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'On a fabric search in the Mediterranean?' interrupted Jason.

D'Anjou paused. 'The woman on the line asking for Ben . . . I thought as much. It changes nothing. I spoke with her; she called from Orly. "

'She was told to tell you that. Did she sound in control of herself?'

'She was upset and no one knows why better than you. You've done a remarkable job down here. Delta. Or Cain. Or whatever you call yourself now. Of course she wasn't herself. It's why she's going away for a while. '

'It's why she's dead. You're next. '

'The last twenty-four hours were worthy of you. This isn't. '

'She was followed, you're being followed. Watched every moment. '

'If I am it's for my own protection. "

'Then why is Lavier dead?"

'I don't believe she is. '

'Would she commit suicide?'

'Never. '

'Call the rectory at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Ask about the woman who killed herself while making confession. What have you got to lose? I'll call you back. '

Bourne hung up and left the box. He stepped off the kerb, looking for a cab. The next call to Philippe d'Anjou would be made a minimum of ten blocks away. The man from Medusa would not be convinced easily and, until he was, Jason would not risk electronic scanners picking up even the general location of the call.

Delta? I think I'd know your voice anywhere. Paris is not Tarn Quan. Tarn Quan . . . Tarn Quan, Tarn Quan! Cain is for Charlie and Delta is for Cain. Medusa!

Stop it! Do not think of things that . . . you cannot think about. Concentrate on what is. Now. You. Not what others say you are - not even what you may think you are. Only the now. And the now is a man who can give you answers.

We work for different employers. . .

That was the key.

Tell me! For Christ's sake, tell me! Who is it? Who is my employer, d'Anjou?

A taxi swerved to a stop perilously close to his kneecaps. Jason opened the door and climbed in. 'Place Vendome,' he said, knowing it was near Saint-Honore". He must be as close as possible to put in motion the strategy that was rapidly coming into focus. He had the advantage; it was a matter of using it for a dual purpose. D'Anjou had to be convinced that those following him were his executioners. But what those men could not know was that another would be following them.

The Vendome was crowded as usual, the traffic wild as usual Bourne saw a telephone box on the corner and got out of the taxi. He went inside and dialled Les Classiques: it had been fourteen minutes since he had called from Neuilly-sur-Seine.


'A woman took her own life while at confession, that's all I know. '

'Come on, you wouldn't settle for that. . , Medusa wouldn't settle for that. '

'Give me a moment to put the board on hold. ' The line went dead for roughly four seconds. D'Anjou returned. 'A middle-aged woman with silver and white hair, expensive clothing, and a St Laurent bag. I've just described ten thousand women in Paris. How do I know you didn't take one, kill her, make her the basis of this call?'

'Oh, sure, I carried her into the church like a pieta, blood dripping in the aisles from her open stigmata. Be reasonable, d'Anjou. Let's start with the obvious. The bag wasn't hers; she carried a white leather handbag. She'd hardly be likely to advertise a competing house. '

'Lending credence to my belief. It was not Jacqueline Lavier. '

'Lends more to mine. The papers in that bag identified her as someone else. The body will be claimed quickly; no one touches Les Classiques. '

'Because you say so?'

'No. Because it's the method used by Carlos in five kills I can name. " He could. That was the frightening thing. 'A man is taken out, the police believing he's one person, the death an enigma, killers unknown. Then they find out he's someone else, by which time Carlos is in another country, another contract fulfilled. Lavier was a variation of that method, that's all. '

'Words, Delta. You never said much, but when you did, the words were there. '

'And if you were in Saint-Honore three or four weeks from now - which you won't be - you'd see how it ends. A plane crash, or a boat lost in the Mediterranean. Bodies charred beyond recognition, or simply gone. The identities of the dead, however, clearly established. Lavier and Bergeron. But only one is really dead, Mme Lavier. Monsieur Bergeron is privileged - more than you ever knew. Bergeron is back in business. And as for you, you're a statistic in the Paris morgue. '

'And you?'

'According to the plan I'm dead too. They expect to take me through you. "

'Logical. We're both from Medusa, they know that - Carlos knows that. It's to be assumed you recognized me. '

'And you me?'

D'Anjou paused. 'Yes,* he said. 'As I told you, we work for different employers now. '

'That's what I want to talk about. '

'No talking. Delta. But for old times' sake - for what you did for us all in Tam Quan - take the advice of a Medusan. Get out of Paris, or you're that dead man you just mentioned. '

'I can't do that. '

'You should. If I have the opportunity, I'll pull the trigger myself and be well paid for it*

Then I'll give you that opportunity. '

'Forgive me if I find that ludicrous. "

'You don't know what I want, or how much I'm willing to risk to get it. '

'Whatever you want you'll take risks for it. But the real danger will be your enemy's. I know you, Delta. And I must get back to the switchboard. I'd wish you good hunting but. . . '

It was the moment to use the only weapon he had left, the sole threat that might keep d'Anjou on the line. 'Whom do you call for instructions now that Pare Monceau is out?'

The tension was accentuated by d'Anjou's silence. When he replied, his voice was a whisper. 'What did you say?'

'It's why she was killed, you know. Why you'll be killed, too. She went to Pare Monceau and she died for it. You've been to Pare Monceau and you'll die for it, too. Carlos can't afford you any longer; you simply know too much. Why should he jeopardize such an arrangement? He'll use you to trap me. then kill you, and set up another Les Classiques. As one Medusan to another, can you doubt it?'

The silence was longer now, more intense than before. It was apparent that the older man from Medusa was asking himself several hard questions. 'What do you want from me? Except me. You should know hostages are meaningless. Yet you provoke me, astonish me with what you've learned. I'm no good to you dead or alive; so what is it you want?

'Information. If you have it, I'll get out of Paris tonight and neither Carlos nor you will ever hear from me again. '

'What information?'

'You'll lie if I ask for it now. I would. But when I see you, you'll tell me the truth. '

'With a wire around my throat?'

'In the middle of a crowd?'

'A crowd? Daylight?'

'An hour from now. Outside the Louvre. Near the steps. At the taxi stand. '

'The Louvre? Crowds? Information you think I have that will send you away?. . . You can't reasonably expect me to discuss my employer. '

Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller