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Bob Blink


Twenty-two Months Earlier

Jake Waters thought the house looked forlorn and desolate. He’d seen it in a more positive light during the three months he and Karin had lived here together, but today the two-story residence located in a cul-de-sac in one of San Jose’s upscale neighborhoods looked downright depressing. It had to be because Karin was gone. Nothing else had changed. This would be the first time he’d spend a night in the house without her, and already he was lonesome. He’d just returned from dropping her off at the San Francisco airport a few miles up the peninsula.

Karin was headed back East for a week or perhaps a bit longer to help out her brother Dave’s wife. Annette was expecting, and the word had come that the baby would be early. Jake had initially planned to travel along with Karin, but the change in timing conflicted with his promise to be at Nate’s birthday party. His best friend had planned a big bash. Even Zack and Cheryl would be flying in from Idaho where they had moved last year. After some of the things Nate had done to help him, Jake couldn’t imagine disappointing him. As a result, Jake would be driving to Reno alone the next day, and then would take a flight in a couple of days to meet up with his wife in Philadelphia. At least they’d spent the previous night productively. Karin had always been a bit of a wildcat in bed, and last night she’d outdone herself. Jake yawned from lack of sleep, and decided that a nap might be in order. He had some shopping to do later, and he’d get an early start for Reno in the morning.

The BMW hummed quietly as Jake crossed the Bay Bridge the next day and then transitioned to the 80 freeway headed north. The sun was well over the hills and the pleasant April morning was fresh and invigorating. He’d slept better than he’d anticipated, probably because he was so tired from his exertions the night before. He smiled as he recalled how Karin had snuggled close after their third encounter.

Since today was Saturday the usual nasty traffic had been bearable, and now that he was leaving San Francisco behind Jake estimated it would be three and a half hours before he reached Reno. He’d call Nate as he passed through Truckee and alert him of his impending arrival. Unless something unexpected developed, he anticipated being in Reno no later than two in the afternoon. He turned on the radio with the intention of plugging in his phone so he could listen to music as he drove. The radio was normally tuned to one of the local news channels, which he liked because he could get frequent updates on the traffic. Today, however, he was shocked with the news alert that caught his attention before he was able to plug in the phone’s connector cable.

“To summarize,” the radio announcer said, “Senator Ted Kerns was killed this morning in his private suite at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton Hotel. He was having breakfast with longtime friend and supporter, businessman Mark LoBue who was killed as well. As yet the police have no idea who was behind the bombing that blew up his suite, damaging nearby suites and injuring several individuals in adjacent rooms.”

Jake was shocked. He’d liked the senior Senator, despite the fact he was a liberal Democrat. Jake was an Independent, completely fed up with both parties to the point he almost had decided to skip the coming elections, staying away until more sense worked its way back into the system. Senator Kerns, however, was one of those men who wasn’t bound by the party affiliation he was known by. If something was a stupid idea, he was one of the first to say so. Loudly, and often. He had been particularly vocal of late about the terrorist problem and the silly political correctness that was aiding the enemies of the United States. He had been particularly focused on recent considerations suggesting the laws be tempered to allow Muslims to be judged by a combination of US law and their own Sharia law. He’d pointed out that the US law was binding on all, and that those who wished to extend a different set of rules to one group was misguided. His comments had not set well with some of the more radical factions of the Muslim community, and he’d received a number of death threats as