The boat eased into the slip, Farouk at the helm and Eddie perched next to him. Jack's nostrils flared at the smell of gasoline. Too bad he didn't have any matches on him.
Farouk cut the motor and the boat bumped against the rubber buoys in the slip.
Eddie's face split into a smile and he waved. "Mr. Jack! Mr. Freddie says he's taking me to see Dr. Lola."
So Farouk...or Mr. Freddie...had befriended Eddie. At least the kid wasn't terrified. Jack waved back. "That's right, Eddie. Dr. Lola will be here soon. You just have to wait for her."
Farouk moored the boat and jumped to the pier, leaving Eddie on the boat. "Long time no see, Jack."
Jack's gaze darted toward Farouk's hand stuffed in his pocket. A weapon? If he grabbed Eddie off the boat right now, would Farouk shoot them both? "Too soon for me."
Farouk laughed, but a sheen of sweat dampened his upper lip. "Eddie, go below deck and grab that bag of snacks. You can take it with you."
Eddie hopped up and disappeared belowdecks.
Farouk drew the gun from his pocket. "No need to scare the boy...or make him run. Take off your jacket and toss it over here."
Jack complied, the weapon in his pocket making a thunking noise as it hit the metal pier.
With his gun still aimed at Jack, Farouk crouched down and felt for the gun in the pocket. He then kicked the jacket into the water. "What else do you have on you, Coburn?"
Jack raised his hands and turned in a circle, his T-shirt flattening against his body. "Nothing else."
Farouk gestured at his feet. "Raise your pant legs."
Damn. Jack hiked up his jeans, revealing the knife strapped to his calf.
"Nice touch. Throw it over here...nice and easy."
Jack peeled the knife from his leg and tossed it at Farouk's feet.
Farouk kicked the knife into the water, too. "I think we're ready for our voyage now. Eddie?"
"I'm surprised you gave up your plans so easily, Farouk."
"The minute you arrived in Afghanistan, my scheme was doomed. As soon as the CIA got wind of your presence there, they started monitoring chatter from the region. First my drugs-for-money plan that was going to finance my lab got disrupted by Riley Hammond. Once he discovered my involvement, I was all over everyone's radar."
A muscle ticked in Jack's jaw. Riley had known about Farouk's plan?
"Then Ian Dempsey tracked vials of the virus that we had to dump in the Rockies." Farouk's dark eyes turned to slits. "And Buzz Richardson killed someone very close to me. Then Buzz had to foil my plan to kidnap President Okeke's daughter. The whole plan, a disaster from start to finish, thanks to Prospero. Thanks to you, Jack, because you're the one who started it all."
"Prospero was involved all along? How? I thought Colonel Scripps was on your side."
"I was able to get Scripps to come over after Prospero broke up. But when your name came up in the chatter, people higher than Scripps demanded Prospero's involvement."
Eddie's head popped up. "I have the candy, Mr. Freddie."
"One move, Coburn, and I'll shoot the kid." Farouk tucked the gun closer to his body. "It's been fun, Eddie. Now I'm going to trade you for Mr. Jack. You can go over to that shop at the end of the pier and Dr. Lola will pick you up."
Eddie hovered at the side of the boat, his left arm hanging uselessly by his side. Jack took two strides forward and lifted him from the boat. Could he go overboard with Eddie? Keep him under the water and out of sight? Eddie's pale face gave him the answer. He wasn't strong enough for that.
"Listen, Eddie. You walk straight to the bait shop and wait for Dr. Lola. Wait by the counter and don't leave with anyone else."
Eddie scoffed. "I'm not a baby, Mr. Jack. I know not to talk to strangers."
And yet he'd left the hospital with Mr. Freddie...the janitor. Jack ruffled Eddie's hair and said, "I know that."
"Are you coming to Dr. Lola's for Christmas, too? Does she already have a tree?"
Jack laughed. "Yeah, she does have a tree, and we'll all be decorating it for Christmas."
Farouk shook his head. "So we had a good time, eh, Eddie? Now get going. Dr. Lola is anxious to see you."
Eddie waved. "Bye, Mr. Freddie. Bye, Mr. Jack. I'll see you at Christmas."