CHAPTER ONE

10 August 1995

Beneath New Mexico's late afternoon sun the gang of fifteen men clad in bright orange jump suits worked diligently, if without enthusiasm. Three men with loaded weapons watched their progress, collecting litter from along the road verge. Down the road sat their transportation: a school bus fitted out with armour plating, its passenger compartment caged. Lounging on the bus steps, luxuriating in what little shade he could find in the wide-open landscape, the driver sipped a Gatorade and reflected on his surroundings.


Few travellers frequented this stretch of road. The prison guards knew most of the locals and their vehicles on sight. However there were enough tourists in search of "pristine scenery" that the Bulls maintained a relative degree of alert.


Back muscles protested when Ricardo Fernandez straightened and pulled a hand from his work glove. After scrubbing his sweaty palm down one leg, he wiped his brow. Shading his eyes, he squinted off across the desert. Scrub brush dotted the landscape, the arid panorama offering scant welcome to anyone, even those who were well versed in desert survival.


"Thinking of running, Ricki?"


Ricardo grunted and returned to work. Trapped in the middle of the work gang and manacled to another inmate, he was not in a particularly ideal location for an escape. And the Bulls kept a close eye on him and his companion. Of the entire detail, they were not necessary the most violent of the lot, simply the ones most likely to make a break.


Two vehicles appeared, in either direction; the SUV emerged from a slight dip in the road to the east while a coupe appeared out of the heat-haze shimmering above the asphalt. Not necessarily an unusual occurrence, but the guards went of heightened alert as they approached. Training dictated they scan their charges for any obvious change in behaviour.


Several prisoners glanced in the direction of the vehicles out of habit. Ricardo stuffed the bits of trash into the bag his partner held, his head turning to study the SUV. Both vehicles slowed. Normal enough with the workers on the verge under the watchful eyes of three armed officers.


One guard went down before anyone was conscious of anything out of the ordinary. The sedan halted beside the bus. A round took out the driver, leaving him sprawled in the doorway, astonishment on his face. Torn between the prisoners they were guarding and protecting themselves, the guards reacted instinctively. They opened fire on the SUV. Rounds bounced off the exterior. The prisoners dropped into the ditch, unwilling to face the prospect of death by unknown hands.

Silence fell. The sedan purred slowly up the road and halted near the SUV. Slowly the prisoners peered out of the ditch. After a brief glimpse, Ricardo confidently stood. He gave his chain an impatient yank, urging his companion up onto the verge. An old man climbed from the sedan.


"Ricki."


"Pappa."


While Niko Montanino hugged his son-in-law with the reserve of a Colombia patriarch, the rest of the chain gang emerged from the ditch. One pair inched towards the dead guards. They halted when one of the old man's bodyguards walked across and retrieved the keys to the manacles. Ricardo evaluated the situation quickly, making note that none of the prison guards had survived, not even the one who had sold out his companions. But one of his people was also dead; a head shot by one of the guards.


'The smart ones survive,' thought Ricardo dispassionate, 'the weak and foolish are weeded out.'

Grouped in a tight knot the remaining prisoners watched while one of the strangers unfastened Ricardo's chains. Under the old man's direction two of the bodyguards hoisted the dead guard's corpse into the rear seat of the sedan. Then Ricardo and his father-in-law climbed into the SUV. One of the bodyguard's got behind the SUV's wheel and drove off. The other climbed into the passenger seat of the sedan. Almost as an afterthought he tossed the keys onto the road before following the SUV. The two prisoners who had initially made a try for the keys now grabbed them and unfastened their chains. They tossed the keys to one of the remaining prisoners before heading to the bus. Minutes later the pair headed off down the road in the bus. The rest of the prisoners stayed with the dead guards, electing to finish their sentences than attempt a life on the run.


Down the road the SUV and sedan turned off up a dirt road. Eyes half closed, Ricardo revelled in the air-conditioned interior. Alongside him Montanino sat in silence, eyes fixed on the road ahead. Clouds of dust obscured the sedan following them. The man in the front passenger seat passed Ricardo a package. Opening it, he discovered a change of clothing. Ricardo quickly peeled off the prisoner uniform, underwear and all, and dressed.


Mountains appeared on the horizon as the heat dissipated. Faint outlines, purpled against the darkening sky, they heralded a promise of freedom. Suddenly Ricardo picked out a windsock and a small building. Next to the building was a twin-engine propeller-driven light aircraft: a Beachcraft, it was large enough to comfortably carry ten passengers. Two men stood beside the nearest wing.


"You didn't bring the jet," Ricardo observed.


The old man favoured him with an inscrutable look. "In that we will stay below their radar net until we are outside their range."


Disgruntled, Ricardo sulked until they stopped outside the perimeter fence. Then he climbed out and walked through the open gate. One of the two guards nodded a greeting, but he never left off his sweep of the surrounding area. Ricardo paused, waiting for Montanino to catch up with him. He had sufficient presence of mind to assist the old man into the Beachcraft before clambering in. Behind them two men covered the vehicles with flammable fluid, inside and out while the Beachcraft engines turned over. One of them tossed a match into each through an open window. They walked to the aircraft and climbed in, abandoning the burning vehicles. The aircraft taxied out onto the strip and paused. The pilot sat on the brakes while he opened the throttle. Then they were rolling and lifting away into the air.


As the wheels came up, Montanino turned to his son-in-law. "So, we are free of them at last."


"I want them to suffer, pappa," Ricardo told the old man. "I want them to pay for what they did to me."


Montanino lifted an age-gnarled hand. "We are going home, Ricki. No more vendettas against these Island cops."


Ricardo objected, "They owe me!"


"They are big fish in a very small pond," countered the old man. "One has retired. Another is the Honolulu Chief of Police, and one of his partners is the Department Head in Hilo on the Big Island."


"They are men, no more, no less. And they owe me a blood debt," countered Ricardo. His lips compressed tightly on the last word.

Montanino insisted, "Forget them. You have more important things to concern yourself with."


About to continue the argument, Ricardo studied the old man. Montanino's eyes bored into his. Ricardo nodded, but deep inside he refused to acquiesce. Fortunately it appeared his father-in-law saw nothing of the rebellion simmering just below the surface.


"Amelia will be waiting for us when we land," he told Ricardo. "She is anxious to see you again."


'Perhaps,' thought Ricardo. He could not as easily believe the old man's assurances. Such letters as he had received from his wife had felt distant, contrived or coached. 'Or both.'


"I am getting old, Ricki," the old man continued. "It is time you took more of the reins." For a moment Ricardo was uncertain he had correctly heard his father-in-law. But Montanino continued, "I have informed our allies that you will be taking the position of my second-in-command."


