Their first vacation to the Bahamas takes the Mahoneys on a boat trip that ends up in a confrontation with pirates out for ransom and illegal dealers trying to get their share. They all shoot to kill, leaving the couple to fight for their lives.
The airport concourse at Nassau, Bahamas, was filled with hundreds of joyous people on their way to a warm and sunny vacation, waiting for their baggage. Even though they were there for leisure time, Jazmin felt the slight tension running through Ethan’s body like an electric undercurrent as he scrutinized the throng. His profession as a bodyguard demanded constant alertness while working and was hard to switch off. She had an arm around his waist, feeling wonderful and at ease, and hoped she could persuade Ethan to loosen up a bit. Ten days of sun and fun lay ahead of them. Ryan, his colleague and best friend, took his backpack off the belt to place it beside Ethan’s larger suitcase on the cart.
“That’s all?” Jazmin asked, amused.
“Hey, what do I need besides board shorts and some underwear?” Ryan made a face and ran a hand through his short-cropped blond hair. He held up a finger. “Okay, I brought one dress shirt—a really good one—and pants. But that’s about it. I’m here to dive and swim and sunbathe. And, well, you know, get my lady between the sheets.”
He wiggled his brows and Ethan inhaled noisily. “Thanks for not over-sharing.” He looked out for the second suitcase while Ryan grimaced.
“Thanks for understanding that my fun might be different from yours.” Ryan pulled out a Zippo and started playing with it. The distinct sound of opening and closing the brass lighter attracted the attention of a young boy until his mother gathered her luggage and pulled him away. “Tell me, Ethan, you got one, too, don’t you?”
“Yep.” Ethan stretched his six feet three inch frame to scrutinize the entire luggage belt, but still couldn’t make out Jazmin’s suitcase.
“You both don’t smoke.” Jazmin looked from Ryan to Ethan, who pulled his Zippo out. It was a matte-finished black one with the small sign of the US Army. “So why carry a lighter?”
Ryan took it for comparison to his shiny silvery one and gave her the look. “You never know when a breathtaking woman comes along and wants you to give her... fire.”
Jazmin rolled her eyes, giggling. “Oh, I see where this is going. But honestly, is this still a subject these days? I mean, women no longer depend on men offering fire.”
“Ah, depends on the fire, my beautiful lady.” Ryan gave a gamy grin.
Jazmin boxed his upper arm and he pretended to be hurt.
“All soldiers get one when they begin their training,” Ethan said without turning. He shrugged. “And you just carry it with you—like your keys, penknife, pants.”
“Yeah,” Ryan agreed, waving a finger at his friend. “Better not lose your pants, pal.”
“You’re making this up.” Jazmin laughed.
“No. Zippo produced these lighters especially for the army. They catch fire everywhere because they don’t work with gas. They’ve got a wick that is constantly powered with fuel, so it keeps the flame steady even if it’s windy, wet or whatever.” Ethan showed the construction to Jazmin, then put it back in his pocket.
Ryan upturned his eyes. “I just wanted you to show me yours—which is a great one, by the way—and not get a history lesson.”
“The lesson was for Jazmin,” Ethan replied evenly. “Not for you. I know you wouldn’t listen.”
Ryan opened his arms wide. “I love you, too, pal!” He laughed when the people around him looked irritated or grinned. “You don’t have to make it so difficult for me!”
Ethan’s smile got wider. “You don’t have to tell everyone around that the kid has arrived.”
“I’m like that.” Ryan nudged Ethan’s side. “Come on, you knew what to expect when you accepted Cheryl and me on this trip.”
“I had hopes that—maybe just for her—you’d behave like an adult.”
“Been there, done that. Didn’t like it. Boring. And don’t—” he nudged him harder—”behave like Walter. I’m on vacation. I don’t need another boss.”
“Well, I see what you do when you got none around.”
“Right, that opens up a lot of possibilities.” He looked as if he was actually pondering something serious. “Can’t wait for Cheryl to arrive.”
“Does she take Walter’s place?” Ethan chuckled. “As far as I remember she at least looks better.”
“She’s not my boss, you crank.” He playfully boxed Ethan’s chest. “She loves me. We’ve been together for a year already. If she had trouble—”
“Being a boss?” Laughing, Ethan evaded Ryan’s attempt to punch him and brought up his arms in defense. “Yeah, next time you should take a vacation with Walter.”
“You’d want to see that, hmm?” Ryan cocked his head. “I remember he spent three weeks with me... on a boat. We were pretty close.”
“I remember him taking a vacation soon afterward.” Jazmin lowered her chin while she arched her brows. “Alone.”
“But seriously,” Ryan went on, making a face in Jazmin’s direction, “if Cheryl wanted Mr. Super-serious, she’d have taken one of those manager-boss guys she works for.”
Jazmin looked at the emptying luggage belt. “My suitcase isn’t here. Damn it.”