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1-The MOON & Stars!

2-Winter Kill

3-Deadly Counter-Attack!

4-Angel Of Mercy

5-Love Blooms!

6-Intimate Revelations

7-Season's Greetings

8-Revenge Backfires!

9-A Double Proposal

10-Stacey's Awakening

11-Merry Christmas!

12-Hawaiian Escape

13-Wedding Arrangements

14-Blessings Of Pele - The Fire Goddess!

15-Stacey's Double Rescue

16-Vince's Cabin Explodes!

17-Damage Survey, Then Florida Bound

18-Settling In New Surroundings

19-Midnight Beach Liaison

20-Another Explosion!/Altered Plans

21-Stacey's Debut

22-Poisoned Kittens!

23-Moon Kills A Student And Vanishes!

24-Stacey Initiates The FBI

25-New Evidence

26-Vindication Of The Madness!

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Moon Madness - 18, Copyrightę 2001-2006 By
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"

Settling In New Surroundings

The Florida coast manifested itself long before the Horizon's power was backed off to accommodate the runway adjacent to the collage of buildings indicative of their destination. Earl had expertly guided them to home base with the utmost of experience guided by human expertise. Anna announced that they were home and the limos were waiting. Separate cars were provided for each of the separate parties, Vince and Anna, Stacey, Rex, and Earl. A separate van awaited the arrival of Midnight. He was to be transported directly to the foundation for processing. Stacey consoled him, telling him she would see him in the morning. He was quite content with her assurance as the van drove away. Rex told her he would wait for her at the door to the restaurant since he lived closer than the Hilton. She simply smiled and waved to everyone as the limo drove away. Earl and Rex were shaking hands while Vince and Anna's limo engaged a gear to leave. They both waved to the departing couple and headed to separate cars.

Vera's expertise was exhibited by an exclusive table overlooking the pounding surf at the restaurant. It was Anna's favorite spot and enjoyed by all. The weary travelers needed the comfort of privacy. Vera's thoughtfulness was always rewarded in some fashion accommodating to her unique niche in life's ultimate order. Everyone left contented.

Vince awoke to Moon's paw upon his cheek. They were both in a strange place. Moon had expressed his need to go out. Vince slid out of the warm water bed, being careful not to disturb Anna, to help his friend. Together, they picked their way to the exit door. The salt air smelled good to both of them. Vince told Moon,"Old Buddy, I know you know what's happenin', so we're gonna have to make the best of it for now, at least until Anna and I can find a new place to build another cabin. Keep your eyes open for a good spot. I'll leave the door locked, but cracked open. Kick it shut when you come in." Moon meowed a tone that Vince knew well and disappeared into the Florida night.

Vince and Anna were awakened by a phone call in the morning from Stacey, five miles away at the Hilton, "I just thought you might be interested to know that Moon is with Crip. How he could have found her, I don't know. He seems to have blocked even my empathic abilities!" Vince interjected, "He's an extraordinary cat." Listening on the other phone, Anna shifted to her scientific personality, "Don't concentrate, Stacey. Simply listen to the echoes he can't control. I can do that with feelings, but your powers can supersede mine and should be able to discern background thoughts." Momentarily, all was silent. A minute later, Stacey replied, rather startled, "Anna, did you discuss directions with the limo driver of the easiest way to get from the Hilton to your place?" Silence. Anna looked at Vince, "Moon is smarter than even I suspected. He can discern directions. He has an acute understanding of north, south, east, and west. I knew he was smart, but this is phenomenal. He actually understands concepts!" She directed her speech back to Stacey, "Stacey, it is imperative that you don't mention this incident to anyone, not even Rex. Do you understand?" Stacey acknowledged the order. Aware of Vince's hand on her thigh, Anna told Stacey to forget about the incident and sleep late. She was free to spend her time selecting a car and looking for a permanent place to live. She would call her should anything pertinent come up and give her instructions.