Caught up in what the old man was telling him, Ricardo stared at the view outside the aircraft. They were rapidly approaching the coast. To take control of the organisation meant he would have every opportunity to exact his vengeance on those who had put him in prison. But he was done with waiting for the day when old age caught up with Montanino. Deep inside something snapped. Before the guards could react, Ricardo reached across his father-in-law and grabbed the door handle.


"Ricki. What are you doing?"


It was difficult to push the door open against the slipstream. Someone grabbed at Ricardo's shoulders, but the ceiling was too low. Something coughed in the back seat and the hands on his shoulders fell away. Then another set of hands appeared, helping him. As the door inched open, Ricardo released Montanino's lap belt and pushed. The old man clawed at him, frantic. But Ricardo had spent his jail time well, working out daily, strengthening himself against the prospects of freedom.

"No, Ricki!"


The old man was gone with barely a cry of protest. The door slammed shut. Richardo sat up, turned and stared at the guards seated behind him. The one sitting directly behind the now empty seat was slumped, dead. The other guard watched him, speculation rampant. Loyalty was something given to the strongest, and Montanino had displayed a weakness in his inability to abandon his son-in-law to the American justice system and move on.


"Now," said Ricardo, shrugging his shoulders to straighten his jacket. "You will take me home. I need a shower and some better clothes."

The surviving bodyguard responded readily. "Si, Senior Fernandez."
"Is the yacht at the port, José?"


"It is presently in Miami," José told him. "But it can be recalled immediately."


"Good. There will be time before it arrives, then, to formulate our next move." Ricardo settled back in his seat, his eyes partially closed as he carefully considered his next move. "I am looking forward to returning home."


"What will you tell your wife?"


His eyes fastened on the pilot and third guard seated ahead of him in the aircraft Ricardo considered the question. Throughout the incident neither had so much as twitched in support of the old man. Their loyalty was clearly in his favour.
'At least for the time being,' he reflected. "I shall tell her we ran into difficulty."


"Do you think she will believe you?"


"Does it matter?"


To Ricardo's rebuttal José tipped his head to one side. There was something that needed to be said, but could not be voiced here in the aircraft. With a brief nod Ricardo indicated he understood. They passed across the coastline in the gathering dusk, and out over the Gulf of Mexico.



CHAPTER TWO

5 September 1995


Tuesday following the long weekend was unusually quiet. Chief of Hilo's police department, Rob Rydell had allowed half of his personnel to take either a half or full day's leave of absence. It was not an entirely unusual act for him even if it were perhaps a bit unwise. It meant the department was short-staffed, but on the flip side of things, it got him out from behind the desk and, better yet, out of the office.

In his late forties, Rob had a wealth of experience behind him, primarily as a street cop. A twenty-six year veteran of the force, he was lean, intense, with mouse brown hair and piercing blue eyes. Although raised in the Islands, he was entirely Caucasian. There were those who insisted that he was still too young for the position he held. But others pointed to his tenure under Ben Kokua in Honolulu, working with Special Investigations.


Rob admitted to himself that he missed those years, missed working with Kimo Royce and Sharon Parsons. But it had been time to move on. When the offer was made he had accepted it. Neither Ben nor Kimo had been particularly surprised, and both had fully supported his decision. Still, it had meant leaving behind what might have been a promising career as a detective.


"Chief?"


His radio crackled to life. Rob pulled out of the past. Parked at the waterfront just east of Hilo city centre, he stared out at the ocean. Between the parking lot and the water was a stretch of pristine grass broken only by trees and boulders of lava rock. At one time a school had stood here. Until a tsunami had swept in, catching everyone unprepared. The memorial was a short distance from where he was sat.


Rob set his half-eaten sandwich aside and responded to the call. "Rydell."


"Sir, we're got a report of a possible body up near the falls. Can you respond?" The Dispatcher's voice sounded partially garbled with static.


In the back of his mind Rob wondered where the rest of the day staff were and why he should be the one getting the call. However he did not voice his thoughts out loud.
"Ten four. My ETA should be ten to fifteen minutes."


"Copy that."


Lunch forgotten, Rob started the engine. After a quick check for obstacles --- wayward tourists or locals on their lunch break --- he reversed, spun the wheel hard over, hit the siren and tore off up the street.


There was no one at the lookout when he pulled in and parked the squad car. All things considered he was not entirely surprised. Even if the call were genuine, the caller may have opted to remain anonymous.


'On the other hand it could just be some kids.'


Which was not entirely unusual. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same, and Rob knew he would not be entirely surprised if the call proved out as a prank.


"Dispatch, this is Chief Rydell requesting confirmation on that call." 

Only static met his inquiry.

 "Dispatch?"


Still no one responded to his call. There had been intermittent problems with the radio in this particular vehicle over the previous week; gremlins, the technicians insisted. Which was why Rob had elected to sign out the car rather than assign it to one of his subordinates. Now he regretted his magnanimous decision. Irritated, he tried a third time to contact Dispatch but the radio remained stubbornly mute.


"No one to blame but yourself Rydell," Rob muttered as he stepped from the car.
He banked on the call having been placed by one or more teenagers wanting a cheap thrill. Present day youngsters were no different from their parents, when all was said and done. Crossing the sidewalk, Rob walked along the railing, checking the undergrowth and slope on the opposite side. When he reached the lookout, however, he spotted something in the water. A dark shape bobbed and swirled in the pool beneath the falls, trapped in an eddy.


Autumn rains had swollen the Wailua River, and Rainbow Falls was an impressive cataract. Where locals might brave the rocks beneath the falls in summer when the water level was low, at this time of the year only the most foolhardy even considered getting close to the river.

Unable to get a good look at the shape in the water, Rob carefully stepped over the railing. Taking hold of a tree branch, he leaned out for a better look. And lost his grip and balance as someone pushed him hard.


With an involuntary yell, Rob slithered down the slope. Clawing frantically at the vegetation, he managed to slow his precipitous plunge. Abruptly his right hand closed on a larger bush. His body reached the end of its slide, pivoted and halted with a jerk that all but tore his arm out of the socket.


There he hung, his lower torso suspended in the air, his chest and arms above the cliff edge. Gasping, heart racing, Rob struggled to find purchase with his left hand. Beneath his right fingers he felt the bush give a fraction. It was only a matter of time before the bit of vegetation lost its tenuous hold on the slope. Grit spattered his face. He turned his head aside, spat dirt.


"Rydell."


At the hail, Rob tipped his head back, striving to see his assailant. With the light in his eyes it was impossible to make out anything definitive beyond an outline of a man at the top of the slope.


