Part 2 - Chapter 20 - The Trip to Oxnard

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I flew back to Santa Fe Sunday afternoon after Hailee called to let me know that she had arrived safely at her house. Denholm had also contacted me to say there had been a death in his family, a cousin, and he needed to return to England for a week or two.

That disturbed me, because I had counted on his help with what was to come. Death was like that. Always inconvenient.

Because of Denholm's absence, Jacko agreed to pick me up at the airport. When I arrived, I found him and Ginger waiting for me. Ginger wore a huge grin and vibrated with a strange excitement. What was up with these two?

After hugging my brother, I turned to his girlfriend.

"Is it really true?" she asked and handed me a copy of the Sunday LA Times entertainment section. Above the fold was a photo of Hailee holding onto my arm as I escorted her onto the red carpet. The caption read: Hailee Morgan with a mystery man as escort. New boyfriend?

All those photographers. I should have expected something like that to happen.

"Bro, we don't keep secrets from each other," Jacko said, disappointment in his voice. "How could you be dating someone as famous and hot as this woman and not tell me?"

They both peppered me with so many questions during the ride home that I had to spill everything about how Hailee and I met, and how we had become friends. This broke Denholm's cardinal rule about never revealing anything about our clients, but the media had already outed me. Of course, I didn't reveal details about Tyrone Post and our current situation with Myna.

"I want to meet her," Ginger said, practically begging.

I told her maybe I could talk Hailee into coming to New Mexico for a visit but made no promises. I doubted it would happen.

During the week, I brushed up on my quick draw, spending a lot of time on the range. It felt good to get my rhythm back. Friday morning eventually came around. I packed my Subaru for the trip to Oxnard, California which would take more than a day to drive.

I made really good time and spent Friday night in a hotel in Barstow. Trent called me just as I was about to hit the sack.

"Got 'em," he said. "It took me a long time to solve the mystery, because I was using the wrong search parameters. I worked under the assumption that Ruby's Mother was a person. No such person popped up anywhere on the dark web."

Trent went silent. Why did he always do that? I sighed. "And?"

"Ruby's Mother isn't a person. It's a container ship registered in Chechnya, and get this, it's due to arrive at the Port of San Diego on Monday. It will only be in port for one day before it's scheduled to depart for South Korea."

"Sounds like it'll be in port just long enough to accept a delivery of yellowcake uranium."

"That would be my guess."

"Good job, T. That information should be enough for us to finally call law enforcement."

Trent paused before responding. "That's not going to guarantee Hailee's safety."

He was right, but I felt frustrated not knowing what else to do.

"We need more information," Trent said. "Ruby's Mother is operated by an import export company with the corporate name of Stars and Stripes Shipping. They have an office in San Diego. You should take a trip there to assess the situation. I'd come along, but I have to remain here in Las Vegas to run the school. I can be your handler, though. You can be our eyes on the ground."

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