In two days, Stacey located a quaint, two-bedroom cabin overlooking the beach from a small, rocky cliff. A wooden walk had been constructed to traverse the thirty foot drop to the secluded beach. Rock jetties, worn smooth by the surf and sand, connected with the cliff on either side, providing a cozy sense of privacy. A hot tub was built into one corner of a large, covered deck behind the house. It was situated to allow the bather a clear view of the ocean past the main living area. A bricked, combination fireplace/bar-b-q pit resided in the opposite corner. The entire back yard was enclosed by a six-foot high hurricane fence to keep the local critters out of the small grove of orange trees dotted around several species of ornamental shrubs and exotic flowers. She loved the entire set-up from the first moment she laid eyes on it. Moon and Crip shared her approval of the property. Stacey had gotten Vince's approval to let Moon stay with her and Crip for a few days since he had gone to so much trouble to hunt them down. Vince had jokingly told her to simply run him off when he had worn out his welcome.

While the cats explored the grounds and inspected every square inch of the house, Stacey talked business with the real estate agent about the history of the property, the appraised value, and what lay beyond the perimeter. She had guesstimated it to be situated about halfway between the university where she would be studying and her office, an ideal spot for her, logistically speaking. She was delighted to find out she had been close. Her excitement heightened when the woman informed her that her closest neighbors were an entire community of retired older people, not an old-folks home, but simply a group of independent elderly people who enjoyed living near others who shared some of the same ideas of fun in the retirement days as they did. They took their independence very seriously and had transformed the entire sector of land into their own resort area. There was even talk concerning their plans to later try to become a township! A three square mile government-owned game management area separated the edge of their sector and the property on which they sat. Another section of the same management area extended for several miles down the other beach. The incoming road to the property was a private access right-of-way for the current owner of the property. A gate could be installed at the main road if she desired it. The property had originally been owned by an eccentric writer who demanded his privacy to work in. He had suffered a stroke the previous year and had to move into a nursing home. After his later death, his upstate daughter inherited the property and put it up for sale.

Thinking of her mother, Stacey interrupted the agent to ask if any rental properties might be available in the elderly section up the beach. She was politely informed that several small homes were usually available in the area due to families wanting their senior relatives to simply move closer to them, or those which had unfortunately become too old to effectively care for themselves. The lady was genuinely surprised when Stacey based her final decision upon the last revelation of information and exclaimed, "Perfect! I'll take it!" She spent the remainder of the afternoon closing the deal and arrived back at the Hilton with the keys to her new home residing on a new key chain destined for her new car keys as well! She decided she would celebrate her good fortune with a bottle of burgundy wine in the jacuzzi, sans the earthquake, as memories of Hawaii drifted across her mind. She added supper for herself and the cats as an afterthought when she called room service.

Stacey incorporated Vince and Anna's expertise to help her decorate and settle into her house. Anna thought Stacey had chosen her property wisely. Her congratulations and approval bolstered Stacey's confidence further in appreciation of her own abilities. Anna told her she would arrange a house-warming party at the first opportunity.

The following Monday, Anna helped Stacey arrange her school and work schedule. She would start classes the following week. Through Anna, the school would grant Stacey a leave of absence since her work was also part of her training curriculum. Anna's final advice was for Stacey to find her a personal company car since she would not have much free time after school started. Stacey thanked her and Vince for all of their help.

Within the following week, Stacey's executive style manifested itself, though rather conservative by company standards. She checked out many cars offered by the manufacturers catering to employees, many of them very expensive and luxurious, but finally settled on a sleek, sporty pink Camaro with the silhouette of a cat painted stylishly on each door. For power, it was optioned with a previously available 454 CID V8 engine which she commissioned to have turbocharged so it would still perform well above any normal production engine utilizing most any pump gas available!

During the next few months, Stacey developed an unquenchable taste for speed and power which eventually took her to the local dragstrip every free Saturday night to indulge her new hobby of racing. She quickly dominated the local racers and soon proved to be the only blond a man couldn't beat! The dragstrip billed her as the "Queen of Beasts!" Local talent had dubbed her as the "Blonde Bombshell" after she blew a tire during one of her awesome burnouts to heat up the slicks she raced with! Acting as both her pit crew and mechanic, Rex had expertly changed the tire right in the staging lane in time for her to barely beat the time limit which would force her to forfeit the race by default. Without time for another burnout, she smoked the tires off the line, let off the power and nailed the throttle again. Shifting well above redline for each gear, she managed to catch and pass the challenger right at the finish line to take the seemingly impossible win. Rex was proud of her and maybe even a little jealous of her popularity with the crowd. They gave her a standing ovation when she stepped up on the stage to accept the Street Modified Class trophy.

