Excerpt from Chapter 10
CIA Special Activities Division operative Michael Stansfield begins a dramatic and life changing mission.
Michael Stansfield sat outdoors at a small cafe in the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy. He ate breakfast and drank his espresso as he enjoyed the early morning activity of shopkeepers opening and preparing their storefronts and schoolchildren in uniform arriving for their cultural field trips. He also sat admiring the beauty of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore with it's famous Cupola del Brunelleschi. It's red brick dome was the architectural centerpiece of this most famous of all Renaissance cities. As on prior missions, Stansfield generally lived and appreciated the culture and heritage of the land to where he was sent. However, this particular mission would soon become the most dangerous and complicated of his life; and he knew it. The world was quickly evolving towards total war. Few civilized countries would be spared. His present situation could well decide the fate of people everywhere. Nevertheless, Stansfield was going to enjoy his time on earth as much as possible, while he could. The Giotto bell tower's seven bells began to ring in the Piazza, reminding Stansfield of his responsibilities nearby. He looked at his watch and saw that it was time to move. His destination was only a short ten minute walk away.
Excerpt from Chapter 16
In a moment of tragic consequences to his family and the United States, Admiral Julian Stansfield thinks back to a happier time, when he had just met his late wife, Olivia, forty years earlier.
Julian Stansfield had rented a 24 foot sloop from the Cape Florida Yacht Club and invited Olivia out on Biscayne Bay, Christmas morning. Her 5'9" figure in a black string bikini atop of the ship's bow was enough to stop motorboat traffic throughout Biscayne Bay. It became so distracting to Julian that he requested that she sit down next to him in order to avoid a crash at sea. They sailed south from the Cape and stopped and anchored off Elliott Key. Here, they took a short swim in the cold aqua-marine water and later lunched with French champagne. After making love, they continued south toward Key Largo, sailing past tiny small islands not marked on his navigational maps. The wind was strong on this particular day and the boat ran at considerable speeds through the whitecaps. Olivia and Julian laughed in wonder as bottle-nosed dolphins jumped high in the air, exposing their pink bellies as they followed alongside their sloop in the afternoon. Sailing back from the Upper Keys, their sloop cut across the center of Biscayne Bay, exposing it's full panoramic and expansive natural beauty. As they approached the Cape Florida Lighthouse on their return, a light drizzle had begun and a beautiful rainbow arched over Key Biscayne. Olivia and Julian held each other and kissed. The couple anchored in a hidden lagoon near the Cape and had a candlelight dinner as the sun set. Afterwards, they made more love. They had known each other only 48 hours, but it felt like an eternity. They were completely, uncontrollably in love with each other. It was as if time had stopped.
Later that night, they laid naked on the foredeck, looking above at the stars and thanking fate for having given them the great fortune of their meeting. Both of them had suffered deep emotional loss as children and had gone on their own personal Odysseys in search for greater meanings in their lives. Both Olivia's studies in Classics at Dartmouth and Julian's education at Annapolis were spiritual wanderings to get closer to the souls of their fathers. Their pain had never conquered their spirits. Their loss had never drowned their hopes for the future. Their meeting was an affirmation of their voyage. Their love was the product of their quest.
Excerpt from Chapter 18
Admiral Julian Stansfield waits on the tarmac of Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington for his son, Mark, who returns gravely wounded from northern Pakistan.
The C-17 came to a stop as the band began to play the "Star-Spangled Banner". The large back door of the C-17 slowly opened, allowing a view of the interior. A young pretty nurse came down the ramp and walked over to the Stansfield family. After greeting everyone, she asked Admiral Stansfield to come with her back into the plane.
The admiral walked past four heavily bandaged Marines until he finally reached his son, Mark. The nurse held the admiral's hand and told him that, although heavily sedated, Mark had kept calling for his father the entire trip home.
Admiral Stansfield looked at his boy, asleep with intravenous lines running into both arms and a warming blanket covering his body. To him, Mark looked like he had when he was ten years old. His baby-face good looks that he had inherited from his mother was intact. The admiral took hold of Mark's left hand and kissed his forehead.
As they began to transport the first patients from the C-17 to awaiting ambulances, John Philip Sousa's "Semper Fidelis" began to play. Shortly after, Mark Stansfield opened his eyes and saw his father dressed in white with his trademark black eye patch standing next to him. He gave his father a big smile that only Olivia's son could have and motioned with his right hand for his father to get closer. Admiral Stansfield placed his ear close to Mark's mouth and heard his whisper, "Never fade, never die, American Amaranth."
AMERICAN AMARANTH ANTHOLOGY by J.R. Ortiz