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Read The Excerpt: The Bounty by Janet Evanovich and Steve Hamilton

The Bounty by Janet Evanovich_NovelSuspectsCHAPTER ONE

“The target is approaching the Vatican.”

It was something Agent Kate O’Hare never thought she’d hear, at least not outside a movie theater.

As she stared at the video monitor, Nick Fox leaned down next to her, so close she could feel his breath on her neck. Cologne, hair product, pheromones. Whatever the combination, it tried to have its usual effect on her, but she kept her focus.

“Do you really think this guy is as good as I am?” Nick asked. “Maybe better,” Kate said. “You’re the one who got caught.” Nick laughed that off. Even if he was “retired” from the business, he was still loving every minute of this trip to Italy, especially this chance to watch a master thief at work. He had once been a world-class thief himself, and had barely avoided a lifetime stay in the federal ADX Supermax prison. He bartered for his freedom by agreeing to help the FBI run semilegal cons and takedowns on the worst-of-the-worst, technically out-of-reach criminals. Kate tracked him for years and finally brought him down, only to be told by the deputy director himself that her next assignment was to be Nick’s full-time handler, minder, wrangler, manager, babysitter, whatever you wanted to call it. Nick didn’t go to prison in leg irons. He accepted the full-time shadow employment offer from the United States Department of Justice.

Nick was six feet tall, with soft brown hair, intelligent brown eyes, and a boyish grin that brought out the laugh lines around his eyes. He had the agile body of a tennis pro, lean and firm. He was smart, sexy, and playful, and if Nick had once been a world-class thief, he was still and always would be a galaxy-class kisser. From the beginning, it was all Kate could do to keep a professional distance. It was a goal she had thrown out the window on more than one occasion, and even now she wasn’t sure what to call their official “status.” In Facebook terms, it would have to be “It’s complicated.”

Tonight, Kate was six thousand miles from her Los Angeles cubicle, officially on loan to Interpol. She was part of a small international task force assisting the Vatican Gendarmerie’s Gruppo Intervento Rapido, the Rapid Intervention Group, who were acting on dark web intel that the museum complex was being targeted for a nighttime break-in. Her job was to provide Nick Fox’s expertise to the RIG, and make sure he acted like an angel. As exciting as that assignment might sound, she actually felt more like the trainer who brings the gorilla onto the movie set for the big action scene. No one even notices the trainer until the gorilla starts tearing everything up and stealing all of the food from the catering table.

Nick had been on his best behavior so far. He generously led the team through every phase of a high-level professional infiltration, taking them step by step through everything he would do if he were in the mood to break into the Vatican City Museum and steal something incredibly rare and incredibly valuable. The inspector general of the Vatican Gendarmerie was a serious, no-nonsense man named Lorenzo Vitali, a former commander from the Italian Carabinieri. He was essentially half policeman and half soldier, who had answered a higher calling to take over security at the Vatican. He’d been skeptical of everything Nick Fox said, until Nick walked him around the city’s perimeter, pointing out every possible point of “surreptitious entry.”

“You have just over six hundred full-time residents living in this city,” Nick had said. “Yet every day, you open the gates and admit how many people?”

“On a busy day,” Vitali had said, “over twenty thousand.” “Signore Inspector, you are tempting me back into a life of sin.” “We have one of the most advanced security systems in the

world, Mr. Fox.”

Nick had smiled. “That’s an interesting first response, Signore Inspector. You didn’t say you have a hundred highly trained and heavily armed guards. You didn’t say you have a sniper positioned on every roof. You said you have a system.” Nick leaned in closer to the inspector and said, “I spent my entire professional career absolutely in love with systems.”

Nick and Kate were now stationed in a small room on the third floor of the museum complex, in front of a large bank of video surveillance screens. As a precaution, Pope Francis had been taken by helicopter to the summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, twenty miles away. Forty-two members of the combined Gendarmerie/Interpol force were closely watching every inch of the museum. Kate was the only woman on the team, and if she felt at all uncomfortable working in a city where women were required to cover their arms and knees, at least she was wearing her favorite outfit, a blue windbreaker with the letters “FBI” written across the back, with a black T-shirt under a black Kevlar vest. Her chestnut-brown hair was tied up in her usual all-business ponytail. She had her Glock 9mm handgun tucked into her belt, and her Ontario MK 3 Navy SEAL knife strapped to her leg. Both were technically forbidden here, but Inspector Vitali, who tonight was personally commanding the Rapid Intervention Group, had seen Kate sliding her Glock under her windbreaker. If he was going to object, that would have been the time, but he had done nothing other than raise one eyebrow in appreciation.

The radio on the table squawked again. “The target is climbing the north wall, near the Cortile del Belvedere.”

Nick and Kate watched the video screen directed at the north wall. The image flickered for a moment, then was restored. There was nobody to see.

“He looped the camera feed,” Nick said. “Very smooth.

Couldn’t have done it better myself.”

“The target is moving through the Pigna Courtyard,” the radio voice said, “toward the north side of the museum.”

As they stared at another screen, they saw nothing but the brief movement of a single shadow.

“No security guard would ever catch that,” Nick said, nodding in appreciation. “I’m watching a master at work.”

“Don’t get too attached to him,” Kate said. “He’s going to be in handcuffs in about five minutes.”

“You don’t have him yet.”

“We’ve lost visual,” the radio voice said. “Last seen a hundred feet from the Command Center.”

They sat in silence as a full minute ticked by. They waited to pick him up again, but then every video screen went black.

“He took them all offline,” Nick said. “It’s a gutsy move. Makes us blind, but at the same time announces that he’s on the grounds. He’s going to have to move fast now.”

“We’ve got the backup cameras,” Kate said. “On a separate circuit. The team spent all day yesterday installing them.”

She opened a laptop and brought up a multiscreen view. “There,” she said, pointing to a dark figure moving down a

hallway.

The resolution wasn’t nearly as good as the regular security cameras, but Nick and Kate could make out the figure, maybe six feet tall, moving with speed and efficiency. Like UCLA’s be- loved basketball coach John Wooden used to say, Be quick but don’t hurry.

“What is he wearing?” Kate asked. She leaned forward, squinting. The thief was dressed all in black, and he appeared to be wearing a thin backpack.

“I don’t get it,” Nick said. “If you’re going for the ring, you just slip it into your pocket. You don’t need a backpack.”

The ring was the diamond-encrusted ring that once belonged to Pope Paul VI, the featured piece in a special exhibit of papal jewelry displayed in glass cases throughout the Galleria dei Candelabri. Worth many millions of dollars, it was the kind of ring that the current pope in all his modesty would never wear, but Pope Paul VI hadn’t seemed to mind a little bling now and then.

Only this ring was fake. The Vatican officials had refused to leave the real thing vulnerable to theft, or even to being touched by an outsider. But this fake ring was so convincing, especially in the semidarkness of the closed museum, the team was sure that the target would take the bait.

They watched as the intruder left one camera’s view, then appeared in another. He was in the Galleria dei Candelabri now, where a trap had been set.

Nick and Kate held their breath as the figure approached the display case. All he had to do was lift the glass and the charges would go from simple trespassing and breaking and entering to grand theft and desecration of a holy artifact and a dozen other charges that would put him away for the rest of his life. If the good Catholics around here had their way, for the rest of his afterlife, too.

The figure came closer and closer to the display case. He paused for one moment, the time it took to let out one breath, then kept moving. Nick and Kate both stared at the screen.

“What just happened?” Kate asked. Nick didn’t answer.

“Did he know it was a fake?” Kate asked. “Is that possible? He didn’t look at it for more than one second.”

“I saw them put that ring in the case today,” Nick said. “It would have fooled me.” He kept staring at the screen. “Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Maybe this was never about stealing the ring.”

“What else could he be after?” Kate asked. “What else is as valuable? And as easy to take out of the museum?”

“From the beginning, we’ve been assuming that he’s a world-class thief, looking for a big score. But you said it yourself, if he’s so good, how come we’ve never even heard of him? A thief this good just doesn’t appear out of nowhere.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying, if you’re thinking like a thief, you take the easy score that’s right in front of you. This guy didn’t do that.”

“He’s still moving south,” the radio voice said.

“Don’t lose him!” Another voice, the team commander.

“Let’s go,” Kate said, grabbing the radio and opening the door. “We’re not supposed to leave this room,” Nick said.

“You heard the man. He said don’t lose him!”

Nick ran out the door after Kate and followed her down the marble stairs. They hit the ground floor in the Galleria degli Arazzi, a long hallway with elaborate tapestries hanging on both sides.

“This way,” Kate said, taking a right and running south down the hallway.

The radio squawked again. “Target is in the Map Gallery.” Kate burst through the door, into another long hallway called the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche. It had brightly colored maps along the walls and a high arched ceiling with frescoes almost as amazing as the Sistine Chapel’s, but she didn’t pause for even a second to admire her surroundings. Halfway down the gallery, a side door was just closing.

“Side room in the gallery,” Kate said into the radio. “I’m on him.”

“Agent O’Hare!” the voice came back. “You are an observer and you are not to engage! Do you hear me? Do not engage!

She ignored the voice and kept running, with Nick on her heels. When she got to the door, she turned the knob but it was locked tight. She tried putting a shoulder into it, bounced backward a few feet, and said some words that shouldn’t be said anywhere in the Holy City.

By this time, two members of the Rapid Intervention Group had entered the gallery. They were in Kevlar, helmets, and face shields, and carrying Beretta ARX160 assault rifles. One of the officers put a passkey into the electronic lock and the door opened. The room was dark. The officers gestured for Nick and Kate to stay back as they turned on the flashlights attached to their assault rifles. They stepped into the doorway, shouting “Sul pavimento, non muoverti!” just in case the thief spoke Italian and also felt like cooperating and lying down on the floor so they could cuff him. When there was no response, the officers moved into the room. Kate and Nick followed. There were several tables, high file cabinets, bookshelves, and display cases. The smell of strong

chemicals hung in the air.

“This is a restoration room,” Kate said. “Why would he—”

She was interrupted by the officers shouting again. They had found the rear entrance to the room. The door was open. The thief was gone, moving toward another part of the museum.

“Let’s go,” Kate said.

Without saying a word, Nick put up one hand to stop her. “What is it?” she asked.

He pointed upward. High on the wall, between the bookshelves, was a window. It was open, and one of the ladders used to access the top rows of the shelves had been moved just under it.

“He’s got them chasing their own tail right now,” Nick said, again with an undisguised note of appreciation.

Kate climbed up the ladder, saw the rope hanging on the outside wall. She worked her way through the window, painfully scraping her shin against the stone sill, finally grabbed the rope, and was able to slowly work her way down. When she was on the ground, she turned around to see Nick standing next to her. There wasn’t a single wrinkle in his jacket, not a hair out of place.

“I used the door,” he said.

Before she could hit him, she spotted movement in the distance.

“There,” she said, and started running again. She keyed her radio and reported that the target was outside the museum, heading toward the Sistine Chapel.

“Agent O’Hare!” It was the same voice who had told her not to engage the suspect. She was pumping her arms as she ran, making it hard to hear what the voice on the radio was trying to tell her. Not that she was in any mood to listen, anyway. Her heart was beating fast now, that familiar rush she always felt when she was chasing down a suspect on foot.

Kate saw movement again, near the door leading into the cathedral. She ran through the same door, this time with her Glock pulled out from her belt.

She was breathing hard and paused one moment to orient herself. Leading with her weapon, she advanced into the Sistine Chapel. This time, she couldn’t help but sneak a glance up at the ceiling, at the five-hundred-year-old frescoes and especially at Adam and the Big Guy himself, who seemed to be looking down at her, wondering what this crazy woman was doing waving a Glock 9mm semiautomatic in God’s most holy of all holy houses. I’ll do a hundred Hail Marys later, she thought, as she waited to spot another movement, hear some small sound, anything to let her know where the suspect was.

Footsteps behind her. She swung around, pointing her barrel at Nick. He wasn’t breathing hard, and wasn’t sweating. In fact, he looked like he’d just stopped at the Vatican barbershop for a shave and a haircut.

“Do I even have to say how wrong this looks?” he asked. “Although if you’re going to shoot somebody, I suppose this isn’t the worst place to spend your last moments.”

“Quiet,” she said. “He’s in here somewhere.”

She turned to scan the room again, as Nick looked up at the ceiling. There was a long silence, until it was broken by a door closing at the far end of the cathedral. Kate was off and running again, through the same door, until she picked up the intruder in the great expanse of St. Peter’s Square, a hundred yards ahead of her. She grabbed her radio and tried to speak. “He’s heading into the basilica.”

“Moving in,” the radio voice said. “Close off every exit.”

She ran up the steps to the front doors of St. Peter’s Basilica. One of the doors was ajar. She pushed it open. It was dark in the great lobby, the entire building closed down for the night.

Nick slipped in through the same door and stood beside her. “My bat-sense is tingling,” Kate said.

“Spidey-sense,” Nick corrected. “But don’t worry about it. I’m not here to judge.”

They slowly made their way down the hallway, pausing every now and then to listen. The sound of footsteps came from above. Kate led with her Glock as she climbed the staircase. Every floor of the great basilica was dark and empty. Nick stayed close behind her.

They worked their way up each flight of stairs. A sign pointed them to the final staircase, leading to Michelangelo’s Dome. Kate heard the last echo of footsteps. There was nowhere else for him to go.

“He’s in the dome,” she said into the radio. She was determined to ignore anything that was said next, any order to stand down, because she had tracked this man all the way to the very top of the city and she wasn’t about to step back now.

Nick stayed behind Kate as she bounded up the staircase, which opened to the highest viewing platform in the city. In fact, it was the highest dome in the world. Under any other circumstances, it would have been a perfect night, with a million lights spread out below them, not just from the Vatican but from the city of Rome, which surrounded it.

“It’s over!” she announced to the night air. “If you’re armed, put your weapon down!”

She listened for a response.

Nothing. She picked one direction, went right, circling counterclockwise around the dome.

Nick appeared on the platform a moment later. He stood alone, looking down over the same view, until he heard a noise to his left. He edged around the dome, moving slowly, and saw nothing but the statues of the apostles that lined the platform’s stone rail.

One of the apostles moved. “It’s time to give up,” Nick said. “I don’t think so.”

Nick wondered where he had heard that voice before.

The intruder had climbed up onto the edge of the stone wall, and now he was facing out over the square.

“Don’t do it!” Nick said. He came forward, determined to grab the man by the waist.

The man turned to look at him. Both men were immediately frozen to the spot. They stared at each other, neither saying a word.

When Kate came around from the other direction, the spell was broken. The man spread out his arms and fell into the night.

Kate arrived at the wall just in time to see the man dropping to the square below.

There was a flash of white. A parachute! It unfurled within a fraction of a second. The air caught it and the man’s fall turned into flight.

He made one great sweep across St. Peter’s Square, then turned. The chute nearly brought him to a stop in midair before it regathered itself and took him toward the southern wall of the city. Kate watched, mesmerized, as the man disappeared over the wall, landing somewhere in the streets of Rome.

Kate stood motionless, trying to convince herself that she had really just seen the thief fly away.

“Why didn’t you stop him?” she asked.

Nick slowly shook his head, looking numb. “That was my father.”

CHAPTER TWO

There were two dozen people sitting in the Public Security Department’s conference room on the upper floor of an office building in Rome’s administrative subdivision, a few kilometers east of the Vatican walls. Present were members of the Gendarmerie’s Rapid Intervention Group, Interpol agents with their intelligence analysts, plus Kate O’Hare and Nick Fox, the on-loan consultants from the FBI.

“This is the suspect we are now looking for,” Inspector General Vitali said. For a man with such a romantic name, Lorenzo Vitali didn’t appear to be in love with anyone. Today he looked like he wanted to kill most of the people in the room with his bare hands. The other major player in the room was Special Agent in Charge Carl Jessup. He had arrived at the Rome airport just thirty minutes before, after flying all night from the FBI field office in Los Angeles. He was fifty-seven years old, a lean, sinewy man originally from Kentucky who still carried a trace of Old Appalachia in his speech. On his best day, Jessup’s face looked like it needed a good ironing to smooth out all of the wrinkles and lines. After thirteen hours on an airplane, this did not come close to being his best day.

“The suspect’s name is Quentin Fox,” Vitali said.

The face of Nick’s father was projected onto the screen that dominated one wall of the conference room. It was a simple passport photograph on a white background, the farthest thing from a glamour shot, yet it was impossible not to see the glamour, the charm, the confidence, the raw charisma, radiating from this face. It was a face that had a few years on it, but clearly every one of those years had been good to him. A face that could open doors, close deals, remove clothes, get the best table at a crowded restaurant, and make everyone in the room hang on his every word. Kate saw the resemblance immediately, especially in the eyes.

Eyes that looked right through you. She looked over at Nick, who was now staring up at the face of his father without any expression on his own. She was dying to know what he was thinking, but now was not the time to interrupt with questions.

“Quentin Fox is sixty-two years old,” Vitali said. “He was born in Paris, the son of an American diplomat and a French artist. He was educated first in Paris, then at Harvard when his father brought him to America. He majored in economics and art history.”

Vitali clicked his handheld remote control. The photo on the screen was replaced by an old black-and-white shot of a much younger man leaning against a stone wall, his hands in his pockets, a long scarf draped around his neck, looking like he owned the entire campus.

“He ran a gallery in Boston for seven years before moving to New York City and opening his own business. As a dealer specializing in European and Middle Eastern art, young Quentin found himself operating in a very competitive world, but by all accounts he thrived in it.”

The photo was replaced by another, and then another, Quentin Fox posing with artists and well-dressed buyers. Kate glanced over at Nick again, watched as the light from each new photo was cast on his face.

“This is Quentin Fox with a woman who was then named Olivia Price,” Vitali said, projecting a photograph taken at a fancy party. Quentin was in a tux and Olivia was in a stunning, shimmering cocktail dress with her hair pinned up to show off her diamond earrings. “She was a painter whose work Quentin was showing, the daughter of very wealthy parents. Quentin and Olivia were married in Cuba.”

Kate glanced over one more time. Nick allowed a faint smile as he looked at the image of his mother.

“Quentin and Olivia Fox returned to Miami,” Vitali said, “where Quentin opened up a new gallery. She gave birth to a son six months later. Nicholas. Here’s where it gets interesting.” Vitali clicked his remote and a new image filled the screen. It was a man wearing a traditional keffiyeh, a red and white checked headdress favored by men in Arabic countries. “This is Quentin Fox in Cairo, about to meet with an international arms dealer who would be found dead two weeks later.”

Everything about Nick’s body language changed. He leaned forward in his chair, staring at the screen intently.

“Here he is two years later,” Vitali went on, “in Barcelona, meeting with two members of a Basque separatist group.”

Another image on the screen, the same man who’d been wearing the keffiyeh, now wearing a suit and sitting at a table with two other men.

“Three years later, in Cyprus. With a key figure in a human trafficking ring.”

Another image, two men in another café.

“We don’t have many other photographs,” Vitali went on. “We did find three confirmed identities so far. I’m sure there are more.” One more image came up, with three more passports, Quentin’s face in each, but each with a different name and country of

origin.

Vitali stopped talking and stood in front of everyone, with the different faces of Quentin Fox still projected onto the screen behind him. He stared at Nick, clearly waiting for something to be said.

Nick stayed silent.

“Mr. Fox,” Vitali said, “were you aware of your father’s career as a foreign operative?”

“My father was an art dealer,” Nick said. “He bought paintings, pottery, and rugs. He traveled a lot, brought items home, and sold them in his gallery. When he came home, he’d play with his model trains. I thought he had the most boring life in the world. I had no idea there was this whole other side to it.”

“But you did find out?”

Nick hesitated. “I did. Later.” “Later as in when?”

“Later as in later.”

Vitali stared him down.

“If you must know,” Nick said, “I found out the day before my mother died. She made him promise to tell me. My father and I haven’t spoken much since then.”

Vitali nodded. “And were you aware that your father was capable of an operation like this?”

Nick almost smiled at that. “I didn’t know he was this good, no.” “So you had no idea that he would be—”

“No,” Nick said, cutting him off. “Of course not.”

“We have just been informed that Quentin Fox worked as an off-the-books resource for the CIA,” Vitali said, glancing over at Jessup. “Apparently, this was as big a surprise to the FBI as it was to myself.”

Jessup shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “The CIA does not generally share such information with my bureau,” he said. “Not unless there’s a specific need to know.”

“I believe we have that today,” Vitali said, barely disguising his disgust at American bureaucracy, “but now that they’ve seen fit to share the information, it’s clear that Quentin Fox worked for the CIA in some capacity for at least twenty years.”

“It’s a good cover,” Nick said. “An art dealer has a plausible reason for traveling anywhere in the world.”

“We’ve been told that his assignments ended twelve years ago,” Vitali said, looking at Jessup again. “We’ve also been assured that Quentin Fox was not acting on behalf of the American government in any way. Whatever he was doing here, it was on his own initiative.”

Nick shook his head. This didn’t make any sense.

“I’m going to ask you one more time,” Vitali said to Nick. “I’d like you to really think about your answer this time. Did you have any idea that your father would break into the Vatican last night?” “Yes, that was our plan,” Nick said. “ ‘Meet you at the top of the

dome. Bring a parachute.’ ”

Vitali didn’t look amused by this, but he pressed on. “The parachute, now that you bring it up, was found in an alley near the city wall. It’s a specific type of chute that the SAS forces in the UK use. Again, I think I know what your answer is going to be, but do you have any idea how he might have gotten his hands on such a thing?”

“No.”

“And you’re not at all surprised that your father could make a jump like this? At his age?”

“He’s sixty-two, not ninety-two,” Nick said. “I think he just proved he can do it. And no, to answer your next question before you ask it, I have no idea where he is right now.”

“Mr. Fox, if we find out you’re not being honest with us—” “You’re the guys who asked me to come out here to help you,”

Nick said, keeping his voice level. “Are you going to accuse me, or not? Go ahead, Inspector Vitali, don’t be shy. Just come out and say it. You’ll feel so much better.”

Agent Jessup recognized this as the moment he should shake off his jet lag. “Nick, that’s enough. Just answer the questions.”

“There’s nothing to answer,” Nick said. “I don’t know anything about any of this. But I do have one question for the inspector, if he doesn’t mind.”

“Go ahead,” Vitali said. “What was stolen last night?”

“You mean what did your father steal from the Vatican?”

“If you want to put it that way,” Nick said. “What did my sixty-two-year-old father steal after he single-handedly defeated your entire team?”

Vitali hit the button to advance to the next projected image. “This is what your father took from the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, Mr. Fox.”

It was a map, the paper yellowed and the ink faded. There were contour lines as if marking topography, and scattered across the map in a seemingly random sequence were a dozen crude symbols. Like something you’d scratch into the ground, a rough X, then an S, then something like an arrow. On the right side of the map, set apart in a separate banner, ran a string of words. Auf dem Turm, Deutschland Siegt Auf Allen Fronten.

Everyone squinted at the map, tilted their heads, trying to make sense of it.

“This map is seventy-five years old,” Vitali said. “The inscription on the side translates to ‘On the tower, Germany is victorious on all fronts.’ ”

“What is the purpose of this map?” Nick asked.

“We don’t know for sure, but some of our experts believe this is, essentially—”

“A treasure map?”

“Pirates use treasure maps,” Vitali said, his voice dripping with disdain. “With a dotted line to lead them around the quicksand and the alligators, and then the big X to mark where they should start digging.” He turned to the map, pointed to some of the symbols. “This is a complex series of coded symbols, using Germanic runes from the eighth century as a lexicon.”

“That leads to a treasure,” Nick said. Vitali let out a breath. “Ultimately, yes.”

“So it’s a treasure map,” Nick said. “But for smart people.” There was a ripple of suppressed laughter in the room.

“This is a delicate subject we’re about to discuss now,” Vitali said. “In the last days of World War Two, when it was clear that the Allies were advancing on both fronts, there were a number of Nazi party members who thought they should gather together all of the gold they had plundered throughout Europe. The so-called Raubgold. Some of it had been hidden in Switzerland, some in Portugal.” He paused. “According to some records, which are still in dispute, there may have also been a large reserve of gold stored in the Vatican. As much as one hundred tons. The gold was moved by a group of Nazi officials and sympathizers who called themselves Die Bruderschaft. ‘The Brotherhood.’ They may have moved as much as four hundred tons in all, from any number of locations and countries, if you count all of the rumors and stories. That would amount to around thirty billion in today’s dollars. Four tons of it were recovered soon after the war, in the Merkers Salt Mine. That leaves ninety-nine percent of it still hidden somewhere.”

“So follow the map,” Nick said. “Go find the gold.”

Vitali stepped aside to give Nick a clear view of the screen. “Be my guest, Mr. Fox. Decode these symbols for us and tell us where it is.”

“It’s not exactly my area of expertise, but if you print me a copy, I’ll take it home and study it for a while.”

Kate looked over at him. The moment this map had been projected on the screen, Nick’s whole demeanor had changed again. No matter what else was going on here, there was a real-life trea- sure map involved, and that was something Nick Fox could not resist.

“You wouldn’t be the only one trying,” Vitali said. He brought up one more photograph. A man with a wide face, thin blond hair, and intense blue eyes magnified through rimless glasses, burning with sharp intelligence. If the Aryan Nations had a library, this man would be the head librarian, Kate thought.

“This is Klaus Egger. He was born in Austria, the grandson of a priest who joined the Nazi party, and who was one of the founding members of the original Bruderschaft. Egger attended Catholic seminary himself, but was expelled in his first year. He spent the next twenty years involved with various causes, some of them neo-Nazi, some of them extremists like the Society of St. Pius X, until he ultimately appeared at the top of an organization that has reclaimed the name of his grandfather’s old organization. A new Bruderschaft. A new Brotherhood. We don’t know exactly what their philosophy is, or what they’re trying to achieve. We’ve intercepted communications about forming a ‘Fourth Reich,’ but we have no idea what that would look like.”

There was another murmur in the room as everyone processed this idea.

“We have been collecting more dark web chatter all morning, and we now know that the Brotherhood is convinced that the Raubgold exists, and they are obsessed with finding it. We also know that they’ve put out open contracts, with an incredibly large bounty for any individual or group who helps them achieve that goal.”

Vitali clicked one more time, to bring up the last image. It was a bright red star, emblazoned with the letters “RSK.” Another murmur passed through the room.

“This is the insignia for the Roter Stern Korps, the Red Star Corps, a terrorist organization responsible for a string of bombings throughout West Germany before unification. The targets were mostly American military bases then, as well as the American embassy. They have been largely off the radar since then, but they reemerged three years ago. The current climate is ripe for any group that’s nationalistic in nature, and the RSK is as extreme as it gets. And now they have recruited heavily from every country in Europe, not just Germany. Our current intel suggests that they’re attempting to acquire sophisticated biological and chemical weapons.”

Vitali paused to let all of this sink in. The room was deadly quiet.

“You may also remember that the top three leaders of the RSK were arrested in Belgium last year. The Brotherhood has capitalized on this leadership vacuum, and now it’s safe to say that nearly every former RSK member, every Red Star as they often call themselves individually, is now working for the Brotherhood. It’s a marriage of convenience for both organizations. If the RSK obtains these advanced weapons, they could create mass chaos across the continent. If this fortune really exists, we must prevent the Brotherhood and their hired guns from finding it. Which means we must recover the map that was stolen last night.”

“I don’t know why my father would take this map,” Nick said. “But I can promise you one thing. If he has it, it’s safe. He’s not going to give it to any of these wack jobs.”

“We know a lot more this morning than we did last night,” Vitali said, “beginning with the fact that the map was the target, not the papal ring. We also know that the Brotherhood reached out to your father.”

“That’s impossible,” Nick said. “He wouldn’t have anything to do with these people.”

“The father who hid a secret life from you for years? The former spy who you barely speak to anymore? That father?”

“He may have kept some secrets from me,” Nick said, “but I know what kind of man he is.”

“We have the intel, Mr. Fox. Encrypted communications, directly between Egger and your father. The specifics of the job. Negotiation on the price. If you want to see it for yourself, I’ll arrange it.”

Nick shook his head. “Don’t bother.”

“We’ve opened a Red Notice,” Vitali said. “It will be broadcast to every Interpol office in the world.”

Nick knew exactly what a Red Notice was, because he’d been the subject of one or two himself. Interpol couldn’t actually create a global arrest warrant, but a Red Notice was the next best thing. Any country that chose to cooperate, and that was most of them, would keep an eye out for you, arrest you if they found you within their borders, and then turn you over to the country that originated the Red Notice.

The meeting adjourned and Nick was first out of the door. Kate followed, and then Jessup. As soon as all three were in the hallway, Jessup grabbed the young gendarme who was on loan from the Vatican to accompany Inspector General Vitali and to guard the door of the conference room. “Watch this man,” he said, indicating Nick. “If he tries to leave, shoot him.”

The gendarme was wearing the traditional navy blue uniform with the kepi hat, but he had checked his weapon before entering the building and he probably didn’t speak much English anyway. “Just watch him,” Jessup said, doing the two fingers at his own eyes and then pointing at Nick. He walked fifty feet down the

hallway and made a left turn. Kate knew to stay on his heels.

“As a warm-up,” Jessup said, taking a moment to rub his bloodshot eyes, “did I hear correctly that you brought your firearm into the Vatican? Into the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica?”

Kate was ready to tell him about Vitali seeing her put her Glock in her belt and not saying anything about it, but Jessup didn’t look like a man who’d buy that story. “Do you think that’s our biggest problem right now?” she asked instead, realizing as the words came out of her mouth that this was an even worse choice.

“You’re right,” Jessup said, after taking a moment to compose his thoughts. “We do have a bigger problem. And when I say we, I mean you and your partner.”

“He’s not my partner, sir.”

“Are you really going to keep correcting me, Agent O’Hare?

Do you really think that’s the best strategy right now?” “No, sir, I’m just saying—”

“Two days,” he said, using a dead calm tone of voice Kate had never heard before, so drained of color that she couldn’t detect even a hint of Kentucky in it. “You and your partner have two days to get that map back. And when you personally hand that map back over to the Vatican, I expect you and your partner to also personally hand over Quentin Fox. In cuffs.”