Rex did not realize that he loved Stacey until she quieted the crowd and motioned for him to come up on the stage. He came up timidly, not knowing quite what to expect. Stacey grabbed his hand and turned back to the microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen. I'm proud to introduce the man who really deserves this trophy. A man I truly love and admire, the man who actually makes my tires smoke at the racetrack and the only man who can make my very blood boil elsewhere! Let's hear it for Rex Mitzhoff!" The crowd went wild! Stacey handed him the trophy and kissed him long and hard in front of the entire cheering crowd. Together, they signed several hundred autographs before they managed to break away from the crowd. Vince, Anna, Earl, Andy, and Vera had secretly been watching from the pit grandstands. They surprised the couple back at Stacey's car to congratulate them.

Stacey's local racing fame spread quickly. Soon, street racers came from everywhere simply for a chance to race the beauty from Texas. She was well respected for her prowess in the driver's seat, both on the dragstrip and on the street. She and Rex often had arguments about her street status, but she always countered with the argument that he would do the same thing if he should ever be restricted to the ground. He knew she was right. It certainly hadn't hampered her studies or work performance and provided a needed stress release from the cramped agenda associated with her career. Anna had even suggested a charity exhibition race between Stacey in her car and Rex in the Horizon. He would pull up at the finish line at full power for a showy grand finale. She thought it would be great publicity for the company and raise phenomenal proceeds for charity.

Anna's personal status changed drastically among her company employees. No longer were nasty rumors whispered behind her back. People who had several years service with the company were amazed at the change in her attitude with the addition of Vince and Moon in her life. Anna now made it a point to be friendly to everyone. She made friends of former enemies quickly after people finally learned the truth behind her crass social and work attitudes. Most were sympathetic, explaining that Anna had simply been running scared for many years. Vince had changed all that. She trusted in men again. A few skeptics though, insisted Anna was only trying to compete with Stacey's lovable personality, which everyone liked instantly. Stacey was very charismatic, strikingly beautiful, friendly to all, smart, capable, energetic, and compassionate to other's feelings. Her employees helped her mainly because they wanted to, not simply because she was above them on the corporate scale. For whatever reasons, Anna soon proved herself worthy of the same "friendly" loyalty. She gained back much of the respect and admiration she had lost over the years from her trusted colleagues. Moon, Stacey, and Vince aided her cause immensely with their undying love and support.

Moon and Crip enjoyed the admiration of all who attended the facility, regardless if they were an employee or simply a student. The pair had been granted the freedom to roam the complex at their leisure whenever they were there. Their fans took great delight in playing with Moon and Crip's family of three new kittens, born only halfway into their second month in Florida. The only male, larger than the two females, was endowed with traits of his wild heritage of the lynx, large padded feet, tufted ears, and a tawny color. Exactly like Moon in every aspect, he too, had only a tiny bobbed tail! His sisters favored Crip in color and stature, but they, too shared the bobtail trait! The feline family was the pride and joy of the company. Anna comprised a short documentary, complete with photos taken by Stacey, and sent it to the paper. They published the article the next day, adding yet another chapter into Moon's celebrity scrapbook. He and Crip received many letters of congratulations from over the country as many other national news agencies picked up the story. Moon and Crip especially enjoyed taking their family to the student section near the end of a session, seemingly to allow their kittens to enjoy the company of younger people. Stacey and Anna agreed that the cats simply wanted their "kids" to play with other kids while they were young!

Rex and Stacey's romance flourished in spite of their combined hectic schedules. Stacey was determined to get the credentials Anna had promised were within her grasp during a specific time-frame. She made it quite plain to Rex in the beginning that she did not intend to let anyone down who was counting on her. He would just have to allow her to finish her training before she could allow her love for him to cloud her career horizon. She promised she would always somehow arrange to make time for their relationship, but he would have to help her and make allowances when it wasn't feasible. It was hard for both of them while Stacey was taking prerequisite courses prescribed by Anna. The first three months of school consumed virtually every spare minute through studying, lab sessions, field trips, and commuting in between. Anna helped her out whenever she knew Stacey was in a bind for time. She rescheduled many of their photography field training trips later in the day when Stacey could relax and learn simultaneously in the privacy of the chopper versus the cramped atmosphere of the school classroom. As an added bonus, Anna allowed Rex to do the flying as long as he did not interfere with Stacey's concentration and kept his mind on flying. The arrangement worked out well. Vince often came along to keep Rex company in the cockpit. Slowly but surely, Rex was teaching him how to fly a chopper while Anna was busy with Stacey. The two couples took turns treating each other to dinner after each session. Rex and Vince developed a close friendship during the sessions and often spent their spare time fishing together.

