Chapter 5 Penny makes a deal

As the plane took off, Penny stole a glance at the young man seated beside her. She had thought Jeff Tracy a handsome man, but his son took her breath away. Clear-cut features, dazzling blue eyes, an easy-going manner and the courage that she had just seen demonstrated made for a combination that would make any girl go weak at the knees.

The plane headed west while the early morning sun lifted over the horizon behind them, lighting the landscape with delicate shades of pink and gold.

"How pretty!" exclaimed Penny. "I do so love flying at this time of the morning, don't you?"

Scott grinned. "I love flying any time."

Penny turned to face him. "Of course, you're the one in the air force, aren't you?"

Scott nodded. "Yes, it always amazes me that someone would pay me for doing what I love. I've enjoyed my time in the air force and the skills I have learnt in dealing with people and assessing situations are going to come in handy."

Penny thought over some of the other information she had managed to collect on the Tracy family before leaving England. "How's your brother getting on? The one who was in the accident?"

Scott's expression tensed for a moment at what was still a painful memory. "Gordon's doing fine. He's back home now, and working hard to get his full strength back. He's hoping to pass his medical next month so he can get back into the WASPs – he'd like to do at least another year with them before Dad needs us all back home to begin operations. But I'm sure he'll do it – the kid's got determination."

"From what I've seen," replied Penny, "I'd say determination is a trait that all the Tracy family share." Scott smiled but said nothing.

Soon they were landing at a small airport to the south of London. The plane taxied up to a hangar that bore the Tracy company logo.

"My father is waiting for us at Sir Jeremy's house," Scott explained as they climbed into a waiting car. "Do you have time to come with me and deliver the laptop to him yourself? I'm sure he'd want to thank you personally for all you have done."

When they arrived at Sir Jeremy's, Penny and Scott climbed out of the car, but Parker remained inside. "If you don't mind, yer ladyship, I'll stay 'ere and 'ave forty winks."

They were shown into Sir Jeremy's study to find him there with Jeff and Brains. Penny produced the laptop which Brains took and immediately started to open. After a few minutes he looked at Jeff, relief on his face. "The c-computer has remained secure. P-plans for Rescue One have not been accessed."

Jeff shook Penny's hand firmly. "You have no idea what this means to me, Lady Penelope. How can I repay you?"

Penny looked Jeff straight in the eye. "That will be quite easy, Mr Tracy. Yesterday I said I did not want to discuss my fee. Here it is. It's quite simple. I want 'in'."

"In? In on what?"

"In on your plans. I know your reputation, Jefferson Tracy. Your determination, your philanthropy, the way you are not afraid to try new ideas. I think you are putting together some sort of rescue service, one that will be independent of any government, and I want to be part of it. You have a craft under construction called Rescue One, which implies a Rescue Two, Three, and goodness knows how many others. These craft are obviously so radical in their design that other people, other governments want to steal their designs. You will need people like me to help preserve the secrecy of your designs, and of the organisation itself."

Jeff rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He had been wondering if International Rescue might need a covert arm, to be their eyes and ears on the ground. He even had a few people in mind that he had intended to ask, but not quite in the way that this young Englishwoman was putting it. Her age too, that was another factor.

Penny watched his expression and guessed his thoughts as he looked her up and down. "And in case you are worrying about my tender years, I may be younger than your oldest son, but I am older than the rest of your boys, who, I gather, are also included in this venture. Let me help you, Jeff. I could put together a network of undercover agents, ready to help if things go wrong. You won't regret this decision"

Jeff had not become a multi-millionaire without knowing a good deal when he saw one. He extended his hand, smiling. "Welcome to International Rescue, Lady Penelope."

Penny smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Tracy. I'm sure we will enjoy working together."

"Most of our plans are still at the design stage, but when our communications network is ready I'll send Brains and one of my boys over to install the equipment in your house and link you to the network."

"That sounds fine. There are also a couple of other ideas I'd like to discuss with your designer as well - some modifications to the family car and a couple of improvements on gadgets I used when I worked for His Majesty." Penny found herself stifling a yawn. "Please excuse me. If you gentlemen don't mind, I will take my leave. I think the events of the past twenty-four hours are beginning to catch up with me"

"Of course, Lady Penelope," said Jeff with a smile. "Please use the car that is outside to take you home. We can easily arrange for someone from the company to collect it later.'

Parker saw the sophisticated young aristocrat emerge from the house and climbed out of the car to hold the passenger door open.

"Could you take me home please, Parker? And on the journey we can discuss your terms of employment."

Parker grinned to himself. He had the feeling he was going to like working for his new employer. Judging from recent events it was certainly not going to be boring. "'ome h'it is, m'lady."