Anda di halaman 1dari 119

WI NDMI LLS OF THE GODS

BY SI DNEY SHELDON
Synopsi s:
I t al l began wi t h an ast oundi ng cal l f r omt he Whi t e House. One mi nut e
Mar y Ashl ey, Kansas housewi f e and pol i t i cal sci ence t eacher , was
chat t i ng over di nner wi t h her f ami l y; t he next mi nut e t he Pr esi dent of
t he Uni t ed St at es was aski ng her t o become t he new ambassador t o
Romani a! That cal l changes ever yt hi ng f or Mar y Ashl ey. She becomes an
i nst ant cel ebr i t y, hounded ' by t he pr ess, cour t ed by pol i t i ci ans.
Fi nal l y Mar y ar r i ves i n exot i c Buchar est t o t ake up her dut i es,
conf i dent , r ef r eshi ngl y candi d- and danger ousl y i nnocent . For wat chi ng
her cl osel y i s an i n- vi si bl e net wor k ' of power f ul men whose ai mi s t o
sabot age t he Pr esi dent ' s bol d new peace pl an. They ar e about t o set a
di abol i cal t r ap. And t he i nexper i enced young di pl omat i s t he per f ect
bai t .
" We ar e al l vi ct i ms, Ansel mo.
Our dest i ni es ar e deci ded
by a cosmi c r ol l of t he di ce,
t he wi nds of t he st ar s, "
t he vagr ant br eezes
of f or t une t hat bl ow f r om
t he wi ndmi l l s of t he gods. "
- H. L. Di et r i ch
A Fi nal Dest i ny
Pr ol ogue
Per ho, Fi nl and. The meet i ng t ook pl ace i n a comf or t abl e weat her pr oof ed
cabi n i n a r emot e wooded ar ea t wo hundr ed mi l es f r omHel si nki . The
member s of t he West er n br anch of t he Commi t t ee had ar r i ved di scr eet l y at
i r r egul ar i nt er val s. They came f r omei ght di f f er ent count r i es, but
t hei r vi si t had been qui et l y ar r anged by a seni or mi ni st er i n t he
Val t i oneuvost o, t he Fi nni sh Counci l of St at e, and t her e was no r ecor d of
ent r y i n t hei r passpor t s. Upon t hei r ar r i val , ar med guar ds escor t ed
t hemi nt o t he cabi n, and' when t he l ast vi si t or appear ed, t he cabi n door
was l ocked and t he guar ds t ook up posi t i ons i n t he f ul l - t hr oat ed J anuar y
wi nds, al er t f or any si gn of i nt r uder s.
The member s, seat ed ar ound t he l ar ge r ect angul ar t abl e, wer e men i n
power f ul posi t i ons, hi gh i n t he counci l s of t hei r r espect i ve
gover nment s. They had al l met bef or e i n t hei r of f i ci al capaci t i es, and
t hey t r ust ed one anot her because t hey had no choi ce. For added secur i t y,
each had been assi gned a code name.
The meet i ng l ast ed al most f i ve hour s, and t he di scussi on was heat ed.
Fi nal l y t he chai r man deci ded t he t i me had come t o cal l f or a vot e. He
r ose, st andi ng t al l , and t ur ned t o t he man seat ed at hi s r i ght .
" Si gur d?"
" Yes. "
" Odi n?"
" Yes. "
" Bal der ?"
" We' r e movi ng t oo hast i l y. The danger - "
" Yes or no, pl ease. "
" No. "
" Fr eyr ?"
" Yes. "
" Si gmund?"
" Nei n. I f t hi s shoul d be exposed, our l i ves woul d be- "
" Thor ?"
" Yes. "
" Tyr ?"
" Yes. "
" I vot e yes. The r esol ut i on i s passed. I wi l l so i nf or mt he
Cont r ol l er . We wi l l obser ve t he usual pr ecaut i ons and l eave at
t went y- mi nut e i nt er val s. Thank you, gent l emen. "
Two hour s and f or t y- f i ve mi nut es l at er t he cabi n was deser t ed. A cr ew of
exper t s car r yi ng ker osene moved i n and set t he cabi n on f i r e, t he r ed
f l ames l i cked by t he hungr y wi nds.
When t he f i r e br i gade f r omPer ho f i nal l y r eached t he scene, t her e was
not hi ng l ef t t o see but t he smol der i ng ember s t hat out l i ned t he cabi n
agai nst t he hi ssi ng snow.
The assi st ant t o t he f i r e chi ef appr oached t he ashes, bent down, and
sni f f ed. " Ker osene, " he sai d. " Ar son. "
The f i r e chi ef was st ar i ng at t he r ui ns, a puzzl ed expr essi on on hi s
f ace. " That ' s st r ange, " he mut t er ed.
" What ?"
" I was hunt i ng i n t hese woods l ast week. Ther e was no cabi n. "
Chapt er One
St ant on Roger s was dest i ned t o be Pr esi dent of t he Uni t ed St at es. He
was a char i smat i c pol i t i ci an, hi ghl y vi si bl e t o an appr ovi ng publ i c, and
backed by power f ul f r i ends. Unf or t unat el y f or Roger s, hi s l i bi do got i n
t he way of hi s car eer .
I t was not t hat St ant on Roger s f anci ed hi msel f a Casanova. On t he
cont r ar y, unt i l t hat one f at ef ul bedr oomescapade he had been a model
husband. He was handsome, weal t hy, and al t hough he had had ampl e
oppor t uni t y t o cheat on hi s wi f e, he had never gi ven anot her woman a
t hought .
Ther e was a second, per haps gr eat er i r ony: St ant on Roger s' wi f e,
El i zabet h, was soci al , beaut i f ul , and i nt el l i gent , ar l d t he t wo of t hem
shar ed a common i nt er est i n al most ever yt hi ng, wher eas Bar bar a, t he
woman Roger s f el l i n l ove wi t h, and event ual l y mar r i ed af t er a much
headl i ned di vor ce, was f i ve year s ol der t han St ant on, pl easant - f aced
r at her t han pr et t y, and seemed t o have not hi ng i n common wi t h hi m.
St ant on was at hl et i c; Bar bar a hat ed al l f or ms of exer ci se. St ant on was
gr egar i ous; Bar bar a pr ef er r ed t o be al one wi t h her husband, or t o
ent er t ai n smal l gr oups. The bi ggest sur pr i se was t he pol i t i cal
di f f er ences. St ant on was a l i ber al , whi l e Bar bar a was an
ar chconser vat i ve.
Paul El l i son, St ant on' s cl osest f r i end, had sai d, " You must be out of
your mi nd, chum! You and Li z ar e t he per f ect mar r i ed coupl e. Do you
have any i dea what a di vor ce i s goi ng t o do t o your car eer ?"
St ant on Roger s had r epl i ed t i ght l y, " Back of f , Paul . I ' mi n l ove wi t h
Bar bar a. Besi des, hal f t he mar r i ages i n t hi s count r y end i n di vor ce. I t
won' t do anyt hi ng. "
Roger s had pr oved t o be a poor pr ophet . The pr ess kept t he st or y of t he
bi t t er l y f ought di vor ce al i ve as l ong as t hey coul d, and t he gossi p
paper s pl ayed i t up as l ur i dl y as possi bl e, wi t h pi ct ur es of St ant on
Roger s' l ove nest and st or i es of secr et mi dni ght t r ust s. When t he f ur or
di ed dovl r n, St ant on Roger s' power f ul pol i t i cal f r i ends f ound a new
whi t e kni ght t o champi on: Paul El l i son.
El l i son was a sound choi ce. Whi l e he had nei t her St ant on ] Roger s' good
l ooks nor hi s char i sma, he was i nt el l i gent , l i kabl e, and had t he r i ght
backgr ound. He was shor t i n st at ur e, wi t h r egul ar , even f eat ur es and
candi d bl ue eyes. He had been happi l y mar r i ed f or t en, year s t o t he
daught er of a st eel magnat e.
St ant on Roger s and Paul El l i son had gr own up t oget her i n New Yor k. Thei r
f ami l i es had had adj oi ni ng summer homes i n Sout hampt on. They wer e, i n
t he same cl ass, f i r st at Yal e and l at er at Har var d Law School . Paul
El l i son di d wel l , but i t was St ant on Roger s who was t he st ar pupi l . Once
he was out of l aw school , St ant on Roger s' pol i t i cal st ar began r i si ng
met eor i cal l y, and i f he was t he comet , Paul El l i son was t he t ai l .
The di vor ce changed ever yt hi ng. I t was now St ant on Roger s who became
t he appendage t o Paul El l i son. The t r ai l l eadi ng t o t he pr esi dency t ook
al most f i f t een year s. Fi r st El l i son became a hi ghl y popul ar , ar t i cul at e
Senat or . He f ought agai nst wast e i n gover nment and Washi ngt on
bur eaucr acy. He was a popul i st , and bel i eved i n i nt er nat i onal det ent e.
When he was f i nal l y el ect ed Pr esi dent of t he Uni t ed St at es, hi s f i r st
appoi nt ment was St ant on Roger s, as pr esi dent i al f or ei gn af f ai r s advi ser .
MAMEWL McLuhan' s t heor y t hat t el evi si on woul d t ur n t he wor l d i nt o a
gl obal vi l l age had become a r eal i t y. The i naugur at i on of t he
f or t y- second Pr esi dent of t he Uni t ed St at es was car r i ed by sat el l i t e t o
mor e t han one hundr ed and ni net y count r i es.
I n t he Bl ack Roost er , a Washi ngt on, D. C. , hangout f or newsmen, Ben Cohn,
a vet er an pol i t i cal r epor t er f or t he Washi ngt on Post , was seat ed at a
t abl e wi t h f our col l eagues, wat chi ng t he i naugur at i on on t he t el evi si on
set over t he bar .
The camer a panned t o show t he massi ve cr owds gat her ed on Pennsyl vani a
Avenue, huddl ed i nsi de t hei r over coat s agai nst t he bi t t er J anuar y wi nd.
J ason Mer l i n, Chi ef J ust i ce of t he Uni t ed St at es Supr eme Cour t , f i ni shed
t he swear i ng- i n oat h, and t he- new Pr esi dent shook hi s hand and st epped
up t o t he mi cr ophone.
" Look at t hose i di ot s st andi ng out t her e f r eezi ng t hei r t ai l s of f " ' Ben
Cohn comment eel " Do you know why t hey ar en' t home l i ke nor mal human
bei ngs, wat chi ng i t on t el evi si on?"
" Why?" asked one of t he ot her r epor t er s.
" Because a man i s maki ng hi st or y, my f r i ends. One day al l t hose peopl e
ar e goi ng t o t el l t hei r gr andchi l dr en t hat t hey wer e t her e t he day Paul
El l i son was swor n i n. And t hey' r e al l goi ng t o br ag. " I was so cl ose I
coul d have t ouched hi m. " ' " You' r e a cyni c, Cohn. "
" And pr oud of i t . Ever y pol i t i ci an i n t he wor l d comes out of t he same
cooki e cut t er . They' r e al l i n i t f or what t hey can get out of i t . "
The t r ut h was t hat Ben Cohn was not as cyni cal as he sounded. He had
cover ed Paul El l i son' s car eer f r omt he begi nni ng, and whi l e i t was t r ue
t hat he had not been i mpr essed at f i r st , as El l i son moved up t he
pol i t i cal l adder Ben Cohn began t o change hi s opi ni on. Thi s pol i t i ci an
was nobody' s yes- man. He was an oak i n a f or est of wi l l ows.
Out si de, t he sky expl oded i nt o i cy sheet s of r ai n, Ben Cohn hoped t he
weat her was not an omen of t he f our year s t hat l ay ahead. He t ur ned hi s
at t ent i on back t o t he t el evi si on set and Pr esi dent E. I l i son' s speech.
" I speak t oday not onl y t o our al l i es but t o t hose count r i es i n t he
Sovi et cai np. I say t o t hemnow, as we pr epar e t o move i nt o t he
t went y- f i r st cent ur y, t hat t her e i s no l onger any r oomf or conf r ont at i on
and t hat we must l ear n t o make t he phr ase ' one wor l d' become a r eal i t y.
Vast chasms l i e bet ween us, but t he f i r st pr i or i t y of t hi s
admi ni st r at i on wi l l be t o bui l d unshakabl e br i dges acr oss t hose chasms. "
Hi s wor ds r ang out wi t h a deep, hear t f el t si ncer i t y. He, means i t , Ben
Cohn t hought . I hope no one assassi nat es t he guy.
I N J UNeTi ON Ci t y, Kansas, i t was a pot bel l i ed st ove ki nd of day, bl eak
and r aw, and snowi ng har d. Mar y Ashl ey caut i ousl y st eer ed her ol d
st at i on wagon t owar d t he cent er of t he hi ghway, wher e t he snowpl ows had
been at wor k. The st or mwas goi ng t o make her l at e f or t he cl ass she
was t eachi ng.
Fr omt he car r adi o came t he Pr esi den' s voi ce: " Because I bel i eve t hat
t her e i s no pr obl emt hat cannot be sol ved by genui ne goodwi l l on bot h
si des, t he concr et e wal l ar ound East Ber l i n and t he i r on cur t ai n t hat
sur r ounds t he Sovi et sat el l i t e count r i es must come down. "
Mar y Ashl ey t hought , I ' mgl ad I vot ed f or hi m. Paul El l i son i s goi ng t o
make a gr eat Pr esi dent .
I N BucH=ST, t he capi t al of Remani a, i t was eveni ng. Pr esi dent
Al exandr es l onescu sat i n hi s of f i ce sur r ounded by hal f a dozen ai des,
l i st eni ng t o t he br oadcast on a shor t wave r adi o.
" As you ar e awar e, " t he Amer i can Pr esi dent was sayi ng, " t hr ee year s ago,
upon t he deat h of Remani a' s Pr esi dent , Ni col ae CeauSSescu, ] Remani a
br oke of f di pl omat i c r el at i ons wi t h t he Uni t ed St at es. I want t o i nf or m
you now t hat we have appr oached t he gover nment of Remani a and i t s
Pr esi dent , Al exandr es I onescu, and he has agr eed t o r eest abl i sh
di pl omat i c r el at i ons wi t h our count r y.
" One of our f i r st of f i ci al act s wi l l be t o send an ambassador t o
Remani a. And t hat i s mer el y t he begi nni ng. I have no i nt ent i on of
st oppi ng t her e. Al bani a br oke of f al l di pl omat i c r el at i ons wi t h t he
Uni t ed St at es i n 1946. I i nt end t o r eest abl i sh t hose t i es. I n
addi t i on, I i nt end t o st r engt hen our di pl omat i c r el at i ons wi t h Bul gar i a,
wi t h i czechosl ovaki a, and wi t h East Ger many.
" Sendi ng our ambassador t o Remani a i s t he begi nni ng of a wor l dwi de
peopl e- t o- peopl e movement . Let us never f or get t hat al l manki nd shar es
a common or i gi n, common pr obl ems, and a common ul t i mat e f at e. Let us
r emember t hat t he pr obl ems we shar e ar e gr eat er t han t he pr obl ems t hat
di vi de us, and t hat what di vi des us i s of our own maki ng. "
Over t he shor t wave r adi o came t he sounds of cheer s and appl ause.
I N A heavi l y guar ded vi l l a i n Neui l l y, a subur b of Par i s, t he Remani an
r evol ut i onar y l eader , Mar i n Gr oza, was wat chi ng Pr esi dent El l i son on
channel 2 t el evi si on.
" I t hi nk our t i me has come, Ley. He r eal l y means i t , " sai d Mar i n Gr oza
t hought f ul l y.
Ley Past emak, hi s secur i t y chi ef , r epl i ed, " Won' t t hi s hel p I onescu?"
Mar i n Gr oza shook hi s head. " l onescu i s a t yr ant , so i n t he end not hi ng
wi l l hel p hi m. But I must be car ef ul wi t h my t i mi ng. I f ai l ed when I
t r i ed t o over t hr ow hi mbef or e. I must not f ai l agai n. "
PETE Connor s had downed al most a f i f t h of Scot ch whi l e wat chi ng t he
i naugur al speech. He pour ed hi msel f anot her gl assf ul and t ur ned back t o
t he i mage on t he t el evi si on set . " You f i l t hy Communi st ! " he yel l ed at
t he scr een. " Thi s i s my count r y, and t he CI As not gonna l et you gi ve i t
away. We' r e gonna st op you, El l i son. You can bet your bot t omdol l ar on
i t "
Chapt er Two
PAUL El l i son sai d, " I ' mgoi ng t o need your hel p, ol d f r i end. "
" You' l l get i t , " St ant on Roger s r epl i ed qui et l y.
I t was t hei r f i r st meet i ng t oget her i n t he Oval Of f i ce, and Pr esi dent
El l i son was uncomf or t abl e. I f St ant on hadn' t made t hat one mi st ake, he
t hought , he woul d be si t t i ng at t hi s desk i nst ead of me.
As t hough r eadi ng hi s mi nd, St ant on Roger s sai d, " I have a conf essi on t o
make. The day you wer e nomi nat ed f or t he pr esi dency, I was bi t t er l y
j eal ous. I t was my dr eam, and you wer e l i vi ng i t . But I came t o
r eal i ze t hat i f I coul dn' t si t i n t hat chai r , t her e was no one el se I
woul d want t her e but you. "
Paul El l i son smi l ed at hi s f r i end and pr essed t he but t on on hi s desk.
Seconds l at er a whi t e- j acket ed st ewar d came i nt o t he r oom.
" Yes, Mr . Pr esi dent ?"
Paul El l i son t ur ned t o Roger s. " Cof f ee?"
" Sounds good. "
" Want anyt hi ng wi t h i t ?"
" No, t hanks. Bar bar a want s me t o wat ch my wai st l i ne. "
The Pr esi dent nodded t o Henr y, t he st ewar d, and he qui et l y l ef t t he
r oom.
Bar bar a. She had sur pr i sed ever yone. The gossi p ar ound Washi ngt on was
t hat t he mar r i age woul d not l ast out t he f i r st year . But i t had been
al most f i f t een year s now, and i t was a success. St ant on Roger s had bui l t
up a pr est i gi ous l aw pr act i ce i n- Washi ngt on, and Bar bamhad ear ned t he
r eput at i on of bei ng a gr aci ous host ess.
Paul El l i son r ose and began t o pace. " My peopl e- t o- peopl e speech seems
t o have caused qui t e an upr oar . I suppose you' ve seen al l t he
newspaper s. "
" Yes, " sai d St ant on Roger s. " And qui t e candi dl y, Mr . Pr esi dent , you' r e
scar i ng t he pant s of f a l ot of peopl e. The ar med f or ces ar e agai nst
your pl an, and some power f ul mover s and shaker s woul d l i ke t o see i t
f ai l . "
El l i son sat down and f aced hi s f r i end. " I t ' s not goi ng t o f ai l . "
The st ewar d appear ed wi t h t he cof f ee. " Can I get you somet hi ng el se,
Mr . Pr esi dent ?"
" No. That ' s i t , Henr y. Thank you. "
The Pr esi dent wai t ed unt i l t he st ewar d had gone. " I want t o t al k t o you
about f i ndi ng t he r i ght ambassador t o send t o Remani a. "
" Ri ght . "
" I don' t have t o t el l you how i mpor t ant t hi s ' i s f or us, St an. I want
you t o get movi ng on i t as qui ckl y as you possi bl y can. "
St ant on Roger s t ook a si p of hi s cof f ee and r ose t o hi s f eet . " I ' l l get
St at e on i t r i ght away. "
I N a l i t t l e subur b of Neui l l y i t was t wo a. m. Mar i n Gr oza' s vi l l a l ay
i n ebon dar kness, t he moon nest l ed i n a t hi ck l ayer of - st or mcl ouds.
The st r eet s wer e hushed at t hi s hour , as a bl ackcl ad f i gur e moved
noi sel essl y t hr ough t he t r ees t owar d t he br i ck wal l t hat sur r ounded t he
vi l l a. Over one shoul der he car r i ed a r ope and a bl anket , and i n hi s
ar ms he cr adl ed a dar t gun and an Uzi submachi ne gun wi t h a si l encer .
When he r eached t he wal l , he st opped and l i st ened. He wai t ed,
mot i onl ess, f or f i ve mi nut es. Fi nal l y, sat i sf i ed, he uncoi l ed t he nyl on
r ope and t ossed t he scal i ng hook at t ached t o t he end of i t upwar d. I t
caught on t he f ar edge of t he wal l , and swi f f l y t he man began t o cl i mb.
When he r eached t he t op of t he wal l , he f l ung t he bl anket acr oss i t t o
pr ot ect hi msel f agai nst t he poi son- t i pped met al spi kes embedded on t op.
He st opped agai n t o l i st en. He r ever sed t he hook, shi f hng t he r ope t o
t he i nsi de of t he wal l , and sl i d down ont o t he gr ound. He checked t he
bal i song at hi s wai st , t he deadl y Fi l i pi no f ol di ng kni f e t hat coul d be
f l i cked open or cl osed wi t h one hand.
The at t ack dogs woul d be next . The i nt r uder cr ouched t her e, wai t i ng f or
t hemt o pi ck up hi s scent . Ther e wer e t wo Dober mans, t r ai ned t o ki l l .
But t hey wer e onl y t he f i r st obst acl e. The gr ounds and t he vi l l a wer e
f i l l ed wi t h el ect r oni c devi ces and cont i nuousl y moni t or ed by t el evi si on
camer as. Al l mai l and packages wer e r ecei ved at t he gat ehouse and
opened t her e by t he guar ds. The door s of t he vi l l a wer e bombpr oof . The
vi l l a had i t s own wat er suppl y, and Mar i n Gr oza had a f ood t ast er . The
vi l l a was i mpr egnabl e. Supposedl y. The f i gur e i n bl ack was her e t hi s
ni ght t o pr ove t hat i t was not .
He hear d t he sounds of t he dogs r ushi ng at hi mbef or e he saw t hem. They
came f l yi ng out of t he dar kness, char gi ng at hi s t hr oat . He ai med t he
dar t gun and shot t he one on hi s l ef t f i r st , t hen t he one on hi s r i ght ,
dodgi ng out of t he way of t hei r hur t l i ng bodi es. And t hen t her e was onl y
st i l l ness.
The i nt r uder knew wher e t he soni c t r aps wer e bur i ed i n t he gr ound, and
he ski r t ed t hem. He si l ent l y gl i ded t hr ough t he ar eas of t he gr ounds
t hat t he t el evi si on camer as di d not cover , and i n l ess t han t wo mi nut es
af t er he had gone over t he wal l " he was at t he back door of t he vi l l a.
As he r eached f or t he handl e of t he door he was caught i n t he sudden
gl ar e of f l oodl i ght s. A voi ce cal l ed out , " Fr eeze! Dr op your gun and
r ai se your hands. "
The f i gur e i n bl ack car ef ul l y dr opped hi s gun and l ooked up. Ther e wer e
hal f a dozen men spr ead out on t he r oof , wi t h a var i et y of weapons
poi nt ed at hi m.
The man i n bl ack gr owl ed, " What t he devi l t ook you so l ong? I never
shoul d have got t en t hi s f ar . "
" You di dn' t , " t he head guar d i nf or med hi m. " We st ar t ed t r acki ng you
bef or e you got over t he wal l . "
Ley Past emak was not mol l i f i ed. " Then you shoul d have st opped me
sooner . I coul d have been on a sui ci de mi ssi on wi t h a l oad of gr enades.
I want a meet i ng of t he ent i r e st af f i n t he mor ni ng, ei ght o' cl ock
shar p. The dogs have been st unned. Have someone keep an eye on t hem
unt i l t hey wake up. "
Ley Past emak pr i ded hi msel f on bei ng t he best secur i t y chi ef i n t he
wor l d. He had been a pi l ot i n t he I sr ael i Si x- Day War and af t er t he war
had become a t op agent i n Mossad, one of I sr ael ' s secr et ser vi ces.
He woul d never f or get t he mor ni ng, t wo year s ear l i er , when hi s col onel
had cal l ed hi mi nt o hi s of f i ce and sai d, " Ley, Mar i n Gr oza want s t o
bor r ow you f or a f ew weeks. "
Mossad had a compl et e f i l e on t he Remani an di ssi dent . Gr oza had been
t he l eader of a popul ar Remani an movement t o depose Al exandr es I onescu
and was about t o st age a coup when he was bet r ayed by one of hi s men.
Mor e t han t wo dozen under gr ound f i ght er s had been execut ed, and Gr oza
had bar el y escaped wi t h hi s l i f e. Fr ance had gi ven hi msanct uar y. Then
l onescu had put a pr i ce on hi s head. So f ar , hal f a dozen at t empt s t o
assassi nat e Gr oza had f ai l ed, but he had been wounded i n t he most r ecent
at t ack.
" What does he want wi t h me?" Past emak had asked. " He has Fr ench
gover nment pr ot ect i on. "
" Not good enough. He needs someone t o set up a f ool pr oof secur i t y
syst em. He came t o us. I r ecommended you. "
" I ' d have t o go t o Fr ancer '
" ' Onl y f or a f ew weeks. Ley, we' r e t al ki ng about a mensch. He' s t he
man i n t he whi t e hat . Our i nf or mat i on i s t hat he' l l soon have enough
popul ar suppor t i n Remani a t o knock over I onescu. When t he t i mi ng i s
r i ght , he' l l make hi s move. Meanwhi l e, we have t o keep t he man al i ve. "
Ley Past emak had t hought about i t " A f ew weeks, you sai d?"
" That ' s al l . "
The col onel had been wr ong about t he t i me, but he had been r i ght about
Mar i n Gr oza. He was a whi t e- hai r ed, f r agi l e- l ooki ng man whose f ace was
et ched wi t h sor r ow. He had deep bl ack eyes, and when he spoke, t hey
bl azed wi t h passi on.
" I don' t gi ve a damn whet her I l i ve or di e, " he t ol d Ley at t hei r f i r st
meet i ng. " We' r e al l goi ng t o di e. I t ' s t he when t hat I ' mconcer ned
about . I have t o st ay al i ve f or anot her year or t wo. That ' s al l t he
t i me I need t o dr i ve t he t yr ant I onescu out of my count r y. "
Ley Past emak went t o wor k on t he secur i t y syst emat t he vi l l a i n
Neui l l y. He used some of hi s own men, and t he out si der s he hi r ed wer e
checked out t hor oughl y. Ever y si ngl e pi ece of equi pment was
st at e- of - t he- ar t .
Past emak saw t he Remani an r ebel l eader ever y day, and t he mor e t i me he
spent wi t h hi m, t he mor e he came t o admi r e hi m. When Mar i n Gr oza asked
Past emak t o st ay on, Past emak agr eed, sayi ng, " Unt i l you' r e r eady t o
make your move. "
At i r r egul ar i nt er val s Past emak st aged sur pr i se at t acks on t he vi l l a,
t est i ng i t s secur i t y. Now he t hought , Some of t he guar ds ar e get t i ng
car el ess. I ' l l have t o r epl ace t hem.
He wal ked t hr ough t he hal l ways checki ng t he heat sensor s, t he el ect r oni c
war ni ng syst ems, and t he i nf r ar ed beams at - t he si l l of each door . As he
r eached Gr oza' s bedr oomhe hear d a l oud cr ack, and a moment l at er Gr oza
began scr eami ng out i n agony.
Ley Past emak passed Mar i n Gr oza' s r oomand kept wal ki ng.
THE Monday- mor ni ng execut i ve st af f meet i ng was under way i n t he
sevent h- f l oor conf er ence r oomat CI A headquar t er s i n Langl ey, Vi r gi ni a.
Seat ed ar ound t he l ar ge oak t abl e wer e Ned Ti l l i ngest , di r ect or of t he
CI A; Gener al Ol i ver Br ooks, Ar my Chi ef of St af f ; Secr et ar y of St at e
Fl oyd Baker ; Pet e Connor s, chi ef of count er i nt el l i gence; and St ant on
Roger s.
Ned Ti l l i ngest , t he CI A di r ect or , was i n hi s si xt i es, a col d, t aci t ur n
man bur dened wi t h mal ef i cent secr et s. Ther e i s a l i ght br anch and a
dar k br anch of t he CI A. The dar k br anch handl es cl andest i ne oper at i ons,
and f or t he past seven year s Ti l l i ngest had been i n char ge of bot h
sect i ons.
Gener al Ol i ver Br ooks was a West Poi nt sol di er who conduct ed hi s
per sonal and pr of essi onal l i f e by t he book. He was a' company man, and
t he company he wor ked f or was t he Uni t ed St at es Ar my.
Fl oyd Baker , t he Secr et ar y of St at e, was of sout her n vi nt age,
si l ver - hai r ed, di st i ngui shed- l ooki ng, wi t h an ol o- f ashi oned gal l ant r y.
He owned a chai n of i nf l uent i al newspaper s ar ound t he count r y and was
r eput ed t o be enor mousl y weal t hy.
Pet e Connor s was bl ack I r i sh, a st ubbor n bul l dog of a man, har d- dr i nki ng
and f ear l ess. He f aced compul sor y r et i r ement i n August . As chi ef of
count er i nt el l i gence, Connor s hel d sway over t he most secr et , hi ghl y
compar t ment al i zed br anch of t he CI A. He had wor ked hi s way up t hr ough
t he var i ous i nt el l i gence di vi si ons, and had been ar ound i n t he good ol d
days when CI A agent s wer e t he gol den boys. I n f act , Pet e Connor s had
been a gol den boy hi msel f . As f ar as he was concer ned, no sacr i f i ce was
t oo gr eat t o make f or hi s count r y.
Now, i n t he mi ddl e of t he meet i ng, hi s f ace was r ed wi t h anger . " Thi s
i di ot i c peopl e- t o- peopl e pr ogr amhas t o be st opped. We can' t al l ow t he
Pr esi dent t o gi ve t he count r y away. We- "
Fl oyd Baker i nt er r upt ed. " The Pr esi dent has been i n of f i ce l ess t han a
week. We' r e al l her e t o car r y out hi s pol i ci es and- "
" He spr ang hi s pl an on us. We di dn' t have a chance t o get t oget her a
r ebut t al . "
Ned Ti l l i ngest t ur ned t o St ant on Roger s. " Connor s has a poi nt . The
Pr esi dent i s act ual l y pl anni ng t o i nvi t e t he communi st count r i es t o send
t hei r spi es her e posi ng as at t aches, chauf f eur s, secr et ar i es, mai ds.
We' r e spendi ng bi l l i ons t o guar d t he back door , and t he Pr esi dent want s
t o t hr ow open t he f r ont door . "
Gener al Br ooks nodded agr eement . " I wasn' t consul t ed, ei t her .
I n my opi ni on, t he Pr esi den' s pl an coul d dest r oy t hi s count r y. "
St ant on Roger s sai d, " Gent l emen, some of us may di sagr ee wi t h t he
Pr esi dent , but Let ' s not f or get t hat t he peopl e vot ed f or Paul El hson.
We have t o suppor t hi mi n ever y way we can. " Hi s wor ds wer e f ol l owed by
a r el uct ant si l ence. " Al l r i ght , t hen. The Pr esi dent want s an updat e
on Remani a. What ' s t he si t uat i on wi t h Pr esi dent I onescu?"
" l onescu' s r i di ng hi gh i n t he saddl e, " Ned Ti l l i ngest r epl i ed. " Once he
got r i d of t he CeauSSescu f ami l y, al l of CeauSSescu' s al l i es wer e ei t her
assassi nat ed, j ai l ed, or exi l ed. Si nce he sei zed power I onescu' s been
bl eedi ng t he count r y dr y. The peopl e hat e hi s gut s. "
" What about t he pr ospect s f or a r evol ut i on?"
Ti l l i ngast sai d, " Ah, That ' s r at her i nt er est i ng. Remember a coupl e of
year s back when Mar i n Gr oza al most t oppl ed t he l onescu gover nment ?" $
" Yes. Gr oza got out of t he count r y by t he ski n of hi s t eet h. "
" Wi t h our hel p. Our i nf or mat i on i s t hat t her e' s a popul ar gr ound swel l
t o br i ng hi mback. Gr oza woul d be good f or Romani a, and good f or us.
We' r e wat chi ng t he si t uat i on. "
St ant on Roger s t ur ned t o t he Secr et ar y of St at e. " Do you have t hat l i st
of candi dat es f or t he Remani an post ?"
Fl oyd Baker t ook an envel ope f r oma l eat her at t aches case and handed i t
t o Roger s. " These ar e our t op pr ospect s. They' r e al l car eer di pl omat s.
Nat ur al l y, " he added, " t he St at e Depar t ment f avor s a car eer di pl omat
r at her t han a pol i t i cal appoi nt ee. Someone who' s been t r ai ned f or t hi s
ki nd of j ob. Remani a i s an ext r emel y sensi t i ve post . "
" I agr ee. " St ant on Roger s r ose t o hi s f eet . " i ' l l di scuss t hese names
wi t h t he Pr esi dent and get back t o you. "
As t he ot her s got up t o l eaveNed Ti l l i ngast sai d, " St ay her e, Pet e. I
want t o t al k t o you. " When t hey wer e al one, Ti l l i ngast sai d, " You came
on pr et t y st r ong, Pet e. "
" But I ' mr i ght , " Pet e Connor s sai d st ubbor nl y. " The Pr esi dent i s t r yi ng
t o sel l out t he count r y. What ar e we supposed t o do?"
" Keep your mout h shut , Pet e. And be car ef ul . Ver y car ef ul . "
Ned Ti l l i ngast had been ar ound l onger t han Pet e Connor s. He had been a
member of Wi l d Bi l l Donovan' s OSS bef or e i t became t he CI A. He t oo
hat ed what t he bl eedi ng hear t s i n Congr ess wer e doi ng t o t he
or gani zat i on he l oved. I t had been Ti l l i ngast who had r ecr ui t ed Pet e
Connor s out of col l ege, and Connor s had t ur ned out t o be one of t he
best . But i n t he l ast f ew year s Connor s had become a cowboy- a l i t t l e
t oo i ndependent , a l i t t l e t oo qui ck on t he t r i gger . Danger ous.
" Pet e, have you hear d anyt hi ng, about an under gr ound or gani zat i on cal l i ng
i t sel f Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom?" Ti l l i ngast asked.
Connor s f r owned. " No. Can' t say t hat I have. Who ar e t hey?"
" Al l I have i s smoke. See i f you can get a l ead on t hem. "
" Wi l l do. "
An hour l at er Pet e Connor s was maki ng a phone cal l f r oma publ i c boot h.
" I have a message f or Odi n, " he sai d.
" Thi s i s Odi n, " Gener al Ol i ver Br ooks r epl i ed.
PAUL El l i son t hr ew t he l i st of candi dat es down on hi s desk. " They' r e
di nosaur s, " he snapped. " Ever y one of t hem. "
" Mr . Pr esi dent , " Roger s pr ot est ed, " t hese peopl e ar e al l exper i enced
car eer di pl omat s. "
" And hi debound by St at e Depar t ment t r adi t i on. You r emember how we l ost
Remani a t hr ee year s ago? Our exper i enced car eer di pl omat i n Buchar est
scr ewed up, and we wer e out i n t he col d. The pi n- st r i ped boys wor r y me. "
" But i f you put an amat eur i n t her e, someone wi t h no exper i ence, you' r e
t aki ng a bi g r i sk. "
" Maybe we need someone wi t h a di f f er ent ki nd of exper i ence. Remani a i s
goi ng t o be a t est case, St an. " He hesi t at ed. " I ' mnot ki ddi ng mysel f .
I know t hat t her e ar e a l ot of power f ul peopl e who don' t want t o see
t hi s wor k. I f i t f ai l s, I ' mgoi ng t o get cut of f at t he knees. I don' t
i nt end f or t hat t o happen. "
" I can check out some of our pol i t i cal appoi nt ees who- "
Pr esi dent El l i son shook hi s head. " Same pr obl em. I want someone wi t h a
compl et el y f r esh poi nt of vi ew. Someone who can t haw t he i ce. The
opposi t e of t he ugl y Amer i can. "
St ant on Roger s was st udyi ng t he Pr esi dent , puzzl ed. " Mr . Pr esi dent , I
get t he i mpr essi on t hat you al r eady have someone i n mi nd. "
" As a mat t er of f act , " Paul El l i son sai d sl owl y, " I t hi nk I have. "
" Who i s he?"
" She. Di d you happen t o see I de ar t i cl e i n For ei gn Af f ai r s magazi ne
cal l ed' Ddt ent e Now' ?"
" Yes. "
" She wr ot e i t . What di d you t hi nk of i t ?"
" t hought i t was i nt er est i ng. The aut hor bel i eves t hat we' r e i n a
posi t i on t o t r y t o seduce t he communi st count r i es i nt o comi ng i nt o our
camp by of f er i ng t hemeconomi c and- " He br oke of f " I t was a l ot l i ke
your i naugur al speech. "
" Onl y i t was wr i t t en si x mont hs ear l i er . She' s publ i shed br i l l i ant
ar t i cl es i n Comment ar y and Publ i c Af f ai r s. Last year I r ead a book of
her s on East er n Eur opean pol i t i cs, and I must admi t i t hel ped cl ar i f y
some of my i deas. "
" Okay. So she agr ees wi t h your t heor i es. That ' s no r eason- "
" St an, she went f ur t her t han my t heor y. She out l i ned a det ai l ed pl an
That ' s br i l l i ant . She want s t o t ake t he f our maj or wor l d economi c pact s
and combi ne t hem. "
" How can we- "
" I t woul d t ake t i me, but i t coul d be done. Look. You know t hat i n 1949
t he East er n- bl oc count r i es f or med a pact f or mut ual economi c assi st ance,
cal l ed COMECON, and i n 1958 t he ot her Eur opean count r i es f or med t he
EEC- t he Common Mar ket . "
" Ri ght . "
" We have t he Or gani zat i on f or Economi c Cooper at i on and Devel opment ,
whi ch i ncl udes t he Uni t ed St at es, some West er n- bl oc count r i es, and
Yugosl avi a. And don' t f or get t hat t he Thi r d Wor l d count r i es have f or med
a nonal i gned movement of t hei r own. "
The Pr esi den' s voi ce was char ged wi t h exci t ement . " Thi nk of t he
possi bi l i t i es. I f we coul d combi ne t hese pl ans and f or mone bi g
mar ket pl ace, i t coul d be awesome! I t woul d mean r eal wor l d t r ade. And
i t coul d br i ng peace. "
St ant on Roger s sai d caut i ousl y, " I t ' s an i nt er est i ng i dea, but I t ' s a
l ong way of f . Do you know anyt hi ng about t hi s woman?"
" No. Except t hat she' s ext r emel y br i ght and t hat we' r e on t he same
wavel engt h. Her name i s Mar y Ashl ey. I want you t o f i nd out ever yt hi ng
you can about her . "
Two days l at er Pr esi dent El l i son and St ant on Roger s br eakf ast ed
t oget her .
" I got t he i nf or mat i on you asked f or . " ] Roger s pul l ed a paper f r omhi s
pocket . " Mar y El i zabet h Ashl ey. Mi l f or d Road, j unct i on Ci t y, Kansas.
Age, al most t hi r t y- f i ve. Mar r i ed t o Dr . Edwar d Ashl ey. Two chi l dr en:
Bet h, t wel ve, and Ti m, t en. Assi st ant pr of essor , East er n Eur opean
pol i t i cal sci ence, Kansas St at e Uni ver si t y. Gr andf at her bor n i n
Remani a. " He l ooked up t hought f ul l y. " I must admi t she sounds
i nt er est i ng. "
" I t hi nk so t oo. I ' d l i ke t o have a f ul l secur i t y check r un on her . "
" I ' l l see t hat I t ' s done. "
" I DI SAGREE, Pr of essor Ashl ey, " sai d Bar r y Dyl an, one of t he t wel ve
gr aduat e st udent s i n Mar y Ashl ey' s pol i t i cal sci ence semi nar .
" Al exandr os l onescu i s wor se t han CeauSSescu ever was. "
" Can you back up t hat st at ement ?" Mar y asked.
The wai t i ng l i st s t o get i nt o Mar y Ashl ey' s cl asses wer e l onger t han any
ot her pr of essor ' s at Kansas St at e Uni ver si t y. She was a super b t eacher ,
wi t h an easy sense of humor and a war mt h t hat made bei ng ar ound her a
pl easur e. She had an oval f ace t hat changed f r omi nt er est i ng t o
beaut i f ul , dependi ng on her mood. She had t he hi gh cheekbones of a
model , and al mond- shaped, hazel eyes. Her hai r was dar k and t hi ck. She
had a f i gur e t hat made her f emal e st udent s envi ous and t he mal es
f ant asi ze, yet she was unawar e of how beaut i f ul she was.
" Wel l , " sai d Bar r y, " I onescu has cr acked down har d on al l t he pr o- Gr oza
el ement s and r eest abl i shed a har d- l i ne, pr o- Sovi et posi t i on. Even
CeauSSescu wasn' t t hat bad. "
Anot her st udent spoke up. " Then why i s Pr esi dent El l i son so anxi ous t o
est abl i sh di pl omat i c r el at i ons wi t h hi m?"
" Because we want t o woo hi mi nt o t he West er n or bi t . Al so- " The bel l
sounded. The t i me was up.
Mar y sai d, " Monday we' l l di scuss t he possi bl e consequences of Pr esi dent
El l i son' s pl an t o penet r at e t he East er n bl oc. Have a good weekend. "
Mar y Ashl ey l oved t he gi ve- and- t ake of her gr aduat e semi nar . For ei gn
names and pl aces became r eal , and hi st or i cal event s t ook on f l esh and
bl ood. Thi s was her f i l l year on t he f acul t y at Kansas St at e, and
t eachi ng st i l l exci t ed her .
She especi al l y enj oyed t eachi ng about Remani a. I t had been her
gr andf at her who had i nst i l l ed i n her a deep cur i osi t y about hi s nat i ve
l and. He had t ol d her r omant i c st or i es of Queen Mar i e
and bar onesses and pr i ncesses; t al es of Al ber t , t he pr i nce consor t of
Engl and, and of Al exander I I , Czar of Russi a.
Somewher e i n our backgr ound t her e i s r oyal bl ood. I f t he r evol ut i on had
not come, you woul d have been a pr i ncess.
She used t o have dr eams about i t .
She t aught f i ve pol i t i cal sci ence cl asses i n addi t i on t o t he gr aduat e
semi nar , and each of t hemdeal t wi t h t he Sovi et Uni on and i t s sat el l i t e
count r i es. At t i mes she f el t l i ke a f r aud. I ' ve never been t o any of
t he count r i es I t each about , she t hought . I ' ve never even been out si de
t he Uni t ed St at es.
Mar y had pl anned a t r i p abr oad when she r ecei ved her mast er ' s degr ee,
but t hat summer she met Edwar d Ashl ey, and t he Eur opean t r i p t ur ned i nt o
a t hr ee- day honeymoon at Wat er vi l l e, f i f t y- f i ve mi l es f r omj unct i on
Ci t y, wher e Edwar d was t aki ng car e of a cr i t i cal hear t pat i ent .
" We r eal l y must t r avel next year , " Mar y sai d t o Edwar d shor t l y af t er
t hey wer e mar r i ed. " I ' mdyi ng t o see Rome and Par i s and Remani a. "
" So amI . I t ' s a dat e. Next summer . "
But t hat f ol l owi ng summer Bet h was bor n, and Edwar d was caught up i n hi s
wor k at t he Gear y Communi t y Hospi t al . Two year s l at er Ti mwas bor n.
Mar y had got t en her Ph. D. and gone back t o t eachi ng at Kansas St at e
Uni ver si t y, and somehow t he year s had mel t ed away. Except f or br i ef
t r i ps t o Chi cago, At l ant a, and Denver , Mar y had never been out of t he
st at e of Kansas.
One day, she pr omi sed her sel f . One day . . .
Mar y gat her ed her not es t oget her , put on her coat and a scar f , and
headed out t o her car . As she passed Deni son Hal l a st r anger wi t h a
Ni kon camer a ai med i t at t he bui l di ng and pr essed t he shut t er . Mar y was
i n t he f or egr ound of t he pi ct ur e. One hour l at er t he phot ogr aph was on
i t s way t o Washi ngt on, D. C.
EVERY t own has i t s own di st i nct i ve r hyt hm, a l i f e pul se t hat spr i ngs
f r omt he peopl e and t he l and. J unct i on Ci t y, i n Gear y Count y, i s a f ar m
communi t y one hundr ed and t hi r t y mi l es west of Kansas Ci t y. I t pr i des
i t sel f on bei ng t he geogr aphi cal cent er of t he cont i nent al Uni t ed
St at es. The downt own shoppi ng ar ea consi st s of scat t er ed st or es,
f ast - f ood chai ns, and gas st at i ons- t he t ypes of est abl i shment s t hat ar e
dupl i cat ed- n hundr eds of smal l t owns acr oss Amer i ca. But t he r esi dent s
of j unct i on Ci t y l ove i t f or i t s bucol i c peace and t r anqui l l i t y. On
weekdays, at l east . Weekends, j unct i on Ci t y becomes t he
r est - and- r ecr eat i on cent er f or t he sol di er s at near by For t Ri l ey.
MARY Ashl ey st opped t o shop f or di nner at Di l l on' s Mar ket and t hen
headed home. The Ashl eys l i ved i n an ei ght - r oom, st one house set i n t he
mi ddl e of gent l y r ol l i ng hi l l s. I t had been bought by Dr . Edwar d
Ashl ey and hi s br i de t hi r t een year s ear l i er .
" I t ' s awf ul l y l ar ge f or j ust t wo peopl e, " Mar y Ashl ey had pr ot est ed when
t hey' d f i r st t aken a l ook at i t .
And Edwar d had t aken her i nt o hi s ar ms and hel d her cl ose. " Who sai d
I t ' s goi ng t o be f or onl y t wo peopl e?"
When she wal ked i n t he door t hi s eveni ng, Ti mand Bet h r an t o gr eet her .
" Guess what ?" Ti msai d. " We' r e goi ng t o have our pi ct ur es i n t he
paper ! "
" Hel p me put away t he gr ocer i es, " Mar y sai d. " What paper ?"
" The man di dn' t say, but he sai d we' d hear f r omhi m. "
Mar y st opped and t ur ned t o l ook at her son. " Di d he say why?"
" No, " Ti msai d. " But he sur e had a ni t t y Ni kon. "
ON SUNDAY, Mar y cel ebr at ed- al t hough t hat was not t he wor d t hat spr ang t o
her mi nd- her t hi r t y- f i ve bi r t hday. Edwar d had' ar r anged a sur pr i se
par t y f or her at t he count r y cl ub. Thei r nei ghbor s, Fl or ence and
Dougl as Schi l l er , and f our ot her coupl es wer e wai t i ng f or her . Edwar d
was as del i ght ed as a smal l chi l d at t he l ook of amazement on Mar y' s
f ace when she wal ked i nt o t he cl ub and saw t he f est i ve t abl e and t he
happy bi r t hday banner . Af t er di nner , as Mar y bl ew out t he candl es on
her cake, she l ooked acr oss at Edwar d and t hought , How l ucky can a l ady
be?
Monday mor ni ng she awoke wi t h a headache. Ther e had been a l ot of
champagne t oast s t he ni ght bef or e. She eased her way out of bed and
went down t o t he ki t chen, wher e she set about pr epar i ng br eakf ast f or
t he chi l dr en.
Bet h, Mar y' s t wel ve- year - ol d daught er , wal ked i nt o t he r oomcar r yi ng an
ar mf ul of books.
Mar y put a box of cer eal on t he t abl e. " I bought a new cer eal f or you.
You' r e goi ng t o l i ke i t . "
Bet h sat dowt i at t he ki t chen t abl e and st udi ed t he l abel on t he cer eal
box. " I can' t eat t hi s. You' r e t r yi ng t o ki l l me. "
" Don' t put any i deas i n my head, " . her mot her caut i oned.
Ti m, Mar y' s t en- year - ol d, r an i nt o t he ki t chen. He sl i d i nt o a chai r at
t he t abl e and sai d, " I ' l l have bacon and eggs. "
" What ever happened t o good mor ni ng?" Mar y asked. " Good mor ni ng. I ' l l
have bacon and eggs. Can I go t o t he skat i ng r i nk af t er school , Mom?"
" You' r e t o come r i ght home and st udy. Mr s. Reynol ds cal l ed me. You' r e
f ai l i ng mat h. How do you t hi nk i t l ooks f or a col l ege pr of essor t o have
a son who' s f ai l i ng mat h?"
" I t l ooks okay. You don' t t each mat h. "
They t al k about t he t er r i bl e t wos, Mar y t hought gr i ml y. What about t he
t er r i bl e ni nes, t ens, el evens, and t wel ves?
She had packed a l unch f or each of t hem, but she was concer ned about
Bet h, wt i o was on some ki nd of cr azy new di et . " Pl ease, Bet h, eat al l of
your l unch t oday. "
" I f i t has no ar t i f i ci al pr eser vat i ves. I ' mnot goi ng t o l et t he gr eed
of t he f ood i ndust r y r ui n my heal t h. "
What ever happened t o t he good ol d days of j unk f ood? Mar y wonder ed.
Ti mpl ucked a l oose paper f r omone of Bet h' s not ebooks. " Look at t hi s! "
he yel l ed. " ' Dear Bet h, Let ' s si t t oget her dur i ng st udy per i od. I
t hought of you al l day yest er day and- " $
" Gi ve t hat back t o me! " Bet h scr eamed. " Thaes mi ne! "
" Hey! I t ' s si gne. " Vi r gi l . " I t hought you wer e i n l ove wi t h Ar nol d. "
Bet h snat ched t he not e away f r omhi m. " What woul d you know about l ove?
You' r e a chi l d. "
At t hat moment t hey hear d t he hor n of t he school bus out si de. Ti mand
Bet h st ar t ed t owar d t he door .
" Wai t ! You haven' t eat en your br eakf ast s, " Mar y sai d. She f ol l owed t hem
out i nt o t he hal l way.
" No t i me, Mot her . Got t o go. "
" Bye, Mom. "
And t hey wer e gone.
Mar y, f eel i ng dr ai ned, l ooked up as Edwar d came down t he st ai r s.
" Mor ni ng, dar l i ng, " he sai d.
" Sweet hear t , woul d you do me a f avor ?"
" Sur e, beaut i f ul . " He gave her a ki ss. " Anyt hi ng. "
" want t o sel l t he chi l dr en. "
" Who' d buy t hem?"
" St r anger s. They' ve r eached t he age wher e I can' t do anyt hi ng r i ght .
Bet h has become a heal t h- f ood f r eak, and your son i s t ur ni ng i nt o a
wor l d- cl ass dunce. "
Edwar d sai d t hought f ul l y, " Maybe t hey' r e not our ki ds. "
" I hope not . I ' mmaki ng oat meal f or you. "
" Sor r y, dar l i ng. No t i me. I ' mdue i n sur ger y i n hal f an hour . "
Mar y l ooked at Edwai d and f el t a gl ow. Even af t er al l t hese year s, she
t hought , he' s st i l l t he most at t r act i ve man I ' ve ever known.
" I may deci de t o keep t he ki ds, af t er al l , " she sai d. " I l i ke t hei r
f at her a l ot . "
" To t el l you t he t r ut h, " sai d Edwar d, " I ' mr at her f ond of t hei r ,
mot her . " He t ook her i n hi s ar ms.
MARY and Edwar d l ef t t he house t oget her , bowi ng t hei r heads agai nst t he
r el ent l ess wi nd. Edwar d st r apped hi msel f i nt o hi s For d Gr anada and
wat ched Mar y as she got behi nd t he wheel of t he st at i on wagon.
" Dr i ve car ef ul l y, sweet hear t , " Edwar d cal l ed.
" You t oo, dar l i ng. " She bl ew hi ma ki ss, and t he t wo car s dr ove away
f r omt he house, Edwar d headi ng t owar d t he hospi t al and Mar y t owar d t he
uni ver si t y.
Two men par ked hal f a bl ock f r omt he Ashl ey house wai t ed unt i l t he
vehi cl es wer e out of si ght . " Let ' s go. "
They dr ove up t o t he house next door t o t he Ashl eys' . The dr i ver sat i n
t he ci l r whi l e hi s compani on wal ked up t o t he f r ont door and r ang - t he
bel l . The door was opened by an at t r act i ve br unet t e i n her mi ddl e
t hi r t i es.
" Mr s. Dougl as Schi l l er ?"
" Yes?"
The man r eached i nt o hi s j acket pocket and pul l ed out an i dent i f i cat i on
car d. " My name i s Donal d Zaml ock. I ' mwi t h t he Secur i t y Agency of t he
St at e Depar t ment . I want t o ask you a f ew quest i ons about your
nei ghbor , Mr s. Ashl ey. "
She l ooked at hi mwi t h concer n. " Mar y? Why woul d you be aski ng about
her ?"
" May I come i n?"
" Yes. " Fl or ence Schi l l er l ed hi mi nt o t he l i vi ng r oom. " Woul d you l i ke
some cof f ee?"
" No, t hanks. I ' l l onl y t ake a f ew mi nut es. " He smi l ed r eassur i ngl y.
" Thi s i s j ust a r out i ne check. She' s not suspect ed of any wr ongdoi ng. "
" I shoul d hope not , " Fl or ence Schi l l er sai d i ndi gnant l y. " Mar y Ashl ey
i s one of t he ni cest per sons you' l l ever meet . " She added, " Have you met
her ?"
" No, ma' am. Thi s vi si t i s conf i dent i al , and I woul d appr eci at e i t i f
you kept i t t hat way. How l ong have you known Mr s. Ashl ey?"
" About t hi r t een year s. Si nce t he day she moved i n next door . "
" Woul d you say t hat you know Mr s. Ashl ey wel l ?"
" Of cour se I woul d. Mar y' s my cl osest f r i end. What - "
" Mr s. Schi l l er , i n your opi ni on i s Mr s. Ashl ey an emot i onal l y st abl e
per son?"
" Of cour se she i s. "
" Mr s. Ashl ey' s gr andf at her was bor n i n Remani a. Have you ever hear d
her di scuss Remani a?"
" Oh, once i n a whi l e she' l l t el l st or i es her gr andf at her t ol d her about
t he ol d count r y. "
" One l ast quest i on. Have you ever hear d Mr s. Ashl ey or Dr . Ashl ey say
anyt hi ng agai nst t he Uni t ed St at es gover nment ?"
" Absol ut el y not ! "
" Then i n your est i mat i on t hey' r e bot h l oyal Amer i cans?"
" You bet t hey ar e. Woul d you mi nd t el l i ng me- "
The man r ose. " I want t o t hank you f or your t i me, Mr s. Schi l l er . And
I ' d l i ke t o i mpr ess upon you agai n t hat t hi s mat t er i s hi ghl y
conf i dent i al . I woul d appr eci at e i t i f you di dn' t di scuss i t wi t h
anyone- not even your husband. "
A moment l at er he was out t he door . Fl or ence Schi l l er st ood t her e
st ar i ng af t er hi m. " I don' t bel i eve t hi s whol e conver sat i on t ook
pl ace, " she sai d al oud.
BRI DGE WI TH THEI R NEI GHBOI RS t he Schi l l er s was a Mondayni ght r i t ual f or
Mar y and Edwar d Ashl ey. The f act t hat Dougl as Schi l l er was a doct or and
wor ked wi t h Edwar d at t he hospi t al made t he t wo coupl es even cl oser .
Dougl as Schi l l er was nor mal l y a pl easant , easygoi ng man, but at t he
moment t her e was a gr i mexpr essi on on hi s f ace. They wer e i n t he mi ddl e
of t he game, and t he Schi l l er s wer e t en t housand poi nt s behi nd. For t he
f our t h t i me t hat eveni ng Fl or ence Schi l l er had r eneeed.
" Fl or ence! " Dougl as expl oded. " Whi ch si de ar e you on?"
" I ' msor r y, " she sai d ner vousl y.
" I s anyt hi ng bot her i ng you?" Edwar d Ashl ey asked Fl or ence.
" I can' t t el l you. "
They al l l ooked at her i n sur pr i se: " What does t hat mean?" her husband
asked.
Fl or ence Schi l l er t ook a deep br eat h. " Mar y, I t ' s about you. "
" What about me?"
" I ' mnot supposed t o t el l . I pr omi sed. "
" You pr omi sed who?" Edwar d asked.
" A f eder al agent f r omWashi ngt on. He was at t he house t hi s mor ni ng
aski ng me al l ki nds of quest i ons about Mar y. "
" What ki nd of quest i ons?" Edwar d demanded.
" Oh, you know. was she a l oyal Amer i can? was she st abl e?"
" Wai t , " Mar y sai d exci t edl y. " I t hi nk I know. I ' mup f or t enur e.
The uni ver si t y does some sensi t i ve gover nment r esear ch on campus, so I
suppose t hey check ever yone pr et t y t hor oughl y. "
" Wel l , t hank God That ' s al l i t i s. " Fl or ence Schi l l er br eat hed a si gh of
r el i ef . " I t hought t hey wer e goi ng t o l ock you up. "
" I hope t hey do. " Mar y smi l ed. " At Kansas St at e. "
Abbeywood, Engl and. " We ar e meet i ng under t he usual r ul es, t he chai r man
announced. " No r ecor ds wi l l be kept , t hi s meet i ng wi l l never be
di scussed, and we wi l l r ef er t o one anot her by t he code names we have
been assi gned. "
Ther e wer e ei ght men i nsi de t he l i br ar y of t he f i f t eent h- cent ur y
Cl aymor e Cast l e. Two ar med men kept vi gi l out si de, whi l e a t hi r d man
guar ded t he door t o t he l i br ar y.
. The chai r man cont i nued. " The Cont r ol l er has r ecei ved some di st ur bi ng
i nf or mat i on. Mar i n Gr oza i s pr epar i ng a coup agai nst Al exandr os
I onescu. A gr oup of seni or ar my of f i cer s i n Remani a has deci ded t o back
Gr oza. Thi s t i me he coul d ver y wel l be successf ul . "
Odi n spoke up. " How woul d t hat af f ect our pl an?"
" I t coul d dest r oy i t . I t woul d open t oo many br i dges t o t he West . "
Fr eyr sai d, " Then we must pr event i t f r omhappeni ng. "
Bal der asked, " How?"
" We assassi nat e Gr oza, " t he chai r man r epl i ed.
" I mpossi bl e. Hi s vi l l a i s i mpr egnabl e. Anyway, no one i n t hi s r oomcan
af f or d t o be i nvol ved i n an assassi nat i on at t empt . "
" We woul dn' t be di r ect l y i nvol ved, " t he chai r man sai d. " The Cont r ol l er
has di scover ed a conf i dent i al dossi er t hat concer ns an i nt er nat i onal
t er r or i st who' s f or hi r e. He' s cal l ed Angel . "
" Never hear d of hi m, " Si gmund sai d.
" So much t he bet t er . Hi s cr edent i al s ar e most i mpr essi ve. Accor di ng t o
t he Cont r ol l er ' s f i l e, Angel was i nvol ved i n t he Si kh Khal i st an
assassi nat i on i n I ndi a. He hel ped t he Khmer Rouge i n Cambodi a. He' s
mast er mi nded t he assassi nat i ons of hal f a dozen ar my of f i cer s i n I sr ael ,
and t he I sr ael i s have of f er ed a mi l l i ondol l ar r ewar d f or hi m, dead or
al i ve. "
" He sounds pr omi si ng, " Thor sai d. " Can we get hi m?"
" He' s expensi ve. I f he agr ees t o t ake t he cont r act , i t wi l l cost us t wo
mi l l i on dol l ar s. "
" How do we get t o t hi s Angel per son?" Si gmund asked.
" Al l hi s cont act s ar e handl ed t hr ough hi s mi st r ess, a woman named Neusa
Muf i ez. Angel has set her up i n an apar t ment i n Buenos Ai r es. "
Thor sai d, " Who woul d get i n t ouch wi t h her f or us?"
The chai r man r epl i ed, " The Cont r ol l er has suggest ed a man named Har r y
Lant z. He was t hr own out of t he CI A f or set t i ng up hi s own dr ug
busi ness i n Vi et nam. Whi l e he was wi t h t he CI A he di d a t our i n Sout h
Amer i ca, so he knows t he t er r i t or y. He' d be a per f ect go- bet ween. " He
paused. " I suggest we t ake a vot e. Al l t hose i n f avor of hi r i ng Angel ,
pl ease r ai se your hands. "
Ei ght wel l - mani cur ed hands went i nt o t he ai r .
" Then I t ' s set t l ed. " The chai r man r ose. " The meet i ng i s adj our ned.
Pl ease obser ve t he usual pr ecaut i ons as you l eave. "
Chapt er Thr ee
I N HI S hot el r oomi n New Yor k, Har r y Lant z was awakened i n t he mi ddl e of
t he ni ght by t he r i ngi ng of t he t el ephone.
Who t he devi l knows I ' mher e? he wonder ed. He l ooked bl ear i l y at t he
bedsi de cl ock, t hen snat ched up t he phone. " I t ' s f our o' cl ock i n t he
mor ni ng! Who t he- "
A sof t voi ce at t he ot her end of t he l i ne began speaki ng, and Lant z sat
upr i ght i n bed, hi s hear t begi nni ng t o pound. " Yes, si r . "
He l i st ened f or a l ong t i me. Fi nal l y he sai d, " Yes, . si r . I
under st and. I ' l l be on t he f i r st pl ane t o Buenos Ai r es. Thank you,
si r . "
He r epl aced t he r ecei ver and l i t a ci gar et t e. Hi s hands wer e t r embl i ng.
The man he had j ust spoken t o was one of t he most power f ul men i n t he
wor l d and was goi ng t o pay hi mf i f t y t housand dol l ar s t o del i ver a
message. I t woul d be f un goi ng back t o Ar gent i na. Har r y Lant z l oved
Sout h Amer i can women.
THE 747 ar r i ved at Ezei za Ai r por t i n Buenos Ai r es at f i ve t he f ol l owi ng
af t er noon. Har r y Lant z f el t a sur ge of exci t ement as he st epped out of
t he pl ane, but t he bl ast of hot ai r st ar t l ed hi mf or a moment . Of
cour se, he r eal i zed. I t ' s summer her e.
Yes, i t was good t o be back. Si est a was over , and t he st r eet s wer e
cr owded wi t h peopl e. When t he t axi ar r i ved at t he Hot el El
Conqui st ador , i n t he hear t of t he f ashi onabl e Bar r i o Nor t e sect or , Lant z
pai d t he dr i ver wi t h a mi l l i on- peso not e.
" Keep t he change, " he sai d. Thei r money was a j oke.
Har r y l ooked up an ol d f r i end. No one had ever . hear d of Neusa Muf i ez.
Har r y Lant z began t o f eel he mi ght be on a wi l d- goose chase.
I t was at t he Pi l ar , a smal l bar i n t he bar r i o of Fl or est a, t hat hi s
l uck suddenl y changed. I t was a Fr i day ni ght , and t he bar was f i l l ed
wi t h wor ki ngmen. I t t ook Lant z t en mi nut es t o get t he bar t ender ' s
at t ent i on. Bef or e Lant z was hal f way t hr ough hi s pr epar ed speech, t he
bar t ender sai d, " Neusa Muez? S( . I know her . I f she wi shes t o t al k t o
you, she wi l l come her e maana, about mi dni ght . "
The f ol l owi ng eveni ng Har r y Lant z r et ur ned t o t he Pi l ar at el even
o' cl ock and t ook a pl ace at t he bar , wat chi ng t he r oomgr adual l y f i l l
up. As mi dni ght appr oached, he f ound hi msel f get t i ng mor e and mor e
ner vous. I f she doesn' t show up, he t hought , I can ki ss t he f i f t y gr and
good- bye.
He wonder ed what she l ooked l i ke. She had t o be a st unner . He was
aut hor i zed t o of f er her boyf r i end, Angel , a cool t wo mi l l i on dol l ar s t o
assassi nat e someone, so Angel was pr obabl y up t o hi s ear s i n mi l l i ons.
He woul d be abl e t o af f or d a beaut i f ul young mi st r ess.
The door opened, and Lant z l ooked up expect ant l y. A woman was wal ki ng
i n al one. She was mi ddl e- aged and unat t r act i ve, wi t h a f at , bl oat ed
body and huge, pendul ous br east s t hat swayed as she wal ked. Her f ace
was pockmar ked, and she had dyed bl ond hai r . A hooker down on her l uck,
Lant z deci ded.
The woman l ooked ar ound t he bar wi t h vacant , l i st l ess eyes, t hen pushed
her way over t o Har r y. " Wanna buy me a dr i nk?"
She had a heavy Spani sh accent .
She l ooks l i ke a f at cow, Lant z t hought . . And she' s dr unk. " Get l ost ,
si st er . "
" Est eban, t he bar t ender . He say you ar e l ooki n' f or me, no?"
" He must have made a mi st ake. I ' ml ooki ng f or Neusa Muez. "
" Si . Yo soy Neusa Mudez. "
But t he wr ong one, Har r y t hought . " Ar e you Angel ' s f r i end?"
She smi l ed dr unkenl y. " Si . "
Har r y Lant z r ecover ed swi f f l y. " Wel l , wel l . " He f or ced a smi l e. " Can we
go t o a cor ner t abl e and t al k?"
They f ought t hei r way acr oss t he smoky bar , and when t hey wer e seat ed,
Har r y Lant z sai d, " I ' d l i ke t o t al k about - " ' " You buy me a r um, s( ? A
doubl e. "
Lant z nodded. " Sur e. " When t he wai t er l ef t , Lant z sai d, " I want t o meet
wi t h Angel . I have a l i t t l e pr esent f or hi m. "
She st udi ed hi m. " St ? What ki n' a pr esent ?"
" Two mi l l i on dol l ar s. "
Thei r dr i nks ar r i ved. She downed her s i n one gul p. " Wha' f or you wanna
gi ve Angel t wo mi l l i on dol l ar s?"
" That ' s somet hi ng I ' l l have t o di scuss wi t h hi mi n per son. "
" Thai s not possi bl e. Angel , he don' t al k t o nobody. "
" Lady, f or t wo mi l l i on dol l ar s- "
Neusa Muf i ez st r uggl ed t o her f eet . " I t ol ' you, he don' t al k t o
nobody. Ad16s. "
" Hey! Wai t a mi nut e! Don' t go. "
She l ooked down at hi mwi t h bl ear y eyes. " What you wan' ?"
" si t down, " Lant z sai d sl owl y, " and I ' l l t el l you what I want . "
She sat down heavi l y. " I need a r um, huh?"
Har r y Lant z was baf f l ed. What ki nd of man i s t hi s Angel ? he wonder ed.
Hi s mi st r ess i s not onl y t he ugl i est br oad i n al l of Sout h Amer i ca, but
she' s a l ush.
Lant z di d not l i ke deal i ng wi t h dr unks. On t he ot her hand, he hat ed t he
t hought of l osi ng hi s f i f t y- t housand- dol l ar commi ssi on. He summoned t he
wai t er and or der ed t he dr i nk, t hen smi l ed and sai d r easonabl y, e Neusa,
i f I can' t t al k t o Angel , how can I do busi ness wi t h hi m?"
" Ess si mpl e. You t el l me what you wan' . I t el l Angel . I f he say sf , I
t el l you s( . I f he say no, I t el l you no. "
Lant z di st r ust ed usi ng her as a go- bet ween, but he had no choi ce.
" You' ve hear d of Mar i n Gr oza?"
" No. "
He pat t ed her f at hand. " Angel wi l l know who Gr oza i s. You j ust say
Mar i n Gr oza. He' l l know. The peopl e who sent me want hi mbl own away.
Ki l l ed. "
" Oh. I ' l l ass' Angel . Wha' you say t he man' s name i s?"
He want ed t o shake her . " Gr oza. Mar i n Gr oza.
" Yeah. My baby' s out a t own. I ' l l cal l hi mt oni ght an' meet you her e
t omor r ow. Ki n I have ' not her r um?"
Neusa Muez was t ur ni ng out t o be a ni ght mar e. How coul d a man who was
supposed t o be as smar t as Angel get hooked up wi t h such a r umdummy?
THE f ol l owi ng ni ght Har r y Lant z was seat ed at t he same t abl e i n t he
Pi l ar , i nt er mi t t ent l y chewi ng peanut s and hi s f i nger nai l s. At t wo a. m.
he saw Neusa Muez st umbl e t hr ough t he door and make her way over t o hi m.
" Hi , " she mumbl ed, and sl umped i nt o a chai r .
" Neusa, di d you r emember t o t al k t o Angel ?"
She l ooked at hi mvacant l y. " Angel ? Si . Ki n I have a dr i nk, huh?"
He or der ed a doubl e r umf or her and a doubl e Scot ch f or hi msel f . He
needed i t desper at el y. " What di d Angel say, Neusa?"
, Angel ? Oh, he say yeah. Ess okay. "
Har r y Lant z f el t a sur ge of r el i ef . " That ' s wonder f ul ! " He no l onger
car ed about hi s messenger - boy mi ssi on. He had t hought of a bet t er i dea.
Lant z pr i ded hi msel f on bei ng a pr o. He was t oo smar t t o wal k i nt o a
deal l i ke t hi s wi t hout f i r st checki ng i t ou. t . Bef or e l eavi ng t he
St at es, he had caut i ousl y asked ar ound about Angel , and what had
i mpr essed hi mmost was t hat t he I sr ael i s had put a pr i ce of a mi l l i on
dol l ar s on hi s head. Thi s dr unken f l oozy was goi ng t o l ead hi mt o
Angel . He was goi ng t o col l ect t hat one mi l l i on dol l ar s.
He wat ched her sl op down her dr i nk, spi l l i ng some of i t on her al r eady
soi l ed bl ouse. " What el se di d Angel say?"
" Angel say he wanna know' who your peopl e ar e. "
Lant z gave her a wi nni ng smi l e. " You t el l hi mThat ' s conf i dent i al ,
Neusa. I can' t gi ve hi mt hat i nf or mat i on. "
She shr ugged. " Then Angel say t o t el l you t o get l ost . "
Har r y Lant z' s mi nd st ar t ed wor ki ng at t op speed. " Neusa, I ' l l t el ephone
t he peopl e I ' mwor ki ng f or , and i f t hey gi ve me per mi ssi on, I ' l l gi ve
you a name. Okay?"
She nodded, i ndi f f er ent .
" You t el l Angel I ' l l have an answer f or hi mby t omor r ow. I s t her e
somepl ace I can r each you?"
guess so. "
He was maki ng pr ogr ess. " Wher e?"
" Her e. "
He made t he cal l col l ect f r oma t el ephone boot h so i t coul d not be
t r aced. I t had t aken hi mone hour t o get t hr ough.
" No, " t he Cont r ol l er sai d. " I t ol d you, no r - mmes.
" Yes, si r . But t her e' s a pr obl em. Neusa Muf i ez, Angel ' s mi st r ess, says
he' s wi l l i ng t o make a deal , but he won' t move wi t hout knowi ng who he' s
deal i ng wi t h. "
" What i s t hi s woman l i ke?"
" She' s a f at , ugl y mor on, si r . "
" I t ' s much t oo danger ous f or my name t o be used. "
Har r y Lant z coul d f eel t he deal sl i ppi ng away f r omhi m. " Yes, si r , " he
sai d ear nest l y. " The onl y t hi ng i s, si r , Angel ' s r eput at i on i s based on
hi s bei ng abl e t o keep hi s mout h shut . I f he ever st ar t ed t al ki ng, he
woul dn' t l ast f i ve mi nut es i n hi s busi ness. "
Ther e was a l ong si l ence. " Ver y wel l . You may gi ve Angel my name. But
he i s never t o di vul ge i t and never t o cont act me di r ect l y. He' l l wor k
onl y t hr ough you. "
Har r y Lant z coul d have danced. " Yes, si r . I ' l l t el l hi m. Thank you,
si r . " He hung up, a bi g gr i n on hi s f ace. He was goi ng t o col l ect t he
f i f t y t housand. And t hen t he mi l l i on- dol l ar r ewar d.
WHEN Har r y Lant z met Neusa Muez l at e t hat eveni ng, he i mmedi at el y
or der ed a doubl e r umf or her and sai d happi l y, " Ever yt hi ng' s set . I got
per mi ssi on. "
She l ooked at hi mi ndi f f er ent l y. " Yeah?"
He t ol d her t he name of hi s empl oyer . I t was a househol d wor d.
She shr ugged. " Never hear da hi m. "
" Neusa, t he peopl e I wor k f or want t hi s done as qui ckl y as possi bl e.
Mar i n Gr oza i s hi di ng out i n a vi l l a i n Neui l l y, and- "
" Wher e?"
" I t ' s a subur b of Par i s, " he sai d pat i ent l y. " Angel wi l l know. "
" I need ' not her dr i nk. "
An hour l at er Neusa was st i l l dr i nki ng, and t hi s t i me Har r y Lant z was
encour agi ng her . When she' s dr unk enough, he t hought , she' s goi ng t o
l ead me st r ai ght t o her boyf r i end. The r est wi l l be easy. " When i s
Angel comi ng back t o t own?" he asked.
She f ocused her wat er y eyes on hi m. " Nex' week. "
Har r y Lant z t ook her hand and st r oked i t . " Why don' t you and I go back
t o your pl ace?" he asked sof t l y.
" Okay. "
He was i n.
NEUSA MUez l i ved i n a shabby t wo- r oomapar t ment t hat was as messy and
unkempt as i t s t enant . When t hey wal ked t hr ough t he door , Neusa made
st r ai ght f or t he l i t t l e bar i n t he cor ner .
Lant z wat ched as she pour ed a dr i nk and downed i t . She' s t he most ugl y,
r epul si ve pi g I ' ve ever met , he t hought , but t he mi l l i on dol l ar s i s
goi ng t o be beaut i f ul .
Lant z wal ked over t o her and put hi s ar ms ar ound her huge, f l abby wai st .
" You' r e cut e, do you know t hat ?"
" Wha' ?" Her eyes wer e gl azed.
He was get t i ng nowher e. He had t o t hi nk of an appr oach t hat woul d get
t hi s amazon i nt o bed. But he knew he had t o make hi s move car ef ul l y. I f
he of f ended her , she mi ght r epor t hi mt o Angel , and t hat woul d be t he
end of t he deal .
As Lant z was desper at el y t r yi ng t o t hi nk of a cl ever gambi t Neusa
mumbl ed, " Come on ' n t he bedr oom. "
He gr i nned i n r el i ef . " That ' s a gr eat i dea, baby. "
She st umbl ed as Lant z f ol l owed her i nt o t he smal l bedr oom. I n i t was a
l ar ge unmade bed and a bur eau wi t h a cr acked mi r r or above i t . I t was
t he open cl oset t hat caught Har r y Lant z' s at t ent i on. He gl i mpsed a r ow
of men' s sui t s hangi ng on a r ack.
He went i nt o t he bat hr oomt o undr ess, and when he r et ur ned, Neusa was
pr opped up i n bed l i ke a l evi at han. He sat down besi de her . She was
dr unker t han he had t hought . Th: I t ' s good, he sai d t o hi msel f . I t wi l l
make t hi ngs easi er . " You' r e a ver y pr et t y woman, honI l i ke you a l ot . "
He began t o car ess her . " I ' l l bet you l i ve an exci t i ng l i f e bei ng
Angel ' s gi r l f r i end. That must be r eal l y i nt er est i ng. Tel l me, baby,
What ' s Angel l i ke?"
Ther e was a si l ence, and he wonder ed i f Neusa had f al l en asl eep. " Don' t
go t o sl eep, sweet hear t . Not yet . " He f el t her st i r . " What ki nd of man
i s Angel ? I s he handsome?"
" Ri ch. Angel , he' s r i ch. "
Lant z cont i nued t o car ess her . " Who ar e hi s f r i ends?"
Her voi ce was dr owsy. " Angel got no f r en' s. I ' mhi s f r en' . "
Neusa cl osed her eyes. " Hey, I ' msl eepy. Let ' s go t o sl eep. "
Lant z st ayed t her e qui et l y unt i l he was cer t ai n Neusa was asl eep. Then
he car ef ul l y ar ose f r omt he bed, padded over t o t he cl oset , and swi t ched
on t he cl oset l i ght .
Ther e wer e a dozen sui t s hangi ng on t he r ack and si x pai r s of men' s
shoes on t he f l oor . Lant z opened t he j acket s and exami ned t he l abel s.
The sui t s wer e al l cust om- made by Hef f er a, Aveni da l a Pl at a. I ' ve hi t
t he j ackpot ! Lant z gl oat ed. They' l l have a r ecor d of Angel ' s addr ess.
I ' l l go and ask a f ew quest i ons. Then al l I have t o do i s t i p of f my
f r i ends i n Mossad and col l ect t he r ewar d.
Lant z t hought he hear d a sound f r omacr oss t he r oom. He qui ckl y t ur ned
out t he cl oset l i ght and wal ked over t o t he bed. Neusa' s eyes wer e
cl osed, ' and she was snor i ng l i ght l y. He t i pt oed t o t he bur eau and
began l ooki ng t hr ough t he dr awer s, hopi ng t o f i nd a phot ogr aph of Angel .
No l uck. He cr ept back t o bed.
WHEN Har r y Lant z awoke i n t he mor ni ng, he hear d Neusa si ngi ng of f key i n
t he bat hr oom.
She was st andi ng i n f r ont of t he mi r r or . Her hai r was done up i n f at
cur l er s, and she l ooked, i f possi bl e, even mor e unat t r act i ve t han
bef or e. She poi nt ed t o t he bat ht ub f ul l of wat er . " I f i x a bat h f or
you. When you' r e f i ni sh' , I f i x br eakf ast . "
" Sounds gr eat , " he l i ed.
" You l i ke omel et s? I make good omel et s. Angel t each me. "
Neusa pl ugged i n an el ect r i c hai r dr yer and began t o dr y her hai r .
Lant z st epped i nt o t he bat ht ub and l ay back i n t he war mwat er , t hi nki ng,
Maybe I shoul d get a gun and t ake Angel mysel f . I f I l et t he I sr ael i s
do i t , t her e' l l pr obabl y be an i nqui r y i nt o who get s t he r ewar d. Thi s
way t her e won' t be any quest i on. I ' l l j ust t el l t hemwher e t o pi ck up
hi s body.
Neusa sai d somet hi ng, but Har r y Lant z coul d bar el y hear her over t he
r oar of t he hai r dr yer .
" What di d you say?" he cal l ed out .
" I got a pr esen' f or you f r omAngel . "
She dr opped t he el ect r i c hai r dr yer i nt o t he wat er and st ood t her e
wat chi ng as Lant z' s body t wi t ched i n a dance of deat h.
PRESI DENT PAUL ELLI SON l ooked down at t he l ast secur i t y r epor t on Mar y
Ashl ey and sai d, " Not a bl emi sh, St an. "
" I know. I t hi nk she' s t he per f ect candi dat e. Of cour se, St at e i sn' t
goi ng t o be happy. "
" We' l l send t hema cr yi ng t owel . Now Let ' s hope t he Senat e wi l l back us
up. Woul d you l i ke anot her dr i nk, St an?"
" No, t hanks. Unl ess you need me t oni ght , I ' mt aki ng Bar bar a t o an
openi ng at t he Kennedy Cent er . "
" You go ahead, " Paul El l i son sai d. " Al i ce and I ar e due t o ent er t ai n
some r el at i ves of her s. "
" Pl ease gi ve my l ove t o Al i ce, " St ant on Roger s sai d. He r ose.
" And you gi ve mi ne t o Bar bar a. "
Chapt er Four
MARY Ashl ey' s ner ves wer e on edge dur i ng di nner . The chi l dr en wer e
bei ng i mpossi bl e agai n. Bet h r ef used t o t ouch her f ood.
" No one eat s meat anymor e, " Bet h i nsi st ed. " I t ' s a bar bar i c cust om
car r i edover f r omt he caver nan. Ci vi l i zed peopl e don' t eat l i ve
ani mal s. "
. " I t ' s not al i ve, " Ti mar gued. " I t ' s dead, so you mi ght as wel l eat
i t . "
" Chi l dr en! Qui et . Bet h, go make your sel f a sal ad. "
" She coul d go gr aze i n t he f i el d, " Ti mof f er ed.
" Ti m! Fi ni sh your di nner . " Mar y' s head was poundi ng.
The t el ephone r ang.
" That ' s f or me, " Bet h sai d. She l eaped out of her chai r and r aced
t owar d t he t el ephone. She pi cked i t up and sai d f l i r t at i ousl y,
" Vi r gi l ?" She l i st ened a moment , and her expr essi on changed. " Oh, sur e, "
she sai d di sgust edl y. She sl ammed down t he r ecei v&r and r et ur ned t o t he
t abl e.
" What was t hat al l about ?" Edwar d asked.
" Some j oker . sai d i t was t he Whi t e House cal l i ng Mom. "
" The Whi t e House?"
The t el ephone r ang agai n.
" I ' l l get i t . " Mar y r ose and wal ked over t o t he t el ephone. " Hel l o. " As
she l i st ened, her f ace gr ew gr i m. " We' r e i n t he mi ddl e of di nner , and I
don' t t hi nk t hi s i s f unny- What ? Who?
The Pr esi dent ?" Ther e was a hush i n t he r oom. " Wai t , I - Oh, good
eveni ng, Mr . Pr esi dent . " Ther e was a dazed expr essi on on her f ace. Her
f ami l y was wat chi ng her , wi de- eyed. " Yes, si r . I do. I r ecogni ze your
voi ce. H' msor r y about hangi ng up a moment ago. Bet h t hought i t was
Vi r gi l , and- Yes, si r . Thank you. " She st ood t her e l i st eni ng. " Woul d I
be wi l l i ng t o ser ve as what ?" Her f ace suddenl y f l ushed.
Edwar d was on hi s f eet , movi ng t owar d t he phone, t he chi l dr en cl ose
behi nd hi m.
" Ther e must be some mi st ake, Mr . Pr esi dent . My name i s Mar y Ashl ey.
I ' ma pr of essor at Kansas St at e Uni ver si t y, and- You r ead i t ? Thank
you, si r . " She l i st ened f or a l ong t i me. " Yes, si r . I agr ee. But t hat
doesn' t mean t hat I - Yes, si r . I ' msur e I t ' s a wonder f ul oppor t uni t y,
but I - Of cour se. I wi l l . I ' l l t al k i t over wi t h my husband and get
back t o you. " She pi cked up a pen and wr ot e down a number . " Yes, si r . I
have i t . Thank you, Mr . Pr esi dent . Good- bye. " She sl owl y r epl aced t he
r ecei ver and st ood t her e i n shock.
" What i n heaven was t hat al l about ?" Edwar d demanded.
" was i t r eal l y t he Pr esi dent ?" Ti masked.
Mar y sank i nt o a chai r . " Yes. I t r eal l y was. "
Edwar d t ook Mar y' s hand i n hi s. " Mar y, what di d he want ?"
Mar y sat t her e, numb, t hi nki ng, So That ' s why t hat man was quest i oni ng
Fl or ence. She l ooked up at Edwar d and t he chi l dr en and sai d sl owl y,
" The Pr esi dent r ead my book and t he ar t i cl e i n For ei gn Af f ai r s, and he
t hought t hey wer e br i l l i ant . He sai d That ' s t he ki nd of t hi nki ng he
Want s f or hi s peopl e- t o- peopl e pr ogr am. He want s t o nomi nat e me as
ambassador t o Remani a. "
Ther e was a l ook of t ot al di sbel i ef on Edwar d' s f ace. " You?
Why you?"
I t was exact l y' what Mar y had asked her sel f , but she f el t Edwar d coul d
have been mor e t act f ul . He coul d have sai d, How wonder f ul l You' d make a
gr eat ambassador .
" You haven' t had any pol i t i cal exper i ence. "
" I ' mwel l awar e of t hat , " Mar y r esponded t ar t l y. " I agr ee t hat t he
whol e t hi ng i s r i di cul ous. "
" Ar e you goi ng t o be t he ambassador ?" Ti masked.
Edwar d t ur ned t o t he chi l dr en. " You t wo f i ni sh your di nner .
Your mot her and I woul d l i ke t o have a l i t t l e t al k. " Edwar d t ook Mar y' s
ar mand l ed her i nt o t he l i br ar y. He t ur ned t o her and sai d, " I ' msor r y
i f I sounded l i ke a pompous j er k i n t her e. I t was j ust such a- "
" No. You wer e per f ect l y r i ght . Why on ear t h shoul d t hey have chosen
me?"
" Honey, you' d pr obabl y make a gr eat ambassador . But you must admi t i t
came as a bi t of a shock. "
" Tr y t hunder bol t . I st i l l can' t bel i eve i t . " Mar y l aughed. " Wai t unt i l
I t el l Fl or ence. She' l l di e. "
" You' r e r eal l y exci t ed about t hi s, ar en' t you?" asked Edwar d.
She l ooked at hi mi n sur pr i se. " Of cour se. Woul dn' t you be?"
Edwar d chose hi s wor ds car ef ul l y. " I t i s a gr eat honor , honey, and I ' m
sur e t hey must have had good r eason f or choosi ng you' . "
He hesi t at ed. " We have t o t hi nk about t hi s ver y car ef ul l y. "
She knew what he was goi ng t o say, and she t hought , Edwar d' s r i ght . Of
cour se he' s r i ght .
" I can' t j ust l eave my pr act i ce and wal k out on my pat i ent s. I have t o
st ay her e. I don' t know how l ong you' d have t o be away, but i f i t
r eal l y means a l ot t o you, wel l , maybe you coul d go over t her e wi t h t he
chi l dr en and I coul d j oi n you whenever - "
Mar y sai d sof t l y, " You cr azy man. Not hi ng means as much t o me as you
and t he chi l dr en. I coul d never l i ve away f r omyou. "
He t ook her i n hi s ar ms. " Ar e you sur e?"
" I ' mposi t i ve. I t was exci t i ng bei ng asked. That ' s enough. "
THE f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Mar y di al ed t he number t hat t he Pr esi dent had
gi ven her . " Thi s i s Mr s. Edwar d Ashl ey. The Pr esi dent s assi st ant , Mr .
Gr eene, i s expect i ng my cal l . "
" One moment , pl ease. "
A mal e voi ce on t he ot her end sai d, " Hel l o. Mr s. Ashl ey?"
" Yes, " Mar y sai d. " Woul d yo. " Pl ease gi ve t he Pr esi dent a message f or
me? That I ' mver y, ver y f l at t er ed by hi s of f er , but my husband' s
pr of essi on t i es hi mdown her e, so I ' maf r ai d i t woul d be i mpossi bl e f or
me t o accept . I hope he under st ands. "
" I ' l l pass on your message, " t he voi ce sai d noncommi t t al l y. " Thank you,
Mr s. Ashl ey. " The l i ne went dead.
Mar y sl owl y r epl aced t he r ecei ver . I t was done. For one br i ef
moment a t ant al i zi ng dr eamhad been of f er ed her . But t hat was al l i t
was. A dr eam. Thi s i somy r eal wor l d, she t hought . I ' d bet t er get
r eady f or my f i r st cl ass.
Manama, Bahr ei n. The whi t ewashed st one house was anonymous, hi dden
among dozens of i dent i cal houses a shor t wal k f r omt he souks, t he l ar ge,
col or f ul out door mar ket s. I t was owned by a mer chant sympat het i c t o t he
cause of Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom.
The chai r man was speaki ng t o t he men gat her ed i n t he l i vi ng r oom. " A
pr obl emhas ar i sen. The mot i on t hat was r ecent l y passed has r un i nt o
di f f i cul t y. The go- bet ween we sel ect ed Har r y Lant z- was mur der ed. Hi s
body was f ound f l oat i ng i n t he har bor i n Buenos Ai r es. "
" Do t he pol i ce have any i dea who di d i t ?" Bal der asked. " I mean, can
t hey connect t hi s t o us i n any way?"
" No. We' r e per f ect l y saf e. "
Thor asked, " What about our pl an? Can we go ahead wi t h i t ?"
" Not at t he moment . We have no i dea how t o r each Angel . However , t he
Cont r ol l er gave Har r y Lant z per mi ssi on t o r eveal hi s name t o hi m. I f
Angel i s i nt er est ed i n our pr oposi t i on, he wi l l f i nd a way t o get i n
t ouch wi t h hi m. Al l we can do now i s wai t . "
THE man di r ect l y r esponsi bl e f or Mar i n Gr oza' s saf et y was Rol and Passy,
t he Fr ench mi ni st er of def ense. Gendar mes wer e st at i oned i n f r ont of
t he vi l l a - i n Neui l l y t went y- f our hour s a day, but i t was t he knowl edge
t hat Ley Past emak was i n char ge of t he vi l l a' s i nner secur i t y t hat gave
Passy conf i dence. He had seen t he secur i t y ar r angement s hi msel f and was
f i r ml y convi nced t hat t he house was i mpr egnabl e.
I n r ecent weeks r umor s had been sweepi ng t he di pl omat i c wor l d t hat a
coup was i mmi nent , t hat Mar i n Gr oza was pl anni ng t o r et ur n t o Remani a,
and t hat Al exandr es l onescu was goi ng t o be deposed by hi s seni or
mi l i t ar y of f i cer s.
Ley Past emak knocked on t he door and ent er ed t he bookcr ammed l i br ar y
t hat ser ved as Mann Gr oza' s of f i ce. Gr oza was seat ed behi nd hi s desk,
wor ki ng.
" Ever ybody want s t o know when t he r evol ut i on i s goi ng t o happen, "
Past emak sai d. " I t ' s t he wor l d' s wor st - kept secr et . "
Tel l t hemt o be pat i ent . Wi l l you come t o Buchar est wi t h me, Ley?"
Mor e t han anyt hi ng Ley Past emak year ned t o r et ur n t o I sr ael . " I ' l l onl y
t ake t hi s j ob t empor ar i l y, " he had t ol d Mar i n Gr oza. " Unt i l you' r e r eady
t o make your move. " Tempor ar i l y had t ur ned i nt o weeks and mont hs, and
f i nal l y i nt o t wo year s. And now i t was t i me t o make anot her deci si on.
I n a wor l d peopl ed wi t h pygmi es, Ley Past emak t hought , I have been gi ven
t he pr i vi l ege of ser vi ng a gi ant . Mar i n Gr oza was t he most sel f l ess and
i deal i st i c man Ley Past emak had ever known.
When Past emak had come t o wor k f or Gr oza, he had wonder ed about t he
man' s f ami l y. Gr oza woul d never speak of t hem, but t he of f i cer who had
ar r anged' f or Past emak t o meet Gr oza t ol d hi mt he st or y.
" Gr oza was bet r ayed. The Secur i t at e pi cked hi mup and t or t ur ed hi mf or
f i ve days. They pr omi sed t o f r ee hi mi f he woul d gi ve . t hemt he names
of hi s associ at es i n t he under gr ound. He woul dn' t t al k. They ar r est ed
hi s wi f e and hi s f our t een- year - ol d daught er and br ought t hemt o t he
i nt er r ogat i on r oom. Gr oza was gi ven a choi ce: t al k or wat ch t hemdi e.
