Part 2 - Chapter 29 - The Rescue

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"Nobody drives my boat. I'm coming along," Nate Larabee insisted.

"If you're worried about the boat, I'll buy it from you right now," Brett said. "How much do you want for it?"

"It's not about the boat," Captain Larabee said. "It's about Hailee. She's a sweet kid, and I want to help."

I was cold standing there with the stiff breeze coming from the water. My hoodie didn't offer much protection. "We're wasting time. Let him come."

"You understand what you're getting into?" Mr. Morgan asked.

"I'm ten years retired from the Navy and am bored. I welcome some action." He wore a Navy pea coat, wool hat, and a holstered Colt .45.

Mr. Morgan stepped aboard. "Let's go then." He reached out a hand and helped Mrs. Morgan. The rest of us followed. Captain Larabee unfolded the stairs in the middle of the dashboard that led to the passenger compartment in the bow of the boat. The Morgans stepped below with Officer Gilbert. Brett took a seat beside the captain. I sat behind Brett, but the air was too cold for me to stay very long.

Captain Larabee powered up the twin Mercury engines. The hull vibrated to the burbling growl. Exhaust fumes swirled around us carried by the wind.

Brett faced Captain Larabee. "You have radar?"

"Oh, yeah."

"The cabin cruiser doesn't. They won't know we're in pursuit."

"Hundreds of small craft out here. We should overtake the boat in short order, but how are we going to find it?"

"Does your radar distinguish between large and small craft?" I asked.

"Negative, but there aren't many big ships. Point me in the right direction, and we'll check out all the ones we find."

"South," I said. San Diego lay in that general area.

"Untie the cleats and head below," Larabee said. "Brett and I will stay topside."

I did as the man said. After stepping between the two men and down the three steps, I pushed the staircase door closed sealing us in.

Two parallel leather padded benches faced each other in the narrow interior of the sleek vessel. The Morgans sat across from Officer Gilbert and me, the rifle and shotguns stowed on the floor at our feet.

I heard the gunning of engines and felt the craft move, but in the darkness of night, it was impossible to gain perspective as to how fast or in which direction.

Officer Gilbert addressed Mrs. Morgan. "I understand you're an attorney?"

She nodded.

"You alluded earlier to international waters and how we're beyond the reach of the law there. Is that true?"

She scrutinized the man. "Does it make any difference?"

"I want to know if I'm a willing participant in what's likely criminal activity."

"Legal or not, it's a rescue mission," I reminded everyone.

Mrs. Morgan said, "First of all, the open seas don't begin until two hundred nautical miles offshore. Our cabin cruiser can't travel that distance on a single tank of fuel. Also, both our cabin cruiser and this boat are registered United States vessels. The boats and passengers remain subject to US law even on the open seas."

She took a breath and said, "I'm sorry for misleading you, but I'm glad you're with us."

Hailee's cell phone chimed. I almost forgot I had it. Trent.

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