The Falcon & the Viper

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Chapter 69

James Britton checked over the small Volvo Penta engine in his yacht moored in the sailing club in Warsash, for the sailing trip ahead. On his last trip, he had experienced problems when the engine had kept cutting out as he had motored back up Southampton Water to the club. Suspecting the problem was a partially blocked fuel filter from dirty fuel, James had brought a new filter element with him. Before changing it, he opened the tap under the fuel tank to drain any water that might have accumulated inside. The tap was in an awkward place, as were most things in the small, inaccessible engine rooms of sailing boats. As he removed the access panel, James looked in horror at the red glow of digits displayed on the timer unit of a plastic explosive bomb attached to the fuel tank, and the anti-tamper switch fitted to prevent the bomb from being moved. He recognised the type of bomb from his days in the SBS and realised it would create an explosion big enough to cause devastation in the marina. Looking at the read out on the display, he saw the bomb had just been activated, probably by remote control.

‘Shit!’ he swore to himself, noting he only had some twenty minutes to act. Most would have panicked and run a mile but James drew on his years of training in the navy and MI5. In a flash, he formed a plan and put it into action.

Samantha drove the Porsche back into the parking area of the marina and switched off the engine. What a car, she thought to herself, patting the steering wheel and decided if she made it as an ace reporter, this is what she’d get. Opening the door, she climbed out, noticing with a smile there were no jagged edges on the surround to snag her tights. Not that she was wearing any as her shapely legs were enclosed in her favourite pair of Levi’s, which she would change for her old Henri Lloyd sailing gear. She laughed to herself, comparing James’s sleek sports car with the battered heap that Charlie drove, but to be fair, she had to admit that his car did have a lot of character and wondered what he was doing for the weekend. It was a day of glorious weather, the sun was now high in the sky and she was looking forward to getting out on the water with James, realising that she had never felt happier.

Walking to the front of the car, Samantha opened the bonnet and took out the bags of shopping, not in the least regretting the two expensive bottles of Rioja that had taken a chunk out of her credit card balance. Removing the sailing bag holding her change of clothes, she closed the bonnet and locked the car with the remote. Picking them up off the ground, she walked over to a trolley at the exit to the car park and dumped them into it. The intoxicating memories from the previous night with James flooded back and coupled with the prospects of the sailing trip ahead, gave a buoyant skip to her step as she strode towards the pontoons.

Counting the mooring numbers off as she pushed the trolley along, she stopped in surprise at the empty berth. Checking the number again, she wondered whether she had misheard James, but was sure he had told her forty-two. Hesitating, she looked around for the Wandering Star, unsure of what to do next, and thought James might had motored the yacht over to the refuelling pontoon to save time. Taking her mobile out of her pocket, she started to ring his number when a huge explosion rent the air, sending a shower of debris flying up from the seaward side of the breakwater opposite. A black, oily cloud of smoke tinged with orange flames mushroomed into the air as bits of sailing boat splashed down around her on the surface of the marina, as Samantha screamed and covered her head with her hands. In the car park the driver of the black Audi got in and drove away.

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