I t was t he har dest deci si on any man ever had t o make. I t was t he l i ves
of hi s bel oved wi f e and chi l d agai nst t he l i ves of hundr eds of peopl e
who bel i eved i n hi m. " The man paused, t hen went on mor e sl owl y. " I
t hi nk i n t he end what made Gr oza deci de t he way he di d was t hat he was
convi nced he and hi s f ami l y wer e goi ng t o be ki l l ed anyway. He r ef used
t o gi ve t hemt he names. The guar ds st r apped hi mi n a chai r and f or ced
hi mt o wat ch hi s wi f e and daught er bei ng t or t ur ed unt i l t hey di ed. "
" How he must hat e t hem! "
The of f i cer l ooked i nt o Ley Past emak' s eyes and sai d, " The most
i mpor t ant t hi ng f or you t o under st and i s t hat Mar i n Gr oza does not want
t o r et ur n t o Remani a t o seek vengeance. He want s t o go' back t o f r ee hi s
peopl e. He want s t o make cer t ai n t hat such t hi ngs can never agai n
happen. "
Ley Past emak had been wi t h Gr oza f r omt hat day on, and t he mor e t i me he
spent wi t h t he r evol ut i onar y, t he mor e he came t o l ove hi m. Now he
woul d have t o deci de whet her t o gi ve up hi s r et ur n t o I sr ael and go t o
Remani a wi t h Gr oza.
PAsTERNAK was WALKI NG down t he hal l way t hat eveni ng, and as he passed
Mar i n Gr oza' s bedr oomdoor he hear d t he f ami l i ar scr eams of pai n r i ng
but . So I t ' s Fr i day, Past emak t hought ; Mar i n Gr oza' s day of penance.
Ever y Fr i day ni ght t he hal l s of t he vi l l a r esounded wi t h Gr oza' s
scr eams. That was t he day of t he week when Gr oza woul d shut hi msel f i n
hi s r oomand whi p hi msel f mer ci l essl y, unt i l hi s bl ood f l owed, even
t hough no amount of sel f - i nf l i ct ed pai n woul d ' ever er adi cat e t he
t er r i bl e gui l t t hat consumed hi m. Each t i me he f el t t he l ash of t he
whi p, he woul d see hi s wi f e and daught er scr eami ng f or hel p. And he
woul d cr y out , " I ' msor r y! I ' l l t al k. Oh, God, pl ease l et me t al k. .
. . "
THE t el ephone cal l came t en days af t er Har r y Lant z' s body was f ound. The
Cont r ol l er was i n t he mi ddl e of a st af f meet i ng i n t he conf er ence r oom
when t he i nt er combuzzer sounded. " I know you asked not t o be
di st ur bed, si r , but t her e' s a Mi ss Neusa Muf i ez cal l i ng f r omBuenos
Ai r es. I t sounds ur gent . I t ol d her - "
" I t ' s al l r i ght . " He kept hi s emot i ons under t i ght cont r ol . " I ' l l t ake
t he cal l i n my pr i vat e of f i ce. " He went i nt o hi s of f i ce and l ocked t he
door . " Hel l o. I s t hi s Mi ss Muf i ez?"
" Yeah. I got a message f or you f r omAngel . He di n' l i ke t he nosy
messenger you sent . "
The Cont r ol l er chose hi s wor ds car ef ul l y. " I ' msor r y. But we woul d
st i l l l i ke Angel t o go ahead. Woul d t hat be possi bl e?"
" Yeah. He say he wanna do i t . "
" Excel l ent . How shal l I ar r ange hi s advance?"
The woman l aughed. " Angel , he don' need no advance. Nobody cheat s
Angel . " Somehow t he wor ds wer e chi l l i ng. " When t he j ob i s f i ni shed, he
say you put t he money i n- Wai t a mi nut e. I got i t wr ot e down. Her e i t
i s- t he St at e Bank i n Zur i ch. I t hi nk That ' s somepl ace i n Swi t zer l and. "
She r eal l y di d sound l i ke a mor on.
" I ' l l need t he account number . "
" Oh, yeah. Hol ' on. I got i t her e somewher e. " He hear d t he r ust l e of
paper s, and f i nal l y she was back on t he t el ephone. " Her e i t i s. j
t hr ee f our ni ne zer o seven seven. "
" How soon can he handl e t he mat t er ?"
" When he' s r eady, sehor . Angel say you' l l know when I ees done. You' l l
r ead ' bout i t i n t he newspaper s. "
" Ver y wel l . I ' mgoi ng t o gi ve you my pr i vat e t el ephone number i n case
Angel needs t o r each me. "
He gave i t t o her sl owl y.
Thi l i si , Russi a. The meet i ng was bei ng hel d i n an i sol at ed dacha
bor der i ng on t he Kur a Ri ver .
The chai r man sai d, " Two ur gent mat t er s have ar i sen. The f i r st i s good
news. The Cont r ol l er has had wor d f r omAngel . The cont r act i s movi ng
f or war d. "
" That ' s ver y good news i ndeed! " Fr eyr excl ai med. " What ' s t he bad news?"
" I ' maf r ai d i t concer ns t he Pr esi den' s candi dat e f or t he ambassador shi p
t o Remani a, but t he si t uat i on can be handl ed. . . . "
I T was di f f i cul t f or Mar y Ashl ey t o keep her mi nd on her cl ass. Too much
had changed. The J unct i on Ci t y newspaper had car r i ed a f eat ur e st or y on
her r ej ect i on of t he ambassador shi p t o Remani a, and t he f act t hat she
had decl i ned t he Pr esi den' s of f er had made t he st or y even bi gger t han i f
she had accept ed i t . I n t he eyes of t he communi t y and her st udent s she
had become a cel ebr i t y. I t was a heady f eel i ng.
Remani a, she mused. Wel come t o Remani a, MadamAmbassador . Your
l i mousi ne i s her e t o dr i ve you t o your embassy. Her embassy. She had
been i nvi t ed t o l i ve i n Buchar est , one of t he most exci t i ng capi t al s of
t he wor l d, r epor t i ng t o t he Pr esi dent , bei ng i n t he cent er of hi s
peopl e- t o- peopl e concept . I coul d have been a par t of hi st or y.
Mar y was r oused f r omher r ever i e by t he sound of t he bel l . Cl ass was
over . Ti me t o go home and, change. Edwar d was t aki ng her out t o t he
count r y cl ub f or di nner . As bef i t t ed an al most ambassador .
I T was l at e by t he t i me Edwar d and Mar y ar r i ved at t he count r y cl ub
Ther e was onl y a spr i nkl i ng of guest s' l ef t i n t he di ni ng r oom. They
st ar ed, wat chi ng as Mar y sat down, and whi sper ed t o one, anot her .
Edwar d l ooked at hi s wi f e and f el t gui l t y. He was r esponsi bl e f or her
t ur ni ng down t he Pr esi den' s of f er , and hi s r easons wer e val i d. But
t her e' s mor e t o i t t han t hat , Edwar d admi t t ed t o hi msel f I was j eal ous.
I r eact ed l i ke a spoi l ed br at . What woul d have happened i f t he
Pr esi dent had made me an of f er l i ke t hat ? I ' d pr obabl y have j umped at
i t . Al l I coul d t hi nk of was t hat I want ed Mar y t o st ay home and t ake
car e of me and t he ki ds.
He sat t her e admi r i ng Mar y. I ' l l make i t up t o her , he t hought . I ' l l
sur pr i se her t hi s summer wi t h a t r i p t o Par i s and London. Maybe Remani a.
We' l l have a r eal honeymoon. " Any r egr et s?" he asked her .
Of cour se t her e wer e r egr et s. But t hey wer e cast l e- i n- Spai n r egr et s
about t he ki nd of gl amor ous, i mpossi bl e dr eams t hat ever yone has. Mar y
smi l ed. " None, dar l i ng. I t was a f l uke t hat t hey even asked me. " She
t ook Edwar d' s hand i n her s. " I ' mgl ad I r ef used t he of f er . "
Edwar d l eaned acr oss t he t abl e and ki ssed hi s wi f e. " I l ove you so
much, Mar y. "
" I l ove you t wi ce as much, dar l i ng. "
AT THREE o' cl ock i n t he mor ni ng, when Edwar d and Mar y wer e f ast asl eep,
t he phone expl oded i nt o sound. Edwar d sl eepi l y r eached f or t he
i nst r ument and br ought i t t o hi s ear . " Hel l o. - . .
A woman' s ur gent voi ce sai d, " Dr . Ashl ey?"
" Yes?"
" Pet e Gr i mes i s havi n' a hear t at t ack. He' s i n pai n somet hi n' awf ul . I
t hi nk he' s dyi n' . I don' t know what t o do. "
Edwar d sat up i n bed, t r yi ng t o bl i nk t he sl eep away. " Don' t do
anyt hi ng. ] Keep hi mst i l l . I ' l l be t her e i n hal f an hour . " He sl i d out
of bed and sewed t o dr ess.
" Edwar d, whays wr ong?" Mar y mumbl ed.
" Ever yt hi ng' s f i ne. Go back t o sl eep. "
Fi ve mi nut es l at er Edwar d was on hi s way t o t he Gr i mes f ar m. I t was a
col d and r aw mor ni ng, wi t h a nor t hwest er l y wi nd dr i vi ng t he t emper at ur e
wel l bel ow zer o. He t ur ned t he car ont o Rout e j 18, t he t wo- l ane hi ghway
t hat went t hr ough j unct i on Ci t y. The t own was asl eep, i t s houses
huddl ed agai nst t he bi t t er , f r i gi d wi nd.
When Edwar d came t o t he end of Si xt h St r eet , he made t he t ur n t hat t ook
hi mont o Rout e 57- How many t i mes had he dr i ven over t hi s. r oad on hot
summer days, wi t h t he sweet smel l of cor n and pr ai r i e hay i n t he ai r ?
And how many wi nt er s had he dr i ven on t hi s r oad t hr ough a f r ost ed
l andscape, wi t h power l i nes del i cat el y l aced wi t h i ce, and l onel y smoke
f r omf ar - of f chi mneys?
Edwar d t hought of Mar y l yi ng i n t hei r war mbed wai t i ng f or hi m. He was
so l ucky. I ' l l make ever yt hi ng up t o her , he pr omi sed hi msel f
Ahead, at t he j unct i on of Hi ghways 57 and 77, was a st op si gn. Edwar d
came t o a hal t and l ooked up and down t he deser t ed r oad. As he st ar t ed
i nt o t he i nt er sect i on a t r uck appear ed out of nowher e. He hear d a
sudden r oar , and hi s car was pi nned by t wo br i ght headl i ght s r aci ng
t owar d hi m. He caught a gl i mpse of t he gi ant f i ve- t on ar my t r uck
bear i ng down on hi m, and t he l ast sound he hear d was hi s own voi ce
scr eami ng.
I N NEUI LLY chur ch bel l s peal ed out acr oss t he qui et noon ai r . The
gendar mes guar di ng Mar i n Gr oza' s vi l l a had no r eason t o pay at t ent i on t o
t he dust y Renaul t sedan t hat was cr ui si ng by. Angel dr ove sl owl y,
al t hough not sl owl y enough t o ar ouse suspi ci on, t aki ng ever yt hi ng i n.
Ther e wer e t wo guar ds i n f r ont , a hi gh wal l , pr obabl y el ect r i f i ed, and
i nsi de" of cour se, woul d be t he usual el ect r oni c nonsense of beams,
sensor s, and al ar ms. I t woul d t ake an ar my t o st or mt he vi l l a. But I
don' t need an ar my, Angel t hought . Onl y my geni us. Mar i n Gr oza i s a
dead man. I f onl y my mot her wer e al i ve t o see how r i ch I have become.
ow happy i t woul d have made her .
I n Ar gent i na podr f ami l i es wer e ver y poor i ndeed, and Angel ' s mot her had
been of t he poor est . Thr ough t he year s Angel had wat ched f r i ends and
r el at i ves di e of hunger and si ckness. Deat h was a way of l i f e, and Angel
t hought phi l osophi cal l y, Si nce i t i s goi ng t o happen anyway, why not
make a pr of i t f r omi t ? I n t he begi nni ng t her e wer e t hose who doubt ed
Angel ' s l et hal t al ent s, but peopl e who t r i ed t o put r oadbl ocks i n t he
way had a habi t of di sappear i ng. Angel ' s r eput at i on as an assassi n
gr ew. I have never f ai l ed, Angel t hought . I amAngel . The Angel of
Deat h.
Chapt er Fi ve
THE snow- cover ed Kansas hi ghway was abl aze wi t h f l ashi ng r ed l i ght s t hat
t ur ned t he f r ost y ai r bl ood r ed. I n t he cent er of a ci r cl e of vehi cl es,
r i nged by headl i ght s, sat t he f i ve- t on M871 ar my t r act or - t r ai l er , and
par t i al l y beneat h i t , Edwar d Ashl ey' s cr umpl ed car . A dozen pol i ce
of f i cer s and f i r emen wer e mi l l i ng ar ound, t r yi ng t o keep war mi n t he
pr edawn f r eeze. I n t he mi ddl e of t he hi ghway, cover ed by a t ar paul i n,
was a body.
A sher i f f s car ski dded t o a st op, and Mar y Ashl ey r an out of i t . She was
t r embl i ng so har d t hat she coul d bar el y st and. Sher i f f Monst er gr abbed
her ar m. " I woul dn' t l ook at hi mi f I wer e you, Mr s. Ashl ey. "
" Let go of me! " She was scr eami ng. She shook l oose f r omhi s gr asp and
st ar t ed t owar d t he t ar paul i n.
" Pl ease, Mr s. Ashl ey. You don' t want t o see what he l ooks l i ke. " He
caught her as she f ai nt ed.
She woke up i n t he back seat of Sher i f f Monst er ' s car . He was si t t i ng
i n t he f r ont seat wat chi ng her . The heat er was on, and t he car was
st i f l i ng. Mar y st ar ed out t he wi ndow at al l t he f l ashi ng r ed l i ght s, and
t hought , I t ' s a scene f r omhel l . I n spi t e of t he heat , her t eet h wer e
chat t er i ng. " How di d- How di d i t h- happen?"
" He r an t he st op si gn. An ar my t r uck was comi n' al ong Sevent yseven and
t r i ed t o avoi d i m, but your husband dr ove r i ght out i n f r ont of hi m. "
She cl osed her eyes and saw t he t r uck bear i ng down on Edwar d and f el t
hi s pani c. Al l she coul d say was, " Edwar d was a c- car ef ul dr i ver . He
woul d never r un a st op si gn. "
The sher i f f sai d sympat het i cal l y, " Mr s. Ashl ey, we have eyewi t nesses. A
pr i est and t wo nuns, and a Col onel J enki ns f r om, For t Ri l ey. They al l
sai d your husband r an t he st op si gn. "
Ever yt hi ng af t er t hat seemed t o happen i n sl ow mot i on. Fi nal l y, she
wat ched as Edwar d' s body was l i f t ed i nt o t he ambul ance.
Sher i f f Monst er sai d, " They r et ur ned hi mt o t he mor gue. I ' d best get
you back home. What ' s t he name of your f ami l y doct or ?"
" Edwar d Ashl ey, " Mar y sai d. " Edwar d Ashl ey i s my f ami l y doct or . "
LATER MARY REMEMBERED WALKI NG Up t o t he house and Sher i f f Monst er
l eadi ng her i nsi de. Fl or ence and Dougl as Schi l l er wer e wai t i ng f or her
i n t he l i vi ng r oom. The chi l dr en wer e st i l l asl eep.
Fl or ence t hr ew her ar ms ar ound Mar y. " Oh, dar l i ng, I ' m' so t er r i bl y,
t er r i bl y sor r y. "
" I t ' s al l r i ght . Edwar d had an acci dent . " Mar y gi ggl ed.
Dougl as Schi l l er l ooked i nt o her eyes. They wer e wi de and vacant . He
f el t a chi l l go t hr ough hi m. " Come on, I ' mput t i ng you t o bed. "
He gave her a sedat i ve, hel ped her i nt o bed, and sat at her si de. An
hour l at er Mar y was st i l l awake. He gave her anot her sedat i ve. Then a
t hi r d. Fi nal l y she sl ept .
I N J UNenON Ci t y t her e ar e st r i ct i nvest i gat i ve pr ocedur es i nvol ved i n
t he r epor t of a l one i nj ur y acci dent . An ambul ance i s di spat ched f r om
t he count y Ambul ance Ser vi ce, and a sher i f f ' s of f i cer i s sent t o t he
scene. I f ar my per sonnel ar e i nvol ved i n t he acci dent , t he CI D- t he
Cr i mi nal I nvest i gat i ng Di vi si on of t he ar my- conduct s an i nvest i gat i on
al ong wi t h t he sher i f f ' s of f i ce.
Shel Pl anchar d, a pl ai ncl ot hes of f i cer f r omCI D headquar t er s at For t
Ri l ey, and t he sher i f f wer e exami ni ng t he acci dent r epor t i n t he
sher i f f s of f i ce.
" I t beat s me, " Sher i f f Monst er sai d.
" What ' s t he pr obl em, Sher i f f ?" Pl anchar d asked.
" Wel l , l ooky her e. Ther e wer e f i ve wi t nesses t o t he acci dent ,
r i ght ? A pr i est and t wo nuns, Col onel J enki ns, and t he t r uck dr i ver ,
ever y si ngl e one of t hemsays- exact l y t he same t hi ng: car r an t he st op
si gn, t ur ned ont o t he hi ghway, and was hi t by t he ar my t r uck. " Sher i f f
Monst er scr at ched hi s head. " Mi st er , have you ever seen an acci dent
r epor t wher e even t wo eyewi t nesses sai d t he same t hi ng?"
" I t j ust shows t hat what happened was pr et t y obvi ous. "
" Ther e' s somet hi n' el se ni ggl i n' at me. What wer e a pr i est and t wo nuns
and a col onel doi ng out on Hi ghway Sevent y- seven at t hr ee t hi r t y i n t he
mor ni ng?"
" Not hi ng myst er i ous about t hat . The pr i est and t he si st er s wer e on
t hei r way t o Leonar dvi l l e. Col onel J enki ns was r et ur ni ng t o For t
Ri l ey. "
The sher i f f sai d, " I checked wi t h t he Depar t ment of Mot or Vehi cl es. The
l ast t i cket Doc Ashl ey got was si x year s ago, f or i l l egal par ki ng. He
had no acci dent r ecor d. "
" Sher i f f , " sai d t he CI D man, " J ust what ar e you suggest i ng?"
Monst er shr ugged. " I ' mnot suggest i n' anyt hi n' . I j est have a f unny
f eel i n' about t hi s. "
" I f you t hi nk t her e' s some ki nd of conspi r acy i nvol ved, t her e' s a bi g
hol e i n your t heor y. I f - "
The sher i f f si ghed. " I know. I f i t wasn' t an acci dent , al l t he ar my
t r uck had t o do was knock hi mof f and keep goi ng' . Ther e woul dn' t be
any r eason f or al l t hese wi t nesses and r i gmar ol e. "
" Exact l y. " The CI D man r ose and st r et ched. " Wel l , I ' ve got t o get back
t o t he base. As f ar as I ' mconcer ned, t he dr i ver of t he t r uck, Ser geant
Wal l i s, i s cl ear ed. Ar e we i n agr eement ?"
Sher i f f Monst er sai d r el uct ant l y, " Yeah. "
MARY Ashl ey deci ded l at er t hat t he onl y t hi ng t hat saved her si ni t y was
bei ng i n a st at e of shock. Ever yt hi ng t hat happened seemed t o be
happeni ng t o someone el se. She was under wat er , movi ng sl owl y, hear i ng
voi ces f r oma di st ance.
The chur ch was f i l l ed t o over f l owi ng. Ther e wer e dozens of wr eat hs and
bouquet s. On ' e of t he l ar gest wr eat hs had a car d t hat r ead si mpl y " My
deepest sympat hy. Paul El l i son. "
The casket wi t h Edwar d' s body i n i t was cl osed. Mar y coul d not bear t o
t hi nk of t he r eason.
The mi ni st er was speaki ng. " Lor d, t hou hast been our dwel l i ng . pl ace
i n al l gener at i ons. Bef or e t he mount ai ns wer e br ought f or t h, or ever
t hou hadst f or med t he ear t h and t he wor l d, even f r omever l ast i ng t o
ever l ast i ng, t hou ar t God. Ther ef or e, we wi l l not f ear , t hough t he
ear t h dot h change, and t hough t he mount ai ns be shaken i nt o t he hear t of
t he seas. . . . "
She and Edwar d wer e i n t he smal l sai l boat on Mi l f or d Lake.
" Do you l i ke t o sai l ?" he had asked on t hei r f i r st dat e.
" I ' ve never been sai l i ng. "
" Sat ur day, " he sai d. " We have a dat e. "
They wer e mar r i ed one week l at er .
" Do you know why I mar r i ed you, l ady?" Edwar d t eased. " You passed t he
t est . You l aughed a l ot and you di dn' t f al l over boar d. "
When t he ser vi ce ended, Mar y, Bet h, and Ti mgot i nt o t he l ong bl ack
l i mousi ne t hat l ed t he f uner al pr ocessi on t o t he cemet er y. Because of
t he numbi ng col d, t he gr avesi de cer emony was kept br i ef .
I amt he r esur r ect i on, and t he l i f e: he t hat bel i evet h i n me, t hough he
wer e dead, yet shal l he l i ve: And whosoever l i vet h and bel i evet h i n me
shal l never di e. I amhe t hat l i vet h, and was dead; and, behol d, I am
al i ve f or ever mor e. "
Fi nal l y, mer ci f ul l y, i t was over . Mar y and t he chi l dr en wat ched t he
casket bei ng l ower ed i nt o t he f r ozen, unear i ng ear t h. Goodbye, my
dar l i ng.
I N AN of f i ce at CI D headquar t er s Shel Pl anchar d, t he CI D of f i cer , was
t al ki ng t o Col onel J enki ns. " i ' maf r ai d I have some bad news, si r .
Ser geant Wal l i s, t he dr i ver of t he t r uck t hat ki l l ed t he ci vi l i an doct or
. . . He had a f at al hear t at t ack t hi s mor ni ng. "
" That ' s a shame, " sai d Col onel J enki ns.
" Yes, si r , " t he CI D man sai d' . " Hi s body i s bei ng cr emat ed t hi s
mor ni ng. I t was ver y sudden. "
" Unf or t unat e. Wel l , I won' t be her e much l onger . I ' mbei ng t r ansf er r ed
over seas. " J enki ns al l owed hi msel f a smal l smi l e. " A r at her i mpor t ant
pr omot i on. "
" Congr at ul at i ons, si r . You' ve ear ned i t . "
Edwar d' s deat h was t he begi nni ng of an unbear abl e hel l f or Mar y Ashl ey.
Ever yt hi ng wi t hi n her scr eamed t o deny what had happened t o hi m, but t he
r eal i t y kept hi t t i ng her i n f r esh waves of shock.
Fl or ence and Dougl as and ot her f r i ends of t en st ayed wi t h her , t r yi ng t o
make t hi ngs easi er , but Mar y wi shed t hey woul d go away and l eave her
al one. When i t was t i me t o di spose of Edwar d' s per sonal t hi ngs,
Fl or ence of f er ed t o hel p her , but Mar y sai d, " No. Edwar d woul d have
want ed me t o do i t . "
Ther e wer e so many smal l , i nt i mat e t hi ngs. Movi ng l i ke an aut omat on,
she r an her f i nger s over sui t s he woul d never agai n wear . The bl ue t i e
he had wor n on t hei r l ast ni ght t oget her . Hi s gl oves and scar f t hat
kept hi mwar m. He woul d not need t hemi n hi s col d gr ave.
She f ound l ove not es t hey had wr i t t en t o each ot her , br i ngi ng back
memor i es of t he l ean days when Edwar d st ar t ed hi s own pr act i ce, a
Thanksgi vi ng di nner wi t hout a t ur key, summer pi cni cs and wi nt er sl ei gh
r i des, her f i r st pr egnancy and bot h of t hemr eadi ng and pl ayi ng
cl assi cal musi c t o Bet h whi l e she was i n t he womb, t he l ove l et t er
Edwar d wr ot e when Ti mwas bor n, and a hundr ed ot her wonder f ul t hi ngs
t hat br ought t ear s t o her eyes. Hi s deat h was l i ke some cr uel magi ci an' s
t r i ck.
Edwar d was ever ywher e. He was i n t he songs Mar y hear d on t he r adi o, i n
t he hi l l s t hey had dr i ven t hr ough t oget her . He was i n bed at her si de
when she awoke at sunr i se.
She began t o t al k t o hi m: I ' mwor r i ed about t he chi l dr en, Edwar d. They
don' t want t o go t o school . Bet h says t hey' r e af r ai d t hat when t hey get
home, I won' t be her e. The dean want ed t o know whet her I pl anned t o go
back t o t eachi ng at t he uni ver si t y. I t ol d i mnot now. The chi l dr en
need me t oo much. Do you t hi nk I s
- , Woul d go back one day?
Edwar d woul d never l eave her and t he chi l dr en. He was t her e, somewher e.
THERE was a popul ar bar on t he Boul evar d Bi neau t hat Mar i n' Gr oza' s
guar ds f r equent ed when t hey wer e not on dut y at t he vi l l a i n Neui l l y.
Angel sel ect ed a t abl e wher e conver sat i ons coul d be over hear d. The
guar ds, away f r omt he r i gi d r out i ne of t he vi l l a, l i ked t o dr i nk, and
when t hey dr ank, t hey t al ked. Angel l i st ened, seeki ng t he vi l l a' s
vul ner abl e poi nt . Ther e was al ways a vul ner abl e poi nt . One si mpl y had
t o be cl ever enough t o f i nd i t .
I t was t hr ee days bef or e Angel over hear d a conver sat i on t hat gave t he
cl ue t o t he sol ut i on of t he pr obl em. A guar d was sayi ng, " Gr oza sur e
whi ps hi msel f vi ci ousl y. You shoul d hear t he scr eami ng t hat goes on
ever y Fr i day ni ght . l ast week I got a l ook at t he whi ps he keeps i n hi s
cl oset . . .
I t was al l Angel needed.
Ear l y t he f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Angel changed r ent al car s and dr ove a Fi at
i nt o Par i s. The shop was on t he Pl ace Pi gal l e, i n a sect i on popul at ed
by pr ost i t ut es. Angel went i nsi de, wal ki ng sl owl y al ong t he ai sl es,
car ef ul l y st udyi ng t he mer chandi se. At l engt h Angel sel ect ed a whi p,
pai d cash f or i t , and l ef t .
The next af t er noon Angel br ought t he whi p back t o t he shop. The manager
l ooked up and gr owl ed, " No r ef unds. "
" I don' t want a r ef und, " Angel expl ai ned. " I f eel awkwar d car r yi ng t hi s
ar ound. I woul d appr eci at e i t i f you woul d mai l i t f or me. I ' l l pay
ext r a, of cour se. "
That eveni ng Angel was on a pl ane t o Buenos Ai r es.
THE whi p, car ef ul l y wr apped, ar r i ved at t he vi l l a i n Neui l l y t he
f ol l owi ng day. I t was i nt er cept ed by t he guar d at t he gat ehouse. He
opened t he package and exami ned t he whi p wi t h gr eat car e, t hi nki ng, You
woul d t hi nk t he ol d man had enough of t hese al r eady. He passed i t
t hr ough, and anot her guar d t ook i t t o Mar i n Gr oza' s bedr oomcl oset ,
wher e he pl aced i t wi t h t he ot her whi ps.
Mar y was pr epar i ng di nner when t he t el ephone r ang, and she pi cked i t up,
an oper at or sai d, " Thi s i s t he Whi t e House. The Pr esi dent i s cal l i ng
Mr s. Edwar d Ashl ey. Pl ease hol d. "
Moment s l at er t he f ami l i ar voi ce was on t he l i ne. " Mr s. Ashl ey, t hi s
i s Paul El l i son. I j ust want you t o know how t er r i bl y sor r y we ar e
about your husband. I under st and he' was a f i ne man. "
" Thank you, Mr . Pr esi dent . I t was ki nd of you t o send f l ower s. "
" I don' t want t o i nt r ude on your pr i vacy, Mr s. Ashl ey, and I know I t ' s
been a ver y shor t t i me, but now t hat your domest i c si t uat i on has
changed, I ' maski ng you t o r econsi der my of f er of an ambassador shi p. "
" Thank you, but I coul dn' t possi bl y- "
" Hear me out , pl ease. I ' mhavi ng someone f l y out t her e t o t al k t o you.
Hi s name i s St ant on Roger s. I woul d appr eci at e i t i f you woul d at l east
meet wi t h hi m. "
She di d not know what t o say. How coul d she expl ai n t hat her l i f e had
been shat t er ed, t hat al l t hat mat t er ed now wer e Bet h and Ti m? " I ' l l
meet wi t h hi m, Mr . Pr esi dent , " she sai d. " But I won' t change my mi nd. "
St ant on Roger s t el ephoned Mar y r i ght af t er t he Pr esi den' s cal l . " I
pr omi se t o make my vi si t as br i ef as possi bl e, Mr s. Ashl ey. I pl an t o
f l y i n Monday af t er noon t o see you, i f That ' s al l r i ght . "
He' s such an i mpor t ant man and he' s bei ng so pol i t e, Mar y t hought . " That
wi l l be f i ne. " I n a r ef l ex act i on she asked, " Woul d you car e t o have
di nner wi t h us?"
He hesi t at ed, t hi nki ng what a bor i ng eveni ng i t woul d be. " Thank you, "
he sai d.
St ant on Roger s was a f or mi dabl e man, Mar y deci ded. She had seen hi mon
Meet t he Pr ess and i n news phot ogr aphs, but she t hought , He l ooks bi keer
i n per son. He was pol i t e, but t her e was, somet hi ng di st ant about hi m.
" Per mi t me t o convey agai n t he Pr esi den' s si ncer e r egr et s about your
t er r i bl e t r agedy, Mr s. Ashl ey. "
" Thank you. " Mar y i nt r oduced hi mt o Bet h and Ti m. They made smal l t al k
whi l e she went t o check t he pot r oast .
When Mar y had t ol d Fl or ence Schi l l er t hat St ant on Roger s was comi ng f or
di nner and t hat she was maki ng a pot r oast , Fl or ence - had sai d, " Peopl e
l i ke Mr . Roger s don' t eat pot r oast . "
" Oh? What do t hey eat ?" Mar y had asked.
" Chat eaubr i and and cr epes suzet t e. "
" Wel l , we' r e havi ng pot r oast . "
Al ong wi t h t he pot r oast Mar y had pr epar ed cr eamed mashed pot at oes,
f r esh veget abl es, and a sal ad. She had baked a pumpki n pi e f or desser t .
St ant on Roger s f i ni shed ever yt hi ng on - hi s pl at e.
Dur i ng di nner Mar y and he t al ked about t he col or f ul hi st or y of j unct i on
Ci t y. Fi nal l y he br ought t he conver sat i on ar ound t o Remani a. " Do you
t hi nk t her e wi l l be a r evol ut i on t her e?" he asked.
" Not i n t he pr esent ci r cumst ances. The onl y man power f ul enough t o
depose l onescu i s Mar i n Gr oza, who' s i n exi l e. "
The quest i oni ng went on. Mar y Ashl ey was an exper t on t he i r on cur t ai n
count r i es, and St ant on Roger s was i mpr essed.
The Pr esi dent was r i ght , he t hought . She r eal l y i s an aut hor i t y on
] Remani a. And t her e i s somet hi ng mor e. She' s beaut i f ul . She and t he
chi l dr en make an al l - Amer i can package t hat wi l l sel l . St ant on f ound
hi msel f get t i ng mor e and mor e exci t ed by t he pr ospect . She can be mor e
usef ul t han she r eal i zes.
At t he end of t he eveni ng St ant on Roger s sai d, " Mr s. Ashl ey, I ' mgoi ng
t o be f r ank wi t h you. I ni t i al l y I was agai nst t he Pr esi dent appoi nt i ng
you t o a post as sensi t i ve as Remani a. I t ol d hi mas much. I t el l you
t hi s now because I ' ve changed my mi nd. I t hi nk you wi l l make an
excel l ent ambassador . "
Mar y shook her head. " I ' msor r y, Mr . Roger s. I ' mno pol i t i ci an. I ' m
an amat eur . "
" Mr s. Ashl ey, some of our f i nest ambassador s have been amat eur s. That
i s t o say, t hei r exper i ence was not i n t he For ei gn Ser vi ce. Wal t er
Annenber g, our f or mer ambassador t o t he Uni t ed Ki ngdom, was a publ i sher .
J ohn Kennet h Gal br ai t h, our ambassador t o I ndi a, was a pr of essor . I
coul d gi ve you a dozen mor e exampl es. These peopl e wer e al l what you
woul d cal l amat eur s. What t hey had, Mr s. Ashl ey, was i nt el l i gence, a
l ove f or t hei r count r y, and goodwi l l t owar d t he peopl e of t he count r y
wher e t hey wer e sent t o ser ve. "
" You make i t sound so si mpl e. "
" As you' r e pr obabl y awar e, you' ve al r eady been i nvest i gat ed. You' ve been
appr oved f or a secur i t y cl ear ance. You' r e an exper t on ] Remani a. And
l ast but not l east , you have t he ki nd of i mage t he Pr esi dent want s t o
pr oj ect i n t he i r on cur t ai n count r i es. "
Mar y' s f ace was t hought f ul . " Mr . . Roger s, I appr eci at e what you' r e
sayi ng. But I can' t accept . I have Bet h and Ti mt o t hi nk about . I
can' t j ust upr oot t heml i ke- "
" Ther e' s a f i ne school f or di pl omat s' chi l dr en i n Buchar est , " Roger s
t ol d her . " I t woul d be a wonder f ul educat i on f or t hem. They' d l ear n
t hi ngs t hey coul d never l ear n i n school her e. "
The conver sat i on was not goi ng t he way Mar y had pl anned. " I don' t - I ' l l
t hi nk about i t . "
" I ' mst ayi ng i n t own over ni ght , " St ant on Roger s sai d. " I ' l l be at t he
Al l Seasons Mot el . Bel i eve me, Mr s. Ashl ey, I know what a bi g deci si on
t hi s i s f or you. But t hi s pr ogr ami s i mpor t ant not onl y t o t he
Pr esi dent but t o our count r y. Pl ease t hi nk about t hat . "
When Roger s l ef t , Mar y went upst ai r s. The chi l dr en wer e wai t i ng f or
her , wi de awake and exci t ed.
" Ar e you goi ng t o t ake t he j ob?" Bet h asked.
" We have t o have a t al k. I f I di d deci de t o accept i t , i t woul d mean
t hat you woul d have t o l eave school and al l your f r i ends. You woul d be
l i vi ng i n a f or ei gn count r y wher e we don' t speak t he l anguage, and you
woul d be goi ng t o a st r ange school . "
" Ti mand I t al ked about al l t hat , " Bet h sai d, " and you know what we
t hi nk? Any count r y woul d be r eal l y l ucky t o have you as an ambassador ,
Mom. "
Mar y t al ked t o Edwar d t hat ni ght : He made i t sound as t hough t he
Pr esi dent r eal l y needed me, dar l i ng. I have t he chance agai n, and I
don' t know what t o do. To t el l - you t he t r ut h, I ' mt er r i f i ed. Thi s i s
our home. How can I l eave i t ? Thi s i s al l I have l ef t of you. Pl ease
hel p me deci de. . . . She f ound t hat she was cr yi ng.
She sat by t he wi ndow f or hour s, l ooki ng out at t he t r ees shi ver i ng i n
t he howl i ng, r est l ess wi nd.
At ni ne o' cl ock i n t he mor ni ng Mar y t el ephoned St ant on Roger s. " Mr .
Roger s, woul d you pl ease t el l t he Pr esi dent t hat I wi l l be honor ed t o
accept hi s nomi nat i on f or t he ambassador shi p. "
As HE al ways di d on Fr i day ni ght s, Mar i n Gr oza shut hi s bedr oomdoor ,
went t o t he cl oset , and sel ect ed a whi p. Once he had made hi s choi ce,
he t ook of f hi s r obe, exposi ng hi s back, whi ch was cover ed wi t h cr uel
wel t s. Hi s expr essi on was f ul l of angui sh as he r ai sed t he l eat her whi p
and cr acked i t down har d agai nst hi s back.
Gr oza f l i nched wi t h pai n each t i me t he t ough l eat her beat agai nst hi s
ski n. Once . . . t wi ce . . . agai n . . . and agai n, unt i l t he vi si on he
had been wai t i ng f or came t o hi m. Wi t h each l ash, scenes of hi s wi f e
and daught er bei ng t or t ur ed scar ed t hr ough hi s br ai n. Wi t h each l ash,
he coul d hear t hembeg f or mer cy.
Suddenl y he st opped, hol di ng t he whi p i n mi dai r . He was havi ng
di f f i cul t y br eat hi ng. " Hel p! Hel p- "
Ley Past emak hear d Gr oza' s cr y f or hel p and came r unni ng i n, gun i n
hand. He was t oo l at e. He wat ched as Gr oza t oppl ed t o t he f l oor , hi s
eyes open, st ar i ng at not hi ng.
Past emak summoned t he doct or , who l i ved i n t he vi l l a and came i nt o
Gr oza' s r oomwi t hi n mi nut es. He bent down t o examme t he body. The ski n
had t ur ned bl ue, and t he muscl es wer e f l acci d. He pi cked up t he whi p
and smel l ed i t .
" What i s i t ?" asked Past emak. " Poi son?"
The doct or nodded. " Cur ar e. I t ' s an ext r act f r oma Sout h Amer i can
pl ant . The I ncas used i t on dar t s t o ki l l t hei r enemi es. Wi t hi n t hr ee
mi nut es t he ent i r e ner vous syst emi s par al yzed. "
The t wo men st ood st ar i ng hel pl essl y at t hei r dead l eader .
THE NEws OF MAWN GROZA' S assassi nat i on was car r i ed al l over t he wor l d by
sat el l i t e. Ley Past emak was abl e t o keep t he det ai l s away f r omt he
pr ess. I n Washi ngt on, D. C. , t he Pr esi dent had a meet i ng wi t h St ant on
Roger s.
" Who do you t hi nk' s behi nd i t , St an?"
" Ei t her t he Russi ans or l onescu. I n t he end i t comes t o t he same t hi ng,
doesn' t i t ? They di dn' t want t he st at us quo di st ur bed. "
" So we' l l be deal i ng wi t h I onescu. Ver y wel l . Let ' s push t he Mar y
Ashl ey appoi nt ment t hr ough as qui ckl y as possi bl e. "
" She' l l be her e soon, Mr . Pr esi dent . No pr obl em. "
" Good. "
ON hear i ng t he news, Angel smi l ed and t hought , I t happened sooner t han I
expect ed i t woul d.
At t en p. m. t he Cont r ol l er ' s pr i vat e phone r ang, and he pi cked i t up.
" Hel l o. "
He hear d t he sound of Neusa Muf i ez' s gut t ur al voi ce. " Angel say t o
deposi t t he money i n hi s bank account . "
" I nf or mhi mt hat i t wi l l be t aken car e of i mmedi at el y. And Mi ss Muf i ez,
t el l Angel how pl eased I am. Al so t el l hi mt hat I may need hi magai n
ver y soon. Do you have a t el ephone number wher e I can r each you?"
Ther e was a l ong pause, t hen, " I guess so. " She gave i t t o hi m.
" Fi ne. I f Angel - " The l i ne went dead.
I T was mor e t han packi ng up a househol d, Mar y t hought . I t was packi ng
up a l i f e. I t was bi ddi ng f ar ewel l t o t hi r t een year s of dr eams,
memor i es, l ove. I t was sayi ng a f i nal good- bye t o Edwar d. Thi s had
been t hei r home, and now i t woul d become mer el y a house agai n, occupi ed
by st r anger s wi t h no awar eness of t he j oys and sor r ows and t ear s and
l aught er t hat had happened wi t hi n t hese wal l s.
Besi des packi ng, t her e wer e so many ot her pr act i cal det ai l s. An
i ndef i ni t e l eave of absence f r omt he uni ver si t y had been ar r anged wi t h
t he dean. The chi l dr en had been wi t hdr awn f r omt hei r school . Ther e had
been t r avel ar r angement s t o make, ai r l i ne t i cket s t o buy, t he house t o
r ent . I n t he past Mar y had t aken al l t he f i nanci al t r ansact i ons f or
gr ant ed, because Edwar d had been t her e t o handl e t hem. Now t her e was no
Edwar d, except i n her mi nd and i n her hear t , wher e he woul d al ways be.
Fi nal l y, mi r acul ousl y, ever yt hi ng was r eady. I t was t i me t o l eave.
Mar y wal ked upst ai r s t o t he bedr oomshe and Edwar d had shar ed f or so
many wonder f ul year s. She st ood t her e t aki ng a l ong l ast l ook.
Chapt er Si x
WHEN t hei r pl ane l anded at Washi ngt on' s Dul l es Ai r por t , Mar y and t he
chi l dr en wer e met by a young man f r omt he St at e Depar t ment .
" Wel come t o Washi ngt on, Mr s. Ashl ey. My name i s J ohn Bums. Mr . .
Roger s asked me t o meet you and see t hat you get t o your hot el saf el y.
I ' ve checked you i n at t he Ri ver dal e Tower s. I t hi nk you' l l al l be
comf or t abl e t her e. "
" Thank you. " Mar y i nt r oduced Bet h and Ti m.
" I f you' l l gi ve me your baggage- cl ai mchecks, Mr s. Ashl ey, I ' l l see
t hat ever yt hi ng i s t aken car e of "
Twent y mi nut es l at er t hey wer e al l seat ed i n a chauf f eur - dr i ven
l i mousi ne, headi ng t owar d t he cent er of Washi ngt on.
PETE Connor s, head of t he count er i nt el l i gence sect i on of t he CI A, was
wor ki ng l at e, and hi s day was f ar f r omover . Ever y mor ni ng at t hr ee
a. m. a t eamr epor t ed t o pr epar e t he Pr esi den' s dai l y i nt el l i gence
checkl i st , col l ect ed f r omover ni ght cabl es. The r epor t , code- named
Pi ckl es, had t o be r eady by si x a. m. so t hat i t coul d be on t he
Pr esi den' s desk at t he st ar t of hi s day. An ar med couner ear ned t he
l i st t o t he Whi t e House, ent er i ng at t he west gat e. Pet e Connor s had a
r enewed i nt er est i n t he i nt er cept edcabl e t r af f i c comi ng f r ombehi nd t he
i r on cur t ai n, because much of i t concer ned t he appoi nt ment of Mar y
Ashl ey as t he Amer i can ambassador t o Remani a.
The Sovi et Uni on was wor r i ed t hat Pr esi dent El l i son' s pl an was a pl oy t o
penet r at e t hei r sat el l i t e count r i es, t o spy on t hemor seduce t hem.
The Commi es ar en' t as wor r i ed as I am, Pet e Connor s t hought gr i ml y. I f
t he Pr esi den' s i dea wor ks, t hi s whol e count r y i s goi ng t o be open house
f or t hei r sl i my spi es.
Pet e Connor s had been i nf or med t he moment Mar y Ashl ey l anded i n
Washi ngt on. He had seen phot ogr aphs of her and t he chi l dr en. She' s
goi ng t o be per f ect , Connor s t hought happi l y.
THE Ri ver dal e Tower s, one bl ock away f r omt he Wat er gat e, i s a smal l
f ami l y hot el wi t h comf or t abl e, ni cel y decor at ed sui t es.
No sooner had Mar y checked i n t han St ant on Roger s t el ephoned. " Good
eveni ng, Mr s. Ashl ey. " I t was l i ke hear i ng t he voi ce of an' ol d f r i end.
" I t hought i t woul d be a good i dea i f we met t o di scuss some of t he
pr ocedur es you' l l be goi ng t hr ough. Why don' t we make i t l unch t omor r ow
at t he Gr and?"
I t was st ar t i ng.
The f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Mar y ar r anged f or t he chi l dr en t o have r oom
ser vi ce, , and at one o' cl ock a t axi dr opped her of f at t he Gr and Hot el .
Mar y l ooked at i t i n awe. The Gr and Hot el i s i t s own cent er of power .
Heads of st at e and di pl omat s f r omal l over t he wor l d st ay t her e, and i t
i s easy t o see why. I t i s an el egant bui l di ng, wi t h an i mposi ng l obby
t hat has I t al i an mar bl e f l oor s and gr aci ous col umns under a ci r cul ar
cei l i ng. Ther e i s a l andscaped cour t yar d, wi t h a f ount ai n and an
out door swi mmi ng pool . A mar bl e st ai r case l eads down t o t he pr omenade
r est aur ant , wher e St ant on Roger s was wai t i ng f or her .
" Good af t er noon, Mr s. Ashl ey. "
" Good af t er noon, Mr . Roger s. "
He l aughed. " That sounds so f or mal . What about St an and Mar y?"
She was pl eased. " That woul d be ni ce. "
When t hey had or der ed l unch, Mar y sai d, " St an, wi l l I be i n Washi ngt on
l ong?"
" About a mont h. We' l l do ever yt hi ng we can t o expedi t e your move. j ust
bet ween us, t her e have al r eady been pr i vat e di scussi ons bet ween t he t wo
gover nment s. Ther e wi l l be no pr obl emwi t h t he Remani ans, but you st i l l
have t o pass t he Senat e. "
So t he Remani an gover nment i s goi ng t o accept me, Mar y t hought . Per haps
I ' mbet t er qual i f i ed t han I r eal i zed.
" Ther e wi l l be an open hear i ng of t he Senat e For ei gn Rel at i ons
Commi t t ee. . That ' s schedul ed f or ni ne o' cl ock on Wednesday mor ni ng.
