That bastard can get you anywhere. Even in witness protection.

Of course, that means he can get me.

Lampert picked up his phone and communicated with his chief of security. His words were terse. “No one in and no one out. Call me immediately if anyone approaches.”

He next called his yacht captain. “I want to be ready to leave in the next hour.”

“The seas are still rough,” the captain said, obviously surprised by the order.

They had moved the yacht out into open waters to let it ride out the storm on anchor. A tropical storm was not the same thing as a Cat Four. A Cat Four could pick up a yacht and throw it onto land.

The seas were rough, and once or twice Lampert thought he might be sick. But he would take

vomiting over someone blowing out his brains. If he did have to make a run for it he would have to leave his wife and son behind. That was okay. He could always get another wife. And his son was growing up to be a real prick. He could fend for himself, with his trust fund.

“Well, that’s why I pay you what I do. One hour.”

“Yes, sir.”

Lampert clicked off and looked around his cabin. The finest materials from around the world and fashioned by immensely talented craftsmen stared back at him.

He had the best of everything. It was his due. He worked very hard. The rank and file had no idea how much hard work it took to build a fortune. And it was even harder work to keep it.

Taxes were too high and regulations were choking off business, but still he persevered. And he employed people too. Created jobs where there had been none before. He had done the same thing on Wall Street. And been vilified for his efforts.

He shook his head. Business was really just picking up too. He had put enormous amounts into infrastructure, training, equipment, manpower. The risks he took were huge. And it was all paying off. His product pipeline was the envy of the world. He moved more product than anyone else by a factor of five. He had brought precision and a business mentality to a formerly dirty, chaotic enterprise.

And unlike oil or natural gas or other resources, the supply of product was infinite. Until the world ran out of poor people he could have his pick. And the world would never run out of impoverished folks if he had any say in the matter. There was only so much room at the top. And he was not relinquishing his space.

Lampert knew that he had always been meant for bigger and better things.

But he had to survive. This was where the risk was greatest. This was why he was making so much money. Because it could cost him everything.

Including his life.

He refocused on the tasks at hand.

Rojas did not know of the latest maneuvers.

The storm had forced his boat far out to sea. He doubted the man would chance coptering in when the skies and winds were still too unpredictable. All that gave Lampert something he desperately needed now.

Time.

Time to figure this out. Plan his next moves.

Survive.

The unknown factor, of course, was Puller and his cohorts.

They had followed the truck with the product. They obviously knew what was going on. There had been a gunfight on the beach. He had not heard from his men, so he knew that they had lost.

So what was Puller up to?

He had tried calling out to the platform, but the call had not gone through.

The storm again. The timing truly sucked.

And then, as if in answer to his prayers, his cell phone rang. He looked at the number and smiled.

He clicked on and said, “I was hoping to hear from you.”

Cheryl Landry said, “I’ve got a lot to fill you in on. Can we meet? Now?”

CHAPTER 92

The storm was rapidly dissipating but downpours were still occurring intermittently as Danielle finished expending its energy.

It was daylight now, but Danielle was keeping the skies dark. It could have been the wee hours of the morning.

Someone knocked on the front door.

Lampert answered it himself. He had taken a tender to shore. He had thrown up twice because of the rough seas. Now he was hoping for some good news.

He stared across the threshold at Landry. She was drenched and her face was bruised.

“What the hell happened to you?” he asked.

“Can I come in first? And can I get a drink?”

He turned and she followed him in. He led her to his private study and closed the door behind them.

“You want a change of clothes?” he asked.

“I’d like that drink. That’s what I really want.”

He poured her out a scotch from the bar set against one wall.

“I was on the Lucky Lady contemplating whether I should make a run for it,” said Lampert.

“Trust me, I was contemplating the same thing.”

“But on the phone you said you had good news.”

She accepted the scotch from him, took a sip, and then sat down in a chair opposite his desk. He sat down too, steepled his fingers, and stared at her expectantly.

“Well?” he said.

She took one more sip from the tumbler and then pressed the glass against her bruise. “The operation was compromised.”

“That I know.”

“Murdoch is a spy.”

“That I know too.”

“Her name is Lieutenant Claudia Diaz. She’s with the Colombian National Police.”

Lampert simply stared at her for a long moment before exclaiming, “Shit!

Landry smiled at this reaction. “I take it that you didn’t know.” She held up her glass. “You might want one of these.”

“Tell me what happened.”

Landry took another sip, sat back, and exhaled a long breath. “What happened is, I saved your ass.”

“How?”

“I never trusted Winthrop or Murdoch.” “Smart of you.”

“So I watched them. Winthrop was clean. Murdoch wasn’t. It was clear she was just letting him get into her panties so she could get close to you.”

“I can see that now.”

She smiled, cocked her head at him as the rain beat down outside and the thick dark swirling clouds kept the sun at bay. “And did she let you get into her panties?”

“Irrelevant to our discussion, but the answer is yes.”

“So you were deceived as well.”

“Women are my weakness. And I think I’ll have that drink now. But keep talking. I’m very interested in how you saved my ass.”

While he poured out a drink she said, “Your hit team against the big guy went awry. Diaz tipped him off.”

Lampert sat back down with his scotch. “And why would she do that? Is he working with her?” “It doesn’t matter at this point. They’re both dead.”

Lampert choked a bit as the scotch went down the wrong pipe. “Dead? How was that managed?”

“Like I said, saved your ass. Puller is dead too.”

“What about the other woman? You told me she was a general. Carson, right?”

“Dead too. They’re all dead. It’s not like we could allow any of them to survive.”

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