"I have a message from my employer," the man told him. "Ricki says to say hello to Kokua for him. Of course, it'll be a little while before he catches up with you."
Shock from the fall was nothing compared to that announcement. "Tell Fernandez I said I'll see him in hell."


"Probably," responded his attacker. "But not today."


Even as he delivered that verbal attack, Rob knew he would not going to get out of this predicament. Briefly he wished he had called Kimo earlier in the week as he had promised. Now it was too late.


"Sorry, bradda," he said.


A bullet clipped the bush to which Rob was clinging. A second splattered him with rock fragments. Desperate, unwilling to give up, Rob struggled to find purchase on the crumbling lava cliff face with his left hand and feet. A third round snapped his sole anchor.


With a shout he slithered over the precipice into the open air. On the way down his head connected with a protrusion. Unconscious, he finished his fall to the pool below.


* * *


Half an hour later a tourist bus drew into the parking lot. Upon discovering abandoned police vehicle the bus driver called it in while the guide went through her spiel. It took only seconds before one of the tourists spotted the shape bobbing beneath the falls.
Minutes later a second squad car arrived on the scene, drawing up alongside Rob's vehicle. They got out. While the elder officer interviewed the bus driver, his rookie partner checked out the squad car radio.


"Works fine," he announced seconds later. As an after-thought he added, "His lunch is here, too."


With a grunt in acknowledgement, his partner asked the driver, "And you didn't see any sign of him?"


"No, bradda. Just the squad car sitting there with the driver's door open."


"Right. Thanks."


Together the police officers walked over to where the tourists waited at the lookout. One of them pointed over the precipice. What they saw made the elder partner page Dispatch.


"Dispatch, this is Brad. We've got what looks like a floater beneath the falls. Suggest you send out the divers and the rescue gear."


"Copy that, Brad. Where are you exactly?"


"At the lookout. There's no sign of the Chief, but his car's here."


"Okay. Stay there."


"Ten four."


An hour later the divers made two discoveries in short order. The first was that the 'floater' was a mannequin tethered to an outcropping. The second was the body of Rob Rydell. Face down, half in, half out of the water, arms akimbo, he floated amongst the rocks a short distance downstream.


CHAPTER THREE

11 September 1995


Despite his tenure on the Police Force, first in Honolulu and then in Hilo, Rob Rydell had not made a lot of friends. Most of those gathered to bid him farewell were his Hilo associates and subordinates. Both his parents were dead. His one sibling, a sister, was unable to make the funeral. So it was left to his few friends and acquaintances to see him laid to rest as befitted a veteran officer killed in the line of duty.


Amongst the mourners were five exceptions. Three stood close together. Outsiders on the Big Island, Honolulu Police Chief Ben Kokua, his second-in-command, Lieutenant Jonathon Mattheson, and Rob's ex-partner and best friend, Sergeant Kimo Royce, all in police dress blues watched, faces stiff with controlled emotions as the priest concluded the graveside eulogy.


Several feet away Police Corporal Sharon Parsons reflected she would have been more comfortable with the support of those with whom she had served since Nineteen Eighty-three. However, the presence of the fifth man in their party kept her where she stood. Age had diminished his height somewhat, thinned and refined him, greyed a full head of hair. But his eyes were no less piercing, and although Sharon she was not the subject of his scrutiny, she could not help feeling uncomfortable.


Commanding the occasion, however unintentionally, was the Man. Of the entire gathering Steve McGarrett, one-time head of Honolulu's now disbanded elite investigation team, Hawaii Five-0, alone continually scanned his surroundings, studying those gathered about the grave with an intensity in someone retired from the force since Nineteen Eighty-three. He had only met Rob Rydell on a couple of occasions before retiring. But what McGarrett knew of Rydell was that he had been a good cop; an honest cop who had performed his duty to the best of his ability, if perhaps a bit unorthodox at times.


What troubled Steve McGarrett the most was what Ben had told him concerning the investigation into Rob's death. Initially it appeared to be a simple case of death by misadventure.


'If any death is ever simple,' McGarrett silently mused.


An in-depth study of the scene by the Crime Scene Investigation unit, however, had revealed a number of curious, troubling inconsistencies. Most prominent of all had been Rob's failure to follow procedure.


'Why didn't he call in? And why was he at the lookout when he was supposed to be patrolling the waterfront?' Steve glanced briefly at his companions. 'What was he doing on the other side of that railing? How did he fall?'


There were no immediate answers, although Hilo's CSU continued to explore the results of their crime scene study. Steve pulled his attention back to the graveside.
Wind lifted and tousled Ben Kokua's grey-streaked hair. Kimo Royce and Jonny Mattheson flanked him. Age was creeping up on Jonny. Steve remembered him as a gawky teenager, unsure of himself, bullied toward a life of crime. At thirty-six, with nineteen years as a cop under his belt Jonny was the antithesis of his teen years in all except his features. Those, like Dan Williams, retained a boyish quality. Unlike Steve, Danny and Ben, Jonny was losing his hair. To combat the look of age he kept his hair crew cut short, which did much to amplify the image of authority he needed to project.
Directly across the coffin from Steve five officers raised their rifles, cocked them and aimed them obliquely toward the sky. McGarrett took a step sideways and leaned forward to speak quietly to Ben as the Honour Guard fired their volley.


Something snatched at the back of Steve's jacket. An all too familiar and frightening sensation knifed through him in accompaniment to the fire that flared across his shoulder blades. In the same instant the edge of a nearby gravestone shattered.

Ben's arm swept out, and he and Steve hit the ground as one. Jonny joined them. As they scrambled to find cover behind the headstones, someone shouted. Spectators and reporters scattered, several women screaming as they sought shelter from any further shots. The rest of the police went on the defensive, fanning out, searching for the location of the sniper.


While Hilo's finest went into action, Jonny carefully fingered the back of Steve's jacket. He caught Ben's gaze across McGarrett's back. His lips pursed in a silent whistle.


"That was too close," reflected Ben Kokua as he stared at the damaged suit.
Jonny raised his hand. His fingers were red. "I think someone should call an ambulance."


Ben inspected the damage and concurred. "It doesn't look that bad. As soon as we have the all clear we'll get you to the hospital, Steve."


McGarrett nodded then added, "You better call the DA."


Where other officers might take offence at Steve telling him how to run his investigation, Ben merely nodded. Although Steve had been officially retired since late Nineteen Eighty-six, he had never forgotten what he had been. Would always be a cop. And Ben Kokua still valued his insight. Much as he hated to agree Ben knew that his worse fears were confirmed by that suggestion.


"I think we can pretty well guess what happened to Rob Rydell."


"I think we should call Danny," added Jonny soberly.


