DIANE MARIE FOSTER DIXON The funeral was closed casket; there was no other option. Diane – my beautiful, vibrant wife of more than twenty years – reduced in a split second to an unrecognizable, charred lump of “remains.” Sydney and Vaughn took me away before fire crews could finish putting out the fire and retrieve her body, but that did no good. I have seen this before. I know. I remember her kissing me and saying, “I’ll see you at home after I get the kids.” Those were her last words and the last kiss we shared. Then she smiled and turned away to get into her SUV and drive off. I remember all three of us – Sydney, Vaughn, and myself – being knocked to the ground by a tremendous explosion. I heard a feral scream, and realized that I was coming from me. Sydney helped me to a sitting position and wrapped her arms around me. Vaughn was on his cell phone, calling 911 and then Jack. The fire trucks came almost immediately, and Jack arrived minutes later. Looking as appalled as I have ever seen him, he directed Sydney and Vaughn to take me to get the kids and then home. The scene at Diane’s parents’ home was a nightmare – Diane’s mother collapsing on the living room floor, her husband trying to be stoic as he comforted her but with his gaze continually gravitating back to several framed photographs in the curio cabinet next to them – our wedding pictures, both of us smiling happily. I sat on the couch with the children, holding them as they sobbed. Eventually they calmed down enough for Sydney to take us to our house, and she helped me to put them to bed. I’m not sure how long I lay awake staring at the ceiling before I fell asleep. * * * We met in college during our freshman year at Sarah Lawrence, sharing a study table in the library. I was majoring in business, she in elementary education. She had a wonderful sense of humor and strong religious convictions she got from her parents, and was the only person I ever knew who could stand up to my mother. We married a few weeks after graduation and moved to Boston so that I could take postgraduate courses in computer science at MIT. Our years there were happy ones – Boston is a lovely little city – but Diane missed her family, so we moved back to Los Angeles to be near them. I took a job at a software firm and worked there until I was approached by representatives of what I was told was a covert branch of the CIA. I should have asked more questions, I guess; but the more I asked the more convincing they sounded. For years I thought I was serving my country when what I was really doing was working for a bunch of mercenary thugs. It was a terrible shock to me to find out the truth, but it was even worse for Diane – after all, for years she thought her husband worked for an investment bank. But in time she came to accept my decision to work for the real CIA. * * * The next couple of days are a blur. Diane’s family made most of the funeral arrangements. There were a great many people in the small Baptist church we attend; Diane had a lot of friends there and at the school where she taught. Sydney, Vaughn, Jack, and others from the CIA were there as well. At the graveside service, the church choir sang “Amazing Grace,” Diane’s favorite hymn. All us joined in, but it was oddly quiet considering the number of people there. * * * Tomorrow I return to work after taking two weeks off -- Jack’s orders -- to get myself together and to tend to my children. I will be directly involved in the joint task force that is looking for Sark, Sloane, and Irina Derevko. The inscription on the newly set headstone on her grave reads Diane Marie Foster Dixon – Beloved Wife, Devoted Mother. I lay a single red rose in front of it and kneel there for a while, lost in thought, then rise to me feet and head back to my car. Jack has promised me that we will find Sloane. He’s got that right. Count on it.