Lana and Simon watch as Bettina aggressively corners the European luxury car around some cones simulating a ninety degree stop sign on a two lane highway. She sends the outer cones flying. You just went in the ditch, the instructor tells her, because you hit the gravel shoulder.  Alright, lets take a break and head back to the facility and watch some film, the instructor says.  Bettina throws the car into reverse, stomps on the gas, and executes a bootleggers turn flawlessly, a scowl across her face.

***

Riley comes back from the bathroom with his face pale.  I need to go, he tells everyone. Someone firebombed my condo and my Yukon back home.  I’ve got cops, media, investors, and Jillian to deal with.  Simon and Bettina look at each other.  Call Jillian right away and let her know that you’re alright, Bettina tells him.  Riley calls Jillian.  I had my phone off; I just got your messages.  Are you alright?  <pause>  I’m at Academi in North Carolina with Simon, Bettina, and Lana.  <pause>  We’re taking a defensive driving class.  Are you alright? <long pause>.  I don’t know, Jillian.  I’ve got to call the cops now.  I’ll call you back.

He looks at Lana.  I’ve got a message from a Detective Suarez to call him back ASAP, he tells her.  What do I tell him?  Just press 8 and leave a short reply with your whereabouts.

Detective, this is Riley MacIntyre returning your call.  I’m at Academi in North Carolina with friends taking a defensive driving class.  I had my phone off.  I’m still processing this…Lana makes a cut off gesture with her hand.  I’m going to have to call you back.  He hangs up. Lana nods her approval.

Good job, Bettina tells him.  You carrying?  She asks Simon.  He nods.  She rubs his shoulder and he puts his arm around her.  Let’s do a mag check, just to make sure we’re ready.  Lana tells Simon, giving him a look.  He lets go of Bettina and he and Lana pull out their handguns, and drop the mags and inspect them, then reholster.  As Bettina, Riley, and the instructor watch them.

What should I do, Lana?  Riley asks her.  She doesn’t answer, but sits down and flips to a clean sheet on her legal pad and writes, Activity Log as the heading.

What time approximately did you get the news?  About ten minutes ago.

~1332ET, received news.  How did you get the news?  Messages and texts on phone.  (VM/text), Lana writes after news.  Then what did you do?  I told you guys.

1333ET, notified SB, BA, LR, and Pro (classroom).

Then what?  I called Jillian.

1334ET, phone convo, Jillian.

Then what?  I left a message for the police detective.  I should call my attorney, Riley says suddenly.  Lana nods and holds up her hand for him to wait.

~1337ET, called Detective _______ .  Left VM with whereabouts and requesting callback.  What time is it on your phone?  1:46.

1346ET, decided to consult atty.  She hands him the pen and her notebook.  We’ll be in here if you need us.  Thanks, Lana.  And he walks out of the classroom with her legal pad.

Should we call it a day?  The instructor asks.  Lana shakes her head no.  We’re here to learn.  Please carry on.

***

We have to tell him, Simon whispers to Bettina later, as they watch Lana run the obstacle course on the wet pavement simulator.  Please let me talk to Lana first, Simon.

***

What are you going to do?  Bettina asks Lana, when they get in their room.  Let it play out, Lana replies. But Lana, he’s in danger, Bettina protests.  Lana shakes her head in disagreement.  I told Don Ramon that I wanted to see Riley with Emilie.  Why would you tell him that?  He and Raul stopped by to see me at Rolf’s - probably b/c it was the one place where you wouldn’t be around me.  I don’t see how this brings them together, Bettina replies.  If anything, this will bring him back to Jillian.  Lana shakes her head no.  She’s going to be the prime suspect in the eyes of the police and the media.

Simon wants to tell him.  Lana gives Bettina an amused look with her eyebrows raised.  I might just follow Raul to Mexico then.  Lana!  A good man is where you find him.  Riley isn’t in any real danger, Bettina.  Let’s stay and finish what we started.  How are we going to tell the guys that?

