*The usual disclaimers apply--don't own them, just like to write about them—this story takes place directly after the end of Vacation. Some parts of this story have been changed and edited since the original posting. Thanks to Anne for the brainstorming help and I hope you enjoy *

What Lies Beneath-Chapter One

Farnsworth Manor

Monday, September 2, 2002

7:30 AM GMT

"Take care, Jenna," Emily gave her a hug. "And just remember that if you ever need to talk I'm only a phone call away."

Jenna returned the hug. "I won't forget."

"Oh and here—this is for you," Emily handed Jenna a small folder. "A little memento of your vacation."

Jenna opened the folder. "Oh," was all she could say as she looked at the charcoal sketch. It was a portrait of her—in the background she could see Big Ben and the Tower of London.

Mom looked over her shoulder. "Oh sweetheart, that's a wonderful present."

"It's beautiful," Jenna said. "Thank you, Aunt Emily."

"No—thank you for coming to see me, Jenna," Emily said. "And if you look very closely at that sketch, you might just see a few little surprises in there."

"What kind of surprises?" Jenna asked—she looked at the sketch, not seeing anything out of the ordinary –and then back up at Emily. "Can you give me a hint?"

Emily smiled and shook her head. "No—but I'm sure you'll have no problem discovering the clues. Just remember that it's something that I want you to have. Now all of you have a safe trip home."

"We will, Emily," Mom said. "And thank you."

"But I just want—" Jenna started to ask another question but Dad took her arm and steered her towards the cab.

"Come on," he told her. "We have to hurry if we're going to make it to Gatwick by nine."

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12:00 PM GMT

"I think I see it. Or I see something, maybe—oh I don't know." Jenna rubbed her forehead. It could be her imagination—she'd been staring at the sketch so long that she swore her eyes must be crossed.

"What do you see?" Dad asked.

"Some letters." Jenna pointed to one of the turrets in the Tower of London. "See? That looks like it might be a C, and then there's an R down here on the clock tower, and in the clouds I think there's an O, and a U and an A—"

"Yeah, I think you've got it." Dad pointed to another place on the sketch near Big Ben. "And do you see what's right down here?"

"Oh—I see it!" Jenna spoke a little more loudly than she'd meant to—attracting the attention of nearby passengers, who turned to stare. Jenna's cheeks grew warm. Mom, who was sitting beside Dad and sound asleep, stirred slightly but didn't awaken.

"That's a G, isn't it?" she asked Dad, lowering her voice slightly. "And this in the tree right here—I think that's an F."

Dad looked at where she was pointing and shook his head. "I don't think that's an F, Jenna—look a little more closely."

Jenna did. "It's an E. But what exactly—oh." Something that Emily wanted her to have—she was silent for a moment.

"So do you know the answer now?" Dad asked.

Jenna nodded. "It's courage," Her hand shook slightly as she traced around the edges of the drawing, being careful not to smudge anything. "That's what Aunt Emily wants me to have—isn't it?"

"Yes it is." Dad took her hand and squeezed it. "And it's what your Mom and I want you to have too, munchkin."

"Courage," Jenna repeated the word, drawing strength from it. "I want that too."

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4300 Maplewood Dr.

Arlington, VA

9:30 AM EST

She couldn't believe she was doing this.

Christy Blakeney crouched beside the bedroom door. The door was slightly open but she was well out of sight—if her dad happened to peer out he wouldn't be able to see anyone. Christy couldn't actually see him either but that really didn't matter. Her main objective was to be able to hear her father's voice—and from this vantage point she could hear him quite clearly.

"I know what my objective is," Dad was saying. "I don't need you telling me that, Basayev—what?" There was a pause. "No, absolutely not. No changes. Either we meet at the arranged drop point or we don't meet at all."

Drop point? What could he be talking about? Christy was sure that if her heart pounded any harder her dad would hear it. Her hands were damp with sweat.

Dad's voice rose slightly. "Why do I get to dictate? Because I'm the one with the goods—and if you want them we'll do things my way or not at all. Keep annoying me, Basayev—you'll see how fast my price goes up." Another pause—slightly longer than the one before. Christy could feel an itch on the back of her leg. She bit her lip hard—fighting the urge to scratch it.

"Glad you see it my way," Dad said. "I will see you later today, then? Yes, goodbye. `odikjoil."

Christy heard the click as her father placed the phone back on its receiver. Her heart pounding, she tiptoed back to her bedroom and practically leapt onto her bed. The Jerry Lewis Telethon was on—some guy with a ventriloquist's dummy doing funny voices. Christy stared at the screen, trying in vain to concentrate on what she was watching. His footsteps thudded down the hallway, growing steadily closer.

"Hey there, Christy." Dad stood in the doorway, one arm propped up against the doorjamb. "What are you doing?"

"Oh, not much." Christy tried to sound casual. "Just watching this telethon—I think that's all they're showing right now.'

"Boring, huh?"

Christy shrugged. "Pretty much."

"Well listen," Dad said. "Since it's Labor Day and all why don't I take you and your mother over to Chincoteague? They have a great beach there—it's not as crowded as Virginia Beach."

'I will see you later today,' Christy thought. That's what her dad had told the man on the phone—Basayev? Was that the reason he wanted them to go to Chincoteague? She wasn't sure what she should believe.

"I don't know, Dad," she said slowly. "I really should get stuff ready for school tomorrow."

"Please?" There was a pleading expression in her dad's dark eyes. "Since I got out of prison, you know, we haven't had a real day together—as a family. Come on, gumdrop. What do you say?"

"Well--" Christy found herself smiling as she looked at her father's face—the woebegone expression reminded her of when she was a little girl—before everything had gone wrong. Her mother had called it his 'pleading puppy-dog face'. Very hard to resist—and this morning Christy didn't want to.

"Okay," she told him.

"Awesome," Dad said. "Just get your bathing suit and everything ready—we'll be leaving in an hour. I love you."

"Love you too, Dad." After he left she slid down off the bed and rummaged through her bathing suits in the dressing drawer. The doubt was still there, but Christy shoved it to the back of her mind.

'He's my father', she thought. 'I love him—I want to believe him.' As she shoved her things into a pink beach bag that thought played over and over in her mind like a broken record.

TBC