They vot e, and when t hey. t ur n i n t hei r r epor t , t he f ul l Senat e vot es. "
Mar y sai d sl owl y, " Nomi nat i ons have been vot ed down i n t he past , haven' t
t hey?"
" Yes. But you' l l have t he f ul l backi ng of t he Whi t e House. The
Pr esi dent i s eager t o push, your appoi nt ment t hr ough as qui ckl y as
possi bl e. I nci dent al l y, he woul d l i ke t o meet wi t h you t hi s af t er noon.
Woul d f our o' cl ock be conveni ent ?"
Mar y swal l owed. " Yes, I - Of cour se. "
" Excel l ent . A car wi l l be downst ai r s f or you at t hr ee t hi r t y. "
PAUL El l i son r ose as Mar y was usher ed i nt o t he Oval Of f i ce. He wal ked
over t o shake her hand, gr i nned, and sai d, " Got cha! "
Mar y l aughed. " I ' mgl ad you di d, Mr . Pr esi dent . Thi s i s a gr eat honor
f or me. "
" Si t down, Mr s. Ashl ey. May I cal l you Mar y?"
" Pl ease. " They sat down on t he couch.
Pr esi dent El l i son sai d, " You' r e goi ng t o be my doppel gnger . Do you know
what t hat i s?"
" I t ' s a ki nd of i dent i cal spi r i t of a l i vi ng per son. "
" Ri ght . And That ' s us. I can' t t el l you how exci t ed I was when I r ead
your l at est ar t i cl e, Mar y. I t was as t hough I wer e r eadi ng somet hi ng I
had wr i t t en mysel f . Ther e ar e a l ot of peopl e who don' t bel i eve our
peopl e- t o- peopl e pl an can wor k, but you and I ar e goi ng t o f ool t hem. "
Our peopl e- t o- peopl e pl an. He' s a char mer , Mar y t hought . Al oud she
sai d, " I want t o do ever yt hi ng I can t o hel p, Mr . Pr esi dent . "
" I ' mcount i ng on you. Ver y heavi l y. Remani a i s t he t est i ng gr ound.
Si nce Gr oza was assassi nat ed, your j ob i s goi ng t o be mor e di f f i cul t . I f
we can pul l i t of f t her e, we can make i t wor k i n t he ot her communi st
count r i es. "
They spent t he next t hi r t y mi nut es di scussi ng some of t he pr obl ems t hat
l ay ahead, and t hen Paul El l i son sai d, " St an Roger s wi l l keep i n cl ose
t ouch wi t h you. He' s become a bi g f an of your s. " He hel d out hi s hand.
" Good l uck, doppel gnger . "
THE NI GHT BEFORE THE SENATE For ei gn Rel at i ons Commi t t ee hear i ng Mar y was
i n pani c. Oh, Edwar d, how I wi sh you wer e her e wi t h me. What amI
goi ng t o t el l t hem, dar l i ng? That i n j unct i on Ci t y I was homecomi ng
queen?
Then t he i r ony st r uck her . I f Edwar d wer e al i ve, she woul d not be her e.
She' d be saf e and war mat home wi t h her husband and chi l dr en, wher e she
bel onged.
She l ay awake al l ni ght .
THE hear i ng was hel d i n t he For ei gn Rel at i ons Commi t t ee r oom, wi t h t he
f ul l sevent een commi t t ee member s seat ed on a dai s. Al ong t he l ef t si de
of t he r oomwas t he pr ess t abl e, f i l l ed wi t h r epor t er s, and i n t he
cent er wer e seat s f or t wo hundr ed spect at or s. The r oomwas f i l l ed t o
over f l owi ng. Pet e Connor s sat i n t he back r ow. Ther e was a sudden hush
as Mar y ent er ed wi t h Bet h and Ti m.
Mar y was wear i ng a dar k t ai l or ed sui t and a whi t e bl ouse. The chi l dr en
wer e i n t hei r Sunday best .
Ben Cohn, t he pol i t i cal r epor t er f or t he Washi ngt on Post , wat ched as
t hey came i n. Goodness, he t hought ; t hey l ook l i ke a Nor man Rockwel l
pai nt i ng.
An at t endant seat ed t he chi l dr en i n a f r ont r ow, and Mar y was escor t ed
t o t he wi t ness chai r , f aci ng t he commi t t ee.
The quest i ons st ar t ed i nnocent l y enough. Senat or Char l es Campbel l , t he
chai r man of t he commi t t ee and a suppor t er of Pr esi dent El l i son, spoke
f i r st . " Accor di ng t o t he bi ogr aphy we' ve been f ur ni shed, Mr s. Ashl ey,
you' r e a nat i ve of Kansas, and f or t he l ast sever al year s you' ve t aught
pol i t i cal sci ence at Kansas St at e Uni ver si t y. I s t hat cor r ect ?"
" Yes, si r . " Mar y was so ner vous she coul d bar el y speak.
" Your gr andpar ent s wer e Remani an?"
" My gr andf at her . Yes, si r . "
" An ar t i cl e you wr ot e was publ i shed i n For ei gn Af f ai r s magazi ne and came
t o t he at t ent i on of t he Pr esi dent ?"
" That ' s my under st andi ng. "
" Mr s. Ashl ey, woul d you ki ndl y t el l t hi s commi t t ee what t he basi c
pr emi se of your ar t i cl e i s?"
" Sever al r egi onal economi c pact s cur r ent l y exi st i n t he wor l d, and
because t hey ar e mut ual l y excl usi ve t hey ser ve t o di vi de t he wor l d i nt o
ant agoni st i c and compet i t i ve bl ocs. " She f el t as t hough she wer e
conduct i ng a semi nar , and her ner vousness began t o di sappear .
" My pr emi se i s si mpl e, " she cont i nued. " I woul d l i ke t o see our count r y
spear head a movement t o f or ma common mar ket t hat i ncl udes al l i es and
adver sar i es al i ke. Today, as- an exampl e, we' r e payi ng bi l l i ons of
dol l ar s t o st or e sur pl us gr ai n, , whi l e peopl e i n dozens of count r i es ar e
st ar vi ng. The one- wor l d common mar ket coul d cur e i nequi t i es of
di st r i but i on, at f ai r mar ket pr i ces. I woul d l i ke t o t r y t o make t hat
happen. "
Senat or Har ol d Tur kel , a seni or member of t he commi t t ee and a l eader of
t he opposi t i on par t y, spoke up. " I ' d l i ke t o ask t he nomi nee a f ew
quest i ons. I s t hi s your f i r st t i me i n Washi ngt on, Mr s. Ashl ey?"
" Yes, si r . I t hi nk I t ' s one of t he most - "
" Have you ever been t o New Yor k?"
" No, si r . "
" Cal i f or ni a?"
" No, si r . "
" Have you, i n f act , ever been out si de t he st at e of Kansas?"
" Yes. I gave a l ect ur e at t he Uni ver si t y of Chi cago and a ser i es of
t al ks i n Denver and At l ant a. "
" That must have been ver y exci t i ng f or you, Mr s. Ashl ey, " Tur kel sai d
dr yl y. " You expect t o r epr esent t he Uni t ed St at es i n an i r on cur t ai n
count r y, and you' r e t el l i ng us t hat your ent i r e knowl edge of t he wor l d
comes f r oml i vi ng i n j unct i on Ci t y, Kansas. "
Mar y hel d back her t emper . " No, si r . My knowl edge of t he wor l d comes
f r omst udyi ng i t . I have a Ph. D. i n pol i t i cal sci ence, and I ' ve been
t eachi ng at Kansas St at e Uni ver si t y f or f i ve year s, wi t h an emphasi s on
t he i r on cur t ai n count r i es. I ' mf ami l i ar wi t h t he cur r ent pr obl ems of
t he Remani an peopl e, and wi t h what t hei r gover nment t hi nks of t he Uni t ed
St at es and why. I - " She br oke of f , af r ai d she had gone t oo f ar . And
t hen, t o her sur pr i se, t he commi t t ee st ar t ed t o appl aud. Al l except
Tur kel .
The quest i oni ng went on. One hour l at er Senat or Campbel l asked, " Ar e
t her e any mor e quest i ons?"
" I t hi nk t he nomi nee has expr essed her sel f ver y cl ear l y, " one of t he
Senat or s comment ed.
" I agr ee. Thank you, Mr s. Ashl ey. Thi s sessi on i s adj our ned.
Pet e Connor s st udi ed Mar y t hought f ul l y a moment , t hen qui et l y l ef t as
t he member s of t he pr ess swar med ar ound her .
" Tur n t hi s way, Mr s. Ashl ey. Smi l e, pl ease. One mor e.
" Mr s. Ashl ey- "
Ben Cohn st ood apar t f r omt he ot her s, wat chi ng and l i st eni ng. She' s
good, he t hought ; she has al l t he r i ght answer s. But t her e was
somet hi ng about her nomi nat i on t hat puzzl ed hi m. The pr obl emwas t hat
he was not sur e what i t was.
When Mar y ar r i ved back at t he hot el , emot i onal l y dr ai ned, St ant on Roger s
t el ephoned. " Hel l o, MadamAmbassador . "
She f el t gi ddy wi t h r el i ef " You mean I ' mgoi ng t o make i t ? Oh, St an, I
can' t t el l you how exci t ed I am. "
" So amI , Mar y. " Hi s voi ce was f i l l ed wi t h pr i de. " So amI . "
THE f i nal conf i r mat i on was al most a f or mal i t y. The f ul l Senat e vot ed
Mar y i n by a comf or t abl e maj or i t y. Pr esi dent El l i son sai d t o. St ant on
Roger s, " Our pl an i s under way, St an. Not hi ng can st op us now.
Roger s nodded. " Not hi ng, " he agr eed.
PETE Connor s was i n hi s of f i ce when he hear d t he news. He i mmedi at el y
wr ot e out a message and encoded i t . , One of hi s men was on dut y i n t he
CI A cabl e r oom.
" I want t o use t he Roger Channel , " Connor s sai d. " Wai t out si de. " The
Roger Channel i s t he CI gs ul t r apr i vat e cabl e syst em, onl y f or t op
execut i ves. The cabl e was addr essed t o Si gmund.
MARY Ashl ey was swor n i n as t he ambassador t o t he Soci al i st Republ i c of
Remani a, and t he t r eadmi l l began. She was or der ed t o r epor t t o t he
Bur eau of Eur opean Af f ai r s at t he St at e Depar t ment . Ther e she was
assi gned a smal l , boxl i ke of f i ce next t o t he Remani an desk.
J ames St i ckl ey, t he Remani an desk of f i cer , was a car eer di pl omat , wi t h
t went y- f i ve year s i n t he ser vi ce. He was i n hi s l at e f i f t i es, wi t h a
f oxl i ke f ace and pal e, col d eyes. He was consi der ed t he f or emost exper t
on t he Remani an desk and had f ul l y expect ed t o be appoi nt ed ambassador
t o Remani a. The news about Mar y Ashl ey was a bi t t er bl ow. I t was bad
enough t o have been passed over , but t o have l ost out t o a pol i t i cal
appoi nt ee- an unknown hayseed f r omKansas- was gal l i ng.
He st udi ed Mar y Ashl ey now, as she sat acr oss f r omhi s desk.
Mar y was al so st udyi ng St i ckl ey. Ther e i s somet hi ng meanl ooki ng about
hi m, she t hought .
" We' r e goi ng t o have t o make an i nst ant exper t out of you. " He handed
her an ar mf ul of f i l es. " You can st ar t by r eadi ng t hese. "
" I ' l l dedi cat e my mor ni ng t o i t . "
" No. Now I want t o i nt r oduce you t o your mi l i t ar y at t aches, Col onel
Wi l l i amMcKi nney. And i n t hi r t y mi nut es you' r e schedul ed t o begi n a
l anguage cour se i n Remani an. The cour se usual l y t akes mont hs, but I
have or der s t o push you t hr ough t he mi l l . "
Bi l l McKi nney wor e muf d, but hi s mi l i t ar y bear i ng was l i ke a uni f or m. He
was a t al l mi ddl e- aged man, wi t h a seamed, weat her ed f ace.
" MadamAmbassador . " Hi s voi ce was r ough and gr avel l y, as t hough hi s
t hr oat had suf f er ed an i nj ur y.
" I ' mpl eased t o meet you, " Mar y sai d. Col onel McKi nney was her f i r st
st af f member , and meet i ng hi mgave her a sense of exci t ement . I t seemed
t o br i ng her new posi t i on much cl oser . " Have you been t o Remani a
bef or e?"
The col onel and J ames St i ckl ey exchanged a l ook.
" He' s been t her e bef or e, " . " St i ckl ey r epl i ed.
EVERY day Mar y and St i ckl ey went t hr ough t he f i l es of t he Remani an desk
t oget her .
" I ' l l be r eadi ng t he cabl es you send i n, " St i ckl ey i nf or med her . " They
wi l l be yel l ow copi es f or act i on, or whi t e copi es f or i nf or mat i on.
Dupl i cat es of your cabl es wi l l go t o Def ense, t he CI A, t he USI A, t he
Tr easur y Depar t ment , and a dozen ot her depar t ment s. One of t he f i r st
i ssues you' l l be expect ed t o r esol ve i s Amer i cans bei ng, hel d i n
Remani an pr i sons. We want t hei r r el ease. "
" What ar e t hey char ged wi t h?"
" Espi onage, dr ugs, t hef t - anyt hi ng t he Remani ans want t o char ge t hem
wi t h. "
Mar y wonder ed how on ear t h one went about get t i ng a char ge of espi onage
di smi ssed.
Ri ght , " she sai d br i skl y.
" I ' mgoi ng t o gi ve you a package, " St i ckl ey announced. " Don' t l et i t out
of your hands. I t ' s f or your eyes onl y. Read i t and di gest i t , and
r et ur n i t t o me per sonal l y t omor r ow mor ni ng. " He handed Mar y a t hi ck
mani l a envel ope seal ed wi t h r ed t ape. " Si gn f or i t , pl ease. "
She si gned.
Dur i ng t he r i de back t o t he hot el Mar y cl ut ched i t t o her l ap, f eel i ng
l i ke a char act er i n a J ames Bond movi e. ,
The chi l dr en wer e dr essed, up and wai t i ng f or her .
Oh, dear , Mar y r emember ed. I pr omi sed t o t ake t hemt o a Chi nese di nner
and a movi e. " Fel l as, " she sai d, " we' l l have t o make our excur si on
anot her eveni ng. I have some ur gent wor k t o do. "
" Sur e, Mom. "
" Okay. "
And Mar y t hought , Bef or e Edwar d di ed, t hey woul d have scr eamed l i ke
banshees. But t hey' ve had t o gr ow up. She t ook t hembot h i n her ar ms.
" I ' l l make i t up t o you, " she pr omi sed.
The mat er i al J ames St i ckl ey had gi ven her was - i ncr edi bl e. No wonder he
want s t hi s r i ght back, Mar y t hought . Ther e wer e det ai l ed r epor t s on
ever y i mpor t ant Remani an of f i ci al , f r omt he Pr esi dent t o t he mi ni st er of
commer ce. Ther e was a dossi er on t hei r pr i vat e habi t s, f i nanci al
deal i ngs, f r i endshi ps, per sonal t r ai t s, and pr ej udi ces. Some of t he
r eadi ng was l ur i d. Mar y was up hal f t he ni ght memor i zi ng t he names and
peccadi l l oes of t he peopl e wi t h whomshe woul d be deal i ng.
I n t he mor ni ng she r et ur ned t he secr et document s.
St i ckl ey sai d, " Now you know ever yt hi ng you shoul d know about t he
Remani an l eader s. "
" And t hen some, " Mar y mur mur ed.
" Ther e' s somet hi ng you shoul d bear i n mi nd: by now t he Remani ans al so
know ever yt hi ng t her e i s t o know about you. "
" That won' t get t hemf ar , " Mar y sai d.
" No?" St i ckl ey l eaned back i n hi s chai r . " You' r e a woman, and you' r e
al one. You can be sur e t hey' ve al r eady mar ked you as an easy t ar get .
They' l l pl ay on your l onel i ness. Ever y move you make wi l l be wat ched
and r ecor ded. "
He' s t r yi ng t o f r i ght en me, Mar y t hought . Wel l , i t won' t wor k.
TI ME became a bl ur , a whi r l wi nd of act i vi t y t hat l ef t Mar y exhaust ed.
Besi des l anguage l essons, her schedul e i ncl uded a cour se at t he For ei gn
Ser vi ce I nst i t ut e, br i ef i ngs at t he Def ense I nt el l i gence Agency,
meet i ngs wi t h t he secr et ar y of i nt er nat i onal secur i t y af f ai r s and wi t h
Senat e commi t t ees. They al l had demands, advi ce, quest i ons.
On t op of al l t hi s, a medi a bl i t z began. Mar y f ound her sel f i n f r ont of
t he camer as on Good Mor ni ng Amer i ca, Meet t he Pr ess, and Fi r i ng Li ne.
She was i nt er vi ewed by t he Washi ngt on Post , The New Yor k Ti mes, and hal f
a dozen ot her i mpor t ant dai l y paper s. She di d i nt er vi ews f or t he London
Ti mes, Der SVi egel , Oggi , and Le Monde. Ti me magazi ne and Peopl e di d
f eat ur e ar t i cl es on her and t he chi l dr en. Mar y Ashl ey' s phot ogr aph
seemed t o be ever ywher e, and whenever t her e was a newsbr eak about an
event i n some f ar - of f cor ner of t he wor l d, she was asked f or her
comment s. Over ni ght Mar y Ashl ey and her chi l dr en became cel ebr i t i es.
Ti msai d, " Mom, I t ' s r eal l y spooky seei ng our pi ct ur es on t he cover s of
al l t he magazi nes. "
" Spooky i s t he wor d, " Mar y agr eed. Somehow she f el t uneasy about t he
publ i ci t y, and she spoke t o St ant on Roger s about i t .
" Look on i t as a par t of your j ob. The Pr esi dent i s t r yi ng t o cr eat e an
i mage. By t he t i me you ar r i ve i n Remani a, ever yone t her e wi l l know who
you ar e. "
" THERE' S somet hi ng wei r d happeni ng i n t hi s t own, " Ben Cohn sai d. The
r epor t er and hi s gi r l f r i end, Aki ko Hadaka, wer e wat chi ng Mar y Ashl ey on
Meet t he Pr ess.
The new ambassador t o Remani a was sayi ng, " I bel i eve t hat Chi na i s
headi ng f or a mor e humane, , i l adi vi dual i st i c communi st soci et y wi t h i t s
i ncor por at i on of Hong Kong and Macao. "
" Now, what does t hat l ady know about Chi na?" Cohn mut t er ed. He t ur ned
t o Aki ko. " You' r e l ooki ng at a housewi f e f r omKansas who' s become an
exper t on ever yt hi ng over ni ght . "
" She seems ver y br i ght , " Aki ko sai d.
, : Br i ght i s besi de t he poi nt . Ever y t i me she gi ves an i nt er vi ew, t he
r epor t er s go cr azy. I t ' s l i ke a f eedi ng f r enzy. How di d she get on
Meet t he Pr ess? I ' l l t el l you how. Someone deci ded t hat Mar y Ashl ey
was goi ng t o be a cel ebr i t y. The quest i on i s who and why. "
" I ' msupposed t o be t he one wi t h t he devi ous Or i ent al mi nd, " Aki ko sai d.
" I t hi nk you' r e maki ng mor e out of t hi s t han necessar y. " Ben Cohn l i t a
ci gar et t e and t ook an angr y puf f on i t . " You coul d be r i ght , " he
gr umbl ed.
An hour l at er he t el ephoned I an Vi l l i er s, chi ef of pr ess r el at i ons f or
t he St at e Depar t ment .
" Benj i e, my boy, what can I do f or you?" asked Vi l l i er s.
" I need a f avor . I under st and you' r e handl i ng t he pr ess f or our new
ambassador t o Remani a. "
A caut i ous " Yes . . . ?"
" Who' s behi nd her bui l du' , I an? I ' mi nt er est ed i n- "
" I ' msor r y, Ben. That ' s St at e Depar t ment busi ness. I ' mj ust a hi r ed
hand. You mi ght dr op a not e t o t he Secr et ar y. "
Hangi ng. up, Ben made a deci si on. " I t hi nk I ' mgoi ng t o have t o go out
of t own f or a f ew days, " he t ol d Aki ko.
" Wher e ar e you goi ng, baby?"
" J unct i on Ci t y, Kansas. "
As i t t ur ned out , Ben Cohn was i n J unct i on Ci t y f or onl y one day. He
spent an hour t al ki ng t o Sher i f f Monst er , t hen dr ove a r ent al car t o
For t Ri l ey, wher e he vi si t ed t he CI D of f i ce. He caught a l at e af t er noon
f l i ght home.
As Ben Cohn' s pl ane t ook of f , a per son- t o- per son t el ephone cal l was
pl aced f r omt he f or t t o a number i n Washi ngt on, D. C.
MARY Ashl ey was wal ki ng down t he l ong cor r i dor of t he Eur opean Af f ai r s
sect i on of t he St at e Depar t ment , on her way t o r epor t t o J ames St i ckl ey,
when she hear d a deep mal e voi ce behi nd her say, " Now, That ' s what I
cal l a per f ect t en. "
Mar y spun ar ound. A t al l st r anger was l eani n agai nst a wal l , st ar i ng at
her , an i nsol ent gr i n on hi s f ace. He was dr essed i n j eans, T- shi r t ,
and t enni s shoes, and he l ooked scr uf f y and unshaven. Ther e wer e l augh
l i nes ar ound hi s mout h, and hi s eyes wer e a br i ght , mocki ng bl ue. Ther e
was an ai r of ar r ogance about hi mt hat was i nf ur i at i ng. Mar y t ur ned on
her heel and angr i l y wal ked away, consci ous of hi s eyes f ol l owi ng her .
The conf er ence wi t h J ames St i ckl ey l ast ed f or mor e t han an hour . When
Mar y r et ur ned t o her of f i ce, t he st r anger was seat ed i n her chai r , hi s
f eet on her desk, l ooki ng t hr ough her paper s. She coul d f eel t he bl ood
r i si ng t o her f ace.
" What t he devi l do you t hi nk you' r e doi ng?"
The man gave her a l ong, l azy l ook and sl owl y got t o hi s f eet . " i ' mMi ke
Sl ade. My f r i ends cal l me Mi chael . "
She sai d i ci l y, " What can I do f or you, Mr . Sl ade?"
" Not hi ng, r eal l y, " he sai d easi l y. " We' r e nei ghbor s. I wor k her e i n
t he depar t ment , so I t hought I ' d come by and say hel l o. "
" You' ve sai d i t . I assume you have your own desk, so i n t he f ut ur e you
won' t have. t o si t at my desk and snoop. "
" Wel l , wel l , i t has a t emper ! I hear d t he Kansi ans, or what ever you
peopl e cal l your sel ves, wer e supposed t o be f r i endl y f ol ks. "
" Mr . Sl ade, I ' l l gi ve you t wo seconds t o get out of my of f i ce. "
" I must have hear d wr ong, " he mumbl ed t o hi msel f .
" And i f you r eal l y wor k her e, I ' d suggest you go home and shave and put
on some pr oper cl ot hi ng. "
He waved hi s hand at her . " Bye, honey. I ' l l be seei ng you. "
Oh, no, Mar y t hought . No, you won' t .
The next mor ni ng when Mar y ar r i ved f or her dai l y sessi on wi t h St i ckl ey,
Mi ke Sl ade was t her e as wel l .
He gr i nned at Mar y. " Hi . I t ook your advi ce and shaved. "
St i ckl ey l ooked f r omone t o t he ot her . " You t wo have met ?"
Mar y gr i t t ed her t eet h. " Not r eal l y. I f ound hi m. snoopi ng at my
desk. "
J ames St i ckl ey sai d, " Mr s. Ashl ey, Mi ke Sl ade. Mr . Sl ade i s goi ng t o
be your deput y chi ef of mi ssi on. "
Mar y st ar ed at hi m. " He' s what ?"
" Mr . Sl ade i s on t he East Eur opean desk. He usual l y wor ks out of
Washi ngt on now, but he spent f our year s i n Remani a, and I t ' s been
deci ded t o assi gn hi mt o wor k wi t h you. "
" No! " she pr ot est ed. " That ' s i mpossi bl e. "
" Mr s. Ashl ey, Mi ke Sl ade happens t o be our t op f i el d exper t on East
Eur opean af f ai r s. Your j ob i s t o make f r i ends wi t h t he nat i ves. My j ob
i s t o see t o i t t hat you get al l t he hel p I can gi ve you. And hi s name
i s Mi ke Sl ade. I r eal l y don' t want t o hear any mor e about i t . Do I
make mysel f cl ear ?"
Mi ke sai d mi l dl y, " I pr omi se t o shave ever y day. "
Mar y t ur ned t o St i ckl ey. " I t hought an ambassador was per mi t t ed t o
choose her own deput y chi ef of mi ssi on. "
" That i s cor r ect , but - "
" Then I amunchoosi ng Mr . Sl ade. I don' t want hi m. "
" Under or di nar y ci r cumst ances you woul d be wi t hi n your r i ght s, but i n
t hi s case I ' maf r ai d you have no choi ce. The or der came f r omt he Whi t e
House. "
I n t he days t hat f ol l owed, Mar y coul d not seemt o avoi d Mi ke Sl ade. The
man was ever ywher e. She r an i nt o hi mi n t he Pent agon, i n t he Senat e
di ni ng r oom, i n t he cor r i dor s of t he St at e Depar t ment . He was al ways
dr essed i n ei t her deni ms and a Tshi r t or i n spor t cl ot hes. Mar y
wonder ed how he got away wi t h i t i n an envi r onment t hat was so f or mal .
One day Mar y saw hi mhavi ng l unch wi t h Col onel McKi nney, her mi l i t ar y
at t aches. They wer e engaged i n an ear nest conver sat i on, and Mar y
wonder ed how cl ose t he t wo men wer e. Coul d t hey be ol d f r i ends? And
coul d t hey be pl anni ng t o gang up on me? I ' m, get t i ng par anoi d, Mar y
t ol d her sel f . And I ' mnot even i n Remani a yet .
BEN Cohn was seat ed at a cor ner t abl e at Mama Regi na' s when hi s l unch
guest , Al f r ed Shut t l ewor t h, ar r i ved. The headwai t er seat ed hi m.
" Woul d you car e f or a dr i nk, gent l emen?"
Shut t l ewor t h or der ed a mar t i ni .
" Not hi ng f or me, " Ben Cohn sai d.
Al f r ed Shut t l ewor t h was a sal l ow- l ooki ng mi ddl e- aged man who wor ked i n
t he Eur opean Af f ai r s sect i on of t he St at e Depar t ment . A f ew year s
ear l i er he had been i nvol ved i n a dr unkdr i vi ng acci dent t hat Ben Cohn
had cover ed f or hi s newspaper , Shut t l ewor t h' s car eer had been at st ake.
Cohn had ki l l ed t he st or y, and Shut t l ewor t h showed hi s appr eci at i on by
gi vi ng hi mnews t i ps f r omt i me t o t i me.
" I need your hel p, AI . "
" Name i t , and you' ve got i t . "
" I ' d l i ke t he i nsi de i nf or mat i on on our new ambassador t o Remani a. "
Al f r ed Shut t l ewor t h f r owned. " What do you mean?"
" AI , Li ndber gh never had a bui l dup l i ke t hi s. Her e' s t hi s Ci nder el l a,
who comes out of nowher e, i s t ouched by t he magi c wand of our Pr esi dent ,
and suddenl y becomes t he nat i on' s number one cel ebr i t y and pol i t i cal
savant . " Now, I ' l l admi t t he l ady i s pr et t y but she i sn' t t hat pr et t y.
The l ady i s br i ght - but she i sn' t t hat br i ght . I ' l l t el l you somet hi ng
el se That ' s out of ki l l er . I f l ew t o j unct i on Ci t y, Kansas, her
homet own, and t al ked t o t he sher i f f t her e. " Ben Cohn paused.
" Go on, " Shut t l ewor t h sai d.
" Mr s. Ashl ey or i gi nal l y t ur ned down t he Pr esi dent because her husband
coul dn' t l eave hi s medi cal pr act i ce. Then he was ki l l ed i n a conveni ent
aut o acci dent . Voi l dl The l ady' s i n Washi ngt on, on her way t o
Buchar est . Exact l y as someone had pl anned f r omt he begi nni ng. "
" Someone? Who?"
" That ' s t he j ackpot quest i on. "
" Ben, what ar e you suggest i ng?"
" I ' mnot suggest i ng anyt hi ng. Let me t el l you what Sher i f f Monst er
suggest ed. He t hought i t was pecul i ar t hat hal f a dozen peopl e showed
up i n t he mi ddl e of a f r eezi ng wi nt er ni ght j ust i n t i me t o Wi t ness t he
acci dent . And do you want t o hear somet hi ng even mor e pecul i ar ? They' ve
al l di sappear ed. "
" Go on. "
" The dr i ver of t he ar my t r uck t hat ki l l ed Dr . Ashl ey i s dead of a hear t
at t ack. Twent y- seven year s ol d. Col onel J enki ns- t he of f i cer i n char ge
of t he ar my i nvest i gat i on, as wel l as one of t he wi t nesses t o t he
acci dent - he' s been pr omot ed and t r ansf er r ed. No one seems t o know
wher e. "
Shut t l ewor t h shook hi s head. " Ben, I know you' r e a damgood r epor t er ,
but I t hi nk you' ve gone of f t he t r ack. You' r e bui l di ng a f ew
coi nci dences i nt o a Hi t chcock scenar i o. Peopl e do get ki l l ed i n aut o
acci dent s. You' r e l ooki ng f or some ki nd of conspi r acy wher e t her e i s
none. "
" AI , have you hear d of an or gani zat i on cal l ed Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom?"
" No. "
" I keep hear i ng r umor s, but t her e' s not hi ng I can pi n down. "
" What ki nd of r umor s?"
" I t ' s supposed t o be a cabal of hi gh- l evel r i ght - wi ng and l ef t wi ng
f anat i cs f r oma dozen East er n and West er n count r i es. Thei r i deol ogi es
ar e di amet r i cal l y opposed, but what br i ngs t hemt oget her i s f ear . The
communi st member s t hi nk Pr esi dent El l i son' s pl an i s a capi t al i st t r i ck
t o dest r oy t he East er n bl oc. The r i ght wi nger s bel i eve hi s pl an i s an
open door t hat wi l l l et t he Communi st s dest r oy us. So t hey' ve f or med
t hi s unhol y al l i ance. "
" I don' t bel i eve i t . "
" Ther e' s mor e. Besi des t he VI PS, spl i nt er gr oups f r omvar i ous
i nt er nat i onal secur i t y agenci es ar e sai d t o be i nvol ved. Do you t hi nk
you coul d check i t out f or me?"
" I don' t know, Ben. I ' l l t r y. "
Shut t l ewor t h was skept i cal about Ben Cohn' s t heor y. He l i ked Ben, and
he want ed t o hel p, but he had no i dea how t o go about t r acki ng down a
pr obabl y myt hi cal or gani zat i on. I f i t r eal l y di d exi st , i t woul d be i n
some gover nment comput er . He hi msel f had no access t o t he comput er s.
But I know someone who does, Shut t l ewor t h sai d t o hi msel f . I ' l l gi ve hi m
a cal l .
ALFRED Shut t l ewor t h was on hi s second mar t i ni when Pet e Connor s wal ked
i nt o t he bar .
" Sor r y I ' ml at e, " Connor s sai d. " A mi nor pr obl emat t he pi ckl e
f act or y. "
Pet e Connor s or der ed a Scot ch, and Shut t l ewor t h or der ed anot her mar t i ni .
" Pet e, " Shut t l ewor t h sai d, " I need a f avor . Coul d you l ook up somet hi ng
f or me i n t he CI A comput er ? I t may not be i n t her e, but I pr omi sed a
f r i end I ' d t r y. "
" Sur e, " sai d Connor s. " I owe you a f ew. Who do you want t o know
about ?"
" I t ' s not a who, I t ' s a what . And i t pr obabl y doesn' t even exi st . I t ' s
an or gani zat i on cal l ed Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom. Have you hear d of i t ?"
Pet e Connor s car ef ul l y set down hi s dr i nk. " I can' t , say t hat I have,
AH. What ' s t he name of your f r i end?"
" Ben Cohn. He' s a r epor t er f or t he Post . "
THERE was no way t o get di r ect l y i n t ouch wi t h t he Cont r ol l er . He had
or gani zed and f i nanced Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom, but he never at t ended
Commi t t ee meet i ngs, and he was compl et el y anonymous. He was a t el ephone
number - unt r aceabl e ( Connor s had t r i ed) - and a r ecor di ng t hat sai d, " You
have si xt y seconds i n whi ch t o l eave your message. " The number was t o be
used onl y i n case of emer genci es. Connor s st opped at a publ i c t el ephone
boot h t o make t he cal l . He t al ked t o t he r ecor di ng.
The message was r ecei ved at si x p. m.
I n Buenos, Ai r es i t was ei ght p. m.
The Cont r ol l er l i st ened t o t he message t wi ce, t hen di al ed a number . He
wai t ed f or t hr ee f ul l mi nut es bef or e Neusa Muf i ez' s voi ce came on.
I ' s( ?"
The Cont r ol l er sai d, " Thi s i s t he man who made ar r angement s wi t h you
bef or e about Angel . I have anot her cont r act f or hi m. Can you get i n
t ouch wi t h hi mr i ght away?"
" I don' know. " She sounded dr unk.
The woman was i mpossi bl e. " Li st en t o me. Tel l Angel I need t hi s done
i mmedi at el y. I want hi mt o- "
" Wai t a mi nut e. I got t a go t o t he t oi l et . "
The Cont r ol l er hear d her dr op t he phone. He sat t her e, f i l l ed wi t h
f r ust r at i on, unt i l she came back on t he l i ne. " A l ot t a beer makes you
go, " she announced.
He gr i t t ed hi s t eet h. " Thi s i s ver y i mpor t ant . I want you t o get a
penci l and wr i t e t hi s down. I ' l l speak sl owl y. "
" I WANTED t o br i ng you t he good news i n per son, Mar y, " sai d St ant on
Roger s. " We j ust r ecei ved of f i ci al wor d t hat t he Romani an gover nment
has appr oved you as t he new ambassador f r omt he Uni t ed St at es. Now
Pr esi dent El l i son can gi ve you a l et t er of cr edence, and you' l l be on
your way. "
" I - I don' t know how t o t hank you f or ever yt hi ng you' ve done, St an. "
" I haven' t done anyt hi ng, " Roger s pr ot est ed. " I t was t he Pr esi dent who
sel ect ed you. " He gr i nned. " And I must say, he made t he per f ect choi ce.
You can do mor e f or our count r y over t her e t han anyone el se I can t hi nk
of . "
" Thank you, " she sai d sober l y. " I ' l l t r y t o l i ve up t o t hat . "
I t was one of t he most t hr i l l i ng moment s of Mar y Ashl ey' s l i f e. I t
seemed al most t oo good t o be t r ue. And f or no r eason somet hi ng t hat
Mar y' s mot her used t o t el l her popped i nt o her mi nd: " I f somet hi ng seems
t o be t oo good t o be t r ue, Mar y, you can bet i t pr obabl y i s. "
THURSDAY mor ni ng Angel was i n a bad mood. The f l i ght f r omBuenos Ai r es
t o Washi ngt on, D. C. , had been del ayed because of a t el ephoned bomb
t hr eat . The wor l d i sn' t saf e anymor e, Angel t hought angr i l y.
The hot el r oomt hat had been r eser ved i n Washi ngt on was t oo moder n,
t oo- what was t he wor d?- pl ast i c. That was i t . I n Buenos Ai r es
ever yt hi ng was aut gnt i co. I ' l l f i ni sh t hi s cont r act and get back home,
Angel t hought . The j ob i s si mpl e, al most an i nsul t t o my t al ent , but
t he money i s excel l ent .
Angel ' s f i r st st op was an el ect r i cal suppl y st or e, t hen a pai nt st or e,
and f i nal l y a super mar ket , wher e Angel ' s onl y pur chase was si x l i ght
bul bs. The r est of t he equi pment was wai t i ng i n t he hot el r oomi n t wo
seal ed boxes mar ked FRAGI LE HANDLE wi t h CARE. I nsi de t he f i r st box wer e
f our car ef ul l y packed ar my- gr een hand gr enades. I n t he second box was
sol der i ng equi pment .
Wor ki ng ver y sl owl y, wi t h : xqui si t e car e, Angel cut t he t op of f t he
f i r st gr enade, t hen pai nt ed t he bot t omt he same col or as t he l i ght
bul bs. The next st ep was t o scoop out t he expl osi ve f r omt he gr enade
and r epl ace i t wi t h a sei smi c expl osi ve. When t hi s was t i ght l y packed,
Angel added l ead and met al l i c shr apnel t o i t . Then Angel shat t er ed a
l i ght bul b agai nst a t abl e, pr eser vi ng t he f i l ament and t hr eaded base.
I t t ook l ess t han a mi nut e t o sol der t he f i l ament of t he bul b t o an
el ect r i cal l y act i vat ed det onat or . The f i nal st ep was t o i nser t i t
gent l y i nsi de t he pai nt ed gr enade. When Angel was f i ni shed, i t l ooked
exact l y l i ke a nor mal l i ght bul b.
Then Angel began t o wor k on t he r emai ni ng bul bs. Af t er t hat , t her e was
not hi ng t o do but wai t f or t he phone cal l .
The t el ephone r ang at ei ght o' cl ock t hat eveni ng. Angel pi cked up t he
phone and l i st ened wi t hout speaki ng. Af t er a moment a voi ce sai d, " He' s
gone. "
The Un r i de t o t he apar t ment bui l di ng t ook sevent een mi nut es.
Ther e was no door man i n t he l obby. The t ar get apar t ment was on t he
f i f t h f l oor , at t he f ar end of t he cor r i dor . The l ock was an ear l y
model Schl age, chi l di shl y si mpl e t o mani pul at e. Angel was i nsi de t he
dar k apar t ment wi t hi n seconds.
I t was t he wor k of a f ew mi nut es t o r epl ace si x l i ght bul bs i n t he
l i vi ng r oomof t he apar t ment . Af t er war d Angel headed f or Dul l es Ai r por t
t o cat ch a mi dni ght f l i ght back t o Buenos Ai r es.
That ni ght Ben Cohn was ki l l ed by a myst er i ous expl osi on i n hi s
apar t ment . Ther e was a br i ef i t emi n t he pr ess at t r i but i ng t he acci dent
t o a l eaky gas st ove.
The next day Al f r ed Shut f l ewor t h was r epor t ed mi ssi ng by hi s wi f e. Hi s
body was never f ound.
STANTON Roger s accompani ed Mar y and t he chi l dr en t o Dul l es Ai r por t i n a
St at e Depar t ment l i mousi ne.
" I want t o t hank you, St an. You' ve been so wonder f ul , " sai d Mar y.
He smi l ed. " I can' t t el l you how much pl easur e I t ' s gi ven me. "
" I hat e t o bur den you wi t h t hi s, but J ames St i ckl ey t ol d me t hat Mi ke
Sl ade i s goi ng t o be my deput y chi ef of mi ssi on. I s t her e any way t o
change t hat ?"
He l ooked at her i n sur pr i se. " Ar e you havi ng some ki nd of pr obl emwi t h
Sl ade?"
" Qui t e honest l y, I don' t l i ke hi m. I s t her e someone who coul d r epl ace
hi m?"
St ant on Roger s sai d t hought f ul l y, " I don' t know Mi ke Sl ade wel l , but he
has a magni f i cent r ecor d. He' s ser ved br i l l i ant l y i n post s i n t he
Mi ddl e East and Eur ope. He can gi ve you exact l y t he ki nd of exper t i se
you' r e goi ng t o need. "
She si ghed. " That ' s what Mr . St i ckl ey sai d. "
" I f you have any pr obl emwi t h hi m, I want you t o l et me know. I n f act ,
i f you have pr obl ems wi t h anyone, I want you t o l et me know. I i nt end
t o make sur e t hat you get ever y bi t of hel p I can gi ve you. "
" I appr eci at e t hat . "
" One l ast t hi ng. I f you have any messages t hat you want t o send t o me
wi t hout anyone el se r eadi ng t hem, t he code at t he t op of t he message i s
t hr ee x' s. I ' l l be t he onl y one t o r ecei ve t hat message. "
I t was onl y af t er she and t he chi l dr en wer e ai r bor ne t hat t he enor mi t y
of what was about t o happen r eal l y st r uck Mar y Ashl ey. I t was so
i ncr edi bl e t hat she had t o say i t al oud. " We' r e on our way t o Remani a,
wher e I ' mgoi ng t o t ake up my post as ambassador f r omt he Uni t ed
St at es. "
Bet h was l ooki ng at her st r angel y. " Yes, Mot her . We know t hat . "
I ' mgoi ng t o be t he best ambassador t hey' ve ever seen, Mar y t hought .
Bef or e I ' mf i ni shed, t he Uni t ed St at es and Remani a ar e goi ng t o be cl ose
al l i es.
The next i nst ant , Mar y' s euphor i c dr eams of - gr eat st at esmanshi p
evapor at ed, gi vi ng way t o pani c. I ' mnot a r eal ambassador , she
t hought . I ' ma f ake. I ' mgoi ng t o get us i nt o a war . God hel p us.
Dor ot hy and I shoul d never have l ef t Kansas.
Chapt er Seven
OTOPENI Ai r por t , t en mi l es f r omt he hear t of Buchar est , i s a moder n
ai r por t , bui l t t o f aci l i t at e t he f l ow of t r avel er s f r omnear by i r on
cur t ai n count r i es as wel l as t o t ake car e of t he l esser number of
West er n t our i st s who vi si t Remani a each year .
I nsi de t he t er mi nal wer e sol di er s i n br own uni f or ms, ar med wi t h r i f l es
and pi st ol s, and t her e was a st ar k ai r of col dness about t he bui l di ng
t hat had not hi ng t o do wi t h t he f r i gi d t emper at ur e. Unconsci ousl y Ti m
and Bet h moved cl oser t o Mar y. So t hey f eel i t t oo, she t hought .
Two men wer e appr oachi ng. One of t hem, a sl i m, at hl et i c man, i nt r oduced
hi msel f . " Wel come t o Remani a, MadamAmbassador . I ' mj er r y Davi s, your
publ i c af f ai r s consul . Thi s i s Tudor Cost ache, t he Remani an chi ef of
pr ot ocol . "
" I t i s a pl easur e t o have you and your chi l dr en wi t h us, " Cost ache sai d.
" Wel come t o our count r y. "
I n a way, Mar y t hought , I t ' s goi ng t o be my count r y t oo. " Mul f umesc,
domnul e, " she sai d.
" You speak Romani an! " Cost ache cr i ed. " Cu pl dcer el "
Mar y hoped t he man was not goi ng t o get car r i ed away. " A f ew wor ds, she
r epl i ed hast i l y.
Ti msai d, " Bunddi mi neat a. " And Mar y was so pr oud she coul d. have bur st .
She i nt r oduced Ti mand Bet h.
j er r y Davi s sai d, " Your l i mousi ne i s wai t i ng f or you, Madai n Ambassador .
Col onel McKi nney i s out si de. "
Ther e was a l ong l i ne wai t i ng t o go t hr ough cust oms, but Mar y and t he
chi l dr en wer e out si de t he bui l di ng i n a mat t er of mi nut es. Ther e wer e
r epor t er s and phot ogr apher s at t he ent r ance, but i nst ead of t he
f r ee- f or eal l s t hat Mar y had encount er ed at home, ever yt hi ng was or der l y
and cont r ol l ed. When t hey had f i ni shed, t hey t hanked Mar y and depar t ed
i n a body.
Col onel McKi nney, i n ar my uni f or m, was wai t i ng at t he cur b. He hel d out
hi s hand. " Good mor ni ng, MadamAmbassador . Di d you have a pl easant
t r i p?"
" Yes, t hank you. "
" Mi ke Sl ade want ed t o b ' e her e, but t her e was some i mpor t ant busi ness
he had t o t ake car e of . "
Mar y was r el i eved.
A l ong bl ack l i mousi ne wi t h an Amer i can f l ag on t he r i ght f r ont f ender
pul l ed up. A cheer f ul - l ooki ng man i n a chauf f eur ' s uni f or mhel d t he
door open.
" Thi s i s Fl or i an. "
The chauf f eur gr i nned. " Wel come, MadamAmbassador . Mast er Ti m. Mi ss
Bet h. I t wi l l be my pl easur e t o ser ve you. "
" Thank you, " Mar y sai d.
" Fl or i an wi l l be at your di sposal t went y- f our hour s a day. I t hought we
woul d go di r ect l y t o t he r esi dence so you can unpack and r el ax. Tomor r ow
mor ni ng Fl or i an wi l l t ake you t o t he embassy. "
" That sounds f i ne, " Mar y sai d.
The dr i ve f r omt he ai r por t t o t he ci t y was f asci nat i ng. They dr ove on a
heavi l y t r avel ed t wo- l ane hi ghway, but ever y f ew mi l es t he t r af f i c woul d
be hel d up by pl oddi ng Gypsy car t s. On bot h si des of t he hi ghway wer e
moder n f act or i es next t o anci ent hut s. The car passed f ar maf t er f ar m,
wi t h women wor ki ng i n t he f i el ds, col or f ul bandannas knot t ed ar ound
t hei r heads. They dr ove by an omi nous bl ue- and- gr ay bui l di ng j ust of f
t he mai n hi ghway.
" What i s t hat ?" Mar y asked.
Fl or i an gr i maced. " The I van St el i an Pr i son. That i s wher e t hey put
anyone who di sagr ees wi t h t he Remani an gover nment . "
At l ast t hey r eached t he cent er of Buchar est , whi ch was ver y beaut i f ul .
Ther e wer e par ks and monument s and f ount ai ns ever ywher e one l ooked. Mar y
r emember ed her gr andf at her sayi ng, " Buchar est i s a mi ni at ur e Par i s,
Mar y. They even have a r epl i ca of t he Ei f f el Tower . " And t her e i t was.
She was i n t he homel and of her f or ef at her s.
The st r eet s wer e cr owded wi t h peopl e and st r eet car s, and t he l i mousi ne
had t o honk i t s way t hr ough t he t r af f i c.
" The r esi dence i s j ust ahead, " Col onel McKi nney sai d as t he car t ur ned
i nt o a smal l t r ee- l i ned st r eet .
The ambassador ' s r esi dence was a l ar ge and beaut i f ul ol df ashi oned
t hr ee- st or y house sur r ounded by l ovel y gr ounds. The st af f was l i ned up
out si de, wai t i ng t o wel come Mar y.
j er r y Davi s made t he i nt r oduct i ons. " Mi hai , your but l er ; Rosi ca, your
housekeeper ; Cosma, your chef ; and Del i a and Car men, your mai ds. "
Mar y moved down t he l i ne r ecei vi ng t hei r bows and cur t si es. They al l
seemed t o be wai t i ng f or her t o say somet hi ng. She t ook a deep br eat h.
" Bunazi ua. Mul f umesc. Nu vor besc- " Ever y bi t of Remani an she had
l ear ned f l ew out of her head. She st ar ed at t hemhel pl essl y.
Mi hai , t he but l er , bowed. " We al l speak Engl i sh, ma' am. We wel come you
and shal l be happy t o ser ve your ever y need. "
Mar y si ghed wi t h r el i ef . " Thank you. "
" Let me show you ar ound, " j er r y Davi s sai d.
On t he gr ound f l oor t her e was a l i br ar y, a musi c r oom, a l i vi ng r oom, a
l ar ge di ni ng r oom, a ki t chen, and a pant r y. A t er r ace r an t he l engt h of
t he bui l di ng out si de t he di ni ng r oom, f aci ng a l ar ge par k. At t he r ear
of t he house was an i ndoor swi mmi ng pool .
" Our own swi mmi ng pool ! " Ti mexcl ai med. " Can I go swi mmi ng?"
" Lat er , dar l i ng. Let ' s get set t l ed i n f i r st . "
The pi dce de r dsi st ance was t he bal l r oom, bui l t near t he gar den. I t was
enor mous. Gl i st eni ng Baccar at sconces l i ned t he wal l s, whi ch wer e
cover ed wi t h f l ocked paper .
j er r y Davi s sai d, " Thi s i s wher e t he embassy par t i es ar e gi ven. Wat ch
t hi s. " He pr essed a swi t ch on t he wal l . Ther e was a gndi ng noi se, and
t he cei l i ng began t o spl i t i n t he cent er , openi ng up unt i l t he sky
became vi si bl e. " I t can al so be oper at ed manual l y. "
" Hey, That ' s neat l y" Bet h excl ai med.
" I t ' s cal l ed t he Ambassador ' s Fol l y, " j er r y expl ai ned. " I t ' s t oo hot t o
keep open i n t he summer and t oo col d i n t he wi nt er . We use i t i n Apr i l
and Sept ember . " As t he col d ai r st ar t ed t o descend, he pr essed t he
swi t ch and t he cei l i ng cl osed.
They f ol l owed hi mupst ai r s t o a l ar ge cent r al hal l t hat l ed t o t he
bedr ooms.
" The t hi r d f l oor has ser vant s' quar t er s, " j er r y cont i nued. " I n. , t he
basement i s a wi ne cel l ar . "
" I t ' s- I t ' s enor mous, " Mar y sai d.
" Whi ch i s my r oom?" Bet h asked.
" You and Ti mcan deci de t hat bet ween your sel ves. "
" You can have t hi s one, " Ti mof f er ed. " I t ' s f r i l l y. Gi r l s l i ke f r i l l y
t hi ngs. "
The mast er bedr oomwas l ovel y, wi t h a queen- si ze bed wi t h a goose- down
comf or t er , t wo couches bef or e a f i r epl ace, a dr essi ng t abl e, and a
wonder f ul vi ew of t he gar den. Mar y was so exhaust ed she coul d har dl y
wai t t o get i nt o bed.
THE Amer i can embassy i n Buchar est i s a whi t e, semi - Got hi c t wo- st or y
bui l di ng wi t h. an i r on gat e i n f r ont . The ent r ance i s guar ded by a
mar i ne of f i cer , and a second mar i ne si t s i nsi de a secur i t y boot h at t he
si de of t he gat e.
I nsi de, t he l obby i sor nat e. I t has a mar bl e f l oor , t wo cl osed ci r cui t
t el evi si on set s at a desk guar ded by a mar i ne, and a f i r epl ace. The
cor r i dor s ar e l i ned wi t h por t r ai t s of U. S. Pr esi dent s. A wi ndi ng
st ai r case l eads t o t he second f l oor , wher e a conf er ence r oomand of f i ces
ar e l ocat ed.
The guar d was wai t i ng f or Mar y at t he desk. " Good mor ni ng, Madam
Ambassador . I ' mSer geant Hughes. They cal l me Gunny. They' r e wai t i ng
f or you upst ai r s. I ' l l escor t you t her e. "
" Thank you, Gunny. " Mar y f ol l owed hi mupst ai r s t o a r ecept i on r oom,
wher e a mi ddl e- aged woman was si t t i ng behi nd a desk.
She r ose. " Good mor ni ng, MadamAmbassador . I ' mDor ot hy St one, your
secr et ar y. "
" How do you do. "
Dor ot hy sai d, " I ' maf r ai d you have qui t e a cr owd i n t her e. "
She opened t he door , and Mar y wal ked i nt o t he r oom. Ther e wer e ni ne
peopl e seat ed ar ound a l ar ge conf er ence t abl e. They r ose as Mar y
ent er ed. They wer e al l st ar i ng at her , and she f el t a wave of ani mosi t y
t hat was al most pal pabl e. The f i r st per son she saw was Mi ke Sl ade.
" I see you got her e saf el y, " Mi ke sai d. " Let me i nt r oduce you t o your
depar t ment heads. Thi s i s Lucas J ankl ow, admi ni st r at i ve consul ; Eddi e
Mal t z, pol i t i cal consul ; Pat r i ci a Hat f i el d, your economi c consul ; Davi d
Wal l ace, head of admi ni st r at i on; Ted Thompson, agr i cul t ur e. You' ve met
j er r y Davi s, your publ i c af f ai r s consul . Thi s i s Davi d Vi ct or , commer ce
consul , and you al r eady know Col onel Bi l l McKi nney. "
" Pl ease be seat ed, " Mar y sai d. She sat at t he head of t he t abl e and
sur veyed t he gr oup. Host i l i t y comes i n al l si zes and shapes, Mar y
t hought . I t ' s goi ng t o t ake t i me t o sor t t hemout .
Mi ke Sl ade was sayi ng, " Al l of us ar e ser vi ng at your di scr et i on. You
can r epl ace any of us at any t i me. "
That ' s a l i e, Mar y t hought angr i l y; I t r i ed t o r epl ace you.
Ther e was gener al i nconsequent i al conver sat i on, unt i l Mi ke Sl ade sai d,
" MadamAmbassador , t he i ndi vi dual consul s wi l l now br i ef you on any
ser i ous pr obl ems. "
Mar y r esent ed hi s t aki ng char ge, but she sai d not hi ng.
Ted Thompson, t he agr i cul t ur e consul , was t he f i r st t o speak. " The
Remani an agr i cul t ur e mi ni st er i s i n wor se t r oubl e t han he' s admi t t i ng.
They' r e goi ng t o have a di sast r ous cr op t hi s year , and we can' t af f or d
t o l et t hemgo under . "
The economi c consul , Pat r i ci a Hat f i el d, pr ot est ed. " We' ve gi ven t hem
enough ai d, Ted. Remani a' s al r eady oper at i ng under a f avor ed- nat i ons
t r eat y. I t ' s a GSP count r y. " She l ooked at Mar y and sai d pat r oni zi ngl y,
" A GSP count r y i s- "
" I s a gener al i zed syst emof pr ef er ences, " Mar y cut i n. " We t r eat
Remani a as a l ess devel oped count r y so t hat t hey get i mpor t and expor t
advant ages. "
Hat f i el d' s expr essi on changed. " That ' s r i ght . "
" I ' l l see what I can do, " Mar y pr omi sed, maki ng a not e t o her sel f .
Eddi e Mal t z, t he pol i t i cal consul , spoke up. " I have an ur gent pr obl em.
A ni net een- year - ol d Amer i can col l ege st udent was ar r est ed l ast ni ght f or
possessi on of mar i j uana. That ' s an ext r emel y ser i ous of f ense her e. The
usual penal t y i s a f i ve- year pr i son sent ence. "
How awf ul , Mar y t hought . " What can we do about i t ?"
Mi ke Sl ade sai d l azi l y, " You can t r y your char mon t he head of t he
Secur i t at e. Hi s name i s I st r ase. He has a l ot of power . "
Eddi e Mal t z went on. " The gi r l says she was f r amed, and she may have a
poi nt . She was st upi d enough t o have an af f ai r wi t h a Remani an
pol i ceman. He t ur ned her i n. "
Mar y was hor r i f i ed. " I ' l l see i f I can do somet hi ng. " She t ur ned t o t he
publ i c af f ai r s consul , j er r y Davi s. " Do you have any ur gent pr obl ems?"
" My depar t ment i s havi ng t r oubl e get t i ng appr oval s f or r epai r s on t he
apar t ment s our embassy st af f l i ve i n. Some of our peopl e ar e wi t hout
heat , and i n sever al of t he apar t ment s t he t oi l et s don' t wor k and
t her e' s no r unni ng wat er . "
" Can' t t hey j ust go ahead and have t hei r own r epai r s made?"
" No. The Remani an gover nment has t o appr ove al l r epai r s. "
" Have you compl ai ned about t hi s?"
" Yes, ma' am. Ever y day f or t he l ast t hr ee mont hs. "
" I t ' s cal l ed har assment , " Mi ke Sl ade expl ai ned. " I t ' s a war of ner ves
t hey l i ke t o pl ay wi t h us. "
Ambassador Ashl ey was begi nni ng t o get a headache.
Af t er t he meet i ng br oke up and she and Sl ade wer e al one, Mar y asked,
" Whi ch one of t hemi s t he CI A agent at t ached t o t he embassy?"
Mi ke l ooked at her a moment . " Why don' t you come wi t h me?"
He wal ked out of t he conf er ence r oom.
Mar y f ol l owed hi mdown a l ong cor r i dor . He came t o a l ar ge door wi t h a
mar i ne guar d st andi ng i n f r ont of i t . The guar d st epped asi de as Mi ke
pushed t he door open. He t ur ned and gest ur ed f or Mar y t o ent er .
She st epped i nsi de and l ooked ar ound. The r oomwas an i ncr edi bl e
combi nat i on of met al and gl ass, cover i ng t he f l oor , t he wal l s, and t he
cei l i ng.
Mi ke cl osed t he heavy door behi nd t hem. " Thi s i s t he bubbl e r oom. Ever y
embassy i n an i r on cur t ai n count r y has one. I t ' s t he onl y r oomi n t he
embassy t hat can' t be bugged. "
He saw her l ook of di sbel i ef .
" MadamAmbassador , not onl y i s t he embassy bugged, but you can bet your
r esi dence i s bugged, and i f you go out t o a r est aur ant , your t abl e wi l l
be bugged. You' r e i n enemy t er r i t or y. "
Mar y sank i nt o a chai r . " How do you handl e t hat ?" she asked. " I mean,
not ever bei ng abl e t o t al k f r eel y. "
" We do an el ect r oni c sweep ever y mor ni ng. We f i nd t hei r bugs and pul l
t hemout . They r epl ace t hem, and we pul l t hose out . "
" Why do we per mi t Remani ans t o wor k i n t he embassy?"
" I t ' s t hei r pl aygr ound. They' r e t he home t eam. We pl ay by t hei r r ul es
or bl ow t he bal l game. They can' t get t hei r mi cr ophones i nt o t hi s r oom,
because t her e ar e mar i ne guar ds on dut y i n f r ont of t hat door
t went y- f our hour s a day. Now, what ar e your quest i ons?"
" I j ust wonder ed who t he CI A man was. "
" Eddi e Mal t z, your pol i t i cal consul . "
Eddi e Mal t z. He was t he mi ddl e- aged one, ver y t hi n, a si ni st er f ace. Or
di d she t hi nk t hat now because he was CI A? " I s he t he onl y CI A man on
t he st af f ?"
" Yes. " Mi ke Sl ade l ooked at hi s wat ch. " You' r e due t o pr esent your
cr edent i al s t o t he Remani an gover nment i n t hi r t y mi nut es. Fl or i an i s
wai t i ng f or you out si de. Take your l et t er of cr edence. You' l l gi ve t he
or i gi nal t o Pr esi dent I onescu and put a copy i n our saf e. "
Mar y f ound t hat she was gr i t t i ng her t eet h. " I know t hat , Mr . Sl ade. "
HEWUARTERS f or t he Remani an gover nment i s a f or bi ddi ng sandst one
bui l di ng i n t he cent er of Buchar est . I t i s pr ot ect ed by a st eel wal l
and sur r ounded by ar med guar ds. An ai de met Mar y at t he ent r ance and
escor t ed her upst ai r s.
Pr esi dent Al exandr os I onescu gr eet ed Mar y i n a l ong r ect angul ar r oomon
t he second f l oor . The Pr esi dent had a power f ul pr esence. He was dar k,
wi t h cur l y bl ack hai r , hawkl i ke f eat ur es, and one of t he most i mper i ous
noses Ma had ever seen. Hi s eyes wer e bl azi ng, mesmer i zi ng. He t ook
Mar y' s hand and gave i t a l i nger i ng ki ss. " You ar e even mor e beaut i f ul
t han you l ook i n your phot ogr aphs. "
" Thank you, Your Excel l ency. " Mar y opened her pur se and t ook out t he
l et t er of cr edence Pr esi dent El l i son had gi ven her .
I oneseu gave i t a car el ess gl ance. " Thank you. I accept i t on behal f
of t he ] Remani an gover nment . You ar e now of f i ci al l y t he Amer i can
ambassador t o my count r y. " He beamed at her . " I have ar r anged a
r ecept i on t hi s eveni ng f or you. You wi l l meet some of our peopl e who
wi l l be wor ki ng wi t h you. "
" That ' s ver y ki nd of you, " Mar y sai d.
He t ook her hand i n hi s agai n and sai d, " I hope you wi l l gr ow t o l ove
our count r y, MadamAmbassador . " He massaged her hand.
" I ' msur e I wi l l . " He t hi nks i ' mj ust anot her pr et t y f ace, Mar y t hought
gr i ml y. I ' l l have t o do somet hi ng about t hat .
MARY r et ur ned t o t he embassy and spent t he r est of t he day si f t i ng
t hr ough t he bl i zzar d of whi t e paper on her desk. Ther e wer e t he Engl i sh
t r ansl at i ons of Remani an newspaper and magazi ne ar t i cl es, t he wi r el ess
f i l e and t he summar y of news devel opment s r epor t ed i n t he Uni t ed St at es,
a t hi ck r epor t on ar ms- cont r ol negot i at i ons, and an updat e on t he Uni t ed
Sl at es economy. Ther e' s enough r eadi ng mat er i al i n one day, Mar y
t hought , t o keep me busy f or a week, and I ' mgoi ng t o get t hi s ever y
day.
But t he pr obl emt hat di st ur bed Mar y mor e was t he f eel i ng of ant agoni sm
f r omher st af f . That had t o be handl ed i mmedi at el y. She sent f or
Har r i et Kr uger , her pr ot ocol of f i cer . " How l ong have you wor ked her e at
t he embassy?" Mar y asked.
" Four year s bef or e our br eak wi t h Remani a, and now t hr ee gl or i ous
mont hs. " Ther e was a not e of i r ony i n her voi ce. " May we have an
of f - t he- r ecor d conver sat i on?"
" No, ma' am. "
Mar y had f or got t en. " Why don' t we adj our n t o t he bubbl e r oom?" she
suggest ed.
When Mar y and Har r i et Kr uger wer e seat ed i n t he bubbl e r oom, Mar y sai d,
" Somet hi ng j ust occur r ed t o me. Our meet i ng t hi s mor ni ng was hel d i n
t he conf er ence r oom. I sn' t t hat bugged?"
" Pr obabl y, " Har r i et sai d cheer f ul l y. " But i t doesn' t mat t er .
Mi ke Sl ade woul dn' t l et anyt hi ng be di scussed t hat t he Romani ans ar en' t
al r eady awar e of . "
Mi ke Sl ade. " What do you t hi nk of Sl ade?" Mar y asked.
" He' s t he best . "
Mar y deci ded not t o expr ess her opi ni on. " I got t he f eel i ng t oday t hat
mor al e ar ound her e i sn' t good. I s i t because of me, or has i t al ways
been t hat way?"
Har r i et st udi ed her a moment . " I t ' s a combi nat i on of bot h. The
Amer i cans wor ki ng her e ar e i n a pr essur e cooker . We' r e af r ai d t o make
f r i ends wi t h Remani ans, because t hey pr obabl y bel ong t o t he Secur i t at e,
so we st i ck t oget her . We' r e a smal l gr oup, so pr et t y soon t hat get s
cl aust r ophobi c. " She shr ugged. " The pay i s smal l , . t he f ood i s l ousy, ,
and t he weat her i s bad. " She st udi ed Mar y. " None of t hat i s your f aul t ,
Ambassador Ashl ey. You have t wo pr obl ems. The f i r st i s t hat you' r e a
pol i t i cal appoi nt ee i n char ge of an embassy manned by car eer di pl omat s. "
She st opped. " AmI comi ng on t oo st r ong?"
" No. Pl ease go on. "
" Most of t hemwer e agai nst you bef or e you even got her e. Car eer wor ker s
i n an embassy t end not t o r ock t he boat . Pol i t i cal appoi nt ees l i ke t o
change t hi ngs. To t hem, you' r e an. amat eur t el l i ng pr of essi onal s how t o
r un t hei r busi ness. The second pr obl emi s t hat you' r e a woman. The men
i n t he embassy' don' t l i ke t aki ng or der s f r oma woman. "
" I see. "
Har r i et Kr uger smi l ed. " But you sur e have a gr eat publ i ci t y agent . I ' ve
never seen so many magazi ne cover st or i es i n my l i f e. How do you do i t ?"
Mar y had no answer t o t hat . She was, i n f act , di st ur bed by t he comment s
she kept hear i ng about t he amount of publ i ci t y she and t he chi l dr en wer e
get t i ng. Ther e had even been an ar t i cl e i n Pr avda, wi t h a pi ct ur e of
t he t hr ee of t hem.
Har r i et Kr uger gl anced at her wat ch. " oops! You' r e goi ng t o be l at e.
Fl or i an' s wai t i ng t o t ake you home so you can change. Asi de f r om
Pr esi dent I onescu' s r ecept i on you have t hr ee par t i es t oni ght . "
Mar y was st ar i ng at her . " That ' s i mpossi bl e. I have t oo- "
" I t goes wi t h t he t er r i t or y. Ther e ar e sevent y- f i ve embassi es i n
Buchar est , and on any gi ven ni ght some of t hemar e cel ebr at i ng
somet hi ng. "
" Can' t I say no?"
" That woul d be t he Uni t ed St at es sayi ng no t o t hem. They woul d be
of f ended. "
Mar y si ghed. " I guess I ' d bet t er go change. "
As SOON as Mar y ar r i ved at t he r ecept i on, Pr esi dent I onescu wal ked over
t o her . He ki ssed her hand and sai d, " I have been l ooki ng f or war d t o
seei ng you agai n. "
" Thank you, Your Excel l ency. I t oo. "
She had a f eel i ng he had been dr i nki ng heavi l y. She r ecal l ed t he
dossi er on hi m: Mai ned. One son, f our t een- t he hei r appar ent and t hr ee
daught er s. I s a womani zer . Dr i nks a l ot . A shr ewd peasant ment al i t y.
Char mi ng when i t sui t s hi m. Gener ous t o hi s f r i ends. Danger ous and
r ut hl ess t o hi s enemi es.
I oescu t ook Mar y' s ar mand l ed her of f t o a deser t ed cor ner . " You wi l l
f i nd us Remani ans i nt er est i ng. " He squeezed her ar m. " We ar e a ver y
passi onat e peopl e. " He l ooked at her f or a r eact i on, and when he got
none, he went on. " We ar e descendant s of t he anci ent Daci ans and t hei r
conquer or s, t he Romans. For cent ur i es we have been Eur ope' s door mat .
The. Huns, Got hs, Avar s, Sl ays, and Mongol s wi ped t hei r f eet on us, but
Remani a has sur vi ved. And do you know how?" He l eaned cl oser t o her .
" By gi vi ng our peopl e a st r ong, f i r ml eader shi p. They t r ust me, and I
r ul e t hemwel l . "
Mar y t hought of some of t he st or i es she had hear d. The ar r est s i n t he
mi ddl e of t he ni ght , t he at r oci t i es, t he di sappear ances.
I oneseu was about t o cont i nue t al ki ng when a man came up t o hi mand
whi sper ed i n hi s ear . I onescu' s expr essi on t ur ned col d. He hi ssed
somet hi ng i n Remani an, and t he man hur r i ed of f . The di ct at or t ur ned
back t o Mar y, oozi ng char magai n. " I must l eave you now. I l ook
f or war d t o seei ng you agai n soon. "
And I onescu was gone.
TO GET A Head START ON no cr owded day t hat f aced her , Mar y had Fl or i an
pi ck her up at si x t hi r t y a. m. Dur i ng t he r i de t o t he embassy she r ead
t he r epor t s and communi ques t hat had been del i ver ed t o t he r esi dence
dur i ng t he ni ght .
As Mar y wal ked past Mi ke Sl ade' s of f i ce she st opped i n sur pr i se. He was
at hi s desk wor ki ng. " You' r e i n ear l y, " she sai d.
He l ooked up. Mor ni ng. I ' d l i ke t o have a wor d wi t h you. Not her e.
Your of f i ce. "
He f ol l owed Mar y t hr ough t he connect i ng door t o her of f i ce, and she
wat ched as he wal ked over t o an i nst r ument i n t he cor ner of t he r oom.
" Thi s i s a shr edder , " Mi ke i nf or med her .
" I know t hat . "
" Real l y? Last ni ght you l ef t some paper s on t op of your desk.
By now t hey' ve been phot ogr aphed and sent t o Moscow. "
" Oh, no! I must have f or got t en. Whi ch ones?" " A l i st of per sonal
t hi ngs you want ed t o or der . But That ' s besi de t he poi nt . The cl eani ng
women wor k f or t he Secur i t at e. Lesson number one: at ni ght ever yt hi ng
must be l ocked up or shr edded. "
" What ' s l esson number t wo?" Mar y asked col dl y.
Mi ke gr i nned. " The ambassador al ways st ar t s t he day by havi ng cof f ee
wi t h her deput y chi ef How do you t ake your s?"
" I - Bl ack. "
" Good. You have t o wat ch your f i gur e ar ound her e. The f ood i s
f at t eni ng. " He st ar t ed t owar d t he door t hat l ed t o hi s of f i ce. " I make
my own speci al br ew. You' l l l i ke i t . "
Mar y sat t her e, i nf ur i at ed by hi s ar r ogance. I have t o be car ef ul how I
handl e hi m, she deci ded. I want hi mout of her e as qui ckl y as possi bl e.
He r et ur ned wi t h t wo mugs of st eami ng cof f ee.
" How do I ar r ange f or Bet h and Ti mt o st ar t school ?" she asked.
" I ' ve al r eady ar r anged i t . Fl or i an wi l l del i ver t hemmor ni ngs and pi ck
t hemup af t er noons. "
She was t aken aback. " I - Thank you. "
" The school i s smal l but excel l ent . Each cl ass has ei ght or ni ne
st udent s. They come f r omal l over - Canadi ans, I sr ael i s, Ni ger i ans, you
name i t . " Mi ke t ook a si p of hi s cof f ee. " I under st and t hat you had a
ni ce chat wi t h our f ear l ess l eader l ast ni ght . "
" Pr esi dent I onescu? Yes. He seemed ver y pl easant . "
" Oh, he i s. Unt i l he get s annoyed wi t h somebody. Don' t l et I onescu' s
char mf ool you. He' s a dyed- i n- t he- wool s. o. b. Hi s peopl e despi se hi m,
but t her e' s not hi ng t hey can do i bout i t . The secr et pol i ce ar e
ever ywher e. The gener al r ul e of t humb her e i s t hat one out of ever y
t hr ee peopl e wor ks f or t he Secur i t at e or t he KGB. A Remani an can be
ar r est ed mer el y f or si gni ng a pet i t i on. "
Mar y f el t a shi ver go t hr ough her . " They do have t r i al s her e?"
" Oh, occasi onal l y t hey' l l have show t r i al s, but most of t he peopl e
ar r est ed manage t o have f at al acci dent s whi l e t hey' r e i n pol i ce cust ody.
I n gener al , condi t i ons her e ar e hor r i f yi ng, but t he peopl e ar e af r ai d t o
st r i ke back, because t hey know t hey' l l be shot . The st andar d of l i vi ng
i s one of t he l owest i n Eur ope. Ther e' s a shor t age of ever yt hi ng. I f
peopl e see a l i ne i n f r ont of a st or e, t hey' l l j oi n i n and buy
what ever ' s f or sal e whi l e t hey have t he chance. "
" I t seems t o me, " Mar y sai d sl owl y, " t hat al l t hese t hi ngs add up t o a
wonder f ul oppor t uni t y f or us t o hel p t hem. "
Mi ke Sl ade l ooked at her . " Sur e, " he sai d dr yl y. " Wonder f ul . "
That af t er noon as Mar y was goi ng t hr ough some newl y ar r i ved cabl es f r om
Washi ngt on she t hought about Mi ke Sl ade. He was ar r ogant and r ude, yet
he' d ar r anged f or t he chi l dr en' s school . He may be mor e compl ex t han I
t hought , she deci ded. But I st i l l don' t t r ust hi m.
THE i nsi de of t he I van St el i an Pr i son was even mor e f or bi ddi ng t han i t s
ext er i or . The cor r i dor s wer e nar r ow, pai nt ed a dul l gr ay. Ther e was a
j ungl e of cr owded bl ack- bar r ed cel l s, pat r ol l ed by uni f or med guar ds
ar med wi t h machi ne guns. The st ench was over power i ng.
A guar d l ed Mar y t o a smal l vi si t or s' r oom, sayi ng, " She' s i n t her e. You
have t en mi nut es. "
Mar y ent er ed, and t he door cl osed behi nd her .
Hannah Mur phy was seat ed at a smal l bat t l e- scar r ed t abl e. She was
handcuf f ed and wear i ng pr i son gar b. Her f ace was pal e and gauss%and
her eyes wer e r ed and swol l en. Her hai r was uncombed. " Hi , " Mar y sai d.
" I ' mt he Amer i can ambassador . "
Hannah Mur phy l ooked at her and began t o sob uncont r ol l abl y.
Mar y put her ar ms ar ound t he gi r l and sai d soot hi ngl y, " Ever y t hi ng i s
goi ng t o be al l r i ght . Now, j ust t el l me what happened. "
Hannah Mur phy t ook a deep br eat h. " I met t hi s man- he was a Remani an- and
I was l onel y. He was ni ce t o me, and we- We spent t he ni ght t oget her . A
gi r l f r i end had gi ven me some mar i j uana. I shar ed i t wi t h hi m. When I
woke up i n t he mor ni ng, he was gone, but t he pol i ce wer e t her e. And
t hey br ought me t o t hi s hel l hol e. " She shook her head hel pl essl y. " Fi ve
year s. "
Mar y t hought of what Lucas J ankl ow had sai d as she was l eavi ng f or t he
pr i son: " Ther e' s not hi ng you can do f or her . I f ghe wer e a Remani an,
t hey' d pr obabl y gi ve her l i f e. " Now Mar y l ooked at Hannah Mur phy and
sai d, " I ' l l do ever yt hi ng i n my power t o hel p you. "
Mar y had exami ned t he of f i ci al pol i ce r epor t . I t was si gned by Capt ai n
Aur el I st r ase, head of t he Secur i t at e. I t was br i ef and unhel pf ul , but
t her e was no doubt of t he gi r l ' s gui l t . I ' l l have t o f i nd anot her way,
Mar y t hought . Aur el I st r ase. The name had a f ami l i ar r i ng. She
t hought back t o t he conf i dent i al dossi er J ames St i ckl ey had shown her i n
Washi ngt on. She r emember ed somet hi ng i n t her e about Capt ai n I st r ase. . . .
Mar y ar r anged t o meet wi t h t he capt ai n t he f ol l owi ng mor ni ng.
AuREL I st r ase was a shor t swar t hy man wi t h a scof f ed f ace. He had come
t o t he embassy f or t he meet i ng. He was cur i ous about t he new Amer i can
ambassador .
" You wi shed t o t al k t o me, MadamAmbassador ?"
" Thank you f or comi ng. I want t o di scuss Hannah Mur phy. "
" Ah, yes. The dr ug peddl er . I n Remani a we have st r i ct l aws about
peopl e who sel l dr ugs. They go t o j ai l . "
" Excel l ent , " Mar y sai d. " I ' mpl eased t o hear t hat . I wi sh we had
st r i ct er dr ug l aws i n t he Uni t ed St at es. "
I st r ase was wat chi ng her , puzzl ed. " Then you agr ee wi t h me?"
" Absol ut el y. Anyone who sel l s dr ugs deser ves j ai l . Hannah Mur phy,
however , di d not sel l dr ugs. She of f er ed t o gi ve some mar i j uana t o a
Remani an ci t i zen. "
" I t i s t he same t hi ng. I f - "
" Not qui t e, Capt ai n. The Remani an was a l i eut enant on your pol i ce
f or ce. He smoked mar i j uana t oo. Has he been puni shed?"
" He was mer el y gat her i ng evi dence of a cr i mi nal act . "
" Your l i eut enant has a wi f e and t hr ee chi l dr en?"
Capt ai n I st r ase f r owned. " Yes. "
" Does t he l i eut enant ' s wi f e know' about her husband' s af f ai r ?"
Capt ai n I st r ase st ar ed at her . " Why shoul d she?"
" Because i t sounds t o me l i ke a cl ear case of ent r apment . I t hi nk we
had bet t er make t hi s whol e t hi ng publ i c. The i nt er nat i onal pr ess wi l l
be f asci nat ed. "
" Ther e woul d be no poi nt t o t hat , " I st r ase sai d.
She spr ang her ace. " Why? Because t he l i eut enant happens t o be your
son- i n- l aw?"
" Cer t ai nl y not ! I j ust want t o see j ust i ce done. "
" So do I , " Mar y assur ed hi m.
Accor di ng t o t he dossi er she had seen, t he son- i n- l aw speci al i zed i n
maki ng t he acquai nt ance of young t our i st s, seduci ng t hem, suggest i ng
pl aces wher e t hey coul d t r ade i n t he bl ack mar ket or buy dr ugs, and t hen
t ur ni ng t hemi n.
Mar y sai d i n a conci l i at or y t one, " I see no need f or your daught er t o
know how her husband conduct s hi msel f . I t hi nk i t woul d be much bet t er
i f you r el eased Hannah Mur phy f r omj ai l and I sent her back t o t he
St at es. What do you say, Capt ai n?"
He sat t her e t ur ni ng. Fi nal l y he shr ugged. " I wi l l use what l i t t l e
i nf l uence I have. "
" I ' msur e you wi l l , Capt ai n I st r ase. Thank you. "
The next day a gr at ef ul Hannah Mur phy was on her way home.
" How di d you do i t ?" Mi ke Sl ade asked unbel i evi ngl y.
" I f ol l owed your advi ce. I char med hi m. "
Chapt er Ei ght
THE day Bet h and Ti mwer e t o st ar t school , Mar y got a cal l at f i ve a. m.
f r omt he embassy t hat a NI ACT- A ni ght act i on cabl e- had come i n and
r equi r ed an i mmedi at e answer . I t was t he st ar t of a l ong and busy day,
and by t he t i me Mar y r et ur ned t o t he r esi dence, i t was af t er seven p. m.
The chi l dr en wer e wai t i ng f or her .
" Wel l , " Mar y asked, " how was school ?"
" I l i ke i t , " Bet h r epl i ed. " Di d you know t her e ar e ki ds t her e f r om
t went y- t wo di f f er ent count r i es? Thi s neat I t al i an boy kept st ar i ng at
me al l t hr ough cl ass. I t ' s a gr eat school . "
" They' ve got a keen sci ence l abor at or y, " Ti madded. " Tomor r ow we' r e
goi ng t o t ake some Remani an f r ogs apar t . "
" wel l , I ' mgl ad you had no pr obl ems. "
Bet h sai d, " No, Mom. Mi ke Sl ade t ook car e of us. "
" What does Mi ke Sl ade have t o do wi t h your goi ng t o school ?"
" Di dn' t he t el l you? He t ook us t her e and i nt r oduced us t o our
t eacher s. He knows t hemal l . "
" He knows a l ot of ki ds t her e t oo, " Ti msai d. " And he i nt r oduced us t o
t hem. Ever ybody l i kes hi m. He' s a neat guy. "
A l i t t l e t oo neat , Mar y t hought .
THE f ol l owi ng mor ni ng when Mi ke wal ked i nt o Mar y' s of f i ce, she sai d, " I
under st and t hat you t ook Bet h and Ti mt o school . "
He nodded. " I t ' s t ough f or youngst er s, t r yi ng t o adj ust i n a f or ei gn
count r y. They' r e good ki ds. And speaki ng of ki ds, we have a si ck one
her e you' d bet t er t ake a l ook at "
He l ed her t o a smal l of f i ce down t he cor r i do; . On t he couch was a
whi t e- f aced young mar i ne, gr oani ng i n pai n.
" What happened?" Mar y asked.
" My guess i s appendi ci t i s. "
" Then we' d bet t er get hi mt o a hospi t al r i ght away. "
" Not her e. He has t o be f l own ei t her t o Rome, Zur i ch, or Fr ankf ur t . No
one f r oman Amer i can embassy ever goes t o a hospi t al i n an i r on cur t ai n
count r y.
" But why?"
" Because we' r e vul ner abl e. We coul d be put under ei t her or gi ven
scopol ami ne. They coul d ext r act al l ki nds of i nf or mat i on f r omus. I t ' s
a St at e Depar t ment r ul e. We f l y hi mout . "
" Why don' t we have our own doct or ?" Mar y snapped.
" Because we' r e a C- cat egor y embassy. We haven' t t he budget f or our own
doct or . An Amer i can doct or pays us a vi si t her e once ever y t hr ee
mont hs. I n t he meant i me, we have a phar maci st f or mi nor aches and
pai ns. " He pi cked up a f or mf r omt he desk. " J ust si gn t hi s, and he' s on
hi s way. "
" Ver y wel l . " Mar y si gned t he paper . She wal ked over t o t he young mar i ne
and t ook hi s hand i n her s. " You' r e goi ng t o be f i ne , she sai d sof t l y.
" J ust f i ne. "
Two hour s l at er t he mar i ne was on a pl ane t o Fr ankf ur t .
MARY SPENT EVERY possi bl e MOMENT she coul d wi t h t he chi l dr en. They di d
a l ot of si ght - seei ng. Ther e wer e dozens of museums and ol d chur ches t o
vi si t , but f or t he chi l dr en t he hi ghl i ght was t he t r i p t o Dr acul a' s
cast l e i n Br asoy, l ocat ed i n t he hear t of Tr ansyl vani a, a hundr ed mi l es
f r omBuchar est .
" The, count The count was r eal l y a pr i nce, " Fl or i an expl ai ned on t he dr i ve
up. nnce Vl ad Tepes. He was t he gr eat her o who st opped t he Tur ki sh
i nvasi on. "
" I t hought he j ust sucked bl ood and ki l l ed peopl e, " Ti msai d.
Fl or i an nodded. " Yes. Unf or t unat el y, af t er t he war Vl ad' s power went
t o hi s head. He became a di ct at or , and he i mpal ed hi s enemi es on
st akes. The l egend gr ew t hat he was a vampi r e. An I r i shman named Br am
St oker wr ot e a book based on t he l egend. A si l l y book, but i t has done
wonder s f or t our i sm. "
Br an Cast l e was a huge st one monument hi gh i n t he mount ai ns. They
cl i mbed t he st eep st one st eps l eadi ng t o t he cast l e and went i nt o a
l ow- cei l i nged r oomcont ai ni ng guns and anci ent ar t i f act s.
" Thi s i s wher e Count Dr acul a mur der ed hi s vi ct i ms and dr ank t hei r
bl ood, " t he gui de sai d i n a sepul chr al voi ce.
The r oomwas damp and eer i e. A spi der web br ushed acr oss Ti m' s f ace.
" I ' mnot scar ed or anyt hi ng, " he sai d t o hi s mot her , " but can we get out
of her e?"
EVERY mor ni ng when Mar y r ode t o wor k, she not i ced l ong l i nes of peopl e
out si de t he gat es wai t i ng t o get i nt o t he consul ar sect i on of t he
embassy. She had t aken i t f or gr ant ed t hat t hey wer e peopl e wi t h mi nor
pr obl ems t hey hoped t he consul coul d sol ve. But one mor ni ng she went t o
t he wi ndow t o t ake a cl oser l ook, and t he expr essi ons she saw on t hei r
f aces compel l ed her t o go i nt o Mi ke' s of f i ce.
" Who ar e al l t hose peopl e wai t i ng i n l i ne out si de?"
Mi ke wal ked wi t h her t o hi s wi ndow. " They' r e most l y Romani an J ews.
They' r e wai t i ng t o f i l e appl i cat i ons f or vi sas. "
" But t her e' s an I sr ael i embassy i n Buchar est . "
" They t hi nk t her e' s l ess of a chance of t he Remani an secur i t y peopl e
f i ndi ng out t hei r i nt ent i on i f t hey come t o us. They' r e wr ong, of
cour se. " He poi nt ed out t he wi ndow. " That apar t ment house has sever al
f l at s f i l l ed wi t h agent s usi ng t el escopi c l enses,
phot ogr aphi ng ever ybody who goes i n - and out of t he embassy. "
" That ' s t er r i bl e! "
" That ' s t he way t hey pl ay t he game. When a J ewi sh f ami l y appl i es f or a
vi sa t o emi gr at e, t hey l ose t hei r gr een j ob car ds and t hey' r e t hr own out
of t hei r apar t ment s. Then i t t akes t hr ee t o f our year s bef or e t he
gover nment wi l l t el l t hemwhet her t hey' l l even get t hei r exi t paper s,
and t he answer i s usual l y no. "
" Can' t we do somet hi ng about i t ?"
" We t r y al l t he t i me. But I onescu enj oys pl ayi ng a cat - andmouse game
wi t h t he J ews. Ver y f ew of t hemar e ever al l owed t o l eave t he count r y. "
Mar y l ooked out at t he expr essi ons of hopel essness on t hei r f aces.
" Ther e has t o be a way, " she sai d.
" Don' t br eak your hear t , " Mi ke t ol d her , handi ng her a mug of cof f ee.
What a col d man, Mar y t hought . I wonder i f anyt hi ng ever t ouches hi m.
I ' mgoi ng t o do somet hi ng t o hel p t he J ews, she pr omi sed her sel f .
Mi ke sat down at hi s desk. " Ther e' s a Remani an f ol k dance company
openi ng t oni ght . They' r e supposed t o be pr et t y good. Woul d you l i ke t o
go?"
Mar y was t aken by sur pr i se. The l ast t hi ng she had expect ed was f or
Mi ke t o i nvi t e her out .
And now, even mor e i ncr edi bl y, she f ound her sel f sayi ng yes.
" Good. " Mi ke handed her a smal l envel ope. " Her e ar e t hr ee t i cket s. You
can t ake Bet h and Ti m, cour t esy of t he Romani ar i gover nment . We get
t i cket s t o most of t hei r openi ngs. "
Mar y st ood t her e, her f ace f l ushed, f eel i ng l i ke a f ool . " Thank you, "
she sai d st i f f l y.
" I ' l l have Fl or i an pi ck ypu up at ei ght o' cl ock. "
BETH and Ti mwer e not i nt er est ed i n goi ng t o t he t heat er . Bet h had
i nvi t ed a school mat e f or di nner . " I t ' s my I t al i an f r i end, " she sai d.
" To t el l you t he t r ut h, I ' ve never r eal l y car ed much f or f ol k danci ng, "
Ti madded.
Mar y l aughed. " I ' l l l et you t wo of f t he hook t hi s t i me. "
She wonder ed i f t he chi l dr en wer e as l onel y as she was. She t hought
about whomshe coul d i nvi t e t o go wi t h her , ment al l y r unni ng down t he
l i st : Col onel McKi nney, j er r y Davi s, Har r i et Kr uger . Ther e was no one
she r eal l y want ed t o be wi t h. I ' l l go al one, she deci ded.
The f ol k t heat er , anor nat e r el i c of mor e t r anqui l t i mes, was on Rasodi a
Roman, a bust l i ng st r eet f i l l ed wi t h smal l st ands sel l i ng f l ower s,
pl ast i c sl i pper s, bl ouses, and pens. The ent er t ai nment was bor i ng, t he
cost umes t awdr y, and t he dancer s awkwar d. The show seemed i nt er mi nabl e,
and when i t was f i nal l y over , Mar y was gl ad t o escape i nt o t he f r esh
ni ght ai r . Fl or i an was st andi ng by t he l i mousi ne, i n f r ont of t he
t heat er .
" I ' maf r ai d t her e wi l l be a del ay, MadamAmbassador . A f l at t i r e. And
a t hi ef has st ol en t he spar e. I have sent f or one. I t shoul d be her e
i n t he next hour . Woul d you l i ke t o wai t i n t he car ?"
Mar y l ooked up at t he f ul l moon. The eveni ng was cr i sp and cl ear . She
r eal i zed she had not t aken a wal k i n t he mont h si nce she had ar r i ved i n
Buchar est . " I t hi nk I ' l l wal k back. "
She t ur ned and st ar t ed down t he st r eet t owar d t he cent r al squar e.
Buchar est was a f asci nat i ng, exot i c ci t y. Even at t hi s l at e hour most
of t he shops wer e open, and t her e wer e queues at al l of t hem. Cof f ee
shops wer e ser vi ng gogoage, t he del i ci ous Romani an doughnut s. The
si dewal ks wer e cr owded wi t h l at e- ni ght shopper s car r yi ng pungi , t he
st r i ng shoppi ng bags. I t seemed t o Mar y t hat t he peopl e wer e omi nousl y
qui et . They wer e st ar i ng at her , t he women avi dl y eyei ng her cl ot hes.
She began t o wal k f ast er . When she r eached a st r eet cal l ed Cal ea
Vi ct or i er , she st opped, unsur e of whi ch di r ect i on t o t ake. She sai d t o
a passer by, " Excuse me- " He gave her a qui ck, f r i ght ened l ook and
hur r i ed of f .
How was she, goi ng t o get back? I t seemed t o her t hat t he r esi dence was
somewher e t o t he east . She began wal ki ng i n t hat di r ect i on. Soon she
was on a smal l , di ml y l i t si de st r eet . I n t he f at di st ance she coul d
see a br oad, wel l - l i t boul evar d. I can get a t axi t her e, Mar y t hought
wi t h r el i ef .
Ther e was t he sound of heavy f oot st eps behi nd her , and she t ur ned. A
l ar ge man i n an over coat was comi ng t owar d her .
" Excuse me, " t he man cal l ed out i n a heavy Remani an accent .
" Ar e you l ost ?"
She was f i l l ed wi t h r el i ef He was pr obabl y a pol i ceman. " Yes, " she sai d
gr at ef ul l y. " I want t o go back t o- "
Ther e was t he sudden r oar of a car r aci ng up behi nd her and t hen t he
squeal of br akes. The pedest r i an i n t he over coat gr abbed Mar y. She
coul d smel l hi s hot , f et i d br eat h and f eel hi s f at f i nger s br ui si ng her
wr i st . He st ar t ed pushi ng her t owar d t he open door of t he ear . " Get
i n! " t he man gr owl ed.
" No! , " Mar y was f i ght i ng t o br eak f r ee, and scr eami ng, " Hel p! Hel p me! "
Ther e was a shout f r omacr oss t he st r eet , and a f i gur e came r aci ng
t owar d t hem. The man who had accost ed her st opped, unsur e of what t o
do.
The st r anger yel l ed, " Let go of her ! " He gr abbed t he man i n t he over coat
and pul l ed hi maway f r omMar y. She f ound her sel f suddenl y f r ee.
The man behi nd t he wheel got out of t he car t o hel p hi s accompl i ce, but
t hen f r omt he f ar di st ance came t he sound of an appr oachi ng si r en, and
t he t wo men l eaped i nt o t he car and i t sped away.
A bl ue- and- whi t e car wi t h t he wor d mi l i t i a on t he si de and a f l ashi ng
l i ght on t op pul l ed up i n f r ont of Mar y. Two men i n uni f or mhur r i ed
out . I n Remani an one of t hemasked, " Ar e you al l r i ght ?" And t hen i n
hal t i ng Engl i sh, " What happened?"
Mar y was f i ght i ng t o get her sel f under cont r ol . " Two men. They- t hey
t r - t r i ed t o f or ce me i nt o t hei r car . I f - i f i t hadn' t been f or t hi s
gent l eman- " She t ur ned ar ound. But t he st r anger was gone.