***

Simon, it’s me.  What’s up, Lana?  Bettina and I talked.  We’re going to stay and finish out the class.  You guys do what you have to do.  Goodnight.  She hangs up.  I cannot believe you just told him that, Bettina says.  Now it’s their problem and we can take a nap before the night driving exercise.

A minute later there’s a loud pounding on their door.  Hi, Bettina says through the chain.  Can I come in?  No, but we’ll meet you in the lobby in five minutes and go for a walk together.  Let me talk to Lana real quick first.  Give us a minute to get decent.

Bettina opens the door a couple minutes later, and lets Simon into the hotel suite. Riley is going to offer you and Tim a blank check to handle his security.  My answer is no.  Lana tells Simon.  I’ve already committed to protecting Senator Johns.

Then you need to tell him the truth, or I will, Simon says.  What would you tell him, Simon?  Bettina asks.  That the cartel is warning him to stay away from Lana. It’s an obvious go back to Portland message, Bettina.  They both look at Lana.

No, she tells Simon.  That’s it?  He asks incredulously. Lana doesn’t say anything and just looks at him.  I need more than that, Lana.  It’s not your call, Simon. There’s a knock on the door.  Bettina lets Riley in.  We were just coming to get you so we can all go for a walk.

How are you doing? she asks him, concern in her voice as she puts a hand on his back and rubs it.  He shakes his head and doesn’t answer.  He hands Lana back her legal pad, and she looks over the timeline and notations.  She flips the page.

Binary choices.

Rebuild on the ashes <OR> Relocate with a clean slate.

Second chance Jillian <OR> TK.

Hire bodyguard <OR> Carry a handgun.

Is Jillian trying to channel Lana by burning down my condo?

Why did Lana almost kill Jax?

What ever happened to him?

Any thoughts?  Riley asks Lana as she looks it over.  Jillian didn’t do it, Lana says, not looking up from the legal pad.  I second that, Simon says.  And Bettina nods her agreement.  Who then?  Let’s all go for a walk, Lana replies. Give us a little bit of space, Lana tells Simon, so Riley and I can talk privately.

***

What do you think, Lana?  It’s obvious that this isn’t a crime of opportunity, she replies.  Torching both the car and the condo imply intimate knowledge and access.  Jillian is going to be the prime suspect in the eyes of the police, Lana adds. Why do you say it’s not her?  Riley asks.  Because someone has done their research has set her up to take the blame.  I want you to take the high road, Riley.  A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.  So I should just keep repeating “It’s not Jillian”??? That won’t fly, Lana.

“Convince us” is what the detectives will say.  There will be two of them interviewing you.  And they are going to use a variation of the good cop, bad cop routine on you.  Do you know what that is?  I think so, but explain it to me.  Cops use it because it still works even with the suspect knowing the most obvious manifestation.  One will be adversarial and suddenly get called away.  The other is on your side.  The police are going to be very thorough.  You need to decide ahead of time what your line in the sand is.  What do you mean?  They’re going to really probe into your breakup with her.  Just because they ask you a question doesn’t mean that you have to answer.  They work for you.  Even though they’ll chastise you for your lack of cooperation, they’ll respect you for it. Riley nods.

What else should I expect?  He asks.  They are going to want a list of anyone who has ever been invited over to your condo.  If you give it to them, you’re not going to have many friends when you get done with this ordeal.  The police called me.  You gave them my name?!?  They walk along in silence.  So how do I refuse that?  Riley asks.  Lana sighs.  Take the high road, Riley.  Tell the cops that you’d be willing to open your home and your wallet to any of your friends, and that they’d do the same for you.  Riley doesn’t say anything for awhile.  So basically, you think I should keep my mouth shut, Riley tells her.  God created you with two ears and one mouth for a reason. Once you start talking it’s hard to stop.  Lana tells him.  Jillian has probably told them everything anyway, Riley mutters.  You get to choose, Riley, is what I’m trying to say.

