Dana Evans was an army brat, the daughter of a colonel who traveled from base to base as an armaments instructor. By the time Dana was eleven years old, she had lived in five American cities and in four foreign countries. She had moved with her father and mother to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. She had gone to schools for officers' children at Camp Zama in Japan, Chiemsee in Germany, Camp Darby in Italy, and Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico.

Dana was an only child, and her friends were the army personnel and their families who were stationed at the various postings. She was precocious, cheerful, and outgoing, but her mother worried about the fact that Dana was not having a normal childhood.

"I know that moving every six months must be terribly hard on you, darling," her mother said.

Dana looked at her mother, puzzled. "Why?"

Whenever Dana's father was assigned to a new post, Dana was thrilled. "We're going to move again!" she would exclaim.

Unfortunately, although Dana enjoyed the constant moving, her mother hated it.

When Dana was thirteen, her mother said, "I can't live like a gypsy any longer. I want a divorce."

Dana was horrified when she heard the news. Not about the divorce so much, but by the fact that she would no longer be able to travel around the world with her father.

"Where am I going to live?" Dana asked her mother.

"In Claremont, California. I grew up there. It's a beautiful little town. You'll love it."

Dana's mother had been right about Claremont's being a beautiful little town. She was wrong about Dana's loving it. Claremont was at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, with a population of about thirty-three thousand. Its streets were lined with lovely trees and it had the feel of a quaint college community. Dana hated it. The change from being a world traveler to settling down in a small town brought on a severe case of culture shock.

"Are we going to live here forever?" Dana asked gloomily.

"Why, darling?"

"Because it's too small for me. I need a bigger town."

On Dana's first day at school, she came home depressed.

"What's the matter? Don't you like your school?"

Dana sighed. "It's all right, but it's full of kids."

Dana's mother laughed. "They'll get over that, and so will you."

Dana went on to Claremont High School and became a reporter for the Wolfpacket, the school newspaper. She found that she enjoyed newspaper work, but she desperately missed traveling.

"When I grow up," Dana said, "I'm going to go all over the world again."

When Dana was eighteen, she enrolled in Claremont McKenna College, majored in journalism, and became a reporter for the college newspaper, the Forum. The following year, she was made editor of the paper.

Students were constantly coming to her for favors. "Our sorority is having a dance next week, Dana. Would you mention it in the paper...?"

"The debating club is having a meeting Tuesday...."

"Could you review the play the drama club is putting on .. . ?"

"We need to raise funds for the new library..."

It was endless, but Dana enjoyed it enormously. She was in a position to help people, and she liked that. In her senior year, Dana decided that she wanted a newspaper career.

"I'll be able to interview important people all over the world," Dana told her mother. "It will be like helping to make history."

Growing up, whenever young Dana looked in a mirror, she became depressed. Too short, too thin, too flat. Every other girl was awesomely beautiful. It was some kind of California law. I'm an ugly duckling in a land of swans, she thought. She made it a point to avoid looking in mirrors. If Dana had looked, she would have realized that at the age of fourteen, her body was beginning to blossom. At the age of sixteen, she had become very attractive. When she was seventeen, boys began seriously to pursue her. There was something about her eager, heart-shaped face, large inquisitive eyes, and husky laugh that was both adorable and a challenge.

Dana had known since she was twelve how she wanted to lose her virginity. It would be on a beautiful, moon-lit night on some faraway tropical island, with the waves gently lapping against the shore. There would be soft music playing in the background. A handsome, sophisticated stranger would approach her and look deeply into her eyes, into her soul, and he would take her in his arms without a word and suavely carry her to a nearby palm tree. They would get undressed and make love and the music in the background would swell to a climax.

She actually lost her virginity in the back of an old Chevrolet, after a school dance, to a skinny eighteen-year-old redhead named Richard Dobbins, who worked on the Forum with her. He gave Dana his ring and a month later, moved to Milwaukee with his parents. Dana never heard from him again.

The month before she was graduated from college with a B.A. in journalism, Dana went down to the local newspaper, the Claremont Examiner, to see about a job as a reporter.

