The Kiss of Virgins
Caitlin made a move for the Colt .38 that lay beside the unconscious Burcham -- but Hazard moved faster.
"After all we've meant to each other," he said, pretending to be mortally wounded in the general vicinity of the heart as he tucked the Diamondback under his belt.
"I'm too late," she said, with resignation. "You've killed him, haven't you?"
"Delphi. Nick Saccomando."
"No. If he's ratting on the Mafia I guess it's okay if he keeps breathing."
Brows knit, she peered at him. "You mean . . . ."
"I'm not a contract killer, Caitlin."
"Okay," she said, making a snap decision -- deciding that she would trust this man, even though everything she had read about him dictated that he shouldn't be trusted. "I'm with the Justice Department, Derek. Organized Crime Task Force. And I'm here to make sure Delphi keeps breathing. To be perfectly honest, that's why I . . . why I came on to you. When I found out you were on Biathos I thought you were the one who had come here to rub out Saccomando."
"And here I thought it was my devastating good looks and irresistible charm," sighed Hazard.
A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "An assassin is on the island. And someone on the inside has been bought off by the Mob to help. We learned that much from a routine wiretap on a Chicago restaurant where the head of one of the Five Families conducts his business. But that's all we knew for sure.That's why I can't trust anyone. Not even John Russell. I've got to get Delphi out. So, that's why I'm here. Why are you?"
"A case of being in the right place at the right time. Seems to happen to me on occasion. Jack Christian was murdered for snooping around this place and I wanted to know why. I'm a little ashamed to admit that they caught mesnooping around, too."
"At least they didn't do to you what they did to Christian."
"Burcham was inclined that way but Russell stopped him. They put me in a room under armed guard, instead."
"How did you get away?'
Hazard smiled. "The guard was looking for any excuse to do some damage to me. So I gave him one."
Caitlin shook her head, amused. "You can tell me all about it later."
Hazard nodded. It would take a few minutes to describe how he'd noticed that the guard below the window of his room was not stationed in that one place, but rather patrolled the perimeter of the house. And how once the guard down below was gone he'd taken the sheet from the narrow bunk and then, breaking the window glass, secured an end of the sheet to one of the heavy iron bars. How he had opened the door and ducked behind it, hoping that Christos would not be able to resist investigating what appeared from the hallway to be an empty room, and knowing that the window was located in relation to the door so that the guard had to enter the room to see it. Christos would see that the iron bars were still in place, but by then it would be too late.. And as he took one cautious step across the threshold Hazard had slammed the door into him, wrestled the 9mm automatic away from him (again) and knocked him cold by clubbing him with the pistol. This hardly seemed like an appropriate time for a recitation of that chain of events.
"How many of the enemy have you accounted for?" he asked.
"One. And the dogs. My understanding is that the security squad, counting Burcham, who runs it, numbers four."
"Then we've got one more to look out for."
"Don't forget the assassin. I wonder who . . . ."
A thought struck him, and he laughed softly at the irony of it. "I have a candidate. Remember the girl at the Delfinia, the one I thought I was rescuing from Burcham?'
"I remember. You mean . . .?"
"She's here. Saccomando has a thing for young ladies. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Mob knows this. Let's say Burcham is your inside man. Let's say the girl is the mechanic. I'm sure you get the picture."
"But she made a scene at the hotel," said Caitlin.
"An act. Cover -- probably more for Burcham's sake than her own -- when the time came for an investigation into Saccomando's murder."
"I've got to get to Delphi. It may already be too late. Will you help me?"
"Sure I will," said Hazard. "I've got nothing else planned for the evenings."
Hazard had seen the mobster emerge through a doorway not that long ago, and it was through that same day that he and Caitlin charged like gangbusters, Caitlin moving left, Hazard right, in a flawless synergism requiring no advanced planning. It was all instinct.
The slender girl with the flaxen hair and cornflower-blue eyes -- the phony damsel-in-distress Hazard thought he'd been rescuing from a fate worse than death the day before yesterday -- stood by the bed, nude, her bluejeans and tie-dyed top folded neatly on a nearby chair. She whirled, and Caitlin fired the air pistol the instant she saw the pistol in the girl's hand. Roxanne Wilson fell, and the little .25 automatic slipped from fingers already gone numb by the time she hit the Kelim rug.
