COME AS YOU ARE
AMY J. FETZER
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
Dedicated to Maureen Child
Thanks for always being in my corner.
Northwest of Jamaica
It was supposed to be an easy retrieval. Pickup and delivery.
Now they were FedEx with assault rifles and hauling ass.
The door of the speeding chopper thrown open, Logan hung onto the oh shit strap and sighted through high-powered binoculars on a ship, that up until eight minutes ago, was dead in the water.
With no answering hail or a distress signal, the luxurious 140-foot killing machine at top speed was rudderless, cutting through the surf and kicking up boiling waves. Effectively thwarting any asinine attempt to board her. That would be me, Logan thought, holding on as he glanced at the radar. Closing in on Cuban waters.
“I thought this thing could do over a hundred?” Wind battered his face, nearly knocking off his headphones.
“We’d use up too much fuel,” Sebastian said. “It’s a long way back to land.”
Logan threw him a look and words died.
“Christ. Hold on,” Sebastian warned. “Going postal.”
Logan gripped the strap as Sebastian pushed the chopper to its limits, the force slamming him against the interior. I really need to learn how to fly, he thought, bringing the binoculars into position again.
“We’ve got bad guys,” Logan said as two figures appeared in the passageway, then moved to the stern. “With scuba tanks.” Logan quickly zoomed in on their faces as one man looked up, his smile vicious, seconds before he pulled on his mask and executed the backward fall into the sea. He had something in his hand.
Below the chopper, a 43-foot turbine Scarab speedboat slowed long enough for an Interpol agent suited in minimal dive gear to drop into the water and search. It was useless, the targets already deep, their bubbles churning with the waves. Logan focused on the yacht closing in on Cuban waters.
“No sign of the divers,” Max said, watching out the opposite side. “No pickup boat near enough, either. A hundred miles out in shark-infested waters?”
“He’s got help.” Anchored under the ocean had to be a propulsion torpedo. Or worse, a submarine. What any of it had to do with a privately owned yacht wasn’t a concern. Their job was to find it and bring it back to port—but not from inside Cuban territory.
That bad taste in his mouth was quickly going sour, and Logan turned away from the open door, reaching for the harness.
“What do—? You can’t be serious, man,” Max said. “It’s got to be going 40 knots.”
“I don’t see we have much choice.” Logan slipped into the harness. “If anyone’s got a flash, clue me in now.” Strapped and locked in, he clipped the cable, then pulled on a helmet.
“It’s suicide,” Sebastian said with resigned calm. “The wind speed alone will push you back fifty feet.”
“Then drop me on the bow.”
“Let Interpol blow it out of the water before we get near Cuba,” Sebastian said. “They take protecting their waters very seriously.”
Logan didn’t look up as he snapped his gun into the holster. “We aren’t being paid to destroy it, or do you have this month’s payments handy?”
“I’m on welfare,” Max groused, and reluctantly manned the winch. “You really think anyone’s still alive?”
Logan leaned out as Sebastian shifted the chopper to the right and ahead. He knew what he’d find. Nothing. Seven people were onboard the yacht when it left a Miami port. Five crew including the captain, and only two passengers.
Logan shifted to the edge of the chopper, his feet braced on the door treads. The wind snapped at his jumpsuit, loosening his footing.
“I can’t get any closer, the yacht’s too erratic,” Sebastian said. “We have more company.” To his right, a black screen screamed the demarcation of international waters and blips coming toward it. “A Cuban Navy ship and it just launched four attack boats.” They couldn’t be seen on the horizon yet, but they were moving fast.
“Interpol is ready to fire!” Max yelled, launching between the seats and grabbing the radio.
The Scarab wasn’t manned with rockets, but while one boat circled for the attackers, on the other, an agent stood at the prow and lifted a shoulder-mounted stinger into position. Logan could see Riley aboard the Scarab, his weapon drawn on the agent to stop him.
Max called frantically over the radio, then looked back at Logan. “Not yet, not yet!”
But Logan was already sliding over the side.
Max hit the winch, lowering him. “He’s got a death wish, I swear,” he muttered, then into the radio repeated, “Interpol, stand down! Cuban forces approaching.”
Sebastian angled the chopper to the left, swinging Logan like a pendulum and putting him within a few yards of the yacht, but the sea and the boat’s erratic speed hampered him. Dropping Logan on a boat that was already going nearly 50 miles an hour covered a lot of distance. By the time Logan reached the yacht, it would already have gone past. Sebastian had to get in low, and avoid the antenna and satellite dish on top that would hit the chopper skids or impale Logan before he landed.
Then they didn’t have to worry about it.
The yacht took its direction from the current and Logan saw his chance evaporating. He hit the clip release and dropped on the roof of the bridge, the impact sending him tumbling down the sloped surface, across the windshield. He grabbed for anything to stop himself. The satellite dish broke off in his hand seconds before he crashed into some deck chairs. Man, I really don’t want to bounce. The force snatched the choice. He was airborne, smacking into the bow railing. The rail broke away on impact, and he scrambled to grip the flagpole and latched on. For a couple seconds, he stopped, then the pole bent, and he went over the side like wet fish.
He caught the twisted metal with one hand, the sudden stop nearly tearing his arm from the socket. He dangled for a moment, beaten like a banner against the side of the yacht. He could hear Max through the radio in his helmet but couldn’t understand anything beyond the noise of splitting waves. If he fell, he’d be crushed under the ship or chewed by the propellers.