Chapter 3

They arrived home late, the cold night air nipped at Jackie as she rode in the back. She shivered and glanced inside the cab of the truck where should have been sitting. She couldn't hear what was said but noticed her father was waving his hand about as he gabbed away.

Fred mentioned, "I once knew a man named Sam Roberts. You know, you kind of remind me of him a little."

Sam thought quick, "My father's name was Sam."

"Really? I served in the war with a pilot named Sam Roberts…The Roberts Brothers. Sam and…"

"Graham," interrupted Sam, "my dad and uncle. They told me about you and that's why I wanted to meet your daughter," she lied.

Fred gasped, "No kidding! You're Sammy's daughter. Gosh, I thought you were older…You must be about Jackie's age."

"Jackie and I have lots in common," she stated omitting that currently she was older than Jackie. "Thank you for the ride, sir. Hopefully the police will find my car soon."

"We filled out the report," he agreed, "They will find it. You need to call your dad? You can use the phone."

"I already sent him a message. Hopefully, I should be out of your hair by tomorrow."

"Well, you not in my hair," he grinned. "Gosh, Sammy's daughter; can't believe it." He stopped the truck and hopped out and spotted one disgruntled Jackie. He hollered, "Hey, Jackie…I know Miss Roberts father. He's an old buddy from the war. Heck, you two are practically sisters!"

"Doubt that," muttered Jackie shivering.

"Put the plane away and I'll get Miss Roberts settled in the house," he ordered.

Jackie rolled her eyes and groaned, "I'm freezing, Dad."

"Next time wear your jacket," he shot back.

Sam injected, "I can help you, Gra…Jackie."

"Miss Roberts," started Fred.

Sam interrupted, "Please, call me Sam. I'm not used to being called 'Miss Roberts.'"

"Alright, Sam…You are not dressed to be putting a plane in a barn. You'll rip that pretty dress and catch cold."

Jackie's shoulder's slunk, "I'm freezing and you are worried about some tall blonde bimbo catching cold?"

Sam crossed her arms and gasped, "Bimbo?" She couldn't believe Jackie would say such a thing to her. Jackie had always protected her, picked her up when she feeling down, assured her that she was no tall blonde bimbo.

Fred warned her, "You insult Miss Roberts one more time and I will give you a trip to the woodshed. Got it, kid?"

"Yeah, I got it," she muttered as she hopped out of the truck and started to work on the plane. She noticed Sam was glaring at her, "What?"

Sam shot back, "I'm wondering where you get your attitude from."

Jackie glanced over at her father, "Him!"

He shot back, "I'm not that bad."

"Yes you are," she retorted.

Sam assumed, "Must be they mellowed out with age."

"What?" asked Jackie.

"Nothing," replied Sam. "Um, this is all I have to wear. Do you have some clothes I can borrow, Jackie?"

"I don't have anything that will fit you," she stated, "Dad?"

"I got some old things you can borrow, Miss…Sam." He stood meekly staring at her. He didn't know why instantly liked her. Maybe it was the classy style or her looks. Something told Fred that Sam was different and he was going to ensure she was safe and sound.

Jackie saw nothing of the such but rather assumed Sam was some daughter of an old friend who after some money. The economy was terrible and many, many old friends were always looking for some cash of which they did not have. She figured as soon as Sam figured out that every dime they and went into the plane she would simply find her missing car, wherever it was, and move on. She watched rather annoyed as her father dotted over the newcomer and gentlemanly opened the door for her. She couldn't help but roll her eyes for she never got that sort of treatment.

Later

After a cold dinner the night was late and the only bed for Sam to sleep in was Jackie's. Normally she would have thought nothing of sleeping in grandma's bed, she loved it as a child but at that moment Jackie was as cold to her as the night air. Fred had given Sam some of his clothes to wear. Dressed in an old t-shirt and boxer shorts, Sam lay next to Jackie, dressed much the same way, in the single size bed. It was a tight squeeze to say the least. When Sam was a child Jackie always made sure Sam had plenty of room, was comfortable and held her tight in her arms to keep the bad dreams away.

