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Hope climbed the stairs, carrying the greasy bag, and entered the plane's cabin.  John was still hunched over his laptop, where she had left him 30 minutes before, and did not even look up as she entered.  She suspected he had watched her approach the plane, which is why he was not holding the gun that sat just to the right of his hand.

"I've got lunch," she said, as she opened the bag and pulled out its contents.

John looked at the plate full of small fried items.  "What it is?"

"Fried conch," Hope said.  "The only place within a half-mile, and they gave us our choice of fried or stewed conch.  Unless you would have preferred stewed goat."

"No," John said quickly.  "Conch is, um, fine."  He picked up one of the fried pieces, gave it a wary look, and popped it into his mouth.  He seemed to take a bite, then frowned, then chewed again and again and again.  Finally, with some effort, he swallowed and looked up at her.  "Uh . . . nice and, um, chewy."

Hope sighed, took a bite of one of the pieces, chewed twice and then unceremoniously spit it into her hand.   "Ugh . . . . I've chewed softer rubber bands."  She looked at John.  "Tell me why we're here again?"

"Because an out-of-the-way landing strip on a small Caribbean island is a good place to escape the ISA, FBI, Interpol, and the other half-dozen agencies that are probably looking for us right now."

Yeah, that was a good reason.  "But couldn't we go someplace that might actually have a hotel and a decent restaurant, instead of a shack with a burner and a fryer?  How about Grand Cayman?  Don't they have no extradition."  She saw the harsh look on John's face and sighed.  "Okay, okay.  I've done tropical islands before.  I'll go hunt for some coconuts when I get a chance."

As John went back to work, Hope looked around the plane.  She knew John was right and they had to keep a low profile after barely escaping England.  Hope giggled a little at she remembered how she and Bo had escaped from prison with the help of Theo Carver on their wedding night.  And, now, for the second time, she had fled that country under pursuit.  They might not let me back in, she thought.

Hope reached for her cell phone and took a look at it.  No bars.  She sighed again.  She could have actually coped without a place to stay or decent food, but, here, they were completely cut off from the rest of the world.  God, she hoped Bo had not heard about what happened at Donovan Manor.  He would be furious. 

Staring at the phone again, Hope thought of something else.  Her grandmother was ill.  What if something happened?  They would have no way of contacting her.

"John," she said.  He looked up.  "How long do you think we'll have to stay here?"

"I don't know."  He motioned to the computer.  "I just need to get a lead, but these files are really hard to figure out.  I think I've found the ones that have been updated the most recently, so that's a start."

"Why?" Hope asked.  If Shane had disappeared several months ago, why would recent files help?

John tried to explain.  "All of these files were connected to Shane's root directory.  So I have to assume he either worked on these cases directly or at least had interest in them.  I also figure if Shane disappeared while working on a case, that would be in a file that has been updated in the past year or so."  He leaned back in his chair.  "The problem is that there are just a lot of files."

"So I guess that means there are a lot of active cases."

"That's one way of putting it."  He shook his head.  "It's amazing how many bad guys get in line to hire private security.  This Nightwing outfit's got people inside terrorist sponsors, drug traffickers, gun runners -- you name it."

In other words, it was going to take some time, Hope said to herself.  Then she had a thought.  "Do you see anything about 'Costa Blanca' or 'Operation Norteño'?"

"Not clearly," John said, scanning the laptop screen.  "Here's something with the tag-letters "ON" . . . Let me check."

Hope looked out the window as John clicked away on the keyboard.

"Whoa. . . ."  At the sound of John's voice, Hope jerked her head back around.

"What is it?" she asked.

"This is it.  'Operación Norteño.'"

Hope got up and ran around the table so she could read the screen over John's shoulder.  "Slow down," she said, as the text scrolled by.  She read as fast as she could, but the information seemed to duplicate what was in the report she had reviewed in Salem.  "Isn't there anything about Shane?"

"Hold on," John said.  He clicked a few keys and a search window opened up.  He entered "Donovan" and waited for it to find Shane's name.  "This should go to the most recent entry on Shane if he's mentioned--" He stopped short.  "Oh, hell."

It was too late to stop Hope from reading the data entry.  An infiltration of a drug ring in England.  But that was hardly the important element, as she took a sharp breath.  The entry was not about Shane.  "Andrew?"  She looked at John.  "Andrew's in the ISA?"  From John's reaction, she could tell that he already knew.  "Tell me you haven't kept this from Kim."

John looked at her.  "It's Andrew's choice, Hope.  Just like it's his choice when Kim finds out."  His eyes narrowed.  "You're not supposed to know about it, so you can't tell her."

Hope stepped away from him.  How could she keep that from Kim?  A mother had every right to know if her child was in danger, and joining the ISA was about as much danger as anyone could possibly be in.  Hope did not know if she could keep such a secret and, for a moment, felt thankful that her phone had no reception where they were.

"Hope?" John asked.

"I don't know. . . .  I need to think about it."  Hope looked out the window again.  What would I do if it were Shawn Douglas? she asked herself.  Would I really want to know?  Those questions went around and around in her head.  She was still thinking it through, when she heard John again, his voice plainly anguished.


Hope spun around and looked back over John's shoulder at the screen.  The entry was a report on a follow-up investigation about an ISA/Nightwing infiltration team.  She got to the last line and read:

"C/S: Donovan, Shane -- MIA, Presumed Dead."