Across the cemetery a police officer gestured, indicating the all clear. The funeral entourage cautiously got to their feet. Ben stared at Jonny.


"Why do you want to call Danny?"


Jonny answered without hesitation, never taking his eyes off the area from which the shot had been fired. "Well, if they---whoever they are---killed Rob and tried to take out Steve, this could well be a vendetta against previous members of Five-0. And that will include Danny."


'And possibly Charley,' thought Steve. There was no need to say it out loud. He knew Jonny and Ben were thinking the same thing.


With an aggrieved sigh Ben turned the McGarrett. "Steve, will you talk to them? I think Charley will take it better coming from you. I'll arrange with the Governor for a detail to patrol their neighbourhood. At least until we know which way this things going to shake out."


Steve McGarrett readily agreed. "All right." But silently he doubted Charlene Williams would take this latest news well at all. And from Jonny's expression, Steve knew her brother was thinking the same thing.


It was unlikely Ben would have any difficulty getting the Governor to approve the release of manpower necessary to protecting Dan Williams. Upon his return to Honolulu in Nineteen Ninety, Danny Williams had put his past well behind him and had applied for a position in the Governor's office. The Governor had readily accepted Danny's application, taking him on initially in a junior position.

Within six short years Danny had proved himself invaluable, to the extent that he was now Chief of Staff, a job that found him putting in hours extremely reminiscent of his workload at Five-0. There were rumours that, if he so chose, he could well take over as Hawaii's next Governor. Given the present list of candidates, and with the Lieutenant Governor leaving the position due to health reasons, Dan Williams would more than likely win hands down. At least that was the general consensus in the ongoing debates with the news networks.


'And that,' considered McGarrett, 'may well be why Danno and Charley have been so reticent these past two months at discussing anything to do with his job.'
Still such a decision would be an incredible leap for both of them, socially and politically. Thought of Charlene as the wife of a Governor tugged at Steve's sense of humour. Her complaints at Danny dragging her out for dance lessons were still fresh in his mind even after three and a half years. For his part, Steve fully supported his ex-partner and friend in all of his endeavours.


'And if Danno is conferred as Governor elect, it'll be a breath of fresh air,' thought Steve.


"You're deep in thought," said Ben.


"Sorry." Steve caught sight of an ambulance racing up the road to the cemetery.


"Come on. Let's get that score checked out."


* * *


Seven hours later, seated in Steve's living room on Oahu, Jonny, Kimo, Sharon and Ben considered the dearth of information which Hilo's CSU had been able to give them on short notice. They had been promised further details as CSU uncovered them. However, what they presently had to work with was thin.


"My biggest question," said Kimo, "is why he was up at the falls in the first place. He was supposed to be patrolling the waterfront."


"I questioned the mechanics in the carpool," said Ben. Steve raised an eyebrow. Of them all, only Ben was familiar with the Hilo police department, having been the Department Chief for two years before taking over the case that had very nearly cost Steve his life. "There were intermittent problems with the car radio. No one was able to pinpoint the problem."


"You've asked CSU to give it a going over?"


To Steve's rhetorical question Ben nodded. "Something about that didn't sit right." He flashed Steve a familiar grin. "Some of the old McGarrett second sense rubbing off, I guess."


"Or something," said Jonny. In spite of the circumstances of that day they could all see the humour of the moment.

"Coffee?"


Amanda McGarrett set the tray on the coffee table. Catching her husband's eye, she nodded. Past experience dictated she make herself scarce. Not that she minded. When the Honolulu Police Department requested her husband's views on a case it was best to let him take the bit and run. The analogy of Steve as a high-blooded stallion never ceased to amuse her. But Amanda withdrew, careful not to get dragged into their discussion. Just once in the past had she found herself caught up in a case involving her husband and Jonny Mattheson.

'And that was quite enough to last me a lifetime,' she considered.Always one to read a moment accurately, Steve McGarrett made a mental note to bring his wife up to date when the time presented itself.

"Steve?"

He looked up as Jonny handed him a mug of coffee and nodded. "Thanks."

"So the initial report," Ben Kokua brought them quickly back to the case, "indicates Rob drove up to the lookout for some reason. Any thoughts?"


"I'd say someone met him at his lunch break and suggested he go up there," said Kimo.

"Or he received a call on his radio."


All eyes fixed on Steve at that statement. Kimo leaned forward. "Begging your pardon, Steve, but Dispatch denies having requested he respond to any call up at Rainbow Falls."


"I wasn't suggesting the call came from Dispatch," countered McGarrett.


Ben settled back on the couch and stared at his former boss over the rim of his mug. Kimo and Jonny eyed both men, waiting expectantly. At length Ben set aside his mug.
"You're suggesting Rob's radio was sabotaged."


"There is that distinct possibility, yes," said Steve.


At that, Jonny shook his head. "That would take considerable forethought."


"Yes." With a nod, Steve carefully set his mug on the coaster Amanda had provided.
"So," Ben considered, "we're dealing with someone with a past that includes Rob and you, Steve."


Before anyone could respond, Amanda returned. "Steve, it's after one in the morning."


"Well," Kimo slapped his hands against the tops of his thighs, "I can take a hint."


He stood. Jonny rose, nodded to Amanda and headed for the door. Kimo followed him. Sharon smiled and briefly clasped Amanda's hand before trailing after the others. Only Ben remained, standing in the centre of the living room. There was something about Rob's death that deeply troubled him. Elements of this case were teasing him, but they remained elusive.


"Give it a rest, Ben."


Ben glanced at Steve. Amanda touched his arm. "You're tired, Ben. Go home. Get some sleep. I'm sure it'll all become clear in the morning."


With a nod, Ben let Steve walk him to the front door. They stepped outside. Steve refrained from turning on the porch light, however. In companionable silence they listened to the sounds of nature. Everything seemed right with the world.


'Or with the night, anyway,' Ben silently amended.


"You'll keep me abreast of things?"


"Sure, Steve. I'll let you know of any developments," Ben promised. "Don't you forget to call Danny."


"First thing."


"Well, not too early."


A grin lit Ben's face and set his eyes dancing. Visions of Steve phoning the Williams' household at six in the morning were not far off the mark. Caught up in the moment, Steve smiled back. With a nod, Ben parted from Steve, walking down the driveway to where his car sat.


Once Ben had driven away into the night Steve returned to the house. He checked the coffee table. His wife had cleared away the detritus of the evening brainstorming session. In the bedroom he heard springs creak slightly. Turning out the last of the lights, Steve headed for the bathroom.