Nick Saccomando came out of the marbled bathroom swathed in a purple, velvet-lapeled satin robe, and Hazard was on him in a flash. A carefully measured blow to the side of the neck dispatched the mobster to slumberland, and he fell so neatly into Hazard's arms that the whole thing looked choreographed. Hazard tangoed his burden across to the bed and dropped it there.
"Well," he said. "That was easy."
"I've got a boat," said Caitlin.
"What about her?"
"I'm not a cold-blooded killer. Are you?" She paused, watching him intently, then added, "Some people say you are."
Hazard looked at Roxanne, then at the 9mm in his hand, and ruefully shook his head. "I'm afraid those people are wrong." He tossed the automatic to Caitlin. "I'll be the swagman, you ride shotgun." He slung Saccomando effortlessly across a shoulder.
They got down the hall and out onto the sundeck, where Burcham still lay, out cold. Down the stone steps, from terrace to terrace, they went. When they reached the beach Caitlin noted admiringly that Hazard wasn't even breathing hard in spite of all the excess baggage he was carrying. She partially unzipped her wetsuit and extracted a small, tightly packed square of flourestcent yellow rubber. This she unfolded and pulled a ripcord. With a whoosh! the lifejacket inflated itself.
"Sorry I didn't bring two," she said wryly. "I thought it was just going to be Nick and me."
As they worked to get the lifejacket secured around the unconscious Saccomando, Hazard caught a disconcerting glimpse of her perfect breasts.
"Don't forget to zip up," he remarked. "You'll get waterlogged if you don't."
She smirked. He stripped off shoes and shirt and they waded into the sea, floating Delphi behind them.
When dawn probed the sky with saffron fingers of soft light, the meltemi struck. Its wild winds tossed the 38-foot Cigarette Top Gun, driving sheets of sea spray across the deck. The scarlet powerboat lurched up and down the angry gray waves in a rollercoaster ride that had Nick Saccomando leaning over the side emptying his stomach, his complexion that unhealthy shade of green uncommon to all those unfortunates prone to mal de mer.
Hazard had bound Saccomando to the rail with a length of nylon rope, and the mobster complained about this when he wasn't busy retching. He was worried that the boat might sink with him so attached, but Hazard was more concerned about losing him overboard, the fetch of the sea being so rough and unpredictable.
The Cigarette was a seaworthy craft, narrow-beamed with a deep V-hull, powered by twin 420-hp 502 MPI Merc sterndrives and with a top speed of 90 mph. Hazard wasn't too worried about sinking. But he didn't think there was much chance of their making Caitlin's intended destination of Mandraki Harbor at nearby Rhodes. Mandraki was almost 200 miles away, just about the maximum range of the Cigarette on calm seas under the best of circumstances. And he knew that the meltemi would quiet only when evening came -- and sundown was still several hours away. Winds in excess of Beaufort-3 were not unusual in these summer gales. So it was that an hour away from Biathos he put to Caitlin the proposition that they should turn back.
"My people are waiting for us at Rhodes," she said.
"We won't make it. There's an old smuggler's cave on the other side of Biathos. My friend Nico Spyridon once took me there. We can lay low until I can get word to Nico. He'll help us. He can get word to your people. Seeing as how you refuse to use the long-range SSB."
"We can't risk it. The wrong people might be listening." She hunched under another deluge of cold, salt water, nodded reluctantly. "Okay, we'll go back."
Wrestling with the wheel, Hazard flashed a dauntless grin at her, and she thought how splendid he looked, his broad, brown shoulders glistening and corded with taut muscles. Even in the wetsuit she was cold, and yet he seemed impervious to the elements.
Thanks for helping, Derek."
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Then the Cigarette pitched and rolled, throwing her against him. Deciding she liked it there, Caitlin stayed put.
Behind them, a drenched Saccomando moaned and leaned precariously over the side again.
Copyright 1992, 2015 by Jason Manning. All Rights Reserved. No unauthorized reproduction for any purpose whatsoever is allowed without permission of copyright holder. This copyright notice to cover all text found in this post except that attributed to others. Copyright is not claimed on any images included in this post.