She smiled and still crouching, scurried to their table. "Just the guys I want to see. Can you do something for me?"
"I noticed a couple of men on the path through the bushes back there. They were eyeing the little girls playing jump rope. I think they might be perverts or something. Will you check it out?"
She'd barely finished her last sentence when all four of them pushed back from the table, dominoes flying in every direction. The words perverts and little girls in the same sentence had set their blood on fire.
Once they scattered, she turned her attention back to Jack and his colonel. Jack's body looked coiled and ready to spring. This did not look like a happy meeting between former colleagues.
Lola licked her dry lips and tensed her own muscles. She sensed something terribly wrong and knew she'd have to make a move before things got any worse for Jack.
Yells and curses rose from the bushes behind the bench where Jack and the Colonel sat. Lola vaulted from her hiding place, waving her arms over her head.
"Humberto, Mauricio! Him, too. I saw him, too." She aimed her finger at the Colonel who had looked up, shock draining his face of all color.
Her aging vigilantes stumbled from the foliage. They had corralled two younger guys to help them, and they dragged the two "perverts" from the bushes.
Gesturing and yelling, the men surrounded the Colonel.
Lola cupped her hand around her mouth and yelled, "Jack!"
He shot from the bench and flew past the curious people beginning to gather around the arguing men. Grabbing her arm, he hustled her out of the park and onto the sidewalk.
She jogged to keep up with his purposeful stride.
"What was that all about?"
"That meeting didn't look right to me. You didn't look right."
Jack stopped suddenly and Lola stumbled against his back. He turned, steadied her and pinched her chin. "You're crazy. Get in the car."
She slid into the driver's seat and noticed her racing heart for the first time. She was crazy. Who knew how that all could've gone down?
She dragged a breath of air through her nose and expelled it in a noisy sigh from her lips. "What happened back there? Not the reunion you'd anticipated?"
Clutching his hair, Jack squeezed his eyes shut. "Colonel Scripps is either in bed with Farouk or he's lying or both."
"H-how did you figure that out?"
"He knew your name."
She lifted her shoulders. "Why is that a sign of anything? He knew Gabe's name and probably did a little research on the family. It wouldn't be difficult to link me to Gabe."
"No." He shook his head. "He never knew Gabe's name. Why would he? I've been retired from Prospero for years. Colonel Scripps is not privy to my cases."
She gripped the leather steering wheel with clammy hands. "Is that all? Was that your only sign?"
"I asked him about the other members of Prospero. If anyone can vouch for me, see me through this mess, it's Ian, Riley and Buzz." Jack leaned his head against the glass, deep lines etching worry around his eyes. "He told me they were engaged in other pursuits. So either he didn't tell them, or he told them and they blew me off. I don't believe it for a minute."
"And that's why you think he's in league with this devil, Farouk?"
"He doesn't want me in contact with my team. He seemed more concerned with the formula for this flu virus than my health and well-being."
"You didn't give it to him."
"Now we're back to square one." The adrenaline rush she'd experienced in the park had slowed to a drip. She felt like a balloon, once flying high, punctured and whirling out of control.
He covered one of her white-knuckled hands on the steering wheel with his own, slightly scraped and battered. "No, we're not. At square one, all I possessed was a name. Now I have...so much more."
His fingers tightened around hers for a moment, and then he curled forward, his head in his hands.
"Jack!" One of his headaches had him in its grip again, torturing him with pain...filling him up with memories.
Lola's gaze darted to the rearview mirror before she swung around and pulled a U-turn in the middle of the street. She cruised back into Little Havana and turned onto a small side street. She could keep Jack safe here while he rode out this headache. The people of Little Havana would come to her aid, just as they'd done in the park.