He cautiously flexed his shoulders. Felt the bandages restrict his movements. Fresh scabs pulled and he restricted his movements rather than risk opening the wounds. The bullet had actually scored the tops of both shoulder blades. In two ways he had been exceptionally fortunate.

His unwitting move, stepping sideways to speak to Ben Kokua had spoiled the sniper's aim. Once again Steve thanked God for the survival instinct that had kept him alive all these years. Irrespective of that, had he not bent from the waist at the same time, he could well be in a hospital bed now, permanently crippled with a severed spine. As it was he had a deep flesh wound across his shoulders and one of his two best suits was a write-off.

CHAPTER FOUR

12 September 1995 

The usual early morning squabble had broken out between Chris and Sera over who got to use the bathroom first. Pouring himself a cup of coffee, Danny glanced toward the back hall. Then, hearing Charlene's voice, he stuck two slices of bread in the toaster.


"'Morning, Dad."


"'Morning, Daniel."


Eldest of the three Williams' offspring, Daniel Williams entered the kitchen in his stocking feet, casually belting his housecoat about him. At sixteen, he stood a half head taller than his father, an inheritance from his mother's side of the family. He had his father's mobile features, liberally sprinkled with freckles, topped off by the trademark Williams curls, although his hair was more blond than the strawberry his father's had been. Their eyes were the same, however. Even at birth no one could doubt who had sired Daniel Williams, although he had been born out of wedlock.


"All right. That's enough. Both of you," they heard Charlene declare. "Chris, your sister will not monopolise the bathroom which, I might add, you tend to do. Therefore Sera goes first."


"Aw, Mom. I gotta go," Chris protested.


"Then use the en suite," she countered. "Your father has finished."


A few moments later Charlene appeared. Clad in a thin, dark green kimono-style housecoat, she ran a hand through her short coif. At this time of day alone did his wife look something close to her true age when the sparse grey strands were more evident amongst her brown hair. Danny reached out and put an arm around her, drawing her against his side. Daniel wrinkled his nose as his parents exchanged a good morning kiss. The toast popped up. As Daniel reached for it, his mother smacked his hand aside.


"Daniel, where are your manners? You know that's your father's breakfast."


"I thought he had already eaten," countered her eldest son.


"Daniel!" Justifiably shocked, Charlene stared at him, adeptly reading the double entendre. "Where on earth did---"


"Daniel," Danny cut across his wife, "I'd rather you watched what you said around the house. Chris and Sera are not so young anymore that they aren't capable of understanding a blue joke."


"Yes, Dad."


Pulling the toast from the toaster, Charlene quickly ran some margarine across it. "Jam or marmalade?"


"Jam," replied Danny.


The phone rang. Charlene scowled. "Who one earth would be calling at this hour?"
"The Governor," shot back Daniel.


Charlene glanced at her husband for confirmation, but Danny shook his head. "I can't think why. There's nothing pending that I'm aware of."


"Answer the phone, dear," said Charlene as the phone rang again. Danny fielded the cordless and walked out the kitchen door into the back garden. "Williams residence."
"Sorry to call you so early, Danno."


"Steve."

Shooting a furtive glance over his shoulder, Danny moved further down the garden path, halting only when he felt he was far enough away that neither his wife nor his children would overhear his conversation. Charlene had heard his salutation. Her head had come up, eyes narrowed speculatively. Daniel looked at his mother, before glancing out the door in the direction of his father. If Steve McGarrett was calling this early in the morning it could only herald something neither of his parents would greet with any sense of enthusiasm.


"Can you talk?"


Steve's question confirmed the worst. "Yes. What's wrong that you don't what Charley to hear?"


There was a pause then Steve chuckled, only a trace of humour in the sound. Danny's senses went on alert. "Still quick off the mark."


"I rather figured you weren't calling me in my capacity as Chief of Staff."


Not bothering to respond to the repartee, Steve asked, "Are you up on the local news?"


It only took a second for Danny to pick up the direction in which Steve McGarrett was taking him. "Are you referring to the death of the Chief of Police in Hilo? I thought that was an accident?"


"Unfortunately, no, it wasn't."


"All right." Taking a deep breath, Danny attempted to steady his pulse rate. Too many years as a cop, not to mention his years with Charlene made that impossible. "Do we have any idea who's responsible?"


"Not at the moment. I thought you might want to hear the rest from me before you see it on the news."


"What happened?"


"Someone shot at us at the funeral yesterday."


"God, Steve! Was anyone hurt?"


"Not seriously."


Charlene asked, "Is he okay?"


Caught off-guard, Danny turned to find his wife standing two paces away, her face a study. His lengthy break in conversation alerted Steve immediately.


"Is that Charley?"


"Yes." Danny acknowledged Steve's inquiry.


"Then you better pass on the warning to her. Ben's speaking to the Governor today. He'll be requesting additional patrols in your neighbourhood. In all likelihood this won't affect you, however there's no use taking any unnecessary chances."


"Okay, Steve." Aware his wife was fitting together the one-sided pieces of the conversation she was hearing, Danny continued. "So it wasn't an accident."


"We don't think so."


"We?"


"Ben, Jonny and their team. You'll be picked up this morning, by the way."


That statement spoke volumes. "I see."


"We need to talk, Danno. See you this evening?"


Gaze fixed on Charlene's face, Danny deferred, "It'll depend upon what the Governor decides, particularly with this---I take it Ben's going to give him a complete briefing?"
"Can you make a slot for him this morning?"


"I'll call Ben the minute I get in."


"Thanks, Danno."


"Anytime, Steve."


"Oh, and Danno?"


"Yeah, Steve?"


"Watch your back."


Not taking his eyes off his wife, Danny replied, "We will."


Arm dropping to his side he thumbed the 'off' switch. Charlene studied his face. Her resignation mirrored his emotions acquired and strengthened over eighteen years of close association. In so much, Danny was grateful that their marriage had happened in spite of, or perhaps even because of the trials they had passed through together literally from their first meeting.


"How is he?"


"He left a lot unsaid," Danny told her. "He wants to see me."


"But not me." Before Danny could reply she lifted a hand, conceding the point. "It's okay, Danny. Just---if I can be kept in the loop, even partially, don't ignore me."


There was no adequate defence to that. In all their years together Danny had seen his wife weather incredible brutality and come out the other side the stronger. She possessed a resilience most people would envy were they to know the truth about her life. He was also aware that Steve, Ben and Jonny would not expect him to keep her wholly in the dark if what was happening now would, in any way, affect her.
'That said,' he thought, 'if it involves me, it involves her. The only problem is, how much will it involve the children?'


Out loud he said, "I have to go. I'm going to be late."


