As Atlantis lolled in the calm, azure waters, Joel began to fidget.
Trevor nudged Joel’s bare shoulder with his own, just the lightest of touches, and asked again, very quietly, “Why Turkey?”
Joel swallowed once and gazed out the horizon. “I read that they have great prices on jewelry.”
Trevor blinked a few times, trying to put the clues together. ‘Joel’s nervous about something, and it’s jewelry?’ It took him a few moments. “For Lisa, right?” Trevor asked.
Joel began to blush, and turned to meet Trevor’s eyes. “Yeah. I need to buy a diamond ring.”
“Wow...” Trevor said, in a voice barely above a whisper, disguising his inner battle of conflicting emotions. “When did you decide that, and when are you going to pop the big question?”
Joel began to smile, his eyes sparking. “On Gyaros, when I thought we were about to get blown to bits. I miss Lisa so much it hurts, and when I thought I might never see her again... I just knew. I guess I have for a while, but that kind of made it clear. I’m going to wait a little while after I get back, just to be totally sure, but mainly so I can work up the nerve. I’m nervous, man.”
Trevor smiled and put a reassuring arm across Joel’s bare shoulders. Trevor wanted to be happy for Joel and Lisa, and to a large degree, he was, but still, there was a nagging jealousy, just beneath the surface. To a degree that he would not admit, even to himself, Trevor found himself wishing that it were he, and not Lisa, that Joel had fallen for. But, as that thought crystallized, another came, and he knew it could never be, and that even if it could, Trevor would never break Lisa’s heart. There was also the nagging fear that, once Joel and Lisa were married, they would have less room in their lives for him, and he would, to a degree, lose the only two people he still felt close to. For a few moments, his emotions warred, and then, giving himself a mental kick, he said, “Don’t be. This is great news. The one big problem you’ll have is her father. I think getting his okay will be the hardest part, and you’ll need his permission because she’s a minor, but I’m sure the two of you can win him over. Wow, you’ll both be married when I get home–”
Joel gave Trevor an elbow in the ribs. “If you think either Lisa or I would get married without you there, you’re nuts. I want you to be best man, and I want you to perform the ceremony here on Atlantis, too. You’ll be a licensed captain by then, right?”
Trevor gave Joel a big grin and a one-armed hug. “Yeah, but captains can’t perform marriage ceremonies. That’s just a myth, at least for the last hundred years or so... but I’d love to be your best man, and if you want to have the ceremony on Atlantis, that’d be great, but you better run that one by Lisa: Atlantis was built in France, and she has issues...”
Joel chuckled. “Leave that to me. It’ll be awhile, Trev, even if you came home tomorrow. I was thinking that the best way to get around her dad is to have a real long engagement, and then we could get married on her and your birthdays. She’d be eighteen; her dad couldn’t stop us, and in the meantime, I’ll try like hell to get on his good side.”
“We’ll stop in Turkey on the way to Rhodes... Anywhere you want.”
Joel put his arm around Trevor, looking him square in the eye, and said, “Ankara, the capital.”
It took Trevor a moment to digest that request, and then he gave Joel a playful shove. “You bastard. I meant anywhere that Atlantis can go. Ankara is landlocked, as if you didn’t know.”
Joel gave Trevor a mock pout. “You said anywhere...”
Trevor shook his head and laughed. Ankara was over a hundred miles from the nearest navigable sea or river, so Trevor offered, “We could go by train from a port?”
Grinning, Joel shook his head. “Nah, I want to go to Kusadasi, it’s about a hundred miles east of here and wouldn’t be much of a detour on our route to Cyprus, and it has a port.” Joel watched Trevor carefully, suddenly aware that he was concealing something. Joel took the obvious guess, and came up partially right. Throwing his arm across Trevor’s shoulders, Joel said softly, “Nothing is going to change, man. Lisa and I will still be here for you, just like we always have.”
Trevor’s head snapped around at that, and he blinked a few times, wondering just how much Joel had figured out, before asking, “You read minds now? I was just being kinda selfish for a second. I’m fine now.”
Joel shook his head and gave Trevor a one-armed hug. “Dude, Lisa and I are pretty much your family now. I get that, and even without everything you’ve got going on, it’s natural to worry we’d drift away. We won’t. As far as I’m concerned, you’re my brother now.”