Vera helped Stacey's mother get into one of the nicer homes for rent in the section up the beach from Stacey's. There were many people her own age and most anything she needed within the community. Like her daughter, she made friends quickly and was active in the community. Several well-to-do widowers enjoyed her company at dinner regularly and she seemed to once again enjoy a robust zest for life in general. Living close to the ocean, Stacey, and many friends her own age suited her fancy just fine. She and a friend often walked the beach to Stacey's house simply for exercise. Stacey was relieved that her mother had adjusted so well in such a short time period. Anna confided later to her how she was proud to see some of that same resilient trait had been passed on to her offspring. Stacey beamed at the compliment from her mentor.

Vince and Anna looked at many properties in the following months, but with little luck in finding an ideal place to build their new cabin. Time had worked its magic in buffering the memory of the previous cabin's mysterious demise and the vicious intentions of its perpetrator. The subject had been effectively put behind them until the phone rang one day while Vince was toning up his martial arts skills. Although Vince did not talk about the incident, his fighting instincts would not let his mind rest until the matter was completely resolved to some final end. He had been secretly working out every day while Anna was at work so he could perform with unerring efficiency should the need arise. He did not wish to alarm Anna or the others by spotlighting the fact that someone was still out there biding their time for an opportune moment to strike. It seemed to him like the classical battle move of allowing the enemy time to forget the last attack in order to regain the element of surprise.

Vince answered the phone, expecting to hear Anna's voice with some intriguing proposition for the evening. She called him often when she knew he was home just to chat and plan the time they would have together when she got home. The voice, however, was not that of his beloved Anna, but rather that of his old friend, Chief Dalhart. He and Vince chatted of Vince's relatively new lifestyle for several minutes before the chief finally explained his reason for calling beyond the social aspect. The circumstantial evidence pointing to Vernon Riply had proven a dead end. He had been located at a remote town in the Canadian province of Saskachewan. He had been in jail there since the third day of his parole for attacking a young girl at a boarding house. Several male tenants stopped the attack and beat up Riply bad enough to hospitalize him for two months under armed guard. A man who had used an iron pipe on him turned out to be the girl's father. At any rate, jail in another country was a rock solid alibi, so the investigation was back at square one. Anna, it was reasonable to assume now, was probably not the target. That, unfortunately, left only Vince. Chief Dalhart's voice took on a more serious tone when he told Vince to watch his backside. Vince told him not to worry. He was well prepared for a showdown. His tone shifting to worry, the chief issued a plea, "That's what I'm afraid of. Just do us both a favor, OK? Call me if anything at all strange happens out there that could be connected to this case. I'll call you back if any new leads come up here." Vince told him he would call if the chief would keep quiet about the new information. Vince did not wish to bring up the issue with Anna and cause unnecessary alarm or worry. Chief Dalhart agreed rather reluctantly and hung up the phone.

Vince vowed to be ever more on his guard and worked out another solid hour to ease the anxious tension which the revelation had sparked in the recesses of his mind. He tried to think only of Anna and the next day to come, wherein her ankle cast was due to come off. It was hard when Moon was around, since he too, had been showing definite signs of tension and stress almost as if he sensed that something was not quite right. Anna had felt it through Moon but made no mention of it.

The night seemed unusually peaceful beside the ocean. Even the relentless pounding of the incoming tide surf changed its tune to a muffled gurgle on the jetties. Vince and Anna slept well with Moon snuggled into his favorite spot atop the covers between their legs.

A brilliant sunrise greeted the conglomerate family the next morning, subtly hinting of a perfect day ahead. All went well at the doctor's office. Anna's ankle had healed flawlessly. She playfully performed several dance steps, testing its strength sans the supporting cast. Winking at Vince, Anna commented that Dr. Allman's skill would be responsible for them going dancing that evening.

The Caseys went shopping after leaving the office to replace the slacks and jeans Anna had altered to accommodate the cumbersome cast. Over a seaside lunch, Vince told her he had been test-driving various new cars the past week and had decided to buy a new Chrysler New Yorker for his personal car. Puzzled, Anna inquired, "Not a new truck? Seems as though you have developed somewhat of a taste for a little luxury in your life!" Vince chuckled, "I guess some of my lovely wife's overly abundance of class has rubbed off on this ole country boy. Besides, I wouldn't want people thinking I'd make you ride in a truck. It is simply not your style. You deserve comfort even when you're home with me." Anna leaned over to kiss him, "Vince, you know that's not important to me. I think your style screams for a truck." He countered, "Maybe so, but until we finish building our new cabin, I'm hanging on to the old one back in Texas. After all, there's no sense messing up a new one during the construction process. Moon and I were thinking of flying back tomorrow morning to get it. You'll be tied up most of the day with Stacey's training. We can take the first flight out in the morning, tie up a few loose ends when we get there, and start back by noon. We could make northern Florida by midnight tomorrow night, stay over in Fort Walton Beach, and be home the afternoon of the following day providing we get an early start."

Anna sat quietly for a moment. Vince knew her well enough to know that she was correlating her thoughts for the best presentation of her assessment of the proposal. Turning her eyes wistfully out to sea, she almost whispered, "That's an awfully long time for both of my men to be away at the same time; however, duty calls, and as much as I would like to go with you, alas, I cannot. Stacey has some exams coming up that are vital to her future and I promised her I would drill her on the covered material. I'll see if I can stay with her while you're gone." She turned back to face Vince, "You gonna miss me as much as I will you and Moon?" Vince leaned over and gently kissed her forehead, "Babe, I miss you already. This will actually be the first time since we got married that we've been apart. It'll take some getting use to! The bed will seem empty and cold without your love to warm my soul."

Again, Anna appeared momentarily engrossed within her thoughts as a mischievous grin crept silently across the fullness of her lips. It quickly escalated to a full-blown radiant smile when she started to speak, "Sir Vince, your maiden of desire has figured an alternative proposition which she wishes to express to her champion to see if he might be tempted to alter his original plan in order to gain the warm companionship of his faithful damsel in distress to mutually dispel the trauma of senseless loneliness by a planned rendezvous in which to trade sexual favors to our joint satisfaction!"

Anna's playful dialect never failed to get Vince's total attention. He replied immediately, "By all means, speak my fair maiden."

Anna reverted to her business tone, "I'll Have Andy and Earl fly you back to Texas. They don't have anything on their schedule for tomorrow and Andy hasn't had a chance to fly anywhere of any distance since he was medically recertified for active duty. I don't want my senior pilot to get rusty at what he does best. He can save you at least three hours over a commercial flight, plus the plane change at Dallas. You might as well enjoy the trip in style with your friends. I'm sure Moon would be more comfortable curled up in the Horizon than in some cold, dark cargo hold. Besides, I want them to see the zoo where Moon's daddy escaped from and get me copies of all his records for our research department. I'll schedule the chopper for its monthly maintenance day and cancel Stacey's photography flight to allow me to help her study during the day. When the maintenance crew is through with the chopper, I'll have Rex fly out to Stacey's to pick her up so she can take Midnight to her place for the night as a test. If all goes well, I'm considering letting Stacey keep Midnight at her place permanently. Since leopards are normally solitary creatures, I think he would be much more content with the remote aspect of her place by the ocean versus our somewhat overpopulated feline facility. I know Stacey would love the company! So what do you think of plan B, Sir Vince?"

Vince grinned as he started, "M'Lady, sounds to me like I should have let you arrange plan A to begin with! Just where would you like for this premeditated liaison to take place and exactly when?"

Anna thought for a brief moment, "How about Santa Rosa Island? It is not far from Fort Walton Beach and has sand as white as snow! There are several nice motels on the beach to choose from." "Sounds perfect to me. How are you going to get there and what time?" replied Vince.

"I'll charter me a small plane through a discreet friend which I use whenever I wish to disappear from corporate scrutiny. Nobody will ever know I've gone if you will call Vera and have her make the reservation for you and Moon as a double occupancy. All I need to know is the name of the motel. I'll have more time to juggle around, so you just name the time and you can bet on me being there," informed Anna.

Vince scratched his chin while calculating the distance with the average speed he could sustain in the truck, "Midnight would probably pose no problem for Moon and me."

Anna was pleased with the arrangement, "Guess we have a date for tomorrow night at midnight then, Sir Vince. I'll meet you in the lobby precisely at 12:00 with the wine."