"Not before you finish you breakfast," countered Charlene. "And I won't take no for an answer. How are we supposed to make the children eat breakfast if you won't? You're the one who keeps insisting breakfast---"


"Is the most important meal of the day," he finished for her, escorting her back along the path into the kitchen. "All right, Mom. But I think you're going to have to nuke the toast."


"Of course." Charlene programmed thirty seconds on the microwave and started it.
While waiting for his toast, Danny sipped his coffee and watched the clock. His time with Five-0 had made him a habitual clock-watcher and someone seldom if ever given to arriving late for work. As the Chief of Staff for Hawaii's Governor that habit now stood him in good stead.


'Better early to work and late to leave,' he thought, and memory trapped him. 'Except that now I'm bringing it home with me.'

A beep announced his toast was ready. Even as Charlene opened the door to retrieve the plate they heard a car horn sound outside. Danny looked at his wife. Hands on hips, she sighed.

"Are we expecting someone?"


"My ride. Sorry," he said. "I'll grab something at work."


"Right. A dried-up Danish and coffee that would melt a spoon." Opening a cupboard she picked down a box of Granola bars. Taking out two, she passed them to him.
Accepting them, Danny shrugged into his suit jacket. He picked up his briefcase and headed for the front door. Arms wrapped around her, Charlene accompanied him. Outside sat an unmarked sedan with a driver. Behind it was a squad car. Charlene raised an eyebrow as the driver stepped from the car.


"'Morning Danny. 'Morning, Charley."


"Jonny."


Her monosyllable greeting sufficed to inform her brother that she was aware all was not right in paradise. She silently accepted the apologetic look he flashed her. Nor did she return indoors. Rather, she stood watching her brother open the rear door. Danny rested a hand on the top of the door. His eyes briefly met Charlene's before he settled himself in the vehicle. Daniel appeared behind his mother.


"Hey, Uncle Jon."


"Hi, Daniel."


Unprepared to answer or deflect questions from his eldest nephew, Jonny closed the passenger door, hurried back to the driver's side and got in. He slammed the car door, put the sedan in gear and turned off down the driveway, the squad car right behind. Charlene and Daniel heard another car start up as the sedan reached the road.

"Okay," said Daniel, "What gives, Mom?"


"I don't know exactly," she told him truthfully.


If Daniel had inherited little else besides her father's height from her side of the family, he had definitely inherited her curiosity. Combined with his father's intuitive nature, it meant she and Danny did their level best never to lie to their children. They also tended to confine private conversations to late at night or when they were out alone.


"He didn't tell you?"


"Daniel, if and when your father knows what is going on, and feels we should know, he'll tell us. Until then---" 


"Yeah, yeah, yeah," responded Daniel. "Okay, Mom. I'll walk Chris and Sera to school."


Relieved that her eldest had read the situation correctly, Charlene thanked him.

 "Would you pick them up as well?"


"Sure Mom." Daniel's expression turned thoughtful. "Guess I better tell the guys I won't be going on any outings for the next while."


'Not unescorted, anyway,' he concluded. But he kept that to himself.


Able to competently read her children's moods, Charlene draped her arm around her son's shoulder and guided him back indoors. Sera and Chris looked up from their breakfast in the kitchen. Something in their expressions alerted Chris. He set aside his spoon as they entered the kitchen.


"Is everything okay, Mom?" 

"Everything will be fine, kiddo," Daniel told his brother. "Let's eat and get out of here."


* * *


Once on the highway, one squad car in front, the other bringing up the rear, Jonny glanced into the rear view mirror. Danny had opened his briefcase and was rifling through the papers inside. At the same time he was munching on a cereal bar.


"Well," Jonny observed, "that went better than I hoped."


Danny glanced up. "You should know better than that."


After a moment's consideration Jonny sighed. "You figure Charley's storing it up for this evening."


"You know your sister."


"Uh huh." Jonny refrained from commenting that, since Nineteen Seventy-eight Danny knew his sister a lot better than he did.


For several more minutes Jonny drove in silence, casting the occasional look into the mirror. Throughout the ride Danny worked, shuffling papers and making notes, either in the margins on the actual papers or on a notepad. At length he took out his diary and reviewed the day's agenda.


"Busy schedule?"


"And yours isn't?" For the first time Danny actually put aside his work and studied his brother-in-law. "Why did Ben assign you to drive me to work?"


"Security," said Jonny cryptically.


Into that single word Danny read a wealth of information. Chill of mainland winter crept over him, chasing a shiver up his spine. He carefully set his Day Timer back in his briefcase and closed it up. Eyes fixed on the view of the city before them he considered his next question.

"How serious is it?"


"Let Ben brief you," Jonny told him.

"Orders?" That went without saying when Jonny refused to commit himself to an answer. Danny tried again. "How's Steve?"


"He wants to tell you himself."

"Jonny."


Clearly weighing what he should and should not say, and the risk of giving away too much before his superior had spoken to his brother-in-law and the Governor, Jonny twisted his hands back forth on the steering wheel. Patient, Danny waited, giving Jonny space to make his decision. He knew he had pressured for information when he should have backed off. And yet, given his friends and family were likely involved, he could not stop himself.


"Steve's okay," said Jonny as they turned onto the broad thoroughfare on the last leg of the drive. "He's gonna be stiff and sore for a week or so, but you know Steve."


"He'll weather it," remarked Danny. Between the lines he read the inference that Steve had been shot. The echo in his mind reflected, 'Again.'


"Here we are," said Jonny. They drew up outside the building. A police officer waiting outside hurried to open the rear passenger door for Danny. Jonny turned in the driver's seat.

 "I'll see you inside."


For a second Danny held Jonny's gaze. Then he nodded and slipped from the car. Unwilling to take the sedan to the parking lot until certain his brother-in-law was safely inside, Jonny waited for the police guard to return and give him the high sign.


Taking the steps quickly, Danny refrained from speaking to the policeman at his side. The officer accompanied him as far as the outer office before parting from him. Danny's secretary, Annette looked up expectantly as he entered.


"The Governor would like you to see him right away, Mister Williams."


As always, Danny cringed inwardly when she addressed him in that fashion. In three years she had failed to acquiesce to his wishes to call him by his first name. Perhaps it was just as well. By maintaining her stance she successfully kept gossip at bay. Annette was not unattractive. She was also young and perky. But perky was not Danny's style. He liked a challenge, which was precisely what Charlene provided him with. And however unlikely it might seem to acquaintances outside of his Five-0 background, Danny was one of a few men who deeply and sincerely loved his wife in spite of their squabbles. In short, their relationship was based on an understanding of agreeing to differ when their points of view failed to mesh.


"All right, Annette. Please call him and let him know I'm on my way."


"Yes, sir."


