Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profits realized…
Three months later…
Logan made several trips to his back porch in preparation for his breakfast. He had already deposited his coffee, computer, and newspaper on his patio table, and he balanced his breakfast on his lap as he wheeled himself outside to enjoy his morning overlooking the beach, as he had become accustomed to doing over the last few months. He savored another morning stretch, rolling a kink our of his shoulder muscle and inhaled the ocean air. He let his gaze wander along the coastline and took the time to appreciate another pristine September morning before sipping his coffee and turning his attention to his computer.
He scanned the headlines, a self satisfied smirk turning the corners of his mouth because he knew what he would find there. Carlos Avila was taken into custody the previous night for multiple charges and was currently being held without bail, Logan read with glee. He relished every word of the article before letting out a satisfied sigh.
He had done it! He had nailed that son of a bitch!
When Eyes Only had begun looking into the affairs of Carlos Avila five months prior, Logan had no idea what he was getting himself into. He had been fairly certain that Avila frequently smuggled imported drugs and illegal weapons up from Mexico, but he had no idea he occasionally exported the occasional small child, stolen from its family and sold to wealthy South Americans. Logan had barely scratched the surface of figuring out how dirty this guy really was, and he completely underestimated Avila's reach.
Avila owned the assistant police chief, the deputy mayor, a city councilman, an assistant to the district attorney, a half dozen other corrupt city officials, and a criminal who moonlighted as an Eyes Only informant and was more than willing to triple-cross Logan's organization for the right cash incentive. When it was brought to his attention that Eyes Only was looking into his business, Avila fought aggressively and offensively and began a preemptive strike against Eyes Only before his own business could be scrutinized. Using what he had learned about the informant net from his turncoat, Avila had spent a lot of money to hire the best hackers available to track Logan's signal, turning the information about Logan's whereabouts over to his insiders on the police force and in the district attorney's office, as well as every media source in Seattle. When Eyes Only went quiet, Avila congratulated himself on a successful venture and wrote the cost off as a necessary business expense.
But Logan had decided not to go quietly into oblivion.
It had been slow going, with his limited computer equipment and sources drying up everywhere he looked. But the inner circle of friends and allies he had recruited had still come to his aid, getting him what information they could and taking the answers to the right people. Once he had enough information to convict Carlos Avila, Logan set out to expose him.
He could no longer do a cable hack, but with the help of a few old friends and an unexpected Eyes Only fan group, a new solution had been found. Every sordid detail of Avila's business dealings were printed on the cover of yesterday morning's Seattle Tribune and dispatched to the public before anybody could stop them. His old contacts from the Pacific Free Press were now scattered throughout Seattle, and they were in a position to get the truth out. That front page had been created in secrecy, inserted into the printing at the last minute, and distribution sped up so the truth reached the public before anybody in a position to censor it could intervene.
And his old friends were currently stationed all over the west coast, just waiting to help. Even though Eyes Only was gone, Logan wasn't out of business. As he outlined his research plan for his newest investigation, he idly wondered about a new name. Maybe he could call himself Guardian Angel or something like that…he decided he would have to think about it.
When he had finished his outline, he turned his attention to other matters and noted the balance transfer into his off shore savings account had gone through overnight. Logan imagined that his family had been quite disturbed to learn that he had bequeathed all of his earthly possessions to his physical therapist. He also imagined some of the aunts and cousins would have fought it a little harder if they had suspected that his Last Will and Testament had been inserted into his attorney's electronic files half an hour after he had been declared legally dead.
Bling had listed Logan's penthouse apartment and sold off most of his antiques and artwork, and deposited all the profits into his former patient's numbered account. Taking Logan's advice, Bling had kept the stock for Cale Industries 'in the family', and he had taken to wearing shorts and T-shirts to the monthly share-holder's meetings, much to the amusement of everyone but the share-holders.
He had shipped Logan's favorite copper saucepans to California last week.
Logan stopped working as he watched a surfer expertly ride a wave to the shoreline with perfect form. He paused long enough to appreciate the effect of sunshine and water on a beautiful woman. The days when he was so consumed with his mission that he wouldn't stop to enjoy life were fading fast. Living at the coast had been good for him. Living with Max had been very good for him.
Max emerged from the water, carrying her board under one arm and using the other to wring the excess water from her hair as she walked up the beach towards the house. She planted her surfboard into the sand that came to the edge of the porch and reached around to unzip the top of her wetsuit, pulling it off her arms and letting it hang around her waist. She turned on the water spigot and hosed off of her board and then her suit. She walked up to Logan and gave him a salty and thorough kiss before taking a sip of his orange juice and helping herself to most of his breakfast.
"Did you see me?" she beamed at him, her smile like sunshine.
"You were perfect," he reassured her. "I think it's safe to say you've mastered the sport."
"It's not so much a sport as an art form," she chided happily. "I love surfing!"
"I love you," he quipped in response.
"I love you, too." Her smile softened and grew tender as she balanced on his knee and wrapped her arms around his neck to kiss him again. He absently pushed his laptop away to prevent salt water from dripping into the keyboard, but such things just didn't bother him like they used to, especially in the wake of such pleasant distractions. "Thank you for bringing me here, Logan," she murmured softly in his ear.
He pulled back from her so he would be able to look into her eyes. "Thank you for coming her with me, Max," he answered with an earnest sincerity. It wasn't the first time he had uttered that phrase. He repeated it occasionally to remind himself of his remarkable good fortune.
After three days of cautious travel along the Pacific Coast Highway, Max had safely deposited Logan in his new home. Logan used the last of his energy to check the solar panels and get the water and power going in the long empty house before wearily tumbling into bed, Max crawling in beside him and curling up along his side as he held her tightly in his arms.
And she never left.
Logan had never asked her to stay; never made any formal declarations about his intentions or tried to put a title on their relationship. He didn't want to risk jinxing his amazing luck by saying the words out loud. He was just immensely grateful that she was there and tried not to frighten her off. He simply prayed she would stay forever.
Together, they had planted citrus trees outside their bedroom window so they could wake to the smell of orange blossoms every morning.
They were careful in their new life, both always mindful of his risk of exposure, her risk of recapture. They laid low the first few weeks, avoiding outside contact whenever possible. But as 'Logan Cale' remained dead and the story became boring, news casts moved on to more interesting topics. The news of Logan's identity and the memory of his photograph soon faded into the background. He went out now, greeted by his friendly and infrequent neighbors as one of their own, a successful author who had come to enjoy a secluded life at the coast. He was a familiar sight at the Sunday Farmer's Market and at the electronics store in the next town over, where they helped him indulge in what they thought of as his new hobby.
He was becoming an expert on the wines of the Santa Ynez Valley.
Max had taken to climbing to the top of the old lighthouse and staring at the ocean in the early morning hours, sometimes checking out the surf conditions, sometimes just thinking.
Logan often reflected back on that fateful day he left Seattle: one hell of a morning turned into one liberating day turned into one incredible night. He occasionally wondered if it was the day that his life ended or began. Not many people were lucky enough to get a chance to start over, and he was determined to make the most of his opportunity. After all, life was too precious to waste, especially a brand new one.
The author gratefully acknowledges Shywr1ter for her encouragement and advice.
The author would also like to send her most humble gratitude to everyone who took the time to review this story. Your kind words and suggestions and praise were a deeply appreciated source of inspiration. Thank you.
Reviews, as always, are welcome.