man in a white suit. His face is regal, and his hair has grayed just at the temples—“and Battoo, his assistant, who is also the island’s head concierge.”
The monitor switches again. This time Boarke is standing next to a man who is a third of his height. The diminutive man’s suit, also white linen, is accessorized with a bowtie. “With Battoo’s help, Boarke prides himself on knowing all of Fantasy Island’s guests. Odds are one of them knows of Mandrake’s whereabouts. But since the island’s unspoken slogan is ‘What happens on Fantasy stays on Fantasy,’ we can’t expect them to break protocol.”
“Even if the island’s other guests are at risk?” Dominic asks.
“Unfortunately, yes. But one of Arnie’s jobs will be to monitor the air and water safety gauges that he and Abu will set up around the island. The first place to start is the water filtration system and the HVAC systems in all the resorts’ facilities.”
Abu nods. “Right, boss.”
“As for Boarke, he has an equity stake in the success of the resorts. The last thing he’d want is for guests to leave in droves, and rumors of an island plague epidemic would do just that. It would be his financial ruin. And unfortunately, Fantasy Island is not under the jurisdiction of the United States, let alone that of any favored nation. When it comes to finding Mandrake, we’re on our own.” Ryan stands to face us. “Two agents will work out of each resort. Abu, you and Emma now have gainful employment in the Hunt Club, as a Gun Room concierge and a chambermaid, respectively. As such, you’ll have the access needed to identify possible suspects. Emma, you’ll have the added responsibility of assessing their backstories for anomalies.”
Emma and Abu nod as they take this in.
Dominic, you and Arnie will be embedded at Eden Key. Arnie, like Emma, you’ll be charged with profile validations, as well as any other tech ops.”
“Al right ! Just two amigos playing with some fine ladies!” Expecting a high-five, Arnie raises his hand toward Dominic, who ignores it.
Hearing his enthusiasm, Emma’s face clouds over. If that was the response he was looking for, he certainly got it. Frankly, I don’t think it’s one he should want.
Dominic’s reaction is no more than a raised brow. “I say, chap, perhaps we should feign acknowledging each other’s existence. That way, we double our efforts.”
The diss goes over Arnie’s head. He honors Dominic’s suggestion with a fist pump.
“Jack and Donna will be based at Kamp KidStuff,” Ryan continues. “Donna, if you want, feel free to take your children along for cover.”
Albeit this mission seems less dangerous than most, but I wouldn’t want to take the chance that I’d put my children in the line of fire. Thank goodness my real excuse for nixing his suggestion gives me the chance to at least sound like a team player. “As it turns out, all my children are away at various camps and activities over the course of the next couple of weeks.”
“I see.” Ryan frowns in disappointment. “Well, that at least allows for a different combination, should the situation call for it.”
Dominic smiles. “May I make a suggestion?”
Ryan nods. “By all means.”
“Why not embed Emma and Arnie as youth counselors in Camp KidStuff? That way, you can shift Jack to the Hunt Club. His current cover as an international financier will certainly grant him entrée. Donna and I can cover Eden Key—separate huts, but of course.” He looks over at me and winks.
Am I flattered that he so obviously wants to partner with me? But of course.
“Sounds like a plan.” Ryan scribbles something on a pad.
Emma and Arnie exchange glances and blushes. All posturing aside, their budding relationship is at that delicate juncture where trust and commitment intersect.
Jack and I are sooooo far beyond that, which is why I’m sure he’s getting just as big a kick out of Dominic’s flirtations