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'One-thirty, road between Chevreuse and Rambouillet . . . the cemetery. Will he know how to get there?"

'He's been there before. If he says he's going by taxi, tell him to take the normal precautions and dismiss it. '

'Won't that appear strange? To the driver, I mean. It's an odd hour for mourning. '

'I said you're to "tell him" that. Obviously, he won't take a taxi. '

'Obviously,' said the First Secretary quickly, recovering by volunteering the unnecessary. 'Since I haven't called your man here, shall I call him now and tell him you've arrived?'

'I'll take care of that. You've still got his number?'

'Yes, of course. '

'Burn it,' ordered Conklin. 'Before it burns you. I'll call you back in twenty minutes. '

A train thundered by in the lower level of the Metro, the vibrations felt throughout the platform. Bourne hung up the pay phone on the concrete wall and stared for a moment at the mouthpiece. Another door had partially opened somewhere in the distance of his mind, the light too far away, too dim to see inside. Still, there were images. On the road to Rambouillet . . . through an archway of iron latticework . . . a gently sloping hill with white marble. Crosses - large, larger, mausoleums . . . and statuary everywhere. La Cimetiere de Noblesse. A cemetery, but far more than a resting place for the dead. A drop, but even more than that A place where conversations took place . . . amid burials and the lowering of caskets. Two men dressed sombrely as the crowds were dressed sombrely, moving between the mourners until they met among the mourners and exchanged the words they had to say to each other.

There was a face, but it was blurred, out of focus; he saw only the eyes. And that unfocused face and those eyes had a name. David . . . Abbott. The Monk. The man he knew but did not know. Creator of Medusa and Cain. And now himself dead, part of a cemetery somewhere.

Jason blinked several times and shook his head as if to shake the sudden mists away. He glanced over at Marie who was fifteen feet to his left against the wall, supposedly scanning the crowds on the platform, watching for someone possibly watching him. She was not; she was looking at him herself, a frown of concern across her face. He nodded, reassuring her; it was not a bad moment for him. Instead, images had come to him. He had been to that cemetery; somehow he would know it. He walked towards Marie; she turned and fell in step beside him as they headed for the exit.

'He's here,' said Bourne. 'Treadstone's arrived. I'm to meet him near Rambouillet. At a cemetery. '

"That's a ghoulish touch. Why a cemetery?'

'It's supposed to reassure me. '

'Good God, how?'

'I've been there before. I've met people there . . . a man there. By naming it as the rendezvous - an unusual rendezvous - Treadstone's telling me he's genuine. '

She took his arm as they climbed the steps towards the street 'I want to go with you. '

'Sorry. '

'You can't exclude met!'

'I have to, because I don't know what I'm going to find there. And if it's not what I expect, I'll want someone on my side. '

'Darling, that doesn't make sense! I'm being hunted by the police. If they find me, they'll send me back to Zurich on the next plane: you said so yourself. What good would I be to you in Zurich?'

'Not you. Villiers. He trusts us, he trusts you. You can reach him if I'm not back by daybreak, or haven't called explaining why. He can make a lot of noise, and God knows he's ready to. He's the one back-up we've got, the only one. To be more specific, his wife is - through him. '

Marie nodded, accepting his logic. 'He's ready," she agreed. 'How will you get to Rambouillet?'

'We have a car, remember? I'll take you to the hotel, then head over to the garage. '

He stepped inside the lift of the garage complex in Montmartre and pressed the button for the third floor. His mind was on a cemetery somewhere between Chevreuse and Rambouillet, on a road he had driven over but had no idea when or for what purpose.

Which was why he wanted to drive there now, not wait until his arrival corresponded more closely to the time of rendezvous. If the images that came to his mind were not completely distorted, it was an enormous cemetery. Where precisely within those acres of graves and statuary was the meeting ground? He would get there by 1 :00, leaving a half hour to walk up and down the paths looking for a pair of headlights or a signal. Other things would come to him.

The lift door scraped open. The floor was three-quarters filled with cars, deserted otherwise. Jason tried to recall where he had parked the Renault; it was in a far corner, he remembered that, but was it on the right or the left? He started tentatively to the left; the lift had been on his left when he had driven the car up several days ago. He stopped, logic abruptly orienting him. The lift had been on his left when he had entered, not after he had parked the car; it had been diagonally to his right then. He turned, his movement rapid, his thoughts on a road between Chevreuse and Rambouillet

Whether it was the sudden, unexpected reversal of direction or an inexperienced surveillance, Bourne neither knew or cared to dwell upon. Whichever, the moment saved his life, of that he was certain. A man's head ducked below the bonnet of a car in the second aisle on his right; that man had been watching him. An experienced surveillance would have stood up, holding a ring of keys he had presumably picked up from the floor, or checked a windscreen wiper then walked away. The one thing he would not do was what this man did; risk being seen by ducking out of sight.

Jason maintained his pace, his thoughts concerned with this new development Who was this man? How had he been found? And then both answers were so clear, so obvious he felt like a fool. The clerk at the Auberge du Coin!

Carlos had been thorough - as he was always thorough -every detail of failure examined. And one of those details was a clerk on duty during a failure. Such a man bore scrutiny, then questioning; it would not be difficult. The show of a knife or a gun would be more than sufficient Information would pour from the night clerk's trembling lips, and Carlos's army ordered to spread throughout the city, each district divided into sectors, hunting for a specific black Renault. A painstaking search, but not impossible, made easier by a driver who had not bothered to switch licence plates. For how many unbroken hours had the garage been watched? How many men were there? Inside, outside? How soon would others arrive? Would Carlos arrive?

The questions were secondary. He had to get out. He could do without the car, perhaps, but the resulting dependency on unknown arrangements might cripple him; he needed transportation and he needed it now. No taxi would drive a stranger to a cemetery on the outskirts of Rambouillet at one o'clock in the morning, and it was no time to rely on the possibility of stealing a car in the streets.

He stopped, taking cigarettes and matches from his pockets; then, striking a match, he cupped his hands and angled his head to protect the flame. In the corner of his eye, he could see a shadow - square-shaped, stocky; the man had once more lowered himself, now behind the boot of a nearer car.

Jason dropped to a crouch, spun to his left, and lunged out of the aisle between two adjacent cars, breaking his fall with the palms of his hands, the manoeuvre made in silence. He crawled around the rear wheels of the vehicle on his right, arms and legs working rapidly, quietly down the narrow alley of cars, a spider scurrying across a web. He was behind the man now; he crept forward towards the aisle and got to his knees, inching his face along smooth metal, and peered beyond a headlight. The heavy-set man was in full view, standing erect. He was evidently bewildered, for he moved hesitantly closer towards the Renault, his body low again, squinting to see beyond the windscreen. What he saw frightened him further; there was nothing, no one. He gasped, the audible intake of breath a prelude to running. He had been tricked; he knew it and was not about to wait around for the consequences - which told Bourne something else. The man had been briefed on the driver of the Renault, the danger explained. He began to race towards t

he exit ramp.

Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller