Can You See Me Now?
Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7-25 Available On
PLEASE NOTE: This is a preview of this novel. It is available for purchase in its entirety via
have known she sent her message, except for the fact that he'd
disable the chime.
When it went off, he
was in the middle of searching for a white pickup in a remote part of
unpronounceable province in Afghanistan.
The pickup was loaded with
terrorists who had killed a number of
civilians in a revenge attack, and then mortared a U.S. patrol sent out
them, before fleeing.
prevented helicopters from looking for them, but infra red didn't care
was cloudy, so he was called on.
had set the
bird to alert him to any movement above ten miles per hour.
had given him five things to investigate,
and he had found what he believed to be the suspect vehicle just as the
He filed the chime away in
back of his mind and sent the coordinates of the pickup to Delta 578.
didn't know who Delta 578 was, but he
suspected it was a CIA asset.
helicopters couldn't fly in the area, then the only thing they could
against this truck was a drone, which could operate above most weather.
along a still photo of the men in the back of the truck.
was clear they had weapons in their hands.
console as it was, and within ten minutes the suspect vehicle he'd
Delta 578 of had tripled its speed. He
zoomed in on the truck, which was still bucking its way along a
Zooming further, he could see
six men were still in the back of the truck.
He punched the button for
thermal imaging and saw two more bodies through
the roof of the cab.
He jerked backward
when the whole screen blanked out in a white haze, and realized he'd
the drone strike take out the truck. It
had overwhelmed the filters in his camera, zoomed in like he was.
the screen, worried that he might have broken something.
wouldn't get him in trouble.
It was official business,
after all. But he
hated to have to call in a repair tech over doing something stupid like
He relaxed when the scene
normalized into a cloud of dust.
Switching back to infra red
Even infra red can't see
job out, noting the time of the strike in his notes, just in case there
some damage to the camera that didn't show up yet.
he went on
to his next job. It was 1149 hours, Colorado time, when he remembered the chime and looked at his Facebook page.
astonished, to say the least.
The first thing he did was
make a friend request.
She hadn't, but
she'd suggested it, so he didn't feel like it would be poorly received.
she was teasing him.
His curiosity became intense
as he moved
He had two more jobs to
do, but he had half an hour before the next one had to be finished, and
would only take five or ten minutes to complete. If
he worked it right, he could use one
screen to monitor Colorado, while he used another to work on that job.
worked out better if he hadn't gotten the Colorado camera centered and
just as she walked out of the house. He
held his breath, waiting, and then let it out in a rush as she lay down
Five minutes later he was
as a rock in his pants, as he watched her rub her naked breasts.
one point she waved at the sky, rocking
her hand back and forth on her wrist. It
the other job with ten minutes to spare.
Steeling himself, he got it
done and then went back to her screen. She
was still there, and still rubbing. It
occurred to him that he'd been a fool to
leave her screen active while he processed the other job.
if someone had come in?
There she'd be, rubbing the
shit out of her
gorgeous little boobs, big as life on an official monitor.
It would have been worth the
There wasn't a guy in the
building who wouldn't understand why he'd zoomed in on that.
knew that the various Playboy
mansions were the best surveilled spots on the planet, even if it was a
violation of policy for that to happen.
close as he dared, and took a picture.
He printed it and then took
ten more pictures of Cheyenne Mountain. The
computer only tracked the last ten
It tracked much
farther back if the photos were sent somewhere, but as long as all he
print them at his terminal, it was assumed he was examining them with a
magnifying glass or whatnot.
picture in the book he'd brought to read, assuming there was time to
There had not been, but having a book was normal.
he went to his sleep cycle that he pulled it out and, stroking himself
peered at her oily breasts.
I know most people don't
messages like that anymore, but I guess I'm old fashioned.
can't tell you how happy I am that you've
I don't know what else to
Thank you. I
saw you wave.
Just Wow. Thank
you for that
I feel like the luckiest guy
I know that sounds schmaltzy,
in my job you don't have time to date.
Actually, the hours are such
that most girls can't adjust to dating a
guy who works that way.
I work 72 hours
on and 48 off.
We don't get holidays off
We just work like that until
go on vacation.
Luckily, because our
hours are so screwy, we get eight weeks of vacation a year.
probably think we'd go stir crazy
So it's kind of nice to have
somebody to talk to.
If you don't mind,
I know I pushed myself into
life, and I'll understand if you think I'm a jerk and don't want to
talk to me.
And for sure I don't want to
trouble between you and your husband, if you're married.
you are, he's a really lucky guy. Don't
tell him I said that.
He'd try to find me and that
out well at all.
Anyway, thanks again
... for everything.
I mean it. You
really made my day.
about writing to her hadn't prevented him from giving her some
Probably too much
Then again, it wasn't
against the rules for him to have relationships, on line or otherwise.
long as he didn't compromise himself, or
reveal exactly what he did, or who he worked for. He
was sure that email would pass muster, if
anybody ever looked at it.
were no real references as to what, exactly, he was thanking her for.
it didn't compromise her either. Admittedly,
he had told her he wasn't
involved with anyone on purpose, and he had tried to phrase things so
find out if she was
while she would read a lot between the lines, nobody else would.
send button and relaxed.
message ... if there was one ... would tell him a lot more.
check her Facebook page until almost ten that night.
wouldn't have checked it at all, except
she remembered Bob and her message to him.
the message her heart beat sped up. She
could tell it had, and that made her laugh.
She was acting like a
high-schooler, getting all excited about a guy she
didn't even know.
She tried to read
slowly, but it didn't work.
He was old fashioned. He
He had obviously seen her ...
and seen what
she was doing.
That meant he'd looked,
based on her message to him.
a rendezvous of
her face getting hot at the thought of him peering at her while she
Was she an exhibitionist? No.
She didn't want just anybody
to see her.
Only Ranger Gord ... and Bob.
wondering if she should tell him that. What would he think about a
fantasized about a cartoon character watching her like Bob watched her?
His terseness didn't put her
There was a lot that could be
read into a couple of "wows."
And the fact that he didn't
actually spell out what he liked was good
He didn't go all explicit on
The man had manners. He
also asked politely, and gave her multiple
chances to opt out of things.
That was obvious when she
the part about the husband issue. He
also telling her he was not involved with anybody.
was obvious too.
But he did it in a charming
she was even more curious about him now.
But Facebook wasn't the best
venue to explore this on.
She accepted his friend
request, but the
first message she sent her new friend was her private email address ...
she checked a dozen times a day. She
also told him she didn't look at her Face Book page all that often.
only other thing she said in that message
was, "I'm not married.
boyfriend was a jerk, and he kind of soured me on men in general.
I like a man with manners, even if he's a
little naughty now and then.
good for me most days, but that's not a promise."
When Bob came on duty his job sheet was packed for the first part of his shift, so he didn't have any chance to check and see if she'd sent him a message. His first chance to do that was at 2300 hours. He had just finished one assignment, and was ready to begin another, but had twenty minutes free. He read it now, feeling excitement burst inside him. This was crazy. He knew that. She was just some woman he'd happened to zoom in on while she was in her back yard. Not only was it unauthorized, it was silly to think that anything could actually come from it.
people met other people all the time on the internet.
wasn't all that much different.
Sure, the images they saw
being displayed by people who wanted to be seen. They
weren't spying on each other.
But they were thousands of
And sometimes they formed
relationships, that went far beyond being only electronic.
He shook it off. He had work to do. His next job was time sensitive. It probably came from the CIA, or maybe DOD. It involved surveilling a
particular spot in the former USSR, beginning at 2330 hours his time, and staying on site for two hours or longer, depending on circumstances. He set the coordinates, and waited for the satellite to turn and focus the camera. When it zoomed in, he saw a single building, set at the front of what must be the Russian equivalent of an automotive salvage yard. There were five acres of cars parked haphazardly all over the place. Some of them were missing significant amounts of their bodies. The target must be the office of this place, based on the flat, metallic looking roof.
He was supposed to follow anyone who came out of that building after 1030 local time, and determine where they went, and how long they stayed. If
they went to multiple places, he was to continue surveillance. For some reason a firm termination time of 1430 local had been included, meaning surveillance of the target after that time was not expected to produce anything of value.
He assumed there were no assets on the ground who could do this, and that a drone might be noticed. Whatever the reason they wanted satellite surveillance, it didn't matter. It was his job. It was going to cost someone a real bundle, because sat time didn't come cheap, and that much time was probably upwards of half a million. Whoever the son of a bitch was they wanted followed, they must want him bad.
Jobs like this showed up on his assignment sheet with nothing to interfere. In other words, for the next four hours, his only job was to take care of this assignment. When he first pulled up the target, there was no activity at all. There were no cars in the dirt parking lot, and no movement nearby. He panned back to see what was around the target. Down the dirt road that serviced the salvage lot, there were some decrepit looking houses and a few buildings that had an industrial look to them. The term "Bumfuck Egypt" came to mind. This place was in the middle of nowhere.
His stomach growled and he reached for a snack. He'd put several things within reach because he knew that on missions like this, his internal body clock sometimes reset itself, as if he was actually on the ground he was surveilling. Other analysts had claimed the same happened to them on long assignments. While it was coming up on midnight in the U.S., Bob's eyes were on brightly lit land where it would soon be lunch time, and his body reacted by wanting to eat. To him ... it was almost lunchtime.
There was no activity until 1143, when two cars trailing a cloud of dust pulled up at the front of the building. Two men got out of the lead vehicle.
He zoomed and took a picture of the men. He tagged the car in the computer, which would now record the exact geographical location of that vehicle every thirty seconds until he told it to stop. He did the same with the other car. Four men emerged from that one, carrying weapons. Zooming, he photographed them. There were three AKs and what looked like an Uzi visible. The four men took up positions on all four corners of the building. Once they were in place, the two in the lead car went inside the building.
Nothing happened for thirteen more minutes. Then a third car approached. This one was going more slowly, raising less dust. Bob zoomed in tight. It was a Mercedes, and it was white. Based on his experience, that meant it was somebody important in the government. The bigwigs in Russian politics liked white Mercedes for some reason. He tagged that vehicle while it was still moving.
The Mercedes pulled up to the target and the driver, who was wearing a hat, got out. He went around to the passenger side and opened the rear door. One man got out. He went to the building. The driver stayed with the car, leaning against the front right bumper.
Again, nothing happened until almost noon. Then white Mercedes came out and got in his car and left. The computer automatically followed his car, since it was tagged. The four guards outside stayed right where they were. Ten minutes later, one armed man left the building and got into the chase car with two of the guards. They took off in a second direction, the computer also logging their GPS position every thirty seconds.
He had to zoom out, because the cars were going in opposite directions.
Eventually, the white Mercedes got to a paved road, which led it rapidly to the city of Novosibirsk. Bob recognized it because he'd seen it before.
He'd known the site was in central Russia by the coordinates, but he hadn't been sure (or cared, really) exactly where it was. Now he perked up.
Novosibirsk was near a "secret" nuclear weapons storage area that had been "decommissioned" after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He went back to the black car, which wound its way to the same paved road the Mercedes had been on. It was M53, Bob now knew, and in the
direction the car was going, it led to that storage site the Russians still thought was a secret.
Bob zoomed back in and started the video recorder. The job hadn't called for that, but he used instincts honed by years of prying secrets out of various nations by simply watching them.
The site was already flagged in the computer, meaning that any activity in or around the flagged area was to be recorded and reported.
He wasn't surprised when the car turned off the paved road and crossed a formerly invisible line that only the computer could see, causing a
yellow line that surrounded the facility to glow on the screen.
If an uninitiated observer had been with Bob, all he would have seen was something unusual. The car drove along a dirt road for about a mile, to an area that looked like a turnaround. The road ended, and there was a circle of dirt where it looked like one could park, perhaps, or turn around and return to the paved road.
The black car did not turn around. It simply drove to the end of the circle ... and disappeared. The computer beeped, complaining that the target's GPS location could no longer be determined.
What the uninitiated wouldn't have known, but which Bob did, was that there was a mound of dirt beside the turnaround that had a door of some sort in it. That door would accommodate large trucks. The door itself wasn't visible from the sky, at least not from the angle the satellite had.
And while it also wasn't visible from the sky, the approach to that door was well guarded. Over the years people like Bob had documented
many men, usually riding motorcycles, who came and went from dozens of places along the road that made no sense to the casual observer. Either that area was a favorite place for hundreds of men to stop for a piss, or there were guard positions concealed all along the road. Nobody was stopped, in terms of their papers being examined. That had never been observed.
But on two occasions, analysts had seen cars on that road suddenly bloom into a yellow ball of flame. The wreckage was cleared away immediately, and not by anyone driving a vehicle with flashing lights on top of it.
Whoever these guys were, that white Mercedes had met with, they were important, because they had access to an area the US Department of Defense was intensely interested in.
Half an hour later, the car suddenly reappeared. The computer alerted him with a tone when the tagged vehicle appeared again. GPS location was reacquired. It was a sedan, so Bob couldn't see inside it. All he could do was watch as it returned the way it had come, to the original targeted building.
When they got out and went into the building again, the remaining two outside guards joined them. Bob looked at his watch. It was 0125.
He marveled at whoever had planned and authorized this job. Evidently, they had expected everything that had happened to happen, and his efforts had simply confirmed it.
lot of his
work was like that.
People gathered bits
and pieces of information together.
These seemingly unconnected
snippets of data were like puzzle pieces,
and the right people, with the right instincts and talents, could put
pieces where they might go before the big picture could be seen.
knew he provided pieces of the puzzle to
them, but in many cases, the pieces he sent them were duplicates of
is one thing to know there is a bird in the forest.
is entirely another to have a picture of
that bird sitting on the branch of a specific tree in that forest.
He logged the job out. He didn't have anything else scheduled for the rest of his shift. He let his fingers drift to activate the bird over the central U.S. Most people would have called it "night" and, technically, it was, but the spray of light across the United States made the darkness look alive with activity. His fingers punched buttons and he looked at Riley's house. The filters were already in place and he was able to see the chaise lounge in the back yard. Of course she wasn't on it. She was inside, in bed, asleep, most likely.
He wondered what it would be like to be there with her.
I feel so silly starting that
way, but I can't help it.
I hope you
don't think I'm a dork.
I am sad to say that, if you lay out today, I will miss it, because my schedule won't allow me to look your way.
You might think all I have to
do is watch beautiful women sunning
themselves, but that's not the case at all.
In fact, you're the only beautiful
woman I've ever zeroed in on.
tell you stories about some of the guys who got in trouble by watching
mansions owned by some guy named Hefner, but doing that will get you in
Actually, I suppose I would
yelled at for looking at you.
mean is that we don't normally invade anyone's privacy unless we really have to.
really do try to have manners.
I'm really sad I missed you.
You're a very bright spot in
can otherwise be a very dull day. Here's
hoping I get to see more of you.
the message critically.
He was still worried he was
giving away too much.
He sat and thought. Why
did he even care about this woman? Was
it because she was, in fact, the first woman
he'd spied at?
He knew his gonads were
She had taken her top off for
him, after all.
But she wasn't a spy. Unless
spies now laid out, hoping some stupid
analyst would do exactly what he had done.