MARY f ought al l ni ght l ong, st r uggl i ng t o escape t he men, waki ng i n a
pani c, f al l i ng back t o sl eep and waki ng agai n. She kept r el i vi ng t he
scene. Had t hey known who she was? Or wer e t hey mer el y t r yi ng t o r ob a
t our i st ?
When Mar y ar r i ved at her of f i ce, Mi ke Sl ade was wai t i ng f or her as
usual . He br ought i n t wo cups of cof f ee and sat down acr oss f r om, her .
The cof f ee was del i ci ous, and she r eal i zed t hat havi ng . cof f ee wi t h Mi ke
had become a mor ni ng r i t ual .
" How was t he t heat er ?" he asked.
" Fi ne. " The r est was none of hi s busi ness.
" Di d you get hur t when t hey t r i ed t o ki dnap you?"
" I - How do you know about t hat ?"
Hi s voi ce was f i l l ed wi t h i r ony. " MadamAmbassador , Remani a i s one bi g
open secr et . I t wasn' t ver y cl ever of you t o go f or a st r ol l by
your sel f . "
" I ' mawar e of t hat now. I t won' t happen agai n. "
" Good. " Hi s t one was br i sk. , " Di d t hey t ake anyt hi ng?"
" No. "
He f r owned. " I t makes no sense. I f t hey had want ed your coat or pur se,
t hey coul d have t aken t hem- f r omyou on t he st r eet . Tr yi ng. t o f or ce
you i nt o a car means i t was a ki dnappi ng. "
" Who woul d want t o ki dnap me?"
" I t woul dn' t have been I onescu' s men. He' s t r yi ng t o keep our r el at i ons
on an even keel . I t woul d have t o be some di ssi dent gr oup. " He t ook a
si p of hi s cof f ee. " May I gi ve you some advi ce?"
" I ' ml i st eni ng. "
" Go home. "
" What ?"
Mi ke Sl ade put down t he cup. " Send i n a l et t er of r esi gnat i on, pack up
your ki ds, and go back t o Kansas' , wher e you' l l be saf e. "
Mar y coul d f eel her f ace get t i ng r ed. " Mr . Sl ade, I made a mi st ake.
I t ' s not t he f i r st one I ' ve made, and i t pr obabl y won' t be t he l ast one.
But I was appoi nt ed t o t hi s post by t he Pr esi dent of t he Uni t ed St at es,
and unt i l he f i r es me, I don' t want you or anyone el se t el l i ng me t o go
home. " She f ought t o keep cont r ol of her voi ce. " I expect t he peopl e i n
t hi s embassy t o wor k wi t h me, not agai nst me. I f That ' s t oo much f or
you t o handl e, why don' t you go home?"
Mi ke Sl ade st ood up. " I ' l l see t hat t he mor ni ng r epor t s ar e put on your
desk, MadamAmbassador . "
The at t empt ed ki dnappi ng was t he sol e t opi c of conver sat i on at t he
embassy t hat mor ni ng. How had ever yone f ound out ? Mar y wonder ed. And
how had Mi ke Sl ade f ound out ? Mar y wi shed she coul d have l ear ned t he
name of her r escuer so t hat she coul d t hank hi m. I n t he qui ck gl i mpse
she had had of hi m, she had got t en t he i mpr essi on of an at t r act i ve man,
pr obabl y i n hi s ear l y f or t i es. He had had a f or ei gn accent .
An i dea st ar t ed t o gnaw at Mar y, and i t was har d t o di smi ss. The onl y
per son she knew of who want ed t o get r i d of her was Mi ke Sl ade. What i f
he had set up t he at t ack t o f r i ght en her i nt o l eavi ng? He had gi ven her
t he t heat er t i cket s. He had known wher e she woul d be.
THERE was a cockt ai l par t y at t he Fr ench embassy t hat eveni ng i n honor
of a vi si t i ng Fr ench concer t pi ani st . Mar y was t i r ed and ner vous, but
she knew she had t o go.
When she ar r i ved, t he embassy was al r eady cr owded wi t h guest s. As she
was exchangi ng pl easant r i es wi t h t he ambassador . She caught si ght of t he
st r anger who had r escued her f r omt he ki dnapper s. He was st andi ng i n a
cor ner t al ki ng t o t he I t al i an ambassador and hi s ai de.
" Pl ease excuse me, " Mar y sai d, and moved Acr oss t he r oomt owar d her
r escuer .
He was sayi ng, " Of cour se I mi ss Par i s, but I hope- " He br oke of f as he
saw Mar y appr oachi ng. " Ah, t he l ady i n di st r ess. "
" You know each ot her ?" t he I t al i an ambassador asked. " We haven' t been
of f i ci al l y i nt r oduced, " Mar y r epl i ed. " MadamAmbassador , may I pr esent
Dr . Loui s Desf or ges. "
The expr essi on on t he Fr enchman' s f ace changed. " MadamAmbassador ? I
beg your par don! I had no i dea. " Hi s voi ce was f i l l ed wi t h
embar r assment . " I shoul d have r ecogni zed you. "
" You di d bet t er t han t hat . " Mar y smi l ed. " You saved me. "
The I t al i an ambassador l ooked at t he doct or and sai d, " Ahl So you wer e
t he one. " He t ur ned t o Mar y. " I , hear d about your unf or t unat e
exper i ence. "
" I t woul d have been unf or t unat e i f Dr . Desf or ges hadn' t come al ong.
Thank you. "
Loui s Desf or ges smi l ed. " I ' mhappy t hat I was i n t he r i ght pl ace at t he
r i ght t i me. "
The ambassador saw an Engl i sh cont i ngent ent er and sai d, " I f you wi l l
excuse us, t her e i s someone we have t o see. "
He and hi s ai de hur r i ed of f . Mar y was al one wi t h t he doct or .
" Why di d you r un away when t he pol i ce came?" she asked.
He st udi ed her a moment . " I t i s not good pol i cy t o get i nvol ved wi t h
t he ] Remani an pol i ce. They have a way of ar r est i ng wi t nesses, t hen
pumpi ng t hemf or i nf or mat i on. I ' ma doct or at t ached t o t he Fr ench
embassy her e, and I don' t have di pl omat i c enununi t y. I do, however ,
know a gr eat deal about what goes on at our embassy. "
He smi l ed. " So f or gi ve me i f I seemed t o deser t you. "
Ther e was a di r ect ness about hi mt hat was ver y appeal i ng. I n some way
t hat Mar y coul d not def i ne, he r emi nded her of Edwar d. Per haps because
Loui s Desf or ges was a doct or . But no, i t was mor e t han t hat . He had
t he same openness t hat Edwar d had had, al most t he same smi l e.
" I f you' l l excuse me, " Dr . Desf or ges sai d, " I must go and become a
soci al ani mal . "
" You don' t l i ke par t i es?"
He wi nced. " I despi se t hem. "
" Does your wi f e enj oy t hem?"
" Yes, she di d. Ver y much. " He hesi t at ed, t hen sai d, " She and our t wo
chi l dr en ar e dead. "
Mar y pal ed. " Oh, I ' mso sor r y. How Hi s f ace was r i gi d. " I bl ame
mysel f . We wer e l i vi ng i n Al ger i a. I was i n t he under gr ound, f i ght i ng
t he t er r or i st s. " Hi s wor ds became sl ow and hal t i ng. " They f ound out my
i dent i t y and bl ew away t he house. I was away at t he t i me. "
" I ' mso sor r y, " Mar y sai d agai n. Hopel ess, i nadequat e wor ds.
" Ther e i s a cl i che t hat t i me heal s ever yt hi ng. I no l onger bel i eve i t . "
Hi s voi ce was bi t t er . He l ooked at her and sai d, " I f you wi l l excuse
me, MadamAmbassador . " He t ur ned and wal ked over t o gr eet a gr oup of
ar r i vi ng guest s.
He does r emi nd me a l i t t l e of Edwar d, Mar y t hought agai n. He' s a br ave
man. He' s i n a l ot of pai n, . and I t hi nk That ' s what dr aws me t o hi m.
I ' mi n pai n t oo. Wi l l I ever get over mi ssi ng you, Edwar d? I t ' s so
l onel y her e.
THE f ol l owi ng day Mar y coul d not get Dr . Loui s Desf or ges out of her
mi nd. He had saved her l i f e and t hen di sappear ed. She was gl ad she had
f ound hi magai n. On an i mpul se she bought a beaut i f ul si l ver bowl f or
hi mand had i t sent t o t he Fr ench embassy. I t was a smal l enough gest ur e
af t er what he had done.
That af t er noon Dr . Desf or ges t el ephoned. " Good af t er noon, Madam
Ambassador . " The phr ase sounded del i ght f ul i n hi s Fr ench accent . " I
cal l ed t o t hank you f or your t hought f ul gi f t . I assur e you t hat i t was
unnecessar y. I was del i ght ed t hat I was abl e t o be of some ser vi ce. "
" I t was mor e t han j ust some ser vi ce, " Mar y t ol d hi m.
Ther e was a pause. " Woul d you- " He st opped.
" Yes?" Mar y pr ompt ed.
" Not hi ng, r eal l y. " He sounded suddenl y shy. " I was wonder i ng i f you
mi ght car e t o have di nner wi t h me one eveni ng, but I know how busy you
must be and- "
" woul d l ove t o, " Mar y sai d qui ckl y.
" Real l y? Ar e you f r ee t omor r ow ni ght ?"
" I have a par t y at si x, but we coul d go af t er t hat . "
" Ah, spl endi d. "
They agr eed t o meet at t he Tar u Rest aur ant at ei ght o' cl ock.
I N THE l i mousi ne on t he way t o t he r est aur ant t he next eveni ng Mar y
asked Fl or i an t o st op at t he embassy. She had l ef t a si l k scar f i n her
of f i ce and want ed t o pi ck i t up.
Gunny was on dut y at t he desk. He st ood at at t ent i on and sal ut ed her .
Mar y went up t he st ai r s t o her of f i ce and t ur ned on t he l i ght . She
st ood t her e, f r ozen. On t he wal l someone had spr ayed i n r ed pai nt GO
HOME BEFORE YOU DI E. She backed out of t he r oom, whi t e- f aced, and r an
down t o t he l obby. " Gunny. Wh- who' s been i n my of f i ce?" she demanded.
" Why, no one t hat I know of , ma' am. "
" Let me see your r ost er sheet . " She t r i ed t o keep her voi ce f r om
quaver i ng.
" Yes, ma' am. " Gunny pul l ed out t he vi si t or s' access sheet and handed i t
t o her . Each name had t he t i me of ent r y l i st ed af t er i t . She st ar t ed at
f i ve t hi r t y, t he t i me she had l ef t t he of f i ce, and scanned t he l i st .
Ther e wer e a dozen names.
Mar y l ooked up at t he mar i ne guar d. " Wer e al l t he peopl e on t hi s l i st
escor t ed t o t he of f i ces t hey vi si t ed?"
" Al ways, MadamAmbassador . No one goes up t o t he second f l oor wi t hout
an escor t . I s somet hi ng wr ong?"
Somet hi ng was ver y wr ong.
Mar y sai d, " Pl ease send someone t o my of f i ce t o pai nt out t hat obsceni t y
on t he wal l . "
She t ur ned and hur r i ed out si de, af r ai d she was goi ng t o be si ck.
DR. Loui s DESFORGES was wai t i ng f or Mar y when she ar r i ved . at t he
r est aur ant . He st ood up as she appr oached t he t abl e.
" I ' msor r y I ' ml at e. " Mar y t r i ed t o sound nor mal . She wi shed she had
not come. She pr essed her hands t oget her t o keep t hemf r omt r embl i ng.
" Ar e you al l r i ght ?"
" Yes, " she sai d. " I ' mf i ne. " Go home bef or e you di e. " I t hi nk I ' d l i ke
a st r ai ght Scot ch, pl ease. "
The doct or or der ed dr i nks, t hen sai d, " I t can' t be easy bei ng an
ambassador i n t hi s count r y- especi al l y f or a woman. Remani ans ar e mal e
chauvi ni st s, you know. "
Mar y f or ced a smi l e. " Tel l me about your sel f " Anyt hi ng t o t ake her
mi nd of f t he t hr eat .
" I amaf r ai d t her e i s not much t o t el l t hat i s exci t i ng. "
" You ment i oned t hat you f ought i n t he under gr ound i n Al ger i a. That
sounds exci t i ng. "
He shr ugged. " We l i ve i n t er r i bl e t i mes. I bel i eve t hat ever y man must
r i sk somet hi ng so t hat i n t he end he does not have t o r i sk ever yt hi ng.
The t er r or i st si t uat i on i s l i t er al l y t hat - t er r i f yi ng. We must put an end
t o i t . " Hi s voi ce was f i l l ed wi t h passi on.
He' s l i ke Edwar d, Mar y t hought . Edwar d was al ways passi onat e about hi s
bel i ef s.
" I f I had known t hat t he pr i ce woul d be t he l i ves of my f ami l y- " He
st opped. Hi s knuckl es wer e whi t e agai nst t he t abl e. " For gi ve me. I
di d not br i ng you her e t o t al k about my t r oubl es. Let me r ecommend t he
l amb. They do i t ver y wel l her e. "
He or der ed di nner and a bot t l e of wi ne, and t hey t al ked. Mar y began t o
r el ax, t o f or get t he f r i ght eni ng war ni ng pai nt ed i n r ed. She was f i ndi ng
i t sur pr i si ngl y easy t o t al k t o t hi s at t r act i ve Fr enchman. I n an odd
way i t was l i ke t al ki ng t o Edwar d. I t was amazi ng how she and Loui s
shar ed so many of t he same bel i ef s and f el t t he same way about so many
t hi ngs. Loui s Desf or ges was bor n i n a smal l t own i n Fr ance, and Mar y
was bor n i n a smal l t own i n Kansas, t housands of mi l es apar t , and yet
t hei r backgr ounds wer e si mi l ar . Hi s f at her had been a f ar mer and had
scr i mped and saved t o send Loui s t o a medi cal school i n Par i s.
" My f at her was a wonder f ul man, MadamAmbassador . "
" Mar y. "
" Thank you, Mar y. "
She smi l ed. " You' r e wel come, Loui s. "
Mar y wonder ed what hi s per sonal l i f e was l i ke. He was handsome and
i nt el l i gent . " Have you t hought of get t i ng mar r i ed agai n?" She coul d not
bel i eve she had asked hi mt hat .
He shook hi s head. " No. My wi f e was a r emar kabl e woman. No one coul d
ever r epl ace her . "
That ' s how I f eel about Edwar d, Mar y t hought . And yet i t was not r eal l y
a quest i on of r epl aci ng a bel oved one. I t was f i ndi ng someone new t o
shar e t hi ngs wi t h.
Loui s was sayi ng, " So when I was of f er ed t he oppor t uni t y, I t hought i t
woul d be i nt er est i ng t o vi si t Remani a. " He l ower ed hi s voi ce. " I
conf ess I f eel an evi l ness about t hi s count r y. Not t he peopl e. They
ar e l ovel y. But t he gover nment i s ever yt hi ng I despi se. Ther e i s no
f r eedomher e f or anyone. " He gl anced ar ound t o make sur e no one coul d
over hear . " I shal l be gl ad when my t our of dut y i s over and I can
r et ur n t o Fr ance. "
Wi t hout t hi nki ng, Mar y hear d her sel f sayi ng, " Ther e ar e some peopl e who
t hi nk I shoul d go home. "
" I beg your par don?"
And suddenl y Mar y f ound her sel f t el l i ng hi mabout t he pai nt scr awl on
her of f i ce wal l .
" But t hat i s hor r i bl e! You have no i dea who di d t hi s?"
" No. "
Loui s sai d, " May I make an i mper t i nent conf essi on? Si nce I f ound out
who you wer e, I have been aski ng quest i ons. Ever yone who knows you i s
ver y i mpr essed wi t h you. "
She was l i st eni ng t o hi mwi t h i nt ense i nt er est .
" You have br ought her e an i mage of Amer i ca t hat i s beaut i f ul and
i nt el l i gent and war m. I f you bel i eve i n what you ar e doi ng, t hen you
must f i ght f or i t . You must st ay. Do not l et anyone f r i ght en you
away. " I t was j ust what Edwar d woul d have sai d.
THE f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Mi ke Sl ade br ought i n t wo cups of cof f ee. He
nodded at t he wal l wher e t he message had been pai nt ed. " I hear someone
has been spr ayi ng gr af f i t i on your wal l s. "
" Yes. Have t hey f ound out who di d i t ?"
Mi ke t ook a si p of cof f ee. " No. I went t hr ough t he vi si t or s' l i st
mysel f Ever yone i s account ed f or . "
" That means i t must have been someone her e i n t he embassy. "
" Ei t her t hat , or someone managed t o sneak i n past t he guar ds. "
" Do you bel i eve t hat ?"
Mi ke put down hi s cof f ee cup. " Nope. "
" Nei t her do I . "
" What exact l y di d i t say?"
" ' Go home bef or e you di e. " ' He made no comment .
" Who woul d want t o ki l l me?"
" I don' t know. But we' r e doi ng ever yt hi ng we can t o t r ack down whoever
i t i s. I n t he meant i me, I ' ve ar r anged f or a mar i ne guar d t o be post ed
out si de your door at ni ght . "
" Mr . Sl ade, I woul d appr eci at e a st r ai ght answer . Do you t hi nk I ' mi n
any r eal danger ?"
He st udi ed her t hought f ul l y. " MadamAmbassador , t hey, assassi nat ed
Abr ahwn Li ncol n, J ohn Kennedy, Mar t i n Lut her Ki ng, and Mar i n Gr oza.
We' r e al l vul ner abl e. The answer t o your quest i on i s yes. "
THREE days l at er Mar y had di nner agai n wi t h Dr . Loui s Desf or ges. He
seemed mor e r el axed wi t h her t hi s t i me, and al t hough t he cor e of sadness
she sensed wi t hi n hi mwas st i l l t her e, he t ook pai ns t o be at t ent i ve and
amusi ng. Mar y wonder ed i f he f el t t he same at t r act i on t owar d her t hat
she f el t t owar d hi m.
Af t er di nner when Loui s t ook Mar y back t o t he r esi dence, she asked,
" Woul d you l i ke t o come i n?"
" Thank you, " he sai d. " I woul d. "
The chi l dr en wer e downst ai r s doi ng t hei r homewor k, and Mar y i nt r oduced
t hemt o Loui s.
He bent down bef or e Bet h and sai d, " May I ?" And he put hi s ar ms ar ound
her and hugged her . He st r ai ght ened up. " One of my l i t t l e gi r l s was
t hr ee year s younger t han you. The ot her one was about your age. I ' d
l i ke t o t hi nk t hey woul d have gr own up t o be as pr et t y as you ar e,
Bet h. "
Bet h smi l ed. " Thank you. Wher e ar e- "
" woul d you al l l i ke some hot chocol at e?" Mar y asked hast i l y.
The f our of t hemsat i n t he huge ki t chen dr i nki ng t he hot chocol at e and
t al ki ng.
The chi l dr en wer e ut t er l y enchant ed wi t h Loui s. He f ocused ent i r el y on
t hem, t el l i ng t hemst or i es and anecdot es and j okes unt i l he had t hem
r oar i ng wi t h l aught er .
I t was al most mi dni ght when Mar y l ooked at her wat ch. " Oh, no! You
chi l dr en shoul d have been i n bed hour s ago. Scoot . "
Ti mwent over t o Loui s. " Wi l l you come see us agai n?"
" I hope so, Ti m. "
Mar y saw Loui s t o t he door . He t ook her hand i n hi s. " They' r e
beaut i f ul chi l dr en. " Hi s voi ce was husky. " I won' t t r y t o t el l you what
t hi s eveni ng has meant t o me, Mar y. "
" I ' mgl ad. " She was l ooki ng i nt o hi s eyes, and she f el t hi mmovi ng
t owar d her . She r ai sed her l i ps.
" Good ni ght , Mar y. " And he was gone.
DAvmVi ct or , t he commer ce consul , hur r i ed i nt o Mar y' s of f i ce. " I have
some ver y bad news. I j ust got a t i p t hat Pr esi dent I onescu i s goi ng t o
appr ove a cont r act wi t h Ar gent i na f or a mi l l i on and a hal f t ons of cor n,
and wi t h Br azi l f or hal f a mi l l i on t ons of soybeans. We wer e count i ng
heavi l y on t hei r buyi ng f r omus. "
" How f ar have t he negot i at i ons gone?"
" They' r e al most concl uded. We' ve been shut out . I was about t o send a
cabl e t o Washi ngt on- wi t h your appr oval , of cour se. "
" Hol d of f a bi t , " Mar y sai d. " I want t o t hi nk about i t . "
" You won' t get Pr esi dent I oneseu t o change hi s mi nd. Bel i eve me, I ' ve
t r i ed ever y ar gument I coul d t hi nk of . "
" Then we have not hi ng t o l ose i f I gi ve i t a t r y. " She buzzed her
secr et ar y. " Dor ot hy, get me t he pr esi dent i al pal ace. "
ALExomRos I onescu i nvi t ed Mar y t o t he pal ace f or l unch. As she ent er ed
she was gr eet ed at t he door by Ni cu, hi s f our t eenyear - ol d son. He was a
handsome boy, t al l f or hi s age, wi t h beaut i f ul bl ack eyes and a f l awl ess
compl exi on.
" Good af t er noon, Madsen Ambassador , " he sai d. " I amNi cu. Wel come t o
t he pal ace. I have hear d ver y ni ce t hi ngs about you. "
" Thank you. I ' mpl eased t o hear t hat , Ni cu. "
" I wi l l t el l my f at her you have ar r i ved. "
MARY AND I ONESCU SAT ACROss f r omeach ot her i n t he f or mal di ni ng r oom,
j ust t he t wo of t hem. The Pr esi dent had been dr i nki ng and was i n a
mel l ow mood. He l i t a Snogoy, t he vi l e- smel l i ng Remani an ci gar et t e.
" Mr ; Pr esi dent , " sai d Mar y, " I was eager t o meet wi t h you, because t her e
i s somet hi ng i mpor t ant I woul d l i ke t o di scuss wi t h you. "
I onescu al most l aughed al oud. He knew exact l y why she had come. The
Amer i cans wi shed t o sel l hi mcor n and soybeans, but t hey wer e t oo l at e.
The Amer i can ambassador woul d go away empt y- handed t hi s t i me. Too bad.
Such an at t r act i vewoman.
" Yes?" he sai d i nnocent l y.
" I want t o t al k t o you about si st er ci t i es. "
l onescu bl i nked. " I beg your par don?"
" Si st er ci t i es. You know, l i ke San Fr anci sco and Osaka, Los Angel es and
Bombay, Washi ngt on and Bangkok. . . . "
" - don' t under st and. What does t hat have t o do wi t h- "
" Mr . Pr esi dent , i t occur r ed t o me t hat you coul d get headl i nes al l over
t he wor l d i f you made Buchar est a si st er ci t y of some Amer i can ci t y. I t
woul d get al most as much at t ent i on as Pr esi dent El l i son' s
peopl e- t o- peopl e pl an. "
He sai d caut i ousl y, " A si st er ci t y wi t h a ci t y i n t he Uni t ed St at es? I t
i s an i nt er est i ng i dea. What woul d i t i nvol ve?"
" Most l y, wonder f ul publ i ci t y f or you. You woul d be a her o. I t woul d be
your i dea. You woul d pay t he ci t y a vi si t . A del egat i on f r omKansas
Ci t y woul d pay you a vi si t . "
Kansas Ci t y?"
" That ' s j ust a suggest i on, of cour se. Kansas Ci t y i s Mi ddl e Amer i ca.
Ther e ar e f ar mer s t her e, l i ke your f ar mer s. Mr . Pr esi dent , your name
wi l l be on ever yone' s l i ps. No one i n Eur ope has t hought of doi ng
t hi s. "
He sat t her e, si l ent . " I - I woul d nat ur al l y have t o gi ve t hi s a gr eat
deal of t hought . "
" Nat ur al l y. "
" Kansas Ci t y, Kansas, and Buchar est , Remani a. " He nodded. " We ar e a much
l ar ger ci t y, of cour se. "
" Of cour se. Buchar est woul d be t he bi g si st er . "
" I must admi t i t i s a ver y i nt r i gui ng i dea. " Your name wi l l be on
ever yone' s l i ps. " I s t her e any chance of a r ej ect i on f r omt he Amer i can
si de?" I oneseu asked.
" Absol ut el y none. I can guar ant ee i t . "
He sat t her e r ef l ect i ng. " When woul d t hi s go i nt o ef f ect ?"
" J ust as soon as you' r e r eady t o announce i t . I ' l l handl e our end. "
I onescu t hought . of somet hi ng el se. " We coul d set up a t r ade exchange
wi t h our si st er ci t y. Remani a has many t hi ngs t o sel l . Tel l me, what
cr ops does Kansas gr ow?"
" Among ot her t hi ngs, " Mar y sai d qui et l y, " cor n and soybeans. "
" You r eal l y made t he deal ? You act ual l y f ool ed hi m?" Davi d Vi ct or asked
i ncr edul ousl y.
" Not f or a mi nut e, " Mar y assur ed hi m. " l oneseu knew what I was af t er .
He j ust l i ked t he package I wr apped i t i n. You can go i n and cl ose t he
deal . He' s al r eady r ehear si ng hi s t el evi si on speech. "
WHEN St ant on Roger s hear d t he news, he t el ephoned Mar y. " You' r e a
geni us. " He l aughed. " We t hought we' d l ost t hat deal . How i n t he wor l d
di d you do i t ?"
" Ego, " Mar y sai d. " Hi s. "
" The Pr esi dent asked me t o t el l you what a r eal l y gr eat j ob you' r e doi ng
over t her e, Mar y. "
" Thank hi mf or me, St an. "
" I wi l l . By t he way, t he Pr esi dent and I ar e l eavi ng f or Chi na i n a f ew
weeks. I f you need me, you can get i n t ouch wi t h me.
t hr ough my of f i ce. "
" Have a wonder f ul t r i p. "
Chapt er Ni ne
OVER t he swi f f l y movi ng weeks t he danci ng Mar ch wi nds had gi ven way t o
spr i ng and t hen summer . Tr ees and f l ower s bl ossomed ever ywher e i n
Buchar est , and t he par ks wer e gr een.
I n Buenos Ai r es, i t was wi nt er . When Neusa Muez r et ur ned t o her
apar t ment , i t was t he mi ddl e of t he ni ght . The t el ephone was r i ngi ng.
" S( ?"
I t was t he gr i ngo f r omt he Uni t ed St at es.
" May I speak wi t h Angel ?"
" Angel no her e, senor . Wha' you wan' ?"
" Tel l Angel I need hi mf or a cont r act i n Buchar est . "
" Budapes' ?"
The Cont r ol l er f ound hi s i r r i t at i on mount i ng. " Buchar est . Romani a.
Tel l hi mI t ' s a f i ve- mi l l i on- dol l ar cont r act . He has t o be i n Buchar est
by t he end of J une. That ' s t hr ee weeks f r omnow. Do you have t hat ?"
" Wai t a mi nut e. I ' mwr i t i n' . Okay. How many peopl e Angel got t a ki l l
f or f i ve mi l l i on dol l ar s?"
" A l ot . . . . "
THE dai l y l ong l i nes i n f r ont of t he embassy cont i nued t o di st ur b Mar y.
She di scussed i t agai n wi t h Mi ke Sl ade.
" Ther e must be somet hi ng we can do t o hel p t hose peopl e get out of t he
count r y. "
" Ever yt hi ng' s been t r i ed, " Mi ke assur ed her . " We' ve appl i ed pr essur e,
we' ve of f er ed t o sweet en t he money pot . . . . I onescu r ef uses t o cut a
deal . "
" I ' mgoi ng t o have anot her t al k wi t h hi m. "
" Good l uck. "
Mar y asked Dor ot hy St one t o set up an appoi nt ment wi t h t he di ct at or . A
f ew mi nut es l at er t he secr et ar y wal ked i nt o Mar y' s of f i ce. " I ' msor r y,
Madun Ambassador . Somet hi ng wei r d i s goi ng on at t he pr esi dent i al
pal ace. I onescu i sn' t seei ng anybody. I n f act , no one can even get
i n. "
" Dor ot hy, " Mar y sai d, " see i f you can f i nd out What ' s goi ng on t her e. "
An hour l at er Dor ot hy r epor t ed back. " They' r e keepi ng i t ver y
hush- hush. I onescu' s son i s dyi ng. "
Mar y was aghast . " Ni cu? What happened?"
" He has bot ul i smpoi soni ng. Ther e was an epi demi c i n East Ger many a f ew
mont hs ago. Appar ent l y Ni cu vi si t ed t her e and someone gave hi msome
canned f ood as a gi f t . He at e some of i t yest er day. "
" But t her e' s an ant i ser umf or bot ul i sm! " Mar y excl ai med.
" The Eur opean count r i es ar e out of i t The epi demi c used i t up. "
" Oh, my God. "
When Dor ot hy l ef t t he of f i ce, Mar y sat t her e t hi nki ng, I t , mi ght be t oo
l at e, but st i l l . . . She r emember ed how cheer f ul and happy young Ni cu
was. He was f our t een year s ol d- onl y t wo year s ol der t han Bet h. She
pr essed t he i nt er combut t on. " Dor ot hy, get me Wal t er Reed hospi t al i n
Mar yl and. "
Fi ve mi nut es l at er she was speaki ng t o t he di r ect or .
" Yes, MadamAmbassador . We do have an ant i ser umf or bot ul i smpoi soni ng,
and I ' l l be happy t o suppl y some. But bot ul i smpoi soni ng wor ks ver y
r api dl y. I ' maf r ai d t hat by t he t i me i t get s t her e . . . "
" I ' l l ar r ange f or i t t o get her e. j ust have i t r eady. Thank you. "
Ten mi nut es l at er Mar y was speaki ng t o ai r f or ce gener al Ral ph Zukor , i n
Washi ngt on.
" Good mor ni ng, MadamAmbassador . Wel l , t hi s i s an unexpect ed pl easur e.
My wi f e and I ar e bi g f ans of your s. How ar e- "
" Gener al , I need a f avor . I need your f ast est j et . "
" I beg your par don?"
" I need a j et t o f l y some ser umt o Buchar est r i ght away. Can you do
i t ?"
" Wel l , yes. But f i r st you' l l have t o get appr oval f r omt he Secr et ar y of
Def ense. Ther e ar e r equi si t i on f or ms t o f i l l out . "
Mar y l i st ened, seet hi ng. " Gener al , a boy' s l i f e i s at st ake. He
happens t o be t he son of t he Pr esi dent of Remani a. I f t hat boy di es
because some f or mhasn' t been f i l l ed out , I ' mgoi ng t o cal l t he bi ggest
pr ess conf er ence you' ve ever seen. And I ' l l l et you expl ai n why you l et
I onescu' s son di e. "
" I ' msor r y, but I can' t possi bl y aut hor i ze an oper at i on l i ke t hi s
wi t hout an appr oval f r omt he Whi t e House. I f - "
Mar y snapped, " Then, get i t . The ser umwi l l be del i ver ed t o Andr ews Ai r
For ce Base. And Gener al . . . ever y si ngl e mi nut e count s. "
She hung up and sat t her e, si l ent l y pr ayi ng.
Gener al Zukor ' s ai de sai d, " What was t hat al l about , si r ?"
" The ambassador expect s me t o send up an SR- 71 t o f l y some ser umt o
Remani a. I t ' s r i di cul ous. But we mi ght as wel l cover our sel ves, Get me
St ant on Roger s. "
Fi ve mi nut es l at er t he gener al was speaki ng t o t he Pr esi dent ' s f or ei gn
af f ai r s advi ser . " I j ust want ed t o go on r ecor d wi t h you t hat t he
r equest was made, and I nat ur al l y r ef used. I f - "
St ant on Roger s sai d, " Gener al , how soon can you have an SR- 71 ai r bor ne?"
" I n t en mi nut es, but - "
" Do i t . "
Ni cu l onescu' s ner vous syst emhad been af f ect ed. He l ay i n bed,
di sor i ent ed, sweat i ng and pal e, at t ached t o a r espi r at or . Ther e wer e
t hr ee doct or s at hi s bedsi de.
Pr esi dent l onescu st r ode i nt o t he r oom. " What ' s happeni ng?"
" Your Excel l ency, we have communi cat ed wi t h our col l eagues al l over
East er n and West er n Eur ope. Ther e i s no ant i seaml ef t . "
" What about t he Uni t ed St at es?"
The doct or shr ugged. " By t he t i me we coul d ar r ange f or someone t o f l y
t he ser umher e. . . " He paused del i cat el y. " I ' maf r ai d i t woul d be t oo
l at e. "
I onescu pi cked up hi s son' s hand. " You' r e not goi ng t o di e, " he sai d,
weepi ng. " You' r e not goi ng t o di e. "
AN A= hel i copt er del i ver ed t he ant i bot ul i smsemm, packed i n i ce, t o
Andr ews Ai r For ce Base. Thr ee mi nut es l at er t he SR- 7] L was i n t he ai r ,
on a nor t heast headi ng.
The SR- 71- t he U. S. Ai r For ce' s f ast est super soni c j et - f l i es at t hr ee
t i mes t he speed of sound. I t sl owed down once t o r ef uel over t he mi d
At l ant i c. The pl ane- made t he f i ve- t housand- mi l e f l i ght t o Buchar est i n
a l i t t l e over t wo and a hal f hour s.
Col onel McKi nney was wai t i ng at t he ai r por t f or t he ser um. An ar my
escor t cl ear ed t he way t o t he pr esi dent i al pal ace.
MARY had r emai ned i n her of f i ce al l ni ght , get t i ng up- t o- t he mi nut e
r epor t s. At si x a. m. McKi nney t el ephoned. " They gave t he boy t he
ser um. The doct or s say he' s goi ng t o l i ve. "
" Oh, t hank God! "
Two days l at er a di amond- and- emer al d neckl ace was del i ver ed t o Mar y' s
of f i ce wi t h a not e: " I can never t hank you enough. Al exandr os I onescu. "
" I don' t bel i eve t hi s! " Dor ot hy excl ai med when she saw t he neckl ace. " I t
must have cost hal f a mi l l i on dol l ar s! "
" At l east , " Mar y sai d. " Ret ur n i t . "
The f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Pr esi dent I onescu sent f or Mar y.
When she ar r i ved, an ai de sai d, " The Pr esi dent i s wai t i ng f or you i n hi s
of f i ce. "
" May I see Ni cu f i r st ?"
" Yes, of cour se. " He l ed her upst ai r s.
Ni cu was i n bed r eadi ng. He l ooked up as Mar y ent er ed. " Good mor ni ng,
MadamAmbassador . "
" Good mor ni ng, Ni cu. "
" MY f at her t ol d me what you di d. I wi sh t o t hank you. "
" I coul dn' t l et you di e. I ' msavi ng you f or Bet h one day. "
Ni cu l aughed. " Br i ng her over , and we' l l t al k about i t . "
Pr esi dent I onescu was wai t i ng downst ai r s f or Mar y. He sai d wi t hout
pr eambl e, " You r et ur ned my gi f t . "
" Yes, Your Excel l ency. "
He i ndi cat ed a chai r . " Si t down. " He st udi ed her . " You saved my son' s
l i f e. I must gi ve you somet hi ng. " " Mar y sai d, " I don' t make t r ades f or
chi l dr en' s l i ves.
" You must want somet hi ng! Name your pr i ce. "
Mar y sai d, " Your Excel l ency, t her e i s no pr i ce. I have t wo chi l dr en of
my own. I know how you must f eel . "
He cl osed hi s eyes f or a moment . " Do you? Ni cu i s my onl y son. I f
anyt hi ng had happened t o hi m- " He st opped, unabl e t o go on.
" I went up t o see hi m. He l ooks f i ne. I f t her e' s not hi ng el se, Your
Excel l ency, I have an appoi nt ment . " She r ose and st ar t ed t o l eave.
" Wai t l You wi l l not accept a GI FT but - "
" No. I ' ve expl ai ned- ' , I onesCu hel d up a hand. " Al l r i ght , al l r i ght . "
He t hought f or a moment . " I f you wer e t o make a wi sh, what woul d you
wi sh f or ?
Anyt hi ng you want . "
Mar y st ood t her e st udyi ng hi s f ace. Fi nal l y she sai d, " I wi sh t hat t he
r est r i ct i on on t he J ews wai t i ng t o l eave Remani a coul d be l i f t ed. "
" I see. " l onescu was st i l l f or a l ong t i me bef or e he l ooked up at Mar y.
" I t shal l be done. They wi l l not al l be al l owed out , of cour se, but I
wi l l make i t easi er . "
When t he announcement was made publ i c t wo days l at er , Mar y r ecei ved a
t el ephone cal l f r omPr esi dent El l i son hi msel f " I t hought I was sendi ng a
di pl omat , and I got a mi r acl e wor ker .
Congr at ul at i ons, Mar y, on ever yt hi ng you' ve done over t her e. "
" Thank you, Mr . Pr esi dent . " She hung up, f eel i ng a war mgl ow.
I N CELEBRATI ON of her di pl omat i c coup Loui s i nvi t ed Mar y t o a candl el i t
di nner i n t he r oof t op r est aur ant at t he Hot el I nt er cont i nent al . They
saw each ot her whenever possi bl e now, and mor e and mor e Mar y had come t o
r el y on hi mas an i sl and of st r engt h and, sani t y. Bef or e t hey par t ed
t hat ni ght , Mar y f ound her sel f accept i ng an i nvi t at i on t o go away t o t he
mount ai ns wi t h Loui s t he f ol l owi ng weekend.
Once she got i nt o bed, she l ay i n t he dar k t al ki ng t o Edwar d: Dar l i ng,
I ' l l al ways, al ways l ove you, but i t ' s t i me I st ar t ed a new l i f e. You' l l
al ways be a par t of t hat l i f e, but t her e has t o be someone el se t oo.
Loui s i sn' t you, but he' s Loui s. He' s st r ong, and he' s good, and he' s
br ave. That ' s as cl ose as I can come t o havi ng you. Pl ease under st and,
Edwar d. Pl ease. . . .
" J ULy i s j ust ar ound t he cor ner , " Har r i et Kr uger t ol d Mar y. " I n t he
past t he wnbassador al ways gave a Four t h of J ul y par t y f or t he Amer i cans
l i vi ng i n Buchar est . I f you' d pr ef er not t o- "
" No. I t hi nk i t ' s a l ovel y i dea. "
" Fi ne. I ' l l t ake car e of al l t he ar r angement s. A l ot of f l ags,
bal l oons, an or chest r a- t he wor ks. "
" Sounds wonder f ul . Thank you, Har r i et . "
A bi g par t y woul d eat i nt o t he r esi dence' s expense account , but i t woul d
be wor t h i t . The t r ut h i s, Mar y t hought , I mi ss home. She had been
her e f or onl y f our mont hs, but i t seemed an et er ni t y.
j unct i on Ci t y had meant peace and secur i t y, an easy, f r i endl y way of
l i f e. Her e, t her e was f ear and t er r or and a deat h t hr eat scr awl ed on
her of f i ce wal l i n r ed pai nt . Suddenl y Mar y f el t a shar p pang of
l onel i ness, a sense of bei ng t ot al l y i sol at ed f r omher r oot s, adr i f t i n
an al i en and danger ous l and. Then she t hought about Loui s, and t he
l onel i ness began t o di sappear .
MARY WAS HAVI NG HER USUAL mor ni ng cof f ee wi t h Mi ke Sl ade, di scussi ng t he
day' s agenda.
When t hey f i ni shed, he sai d, " I ' ve been hear i ng mmor s about you. I t
seems t hat you' r e seei ng a l ot of Dr . Desf or ges. "
Mar y f el t a f l ar e of anger . " Who I see i s no one' s busi ness. "
" I beg t o di f f er wi t h you, MadamAmbassador . The St at e Depar t ment has a
st r i ct r ul e agai nst get t i ng i nvol ved wi t h f or ei gner s, and t he doct or i s
a f or ei gner . He al so happens t o be an enemy agent . "
Mar y was al most t oo st unned t o speak. " That ' s absur d! "
" Thi nk about how you met hi m, " Mi ke suggest ed. " The damsel i n di st r ess
and t he kni ght i n shi ni ng ar mor . That ' s t he ol dest t r i ck i n t he wor l d.
I ' ve used i t mysel f . "
" I don' t car e what you' ve done, " Mar y r et or t ed. " He' s wor t h a dozen of
you. He f ought agai nst t er r or i st s i n Al ger i a, and t hey mur der ed hi s
wi f e and chi l dr en. "
Mi ke sai d mi l dl y, " That ' s i nt er est i ng. I ' ve been exami ni ng hi s dossi er .
Your doct or never had a wi f e or chi l dr en. "
THEY st opped f or l unch at Ti mi SSoar a, on t hei r way up t o t he Car pat hi an
Mount ai ns. The i nn was decor at ed i n t he per i od at mospher e of a medi eval
wi ne cel l ar .
" The speci al l y of t he house i s gone, " Loui s t ol d Mar y. " I woul d suggest
t he veni son. "
" Fi ne. " she had never eat en veni son. I t was del i ci ous. Ther e was an
ai r of conf i dence about Loui s, a qui et st r engt h t hat gave Mar y a f eel i ng
of secur i t y.
Af t er l unch t hey st ar t ed out agai n. They passed f ar mer s dr i vi ng
pr i mi t i ve homemade wagons, and car avans of Gypsi es.
Loui s was a ski l l f ul dr i ver . Mar y st udi ed hi mas he dr ove. He' s an
enemy agent . She di d not bel i eve Mi ke Sl ade. Ever y i nst i nct t ol d her
he was l yi ng. She t r ust ed Loui s. No one coul d have f aked t he emot i on I
saw on hi s f ace when he was pl ayi ng wi t h t he chi l dr en, she t hought .
The ai r was get t i ng not i ceabl y t hi nner and cool er . The mount ai ns ahead
l ooked l i ke pi ct ur es she had seen of t he Swi ss Al ps, t hei r peaks cover ed
by mi st s and i cy cl ouds t he col or of st eel .
I t was l at e af t er noon when t hey r eached t hei r dest i nat i on, Si o pl ea, a
l ovel y mount ai n r esor t bui l t l i ke a mi ni at ur e chal et . Thei r sui t e had a
comf or t abl e l i vi ng r oom, si mpl y f ur ni shed, a bedr oom, a bat hr oom, and a
t er r ace wi t h a br eat ht aki ng vi ew of t he mount ai ns.
" For t he f i r st t i me i n my l i f e" - Loui s si ghed- " I wi sh I wer e a pai nt er . "
" I t i s a beaut i f ul vi ew.
He moved cl oser t o her . " No. I wi sh I coul d pai nt you. "
He t ook her i n hi s ar ms and hel d her t i ght l y. She bur i ed her head
agai nst hi s chest , and t hen Loui s' s l i ps wer e on her s, and she f or got
ever yt hi ng except what was happeni ng t o her . He l ed her t o t he bed.
Ther e was a f r ant i c need i n her f or someone t o r eassur e her , t o pr ot ect
her , t o l et her know t hat she was no l onger al one. She needed t o be one
wi t h hi m. . . .
Af t er a l ong, l ong t i me t hey l ay cont ent ed. She nest l ed i n hi s st r ong
ar ms, and t hey t al ked.
" I t ' s so st r ange, " Loui s sai d. " I f eel whol e agai n. Si nce Renee and
t he chi l dr en wer e ki l l ed, I ' ve been a ghost , wander i ng ar ound l ost . "
" I ' ve f el t hel pl ess t oo. Edwar d was my umbr el l a, and when i t di ed and
he wasn' t t her e t o pr ot ect me, I near l y dr owned. "
I t was al most per f ect . Al most . Because t her e was a quest i on Mar y dar ed
not ask: Di d you have a wi f e and chi l dr en? The moment she asked t hat
quest i on, she knew ever yt hi ng bet ween t hemwoul d be over f or ever . Loui s
woul d never f or gi ve her f or doubt i ng hi m. Cur se Mi ke Sl ade, she
t hought .
Loui s was wat chi ng her . " What ar e you t hi nki ng about ?"
" Not hi ng, dar l i ng. "
Sat ur day t hey went on a t r amt o a mount ai n peak. I n t he eyeni ng t hey
dr ove t o Ei nt r ul , a r ust i c r est aur ant i n t he. mount ai ns, wher e t hey had
di nner i n a l ar ge r oomt hat had an open f i r epl ace ml i t h a r oar i ng f i r e.
Ther e wer e hunt i ng t r ophi es on t he wal l , and t hr ough t he wi ndows t hey
coul d l ook at t he snow- cover ed hi l l s out si de. A per f ect set t i ng, wi t h
t he per f ect compani on.
And f i nal l y, t oo soon, i t was t i me t o l eave.
As t hey near ed t he out ski r t s of Buchar est t hey dr ove by f i el ds of
sunf l ower s, t hei r f aces movi ng t owar d t he sun. That ' s me, Mar y t hought
happi l y. I ' mf i nal l y movi ng i nt o t he sunl i ght .
THE next MORNI NG WHEN MARY ar r i ved at her of f i ce, t her e wer e a dozen r ed
r oses wi t h a not e: " Thank you f or you. "
Mar y r ead t he car d. And wonder ed i f Loui s had sent f l ower s t o RencSSe.
And wonder ed i f t her e had been a Rent - e and t wo daught er s. And hat ed
her sel f f or i t . Why woul d Mi ke Sl ade make up t er r i bl e l i e l i ke t hat ?
Ther e was no way she coul d ever check i t .
And at t hat moment Eddi e Mal t z, t he pol i t i cal consul and CI A agent ,
wal ked i nt o her of f i ce.
They spent some t i me di scussi ng a col onel who had appr oached Mal t z about
def ect i ng.
" He' d be a val uabl e asset f or us, " Mal t z t ol d her . " He' l l be br i ngi ng
some usef ul i nf or mat i on wi t h hi m, but be pr epar ed t o r ecei ve some heat
f r oml onescu. "
" Thank you, Mr . Mal t z. "
He r ose t o l eave.
On a sudden i mpul se Mar y sai d ' " Wai t . I wonder i f I coul d ask you f or
a f avor ? I t ' s per sonal and conf i dent i al . "
" Sounds l i ke our mot t o. " Mal t z smi l ed.
" I need some i nf or mat i on on a Dr . Loui s Desf or ges. He' s at t ached t o
t he Fr ench embassy. " Thi s was mor e di f f i cul t t han she had i magi ned. I t
was a bet r ayal . " I ' d l i ke t o know whet her Dr . Desf or ges was once
mar r i ed and had t wo chi l dr en. Do you t hi nk you coul d f i nd out ?"
" Wi l l t went y- f our hour s be soon enough?" Mal t z asked.
" Yes, t hank you. " Pl ease f or gi ve me, Loui s.
A shor t t i me l at er Mi ke Sl ade wal ked i nt o Mar y' s of f i ce and put a cup of
cof f ee on her desk. Somet hi ng i n hi s at t i t ude seemed subt l y changed.
Mar y was not sur e what i t was, but she had a f eel i ng t hat Mi ke Sl ade
knew al l about her weekend. She wonder ed whet her he had spi es f ol l owi ng
her .
She t ook a si p of t he cof f ee. Excel l ent , as usual . That ' s one t hi ng
Mi ke Sl ade does wel l , Mar y t hought .
" We have some pr obl ems, " he sai d. And f or t he r est of t he mor ni ng t hey
became i nvol ved i n a di scussi on t hat i ncl uded t he Remani an f i nanci al
cr i si s and a dozen ot her t opi cs.
At t he end of t he meet i ng Mar y was mor e t i r ed t han usual .
Mi ke Sl ade sai d, " The bal l et i s openi ng t oni ght . Cor i na Socol i i s
danci ng. " She was one of t he l eadi ng bal l er i nas i n t he wor l d.
Mar y had met her once at a par t y at t he pr esi dent i al pal ace. " I have
some t i cket s i f you' r e i nt er est ed. "
" No, t hanks. " She t hought of t he l ast t i me Mi ke had gi ven her t i cket s.
Besi des, she was di ni ng at t he Chi nese embassy.
. As MARY was dr essi ng f or di nner t hat eveni ng she f el t suddenl y
exhaust ed. She sank down on t he bed. I wi sh I di dn' t have t o go out
t oni ght , she t hought wear i l y. But I have t o. My count r y i s dependi ng
on me.
The eveni ng was a bl ur of t he same f ami l i ar di pl omat i c cor ps f aces. Mar y
had onl y a hazy r ecol l ect i on of t he ot her s at her t abl e.
She coul d not wai t t o get home.
When she awoke t he f ol l owi ng mor ni ng, she was f eel i ng wor se.
Her head ached, and she was nauseat ed. I t t ook al l of her wi l l power t o
get dr essed and go t o t he embassy.
Mi ke Sl ade was wai t i ng i n her of f i ce, cof f ee i n hand. He t ook one l ook
at her and sai d, " You don' t l ook t oo wel l . You okay?"
" I ' mj ust t i r ed. "
" What you need i s some cof f ee. I t wi l l per k you up. No pun i nt ended. "
He handed her a cup. " Maybe you shoul d f l y t o Fr ankf ur t and see our
doct or t her e. "
Mar y shook her head. " I ' mal l r i ght . " Her voi ce was sl ur r ed.
The onl y t hi ng t hat made her f eel sl i ght l y bet t er was a vi si t f r omEddi e
Mal t z.
" I have t he i nf or mat i on you r equest ed, " he sai d. " Desf or ges was mar r i ed
f or f our t een year s. Wi f e' s name, Ren6e. Two daught er s, Phi l l i ps and
Genevi eve. They wer e mur der ed i n Al ger i a by t er r or i st s, as an act of
vengeance agai nst t he doct or , who was f i ght i ng i n t he under gr ound. Do
you need any f ur t her i nf or mat i on?"
" No, " Mar y sai d. " That ' s f i ne. Thank you. "
By mi daf t er noon Mar y was f eel i ng hot and f ever i sh, and she cal l ed Loui s
t o cancel di nner . She f el t t oo i l l t o see anybody. She wi shed t hat t he
Amer i can doct or wer e i n Buchar est . Per haps Loui s woul d know what was
wr ong wi t h her . I f I don' t get over t hi s, she t ol d her sel f , I ' l l cal l
hi mback.
Dor ot hy had t he nur se send up some aspi r i n f r omt he phar macy.
I t di d not hel p.
Somehow Mar y managed t o st r uggl e t hr ough t he r est of t he
eveni ng and when she f i nal l y ar r i ved home, she f el l st r ai ght i nt o bed.
Her whol e body ached, and she coul d f eel t hat her t emper at ur e had
cl i mbed. I ' mYeal l y i l l , she t hought . I f eel as t hough I ' mdyi ng. Wi t h
an enor mous ef f or t she r eached out and pul l ed t he bel l cor d. Car men,
her mai d, appear ed.
She l ooked at Mar y i n al ar m. " MadamAmbassador l What - " Mar y' s voi ce was
a cr oak. " Pl ease cal l t he Fr ench embassy. I need Dr . Desf or ges. "
MARY opened her eyes and bl i nked. Ther e wer e t wo bl ur r ed Loui s f i gur es
bendi ng over her .
" What ' s happeni ng t o you?" He f el t her f or ehead. I t was hot t o t he
t ouch. " Have you t aken your t emper at ur e?"
" I don' t want t o know. " I t hur t t o t al k.
Loui s sat down on t he edge of t he bed. " Dar l i ng, when di d you st ar t
f eel i ng t hi s way?"
" The day af t er we got back f r omt he mount ai ns. "
Loui s f el t her pul se. I t was weak and t hr eat l y. He smel l ed her br eat h.
" Have you eat en somet hi ng t oday wi t h gar l i c?"
She shook her head. " I ' ve har dl y eat en al l day. "
He gent l y l i f t ed her eyel i ds. " Have you been t hi r st y?"
She nodded.
" Pai n, muscl e cr amps, vomi t i ng, nausea?
" Yes. What ' s t he mat t er wi t h me, Loui s?"
" Do you f eel l i ke answer i ng some quest i ons?"
She swal l owed. " I ' l l t r y. "
He hel d her hand. " Do you r emember havi ng anyt hi ng t o eat or dr i nk t hat
made you f eel i l l af t er war d?"
She shook her head.
" Do you eat br eakf ast her e at t he r esi dence wi t h t he chi l dr en?"
" Usual l y, yes, " she whi sper ed.
" And t he chi l dr en ar e f eel i ng wel l ?"
She nodded.
" What about l unch? Do you eat at t he same pl ace ever y day?"
" No. Somet i mes t he embassy, somet i mes r est aur ant s. "
" I s t her e any one pl ace you r egul ar l y have di nner , or anyt hi ng you
r egul ar l y eat ?"
She cl osed her eyes.
He shook her gent l y. " Mar y, l i st en t o me. " Ther e was an ur gency i n hi s
voi ce. " I s t her e any per son you eat wi t h const ant l y?"
She bl i nked up at hi msl eepi l y. " No. " Why was he aski ng al l t hese
quest i ons? " I t ' s a vi r us, " she mumbl ed. " I sn' t i t ?"
He t ook a deep br eat h. " No. Someone i s poi soni ng you. "
I t sent a bol t of el ect r i ci t y- t hr ough her body. She opened her eyes
wi de. " What ? I don' t bel i eve i t . "
He was f r owni ng. " I woul d say i t was ar seni c poi soni ng, except t hat
ar seni c i s not f or sal e i n Remani a. "
Mar y f el t a sudden t r emor of f ear . " Who- who woul d be t r yi ng t o poi son
me?"
He squeezed her hand. " Dar l i ng, you' ve got t o t hi nk. Ar e you sur e
t her e' s no set r out i ne you have wher e someone gi ves you somet hi ng t o eat
or dr i nk ever y day?"
" Of cour se not , " Mar y pr ot est ed weakl y. " I t ol d you, I Cof f ee. Mi ke
Sl ade. My own speci al br ew. " Oh, no! "
" What i s i t ?"
She cl ear ed her t hr oat and managed t o whi sper , " Mi ke Sl ade br i ngs me
cof f ee ever y mor ni ng. "
Loui s st ar ed at her . " Your deput y chi ef ? But what r eason woul d he have
f or t r yi ng t o ki l l you?"
" He- he want s t o get r i d of me. "
" We' l l t al k about t hi s l at er , " Loui s sai d ur gent l y. " The f i r st t hi ng we
have t o do i s t r eat you. I ' mgoi ng t o get somet hi ng f or you. I ' l l be
back i n a f ew mi nut es. "
Mar y l ay t her e t r yi ng t o gr asp t he meani ng of what Loui s had t ol d her .
What you need i s some cof f ee. I t wi l l make you f eel bet t er . I br ew i t
mysel f .
She dr i f t ed of f i nt o unconsci ousness and was awakened by Loui s' s voi ce.
" Mar y! "
She f or ced her eyes open. Loui s was at her bedsi de, t aki ng a syr i nge
out of a smal l bag.
He l i f t ed her ar m. " I ' mgoi ng t o gi ve you an i nj ect i on of BAL.
I t ' s an ant i dot e f or ar seni c. I ' mgoi ng t o al t er nat e i t wi t h
peni ci l l ami ne. Mar y?" She was asl eep.
The f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Loui s gave Mar ) i anot her i nj ect i on, and anot her
one i n t he eveni ng. The ef f ect s of t he dr ugs wer e mi r acul ous. The
sympt oms began t o di sappear . The f ol l owi ng day Mar y f el t dr ai ned and
weak, as t hough she had gone t hr ough a l ong i l l ness, but al l t he pai n
and di scomf or t wer e gone.
" Thi s i s t wi ce you' ve saved my l i f e. "
Loui s l ooked at her sober l y. " I t hi nk we' d bet t er f i nd out who' s t r yi ng
t o t ake i t . "
" How do we do t hat ?"
" I ' ve been checki ng ar ound at t he var i ous embassi es. None of t hem
car r i es ar seni c. I have not beenabl e t o f i nd out about t he Amer i can
embassy. So what I want you t o do i s go t o t he embassy phar macy. Tel l
t hemyou need a pest i ci de. Say t hat you' r e havi ng t r oubl e wi t h i nsect s
i n your gar den. Ask f or Ant r ol . That ' s l oaded wi t h ar seni c. "
Mar y l ooked at hi m, puzzl ed. " What ' s t he poi nt ?"
" My hunch i s t hat t he ar seni c had t o be f l own i nt o Buchar est . I f i t i s
anywher e, i t wi l l be i n t he embassy phar macy. Anyone who checks out a
poi son must si gn f or i t . When you si gn f or t he Ant r ol , see what names
ar e on t he sheet . "
MARY wal ked down t he l ong cor r i dor t o t he embassy phar macy, wher e t he
nur se was wor ki ng behi nd t he cage. " Good mor ni ng, MadamAmbassador . Ar e
you f eel i ng bet t er ?"
" Yes, t hank you. "
" Can I get you somet hi ng?"
Mar y t ook a ner vous br eat h. " My- my gar dener t el l s me he' s havi ng
t r oubl e wi t h i nsect s i n t he gar den. I wonder ed whet her you mi ght have
somet hi ng t o hel p, l i ke Ant r ol ?"
. " Why, yes. As a mat t er of f act , we do. " The nur se r eached t owar d a
back shel f and pi cked up a can wi t h a poi son l abel on i t .
" You' l l have t o si gn f or i t , i f you don' t mi nd. I t has ar seni c i n i t . "
Mar y was st ar i ng at t he f or mpl aced i n f r ont of her . Ther e was onl y one
name on i t . Mi ke Sl ade.
Chapt er Ten
WHEN Mar y t r i ed t o t el ephone Loui s Desf or ges t o t el l hi mwhat she had
l ear ned, hi s l i ne was busy. He was on t he phone wi t h Mi ke Sl ade. Dr .
Desf or ges' s f i r st i nst i nct had been t o r epor t t he mur der at t empt except
t hat he coul d not bel i eve Sl ade was r e sponsi bl e. And so Loui s had
deci ded t o t el ephone Sl ade hi msel f " I have j ust l ef t your ambassador , "
Loui s Desf or ges sai d. " She i s goi ng t o l i ve. "
" Wel l , t hat ' s good news, DOCt or . Why shoul dn' t she?"
Loui s' s t one was caut i ous. " Someone has been poi soni ng her . "
" What ar e you t al ki ng about ?" Mi ke demanded.
" I t hi nk per haps you know what I ' mt al ki ng about . "
" Hol d i t ! Ar e you sayi ng t hat you t hi nk I ' mr esponsi bl e? You and I had
bet t er have a pr i vat e t al k somepl ace wher e we can' t be over hear d. Can
you meet me t oni ght ?"
" At what t i me?" asked Loui s.
" I ' mt i ed up unt i l ni ne o' cl ock. Why don' t you meet me a f ew mi nut es
af t er , at Bi neasa For est . I ' l l meet you at t he f ount ai n and expl ai n
ever yt hi ng t hen. "
Loui s hesi t at ed. " Ver y wel l . I wi l l see you t her e. " He hung up and
t hought , Mi ke Sl ade cannot possi bl y be behi nd t hi s.
When Mar y t r i ed t o t el ephone Loui s agai n, he had l ef t . No one knew
wher e t o r each hi m.
MARY and t he chi l dr en wer e havi ng di nner at t he r esi dence.
" You l ook a l ot bet t er , " Bet h sai d. " We wer e wor r i ed. "
" I f eel f i ne, " Mar y assur ed her . And i t was t he t r ut h. Thank God f or
Loui s l She coul d hear Mi ke Sl ade. Her e' s your cof f ee. I br ewed i t
mysel f . Sl owl y ki l l i ng her . She shudder ed.
" Ar e you col d?" Ti masked.
" No, dar l i ng. " Mar y was t hi nki ng, I - must not i nvol ve t he chi l dr en i n my
' ni ght mar es. Besi des, t her e i s onl y one per son who can hel p me. St ant on
Roger s. But what pr oof do I have? That Mi ke Sl ade made cof f ee f or me
ever y mor ni ng?
Bet h was t al ki ng t o her . " So can we wat ch a movi e t oni ght ?"
Mar y had not pl anned on r unni ng a movi e, but she had spent so l i t t l e
t i me wi t h t he chi l dr en l at el y t hat she deci ded t o gi ve t hema t r eat .
" Yes. "
" Thank you, MadamAmbassador , " Ti mshout ed. " Can we see Amer i can
Gr af f i t i agai n?"
Amer i can Gr af f i t i . And suddenl y Mar y knew what pr oof she mi ght show
St ant on Roger s.
At mi dni ght she asked Car men t o cal l a t axi .
" Don' t you want Fl or i an t o dr i ve you?" Car men asked.
" No. " Thi s had t o be done secr et l y.
" GooD eveni ng, MadamAmbassador , " sai d t he mar i ne guar d when Mar y
emer ged f r omt he t axi . " Can I hel p you?"
" No, t hank you. I ' mgoi ng t o my of f i ce f or a f ew mi nut es. "
The mar i ne wal ked her t o t he ent r ance and opened t he door f or her . He
wat ched her wal k up t he st ai r s t o her of f i ce.
Mar y t ur ned t he l i ght s on and l ooked at t he wal l wher e t he r ed scr awl
had been washed away. She wal ked over t o t he connect i ng door t hat l ed
t o Mi ke Sl ade' s of f i ce and ent er ed. The r oomwas i n dar kness. She
t ur ned on t he l i ght s.
Ther e wer e no paper s on hi s desk. The dr awer s wer e empt y, except f or
br ochur es and t i met abl es, i nnocent t hi ngs t hat woul d be of no use t o a
snoopi ng cl eani ng woman. Mar y' s eyes scr ut i ni zed t he of f i ce. I t had t o
be her e somewher e.
She opened t he dr awer s agai n and st ar t ed exami ni ng t hei r cont ent s sl owl y
and car ef ul l y. When she came t o a bot t omdr awer , she f el t somet hi ng
har d at t he back, behi nd a mass of paper s. She . pul l ed i t out and hel d
i t i n her hand, st ar i ng at i t .
I t was - a can of r ed spr ay pai nt .
AT A f ew mi nut es af t er ni ne p. m. Dr . Loui s Desf or ges was wai t i ng i n
Bi neasa For est , near t he f ount ai n. He wonder ed i f he had done t he wr ong
t hi ng by not r epor t i ng Mi ke Sl ade. No, he t hought . Fi r st I must hear
what he has t o say. I f I made a f al se accusat i on, i t woul d dest r oy hi m.
Mi ke Sl ade appear ed suddenl y out of t he dar kness. " Thanks f or comi ng.
We can cl ear t hi s up ver y qui ckl y. You sai d you t hought someone was
poi soni ng Mar y Ashl ey. "
: , know i t . Someone was f eedi ng her ar seni c. "
" And you t hi nk I ' mr esponsi bl e?"
" You coul d have put i t i n her cof f ee a l i t t l e bi t at a t i me. "
: , Have you r epor t ed t hi s t o anyone?"
" Not yet . I want ed t o t al k t o you f i r st . "
I ' mgl ad you di d, " Mi ke sai d. He t ook hi s hand out of hi s pocket . I n
i t was a - 357- cal i ber Magnumpi st ol .
Loui s st ar ed. " What - what ar e you doi ng? Li st en t o me! You can' t - " "
Mi ke Sl ade pul l ed t he t r i gger and wat ched t he Fr enchman' s chest expl ode
i nt o a r ed cl oud.
MARY was i n t he bubbl e r oomt el ephoni ng St ant on Boger s of f i ce on t he
secur e l i ne. I t was si x p. m. i n Washi ngt on and one o' cl ock i n t he
mor ni ng i n Buchar est . " Thi s i s Ambassador Ashl ey.
I know t hat Mr . Roger s i s i n Chi na wi t h t he Pr esi dent , but i t ' s ur gent
t hat I speak t o hi m. I s t her e any way I can r each hi mt her e?"
" I ' msor r y, MadamAmbassador . Hi s i t i ner ar y i s ver y f l exi bl e. I have
no t el ephone number f or hi m. "
Mar y f el t her hear t pl ummet . " When wi l l you hear f r omhi m?"
" I t ' s di f f i cul t t o say. They have a ver y busy schedul e. Per haps
someone i n t he St at e Depar t ment coul d hel p you. "
" No, " Mar y sai d dul l y. " No one el se can hel p me. Thank you ver y much. "
Ther e she sat , sur r ounded by t he most sophi st i cat ed el ect r oni c equi pment
i n t he wor l d, and none of i t was of any use t o her .
Mi ke Sl ade was t r yi ng t o mur der her . She had t o l et someone know. But
whomcoul d she t r ust ? The onl y one who knew what Mi ke Sl ade was t r yi ng
t o do was Loui s Desf or ges.
Mar y t r i ed t he number at hi s r esi dence agai n, but t her e st i l l was no
answer . She r emember ed what St ant on Roger s had t ol d her : " I f you have
any messages t hat you want t o send t o me wi t hout anyone el se r eadi ng
t hem, t he code at t he t op of t he message i s t hr ee x' s. "
Mar y hur r i ed back t o her of f i ce and wr ot e out an ur gent message. She
pl aced t hr ee x' s at t he t op, t ook out t he bl ack code book f r oma l ocked
dr awer i n her desk, and car ef ul l y encoded what she had wr i t t en. At
l east i f anyt hi ng happened t o her now, St ant on Roger s woul d know who was
r esponsi bl e.
Mar y wal ked down t he cor r i dor t o t he communi cat i ons r oom.
Eddi e Mal t z, t he CI A agent , happened t o be behi nd t he cage.
" Good eveni ng, MadamAmbassador . You' r e wor ki ng l at e. "
" Yes. Ther e' s a message I want sent of f r i ght away. "
" I ' l l t ake car e of i t per sonal l y. "
" Thank you. " She handed i t t o hi mand headed f or t he door .
When Eddi e Mal t z f i ni shed decodi ng t he message, he r ead i t t hr ough
t wi ce, f r owni ng. He wal ked over t o t he shr edder and wat ched t he message
t ur n i nt o conf et t i .
Then he pl aced a cal l t o Fl oyd Baker , t he Secr et ar y of St at e, i n
Washi ngt on. Code name: Thor .
I T TOOK Ley Past emak t wo mont hs t o f ol l ow t he ci r cui t ous t r ai l t hat l ed
t o Buenos Ai r es. SI S and hal f a dozen ot her secur i t y agenci es ar ound
t he wor l d had hel ped i dent i f y Angel as t he ki l l er . Mossad had gi ven hi m
t he name of Neusa Muf i ez, Angel ' s mi st r ess. They al l want ed t o
el i mi nat e Angel . To Ley Past emak, Angel had become an obsessi on.
Because of Past emak' s f ai l ur e, Mar i n Gr oza had di ed, and Past emak coul d
never f or gi ve hi msel f f or t hat . He coul d, however , make at onement .
He l ocat ed t he bui l di ng wher e Neusa Muez l i ved and kept wat ch on i t ,
wai t i ng f or Angel t o appear . Af t er f i ve days, when t her e was no si gn of
hi m, Past emak made hi s move. He wai t ed unt i l t he woman l ef t , and af t er
f i f t een mi nut es wal ked upst ai r s, pi cked t he l ock on her door , and
ent er ed t he apar t ment . He sear ched i t swi f f l y and t hor oughl y. Ther e
wer e no phot ogr aphs, memos, or addr esses t hat coul d l ead hi mt o Angel .
Past emak di scover ed t he sui t s i n t he cl oset . He exami ned t he Hef f er a
l abel s, t ook one of t he j acket s of f t he hanger , and t ucked i t under hi s
ar m. A mi nut e l at er he was gone.
The f ol l owi ng mor ni ng Ley Past emak wal ked i nt o Hef f er a' s.
Hi s hai r was di shevel ed and hi s cl ot hes wer e wr i nkl ed, and he smel l ed of
whi skey.
The manager of t he men' s shop came up t o hi mand sai d di sappr ovi ngl y,
" May I hel p you, senor ?"
Ley Past emak gr i nned sheepi shl y. " Yeah, " he sai d. " Tel l you t he t r ut h,
I got i n a car d game l ast ni ght . We al l got dr unk.
Anyway, we ended up i n my hot el r oom. One of t he guys- I don' t r emember
hi s name- l ef t hi s j acket t her e. " Ley hel d up t he' j acket . " I t had your
l abel i n i t , so I f i gur ed you coul d t el l me wher e t o r et ur n i t t o hi m. "
. The manager exami ned t he j acket . " Yes, we t ai l or ed t hi s.
Pl ease wai t . "
A f ew mi nut es l at er t he man r et ur ned. " The name of t he gent l eman we
made t he j acket f or i s H. R. de Mendoza. He has a sui t e at t he Aur or a
Hot el , sui t e f our sevent een. "
AT FOUR a. m. Ley Past emak was si l ent l y movi ng down t he deser t ed
f our t h- f l oor cor r i dor of t he Aur or a Hot el . When he r eached 417, he
l ooked ar ound t o make sur e no one was i n si ght .
He r eached down t o t he l ock and i nser t ed a wi r e. When he hear d t he door
cl i ck open, he pul l ed out a . 45- cal i ber SI G- Sauer pi st ol wi t h a
si l encer .
He sensed a dr af t as t he door acr oss t he hal l opened, and bef or e he
coul d swi ng ar ound, he f el t somet hi ng har d and col d pr essi ng. agai nst
t he back of hi s neck.
" I don' t l i ke bei ng f ol l owed, " Angel sai d.
Ley Past emak hear d t he cl i ck of t he t r i gger a second bef or e hi s br ai n
was t or n apar t .
THE t el ephone cal l had come, and i t was t i me t o move. Fi r st Angel had
some shoppi ng t o do. Ther e was a good l i nger i e shop on
Pueyr r ed6n- expensi ve, but Neusa deser ved t he, best . The i nsi de of t he
shop was cool and qui et .
" I woul d l i ke t o see a negl i gee, somet hi ng ver y f r i l l y, " Angel sai d.
The f emal e cl er k st ai ed.
" The best you have. "
Fi f t een mi nut es l at er Angel l ef t t he shop and hai l ed a t axi .
Angel gave t he dr i ver an addr ess on Humber t o, al i ght ed a bl ock away, and
hai l ed anot her t axi .
" A d6nde, por f avor ?"
" Aer opuer t o. "
Ther e woul d be a t i cket f or London wai t i ng t her e. Tour i st .
Fi r st cl ass was t oo conspi cuous.
Two hour s l at er Angel wat ched t he ci t y of Buenos Ai r es di sappear beneat h
t he cl ouds, l i ke some cel est i al magi ci an' s t r i ck, and concent r at ed on
t he assi gnment ahead, t hi nki ng about t he i nst r uct i ons t hat had been
gi ven. Make sur e t he chi l dr en di e wi t h her . Thei r deat hs must be
spect acul ar .
Angel smi l ed and f el l i nt o a deep, dr eaml ess sl eep.
THE PAsSpoRT R= " H. R. DE Mendoza. " The t i cket at London' s Heat hr ow
Ai r por t was on TAROM Ai r l i nes, t o Buchar est .
Angel sent a t el egr am. f r omt he ai r por t : ARRI VI NG WEDNESDAY. H. R.
DE MENDOZA.
I t was addr essed t o Eddi e Mal t z.
I N t he mor ni ng Mar y kept t r yi ng t o phone Loui s at home. No answer . She
t r i ed t he Fr ench embassy. They had no i dea wher e he was. " Pl ease have
hi mcal l me as soon as you hear f r omhi m. "
She r epl aced t he r ecei ver . Ther e was not hi ng t o do but wai t .
A f ew mi nut es l at er Dor ot hy St one, her secr et ar y, came i nt o Mar y' s
of f i ce. " Ther e' s a cal l f or you, but she r ef uses t o gi ve her name.
" I ' l l t ake i t . " Mar y pi cked up t he phone. " Hel l o, t hi s i s Ambassador
Ashl ey. "
A sof t f emal e voi ce wi t h a Remani an accent sai d, " Thi s i s Cor i na
Socol i . " The bal l er i na' s name r egi st er ed i nst ant l y.
" I need your hel p, " t he gi r l sai d. " I have deci ded t o def ect . "
I can' t handl e t hi s t oday, Mar y t hought . Not now. She sai d, " I - I don' t
know i f I can hel p you. " Her mi nd was r aci ng. She t r i ed t o r emember
what she had been t ol d about def ect or s: " Many of t hemar e Sovi et pl ant s.
We don' t gr ant pol i t i cal asyl umunl ess t her e' s a damgood r eason. "
Cor i na Socol i was sobbi ng. " Pl ease. I amnot saf e st ayi ng wher e I am.
You must send someone t o get me. "
" Wher e ar e you?" Mar y asked.
Ther e was a pause. Then, " I amat t he Roscow I nn, i n Mol davi a. Wi l l
you come f or me?"
" I can' t , " Mar y sai d. " But I ' l l send someone t o get you. Don' t cal l
on t hi s phone agai n. j ust wai t wher e you ar e. I - "
The door opened, and Mi ke Sl ade wal ked i n. Mar y l ooked up i n shock. He
was movi ng t owar d her .
The voi ce on t he phone was sayi ng, " Hel l o? Hel l o?"
" Who ar e you t al ki ng t o?" Mi ke asked.
" To- t o Dr . Desf or ges. " She r epl aced t he r ecei ver , t er r i f i ed.
" He' s- he' s on hi s way over t o see me. " Don' t be r i di cul ous, she t ol d
her sel f . You' r e i n t he embassy. He woul dn' t dar e do anyt hi ng t o you
her e.
Ther e was a st r ange l ook i n Mi ke' s eyes. " Ar e you sur e you' r e wel l
enough t o be back at wor k?"
The ner ve. " Yes. I ' mf i ne. " She was f i ndi ng i t har d t o br eat he.
Her i nt er comphone r ang. " I f you' l l excuse me . . - " Sur e. " Mi ke Sl ade
st ood t her e st ar i ng at her , t hen t ur ned and l ef t .
Al most over come wi t h r el i ef , Mar y pi cked up t he t el ephone.
" Hel l o?"
I t was j er r y Davi s, t he publ i c af f ai r s consul . " MadamAmbassador , I ' m
sor r y t o di st ur b you, but I ' maf r ai d I have some t er r i bl e news. Dr .
Loui s Desf or ges has been mur der ed. "
The r oombegan t o swi m. " Ar e you- ar e you sur e?"
" Yes, ma' am. Hi s wal l et was f ound on hi s body. "
Sensor y memor i es f l ooded t hr ough her , and a voi ce over t he t el ephone was
sayi ng, " Thi s i s Sher i f f Monst er . Your husband has been ki l l ed i n a car
acci dent . " And al l t he ol d sor r ows came r ushi ng back, st abbi ng at her ,
t ear i ng her apar t .
" How di d i t happen?" Her voi ce was st r angl ed.
" He was shot t o deat h. "
" Do t hey- do t hey know who di d i t ?"
" No, ma' am. The Secur i t at e . 4nd t he Fr ench embassy ar e i nvest i gat i ng. "
Mar y dr opped t he r ecei ver , her mi nd and body numb, and l eaned back i n
her chai r , st udyi ng t he. cei l i ng. Ther e was a cr ack i n i t . I must
have t hat r epai r ed, Mar y t hought . We must n' t have cr acks i n our
embassy. Ther e' s anot her - cr ack. Cr acks ever ywher e, and when t her e i s a
cr ack, evi l t hi ngs get i n. Edwar d i s dead.
Loui s i s dead. I can' t go t hr ough t hi s pai n agai n. Who woul d want t o
ki l l Loui s?
The answer i mmedi at el y f ol l owed t he quest i on. Mi ke Sl ade.
Loui s had di scover ed t hat Sl ade was f eedi ng Mar y ar seni c. Sl ade
pr obabl y t hought t hat wi t h Loui s dead, no one coul d pr ove anyt hi ng
agai nst hi m. A sudden r eal i zat i on f i l l ed her wi t h a new t er r or . Who
ar e you t al ki ng t o? But Mi ke must have known t hat Desf or ges was dead.
Mar y st ayed i n her of f i ce al l mor ni ng, pl anni ng her next move.
I ' mnot goi ng t o l et Mi ke Sl ade dr i ve me away, she deci ded. I ' mnot
goi ng t o l et hi mki l l me. I have t o st op hi m. She was f i l l ed wi t h a
r age such as she had never known bef or e. She was goi ng t o pr ot ect
her sel f and her chi l dr en. And she was goi ng t o dest r oy Mi ke Sl ade.
" MadamAmbassador . . . " Dor ot hy St one was hol di ng an envel ope out t o her .
" The guar d at t he gat e asked me t o gi ve you t hi s. "
The envel ope was mar ked " Per sonal . For t he amba , ssador ' s eyes onl y. "
Mar y t or e i t open. The not e was wr i t t en i n a neat copper pl at e
handwr i t i ng. I t r ead:
Dear MadamAmbassador :
Enj oy your l ast day on ear t h.
Angel
Anot her one of Mi ke' s scar e t act i cs, Mar y t hought . I t won' t wor k. I ' l l
keep wel l away f r omhi m.
COLONEL MCKi nney was st udyi ng t he not e. He l ooked up at Mar y. " You
wer e schedul ed t o appear t hi s af t er noon at t he gr ound br eaki ng f or t he
new l i br ar y addi t i on. I ' l l cancel i t and- "
" No. "
" MadamAmbassador , i t ' s t oo danger ous f or you t o- "
" I ' l l be saf e. " She knew wher e t he danger l ay, and she had a pl an.
" Pl ease t el l Mi ke Sl ade t hat I wi sh t o see hi mr i ght away. "
" You want ed t o t al k t o me?" Mi ke Sl ade' s t one was casual .
" I r ecei ved a cal l f r omsomeone who want s t o def ect . "
" Who i s i t ?"
She had no i nt ent i on of t el l i ng hi m. He woul d bet r ay t he gi r l .
" That ' s not i mpor t ant . I want you t o br i ng t hi s, per son i n. "
Mi ke f r owned. " Thi s coul d l ead t o a l ot of - "
Mar y cut hi mshor t . " I want you t o go t o t he ] Roscow I nn at Mol davi a
and pi ck her up. "
He st ar t ed t o ar gue, unt i l he saw t he expr essi on on her f ace. " I f
t hat ' s what you want , I ' l l send- "
" No. " Mar y' s voi ce was st eel . " I want you t o go. I ' msendi ng t wo men
wi t h you. " Wi t h Gunny and anot her mar i ne al ong, Mi ke woul d not be abl e
t o pl ay any t r i cks. She had t ol d Gunny not t o l et Mi ke Sl ade out of hi s
si ght .
Mi ke was st udyi ng Mar y, puzzl ed. " I have a heavy schedul e, " he began.
" I want you t o l eave i mmedi at el y. Gunny i s wai t i ng f or you i n your
of f i ce. You' r e t o br i ng t he def ect or back her e t o me. "
Mi ke nodded sl owl y. " Al l r i ght . "
Mar y wat ched hi mgo, wi t h a f eel i ng of r el i ef so i nt ense t hat she f el t
gi ddy. Wi t h Mi ke Sl ade out of t he way, she woul d be saf e.
THE gr ound- br eaki ng cer emony f or t he new Amer i can l i br ar y addi t i on was
schedul ed t o be hel d at f our o' cl ock at Al exandr u Sahi a Squar e, i n a
vacant l ot next t o t he mai n l i br ar y bui l di ng. By t hr ee p. m. a l ar ge
cr owd had al r eady gat her ed. Capt ai n Aur el I st r ase, head of t he
Secur i t at e, had been t ol d of t he deat h t hr eat and had or der ed al l
aut omobi l es r emoved f r omt he squar e, so t hat t her e was no danger of a
car bomb. I n addi t i on, pol i ce had been st at i oned ar ound t he ent i r e ar ea
and a shar pshoot er was on t he r oof of t he l i br ar y. At a f ew mi nut es
bef or e f our , bomb exper t s swept t he ar ea and f ound no expl osi ves;
ever yt hi ng was i n r eadi ness f or Mar ) l s ar r i val .
As Mar y wal ked f r omher l i mousi ne t owar d t he l ot wher e t he cer emony was
t o t ake pl ace, t wo ar med - member s of t he Secur i t at e wal ked i n f r ont of
her and t wo behi nd her , shi el di ng her wi t h t hei r bodi es.
The onl ooker s appl auded as she st epped i nt o t he smal l ci r cl e t hat had
been cl ear ed f or her . The cr owd was a mi xt ur e of Romamans, Amer i cans,
and at t aches f r omot her embassi es i n Buchar est . As Mar y l ooked at t he
peopl e she t hought , I shoul d never have come her e. I ' mt er r i f i ed.
Col onel McKi nney was sayi ng, " Ladi es and gent l emen, i t i s my honor t o
pr esent t he ambassador f r omt he Uni t ed St at es of Amer i ca. " ' The cr owd
appl auded.
Mar y t ook a deep br eat h and began. " Thank you.
She had been so caught up i n t he mael st r omof event s of t he past week
t hat she had not pr epar ed a speech, but some deep wel l spr i ng wi t hi n her
gave her t he wor ds. She f ound her sel f sayi ng, " What we ar e doi ng her e
t oday may seema smal l t hi ng, but i t i s i mpor t ant , because i t i s one
mor e br i dge bet ween our count r y and al l t he count r i es of East er n Eur ope.
The new bui l ddi ng we ar e dedi cat i ng her e t oday wi l l be f i l l ed wi t h
i nf or mat i on about t he Uni t ed St at es of Amer i ca. . . . . .
Col onel McKi nney and hi s men wer e movi ng t hr ough t he cr owd. The not e
had sai d " Enj oy your l ast day on ear t h. " When di d t he ki l l er ' s day end?
Si x p. m. ? Ni ne? Mi dni ght ?
On t he f ar si de of t he squar e a car suddenl y r aced past t he pol i ce
bar r i er and scr eamed t o a st op. at t he cur b. As a st ar t l ed pol i ceman
moved t owar d i t t he dr i ver j umped out and began r unni ng away. As he
r an, he pul l ed a devi ce f r omhi s pocket and pr essed i t . The car
expl oded, sendi ng out a shower of met al i nt o t he er . owd. None of i t
r eached t he cent er , " wher e Mar y was st andi ng, but t he spect at or s began t o
pani c, t r yi ng t o get away. The shar pshoot er on t he r oof r ai sed hi s
r i f l e and put a bul l et t hr ough t he f l eei ng man' s hear t bef or e he coul d
escape.
I t t ook t he Remani an pol i ce an hour t o cl ear t he cr owd away and r emove
t he body. The f i r e depar t ment had put out t he f l ames of t he bur ni ng
car ' . Mar y was dr i ven back t o t he embassy, shaken.
" Ar e you sur e you woul dn' t pr ef er t o go t o t he r esi dence and r est ?"
Col onel McKi nney asked her . " You' ve j ust been t hr ough a hor r i f yi ng
exper i ence. "
" No, " Mar y sai d st ubbor nl y. " The embassy. " That was t he onl y pl ace
wher e she coul d saf el y t al k t o St ant on Roger s. I must t al k t o hi msoon,
she t hought , or I ' l l go t o pi eces.
The st r ai n of ever yt hi ng t hat was happeni ng t o her was becomi ng
unbear abl e. She had made sur e t hat Mi ke Sl ade was saf el y. out of t he
way, yet an at t empt had st i l l been made on her l i f e. So he was not
wor ki ng al one.
AT si x o' cl ock Mi ke Sl ade wal ked i nt o Mar y' s of f i ce. He was f ur i ous. " I
put Cor i na Socol i i n a r oomupst ai r s" , he sai d cur t l y.
" Ni ce shot , not t o t el l me who I was pi cki ng up. You' ve made a bi g
mi st ake. We have t o r et ur n her . She' s a nat i onal t r easur e. The
Romani an gover nment woul d never al l ow her out of t he count r y. " Col onel
McKi nney hur r i ed i nt o t he of f i ce. He st opped shor t as he saw Mi ke. " We
have an i dent i f i cat i on on t he dead man. He' s Angel , al l r i ght . Hi s
r eal name i s H. R. de Mendoza. "
Mi ke was st ar i ng at hi m. " What ar e you t al ki ng about ?"
" Di dn' t t he ambassador t el l you? She r ecei ved a deat h war ni ng f r om
Angel . He t r i ed t o assassi nat e her at t he gr ound- br eaki ng cer emony t hi s
af t er noon. One of I st r ase' s men got hi m. "
Mi ke st ood t her e, hi s eyes f i xed on Mar y. " Wher e' s t he body?" he asked
McKi nney.
" I n t he mor gue at pol i ce headquar t er s. "
THE body was l yi ng on a st one sl ab. He had been an or di nar yl ooki ng man,
of medi umhei ght , wi t h a smal l , t hi n nose t hat went wi t h hi s t i ght
mout h, ver y smal l f eet , and t hi nni ng hai r . Hi s bel ongi ngs wer e pi l ed on
a t abl e.
Mi ke exami ned t he j acket l abel . I t was f r oma shop i n Buenos Ai r es. The
l eat her shoes al so had an Ar gent i nean l abel . Mi ke t ur ned t o t he
ser geant . " What do you have on hi m?"
" He f l ew i n f r omLondon on TAROM Ai r l i nes t wo days ago, checked i nt o t he
I nt er cont i nent al under t he name of de Mendoza.
Hi s passpor t shows hi s home addr ess as Buenos Ai r es. I t i s f or ged. He
does not l ook l i ke an i nt er nat i onal ki l l er , does he?"
" No, " Mi ke agr eed. " He doesn' t . "
Two dozen bl ocks away Angel was wal ki ng past t he r esi dence.
The phot ogr aphs t hat had been sent wer e excel l ent , but Angel bel i eved i n
per sonal l y checki ng out ever y det ai l .
, Angel gr i nned at t he t hought of t he har ade i n t he t own squar e.
I t had been chi l d' s pl ay t o hi r e a j unki e f or t he pr i ce of a nose- f ul of
cocai ne. I t t hr ew ever yone of f guar d. Let t hemsweat . But t he bi g
event i s yet t o come, Angel t hought . For f i ve mi l l i on dol l ar s I wi l l
gi ve t hema show t hey wi l l never f or get . What do t he t el evi si on
net wor ks cal l t hem? Spect acul ar s. They wi l l get a spect acul ar i n
l i vi ng col or .
Ther e wi l l be a Four t h of J ul y cel ebr at i on at t he r esi dence , t he voi ce
had sai d. " Ther e wi l l be bal l oons, a mar i ne band, ent er t ai ner s. " Angel
smi l ed and t hought , A f i ve- mi l l i on- dol l ar spect acul ar .
STANr oN Roger s was on t he l i ne f r omWashi ngt on. Mar y gr abbed t he
pr i vat e phone i n t he bubbl e r oomas i f i t wer e a l i f el i ne.
" Mar y, I can' t under st and a wor d you' r e sayi ng. Sl ow down. "
" I ' msor r y, St an. Di dn' t you get my cabl e?"
" No. I ' ve j ust r et ur ned. Ther e was no cabl e f r omyou. What ' s wr ong?"
Mar y f ought t o cont r ol her hyst er i a, t hi nki ng, Wher e shoul d I begi n? She
t ook a deep br eat h, and sai d, " Mi ke Sl ade i s t r yi ng t o mur der me. "
Ther e was a shocked si l ence. " Mar y, you can' t bel i eve- "
" I t ' s t r ue. I know i t i s. I met a doct or f r omt he Fr ench embassyLoui s
Desf or ges. I became i l l , and he f ound out I was bei ng poi soned wi t h
ar seni c. Mi ke was doi ng i t . "
Roger s' voi ce was shar p. " What makes you t hi nk t hat ?"
" Loui s- Dr . Desf or ges- f i gur ed i t out . Mi ke Sl ade made cof f ee f or me
ever y mor ni ng, wi t h ar seni c i n i t . I have pr oof t hat he got hol d of t he
ar seni c. Last ni ght Loui s was mur der ed, and t hi s af t er noon someone
wor ki ng wi t h Sl ade t r i ed t o assassi nat e me. "
Thi s t i me t he si l ence was even l onger .
When St ant on Roger s spoke agai n, hi s t one was ur gent . " What I ' mgoi ng
t o ask you i s ver y i mpor t ant , Mar y. Thi nk car ef al l y.
Coul d i t have been anyone besi des Mi ke Sl ade?"
" No. He' s been t r yi ng t o get me out f r omt he begi nni ng. "
" Al l r i ght , " Roger s sai d cr i spl y. " I ' l l i nf or mt he Pr esi dent .
We' l l handl e Sl ade. I ' l l al so ar r ange ext r a pr ot ect i on f or you. "
" St an, Sunday ni ght I ' mgi vi ng a Four t h of J ul y par t y at t he r esi dence.
Do you t hi nk I shoul d cancel i t ?"
Ther e was a t hought f ul si l ence. " As a mat t er of f act , t he par t y mi ght
be a good i dea. Keep a l ot of peopl e ar ound you. Mar y, I don' t want t o
f r i ght en you any mor e t han you al r eady ar e, but I woul d suggest t hat you
not l et t he chi l dr en out of your si ght . Not f or a mi nut e. Sl ade mi ght
t r y t o get at you. t hr ough t hem. "
She f el t a shudder go t hr ough her . " Why i s Sl ade doi ng t hi s?"
" I wi sh I knew. I t makes no sense. But I ' mgoi ng t o f i nd out . I n t he
meant i me, keep as f ar away f r omhi mas you possi bl y can. "
When Mar y hung up, i t was as t hough an enor mous bur den had been l i f t ed
f r omher shoul der s.
EDDi E Mal t z answer ed on t he f i r st r i ng. The conver sat i on l ast ed f or t en
mi nut es.
" I ' l l make sur e ever yt hi ng i s t her e, " Eddi e pr omi sed.
Angel hung up.
Eddi e Mal t z t hought , I wonder what Angel needs al l t hat st uf f f or . He
l ooked at hi s wat ch. For t y- ei ght hour s t o go.
THE moment St ant on Roger s f i ni shed t al ki ng t o Mar y, he pl aced an
emer gency cal l t o Col onel McKi nney. " I want you t o pi ck up Mi ke Sl ade, "
he sai d. " Hol d hi mi n cl ose cust ody unt i l you hear f r omme. "
" Mi ke Sl ade?" asked t he col onel i ncr edul ousl y.
" I want hi mhel d and i sol at ed. He' s pr obabl y ar med and danger ous. Don' t
l et hi mt al k t o anyone. Cal l me back at t he Whi t e House as soon as you
have hi m. "
" Yes, si r . "
Two hour s l at er St ant on Roger s' phone r ang. He snat ched up t he
r ecei ver .
" I t ' s Col onel . McKi nney, Mr . Roger s. "
" Do you have Sl ade?"
" No, si r . Ther e' s a pr obl em. Mi ke Sl ade has di sappear ed. "
Sof i a, Bul gar i a. Sat ur day, J ul y 3- I n a smal l , nondescr i pt bui l di ng, a
gr oup of East er n Commi t t ee member s was meet i ng. Seat ed ar ound t he t abl e
wer e power f ul r epr esent at i ves f r omRussi a, Chi na, Czechosl ovaki a,
Paki st an, I ndi a, and Mal aysi a.
The chai r man was speaki ng. " We wel come our br ot her s and si st er s on t he
East er n Commi t t ee who have j oi ned us t oday. I amhappy t o t el l you t hat
we have excel l ent news f r omt he West er n Commi t t ee. The f i nal phase of
our pl an i s about t o be successf ul l y concl uded. I t wi l l happen t omor r ow
ni ght at t he Amer i can ambassador ' s r esi dence i n Buchar est . Ar r angement s
have been made f or i nt er nat i onal pr ess and t el evi si on cover age. "
Code name Kal i spoke. " The Amer i can ambassador and her t wo chi l dr en- "
" Wi l l be assassi nat ed, al ong wi t h a hundr ed or so ot her Amer i cans. We
ar e al l awar e of t he gr ave r i sks and t he hol ocaust t hat may f ol l ow. I t
i s t i me t o put t he mot i on t o a vot e. " He st ar t ed at t he f ar end of t he
t abl e. " Br ahma?"
" Yes. "
" Vi shnu?"
" Yes. "
" Kr i shna?"
" Yes. "
When ever yone had vot ed, t he chai r man decl ar ed, " I t i s unani mous. We
owe a par t i cul ar vot e of t hanks t o t he per son who has hel ped so much t o
br i ng t hi s about . " He t ur ned t o t he Amer i can.
" My pl easur e, " Mi ke Sl ade sai d.
THE decor at i ons f or t he Four t h of J ul y par t y wer e f l own i nt o Buchar est
l at e Sat ur day af t er noon and t r ucked di r ect l y t o a Uni t ed St at es
gover nment war ehouse. The car go consi st ed of a t housand r ed, whi t e, and
bl ue bal l oons packed i n f l at . boxes, t hr ee st eel cyl i nder s of hel i umt o
bl ow up t he bal l oons, t wo hundr ed and f i f t y r ol l s of st r eamer s, par t y
f avor s, noi semaker s, a dozen banner s, and si x dozen mi ni at ur e Amer i can
f l ags. The car go. was unl oaded i n t he war ehouse at ei ght p. m. Two hour s
l at er a j eep ar r i ved wi t h t hr ee oxygen cyl i nder s st amped wi t h U. S. Ar my
mar ki ngs. The dr i ver pl aced t hemi nsi de.
At one a. m. , when t he war ehouse was deser t ed, Angel appear ed. The
war ehouse door had been l ef t unl ocked. Angel went i nsi de, exami ned t he
cyl i nder s car ef ul l y, and went t o wor k. The f i r st t ask was t o empt y t he
t hr ee hel i umt anks unt i l each was onl y one- t hi r d f ul l . Af t er t hat , t he
r est was si mpl e.
AT si x o' cl ock on t he eveni ng Of J ul y 4 a U. S. Ar my t r uck pul l ed up t o
t he ser vi ce ent r ance of t he r esi dence and was st opped. The guar d sai d,
" What have you got i n t her e?"
" Goodi es f or t he par t y t oni ght . "
" Let ' s t ake a l ook. " The guar d i nspect ed t he i nsi de of t he t r uck.
" What ' s i n t he boxes?"
" Some hel i umand bal l oons and f l ags and st uf f . "
" Open t hem. "
Fi f t een mi nut es l at er t he t r uck was passed t hr ough. I nsi de t he compound
a mar i ne cor por al and t wo mar i ne guar ds unl oaded t he equi pment and
car r i ed i t i nt o a st or age r oomof f t he bal l r oom.
As t hey began t o unpack, Eddi e Mal t z wal ked i n, accompani ed by a
st r anger wear i ng ar my f at i gues.
One guar d sai d, " Who' s goi ng t o bl ow up al l t hese bal l oons?"
" Don' t wor r y, " Eddi e Mal t z sai d. " Thi s i s t he age of t echnol ogy. " He
nodded t owar d t he st r anger . " Her e' s t he one t hat ' s i n char ge of t he
bal l oons. Col onel McKi nney' s or der s. "
The ot her guar d gr i nned at t he st r anger . " ' Bet t er you t han me. "
The t wo guar ds f i ni shed unpacki ng and l ef t .
" You have an hour , " Eddi e Mal t z t ol d t he st r anger . " Bet t er get t o
wor k. " Mal t z nodded t o t he cor por al and wal ked out .
The cor por al wal ked over t o one of t he cyl i nder s. " What ' s i n t hese
babi es?"
" Hel i um, " t he st r anger sai d cur t l y.
As t he cor por al st ood wat chi ng, t he st r anger pi cked up a bal l oon, put
t he neck t o t he nozzl e of a cyl i nder f or an i nst ant , and, as t he bal l oon
f i l l ed, t i ed of f t he neck. The bal l oon f l oat ed t o t he cei l i ng. The
whol e oper at i on t ook no mor e t han a second.
" Hey, t hat ' s gr eat . " The cor por al smi l ed.
I N HER Of f i ce at t he embassy Mar y Ashl ey was f i ni shi ng UP some act i on
cabl es. She desper at el y wi shed t he par t y coul d have been cal l ed of f
Ther e wer e goi ng t o be mor e t han t wo hundr ed guest s. She hoped Mi ke
Sl ade was caught bef or e t he par t y began.
Ti mand Bet h wer e under const ant super vi si on at t he r esi dence. How
coul d Mi ke bear t o har mt hem? He' s not sane, she t hought .
Mar y r ose t o put some paper s i nt o t he shr edder , and f r oze.
Mi ke Sl ade was wal ki ng i nt o her of f i ce t hr ough t he connect i ng door . She
opened her mout h t o scr eam.
She was t er r i f i ed. He coul d ki l l her bef or e she coul d cal l f or hel p,
and he coul d escape t he same way he had come i n.
" Col onel McKi nney' s men ar e l ooki ng f or you. You - can ki l l me, " Mar y
sai d def i ant l y, " but you' l l never escape. "
Angel ' s t he one who' s t r yi ng t o ki l l you, " Mi ke sai d.
" You' r e a l i ar . Angel i s dead. I saw hi mshot . "
" Angel i s a pr of essi onal f r omAr gent i na. The l ast t hi ng he woul d do i s
wal k ar ound wi t h Ar gent i ne l abel s i n hi s cl ot hes. The sl ob t he pol i ce
ki l l ed was an amat eur who was set up. "
" I don' t bel i eve a wor d you' r e sayi ng, " Mar y sai d. " You ki l l ed Dr .
Desf or ges. You t r i ed t o poi son me. Do you deny t hat ?"
Mi ke st udi ed her f or a l ong moment . " No. I don' t deny i t , but you' d
bet t er hear t he st or y f r oma f r i end of mi ne. " He t ur ned t owar d t he door
t o hi s of f i ce. " Come i n, Bi l l . "
Col onel McKi nney wal ked i nt o t he r oom. " I t hi nk i t ' s t i me we al l had a
chat , MadamAmbassador . . .
I N t he r esi dence st or age r oomt he st r anger i n ar my f at i gues was f i l l i ng
t he bal l oons under t he wat chf ul eye of t he cor por al .
Boy, t hat ' s one ugl y cust omer , t he cor por al t hought . Whewl The cor por al
coul d not under st and why t he whi t e bal l oons wer e bei ng f i l l ed f r omone
cyl i nder , t he r ed bal l oons f r oma second cyl i nder , and t he bl ue ones
f r oma t hi r d. Why not use each cyl i nder unt i l i t ' s empt y? he wonder ed.
He was t empt ed t o ask, but he di d not want t o st ar t a conver sat i on. Not
wi t h t hi s one.
" LET' s st ar t at t he begi nni ng, " Col onel McKi nney sai d. " On I naugur at i on
Day when t he Pr esi dent announced t hat he want ed t o open r el at i ons wi t h
ever y i r on cur t ai n count r y, he expl oded a bombshel l . Ther e' s a f act i on
i n our gover nment t hat ' s convi nced t hat i f we get t oo i nvol ved wi t h t he
East er n bl oc, t he Communi st s wi l l dest r oy us. On t he ot her si de of t he
i r on cur t ai n t her e ar e Communi st s who bel i eve t hat our Pr esi dent ' s pl an
i s a t r i ck- a Tr oj an hor se t o br i ng our capi t al i st spi es i nt o t hei r
count r i es. A gr oup of power f ul men on bot h si des had f or med a
super secr et al l i ance, cal l ed Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom. They deci ded t he
onl y way t o dest r oy t he Pr esi dent ' s pl an was t o l et hi mst ar t i t , and
t hen t o sabot age i t i n such a dr amat i c way t hat i t woul d never be t r i ed
agai n. That ' s wher e you came i nt o t he pi ct ur e. "
" But why me? Why was I chosen?"
" Because t he packagi ng was i mpor t ant , " Mi ke sai d. " You wer e exact l y t he
i mage t hey needed- Mr s. Amer i ca, wi t h t wo squeakycl ean ki ds. They wer e
det er mi ned t o have you. When your husband got i n t he wa . way, t hey
mur der ed hi mand made i t l ook l i ke an acci dent so you woul dn' t have any
suspi ci ons and r ef use t he post . "
Mar y coul d not speak. The hor r or of what Mi ke was sayi ng was t oo
appal l i ng.
" Thei r next st ep was your bui l dup. They used t hei r pr ess connect i ons
ar ound t he wor l d and saw t o i t t hat you became ever yone' s dar l i ng- t he
beaut i f ul l ady who was goi ng t o l ead t he wor l d down t he r oad t o peace. "
" And- and now?"
Mi ke' s voi ce gent l ed. " Thei r pl an i s t o assassi nat e you and t he
chi l dr en as shocki ngl y as possi bl e- t o si cken t he wor l d so much t hat i t
woul d put an end t o any f ur t her i deas of ddt ent e. "
Mar y sat t her e i n st unned si l ence.
" That st at es i t bl unt l y but accur at el y, " Col onel McKi nney sai d qui et l y.
" Mi ke i s wi t h t he CI A. Af t er your husband and Mar i n Gr oza wer e
mur der ed, Mi ke st ar t ed t o get on t he t r ai l of Pat r i ot s f or Fr eedom. They
t hought he was on t hei r Ode and i nvi t ed hi mt o j oi n.
" we t al ked t he i dea over wi t h Pr esi dent El l i son, and he gave hi s
appr oval . The Pr esi dent has been kept abr east of ever y devel opment . Hi s
over r i di ng concer n has been t hat you and t he chi l dr en be pr ot ect ed, but
he dar ed not di scuss what he knew wi t h you or anyone el se, because Ned
Ti l l i ngest , head of t he CI A, had war ned hi mt hat t her e wer e hi gh- l evel
l eaks. "
Mar y' s head was spi nni ng. She sai d t o Mi ke, " But you t r i ed t o ki l l me. "
He si ghed. " Lady, I ' ve been t r yi ng t o save your l i f e. You haven' t made
i t easy. I t r i ed ever y way I knew how t o get you t o t ake t he ki ds and
go home, wher e you' d be saf e. "
" But you poi soned me. "
" Not f at al l y. I want ed t o get you j ust si ck enough so t hat you' d have
t o l eave Remani a. Our doct or s wer e wai t i ng f or ' you i n Fr ankf ur t . I
coul dn' t t el l you t he t r ut h, because i t woul d have bl own t he whol e
oper at i on. Even now, we don' t know who put t he or gani zat i on t oget her .
He never at t ends meet i ngs. He' s known onl y as t he Cont r ol l er . "
" And Loui s?"
" The doct or was one of t hem. He was Angel ' s backup. He was an
expl osi ves exper t . A phony ki dnappi ng was set up, and you wer e r escued
by Mr . Char m. " Mi ke saw t he expr essi on on Mar y I s f ace. " You wer e
l onel y and vul ner abl e, and t hey wor ked on t hat .
You wer en' t t he f i r st one t o f al l f or t he good doct or . "
Somet hi ng bot her ed Mar y. " But Mi ke, why di d you ki l l Loui s?"
" I had no choi ce. The whol e poi nt of t hei r pl an was t o mur der you, and
t he chi l dr en as publ i cl y and spect acul ar l y as possi bl e.
Loui s knew I was a member of t he Commi t t ee. Poi soni ng wasn' t t he way
you wer e supposed t o di e. When he f i gur ed out t hat I was poi soni ng you,
he became suspi ci ous of me. I had t o ki l l hi mbef or e he exposed me t o
t he Commi t t ee. "
Mar y sat t her e l i st eni ng as t he pi eces of t he puzzl e f el l i nt o pl ace.
The man she had di st r ust ed had poi soned her t o keep her al i ve, and t he
man she t hought she l oved had saved her f or a mor e dr amat i c deat h. She
and her chi l dr en had been used. I was t he J udas goat , Mar y t hought . Al l
t he war mt h t hat ever yone showed me was phony. The onl y one who was r eal
was St ant on Roger s.
Or was he? " St ant on, " Mar y began. " I s he- "
" He' s been pr ot ect i ve of you al l t he way, " Col onel McKi nney assur ed her .
" When he t hought Mi ke was t he one t r yi ng t o ki l l you, he or der ed me t o
ar r est hi m. "
Mar y l ooked at Mi ke. He had been sent her e t o pr ot ect her , and al l t he
t i me she had l ooked on hi mas t he enemy. Her t hought s wer e i n a
t ur moi l . " Then Loui s never di d have a wi f e or chi l dr en?"
" No. "
Mar y r emember ed somet hi ng. " But I asked Eddi e Mal t z t o check, and he
t ol d me t hat Loui s was mar r i ed and had t wo daught er s. "
Mi ke and Col onel McKi nney exchanged a l ook.
" He' l l be t aken car e of , " McKi nney sai d. " I sent hi mt o Fr ankf ur t . I ' l l
have hi mpi cked up. "
" Who i s Angel ?" Mar y asked.
Mi ke answer ed, " He' s an assassi n f r omSout h Amer i ca. He' s pr obabl y t he
best i n t he wor l d. The Commi t t ee agr eed t o pay hi mf i ve mi l l i on dol l ar s
t o ki l l you. "
Mar y l i st ened t o t he wor ds i n di sbel i ef .
Mi ke went on. " We know he' s i n Buchar est , but we don' t have a si ngl e
descr i pt i on of Angel . He uses a dozen di f f er ent passpor t s.
No one has ever t al ked di r ect l y t o hi m. They deal t hr ough hi s mi st r ess,
Neusa Muf i ez. The var i ous gr oups i n t he Commi t t ee ar e so
compar t ment al i zed t hat I haven' t been abl e t o l ear n what Angel ' s pl an
i s. "
" What ' s t o st op hi mf r omki l l i ng me?"
" Us, " sai d Col onel McKi nney. " Wi t h t he hel p of t he Remani an gover nment
we' ve t aken ext r aor di nar y pr ecaut i ons f or t he par t y.
We' ve cover ed ever y possi bl e cont i ngency. "
" What happens now?" Mar y asked.
Mi ke sai d car ef ul l y, " That ' s up t o you. Angel was or der ed t o car r y out
t he cont r act at your par t y t oni ght . We' r e sur e we can cat ch hi m, but i f
you and t he chi l dr en ar en' t at t he par t y . .
" You' r e aski ng me t o set mysel f up as a t ar get ?"
Col onel McKi nney sai d, " You don' t have t o agr ee. "
I coul d end t hi s now, Mar y sai d t o her sel f . I coul d go back t o Kansas
wi t h t he chi l dr en and l eave t hi s ni ght mar e behi nd. Angel woul d f or get
about me. She l ooked up at Mi ke and Bi l l McKi nney and sai d, " I won' t
expose my chi l dr en t o danger . "
McKi nney sai d, " I can ar r ange f or Bet h and Ti mt o be spi r i t ed out of t he
r esi dence and t aken her e under escor t . "
Mar y l ooked at Mi ke f or a l ong t i me. Fi nal l y she spoke. " How does a
J udas goat dr ess?"
Chapt er El even
Ther e was a t r emendous f eel i ng of exci t ement i n t he ai r . Hundr eds of
cur i ous Remani ans had gat her ed out si de t he r esi dence, whi ch was r i nged
wi t h huge spot l i ght s t hat l i t up t he sky. The cr owd was kept i n or der
by a det achment of Amer i can MPs and Remani an pol i ce. Pl ai n cl ot hes men
mi ngl ed wi t h t he mul t i t ude, l ooki ng f or anyt hi ng suspi ci ous. Some of
t hemmoved ar ound wi t h t r ai ned pol i ce dogs t hat wer e sni f f i ng f or
expl osi ves.
The pr ess cover age was enor mous. Ther e wer e phot ogr apher s and r epor t er s
f r oma dozen count r i es. They had al l been car ef ul l y checked and t hei r
equi pment sear ched bef or e t hey wer e al l owed t o' ent er t he r esi dence.
" A cockr oach coul dn' t sneak i nt o t hi s pl ace t oni ght , " t he mar i ne of f i cer
i n- char ge of secur i t y boast ed.
I N THE st or age r oomt he mar i ne cor por al was get t i ng bor ed wat chi ng t he
per son i n ar my f at i gues f i l l i ng up t he bal l oons. He pul l ed out a
ci gar et t e and st ar t ed t o l i ght i t .
Angel yel l ed, " Put t hat out ! "
The cor por al l ooked up, st ar t l ed. " What ' s t he pr obl em? You' r e f i l l i ng
t hose wi t h hel i um, ar en' t you? Hel i umdoesn' t bur n. "
" Put i t out ! Col onel McKi nney sai d no smoki ng her e. "
Gr umbl i ng, t he cor por al put out t he ci gar et t e.
Angel wat ched t o make sur e t her e wer e no spar ks l ef t , t hen t ur ned back
t o t he t ask of f i l l i ng each bal l oon f r oma di f f er ent cyl i nder .
I t was t r ue t hat hel i umdi d not bur n, but t he cyl i nder s wer e not f i l l ed
wi t h hel i um. The f i r st t ank was f i l l ed wi t h pr opane, t he second t ank
wi t h whi t e phosphor us, and t he t hi r d wi t h an oxygen- acet yl ene mi x. Angel
had l ef t j ust enough hel i umi n each t ank t o make t he bal l oons r i se.
Angel was f i l l i ng t he whi t e bal l oons wi t h pr opane, t he r ed bal l oons wi t h
oxygen- acet yl ene, and t he bl ue bal l oons wi t h whi t e phosphor us. When t he
bal l oons wer e expl oded, t he whi t e phosphor us woul d act as an i ncendi ar y
f or t he i ni t i al gas di schar ge, dr awi ng i n oxygen so t hat al l br eat h
woul d be sucked out of t he body of anyone wi t hi n f i f t y yar ds. The
phosphor us woul d i nst ant l y t ur n t o a hot , scar i ng mol t en l i qui d, f al l i ng
on ever y per son i n t he r oom. The t her mal ef f ect woul d dest r oy t he l ungs
and t hr oat , and t he bl ast woul d f l at t en an ar ea of a squar e bl ock.
I t ' s goi ng t o be beaut i f ul , Angel t hought .
Angel st r ai ght ened up and l ooked at t he col or f ul bal l oons f l oat i ng
agai nst t he cei l i ng of t he st or age r oom. " I amf i ni shed. "
" Okay. " The cor por al cal l ed f our mar i ne guar ds who wer e st at i oned i n t he
bal l r oomi t sel f . . " Hel p me get t hese bal l oons out t her e. "
One of t he guar ds opened wi de t he door s t o t he bal l r oom, whi ch was
al r eady cr owded wi t h guest s. The r oomhad been decor at ed wi t h Amer i can
f l ags and r ed, whi t e, and bl ue st r eamer s. At t he f ar end was a
r ai sed' st and f or t he band.
" I t ' s a l ovel y r oom, " Angel sai d, t hi nki ng, I n one hour i t wi l l be
f i l l ed wi t h bur ned cor pses. " Coul d I t ake a pi ct ur e of i t ?"
The cor por al shr ugged. " Why not ? Let ' s go, f el l as. "
The mar i nes pushed past Angel and st ar t ed shovi ng t he i nf l at ed bal l oons
i nt o t he bal l r oom. " Easy, " Angel war ned. " Easy. "
" Don' t wor r y, " a mar i ne cal l ed. " We won' t br eak your pr eci ous
bal l oons. "
Angel st ood i n t he door way, st ar i ng at t he r i ot of col or s ascendi ng i n a
r i si ng r ai nbow, and smi l ed. One t housand of t he l et hal l i t t l e beaut i es
nest l ed agai nst t he cei l i ng. Angel t ook a camer a f r oma pocket and
st epped i nt o t he bal l r oom.
" Heyl You' r e not al l owed i n her e, " t he cor por al sai d.
" I j ust want t o t ake a pi ct ur e t o show my daught er . "
I ' l l bet t hat ' s some l ooki ng daught er , t he cor por al t hought
sar doni cal l y. " Al l r i ght . But make i t qui ck. "
Angel gl anced acr oss t he r oom. Ambassador Mar y Ashl ey was ent er i ng
wi t h her t wo chi l dr en. Angel gr i nned. Per f ect t i mi ng.
When t he cor por al t ur ned hi s back, Angel qui ckl y set t he camer a down
under a cl ot h- cover ed t abl e. The aut omat i c t i mi ng devi ce was set f or a
one- hour del ay. Ever yt hi ng was r eady.
Fi ve mi nut es l at er Angel was out si de t he r esi dence, st r ol l i ng down
Al exandr u Sahi a St r eet .
BEFORE t he par t y began, Mar y had t aken t he chi l dr en upst ai r s.
She f el t she owed t hemt he t r ut h.
They sat l i st eni ng, wi de- eyed, as Mar y expl ai ned what had been happeni ng
and what mi ght be about t o happen.
" You' l l be t aken out of her e, wher e you' l l be saf e, " she sai d.
" But what about you?" Bet h asked. " Can' t you come wi t h us?"
" No, dar l i ng. Not i f we want t o cat ch t hi s man. "
Ti mwas t r yi ng not t o cr y. " How do you know t hey' l l cat ch hi m?" Mar y
t hought about t hat a moment , and sai d, " Because Mi ke Sl ade sai d so. "
Okay, f el l as?"
Bet h and Ti ml ooked at each ot her . They wer e bot h whi t ef aced,
t er r i f i ed. Mar y' s hear t went out t o t hem. They' r e t oo young t o have t o
go t hr ough t hi s, she t hought .
Fi f t een mi nut es l at er Mar y, Bet h, and Ti ment er ed t he bal l r oom. They
wal ked acr oss t he f l oor , gr eet i ng guest s, t r yi ng t o conceal t hei r
ner vousness. When t hey r eached t he ot her si de of t he r oom, Mar y t ur ned
t o t he chi l dr en. " You have t o get up ver y ear l y t omor r ow, " she sai d
l oudl y. " Back t o your r ooms. "
The moment t he chi l dr en l ef t t he bal l r oom, t hey wer e escor t ed t o t he
ser vi ce ent r ance by Col onel McKi nney. He sai d t o t he t wo ar med mar i nes
wai t i ng at t he door , " Take t hemt o t he embassy.
Don' t l et t hemout of your si ght . "
Mi ke Sl ade wat ched t heml eave, t hen went t o f i nd Mar y.
" The chi l dr en ar e on t hei r way. I have t o do some checki ng. I ' l l be
back. "
Mar y t r i ed t o st op t he poundi ng of her hear t . How was Angel pl anni ng t o
assassi nat e her ? She l ooked ar ound t he f est i ve bal l r oom, but t her e was
no cl ue.
" Don' t l eave me. " The wor ds came out bef or e she coul d st op her sel f " I
want t o go wi t h you. I f eel saf er wi t h you. "
Mi ke gr i nned. " Now, t hat ' s a swi t ch. Come on. "
Mar y f ol l owed hi m, st ayi ng cl ose behi nd. The or chest r a had begun
pl ayi ng, and peopl e wer e danci ng. Those who wer e not danci ng wer e
hel pi ng t hemsel ves f r omt he si l ver t r ays of champagne bei ng of f er ed, or
f r omt he buf f et t abl es.
The r ooml ooked spect acul ar . Mar y r ai sed her head, and t her e wer e t he
bal l oons, a t housand of t hem- r ed, whi t e, and bl uef l oat i ng agai nst t he
pi nk cei l i ng. Her ner ves wer e so t aut t hat she was f i ndi ng i t di f f i cul t
t o br eat he. Angel coul d be wat chi ng her . t hi s ver y mi nut e.
" Do you t hi nk Angel i s her e now?- she asked.
" don' t kno*, " Mi ke sai d. He saw t he expr essi on on her f ace.
Look, i f you want t o l eave- "
" No. I ' mt he bai t . Wi t hout me, he won' t spr i ng t he t r ap. "
He nodded and squeezed her ar m. " Rl i ght . "
Col onel McKi nney appr oached. " We' ve done a t hor ough sear ch, Mi ke. We
haven' t f ound a t hi ng. I don' t l i ke i t . "
" Pl ees t ake anot her l ook ar ound. " Mi ke si gnal ed t o f our ar med, mar i nes
st andi ng by, and t hey moved up next t o Mar y. " Be r i ght back, " Mi ke
sai d.
Mar y swal l owed ner vousl y. " Pl ease. "
Mi ke and McKi nney, accompani ed by t wo guar ds wi t h sni f f er dogs, sear ched
ever y r oomi n t he r esi dence. They f ound not hi ng suspi ci ous.
I n one of t he guest r ooms, i t s door guar ded by mar i nes, was Cor i na
Socol i , l yi ng on t he bed r eadi ng a book. Young and beaut i f ul and
t al ent ed, t he Remani an nat i onal t r easur e. Coul d she be a pl ant ? Coul d
she be hel pi ng Angel ?
They r et ur ned t o t he ki t chen.
" What about poi son?" asked McKi nney.
" Not phot ogeni c enough. Angel ' s goi ng f or t he bi g bang. "
" Mi ke, t her e' s no way anyone coul d get expl osi ves i nt o t hi s pl ace. The
pl ace i s cl ean. "
" Ther e' s one way. "
McKi nney l ooked at Mi ke. " How?"
" I don' t know. But Angel knows. "
They sear ched t he l i br ar y and t he of f i ces agai n. Not hi ng. They passed
t he st or age r oom, wher e t he cor por al was shovi ng out a f ew bal l oons t hat
had been l ef t behi nd. He wat ched t hemf l oat t o t he cei l i ng.
" Pr et t y, huh?" t he cor por al sai d.
" Yeah, " Mi ke sai d. He st ar t ed t o wal k on, t hen st opped. " Cor por al ,
wher e di d t hese bal l oons come f r om?"
" Fr omt he U. S. ai r base i n Fr ankf ur t , si r . "
Mi ke i ndi cat ed t he hel i umcyl i nder s. " And t hese?"
" Same pl ace. They wer e escor t ed t o our war ehouse per Col onel McKi nney' s
i nst r uct i ons, si r . "
Mi ke sai d t o McKi nney, " Let ' s check upst ai r s agai n. "
They t ur ned t o l eave. The cor por al sai d, " Oh, Col onel , t he per son you
sent f or got t o l eave a t i me sl i p. I s t hat goi ng t o be handl ed by
mi l i t ar y payr ol l or ci vi l i an?"
Col onel McKi nney f r owned. " What per son?"
" The one you aut hor i zed t o f i l l t he bal l oons. "
" I never - Who sai d I aut hor i zed i t ?"
" Eddi e Mal t z. He sai d youMcKi nney sai d, " Eddi e Mal t z?"
Mi ke t ur ned t o t he cor por al , hi s voi ce ur gent . " What di d t hi s man l ook
l i ke?"
" Oh, i t wasn' t a man, si r . I t was a woman. To t el l you t he t r ut h, I
t hought she l ooked wei r d. Fat and ugl y. She had a f unny accent .
She was pockmar ked and had ki nd of a puf f y f ace. "
Mi ke sai d t o McKi nney, " That sounds a l ot l i ke t he descr i pt i on of Neusa
Muf i ez t hat Har r y l ant z gave t he Commi t t ee. "
The r evel at i on hi t t hembot h at t he same t i me.
Mi ke sai d sl owl y, " Oh, my Godl Neusa Muez i s Angel l " He poi nt ed t o t he
cyl i nder s. " She f i l l ed t he bal l oons f r omt hese?"
" Yes, si r . I t was f unny. I l i t a ci gar et t e, and she scr eamed at me t o
put i t out . I sai d. " Hel i umdoesn' t bur n, " and she sai d- "
Mi ke l ooked up. " The bal oons! The expl osi ves ar e i n t he bal oons! " The
t wo men st ar ed at t he hi gh cei l i ng cover ed wi t h t he spect acul ar r ed,
whi t e, and bl ue bal l oons.
" She must be usi ng some ki nd of a r emot e- cont r ol devi ce t o expl ode
t hem. " Mi ke t ur ned t o t he cor por al . " How l ong ago di d she l eave?"
" I guess about an hour ago. "
UNDER t he t abl e, unseen, t he t i mi ng devi ce had si x mi nut es l ef t .
Mi ke was f r ant i cal l y scanni ng t he r oom. " She coul d have put t he t i mer
anywher e. I t coul d go of f any second. We' l l never f i nd i t . "
Mar y was appr oachi ng. Mi ke t ur ned t o her . " You' ve got t o cl ear t he
r oom. Fast ! Make an announcement . I t wi l l sound bet t er comi ng f r om
you. Get ever ybody out si de. "
She was l ooki ng at hi m, bewi l der ed. " But why?"
" We f ound our pl aymat e' s t oy, " Mi ke sai d gr i ml y. He poi nt ed.
Those bal l oons. They' r e l et hal . "
Mar y was l ooki ng up at t hem, hor r or on her f ace. " Can' t we t ake t hem
down?"
Mi ke snapped, " Ther e ar e hundr eds of t hem. By t he t i me- "
Mar y' s t hr oat was so dr y she coul d har dl y get t he wor ds out .
" Mi ke . . . I know a way. " The t wo men st ar ed at her . " The
Ambassador ' s Fol l y. The r oof I t sl i des open. "
Mi ke t r i ed t o cont r ol hi s exci t ement . " How does i t wor k?"
: " Ther e' s a swi t ch t hat - "
" No, " Mi ke sai d. " Not hi ng el ect r i cal . A spar k coul d set t hemal l of f .
Can i t be done manual l y?"
" Yes. The r oof i s di vi ded i n hal f Ther e' s a cr ank on each si de t hat - "
She was t al ki ng t o her sel f The t wo men wer e f r ant i cal l y r aci ng upst ai r s.
When t hey r eached t he t op f l oor , t hey f ound a door openi ng ont o a l of t
and hur r i ed i nsi de. A wooden l adder l ed t o a cat wal k above t hat was
used by wor kmen when t hey cl eaned t he bal l r oomcei l i ng. A cr ank was
f ast ened t o t he wal l .
" Ther e must be anot her one on t he ot her si de, " Mi ke sai d.
He st ar t ed acr oss t he nar r ow cat wal k, pushi ng hi s way t hr ough t he sea of
deadl y bal l oons, st r uggl i ng t o keep hi s bal ance, t r yi ng not t o l ook down
at t he mob of peopl e f ar bel ow. A cur r ent of ai r pushed a mass of
bal l oons agai nst hi m, and he sl i pped. One f oot went of f t he cat wal k. He
began t o f al l . He gr abbed t he boar ds as he f el l , hangi ng on. Sl owl y he
managed t o pul l hi msel f up. He was soaked i n per spi r at i on. He i nched
hi s way al ong t he r est of t he wal k. Fast ened t o t he wal l was t he cr ank.
" I ' mr eady, " Mi ke cal l ed t o t he col onel , who was hi dden f r omsi ght by
t he bal l oons. " Car ef ul . No sudden moves. "
" Ri ght . "
Mi ke began t ur ni ng t he cr ank ver y sl owl y.
Under t he t abl e, t he t i mer was down t o t wo mi nut es.
Mi xe coul d hear t he ot her cr ank bei ng t ur ned. Sl owl y, ver y Sl owl y, t he
r oof st ar t ed t o sl i de open. A f ew bal l oons dr i f t ed i nt o t he ni ght ai r ,
and as t he r oof opened f ar t her , mor e bal l oons began t o escape. Hundr eds
of t hempour ed t hr ough t he openi ng, danci ng i nt o t he st ar - f i l l ed ni ght ,
dr awi ng oohs and aahs f r omt he unsuspect i ng guest s bel ow and t he peopl e
out i n t he st r eet .
Under t he t abl e, t her e wer e f or t y- f i ve seconds r emai ni ng on t he
r emot e- cont r ol t i mer . A cl ust er of bal l oons caught on t he edge of t he
cei l i ng, j ust out of Mi ke' s r each. He l eaned f or war d, t r yi ng t o f r ee
t hem. They swayed j ust beyond hi s f i nger t i ps. Car ef ul l y he moved out
on t he cat wal k, wi t h not hi ng t o hol d on t o, and st r ai ned t o push t he
bal l oons f r ee. Now! Mi ke st ood t her e wat chi ng t he l ast of t he bal l oons
- escape. They soar ed hi gher and hi gher , pai nt i ng t he vel vet ni ght wi t h
t hei r vi vi d col or s, and suddenl y t he - sky expl oded.
Ther e Was a t r emendous r oar , and t he t ongues of r ed and whi t e f l ames
shot hi gh i nt o t he ai r . I t was a Four t h of J ul y cel ebr at i on such as
hoi d never been seen bef or e. Bel ow, ever yone appl auded.
Mi ke wat ched, dr ai ned, t oo t i r ed t o move. I t was over .
The r oundup was t i med t o t ake pl ace si mul t aneousl y, i n f ar f l ung cor ner s
of t he wor l d.
Fl oyd Baker , t he Secr et ar y of St at e, was wi t h hi s mi st r ess when t he door
bur st open. Four men came i nt o t he r oom. " FBI , Mr . Secr et ar y. You' r e
under ar r est . "
" You must be mad. What ' s t he char ge?"
" Tr eason, Thor . "
Gener al Ol i ver Br ooks, Odi n, was havi ng br eakf i t st at hi s cl ub when t wo
FBI agent s wal ked up t o hi s t abl e and ar r est ed hi m.
I n London, Si r Al ex Hyde- Whi t e, K. B. E. , M. P. , one of t he seni or heads of
t he Br i t i sh Secr et I nt el l i gence, Ser vi ce, code nwne Fr eyr , was bei ng
t oast ed at a par l i ament ar y di nner when t he cl ub st ewar d appr oached hi m.
" Excuse me, Si r Al ex. Ther e ar e some gent l emen out si de who woul d l i ke a
wor d wi t h you. . . . "
I n Par i s, i n t he Chambr e des D, 6put ds de l a Rdpubl i que Fr angai se, a
deput y, Bal der , was cal l ed of f t he f l oor .
I n t he par l i ament bui l di ng i n New Del hi , t he speaker of t he' Lok Sabha,
Vi shnu, was t aken t o j ai l .
I n Rome, a deput y of t he Camer a dei Deput at i , Tyr , was i n a Tur ki sh bat h
when he was ar r est ed.
The sweep went on. I n Mexi co and Al bani a and J apan, hi gh of f i ci al s wer e
ar r est ed. A member of t he Bundest ag i n West Ger many, a deput y i n t he
Nat i onal r at i n Aust r i a, t he vi ce- chai r man of t he Pr esi di umof t he Sovi et
Uni on. The ar r est s i ncl uded t he pr esi dent of a l ar ge shi ppi ng company
and a power f ul uni on l eader , a t el esi on evangel i st and t he head of an
oi l car t el .
Eddi e Mal t z was shot whi l e t r yi ng t o escape.
Pet e Connor s commi t t ed sui ci de whi l e FBI agent s wer e br eaki ng down t he
door t o hi s of f i ce.
MARY Ashl ey and Mi ke Sl ade wer e i n t he bubbl e r oomr ecei vi ng t el ephone
r epor t s f r omar ound t he wor l d. Mi ke r epl aced t he r ecei ver and t ur ned t o
Mar y. " They' ve got most of t hem. Except f or t he Cont r ol l er and Neusa
Muf i ez- Angel . "
" No one knew t hat Angel was a woman?" Mar y mar vel ed.
" No. She had al l of us f ool ed. Lant z descr i bed her t o t he Pat r i ot s f or
Fr eedomCommi t t ee as a f at , ugl y mor on.
" What about t he Cont r ol l er ?" Mar y asked.
" No one ever saw hi m. He gave or der s by t el ephone. He was a br i l l i ant
or gani zer . The Commi t t ee was br oken up i nt o smal l cel l s so t hat one
gr oup never knew what t he ot her was doi ng. "
ANGEL was l i ke an enr aged ani mal . The cont r act had gone wr ong somehow,
but she had been pr epar ed t o make up f or i t .
She had cal l ed t he pr i vat e number i n Washi ngt on and, usi ng her dul l ,
l i st l ess voi ce, had sai d, " Angel say t o t el l you no' t t o wor r y. Ther e
was some mi st ake, but he weel t ake car e of i t , mest er . They wi l l al l
di e nex' t i me, and- "
" Ther e won' t be a next t i me! " t he voi ce had expl oded. " Angel bungl ed
i t . He' s wor se t han an amat eur . "
" Angel t ol ' me- "
" I don' t gi ve a damn what he t ol d you. He' s f i ni shed. He won' t get a
cent . j ust t el l t hat i ncompet ent t o keep away. I ' l l f i nd someone el se
who knows how t o do t he j ob. " And he had sl ammed t he phone down.
The gr i ngo dog. No one had ever t r eat ed Angel l i ke t hat and l i ved. The
man was goi ng t o pay. Oh, how he woul d pay!
THE pr i vat e phone i n t he bubbl e r oomr ang. Mar y pi cked i t up.
I t was St ant on Roger s. " Mar y! You' r e saf e! Thank God i t ' s over .
Tel l me what happened. "
" I t was Angel . She t r i ed t o bl ow up t he r esi dence and- "
" You mean he. "
" No. Angel i s a woman. Her name i s Neusa Muez. "
Ther e was a l ong, st unned si l ence. " Neusa Muez? That f at , ugl y mor on
was Angel ?"
Mar y f el t a sudden chi l l . " That ' s r i ght , St an, " she sai d sl owl y.
" I s t her e anyt hi ng I can do f or you, Mar y?"
" No. I ' mon my way t o see t he chi l dr en. I ' l l t al k t o you l at er . "
She r epl aced t he r ecei ver and sat dazed.
Mi ke l ooked at her . " What ' s t he mat t er ?"
She t ur ned t o hi m. " You sai d t hat Har r y Lant z t ol d onl y some Commi t t ee
member s what Neusa Muf i ez l ooked l i ke. "
" Yes. "
Mar y sai d, " St ant on Roger s j ust descr i bed her . "
WHEN Angel ' s pl ane l anded at Dul l es Ai r por t , she went t o a t el ephone
boot h and di al ed t he Cont r ol l er ' s pr i vat e number .
The f ami l i ar voi ce sai d, " St ant on Roger s. "
Two days l at er Mi ke, Col onel McKi nney, and Mar y wer e seat ed i n t he
embassy conf er ence r oom. An el ect r oni cs exper t had j ust f i ni shed
debuggi ng i t .
" I t al l f i t s now, " Mi ke sai d. " The Cont r ol l er had t o be St ant on Roger s,
but none of us coul d see i t . "
" But why woul d he want t o ki l l me?" Mar y asked. " I n t he begi nni ng he
was agai nst my bei ng appoi nt ed ambassador . He t ol d me so hi msel f . "
Mi ke expl ai ned. " He hadn' t compl et el y f or mul at ed hi s pl an t hen. But
once he r eal i zed what you and t he chi l dr en symbol i zed, he f ought f or you
t o get t he nomi nat i on. That ' s what t hr ew us of f t he t r ack. He was
behi nd you al l t he way, seei ng t o i t t hat you got a bui l dup i n t he
pr ess. "
Mar y shudder ed. " Why di d he get i nvol ved wi t h- "
" He never f or gave Paul El l i son f or bei ng Pr esi dent . He f el t cheat ed. He
st ar t ed out as a l i ber al , and he mar r i ed a r i ght - wi ng r eact i onar y. My
guess i s t hat hi s wi f e t ur ned hi mar ound. "
" Have t hey f ound hi myet ?"
" No. He' s di sappear ed. But he can' t hi de f or ver y l ong. "
St amt on Roger s' head was f ound i n a Washi ngt on, D. C. , gar bage dump t wo
days l at er . Hi s eyes had been t or n out .
PAUL El l i son was cal l i ng f r omt he Whi t e House. " I ' mr ef usi ng t o accept
your r esi gnat i on, Mar y. I know how ' much you' ve been t hr ough, but I ' m
aski ng you t o r emai n at your post i n Remani a. "
I know how much you' ve been t hr ough. Di d anyone have any i dea? She had
been so unbel i evabl y nai ve. She was goi ng t o show t he wor l d how
wonder f ul Amer i cans r eal l y wer e. And al l t he t i me she had been a
cat ' s- paw. She and her chi l dr en had been pl aced i n mor t al danger . She
t hought of Edwar d and how he had been mur der ed, and of Loui s and hi s
l i es and hi s deat h. She t hought of t he dest r uct i on Angel had sown al l
over t he wor l d.
I ' mnot t he same per son I was when I came her e, Mar y t hought .
I ' ve gr own up t he har d way, but I ' ve gr own up. I ' ve managed t o
accompl i sh somet hi ng her e. I got Hannah Mur phy out of pr i son, and I
made our gr ai n deal . I saved t he' l i f e of I onescu' s son, and I r escued
some J ews.
" Hel l o. Ar e you t her e?" t he Pr esi dent asked.
" Yes, si r . " She l ooked over at Mi ke Sl ade, who was sl ouched back i n hi s
chai r st udyi ng her .
" You' ve done a t r ul y r emar kabl e j ob, " t he Pr esi dent sai d.
" You' r e t he per son we need over t her e. You' l l be doi ng our count r y a
gr eat ser vi ce. "
The Pr esi dent was wai t i ng f or an answer . Mar y was wei ghi ng her
deci si on. Fi nal l y she sai d, " Mr . Pr esi dent , i f I di d agr ee t o st ay, I
woul d i nsi st t hat . our count r y gi ve sanct uar y t o Cor i na Socol i . "
" I ' msor r y, Mar y. I ' ve al r eady expl ai ned why we can' t do t hat .
I t woul d of f end l onescu and- "
" He' l l get over i t . I know l onescu, Mr . Pr esi dent . He' s usi ng her as
a bar gai ni ng chi p. "
Ther e was a l ong si l ence. " How woul d you get her out ?"
" An ar my car go pl ane i s due t o ar r i ve i n t he mor ni ng. I ' l l send her out
i n t hat . "
Ther e was a pause. " I ' l l squar e i t wi t h St at e. I f t hat ' s al l - "
Mar y l ooked over at Mi ke Sl ade agai n. " Ther e' s one t hi ng mor e. I want
Mi ke Sl ade t o st ay her e wi t h me. I need hi m. We make a good t eam. "
Mi ke was wat chi ng her , a pr i vat e smi l e on hi s l i ps.
" I ' maf r ai d t hat ' s i mpossi bl e, " t he Pr esi dent sai d f i r ml y. " I need
Sl ade back her e. He al r eady has anot her assi gnment . "
Mar y sat t her e hol di ng t he phone, sayi ng not hi ng.
The Pr esi dent went on. " We' l l send you someone el se. Anyone you want .
Mar y? Hel l o? What i s t hi s- some ki nd of bl ackmai l l ?"
Mar y sat si l ent l y wai t i ng.
Fi nal l y t he Pr esi dent sai d gr udgi ngl y. " Wel l , I suppose i f you r eal l y
need hi m, we mi ght spar e hi mf or a l i t t l e whi l e. "
Mar y f el t her hear t l i ght en. " Thank you, Mr . Pr esi dent . I ' l l be happy
t o st ay on as ambassador . "
The Pr esi dent had a f i nal par t i ng shot . " You' r e one ace of a
negot i at or , Madun Ambassador . I have some i nt er est i ng pl ans i n mi nd f or
you when you' r e f i ni shed t her e. Good l uck! And st ay out of t r oubl e. "
The l i ne went dead.
Mar y r epl aced t he r ecei ver and l ooked at Mi ke. " You' r e goi ng t o be
st ayi ng her e. He t ol d me t o st ay out of t r oubl e. "
Mi ke Sl ade gr i nned. " He has a ni ce sense of humor . " He r ose and moved
t owar d her . " Do you r emember t he day I met you and cal l ed you a per f ect
t en?"
How wel l she r emember ed. " Yes. "
" I was wr ong. Now you' r e a per f ect t en. "
She f el t a war mgl ow. " Oh, mi ke. . .
" Si nce I ' mst ayi ng on, . MadamAmbassador , we' d bet t er t al k about t he
pr obl emwe' r e havi ng wi t h t he Remani an commer ce mi ni st er . " He l ooked
i nt o her eyes and sai d sof t l y, " Woul d you l i ke a cup of cof f ee?"
Epi l ogue
Al i ce Spr i ngs, Aust r al i a.
The chai r woman was ad ' dr essi ng t he Commi t t ee. " We have suf f er ed a
set back, but because of t he l essons we have l ear ned, our or gani zat i on
wi l l become even st r onger . Now i t i s t i me t o t ake a vot e. Aphr odi t e?"
" Yes. "
, : At hene?"
" Yes.
" Cybel e?"
" Yes. "
Sel ene?"
Consi der i ng t he hor r i bl e deat h of our f or mer Cont r ol l er , shoul dn' t we
wai t unt i l - "
" Yes or no, pl ease. "
" No. "
" Ni ke?"
" Yes.
" Nemesi s?"
" Yes. "
" The mot i on i s car r i ed. Pl ease obser ve t he usual pr ecaut i ons, l adi es. "
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