Last item, and I don’t know how to put this delicately…but I want to prepare you for the likelihood that they are going to consider you a suspect.  He gives her a stunned look.  Me?  You’re so rich that you don’t have to be a rational actor.  And if you don’t cooperate, well, what are we supposed to think?  They walk along in silence.

Should I get a gun?  Riley asks her.  I’d rather see you carry a pocketknife, Riley. That’s all Tim carried when he was in Portland.  So you don’t think I should get a gun?  You should have at least two: one for your house and one for your car.  But I don’t think you should carry on your person until you get some training.  What should I get?  Tim likes automatic Benchmade folders.  I meant what gun should I get?  It really doesn’t matter as long as you’ve trained on it.  Should I get an 870?  That’s what we have in our apartment, Lana admits.  What should I load it with?  Lana throws up her hands in frustration.  Riley, you’re not listening to me.  What good is a knife, Lana?  If I have a gun and you have a knife, I win.  Wrong.  It’s not like the movies, Riley, where the stuntman gets jerked back by ropes when he’s hit and a squib explodes.  Newton’s laws of physics apply, namely for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Handguns are weak puny inefficient weapons; eighty-five percent of people shot with one survive.  She suddenly turns and punches him.  OW!  He says, stopping and then rubbing his shoulder, as Bettina and Simon come up to them.  What did you do that for?  That’s what it feels like being shot with a 9mm handgun.  Did that put you out of commission? He doesn’t say anything and just looks at her.  It’d hurt more if I punched you in the face, but it really doesn’t change anything.  Are you still in the fight?  He just looks at her incredulously.  She makes a square over her eyes.  Tim calls it the credit card.  Putting a bullet there is the only sure way to put someone down, lights out, like a sack of potatoes.  Try doing that on a moving target.  What are you guys talking about?  Simon asks Riley.  She thinks she could take me with a knife even if I had a gun, Riley replies.

You’re going to get shot, Simon observes.  If I was going up against you, I might, Lana counters.  But so what?  I’ll be so hopped up on adrenaline that I’ll barely feel it. Handgun wounds aren’t bleeders because the bullet is so red hot at such a short distance from the muzzle that it actually sears the flesh.  Worst case scenario is that my lungs will slowly fill up with blood from being shot twice in the chest, and my teeth and jaw are gone from being shot in the mouth because you’ve mashed your headshot.  I’ll close the distance and stitch you like a sewing machine until I pass out when my blood pressure drops too low.  And my soul will leave my ruined body and be carried to heaven by the archangel Michael because I’ve died fighting against Satan and his minions.

That is the most hard core thing I’ve ever heard, Simon says in wonder.

Riley rubs his shoulder and frowns at her.  You play rough, he complains.  My mentor did that to me.  Only he wanted me to know how it felt getting shot with a 45.  I had a bruise on my shoulder for a week.  But I’ve never been afraid of getting hit by gunfire since.  I only punched you because I care, Riley.  He grins at her, then chuckles and shakes his head, as Simon and Bettina break out laughing.

Now you know why I favor a 12 gauge shotgun.  I’m willing to take it on this end, she says, tapping her shoulder with her left hand, to deliver the smackdown on that end.  Instead of a girl punch, imagine getting kicked by a mule.

So why do you carry a handgun then, if it’s such an anemic weapon?  Simon asks her.  Because it’s portable and concealable, and I’m trained up on it.

Simon generously paid our way to a two day defensive handgun class out near Las Vegas, Bettina tells Riley.  It really opened my eyes, and I grew up shooting guns. We should do that, Riley tells Simon.  No – way too basic for me to want a repeat this soon.

What kind of knife should he carry?  Simon asks Lana.  Tim carries an automatic Benchmade folder, Lana replies - which is legal in your hometown.  You have to be military or law enforcement to be able to get one in NOLA.  Where do I go to get combatives training for that?  Riley asks.  I don’t know that you’d need it.  It’s all mindset.  Simon can explain the color codes to you.  What’s the short version for someone like me?  Bettina asks.  Turn fear into anger and become the HULK. Everyone laughs.