Satisfied with their secret arrangement, Vince called for the check. He and Anna drove to the car dealership where Vince had picked out his car. She did not seem surprised that he had chosen the one on display in the show-room. It was the only one on the lot which was black on black with limo-tinted windows! She knew her husband was prone to black from his martial arts status. The shiny chrome spoke wheels added the final touch to the full array of other options. Vince was especially fond of the remote starting system so he would not have to go out simply to warm it up. He made a good deal with the salesman which saved him several thousand dollars. He would pay the entire cost of the car with a cashiers check on his way back from Texas if the dealer would prep and have it sitting in front of Anna's house when he got there. After the insurance papers were signed, they shook hands and Vince left with one set of the keys attached to the remote key-ring in one hand and Anna's hand in the other. Anna was just as happy as Vince was with his choice, playfully dubbing it the "family" limo.

Vince asked Anna to drive them home so he could use her phone to call Vera and write if he needed to. Within minutes, Vera had provided him with the specifications of several motels along the beach and told him which ones had restaurants on the premises. Only two would accept pets so Vince chose the best of the pair according to Vera's personal recommendation. Thirty seconds later, Vera confirmed the reservation, informing him that the restaurant would be held open thirty minutes past its normal closing time should he wish something to eat on his late arrival. Slightly puzzled, Vince told her that would not be necessary and hung up. Anna told him the special treatment was because Vera had made the reservation through the company network and anyone connected with them was highly regarded as a preferred customer. Vince told her the name of the motel as Anna reached for the phone. Before dialing, she asked Vince what time he wished to leave the next morning. Vince told her 5:00 AM. Anna's executive efficiency amazed Vince as she delegated specific orders for everyone involved in the morning departure in one non-stop stream of corporate jargon and told Vera to take it from there. She disconnected the number and immediately started dialing another while telling Vince, "Andy will pick you up at 4:40."

Vince noticed an abrupt change in Anna's voice when the party at the other end answered. Gone were the business undertones. They had been effectively replaced by the gentle, sweet notes one might expect from a lover or an intimate friend as Vince tried to decipher the conversation from the vague, meager clues Anna offered from her end, "Yep Sam, me again." "Fine, thank you, and you?" "Santa Rosa Island." "Taxi, I suppose, in the interest of discretion.'' "Yes, I promise." "Sometime the next day." "No big rush. I might need a little time to rest up." "Usual fee?" "I'll make the time at your convenience." "Consider it done." "What time should I be ready?" "I'll be waiting." "You know the feeling is mutual." "Bye-bye."

Anna could tell by her husband's bewildered expression that he was more than just a little curious concerning her relationship with the mystery pilot. She offered him a slight measure of relief, "Need an explanation?" Obviously, Vince was not going to push the issue, "No, Babe. You know I trust you. I've just never heard you use that tone of voice with anyone but me."

Anna really wanted to tell Vince about Sam and decided to prompt his interest further. She tried to sound serious, like she was unveiling some nasty skeleton from the attic of her past, "I deeply appreciate your trust, Vince. It deserves an explanation, so please try to be open minded about Sam." She almost giggled and ruined the tease but Vince was tuned to a serious aspect and didn't notice as she continued, "Dear, sweet Sam is the only man I've ever loved and trusted totally aside from you and my daddy! I don't blame a man for being somewhat perturbed and maybe a little bit jealous when he discovers inadvertently that his new wife has had an ongoing relationship with some strange man before him. He was there for me when I really needed a loving man's guidance and steadfast support to help me through a traumatic time in my life. He has never let me down. In return, I do him certain favors for his discretion and services. I'm sorry, but I love him very much!"

Anna fell silent, turning to gaze wistfully out the window in an effort to conceal the sly grin on her lips. After a moment of silence, Vince cautiously spoke, a slight hint of betrayal coupled with disbelief, "Is Sam a threat to me?"

Anna could not contain herself any longer. Between laughs, she managed to get out, "No, I'm not particularly prone to men my daddy's age!" A smile returned to Vince's features as he wiped his brow in a mock show of relief. Anna apologized for the mischievous prank and finished her story, "The man in question, Sam Mayfield, was my daddy's oldest and dearest friend. They were in the service together. He and his wife, Eileen, were our closest neighbors when I was growing up in Maine. They used to baby-sit me when I was little. They alone, helped me to get over the death of my parents. I always called him "Uncle Sam" even though he was no relation to our family. He used to fly us to inaccessible backwoods lakes in Canada to go fishing. He taught me a lot of my outdoor savvy."

