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Valhalla rising, p.54
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       Valhalla Rising, p.54

           Clive Cussler
 

  "Hopefully, it will discourage others from going off the deep end for money."

  "A huge task force is out there now, tracking down the offshore investments and bank accounts of the guilty parties, as provided by Hiram Yaeger."

  Pitt stared into his wine as he swirled the contents around in the glass. "So where do we go from here?"

  She touched his hand lighdy with her fingers. "We go on as before."

  "You in Congress and me under the sea," he said slowly.

  A soft look came into her violet eyes. "I believe it was meant to be that way."

  "So much for my illusion of becoming a grandfather."

  She pulled her hand away. "It hasn't been easy competing with a ghost."

  "Summer?" He said the name as if he were seeing something far in the distance.

  "You've never quite gotten over her."

  "I thought I did, once."

  "Maeve."

  "When Summer was lost in the sea and Maeve died in my arms, it left an emptiness inside me." He shook away the memories like a dog shaking away water. "I'm too sentimental for my own good." He came around the table and kissed her lighdy on the lips. "I have a lovely, wonderful woman and don't appreciate her the way I should."

  At that tender moment, Pitt's door buzzer sounded. His brow raised and he turned and peered into the monitor of the video security camera mounted inconspicuously outside. The image of a young man and young woman filled the screen. They were standing at the door beside a pile of luggage.

  "Looks like they've come to stay," Loren said sardonically.

  "I wonder who they are?"

  Loren held Pitt's hand from pressing the button to the intercom. "I left my purse sitting on the fender of the Packard. I'll run down, pick it up and get rid of them."

  "I wonder what they'll think when they see you looking like that," he said, pointing a finger at the smoking jacket that barely covered her body.

  "I'll just peek around the door."

  Pitt relaxed and finished the pasta. He was just taking a final sip of wine when Loren's voice came over the intercom.

  "Dirk, I think you should come down."

  There was something in the tone of her voice that struck him as peculiar, almost as if she was hesitant to speak. He dropped down the spiral staircase and walked past his collector cars to the entrance door of the hangar. Loren was standing partially hidden behind the three-quarters-open door, talking to the young couple.

  They both looked to be in their early twenties. There was a distinct presence about the man. His hair was black and wavy, and he was a good inch taller than Pitt. Their build and weight seemed nearly identical. The eyes were also a mesmeric opaline green. He glanced at Loren, who stood and stared at the young couple, spellbound. He gazed more deeply at the man's face and stiffened. It was as if he was looking into a magic mirror that reflected himself when he was twenty-five years younger.

  He forced his attention from the man to the woman, and a strange tingling sensation coursed through his body and his heart increased its beat. She was quite beautiful, tall and lithe with long, flaming red hair. She stared back at Pitt through pearl gray eyes. Memories came flooding back, and he had to grasp the door frame to keep his knees from sagging.

  "Mr. Pitt." The young man spoke in a deep voice. It was a statement, not a question.

  "I'm Pitt."

  Loren shivered as the young man smiled a smile that she had seen so often on Pitt's lips.

  "My sister and I have waited a long time to meet you. Twenty-three years, to be exact."

  "Now that you've found me, how can I help you?" Pitt asked, as if afraid of the answer.

  "Mother was right. We do look alike."

  "Your mother?"

  "Her name was Summer Moran. Our grandfather was Frederick Moran."

  Pitt felt as if a vise were crushing his heart. He barely got it out. "She and her father died in an underwater earthquake off Hawaii many years ago."

  The young woman shook her head. "Mother survived, but she was critically injured. Her legs and back were crushed and her face badly disfigured. She never walked again and was confined to bed for the rest of her life."

  "I can't, no, I won't believe it." The words came as if they were spoken through a veil. "I lost her in the sea when she swam back to save her father."