I want to talk to you, Riley, Bettina says.  Let’s switch, she tells Lana.  Don’t hit me, Simon tells Lana, pretending to cower and cover his shoulder.  Lana grabs his elbow and reaches over and rubs his shoulder with her hand.  I’m so happy for you and Bettina, she tells him.  He grins back at her.

You were pretty rough on him, Simon tells her as they watch Bettina talk to Riley ahead of them.  He looks at Lana and sees her Mona Lisa smile.  Bettina told me that this is Don Ramon’s way of setting him up with Emilie.  We all have to do our part, Lana says.

Jax’s call to Bettina.  How do you feel about that?  Simon asks.  What Jax does or doesn’t do is none of my business.  What do you want me to tell him when I see him?  I’ve said all that I have to say to Jax.  Do you regret it?  The psychology of regret is rooted in loss aversion, Simon.  I have no idea what you just said.  Lana is silent for awhile.  I’m ashamed that I threw the pictures on top of him when I left; I should have destroyed them.

***

So what’s your take on all of this, Bettina?  Riley asks her.  No death threat, so likely it’s a one-off.  But I’d still change up my routine if I were in your shoes.  Different Starbucks, switch to a different climbing gym, that sort of thing.  Do you think I should relocate to New Orleans?  Riley asks.  Yes.  He looks at her.  I left Texas and never looked back, she admits.

Do you believe in second chances, Bettina?  That’s too broad a question.  Do you think I should give Jillian a second chance?  Well, if I was Jillian, I would want a second chance, Bettina says smiling up at him.  He grins back at her, and she grabs his arm and clutches it as they walk along.

What’s going on with Lana and Jax?  Riley asks Bettina as they walk along.  Jax really hurt Lana emotionally and Lana really hurt Jax physically.  Now they’re both trying to heal separately.  Where is he?  In the northwoods in the middle of nowhere completely off the grid.  He has to hike a half a mile up to a rock outcrop just to be able to use his smart phone.  He calls it Wifi rock.  How is he doing?  He’s terrified of bears.  He hears them moving outside the cabin at night.  Riley breaks down laughing.  I told him that it was probably just a skunk.  Riley roars with laughter.  Jax and I have always gotten along really good, Bettina admits grinning.  Do you want to see him back with Lana?  No.  He looks at her.  I’ve told him as much, Riley.  I don’t think it would be healthy for either of them.  It’s really sad, because Jax and Lana were so good together.

Has she said anything about me?  Riley!  Well?  She sighs.  I’m not going to answer that, other than to say that you’d be a great catch, Bettina replies grinning up at him.  They walk along for a minute in silence.  Please don’t repeat what I’m about to tell you about Jax.  He’s one of the best men I’ve ever met.  But he let his guard down once, and that’s all it took to destroy what they had.  You get to choose, Riley.  So have integrity in the moment of choice.  She rubs his shoulder again and stops walking.

***

I’d like to hire you and Tim, Lana.  I’m not available, Riley.  Tim and I have committed to PJ.  PJ?  Simon asks.  President-elect Johns, Bettina replies.  That’s how the team is going to refer to him internally.  We’re going to surround him with positive reinforcement.

I know a cop there who might be willing to moonlight as your security, Riley, but you’ll need to flesh out the arrangement yourself, Lana mentions.  He nods.  I’ll take care of it, Simon tells Lana.

We’re going to take a nap before the night driving exercise, Bettina announces. When are you two heading out?  We’ll do the redeye to Portland commercial, Simon says.  Text me to let me know that you’ve arrived safely, Bettina tells him. He nods.  One last kiss before I go?  He asks.  Lana is my designated kisser, Bettina replies grinning.  Lana kisses her hand and throws it to Simon.  Either come back with your shield, or on it, Lana tells him.  I have no need of spoil, Bettina adds over her shoulder, as she and Lana walk away.