However, this night was different. Instead Jackie hogged as much of the bed as possible, nearly placing Sam on the floor. She lay on her back, glaring at ceiling and steaming at the stranger in her bed and the way her father embarrassed her by his earlier behavior.

Sam lay on the very edge of the bed, clutching the edge of the blanket, "Um, Jackie…Could you move over a little bit? I'm nearly falling off the bed here."

"It's my bed," reminded Jackie.

"I know and thank you for letting me sleep with you tonight but I'm really on the edge here," pleaded Sam.

"Why did you really come here?" asked Jackie.

Sam replied, "Just to meet you, Jackie. And give you that coin."

"Why would you mint me a fake coin?" she asked once more.

Sam winced, "I know it doesn't look real. My great grandfather gave it to me to give to you."

"Why?" she still wasn't buying the story for it made no real sense.

"You'll find out later," she stated. "Please, let me have some room."

"My father doesn't have any money…You realize that, right?" asked Jackie.

Sam sighed, "Is that what this is about? You think I'm after money from your dad?"

"Every old pal who happens to drop by is after money. It's a depression after all. You got a free ride and meal, that's all your getting out of us," Jackie stated determined to prevent any sort of theft.

Sam assured, "I am not after any money whatsoever. I wish I could prove that to you but I can't. I'm stranded here and I hope my car is found and in one piece or I'll be in even bigger trouble with my CO."

"CO?" asked Jackie.

Sam debated what to tell her, she spoke carefully, "I'm a Major. I'm in a top secret program. This is part of a test and the test failed. So, until my CO finds a way to extract me from the situation I am stuck here with you."

Jackie became intrigued, "What's the top secret program about?"

"It's classified," stated Sam.

"Oh come off it," replied Jackie. "You tell me you are a major and you are in a top secret program and then leave me hanging there."

Sam couldn't say it was a time travel program, Jackie would never believe the truth so she made up a story, "I'm part of a program to recruit women pilots for…Um…The ATA." Her mind went back to the story Jackie told her about ferrying for the ATA during the war.

"The ATA is not a top secret program," rebutted Jackie.

"Well, if you join the ATA and be really good at it they might recruit you for a secret mission," Sam no idea why Jackie was blackmailing the RAF but figured something happened. For that moment she really wished she had paid more attention to Jackie when she would speak of her old war stories. Sam kicked herself for not know the whole story for she needed that information now more than ever.

"Really, ATA is like a recruiting ground for the British?" asked Jackie.

Sam nodded, "In your case."

"Wow, you know I was thinking of going over when the racing ended. They pay well and it would be a job," stated Jackie.

Sam urged her, "And who knows maybe you will meet 'Mr. Right' too."

"I'm not going over to meet men, just fly and save money up for racing starts back up. I will need to replace the Kadet with another plane and do you know how expensive planes are?"

Sam nodded, "Very…How about you get yourself a Spitfire?

Jackie grinned, "I like the sound of that. I can save all my money and get a Spitfire after the war ends. The Brits will have them surplus."

"Who knows, they might give you one," suggested Sam. "Then you can paint it pink and race across the country in it."

"Pink with black accents," she grinned.

Sam agreed, "You'll need a good engineer for racing too."

Jackie shook her head, "I can do both."

"You can't do everything yourself, Gra…Jackie," retorted Sam. "You're not invincible, though you are resourceful."

"I know," she muttered. "Hey, why don't you come with me to ferry for the ATA?"

Sam shook her head, "I should be going home soon."

"What if your dad doesn't get your message?" asked Jackie.

Sam blinked as the horror that the message may never arrive hit her, she shivered at the thought, "I'll have to find away then."

Jackie assumed Sam shivered due to the cold, she moved over in her bed, "Here, you are nearly off the bed, Sam."

Sam scooted over; laying peacefully next to her future grandmother her mind went back to when she was a little girl sleeping in grandma's bed. She took comfort in the memory, being held tight in grandma's arms, rides in the plane, going out for milkshakes, listening to old music and reading books at night. Sam started to drift off to sleep in the comfort of her memories.

