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'I know that,' he replied, opening the handbag, turning on the reading lamp, moving the bag into its spill. As befitted the owner, it was well organized. Passport, wallet, a purse, keys and assorted notes and messages in the rear pockets. He looked for a specific message; it was in a yellow envelope given to her by the clerk at the Carillon du Lac's front desk. He found it, lifted the flap, and took out the folded paper. It was a cablegram from Ottawa.

Daily reports first rate. Leave granted. Will meet you at airport Wednesday 26th. Call or cable flight. In Lyons, do not miss Beau Meuniere. Cuisine superb.

Love, Peter

Jason put the cable back. He saw a small book of matches, the cover a glossy white, scroll writing on the front. He picked it out and read the name. Kronehalle. A restaurant. . . A restaurant. Something bothered him; he did not know what it was but it was there. Something about a restaurant. He kept the matches, closed the bag and leaned forward, dropping it on the front seat. "That's all I wanted to see,' he said, settling back into the corner, staring at the matches. 'I seem to remember your saying something about "word from Ottawa". You got it; the twenty-sixth is over a week away. ' 'Please. . . '

The supplication was a cry for help; he heard it for what it was but could not respond. For the next hour or so he needed this woman, needed her as a lame man needed a crutch or, more aptly, as one who could not function behind a wheel needed a driver. But not in this car. Turn around,' he ordered. 'Head back to the Carillon. ! To the. . . hotel?'

'Yes,' he said, his eyes on the matches, turning them over and over in his hand under the light of the reading lamp. 'We need another car. '

'We? No, you can't] I won't go any . . . ' Again she stopped before the statement was made, before the thought was completed. Another thought had obviously struck her; she was abruptly silent as she swung the wheel until the car was facing the opposite direction on the dark lakesbore road. She pressed the accelerator down with such force that the car bolted; the tyres span under the sudden burst of speed. She depressed the pedal instantly, gripping the wheel, trying to control herself.

Bourne looked up from the matches at the back of her head, at the long dark red hair that shone in the light. He took the gun from his pocket and once more leaned forward directly behind her. He raised the weapon, moving his hand over her shoulder, turning the barrel and pressing it against her cheek.

'Understand me clearly. You're going to do exactly as I tell you. You're going to be right at my side and this gun will be in my pocket. It will be aimed at your stomach, just as it's aimed at your head right now. As you've seen. I'm running for my life, and I won't hesitate to pull the trigger. I want you to understand. '

'I understand. ' Her reply was a whisper. She breathed through her parted lips, her terror complete. Jason removed the barrel of the gun from her cheek; he was satisfied. Satisfied and revolted.

Let your mind fall free . . . The matches. What was it about the matches? But it was not the matches, it was the restaurant -not the Kronehalle. but a restaurant. Heavy beams, candlelight, black . . . triangles on the outside. White stone and black triangles. Three? . . . Three black triangles.

Someone was there. . . at a restaurant with three triangles in front. The image was so clear, so vivid. . . so disturbing. What was it? Did such a place even exist?

Specifics may come to you . . . certain repressed conduits. . . prodded into functioning.

Was it happening now? Oh, Christ, I can't stand it!

He could see the lights of the Carillon du Lac several hundred yards down the road. He had not fully thought out his moves, but was operating on two assumptions. The first was that the killers had not remained on the premises. On the other hand, Bourne was not about to walk into a trap of his own making. He knew two of the killers; he would not recognize others if they had been left behind.

The main parking area was beyond the circular drive, on the left side of the hotel. 'Slow down,' Jason ordered. Turn into the first drive on the left!

'It's an exit,' protested the woman, her voice strained. 'We're going the wrong way. '

'No one's coming out Go on I Drive into the parking area, past the lights. '

The scene at the hotel's canopied entrance explained why no one paid attention to them. There were four police cars, lined up in the circular drive, their roof lights revolving, conveying the aura of emergency. He could see uniformed police among the crowds of excited hotel guests; they were asking questions as well as answering them, checking off names of those leaving in cars, dark-suited hotel clerks at their sides.

Marie St Jacques drove across the parking area beyond the floodlights and into an open space on the right She turned off the engine and sat motionless, staring straight ahead.

'Be very careful,' said Bourne, rolling down his window. 'And move slowly. Open your door and get out, then stand by mine and help me. Remember, the window's open and the gun's in my hand. You're only two or three feet in front of me; there's no way I could miss if I fired. '

She did as she was told, a terrified automaton. Jason supported himself on the frame of the window and pulled himself to the pavement He shifted his weight from one foot to another, mobility was returning. He could walk. Not well, and with a limp, but he could walk.

'What are you going to do?' asked the St Jacques woman, as if she were afraid to hear his answer.

'Wait. Sooner or later someone will drive a car back here and park it. No matter what happened in there, it's still dinner time. Reservations were made, parties arranged, a lot of it business; those people won't change their plans. '

'And when a car does come, how will you take it?' She paused, then answered her own question. 'Oh, my God, you're going to kill whoever's driving it'

He gripped her arm, her frightened chalk-white face inches away. He bad to control her by fear, but not to the point where she might slip into hysterics. 'If I have to I will, but I don't think it'll be necessary. Parking attendants bring the cars back here. Keys are usually left on the visors or under the seats. It's just easier. '

Headlight beams shot out from the dark in the circular drive; a small coupg entered the area, accelerating once into it, the mark of an attendant driver. The car came directly towards them, alarming Bourne until he saw the empty space nearby. But they were in the path of the headlights; they had been seen.

Reservations for the dining room . . . A restaurant. Jason made his decision; he would use the moment

The attendant got out of the coupe, and placed the keys under the seat. As he walked to the rear of the car, he nodded at them, not without curiosity. Bourne spoke in French.

'Hey, young fellow I Maybe you can help us. '

'Sir?' The attendant approached them haltingly, cautiously, the events in the hotel obviously on his mind.

'I'm not feeling so well, too much of your excellent Swiss wine. '

'It will happen, sir. ' The young man smiled, relieved.

'My wife thought it would be a good idea to get some air before we left for town. "

'A good idea, sir. "

'Is everything still crazy inside? I didn't think the police officer would let us out until he saw that I might be sick all over his uniform. '

'Crazy, sir. They're everywhere . . . We've been told not to discuss it!

Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller