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She was bait, dressed in clingy red silk to attract the attention of every man in the room. The spaghetti-strap gown was sleek and sophisticated, the cut over her right leg revealing enough skin to be interesting but still acceptable for the serious businesswoman she was supposed to be.
"I've got visual of target number two," Gina's voice rasped through the nearly invisible transmitter in Anita's ear.
"I don't see him." She spoke under her breath toward the flower-pin-slashmicrophone on her shoulder as she turnedis he?" "Upstairs to the left of the bar. Right under the chandelier."
She looked in that direction, but too many people were standing between her and the spot Gina had indicated. The lavish reception the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce was throwing in honor of its members was in full swing, the black-and-white checkered marble tiles of the floor barely visible under the feet of guests who were networking, scoping out new deals and drinking copious amounts of champagne.
"I'm on it." She moved through the crowd to get closer to Philippe Cavanaugh, target number two.
Target number one, Jose Marquez, a high-ranking city official who had several retail shops on the island, had already left. But not before Gina had worked her charm on him and gotten a business card, along with a request for a presentation next week on what Savall, Ltd., the front for the women's covert operation, could do for his company.
One down, two more to go. They needed to get to all four of their targets. People were dyingthe latest intelligence had linked Tsernyakov to the mine bombings in Africa. They needed results.
She made her way to hertarget without any obvious hurry, as if she were simply meandering through the crowd, maybe searching for a friend. "Excuse me. Thank you."
The air was thick with the smell of moneyexpensive perfume and exclusive cigars. Her four-inch heels clickety-clicked on the marble tiles, the sound barely audible over the ebb and flow of conversation that went on in a half-dozen different languages, the ringing of glasses being touched together, the sudden pearls of laughter that bubbled above the din.
She walked to the back of the gallery, through the glittering crowd. Philippe Cavanaugh, international shipping magnate, was where Gina had said he would be, handsome and debonair in his tuxedo, deep in conversation with another man and two lavishly dressed women. He had come, which hadn't been a certaintyalthough they'd had high hopes, given that the man was one of the main supporting members of the Chamber.
"I got him," she said under her breath and let herself relax. "Where are you?"
"Downstairs by the bathrooms."
That Gina would spot Cavanaugh first even though she was a lot farther from him and not even on the same floor, didn't come as a surprise. She seemed to have a special sense for these kinds of things, probably left over from her cop days.
Once Anita knew where to look in the giant room, she easily spotted her partner for the night. The cream-colored dress they had talked Gina into wearing looked striking on her petite figure. The idea had been for the both of them to attract their targets' attention and the attention of other powerful men on the islandany of who might have had some kind of connection to Tsernyakov, an elusive weapons dealer who was at the top of a dozen most-wanted lists.
The relatively new piece of intelligence that Tsernyakov had a connection on the island was a closely guarded secret about a man considered to be one of the most dangerous men in the world. The task of finding this connection and, through him, getting a location on Tsernyakov was the seemingly impossible mission that Anita and Gina along with Carly and Samwho were staking out the house of target number three tonight had agreed to a few eventful weeks ago.
"Ready to make contact?" Gina asked. A man walked by too close and was watching Anita, so she couldn't immediately respond.
He flashed an interested smile. "Hi." She nodded to him, not wanting to be rude, but not wanting to encourage him at the moment.
"Are you here alone?" he asked.
"No, but I think I might have lost my date." She pretended to scan the crowd below. "There he is." She waved at no one in particular, then shrugged. "I don't think he sees me."
"If he could lose you, he doesn't deserve you." His smile widened, showing sparkling white teeth. "Can I get you a drink? I'm Michael Lambert."
"Anita Caballo." She offered her hand and made a point to remember his name.
"Thank you, but I think I might have had too much already."
"Then I'm definitely sticking around." He winked. "Besides, you can never have too much good champagne."
He was tall and sexydark hair, dark eyeswith more than a hint of naughty toa little like Brant Law, the FBI agent who had gotten her into this mess, except for that battle-hardened edge on Law. Michael's infectious grin said his focus was heavily on fun. Nothing wrong with that. Law was entirely too stark and serious.
"Michael. Hey, Michael! Stop pestering the lovely lady for a minute and get over here. I found a buyer for your boat," a redheaded titan yelled toward them.
Michael held up his index finger to ask him for time. "I would like to sell that miserable boat," he told Anita with chagrin. "Promise you'll be here when I come back?"
"Promise," she lied to be rid of him. He looked as if he only half believed her and flashed another charming smile before walking away. She would have to have been dead not to appreciate the fine figure he cut. He probably put in his share of time on the golf and tennis courts at his country club. His compliments felt good. It had been a long time since She cut off that unproductive train of thought and refocused on her mission. Michael Lambert wasn't why she was here.
She turned back toward Cavanaugh and lifted her right hand to her throat, worked the tiny button on the back of her ring with her thumb and took a couple of pictures with the microscopic camera she wore on her ring finger. Hopefully she got everyone who was with the man.
"You should probably move in before you get distracted again," Gina said. "You might trip over one of those men falling at your feet." "Jealousy is a very unattractive emotion."
"Bite me," Gina responded with dripping cordiality.
"No thanks. I don't like bitter." Anita glanced toward the group where Michael was standing. He was showing the group pictureswouldn't notice now if she slipped away, wouldn't follow and get in her way.
She made her way toward Cavanaugh, one of only five viable leadsfour now,Alexeev had disappeared for good and was presumed deadtheir team had been able to scare up after a month of hard work. And even those four! The evidence that tied them to Tsernyakov was circumstantial, at best.
She stopped when she was close enough to Cavanaugh to hear him.
"So he ran naked into the water, swam out to the closest boat and somehow got them tocan say that Monsieur Clavat is not a good sport."
His audience laughed with him.