Will could feel panic rising. He tried to grab hold of the car’s door frame and brace himself, but whoever was pushing him into the passenger seat was stronger and faster. He half sat, half fell into the car. He opened his mouth to yell, but the calm voice of his attacker stopped him.
The car door slammed and Will blinked. His hands were shaking and he stuffed them between his knees to steady himself. He looked out the window and caught a glimpse of his attacker right before he disappeared into the museum’s side door. He was wearing a gray suit.
A gray suit. Loafer man ducking. Will looked at the manufacturer’s emblem on the steering wheel. He was in a Ferrari.
Will unclenched his toes and breathed the new leather smell deep into his lungs. Double Oh Seven was one of the good guys. Probably.
He tried the door handle. Locked. Double Oh Seven was either a good guy or good at his job and Will was a dead man. Either way, he had to admire the guy. He was okay with losing Tish to the most famous spy in British history.
The dashboard looked like an ordinary car dashboard. Not that Will knew, specifically, what a Ferrari’s interior was supposed to look like, but he saw nothing to call his attention. The keys were in the ignition. What radio stations did a spy listen to? He pushed the button marked “radio” and the top half of the dashboard flipped, rotating on a hidden axis to reveal dozens of buttons as well as a few meter gages and blinking lights.
His cell phone buzzed in his pocket. It was another text from his dad. Enough already. Will hit reply and typed “Six o’clock fine”, then stuffed the phone back into his pocket just as the driver’s side door opened and gray wool trousers slid across the leather seat. Will clutched the door handle and hope that his blush didn’t reach his ears.
“I’m sorry. I just wanted to turn on the radio.”
The car pealed out and was cruising down a side street before Will summoned the courage to look up at the driver. The man behind the wheel was calm, focused, with a hint of a smile playing at the corner of his thin mouth. His dark hair was gelled back in perfect waves. The hint of sweat emanating from him smelled like alpha male.
James nodded. “She will be.”
“And the al-Qaeda guy?”
“I trussed him up like a chicken.”
He turned left twice, doubling back toward the canal a few hundred feet down from the museum. They crossed a car park.
“We’re going back to the canal?” Will felt like the little kid on a car trip who can’t stop asking questions.
“Couldn’t let the crowd out front see our cannonball.”
James gunned the motor and the Ferrari jumped the curb at the end of the car park and splashed nose first into the canal. Instead of sinking slowly, the car plunged and the interior lights came on. James hit a few buttons on the exposed dashboard and a soft whirring sound ensued. Will just stared.
James smiled. “Propellers. We’re a submarine now.” His smile disappeared. “I heard what you said before he tried to shoot you. You know where the prince is.”
“I bugged the museum this morning, just in case.” The Ferrari submarine cruised smoothly through the canal about three yards below the surface. A radar screen blipped quietly and displayed oblong dark spots that Will assumed were boats.
“I reviewed the recordings from the rooms you were in today. We’re headed to the blue boat now.”
“It’s been less than five minutes!”
“I work fast.”
The car came to a stop of sorts; the slight rocking of a boat at anchor remained. Double Oh Seven pushed yet another button and something in the roof of the car began to emit a mechanical whir. Will glanced up at the roof and then out the window at a small school of fish that had come to check out the new black beast in the neighborhood.
“If I was listening, so was al-Qaeda.” James looked relaxed, but Will could feel anticipation coiled in the man like a spring.
“What I said to him was true then?” Will asked. “I really am the only one who knows where the prince is?”
“Were the only one, yes.” The whirring above their heads stopped and James shifted onto his knees and grinned. “Here we go!”
He reached up with one hand and sliced a circular hole in the car’s roof with a knife. To Will’s surprise, no water entered. Will leaned his seat back so he could see through the hole. A metal shaft ten centimeters in length extended from the car’s roof to what looked like a wooden floor. Will glanced at the radar screen; one of the oblong blips was directly above them. It was the floor of a boat and if he could see color in the shadows of the tube, he would bet that boat was blue.
James pulled out a small tube, set a dial on it, and held it to the boat’s bottom all the way around the circumference of the shaft. It left a dull red line in its wake and when James had completed the circle, the wooden floor fell into the Ferrari like the stopper from a piggy bank’s belly.
James didn’t wait for faces to appear in the new opening, but stood on the center console and vaulted himself inside the house boat above.
“Hello, gentlemen. I’m Double Oh Seven.”