Trevor looked at Joel, deeply moved by his words, coupled with the sincerity in his eyes. For Trevor, who felt alienated from his father, the idea of having family was something that he craved on a deep and visceral level. Trevor swallowed once, and in an unsteady voice, said, “Thanks, man. I’ve never had a brother...”
Joel, unable to resist the opening, smiled and nodded. “I already have two, and they’re both jerks. You’ll fit right in.”
Trevor felt the laugh building, and as he gave Joel a punch in the arm, he retorted, “Bastard!”
“That’s what brothers are for,” Joel replied, with an angelic smile that was anything but. In a serious tone, he added, “I mean it Trev.”
The two friends locked fists in their version of a handshake, communicating without words. Trevor, for the first time in his life, had a brother, and Joel had a third.
That night, thirty miles short of Kusadasi, Trevor and Joel anchored just off the beach of the Greek island of Samos. They had decided to spend two nights there before sailing to Kusadasi, and then on to Rhodes, which was one of the largest Greek islands and their last planned stop before Cyprus.
As soon as Atlantis was secure, they cracked open some beer, and for Trevor, it was almost as it had been before... almost. Trevor and Joel enjoyed themselves, drinking until well after midnight, but the fact that Joel would be leaving within days hung over them both like a dark cloud that neither wanted to acknowledge – one that they were powerless to dispel.
With a whirr and a click, Bridget’s ornate grandfather clock began chiming, culminating in twelve long, deep gongs. “Midnight,” George Alfred muttered, stating the obvious.
Bridget nodded, a dour expression on her face. “Would you like me to come along?”
George shook his head. “No, I still don’t think that’s a good idea. If I get caught, I can pass if off as just being overzealous in my duties. If you’re with me and we’re both caught, it’ll go a lot worse.”
Bridget glanced at her daughter’s picture, her eyes lingering on the smiling face. “Trevor is even younger than my daughter was when she died. I wish there was some other way to do this, it pains me to snuff out a life that has barely begun. However, I can see no better way... Please be careful, George.”
“Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. This is hardly my first black bag job. I’ve checked; the place isn’t under observation.”
“Hurry back,” Bridget said, with a concerned smile.
Twenty minutes later, Detective George Alfred parked his car behind the store next door to the chandlery. After checking his police radio one more time, he approached the rear door of the chandlery, nerves on edge, as he pulled on a pair of thin, disposable gloves.
It took him two tense minutes, working by feel in the near darkness of the parking lot, to pick the lock. As soon as he heard the click from the bolt drawing back, he drew his service revolver, took a deep breath, and opened the door.
The chandlery was equipped with an alarm system, and George knew he had just twenty seconds to disarm it. The Ft. Pierce Police Department, like most, worked closely with alarm companies. They had to; most alarms were false alarms, and the police needed to know how to disarm them. In most cases, the alarm companies would give the police master override codes. All George had needed to do was check the Carlson case file to see the make and model of the chandlery’s alarm, and with that, his department access had given him the master disarm code. What it hadn’t given him was the panel’s location.
George, his gun at the ready, scanned the chandlery’s back room with a penlight, searching for the panel, which would most often be located adjacent to the door. It wasn’t, and George ground his teeth, knowing that he was running out of time.
With eight seconds to spare, he spotted the alarm panel, six feet from the door, next to the main electrical supply panel. Rushing, thinking that he had less time than he did, he keyed in the six-digit code, hit ‘Enter’, and waited for the eternal fraction of a second until the red LED diode was replaced by a green one, signaling that the alarm had been disarmed, and he resumed breathing.
Making his way out into the main store, keeping his light away from the windows, George approached the counter.
Darkness and silence added to the tension, and George paused for a moment, smelling the scent of varnish and solvents as he began his task.
On the way back from Nassau, he’d discussed the issue at length with Bridget. She had contributed her knowledge of boats, and he had added his experience with criminal investigative procedure. In the end, they’d both satisfied themselves that they had a sound and viable plan. What they needed from the chandlery were items for bomb components; items that could be traced to the chandlery.
A further complication was that, even if care was taken to shield the components, the explosion might obliterate the identifying numbers. Therefore, they had decided to create one more lead pointing back at Dirk.
One particular item fit all their requirements, and George knew it would be locked up. Taking an educated guess, he set to work picking the lock on the storage area below the display case. When he had it open, he looked for, and found, several boxed satellite phones. Working with care, he pulled a box from the back. He opened the box, extracting the device and its trial activation card. To avoid having the box appear suspiciously light, George replaced the phone with a rock he’d brought along for the purpose, and then re-sealed the box before returning it to its place. The rock had not been chosen at random; he had taken it from Dirk’s landscaped front yard, knowing that it could likely be traced once the police were clued in where to look. With any luck at all, he hoped, Dirk would not notice the theft in the coming days. After that, it would be too late to matter, and the rock would become just one more piece of evidence against Dirk and Jim.
George slipped the phone into his pocket and then re-locked the cabinet. He paused, glancing out the chandlery’s dark windows at the marina’s few lights, and then resumed his search. There was one other item he needed, but, as he’d expected, it proved easier to find. It was a large propane tank, of a type commonly used on yachts and also often found beneath backyard barbecues. The chandlery had a rack with over two dozen empty tanks on it, and George was fairly sure that a missing one would not be noticed until the next inventory, and even if it was, it would merely be assumed, by Dirk, that it had been shoplifted. The chance that Dirk would file a police report over such a low-value item was effectively zero. George took the tank, and with a feeling of relief, re-armed the alarm and locked up the store on his way out.
When Dirk arrived to open the store seven hours later, he noticed nothing amiss.
Later that morning, Bridget and George boarded the Sea Witch for the run across the Florida Strait to Freeport in the Bahamas, with the satellite phone and the empty propane tank safely ensconced in a storage compartment.
As they approached the dock, Bridget checked her watch. Their meeting with Sanchez had been scheduled and confirmed, but Bridget knew that Sanchez, ever cautious, would remain out of view until the Sea Witch had docked.
George handled the lines, and shortly after Bridget had cut off the engines, Sanchez appeared, camera in hand, dressed in the loud clothes of a tourist.
With a nod and a smile, he stepped aboard, joining Bridget and George in the cockpit. Taking a seat, he said, “I trust all went as planned?”
Bridget smiled and nodded. “We have the components. They are in the locker next to you.”
Sanchez angled his head, nodding with seeming disinterest. “Very well. However, our business is not yet concluded. My superiors have a few... concerns, and I’d prefer we discuss them at sea,” Sanchez said, his Colombian accent and casual voice carrying the hint of dire threat.
Bridget Bellevue was not one to fluster. Recovering almost instantly from Sanchez’s unexpected request and mildly ominous voice, she asked in a pleasant though guarded tone, “What concerns might those be?”
George too was somewhat disquieted by the unexpected request, but understood why Sanchez would prefer the privacy of the sea instead of any chance of being overheard. Receiving a nod from Bridget, George began casting off as Bridget fired up the engines.
Bridget and Sanchez, old professionals in the business that they were, regarded each other with respect and caution. Their eyes met, holding for a moment, and then Sanchez averted his gaze, glancing at George. Sanchez remained silent until they had pulled clear of the dock, and then said in an offhand way, “The cartel has concerns regarding publicity and exposure. As you know, we are aware of the police investigation into your killing of your husband.”
Bridget held her head high, standing her ground. “Yes, I’ve concealed nothing from you. I told you what had occurred a few days after his death.”
“You never told us why,” Sanchez reminded her.
With her hands on the wheel and steel in her voice, Bridget replied, “You are correct. I never told you, because it was my own concern, not yours.”
Sanchez nodded. “That was so then, but no longer. My superiors were clear; they need to know precisely what they are getting into or they will not take action, not against the boy.”
The implied threat was clear to both Bridget and George; loose ends could not be allowed to live, and unless Bridget could convince Sanchez that they were the lesser risk, she knew she and her lover would not have long to live. In that moment, Bridget decided that she needed to tell Sanchez everything. The risk of a lie was simply too great; Sanchez surely had other sources, and Bridget had no way of knowing what he knew, or would find out. The other factor in her decision was a simpler one; in this case, telling the truth would be to her advantage. After a few moments, Bridget replied, “Very well, I’ll tell you all of it. However, it will take some time, and I’d prefer to show you one part rather than merely tell you. Will you join us for a short cruise?”
Sanchez considered that for a moment. He glanced again at George, wondering if the detective and Bridget could be a danger, but soon realized that they had nothing to gain and everything to lose by killing him. It was natural for him to weigh the risks, but in this case, he felt them warranted. “I would enjoy some time at sea. We need to talk, that is all. We are business partners of many years, after all. My superiors just wish to know the circumstances, so they may weigh the risks. Their concern is that if this plan does not work, their actions could draw attention from the American police to our operations.”
“There is also a risk that failing to act could have that result,” Bridget pointed out.
Bridget advanced the throttles, powering the Sea Witch down the marina’s main channel towards the open sea. As they passed a forty-foot catamaran, she pointed it out to Sanchez. “That’s a boat that’s somewhat similar to the one we’re about to discuss; the Ares.”
As they reached the open sea, Bridget turned southwest in the direction of Bimini and advanced the throttles further, causing the Sea Witch to surge forward, accelerating to thirty knots across the calm, azure seas, enjoying the feel of the wind in her hair and the sensation of power imparted by the boat’s twin diesel engines.
Sanchez, standing by Bridget’s side, asked in an almost offhand way, “Why did you kill him? I know it had to do with divorce, but I need to know all of it now.” Sanchez then gave George an apprising look. The fact that he was a police detective didn’t faze him; he knew he’d been working with Bridget for years, and was her lover. Sanchez was reassured by the knowledge that the police officer could never turn on them without also condemning himself.
Bridget collected her thoughts before answering, “I’ve never been specific because I had many reasons. The trigger was the death of our daughter... that was really the beginning of the end for us, I think. She died of heart failure, brought on by heavy cocaine use. Arnold and I knew of her problem and we tried to make her stop, but through people she knew via us and our business with the cartel, she had easy access. I’ve never been tempted to try it myself, but I understand how addictive it can be. Some people, I suppose, are predisposed to addiction, and Stacy was one. She changed so much in that final few months... as if a switch had been thrown. Her death, though, was a shock to us both...” Bridget’s voice trailed off, for the memory still hurt. “Arnold never seemed to get over it. His grief turned to anger... Anger at me. He blamed me for her death, because I was the one who started and ran our operation with the cartel. I actually loved Arnold... I always did. Then one day, after months of barely speaking to each other, I was on our boat, the Ares. I was somewhat suspicious already, and I looked into one of our concealed compartments. I found the sales papers, and he’d never mentioned them to me, for a boat I owned jointly with him. He was selling her.”
Sanchez nodded. He was already fairly certain of the reason for the killing; his main motive at the moment was to see if Bridget would be honest with him.
Bridget took a deep breath, fixed her eyes on the far horizon, and continued, “A few days later, I took a man who worked for me; one who knew his way around a set of lock picks, and paid a nighttime visit to Arnold’s office. I was more surprised than I should have been; the bastard already had the divorce papers drawn up. He’d also been busy selling off whatever assets he could, converting them to cash. I made that man; without the money from my business, he would have been a hack ambulance chaser, but he was going to divorce me and take half of what I’d built. He thought he could get away with it too, for I could hardly subject myself to the disclosures inherent in a courtroom fight, given where most of the money had actually come from. He thought he had me outmaneuvered, treating me like a courtroom adversary after twenty years of marriage. He was always so confident and proud, so self-assured. He was a brilliant man when in his element, though he had his limits, and they were quite apparent. The next day, I saw the look on his face as he turned, just before I caved in his skull with a rolling pin, the first time I’d ever found a use for the infernal thing. I suppose it never occurred to him that I’d play by my own rules rather than his... That was his failing; he thought in terms of business and the law... rather typical for a lawyer, I suppose. I did my level best to make it look like a boating accident on another boat we owned; that he had been hit in the head by the boom and drowned – which is why I used the rolling pin. Unfortunately, he’d mentioned the divorce to a colleague, and word made its way to the police investigator. They took a second look at the body and found a few incongruities. The case has been an albatross around my neck ever since.”
George stood by the side, listening to a recount he already knew, wondering how the meeting with Sanchez would turn out. George was armed, but he felt sure Sanchez was as well, and George was also fully aware that it was Sanchez’s associates, not Sanchez himself, who could be the ones to fear.
Bridget had been a suspect from the beginning, though not the only one, and there had never been enough evidence to go to trial. George had tried to get the case assigned to himself, but Officer Gonzalez had received it, and had begun digging anew on what had been a cold case, gathering dust in a filing cabinet for years. It had been Gonzalez who had unearthed a new lead; some ownership transfers, of three small businesses, by Bridget, in the days prior to Arnold Bellevue’s death. That had led him to his first interview with Bridget, who had been displeased by the renewed suspicion. As she explained to Sanchez, the risk wasn’t a conviction; she felt there was far too little evidence. The danger was that the police could, in the course of an active murder investigation, discover her business with the cartel. That had placed her in an untenable position; she could not for long shut down the operation, for if she did the cartel would find others to take her place. The best response that she had been able to see had been to remove herself from police interest, and Trevor’s altercation with his father and subsequent flight had provided the opportunity she had been seeking.
After just over an hour underway, Bridget reduced throttle, prompting Sanchez to glance at the navigational display. With a trace of concern in his mind, he asked, “We’re miles from anywhere, why stop here?”
Bridget tapped at the display. “It is rather important to the rest of what I need to tell you. I’ve been out here a few times before. This is where the Ares went down, or at least, the last reported position. That’s one part of this that you don’t know; I had been trying to get that damn boat back from Rachel Carlson for over a year, right up until the day she died. Arnold, curse him, had signed Ares over to her and her husband, so I had no option but to let the transfer proceed. Rachel took possession after Arnold’s death, but before his body was found at sea.”
Sanchez blinked in feigned surprise. “She knew about the divorce Arnold was planning, and you killed her too, I take it?” he said, with a touch of admiration in his voice. It was an act, one he’d perfected over the years. A cold man by nature, he’d found it useful to appear more human at times.
Bridget shook her head. “If only that were the case. Nothing so easy, I’m afraid. Arnold and I had taken several trips on Ares over the years, including to Italy. I also used Ares on transport runs to the Bahamas, so I knew her well, or so I thought. However, when Arnold and I began pulling apart after Stacy’s death, Arnold took to living on Ares, and it never occurred to me that he might have made some changes. Therefore, it came as a rather rude shock when, a year after his death, I found a receipt for fiberglass resin, concealed hinges, and a spring-latch in his papers. Arnold was a man who never liked to get his hands dirty, so I could see only one reason for him to attempt a job himself; installing a hidden compartment. We’d put one in with identical materials ourselves when we purchased Ares, so I just knew... but I didn’t know where aboard he put it. I do not know for certain what is in it, but I have strong suspicions. That bastard wanted half of everything. He must have had a list of all the assets somewhere, and I never found it. He probably believed I’d settle out of court to avoid the risk of exposure, but he would have had a list. Many of my assets are not listed in my name and it would be disastrous if the list fell into the wrong hands, such as Gonzalez’s. For one thing, it would serve to expose the fact that our business,” Bridget patted the Sea Witch’s wheelhouse, “exists, because the money had to come from somewhere. It is possible that the papers were destroyed by the sinking, but I cannot take the chance. If they were in a watertight container, as was our habit with documents at sea, they may well still be intact enough to be a danger.”
Sanchez relaxed somewhat; so far, there were no discrepancies; the story matched with the parts he’d found out himself. “I remember how angry you were that Gonzalez had resumed the investigation of you. My superiors and I were concerned as well; the last thing the cartel desires is attention, or someone digging around our operations. As long as there’s an active investigation, we’re all at risk to varying degrees.”
“Misery loves company,” Bridget replied, with a wry smile. “As for Rachel, I tried to get her to sell, but she wouldn’t. She had her own troubles with the Federal authorities, so I again offered to buy her out, but before that could bear fruit, she died. I was in Nassau that day, and heard about the distress call within the hour. I took my boat out alone, heading for the coordinates. I was one of the first to arrive, and I was hopeful that Ares had survived, at least in part. However, all I found were a few bits of floating debris, including her Zodiac. They were from Ares; I recognized some of them. Some were partially crushed and the Zodiac was torn almost in two. There were also some scorch marks. My guess is that either she was hit by a large ship, or had a bomb aboard. Due to the scorching, I suspect the latter. I removed the debris to avoid leaving a marker for the wreck. I believed my problems were at an end until Trevor Carlson became obsessed with finding the wreck site. I do not know for certain that Arnold had anything hidden aboard, or that it would have survived, but I believe it very likely. I could not take the risk that Trevor would unearth it. That is why I have been keeping watch on him all these years, and made sure that if he found anything, I would be among the first to know.”
“A bomb. Interesting. You really do believe that her husband killed her?”
“Yes, though I can’t be positive,” Bridget replied, truthfully.
George had remained silent so far, but decided to weigh in on this issue, as it was one he knew well. “I’ve seen the case file. I think he did it too; he and his wife were getting a divorce. There’s also the fact he’s gay. He had motive and opportunity. I’ve been an investigator for years and in my opinion, the case against him is a good one, just not quite enough for the prosecutor, yet.”
Sanchez nodded, glancing at Bridget before replying as an aside, “Yes, divorce does seem to be a motive for murder.”
“One of the finest,” Bridget replied, with an icy smile.
Sanchez nodded again, and decided that the time was right to address the real reason for his superior’s concern, now that Bridget had volunteered the information. “You mentioned that Rachel Carlson had problems with the Americans. I assume you managed any danger to us?”
“Of course I would, had there been any risk at all.” Bridget replied, with a hint of disdain, angered by the implication that she’d been careless. “There was never a danger to our business: Rachel knew nothing of that. I sent her a few customers for her charter from time to time, and in return, she helped deliver several yachts – One of the cover businesses I set up was a yacht brokerage, as both a money conduit and a ready supply of boats – and she would occasionally move some cash for me. I hinted that it was simple tax evasion, nothing more. She never knew of what I was doing so she was no danger to me, or us. As for Ares, I could have simply offered her far more than it was worth, but I felt that would arouse suspicion as to the reason. She was aware that Arnold’s death was still an open case, thanks to Gonzalez’s predecessor interviewing her.”
“Why do you wish to kill the boy now, when you could have done so at any time?” Sanchez asked. He already believed that he knew the answer, but he had to be sure.
“As I’ve told you, Trevor was searching for Ares. He went out to this site alone, every year, on the anniversary of the sinking. His father didn’t know at first, but then he found out and they fought. I’m certain that Dirk desires that Ares remain lost as much as I do. The father tried to take Trevor’s boat, the Atlantis, which I had sold to Rachel. Trevor ran, so I set up a meeting with him. My main motive was to keep him away from the wreck site. He suspects, as do I, that his father was responsible for the sinking. He’s driven to find that wreck, and I felt he would, if he had sought refuge in the Bahamas and came here frequently to search. That is why I told him it would not be safe for him to stay. I was hoping that he would simply give up his boat – thus losing his ability to search – and I tried to push him into doing so, but he kept running. Now, for the reason I brought you here: look overboard. We’re twenty miles from land, but the sea is shallow here, less than a hundred feet in most places. You can see the bottom when the sun is high, so finding the Ares would not be as difficult as I would prefer.”
Sanchez leaned over the rail. For a few moments, the sun dazzle on the water prevented him from seeing, but as his eyes adjusted, he could make out the rippled white sand ninety feet below. “Perhaps the best option would be to find the wreck yourself. We could help with that.”
Bridget shook her head. “It would take a great deal of searching. I’ve spent a good number of hours trying, but as you can observe, you can only see straight down. The other issue is that I don’t know where on the Ares to look, were I to find her. If I had, I could have dealt with this issue long ago by sending someone aboard at night, when the boat was moored and unoccupied. Indeed, I did send an experienced burglar aboard on two occasions, but he found nothing.” Bridget swept her arm towards the horizon, where two freighters and a small sailboat were barely visible. “Raising the wreck would be an option, but she’s a large boat and that would take considerable work, especially if she’s in pieces. It would also draw attention; these are heavily trafficked waters. However, if Trevor found her, the police would be called in. Under the circumstances, they’d search every inch of the wreck. Believe me, I’ve thought this through; the best way to end police interest in me is to have them prosecute Dirk Carlson. We don’t actually need a conviction; merely charging him would poison their case against me, though of course a conviction would be preferable.”
