Lampert stared furiously across the desk. “You just ignited a shitstorm, Cheryl. The Pentagon will be all over this.”
“And would you have preferred the alternative? They follow the trail right back here to you.”
“That would not have happened.”
“It did happen, Peter.”
He said nothing, just stared at her like she was the last thing he would ever see in his life. “They found out about the warehouse.”
“I cleared it. There was nothing to find.” “Well, they found the platform out there,” she said, pointing out the window toward the Gulf.
Lampert put down his drink and edged forward in his chair. His face was drained of color. “That is not possible.”
“The big guy? His name is Mecho, by the way. He was on that platform. Your people snatched him
from Mexico. He escaped. Made it to shore. And then he made it back. Last night.”
“I thought that might be the case. I thought he was spying on me. But I didn’t know why. I just thought he was trying to steal something.”
“He was tracking you, Peter. What he wanted to steal was your whole life and everything you have. And he came really close to accomplishing that goal.”
Lampert took his glass and hurled it against the wall. “Son of a bitch!”
Landry watched the scotch drip down the once immaculate wallpaper.
“Get a grip, Peter. Like I said, they’re dead.”
“I’m drenched and my face is smashed up. What does that suggest to you?”
“A fight in the storm.”
“To the death. Out on the platform. I won’t lie and say we didn’t take casualties. We did. They killed nearly all your guys, but in the end, we overwhelmed them with sheer numbers and a little luck.”
“How did you come to be there?” he asked, looking at her suspiciously.
“Like I said, I’d been following Diaz. They got on a boat. I got on a boat. They rode out to the platform. So did I.”
“In the storm? How is that possible?”
She looked at him incredulously. “I grew up in Florida. I’ve surfed in the aftermath of hurricanes. I’ve been piloting boats since I was ten. If it had been a Cat One or Two, maybe not. But a tropical storm, if you know what you’re doing, you can manage. And it’s lucky for you that I did. I thought that’s why you hired me. For my local expertise. And my balls under pressure.”
“I called ahead. At first my phone wasn’t working, but I finally caught a signal. I told them they were coming. They were ready for them, but it was still a hell of a fight. Those four were true warriors, I have to give them that. They didn’t go down easy.”
“And the product?”
“Mostly intact. We took a few casualties there, though.”
“And the bodies?”
“In the drink. Diaz and the others will never be found. We cut out the lungs. Bodies will go down and stay down.”
“Good thinking. And your work killing the Storrows and that old woman was truly appreciated, Cheryl. They could have ruined everything. The bonus I paid you for doing that probably was inadequate.”
He seemed to realize this was not praise enough. “And you’ve just earned yourself another bonus after last night. An enormous one. And a promotion. We’re going to get you out of that uniform and into a suit. You can take over Winthrop’s position.”
“Won’t he have a problem with that?”
“He would, except I had him killed for allowing Diaz to infiltrate us. And we’re moving the operation. My logistics guys are crunching the numbers now. I’m thinking Alabama.”
“What about him.”
“He’s your partner in the slave trade.”
“You told me he gave you an ultimatum.”
“And now with all this, what do you think he’s going to do? It’s not exactly a clean exit.”
“I’m thinking that I’ve become important enough that Senor Rojas will need to listen to my terms. Pipeline trumps product. I can get product on my own. I already did. Asia and Africa. Lots of poor, stupid people there. But Rojas can’t duplicate my pipeline. He doesn’t have the requisite connections.”
“Still, a dangerous game to play with the man.”
“I’m not underestimating him. But when you have an advantage you have to seize it.”
“Exactly my thinking.”
This comment did not come from Landry.
Puller had kicked open the door and stepped into the study.
Behind him charged Diaz, Carson, and Mecho.
They all had their guns drawn and pointed at Lampert.
Lampert stared first at them and then glanced at Landry in astonishment.
“You set me up?”
“Do you realize what you’ve done, you idiot?”
“I’m not sure you’re aware of the full extent of it.”
Landry unbuttoned the two top buttons of her shirt and pulled the wire and recorder out. She handed them to Puller. She turned back to Lampert.
“I saw an opportunity and seized it,” she said and added in a hollow tone, “but don’t feel like I got anything special. Life in prison instead of the needle. Some deal.”
“I don’t think you’re going to get the same deal,” Puller said to Lampert.
Lampert said, “How did you get past my security?”
“You should tell them to check the interior of every vehicle more thoroughly. With Landry at the wheel they just passed us through.”
Lampert looked from him to Landry. “You idiot.”
“They had me dead to rights, Peter. Sorry.”
“I’ll have you killed in prison.”
“You can try,” said Puller. “But I think you’ll have more important things to think about.”
“I’ll hire the best lawyers.”
“You’re going to need them,” said Diaz. “And I’m going to push hard to have you tried in Colombia. The Americans are too soft. Justice is much swifter in my country.”
Puller cuffed both Landry and Lampert.
“Now let’s go,” said Puller. He motioned with his Mu. Lampert rose and looked at Landry.
“You’re dead. You’re all dead.”
Then he walked out with the others behind him.
They reached the front courtyard, but then Puller stopped abruptly.
“What is it?” asked Carson.
Mecho was looking around warily too.
“Down, now!” yelled Puller.
Right as he said it the guns started firing.