Could the game be that
thought back to the job he had worked the night before.
Somebody, somewhere, had
known that a high level Russian politician was going to meet with some
characters, at a specific location, at a specific time, and that after
the unsavory characters would go to a secret nuclear storage site
(which should be in the control of the Russian
government but might not be) and do
something there for about half an hour. And whoever that was probably
Russian, or even in Russia.
Anything could happen.
With that in mind, he put monitor seven on Colorado, his fingers mousing over her house and enlarging it automatically. He watched as the magnification brought the now familiar roof into focus. He jerked as there was movement at the front of the house. He recognized the top of her head instantly.
leaving the house, and someone
was with her.
forward and his fingers flashed across the console.
was a little
He was small enough that she
the door for him, but he climbed into the car by himself.
leaned in, probably to fasten a seat
Then she got in and drove
He wanted to follow her, to
where she went, and what she did.
reason, that made him feel dirty. He
thought about that.
Finally, he arrived
at the conclusion that it was fine for him to see her half naked in her
him that. But
he couldn't spy on her as she went about
her normal business.
She was just a mom, who lived
cabin outside Colorado Springs.
taking her little boy somewhere. He
wasn't going to be paranoid.
button to send the email.
his mouse to turn that monitor to use in his next job.
sighed Riley, as she read his email.
Mommy?" asked Curtis.
He knew that
It meant she was happy.
nothing, really," she said.
was just reading an email."
of a new friend," said Riley.
coming over to play?"
imagining what kind of play that might be.
Her nipples crinkled and she
It had been a long time since
she'd had a
man, but this was ridiculous.
horny over a man she'd never seen, and only "talked" to on line a
couple of times?
He was trying to be cagey
about his job.
That was obvious. He
wasn't very good at it.
She'd already figured out
that her sign on
the roof had bagged her exactly the kind of thing she'd been protesting.
who spied on people using satellites
had, in fact, seen her sign.
It had been
creepy at first.
Now it was only spooky,
or a little bizarre.
That was because he
seemed like a nice guy. Granted, she knew practically nothing about him.
he could have spied on her for years and
she'd never have known it.
And he had a
sense of humor.
His first message to her
had proved that.
help wondering if he was up there, right now, looking down at her house.
suppressed the urge to go outside and
wave at the sky.
Curtis was actually waiting for her to answer his last question.
lonely, Baby?" she asked, turning her chair to face him.
you need someone to play with?"
lonely," said her little boy.
she said again, and held out her arms.
them, burrowing into her chest and hugging her tightly.
you so much," she murmured into his hair.
know," he said, pushing away.
had been enough for him.
picked up the car he'd been playing with, and started in again, making
noises as he drove it along the floor, and over furniture, and even up
turned back to the computer.
work to do.
she'd write a quick note to Bob.
Now you have me doing that! First
off, I don't care if you're a dork or
If I like a man, I like him,
regardless of "what he is."
Second, I'm not beautiful. I
certainly couldn't compete with any Bunnies.
I'm quite ordinary. Other
the fact that I let a man I've never met look at me topless.
suppose most women wouldn't do that. In
any case, I'm sorry you missed me. I
did lay out, and I did wave, just in case
you were watching.
And I'm not mad at
you, even if you've been naughty. I
should thank you, actually.
had a chance to be a little naughty myself for a long time.
a delicious feeling to think you're
The jury is still out on
whether I'm a closet exhibitionist or not.
Now there's an oxymoron. A
Don't get in
I don't want you to get
Who would watch me then? Noon
is still good for me.
message and opened one of the images she was working on for a book
This one was for her own book. She
was experimenting with having multiple
scenes on the cover, each depicting something from the plot line.
liked it so far, but where the images
met, it was a lot of work to meld them.
she stopped to read Curtis a book, and then made supper for them.
he was in
bed, she worked four more hours and finished two projects.
<< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >>