Former CIA spies Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens decided to take a break from the Florida Keys to enjoy the white sands and cool waters of Virginia Beach. Their relaxation comes to an abrupt halt when Felicia recognizes the notorious Russian criminal named Festov. But Felicia killed Festov six years earlier in Amsterdam—or so she thought. This unexpected appearance reveals a terrifying conspiracy with global implications. Is it really Festov or someone made up to look like him? Can Felicia and Nick stop Festov and his partners before they hatch their deadly plan?
Sometimes you have to leave home to find your way back there. I’ve left home plenty of times in my adult life. Hell, I can barely remember where home was or what it was like. That’s the danger of signing your life over to a government spy organization and becoming another faceless, nameless spook in a sea of spooks. I don’t have too many regrets about the dozen years I spent with the CIA, except one. It took me a lot of years and a lot of Scotch to get over a terrorist bombing that was meant to take me out of the game—and killed my wife instead.
Nick Seven let his mind wander from the deck of his cabin cruiser, moored at the Virginia Beach boat club. He gazed at the nearby beach, taking in the bikini-clad women and buff pseudo-studs who postured for anyone interested. He used the late-morning solitude to reflect on his life, recapping all the good things that had happened since he left the CIA several years earlier.
He had embraced his second life as the owner of a bar and restaurant in Key Largo, Florida, far away from the intrigue and double-crosses of his previous existence. He grinned as he thought of the best thing that had happened when Felicia Hagens, his former co-worker from Barbados, had come to live with him in his personal corner of paradise. Nicest blessing I was ever granted. Actually it was the second best, but Felicia knew she could never take Gwyn’s place in my heart and she didn’t try. Give her credit for that, but she managed to carve out her own place there.
The resort was in full tourist bloom, the white sandy strand filled with sun worshipers and water enthusiasts. The blue sky was clear and bright and a gentle breeze wafted in off the Atlantic, taming the sultry temperature.
Felicia emerged from the cabin, adorned in a white string bikini that contrasted sharply with her bronzed Barbadian skin and showed off her trim physique. She brushed her long brown hair back from her face and pulled it into a ponytail, securing it with a hair band. Nick’s eyes did an elevator scan of her body, from head to toe then back up again, taking in every detail for the millionth time. He looked toward the beach.
“Fantasizin’ again?” she teased in her West Indies accent.
Nick pulled her in for a kiss. “Why would I do that when I have you?”
She wrapped her arm around his waist and leaned against him. “You’re sweet.”
Felicia looked over the side at her name painted on the bow in fancy script and giggled.
“What’s funny?” Nick asked.
“Never had a boat named after me before. I like seein’ my name on there. Why do people name boats after women?”
“It’s a show of affection.”
“Is that why they refer to a ship as her instead of him or it?”
“I suppose, but having this boat in your name makes a great inside joke.”
“What do you mean?”
Nick grinned. “Whenever I say I’ve been on Felicia no one knows which of you I’m referring to.”
Felicia laughed and lightly smacked his arm. “You’re a nut.”
They sat on the bench seat at the rear of the boat. Waves lapped against the hull, gently rocking it. The sea breeze brought along a faint trace of salt water. The peaceful sky was suddenly interrupted by the excited shriek of seagulls in search of prey. The flock quickly descended on the ocean’s surface, churning the water while devouring whatever dared to swim too close to the surface. After a furious minute of tug of war they were airborne again, in search of new hunting grounds.
“This trip has been fun,” Felicia commented. “I’ve lost all track of time. How long have we been gone now?”
Nick sipped his coffee. “Two weeks and three days, but who’s counting?”
“Surprised you wanted to stay away from the Keys this long.”
“Sorry we did this?”
“No. I love it there but it’s nice to see some different scenery.”
He inhaled a deep breath then let it out. “I think I got the wanderlust out of my system when I was still with the Agency. After this many years, I’m pretty content to be a homebody.”
“If you could pick one place to go back to, where would it be?”
Nick thought. “Germany. I liked it there.”
“Surprised you didn’t say England.”
Nick’s eyes involuntarily narrowed at the mention of England. “Too many bad memories.”
Felicia took his hand. “Sorry I brought it up.”
“It’s okay. I learned to deal with it a long time ago.”
Felicia stretched out on the cushions and crossed her feet, showing off the gold ankle bracelet with her name spelled out with small diamonds. Nick stared at it.
“You wore that when you came to live with me but I’ve never asked you about it. What’s the story behind it?”
Felicia flexed her leg. “One of those things I wanted to do for myself after I quit the CIA. Kind of a way of rewardin’ myself.” She paused. “Like that gold lighter your late wife gave you.”
Nick looked wistfully at the cigarette lighter with his initials engraved on one side and the seven hearts on the other. “I guess we all have personal stories and memories to go with them.”
“And that’s what they are—memories. When do we check into the hotel?”
Nick glanced at his watch. “Couple of hours. Is the boat getting too cramped for your taste?”
“It’s very cozy.” She ran her bare foot along his leg. “As long as we have a double bed I’m happy.”
He rested his hand on her leg. “Yeah, there’s definitely something about the sea air that makes you frisky.”