  "Believe me, sir," said the young lady, "it's true. After she "was badly injured by an undersea rockfall, Mother was saved by my grandfather's men, who carried her to the surface where they were soon rescued by an island fishing boat. She was rushed to a hospital in Honolulu, where she hovered between life and death for nearly a month. Unconscious most of the time, she was unable to tell the doctors and nurses who she was. Finally, over a year later, when she had recovered enough to be released, she returned to her family home on the island of Kauai, where she resided until her death. Fortunately, Grandfather left her a substantial estate, and she received wonderful care from a staff of housekeepers and nurses."

  "Were you and your brother born before her injuries?" asked Loren, clutching the smoking jacket around her body.

  The woman shook her head. "She gave birth to us in the hospital a week shy of nine months later."

  "You're twins?" Loren gasped, stunned at the difference in looks between them.

  The young woman smiled. "We're fraternal. It isn't unusual for nonidentical twins to differ. My brother looks like my father. I took after my mother."

  "She never tried to contact me?" Pitt asked grievously.

  "Mother was sure that if you had known, you would have rushed to her side. She didn't wish you to see her pitifully broken body and disfigurement. She wanted you to remember her as she was."

  Undeserved guilt and utter confusion swept over Pitt. "God, if I had only known." The memories of Hawaii came flooding back. Summer had been a breathtakingly gorgeous woman, and she still haunted his dreams.

  "It's not your fault," said Loren, squeezing his arm. "She felt she had a good reason for keeping the secret."

  "If she's still alive, where is she?" Pitt demanded. "I want to know."

  "Mother died last month," answered the young man. "She was in very poor health near the end. She was buried on a hill overlooking the ocean. She willed herself to live until my sister and I graduated from college. Only then did she tell us about you. Her last wish was that we meet."

  "And why was that?" Pitt asked, though he was sure of the answer.

  "I was named after Mother," said the young woman. "My name is Summer, too."

  The man smiled. "She named me after my father. My name is also Dirk Pitt."

  Discovering that Summer, broken in body, had borne him a son and daughter, and then raised them without his knowledge all these years, tore at his heart. He was devastated and jubilant at the same time.

  Pitt gathered himself together and stepped forward. He circled his arms around their shoulders and embraced them. "You must forgive me. Suddenly discovering that I have two lovely grown children comes as no small surprise."

  "You don't know how happy we are to finally find you, Father," said Summer, her voice on the verge of a sob.

  Tears came to everyone's eyes. Both children cried openly. Loren buried her head in her hands. Pitt's eyes watered like overflowing wells.

  He took them both by the hand and pulled them into the hangar. Then he stepped back and smiled broadly. "I prefer you call me Dad. We don't stand on formality around here, especially now that you've come to my home."

  "You don't mind if we stay here?" asked Summer innocently.

  "Is there a dome on the Capitol?" He helped them with their luggage and led them inside. He pointed at the big Pullman car with the letters MANHATTAN LIMITED painted in gold on the side. "You have your choice of four lavishly appointed staterooms. As soon as you settle in, come upstairs. We have a lot of catching up to do."

  "Where did you go to school?" asked Loren.

  "Summer received her master's from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. I recei
ved mine in marine engineering from the New York Maritime College."

  "I suspect your mother had something to do with your curricula," said Pitt.

  "Yes," replied Summer. "She inspired us to go into ocean science."

  "A wise woman, your mother." Pitt knew full well that Summer had prepared her children to eventually work with their father.

  The young people stopped and stared in astonishment at the collection of classic cars and aircraft in the hangar. "Are these all yours?" asked Summer.

  "For the moment." Pitt laughed. "But I think I can safely say that someday they'll belong to the two of you."

  Dirk gazed wonderingly at a big orange-and-brown car. "Is this a Duesenberg?" he asked quietly.

  "Are you familiar with old cars?"

  "I've loved old automobiles since I was a little boy. My first car was a 1940 Ford convertible."

  "A chip off the old block," said Loren, wiping her tears.

  Now Pitt was really touched by his newly found offspring. "Ever drive a Duesenberg?"

  "Oh, no, never."

  Pitt put his arm around his son and said proudly. "You will, my boy. You will."

 


 

  Clive Cussler, Valhalla Rising

 


 

 
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