"You were supposed to report in to me." Harper said. The Special Agent sat across from him at one of several tables bolted into place in the ship's galley.
Prince folded his arms along the backrest of the chair he straddled and leveled his gaze on the man. "What desk did you crawl out from under, Harper?"
The man wrapped his hands around his coffee mug and stared into it. "It's always a game with you guys."
Dann sat at the next table, slightly apart from the conversation, cleaning his handgun. "You call a two mile swim in full gear fun and games?"
Prince dropped the chair to all fours with a bang. "My orders were to secure the vessel and then make contact. I'm not here to report in to anyone. And that includes the CIA. I'm just filling you in as a professional courtesy."
"I'm an analyst not an operative, not carrier pigeon. I delivered the money as requested. My wife thinks we've refinanced our house to help her sister. If I knew what was going on I might actually be of some assistance. I'm the guy they pay to think–"
"If you wanted to be helpful you should have delayed her departure and we could have strolled aboard this morning as planned." With Harper's help it wouldn't have been that hard to convince the captain they were divers up for a little adventure and willing to work on the cheap.
Since when had things ever gone according to plan?
"And games," Prince added a steel edge to his voice, "Keep my boys sharp and alive. We had no idea why the captain set sail early. Or why she choose to sit out the night in the shoals. Anything could have been going on aboard this ship."
"We were underway before she let us in on the change of plans. But this is not a combat ship–"
"It is now and for as long as I'm in charge."
Harper looked like he'd be sick all over again. "I can't have my family in middle of this mess."
"Look," Prince scrubbed a hand through his hair. He could understand the man's frustration, but they'd been going around in circles for over an hour. "You have every right to be concerned. But I've told you all I can. We need to keep you all together and this is the safest place to do it. Information is on a need to know basis."
"For crying out loud, man. My kids are on board! My wife is pregnant and due any day–" Harper took a minute to regain his composure. "You do realize my clearance is higher than yours. I have a need to know!"
"I'll try and clear it with the Commander. That's the best I can offer right now."
Harper threw up his hands in resignation.
Prince took a deep swallow of black coffee and grimaced at the bitter, lukewarm mud. He didn't want the man and his family on board any more than Harper wanted to be on board, but the fact remained, the Harpers were safer here than at home in Florida.
"Refills?" he asked, rising to his feet to refresh his cup. The other two men lifted their mugs. After topping off their coffees, he set the pot back on the warmer and leaned back against the counter. "Look you might not want to believe this, but you're better off not knowing..."
"I know how to keep a secret." Harper removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Shannon doesn't know I'm with the agency. And I'd appreciate it if she didn't find out from you guys."
"What does your wife think you do for a living?"
"Work for an accounting firm. And I'd like to keep it that way."
Prince shook his head. "That's exactly why I'm not a married man."
Dan looked at him sideways. "There's not a woman on earth who'd have you."
"Said the man who likes to think he can have them all."
"Do you doubt it–"
"Don't either of you playboys get any ideas about making my sister-in-law another notch on your dive belt–"
The ship's intercom system rumbled to life. "This is your captain speaking. All hands muster on the aft deck, ASAP." Her soft feminine treble came through loud and clear. "This is not a drill."
Prince slammed his mug, sending the freshly poured brew splashing over the side. "Damn, that woman!" He wasn't going to get a minute of peace this entire mission. Hooyah!
The intercom rumbled again. "Joey and Crissy, this is Mommy. Stay with that nice fellow, Bud. Please."
"Dann, check out the aft deck." Prince tucked his SIG Sauer into the small of his back. "Harper, come with me."
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