Jackie lay wide awake thinking about how to get that Spitfire for racing and just how to increase the horsepower. Her thought and dreams were vastly different than Sam's. Jackie's idea of comfort was in a cockpit while Sam was comforted by her grandmother.

Next Day

The police department had found Sam's car, sitting on blocks behind an old abandon mine. The tires had been stolen along with the very expensive material that made up parts of the string drive engine. The robbers only wanted to strip the car and finding precious metals in the trunk was like striking gold. They left the hidden computer in the glove box but broke it into pieces trying to figure out what it was. Tiny pieces of broken plastic were scattered about the interior.

Sam's heart sank upon seeing what the thieves had done to the car; she kicked herself for leaving keys in the ignition. She couldn't believe she had done something so stupid.

Fred let out a sigh, "Looks like they rascals stole your ties, Sam."

"They stole more than that," she gulped upon looking at the damaged drive in the truck. Sam now wore Fred's clothes for she was too tall to wear Jackie's. The old army surplus hung from her frame yet, she was comfortable.

Jackie gazed upon the remnants in the trunk, "What was that?"

"It was an experiment I was doing," replied Sam. "It's broken now."

"What kind of experiment? Like a weather experiment?" wondered Jackie.

Sam went with the excuse, "Yeah, weather. They took all the expensive metals and left the brass."

"What kind of metals did they steal?" wondered Jackie.

"Gold, platinum and silver," sighed Sam, "everything worth money."

Fred recalled, "Your old man was trying to raise money to buy gold and platinum back during the war…Something about an experiment."

Sam grinned at him, "This was it…A very expensive weather experiment."

Jackie gave a cockeyed look, "One would think you wouldn't need precious metals for a weather experiment."

"This one deals with a lot of energy and we need the precious metals to act as a conductor. Silver and gold are the better conductors and gold will not rust. It can also stand the pressure of the strings," Sam informed.

Jackie asked, "Strings?"

"Strings are tiny strings of particles that are so dense they can bend light," she explained. "The…Weather…Experiment deals with these tiny strings that exist everywhere but you cannot see them. But they are so dense the strings can bend light, disrupt gravity and time."

Fred scratched his nose, "That doesn't really sound like weather to me…More like…Physics," he informed.

Sam shook her finger, "I always knew you were smarter than you let on."

As Jackie pondered the statement in confusion Fred laughed, "Damn right! Don't tell anyone…It's a secret."

Sam shook her head, "Secret? You like playing dumb?"

Fred nodded, "In the military you gotta or you'll never get promoted. And that's a secret too."

"Hmm, I'll remember that," she muttered.

Jackie asked, "What about tires? You're never gonna get them back."

"I don't have money for tires," she gave a defeated sigh.

Fred offered, "We do."

Jackie gave him a look, "At least get an IOU before sticking tires on, Dad."

Sam offered one better, "How about I give you two the car?"

Jackie's mouth dropped, "Are you serious?"

Fred waved his hand, "You don't have to do that."

"In exchange for room and board," she told them. "I can't go home without the weather experiment being fixed first."

Jackie pondered, "Why not? Will you get in trouble with your dad?"

"CO," she nodded.

"I know your dad…He's a really good guy, Sam. Heck, he will come after you himself. He won't care about that experiment."

She shook her head, "I need the experiment to work to get home."

"Okay," Fred lifted an eyebrow and looked at Jackie.

To Jackie it seemed odd that Sam wouldn't be able to go home after tires on the car for the car was in one piece. The experiment made no sense as to weather but physics was another matter and one of which she couldn't truly comprehend. Whatever Sam was in the middle off it seemed very strange to Jackie and indeed would be top secret.

"I guess you can stay with us until you get it fixed," suggested Jackie. "What about the car? If you give it to us won't you need a ride home?"

"I will," agreed Sam.

Fred made an offer, "We'll put the tires on the car and you can let us use it until you can get back home. How's that sound?"

"Like a deal I can't refuse," nodded Sam.