“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
It had been six weeks since the old Waxford plantation house had been destroyed by mercenary operators employed by Chinese mobsters. Josiah and Olivia Whitney, newly married in their middle age, had survived their kidnapping and all of the mayhem that followed. They had moved into the old carriage house on the property where Olivia had resided before their marriage. Through the turmoil, danger of captivity, and confusion, they had come through the chaos with a renewed faith, a determination to get on with life, and an even stronger will to make their lives as meaningful as possible.
To that end, after all the insurance claims had been submitted, and the settlement amounts determined and documented, Josiah had rented space in a building across the street from the hardware franchise he had just sold to Anne-Marie Vincent. With his wife Olivia training as his assistant and partner, Josiah, a forensic engineer, had begun to equip the refurbished office with the tools of his trade.
The town of Rock City, North Carolina was their home. Their good friend and former sheriff, Bud Murchison had retired shortly after the Waxford house had been destroyed. Bud had been busy since his retirement, between sprucing up the farm he owned to the southwest of Rock City and going off on a fishing vacation. Another good friend, Ty Andrews, who had been chief deputy under Murchison, had been unanimously elected to fill the vacant Sheriff’s position upon Bud’s retirement. Bud had found himself wearied from the administrative duties of the Sheriff’s office and feeling that he was missing out on life. He had begun attending the local community church and had renewed his childhood faith in God. Having lived reclusively on his farm when not on duty for many years, he had been seen socially with Iris Germaine who was a lady active in the church, and a childhood friend of Olivia Whitney.
Jock MacWilliams and his wife Dorene were in the process of buying a home in the country near Murchison’s farm. He was still plying his trade as a private investigator and had been negotiating with Bud Murchison in forming a partnership and establishing an office in Rock City.
John and Mary Whitney were deep in the throes of young parenthood, seeming no worse the wear for their experiences, escaping the villains who had thought to try and eliminate Josiah and Olivia. Every person in the family and their close friends who had been involved in the most recent struggle, freely acknowledged the hand of God protecting them at every turning.
As a means of equipping themselves, Josiah and Olivia had begun receiving training in the martial art form developed by the Israeli defense forces known as Krav Maga (crahv mah GAH). The discipline developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a World War II resistance fighter from Bratislava, was taught by him in the fledgling days of the New Israel when ordinary citizens, many in their elder years, were needed to defend the young nation. Over time, it was accepted that this simple defense system was ideal for more elderly practitioners’ abilities and effective in the extreme. Their teacher, a man their own age, was named Lev Herschowitz. He had been in the military with Bud and had spent some time in the Israeli defense forces upon mustering out. He had moved back to the States and worked for a couple of different international security firms. He left it all behind to open a studio in Hillsborough to teach his skill, focusing on folks over fifty.
It would take some time before all the equipment Josiah felt necessary to pursue every commission he had received, was assembled and ready to deploy. In the meantime, Josiah and Olivia spent their days organizing and scheduling those commissions and communicating a schedule of operations to those most concerned. Only a few of those who desired their services, were under such a time crunch that they had to look elsewhere. For the most part, possible clients were so confident in Josiah’s efficiency and integrity, they were willing to be flexible with their schedules.
It was now late summer, headed toward autumn. The days were usually pleasant, although the temperature could rise to nearly one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and thunderstorms were not unusual.