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It seemed, Sonya thought, that most of the important occasions in her large family took place in the restored Victorian home belonging to her sister, Susan.  She and her husband, Kevin, had the largest home of all of the Calgary cousins, and it was where they tended to congregate when everyone was in town for a celebration. Or a funeral, which was not as uncommon as one might think, given the size of the Toth family.

It was also where she and her husband, Bryan, were living until they could accumulate enough money to buy their own place.  They paid only expenses for their homey little third floor apartment, which allowed them to salt away both of their salaries for a down payment on a home of their own.  Susan and Kevin’s many kindnesses to them were something that Sonya would appreciate forever.

Tonight’s occasion was somewhat uncommon, but not the first of its type that the family had attended over this past year.  She was grateful that their family were close knit enough that these small bumps in the road could be taken in stride. More or less. To be honest, these bumps had been more like landslides it seemed, tumbling and changing family relationships like dice rolling in a cup.

As the youngest of the cousins, Sonya was not yet born when Susan, James and John were dubbed the “Terrifying Trio” by the family.  The closest of friends, they had been constantly in trouble together as children, and their fast friendship still remained all these years later. James and his wife, Martine had flown in from Toronto for this special occasion, and they were, of course, staying with Susan.

The living room, dining room and great room were filled with cousins, spouses and children of various ages.  Even their elderly aunt and uncle, Willi and Jake, had made the trip from the family’s origins in the Creston Valley in British Columbia.  This was as important an occasion that the family could imagine.

The family were doing their best to get to know two new family members.  Steve Hunter had been introduced as John and Mike’s half brother several months ago, and most of the family had seen him again at Sonya’s wedding two months later.  Steve’s addition to the family had caused another domino to drop, and changed that particular branch of the family dynamic yet again.

On this occasion, however, they were being introduced to Air Marshall (Ret.) Blackburn, who had just been revealed as Mike’s biological father.  So as it stood now, John and Steve Hunter had the same father and John and Mike had the same mother.  Brothers still, but now with some differences.

The stranger in their midst, Air Marshall (Ret.) Merlyn Blackburn, or BB as he preferred to be called, apparently had no difficulty remembering who belonged to whom and where each of the many cousins fit in.  The family, accustomed to strangers being confused by their numbers, were duly impressed with the patrician British gentleman with the impeccable manners, regal bearing and prodigious memory.

The story surrounding the revelations of these family ties was somewhat convoluted.

Last winter, an incident had occurred at her cousin John’s home.  His wife, Sara and their son Ivan, had been taken hostage after receiving delivery of an old desk inherited from Sara’s father.  This happened after her father and his best friend had been murdered.  Both of whom, they later found out, had been operatives for MI5 in England.  In other words, they were spies.

The man who held them captive, Igor Kovaszic, had been looking for information rumoured to be in the infamous old desk in one of its numerous hidden compartments.  One thing led to another, which resulted in John teaming up with Steve  Hunter, the MI5 operative who had been working on solving the murders of their old employees.

Since John owned the major portion of an air rental company called Airlimo, he had access to and control of a small jet.  He was able to fly Igor out of the country as requested by Canadian Security and Intelligence Services, with as little red tape as negotiations between governmental spy agencies was possible.  Steve Hunter had flown as his co-pilot at that time.

After a difficult flight they finally landed in Gibraltar, surprised to see Air Marshall Blackburn, Steve’s stepfather.  The Air Marshall, who the family now knew as BB, was at the time married to Steve Hunter’s mother.

He confronted her with a truth that he witnessed, and a decades old deceit was revealed.  Steve Hunter was in reality John’s half brother, which had been announced to the family in July.  At that time, John’s older brother, Mike, had demanded that his mother be honest with him about his parentage as well.

The three men involved in this triangle, BB, Ivan Toth and Paul Hunter had been great friends as young men in various Air Force units posted at the same base in Germany. At the time, they had sown their wild oats with absolute abandon.  What no one knew at the time, was that the women that married Ivan Toth and Paul Hunter were already pregnant when they married.  And the men that they married, were not the biological fathers of their unborn children, a fact of which both women were most definitely aware.  This deceit had now all come to light.

So, while the family was aware that Steve Hunter was John’s half brother, what they were now digesting, was that Mike was in reality, BB’s biological son.  Despite positive DNA testing, there was no denying that Mike and BB were related. They had the same height, build, profile and identical, laser-like steel blue, dark lashed eyes.  BB’s hair was now pristine white, a foreshadow of what Mike’s honey blonde locks would become.

Sonya and Bryan had carefully planned their honeymoon trip to Paris, where Bryan had spent a year on a post graduate scholarship for his Doctorate in Art.  They had anticipated a romantic honeymoon in the city of love but unfortunately, that had not come to be.  Mike made the trip as well, intent on meeting BB, the man that at the time he believed would prove to be his father. Steve had been essential in acting as intermediary, using his knowledge of both men to ease their meeting.  All had gone as planned.

Until.  Until Bryan had been kidnapped and badly abused.  And then everyone around Sonya turned out to be spies; honest-to-goodness, black wearing, judo kicking, electronics using, gun totting, working for various governmental agencies spies.

This was not some sort of “B” movie. They actually had clout with the local police.  And several of them were now socializing and interacting with her solid, boring and oh so very ordinary family. It was somewhat bizarre.