Daniel Durand cast a final surreptitious glance at the gleaming row of single malts before he lifted the candy-sweet mango daiquiri. No scotch today. Today he was still Denny La Croix, Florida real estate wunderkind, and Denny liked frou-frou. Hence the rest of the tourist uniform: colorful Hawaiian shirt, flashy gold neck chains and wristwatch topped off with expensive UV blocking sunglasses. Tossing a couple bills to the bikini-clad bartender, he wandered outside and took possession of an umbrella-shaded table with an unobstructed view of the Pacific across the Kahala’s famous lagoon.
Someone dropped into the deckchair beside him. “A gracious good afternoon, sir.”
His eyes slid sideways. Wonderful. Wes Yarborough of Army Intelligence reclined just outside the shade of his umbrella, apparently intent on a paperback novel. Would have been nice if his own Air Force handlers had given him a heads up. Oh well, someone would have to pick up the ball once it was in play. Yarborough was more than capable of that.
“Relax, man. We’re on the same side. Mom, the flag, apple pie and all that.” Yarborough paused thoughtfully. “Well, okay. The flag and apple pie.”
“You the cavalry or something?”
“Perish forbid! You know these upscale places have no decent horse parking.”
Durand/La Croix hid a smile by swigging at the daiquiri.
“Whoa! Smells like an explosion in a fruit stand. What is that stuff, anyway?”
“Adult Kool-Aid. Part of the camouflage.” He regarded the skewer of fruit terminating in a garish paper parasol. “Well, sorta adult, anyway.”
A petite, dark-haired woman crossed the lagoon via the wooden footbridge and settled into a deckchair. Putting a portable CD player on the side table, she inserted earbuds and leaned back. Right on schedule. Linda Lou, youngest princess of the Courtland Chemical empire. A lovely young woman– outwardly. Inside, something dark festered. Something dark enough to make her engage in chemical weapon research and twisted enough to sell that research to the highest bidder.
Without looking up from his book, Yarborough muttered, “People like Missy over there baffle the hell outta me. Rich girl like that could have anything she wanted. Why sell weapons to the very people who want to wipe her from the face of the Earth?”
“You and I both know money rarely has anything to do with it. The real reasons are usually buried deep.”
“Too, too true — don’t look now, Kimosabe, but it’s showtime.”
A man in jogging shorts and tank top came out of the marine center and veered toward the beach. In the middle of the bridge, he seemed to have trouble with the CD player clipped to his belt. He pulled it off and walked on, absently fooling with it. On the other side, he clumsily knocked into Ms. Courtland’s table sending her player skidding. Apologizing profusely, he handed it back to her before heading onto the beach and jogging away.
The switch was made and his part was over. Actually, it had been over at eight o’clock that morning when Denny La Croix had invited himself to share her table at breakfast and exchanged the CD in her player while flirting obnoxiously. It had been kind of fun. Now that disk, containing false data, was winging its merry way into the hands of the bad guys.
He had a flight to catch, too, one where Denny La Croix would arrive at LAX, disappear, and Major Durand could continue to Washington DC. To home and the bottle of 12 year-old Glenlivet waiting to wash the taste of frou-frou Kool-Aid out of his mouth. An altogether more pleasant reception than Ms. Linda L. Courtland would find when she returned to her room.
He stood, stretched and headed into the hotel.