But Danny did not leave immediately. Instead, he went into his office and set his briefcase alongside his desk. Then he took a moment to flip quickly through his calendar one more time. There was already a slough of phone message slips waiting for him to respond. This time was one of those exceptional few when he would not answer even one of them first thing. Instead, he left the office.


"Annette, I'll be with the Governor for the next little while. If anyone calls, take a message."


"Yes, sir."

Heart rate accelerating slightly, Danny left his office and headed for the Governor's. The Governor's secretary indicated he should go straight in. When Danny entered the room he discovered Ben already there. The door to the outer office behind him opened and closed. A glance over his shoulder confirmed Jonny had also arrived. The Governor looked up.


"Come in, Danny, Lieutenant Mattheson. Have a seat."

With a quick gesture Jonny insisted Danny precede him. Once they were inside he closed the door. They sat, Danny to the left, Ben in the middle and Jonny on the right facing the Governor across the desk.


"I must admit, gentlemen, that what Chief Kokua has just told me concerning yesterday's events on Hilo is both disturbing and incredible."

When the Governor paused Jonny appeared on the point of interjecting. A touch of Ben's hand stilled him. They waited. However inadvertently, they presented a concerted front against which the Governor weighed his personal opinions over the information Ben Kokua had handed him first thing.


"However, I also have to acknowledge the facts are undeniable. There is a definite possibility that a threat exists against you, Danny." Danny inclined his head slightly. "To you, Ben, and the Lieutenant the threat is far more genuine. Until this crisis is passed, I will authorise additional use of manpower to provide protection for Danny and his family."


"Thank you, sir."


That expression of gratitude came, not from Dan Williams, but rather from Jonny Mattheson. The Governor raised an eyebrow. Ben refrained from calling his subordinate to order. Their association went back too far, the family ties between Jonny and Danny always foremost in Ben Kokua's mind.


"Danny."


"Sir?"


"Ben will assign two squad cars, a driver and a bullet-proof sedan to you. They will bring you to work in the morning and take you home in the evening. They will also assist you in whatever shopping expeditions you and your wife deem necessary. However, I'd prefer it if you keep those to a minimum."


"Yes, sir. What about the children?"


"That won't be a problem, sir," said Ben before the Governor could respond. This was something he had given extensive thought to overnight. "Lieutenant Mattheson will ensure the children are transported to and from school. I'm certain he won't mind picking up the groceries either."

On the heels of that Jonny rolled his eyes at his brother-in-law and muttered out of the corner of his mouth, "Great. I can't wait to see my sister's expression when she hears this."


CHAPTER FIVE

22 September 1995


Sailboat spars rocked gently against the skyline in the late afternoon breeze. Beyond the marina Blackball's COHO ferry was putting out for Port Angeles in Washington State a little over fifty miles away. Two British Columbia catamaran ferries were tied up to the wharf in front of Customs and Immigration just the other side of the Wax Museum.

Tourists still filled the waterfront walkways. The sound of a Tally-Ho horse-drawn carriage made its way past the Parliament Buildings, en route to Beacon Hill Park, while a single horse carriage worked its way sedately up Government Street. Overhead, puffs of cloud drifted north and east in the general direction of Vancouver on the mainland.


Ubiquitous flower baskets swung gently from turn-of-the-century style lampposts. A piper squeezed out a traditional Scottish welcome just around the corner. Buskers worked the upper and lower walkway performing tricks or playing a variety of musical instruments. An artist sketched in chalk on the lower walkway. A gaggle of whale watchers dress in bright red and black suits scrambled into a zodiac preparatory to departing for the Straits of Juan de Fuca in the hopes of spotting a pod of Orca.

Clad in the height of fashion for sailing, Ricardo Fernandez waited impatiently at the top of the steps for his wife to join him. Canadian Customs used to be a joke for him. But since escaping the U.S. justice system Ricardo was acutely conscious that he had to play it carefully. Fortunately his present disguise had held when Customs had boarded his yacht, the INDIO ESPAÑA. Now he just wanted to get to their hotel.
Rather than book a suite at the Empress Hotel overlooking the marina where they were tied up, Ricardo had elected to make their lodgings at the Laurel Point Inn. That meant they would have to take a taxi. In the meantime José would rent a car. Their plans were to remain in Victoria for roughly two weeks, but even that was open to change with very little notice.


"Amelia."


Hearing the waspish note in his voice, Amelia hurried up the stone steps. Tall, with the flashing dark looks of a Spanish beauty, bitterness was starting to leave its mark on the sharp planes of her high cheekbones. Tiny crows' feet starred the outside corners of her dark brown eyes, drew down the corners of her mouth. Shapely curves were taking on gaunt angles and she was dyeing her hair to cover the grey strands.

Since the death of her father, under circumstances she considered highly suspicious, she no longer had protection from her husband's moods. And lately those moods had grown increasingly dark. She adjusted her sunglasses, which had slipped down the bridge of her aquiline nose and hoisted her purse strap higher on her shoulder. The hem of her dark blue culottes rippled in the breeze off the Straits.
"Our taxi is here," Ricardo informed her.


Manuel, another of Ricardo's men brought their suitcases up the steps and tossed them into the trunk of the taxi while Ricardo handed his wife into the rear seat of the vehicle. Once Amelia was settled Ricardo turned to Manuel.


"You and Francisco stay with the yacht. José will relieve you later this evening."

"Si." Someone who seldom spoke more than was necessary, Manuel turned and headed back to the marina. Ricardo got into the car and closed the door.


"Where to, sir?"


"The Laurel Point Inn."


Punching in their destination, the driver took the corner in the direction of the Wax Museum. Ricardo made a show of studying the sights, all the while considering the quickest ways in and out of the city. In truth he was beginning to regret having put in here. The city was on an island, albeit an island large enough to get lost on. But routes off Vancouver Island were limited to water and air; routes that could easily be covered by the local police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Ricardo's upper lip curled slightly.


"They are a joke," he murmured a reminder. Few criminals took the Canadian police seriously.


"Ricki?"


"Nothing, Amelia."


Upon deeper reflection Ricardo conceded they should have put in at a marina on the mainland. But those were more heavily patrolled than Victoria. So they were stuck with his decision. At least there were amusements here for his wife.


The trip to the hotel was mercifully short and the driver made no attempt to strike up idle conversation. Amelia stared fixedly out the side window of the taxi, presumably admiring the impressive line of the Olympic Mountains across the Straits of Juan de Fuca in Northwest Washington State. If she was increasingly more reticent Ricardo refused to dignify her moodiness with a reaction as long as her behaviour did nothing to affect his operations. She was there for window-dressing and to bear him children, no more, no less. And should she envision her position in his household to be more than that he would quickly dissuade her of the notion.


