North, Jeffers and Holland were all naked. Their business clothes were draped over the chairs in the small storage room that led to the rooftop landing pad. They were changing into all-black wetsuits Addison had provided.
“Remember to remove anything that could identify you,” Addison said. “Jewelry, watches, earrings, anything. I’ll keep it safe here. I’m going to step out for a minute and go get your weapons. Jeffers, you’re the oldest, make sure everyone behaves.”
North zipped up his wetsuit, politely looking away from the others.
He was startled when Holland stepped before him. Her suit was pulled up only to her waist, leaving her small, pointed breasts exposed. She stared at North’s chest and poked him in his sternum.
“You wearing something under there?”
“Addison said remove anything that identifies you.”
“No, you didn’t. I saw you have something on under there. Unzip your top.” Holland zipped hers up.
“Whoa,” Jeffers said from across the room. “This isn’t a strip joint, people. Good thing, too. Because, if Addison got naked...” he shivered, then chuckled.
“North’s got some kind of necklace on and I want him to take it off,” Holland said. North stared into her grey eyes. She didn’t flinch.
“Take it off,” she said.
“Get away from me,” North said. “You’re not the mission commander.”
“No, I’m not, but the guy who is just said no personal items.”
“Well, he won’t know unless someone tells him. It’s something my son made, a good luck charm.”
“It could identify you and therefore Redfire if you end up K.I.A.”
“It’s a picture of me and my kid.”
“Don’t worry about it, Holland,” Jeffers said. “Let’s stay a happy family.”
“Screw that,” Holland said. “This guy is already breaking the rules of engagement.”
They were all quiet for a moment.
“So, how much money do you think this Sinclair guy has?” North said.
“Trying to change the subject?” Holland said.
“Damn, you’re observant. You must have been in psy-ops.”
“Good guess,” she said, winking. “You going to remove that necklace?”
“How much money?” Jeffers said quickly. “Enough to retain the services of Redfire, all this hardware and logistical support? I’d say the guy is damn well off.”
“You think we could ask for a tip?” North said. “What’s the gratuity for saving someone’s life? Eighteen percent of a billion doesn’t seem like too much.”
Holland turned away and tightened her suit.
Addison returned with two metal briefcases. He slammed them down in front of Holland and North. They snapped open the case latches, revealing dull black guns resting in gray molded foam.
“Custom,” Addison said. “Water-resistant nine mil with silencer. Thirteen shots per clip. No serial numbers on the gun or the ammo. You’re welcome.”
North slipped his hand around the grip and lifted the weapon, pointing it into an empty corner of the room.
“Impressive,” he said. “It’s light. The balance offset of the silencer is barely noticeable.”
Holland tested her weapon in the same manner. “Very sexy.”
“Where’s my toy?” Jeffers asked.
“The micro-sub is waiting for you when you all stop dicking around.”
“Is that your way of telling us to hurry up?”
“That’s why I left you in charge, Jeffers,” Addison said. “Because you’re so damn smart. You all ready?”
“All except for North, sir,” Holland said. “He’s wearing a necklace.”
Addison turned to North and said, “I said no personal stuff.”
“I don’t know what she’s talking about.” North unzipped his suit. His chest was bare. No locket hung from his neck.
“Is this some stupid game?” Addison said. “I don’t have time for this crap.”
“I know you still have it,” Holland said to North. “You just hid it.”
“Could I really move that fast?” North asked, offering her a quick wink as she had to him. “Am I really that good?”
Her cheeks flushed.
“Speed is everything here, people,” Addison said, raising his voice. “North, are you clean?”
“All right, then,” Addison said. He turned to Holland. “A little trust, all right?”
“So why don’t you trust what I’m telling you?” she asked. “Because I’m a woman?”
“And here I thought you were just part of the team. I’m trusting North because he has much more experience, okay? You might not even be here if we weren’t so short-staffed. Now, let’s get something other than bickering done.”
Holland glared at North. He smiled and shrugged.
“If we’re going to be a team,” he said, “We’ll have to work together, all right? Truce?” He offered to shake hands.
“Yeah, whatever,” she said, turning away.