Anna paused a moment, sorting through fond memories. She cleared her throat to continue, her voice soft with compassion, "About ten years ago he called to tell me Eileen had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors said it was treatable after the surgery. Eventually, he had to sell their two float planes and the guide business just to pay the medical bills after their insurance benefits were exhausted. He finally cashed in their life insurance policies to keep from losing the cabin they had built together. By the time Eileen died four years ago, everything they worked so long and hard to get was gone. Sam was devastated but always told me the last years they had were by far the best. He would literally have sold his soul to the devil to keep that woman alive! Before I had a chance to stop him, he sold their cabin to pay for her funeral. I could have paid for it easily if he would have let me, but Sam's not one for taking charity. I couldn't even persuade him to take a temporary loan from me. He wrote me a letter the following month to say he was "too old for the cold" and he was moving south. I persuaded him to move to Florida. His entire love of life was based on flying and I felt like I owed him, so I told him one little white lie when he got down here to help us both out." She stopped talking to pull into their driveway.

Vince was shaking his head as she pushed the shifter into park. In good-natured retaliation, he muttered, "Shame on you, Anna. Lying to someone who trusts you!" She immediately defended her position, "Its not like that, Vince!" He queried, "Just what was this little white lie?" She fidgeted slightly in her seat when Vince cornered her, "Come on, Anna. 'Fess up!"

In the hotseat, now, Anna blurted, "I told him Daddy had stated in his will that I was to give Sam the first company plane he bought when we retired it, the twin-engine Cessna he used to fly himself!"

Vince relaxed his grip on Anna's tarnished morality with his next question, "Just when exactly did you retire this particular plane?"

Rather sheepishly, Anna admitted, "About the same time I manufactured my little lie! I appropriated the funds to buy the Horizon the very next day!"

Vince chuckled during another headshake, "Sounds more like a multi-million dollar black-on-gold lie to me!"

Once again, Anna tenaciously defended her position, "Well, Sam needed some kind of way to make a decent living down here. People do well just to survive on what Social Security pays. Sam's built a thriving charter sight-seeing business along the coastline with that plane and the help of curious tourists and does quite well for himself. He loves flying that plane. He feels like he's somebody again, instead of a down-on-his-luck burden to the government. I think he deserved some way to mend his broken heart and his pride. Now, I can watch Sam enjoy his golden years with dignity and can almost see my daddy smiling through his lips. I've never regretted that decision and if Daddy was watching from above, I think he was proud of me for proving that sometimes the end result does justify the means. Also, whenever I want to make myself scarce for whatever reason, Sam makes it possible with no questions asked. I cover his fuel, hotel, and other expenses, and always treat him to an excellent seafood meal at any restaurant he chooses just so we can visit while he's not flying. Its like a mini vacation to help us keep in touch with each other, so if you have a problem with that Mr. Vince Casey, you had better start preparing your case 'cause only since we both happen to have the same name doesn't necessarily mean that I intend to relinquish all of the heritage which comes naturally to a true Fontain!"

Grinning broadly, Vince leaned over the console to squelch Anna's next round of the verbal onslaught while she was still held captive by her forgotten seatbelt. She managed to get out the word "Furthermore" before Vince's passionate kiss wiped out her entire chain of previous thoughts and transformed the heat of her defense to one of intense sexual desire. Vince carried her hormone-flushed body straight through the house directly to the bedroom. Several hours elapsed before the couple finally decided they had to eat something to keep up their strength. Anna made them a hasty supper which she carted to the bedroom. The combination of food and dinner wine worked quickly to relax their exhausted bodies into a deep sleep after Vince set the alarm for 4:00 AM.


Author's Note: Feel free to copy/paste the text contained herein to build your personal copy of "MOON Madness". As this is COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL by ME, the ORIGINAL AUTHOR, please DO NOT copy for UNAUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION in any form or fashion. "ALL RIGHTS RETAINED & RESERVED" by Larry K. Hockman! Please don't hesitate to E-Mail me for permission to use my works in the classroom, etc. ThanX for Visitin'! I hope you enjoyed the story and pass it on to your friends. LKH

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