Riley's gaze never wavered from the water as he removed his boots.
Several seconds later, Farouk's head broke the surface of the water. The driver of the big powerboat never saw him. The boat mowed him under, and the water turned red with his blood.
"I suppose I'd better make sure he's finished." Riley stripped off his shirt and dove into the water. Treading water, he waved one arm in the air and shouted, "He's gone."
Jack slumped to the deck of the boat, panting, sweat dripping from his brow. They'd done it. Prospero had finally vanquished Farouk.
And just like old times, his Brothers in Arms had his back.
Lola clapped her hands as Jack lifted Eddie to place the star at the top of the Christmas tree. Lola was planning to apply as a foster parent and take Eddie into her home as a prelude to adoption. She was going to save that announcement for Christmas Day.
Jack stepped back and slung his arm across Lola's shoulders. "Looks great."
Rosa buzzed around the four men, Jack, Riley, Ian and Buzz, refilling their drinks and stuffing them with food. Once she'd gotten a load of Jack's three hunky friends, she figured she'd died and gone to heaven.
They were enjoying an early Christmas celebration before the guys took off to spend the day with their families. Riley had a woman waiting for him in California, and they planned to sail down to Cabo. Ian was on his way to Colorado to his wife and son. And Buzz planned to fly to New York, pick up Raven and take her back to his ranch in Oklahoma.
Ian asked, "Have you heard from your brother yet, Lola? Is he okay?"
She put a finger to her lips and jerked a thumb at Rosa's retreating back. "I heard from him two days ago. He's fine. He's heading to Africa next to do more work on the vaccine. After all that turmoil, he said his formula is still in its preliminary stages. He tried to tell his captors but they wouldn't believe him."
"The Centers for Disease Control have the formula now." Riley punched Jack in the shoulder. "You sure caused us a lot of trouble."
"When did you start suspecting Colonel Scripps?" Jack asked.
The other three men exchanged glances. Ian answered, "Things weren't adding up. We were getting bits and pieces of information, but not from the Colonel. We'd heard that one of your aliases had flown into Miami, but Scripps never told us that."
Lola tilted her head. "That's why you all headed for Miami?"
Lola combed her fingers through Eddie's hair. "Go join Rosa in the kitchen and wash your sticky hands."
Eddie rolled his eyes at Jack and stomped off to the kitchen.
Shoving her hands in the pockets of her skirt, Lola asked, "What happened to Scripps?"
Buzz's square jaw hardened. "The FBI picked him up. I still can't believe he betrayed us."
Riley broke the strained silence by picking up his plate of food and aiming a fork at Buzz. "Buzz flew us all in. We'd gotten your name by then and had been here for a day but had no luck tracking you down, Lola. That's when we were convinced you were with Jack and he was protecting you."
She wrapped her arms around Jack's waist. "Yeah, he was. Well, after he pulled a gun on me in my car."
That got the four of them arguing over what they would've done in Jack's situation. The scenarios got more and more ridiculous until Lola was holding her sides with laughter.
They all still needed some time to heal, but this was a start. The four of them together. What did Jack call them? Brothers in Arms.
Ian, Buzz and Riley settled around the TV to watch a football game, and Jack took Lola's hand and led her through the sliding doors to the patio in the back.
The light breeze lifted the ends of Jack's hair, and his eyes gleamed in the darkness. "I feel like we haven't been alone since the rescue."
"We haven't." She jerked her chin toward the room inside. "Your buddies are kind of clingy."
He chuckled and drew a finger across her cheek. "I have to get back to L.A., get my life in order."
"See a doctor."
"I'm already seeing a doctor...intimately."
She tapped his head. "You need to get this checked out."
"I will. I can look after myself."
"We all know that. You don't have anything to prove."