Once settled in their rooms, Ricardo left his wife to unpack and retired to the hotel bar. The view across the water was pleasant: the Olympic Mountains etched the southern skyline, frosted along the highest peaks with fresh snow. He was sipping his second beer when José arrived. They withdrew to a table across the room.


"Is it all set?" José's head shook just a fraction. Ricardo swore. "Dios! What went wrong this time?"


"The cop is dead."


"Which one?"


"Rydell."


"And McGarrett?"


"They missed completely."


"Madre---how? That damn Island cop has more dumb luck. I wanted him crippled."
"He moved just as the shot was fired. Because of the number of cops at the cemetery it was prudent to retire and wait for another opportunity."


"Now they are forewarned. It will become more difficult to carry through."


Fingers pulling at his lower lip, Ricardo considered his plans. He had factored in just such a stumbling block into his scenario, but that this had happened so early on did not auger well. He had wanted McGarrett sidelined before commencing the next phase of the operation. Seated quietly across from his superior, José waited for further instructions.


"Call them. Tell them they are to wait for our arrival."


"Senior?"


"We shall remain only a couple of days. Then we sail for Hawaii. I want this business finished as quickly as possible."


Later that evening Ricardo told his wife about the change in plans. "We will be sailing on Friday."


"Sailing?" Amelia stared at him across the bed. "But I thought---"


"Two days, Amelia. Then we head for Hawaii."


"Hawaii! Ricki, you are a fool. Forget this vendetta. Even my father--"


She got no farther. Ricardo rounded the foot of the bed and backhanded her into a nearby chair. While she sat staring up at him in astonishment, a hand cupped to her face, he raised a finger.


"I am your husband. You will listen to me and obey my orders implicitly. And I do not want to hear anything more about what your father would or would not have done. Do you understand me?" 

Stunned by the blow, Amelia nodded. But that did not satisfy Ricardo. "Answer me. Do you understand me?"


"Yes," she managed to whisper.


"Louder. I didn't hear you." Now he reached out, took a handful of her hair and forced her head back.


"I hear you." She forced out the reply he expected. But beneath the surface simmered the quiet fury bequeathed her by her Spanish ancestry.


"Good."


Accepting her surrender, Ricardo disappeared into the bathroom. Amelia dreaded what night would bring. She had seen him angry before, but that rage had never previously been directed at her. More and more she found her thoughts returning to what she had been told of the efforts to spring her husband from prison.


"Did you lie to me about my father's death, Ricki?" she whispered.


The door to the bathroom opened. Even though it was only delaying the inevitable, Amelia quickly ducked into the bathroom and closed the door. After fifteen minutes, unable to put off the confrontation any longer she emerged. To her surprise she discovered the lights off and the quiet sound of snoring from the direction of the bed. Easing beneath the covers, she turned her back on her husband and composed herself for sleep.


* * *


27 September 1995 

Three days out to sea Ricardo sat at the small table in the sailboat's cabin. His wife remained out on deck under the watchful eyes of Ricardo's captain and one of his henchmen. The other two bodyguards sat across from their superior listening while he outlined their next move.


"Our people have done as you ordered, but are maintaining a watch on the old cop and his friends."


Ricardo grunted, staring at the sheet of paper in front of him. Unlike many of his contemporaries he continued to prefer paper rather than the new trend towards computers and palm-pilots. There were computers in his organisation, true. It was necessary to conducting business. But he hired qualified people and bought their silence one way or another.


"The next stage will be tricky, but once we have these two safely sidelined, the rest will fall into place." José tapped the respective names.


Manuel asked, "What about the old cop?"


"Es nada," responded Ricardo. "I should not have allowed my anger to colour my perspective. We will make no further moves against him. Undoubtedly it will confuse them when nothing further happens to him."


"Ernesto says the cops in Hilo are still investigating the death of Rydell."

For a minute José thought his superior had failed to hear him. Then a fist slammed down on the table between them. Both bodyguards blinked but managed not to jump. Unrepressed rage twisted Ricardo's face on the heels of that announcement. Everything he had done, indeed everything he was doing relied upon the Hilo cops believing Rydell's death to be an accident.


Manuel attempted to placate his boss. "A cop is dead. Naturally they will wish to cross every "t" and dot every "i" before they close the file."


Nostrils flared as Ricardo took a slow deep breath and released it. Emotions once more under control he leaned forward. "Make certain our people track this investigation. I want to know the minute anything changes."


"That could be difficult," said José. Of the pair, he was the least likely to suffer for pressing the issue.


"Why should this be a problem?"


To that José replied, "Kokua and Mattheson are handling it."


"We know Kokua once had a drinking problem, senior," said Manuel. "And Mattheson ran drugs as a kid."


"Something to work from. What have you heard from our people?"


"They are pursuing it."


"Buy favours." Confident, Ricardo looked at his men. "They will not be working alone. Find out what cops make up the rest of their team."

Manuel looked dubious but José nodded. "I will pass the word. However, what we know of this Kokua may make it impossible to take that route, senior."


"We will make this work. Tell them to get us the names of those with whom he works. I want everything on their backgrounds. Everyone has a weakness that can be utilised. And no more slip-ups. Tell Anders his people went too far with Rydell. He should not be dead."


"Yes, senior."


"Good. Now," Ricardo got to his feet. "Let's find out what sort of weather we will meet on this crossing."


"Senior."


"Oh, one final thing. Before we tie up in Hawaii I want another name on this yacht. Something in English. It will be easier to sell."


"Why not simply change the present name to English," suggested José.


Ricardo considered the advice. In truth, outside of his compatriots in Colombia, no one was aware he owned this yacht. A quick name change would simply help to further muddy the waters.


"See to it," he ordered them.


* * *


Eyes shaded against the glare off the water, Amelia watched the three men emerge from the cabin. She shifted her weight slightly, placing her back firmly to the cockpit when her husband went to speak with their captain. Clouds etched the skyline, boding rough weather ahead. Although an excellent sailor, Amelia far preferred a quiet crossing. Shoes slapped on the decking. A glance over her shoulder confirmed Ricardo was coming down the port side.


"So, this another working trip," she remarked as he halted beside her.


"It is none of your affair, Amelia." Prepared to argue the point, Amelia caught the glint in his eye and bit back a retort. Her husband was determined to wreak vengeance on those who had destroyed his Hawaiian network, even if it meant dragging the rest of them down with him. That his men appeared unconcerned by this infuriated her. Everything her father had worked for was rapidly coming apart.

'Fools. All of them. If they go down I do not plan to go with them,' Amelia vowed.

 

 

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