“Hold still,” snapped Special Agent Angela Davis, taking pleasure in injecting Frank with a giant needle. Frank knew she’d never liked him, much like the almost in-laws. But to be fair, Angela didn’t really like people. He’d thought he’d never see her again after her transfer six months ago. He’d been wrong.

“Shouldn’t you be a licensed nurse or something?” That jab cost him. Angela punched a needle into his shoulder.

“You’re just lucky the injection goes in the arm.”

Stinging gushed through his forearm. “Why are you in Hawaii, Ang?”

“It’s Special Agent Davis.”

Frank bit his tongue. No one could argue that she was one of the best agents they had. But it made it a little hard to stomach when she flaunted her arrogance around like a trophy.

Special Agent Davis, why are you here?”

“Walsh sent me.” Despite being in Hawaii, she’d still worn her crisp black suit and auburn hair in a tight, precise bun. Couldn’t even relax the stiff persona with a pair of flip-flops on a tropical island. Frank wondered if she’d ever wore anything besides a business suit.

Fighting the urge to rub his arm, Frank asked, “Obviously. But how did you get in? Last I heard, they’d pretty much shut down the airport.” The sting of the needle was fading, but Frank could feel the vaccine coursing through his veins. Burning its way through his body. “Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on?”

Angela discarded the needle, walking without haste to her bag. Frank wondered how long she’d been at the hotel. She hadn’t unpacked anything but the syringe.

Extracting a folder, she tossed it onto the small table near the balcony. Frank caught an ocean view out of the corner of his eye, thinking it must be nice to have the CIA pick up the tab for a room with a sea breeze in Honolulu. Why had it taken a failed wedding to get him on a free trip to Oahu?

“There’s an epidemic.”

Frank opened the folder, browsing the classified file. “A flu breakout?” Frank wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to punch a wall. Surely Walsh hadn’t interrupted his vacation via Special Agent Davis for a simple flu outbreak. It was the type of assignment given to cherry agents.

For two weeks, Frank had planned to drown his sorrows with mai tai’s. He deserved that much. How could Walsh expect him to sacrifice that for the stupid flu?

But Frank knew better. Knew the airport hadn’t shut down for a curable, seasonal illness.

“So the island’s on quarantine?”

Angela nodded. “They just don’t know it yet.”

Frank browsed the file again, trying to make sense of all the medical jargon. He could cut right to the chase and ask Angela to explain it to him. But she’d take too much pride in that.

“It’s a new strain,” Angela volunteered, falling into the chair opposite Frank. “Symptoms includes high fever, excessive sweating, scratchy throat, and extreme thirst. And from the couple of deaths that have already occurred, water seems to speed up the process.”

“So that means the usual vaccines won’t work.”

“No one’s ever seen this strain before. It starts out like the typical flu, but the symptoms become rapidly unbearable.” A tired look crossed Angela’s face for a fleeting moment. One that Frank would’ve missed had he been hiding his gaze in the file. This couldn’t be good. Angela never let anything like exhaustion or emotion show.

“What’s wrong, Ang?”

Instead of scolding Frank for the use of the nickname she hated, Angela sighed. “We don’t even know if the vaccine will work.”

“Excuse me?”

“You and me? We’re the guinea pigs.”

~*~

One thing Frank hadn’t planned on doing during his solo honeymoon vacation was dying. Life certainly had a way of kicking a man in the gut when he was already rolling down a hill full of jagged rocks. Top that hill off with a side of Special Agent Davis, and well, he might as well find the cliff ledge and jump now.

Angela dropped the phone into the receiver. “We’ll have dinner in half an hour.”

It’d been a little odd, offering to share his intimate honeymoon suite for dinner with a coworker he couldn’t stand. But it’s not like Angela was interrupting anything, other than Frank’s desire to binge drink rum in his Jacuzzi tub.

“Stop that,” snapped Angela.

“What?”

“That brooding.”

Frank raised an eyebrow at the stuffy word. “Brooding?”

“Yes.” Angela opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water. “It means you’re depressed. Morbid. Wallowing in self-pity. That you’ve already given up.”

Frank sputtered a laugh. “Do I need to state the obvious?”

Angela didn’t acknowledge him, so Frank spat it out.

“I’m in Hawaii on what’s supposed to be my honeymoon. But my fiancé drove away minutes before she was supposed to walk down the aisle. And now I find out that my decision to take a solo trip could just be my demise. Because there’s a flu epidemic, and the CIA can’t promise that they vaccine they gave us will even work.”

“Done?”

Feeling a little better, Frank nodded.

“We’re the only chance this island has for survival.”

Frank laughed again, the grave expression chiseled into Angela’s face hard to take seriously. “Makes us sound awfully important.”

“Because we are.” Angela leaned against the counter, twisting the cap from her bottle of water. Frank tried not to notice the wispy strands of auburn hair escaping her stiff bun. It made her almost look human. “How much of the case file have you read?”

“All of—most of it—some.”

Frank turned his attention back to the muted TV. Reporters still hovered at the airport. An hour ago, an airport official had finally spoken to the media. They’d used a cover story, claiming the government was looking for a missing individual. And until that important person was found, they couldn’t let anyone leave. A bogus story, but it had calmed everyone down.

The last thing they needed was mass panic on a tiny island.

“We have three potential suspects. We’re certain that China created the strain, but not sure if they brought it to Oahu or sold it to someone else that did.”

“How do we know that they only brought it to this island? Couldn’t it potentially be spread around the world?”

A rap on the door broke the tension, and Frank stood. “Dinner’s early.”

Angela jumped up and reached for her gun. “I ordered a well-done fillet,” she said, her voice hushed. “No way it’s done.”

With his hand halfway to the doorknob, Frank paused. “Who orders a well-done fillet?” Shaking his head, Frank decided to check the peephole. But before he could get close enough, Angela yanked him back. Hard enough that he stumbled back a few feet, falling into a chair.

“Seriously, Dalavanna. You need to lay off the booze.” The look she cast across the small hallway held enough acidity to disintegrate Frank. “Didn’t you retain any of your training?”

Frank knew he should take the situation more seriously, but he couldn’t help but get in his own jab. “Not all of us can be top in our class, can we?”

Angela crept toward the door, resting her back against the wall beside the doorknob. Another rap. This one more insistent than the previous.

Frank hadn’t brought his gun to Hawaii. He hadn’t planned on needing it. Wanted to let someone else be the hero for a change. This choice left him scurrying into the kitchen, finding only a flimsy steak knife. Better than nothing.

Returning to the hallway, he poked his head around the corner and nodded at Angela.

She turned the knob slowly, allowing the door to fall open on its own.

“Dalavanna, I know you’re in there!” shouted a thunderous male voice.

Then a gunshot echoed.

 

To be continued….

 Tropical Fever – Part 3