game the Wrights would become involved in. He would have to be vigilant and stay out of harm’s way in the ocean and on land. He would protect Jess and his family always in his universe.

Derek knew the type of people that existed in his world. His work with the police and the investigation side of things meant endless contact with unsavory characters. It was the hidden con artists that were the worst. Their unpredictable actions created chaos and a crappy mess most of the time. He thought the terrible con artists belonged in jail or somewhere else not on this earth. In other words, he would have to find a way to send them back from the black hole they came from.

Derek started to make his phone calls to put extra people and security around the motorboat for the eventual trip. Covert was the name of their game. He contacted his motorboat captain about the possible venture and the lawyer about the necessary permits. Then he called his good friend, retired policeman, Jim Michaels. Derek would call in a marker or favor soon.  Also, his new friend, War Julio, would be contacted about building a special crate for the freezer.

The Wrights were going to Africa.  He hoped the new coordinates were possible. He wouldn’t know that one of them was dead on. Derek was lost in thought, already calling contacts, and calculating the items that needed to be done. There was plenty of time to notify the Renaliere woman of their decision.

The old woman already planned on the Wrights choosing this exact path. She read it in the stars. The stars were those spreading over centuries of her ancestor’s lives. The stars were aligned perfectly. The Wrights would find their way. The last plan was coming together.