A man in the personnel office looked over her resume. "So you were the editor of the Forum, eh?"

Dana smiled modestly. "That's right."

"Okay. You're in luck. We're a little shorthanded right now. We'll give you a try."

Dana was thrilled. She had already made a list of the countries she wanted to cover: Russia...China...Africa...

"I know I can't start as a foreign correspondent," Dana said, "but as soon as - "

"Right. You'll be working here as a gofer. You'll see that the editors have coffee in the morning. They like it strong, by the way. And you'll run copy down to the printing presses."

Dana stared at him in shock. "I can't - "

He leaned forward, frowning. "You can't what?"

"I can't tell you how glad I am to have this job."

The reporters all complimented Dana on her coffee, and she became the best runner the paper had ever had. She was at work early every day and made friends with everyone. She was always eager to help out. She knew that was the way to get ahead.

The problem was that at the end of six months, Dana was still a gofer. She went to see Bill Crowell, the managing editor.

"I really think I'm ready," Dana said earnestly. "If you give me an assignment, I'll - "

He did not even look up. "There's no opening yet. My coffee's cold."

It isn't fair, Dana thought. They won't even give me a chance. Dana had heard a line that she firmly believed in. "If something can stop you, you might as well let it." Well, nothing's going to stop me, Dana thought. Nothing. But how am I going to get started?

One morning, as Dana was walking through the deserted Teletype room, carrying cups of hot coffee, a police scanner printout was coming over the wires. Curious, Dana walked over and read it:


Dana read the rest of the story, wide-eyed. She took a deep breath, ripped the story from the Teletype, and put it in her pocket. No one else had seen it.

Dana hurried into Bill Crowell's office, breathless. "Mr. Crowell, someone tried to kidnap a little boy in Claremont this morning. He offered to take him on a pony ride. The boy wanted some candy first, and the kidnapper took him to a candy store, where the owner recognized the boy. The owner called the police and the kidnapper fled."

Bill Crowell was excited. "There was nothing on the wires. How did you hear about this?"

"I - I happened to be in the store, and they were talking about it and - "

"I'll get a reporter over there right away."

"Why don't you let me cover it?" Dana said quickly. "The owner of the candy store knows me. He'll talk to me."

He studied Dana a moment and said reluctantly, "All right."

Dana interviewed the owner of the candy store, and her story appeared on the front page of the Claremont Examiner the next day and was well received.

"That wasn't a bad job," Bill Crowell told her. "Not bad at all."

"Thank you."

It was almost a week before Dana found herself alone again in the Teletype room. There was a story coming in on the wire from the Associated Press:


Perfect, Dana decided. She tore off the printout, crumpled it, stuffed it in her pocket, and hurried in to see Bill Crowell.

"My old roommate just called me," Dana said excitedly. "She was looking out the window and saw a woman attack a would-be rapist. I'd like to cover it."

Crowell looked at her a moment. "Go ahead."

Dana drove to Pomona to get an interview with the judo instructor, and again her story made the front page.

Bill Crowell asked Dana to come into his office. "How would you like to have a regular beat?"

Dana was thrilled. "Great!" It's begun, she thought. My career has finally begun.

The following day, the Claremont Examiner was sold to the Washington Tribune in Washington, D.C.

When the news of the sale came out, most of the Claremont Examiner employees were dismayed. It was inevitable that there would be downsizing and that some of them would lose their jobs. Dana did not think of it that way. I work for the Washington Tribune now, she thought, and the next logical thought was, Why don't I go to work at its headquarters?

She marched into Bill Crowell's office. "I'd like a ten-day leave."

He looked at her curiously. "Dana, most of the people around here won't go to the bathroom because they're scared to death that their desks won't be there when they get back. Aren't you worried?"

"Why should I be? I'm the best reporter you have," she said confidently. "I'm going to get a job at the Washington Tribune."

"Are you serious?" He saw her expression. "You're serious." He sighed. "All right. Try to see Matt Baker. He's in charge of Washington Tribune Enterprises - newspapers, TV stations, radio, everything."

"Matt Baker. Right."

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