“The department has limited resources. Once they’d lost any chance of convicting Bridget, the investigation would go cold again. They won’t waste time on a case that can’t be won,” George said.
Sanchez scratched idly at his chin, making up his mind. “I still support the contract on the boy. It seems like the most viable option, and you have allayed our concerns. However, I do not like relying on this option alone. That investigation is a risk to us all and must be halted. If that detective, Gonzalez, becomes too much of a danger, he must be dealt with. The cartel prefers to avoid directly attacking an American law enforcement officer on American soil; doing so would risk focusing too much of their attention on us. Therefore, you may need to do this yourselves, should it become needful.” Sanchez’s eyes fell on George, watching carefully for a reaction.
George knew the question had been directed at him, and he had no qualms about agreeing. “There are ways to take him out of play without arousing suspicion. I can lay some groundwork to make it look like he’s dirty. That way, if we have to kill him, we can make it look like a deal gone bad. There won’t be a lot of repercussions if a dirty cop gets taken down.”
Sanchez shook his head. “That’s not what I had in mind. Discrediting him to a degree resulting in his expulsion from law enforcement would suffice. If stronger measures are required, I would prefer that it looked like an accident or suicide, though framing him would work as a prelude for either.”
“I can handle that, if it comes to it,” George Alfred replied, already making plans.
For the first time that day, Sanchez smiled. “Then we are agreed; Trevor Carlson will be killed as he transits Suez, by a bomb which incorporates components traceable to his father. What are they?”
Bridget smiled, gunning the engines as she turned the Sea Witch back towards Freeport. “A satellite phone, to be used as the receiver for the detonation command. The call with the detonation command will originate from Florida, a further tie-in to Dirk.” Bridget looked towards the storage locker before adding, “We’ve also provided an empty propane tank. Build the bomb into it; they’re often used on boats, and Trevor uses them on Atlantis. All you’ll need to do is switch this one for one of the spares he has aboard – they’ll be in a storage locker in the cockpit – which should make planting the bomb easier. Use a type of explosive that’s available on the black market in Italy, and that will be another lead towards the lawyer, and thus a conspiracy with Dirk. Make sure to shield the satellite phone well; it needs to survive the blast enough to be identifiable, with the serial number intact. As for the rest of the design, I’m certain that your people are more adept than I, so I shall leave that in your hands.”
Sanchez nodded. “I’ll have the components on their way to Egypt tonight, and then coordinate with you so that you know when to detonate the device, as the boat transits the canal. I will need an exact date and time for when the boat will be arriving in Egypt. You know how to contact me when you have that. Hopefully, this will solve the issues facing us and no further action will be necessary.”
Bridget, who had been in the business far longer than George and better understood the cartel, clearly comprehended what had been left unsaid: the cartel wanted this matter settled and was willing to do it her way – for now. However, she also understood that if she and George became a liability due to being prosecuted, the cartel would kill them both to avoid the risk to its operations should they turn state’s evidence. It was a Devil’s bargain that she was more than willing to accept, under the circumstances.
Bridget had not lied to Sanchez. What she had told him was, to the best of her knowledge, the truth; the risk of a lie was just too great, and there was no advantage to be gained by lying in this instance. It was not, however, the whole truth. Her late husband’s failings had been very apparent to Bridget, and she herself was not blind to her own. She was, at her heart, prone to think in terms of money and power. It was her husband who had been adept at the art of preparation and maneuver, and thus it was well after his death that it occurred to Bridget to ponder his true intentions, looking beyond the apparent easy answer of greed. Over time, Bridget had come to suspect that her late husband had hidden something else, along with the assets list, aboard the Ares.
Therefore, though she had not lied to Sanchez, she had omitted mentioning a few details, key amongst them being that the Federal authorities had been investigating Rachel’s illegal activities because of an anonymous tip, sent in by Bridget in the hopes of forcing a sale or seizure and auction of the Ares. Bridget assumed, with good reason, that Sanchez would not be pleased to learn that she had been willing to give information to the authorities, for whatever cause.