Aliyana nodded as she released a breath and said, “Yes, as a matter of fact they did. Hank has demanded a tour of Mercado’s empire. He said that he wants to see the way they produce cocaine from start to finish. By so doing, he could point out their faults and help them improve production. According to Ortiz, Hank had the audacity to boast about his knowledge of the latest in drug manufacturing technology as if they were a bunch of ignorant ‘campesinos.’ As you can imagine, this rankled them a bit.”
“I’m surprised they aren’t going to use this outing as an excuse to kill him,” Cornelius remarked.
Aliyana shrugged as she cast a brief glance downward. “They actually mentioned that. However, as much as Mercado would like to permanently get rid of the man, he’s going to show a bit of restraint and allow the ‘pig’ to live—for now.”
“Did they mention whether or not Mercado planned to comply with this requested tour?” asked Cornelius.
“He is going to comply, but not in the way Hank intends,” she replied. “Mercado is going to take him much farther south, to a factory and lab he no longer uses. He is sending some of his employees ahead to clean the place up and make ready for their visit. Emil wants everything to look as if the lab is in full swing.”
“So Mercado is conducting the tour personally then?” asked Wolf.
“Yes, he is. He doesn’t trust Hank. Therefore, he wants to observe his every movement, personally.”
“How long will it take them to get to this lab?”
“If it’s the one I think it is, about three, maybe four hours. Why do you ask?”
Wolf brushed a hand against his beard as he contemplated this unexpected opportunity. “How many such places could he possibly take Morris?”
“I only know of two,” she said.
“How long would it take to get to other one?”
Aliyana shook her head as she lifted a shoulder. “Oh, I don’t know—perhaps an additional half an hour or so. That’s why I think he’ll opt for the closest one.”
“Did they say when they intend to conduct this tour?”
“Day after tomorrow. Hank is supposed to arrive at dawn. If you still want to follow the man, you will get your chance then.”
“So travel time, to and from is at least six hours, maybe more,” Wolf mused aloud. “The tour itself will take some time. What would you think, another hour maybe two for him to thoroughly inspect the facilities?”
“Every bit of that and then some,” Aliyana said as she knit her brows in consternation. “Wolf, why are you asking all of these questions?”
“With Mercado out of the way, I’m thinking this might be the perfect opportunity to escort you inside the man’s office so you can raid those files on his computer.”
“But we don’t have all of the numbers to his pass code yet,” Aliyana replied. “I can’t get inside without them.”
In response to the reminder, he allowed a slight smile to emerge and for several long moments, he held her gaze without saying a word. Her confusion finally gave way to understanding. He could see it. She drew in a sharp breath as a burst of anger exploded onto her cheeks.
“You have the ability to get me inside that office anytime you want to, don’t you Captain Wolfaert Dircksen Van Ness,” she spat.
Wolf folded his arms against his chest, flashed a full-fledged grin, and bounced his brows.
“I can’t believe you would withhold that information from me,” she seethed as her eyes shot lethal daggers into his person. “And you just let me keep watching that screen for hours on end when such a need didn’t exist—”
“Oh come on, Aliyana,” Wolf laughingly protested. “You surely didn’t think I’d allow you to go in there until the safest possible moment, did you?”
His humor did nothing to improve her anger. If anything, it only served to fuel it. She shook her head then and let him have it--with both barrels blazing--in Spanish, of course. And he enjoyed every minute of the delightful display.