Kate didn’t bother to correct him on the “partner” business again. “With all due respect,” she said, “the FBI sent us here to observe and advise, and that’s exactly what we did. And if Nick wasn’t here, they wouldn’t even have any idea who to start looking for. I don’t know if it’s fair to ask Nick to go after his father, much less arrest him.”

Jessup stared at her. He really does look like hell, Kate thought.

This is a man who does not travel well.

“Two days,” he said. “I’m going to the hotel to clean up.”

He walked away, passing Nick with nothing more than one quick glare and a shake of his head.

“I’m getting a table at La Pergola,” Nick said as Kate came by. “Will the boss be joining us?”

Kate rolled her eyes and took off down the stairs, two at a time.

She caught up to Jessup in the parking lot.

“Why don’t we send Nick home?” Kate asked.

He stopped dead, turned, and looked at her. “Excuse me, Agent O’Hare?”

“I’ll stay and hunt down Quentin Fox on my own. Let Nick go back to the States and try to forget this one.”

“He’s not going to forget this one. And he’s not going to walk away. You know that, Agent O’Hare. So you’re going to watch him and you’re going to make sure the right decisions are made.”

“We don’t always see eye to eye on ‘right decisions.’ But I’ll do my best.”

Jessup stared at Kate for a few beats. Kate suspected he was having a minor stroke.

Several cars were standing by, ready to transport on-loan personnel. Jessup waved his hand and one of the cars pulled up. He opened the back door and got in. “Two days,” he said, and shut the door.

CHAPTER THREE

“I think I might remember something,” Nick said to Kate as they ate Sardinian ravioli at La Pergola. “About the man who might

have given my father that SAS parachute.” “I’m all ears,” Kate said.

“When I was ten years old, this friend of my father’s came to Miami to visit him. I remember, they went into the study and locked the door. Stayed in there for an hour, talking.”

“And?”

“He had a very British accent. It was the coolest-sounding thing in the world to me back then. And he brought me a present from England. It was this gold pin, a sword with wings, and a banner that said, ‘Who Dares Wins.’ ”

“That’s the SAS motto,” Kate said. “Exactly.”

“Do you remember his name?”

“No, I don’t. It was a long time ago. But I remember the name was unusual. Something I might recognize if I saw it again.”

A long moment of silence passed between them, until Nick finally spoke again. “Kate, no matter what my father has done, I don’t know if I can help you bring him in.”

Kate nodded. “I understand, but if you and I bring him in, he’ll be in cuffs. If Vitali does, it might be a body bag.”Kate and Nick caught the next available flight from Rome to London. A driver was waiting outside Heathrow Airport to take them to the Ministry of Defence Strategic Command Center, a nondescript building down the street from the more famous Thames House, the headquarters of MI5.

Kate checked her Glock at the desk and they went up to the UK Special Forces office, home base for the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment. SAS for short.

It was a strangely familiar feeling for Kate, walking among the squad members. This was a different country, different insignias on the sand-colored berets, a different-sounding version of the English language. Yet the energy in the air was exactly the same. So was the self-assured way everyone carried themselves and the steely look in everyone’s eyes. It took her back to the time she’d spent as a Navy SEAL.

Her chestnut-brown hair was several inches longer than when she was a SEAL. It was pulled back into a quick ponytail after her plane ride from Rome. Her jacket was wrinkled and she was wearing an FBI badge, but she felt totally at home.

“I bet anyone in this building could kill us in three seconds with a paper clip,” Nick said.

“No doubt,” Kate said, “and if you don’t behave yourself, I’ll kill you myself.”

A man appeared in the hallway and headed straight for them. A little older than everyone else but no less imposing. Dress camo, hair cut high and tight.

“I’m Major Hannon,” he said, with a West Country version of a British accent. “You must be from the FBI.”

“Yes, Major,” Kate said, shaking his hand. “I’m Agent O’Hare and this is Nick Fox.”

The major looked Nick up and down like he couldn’t quite understand the FBI connection. Kate didn’t blame him. She felt the same way herself several times a day.

“I understand you already have the parachute used in the escape last night,” Kate said.

“It just arrived.” Hannon led them down a hallway, to an equipment room with enough armament to outfit a small army, which is exactly what they were. Assault rifles, pistols, a wide array of knives on the far wall. Kate couldn’t help staring. This was her kind of room.

“It’s here,” Hannon said, showing them an unfolded parachute draped over a table. “It was already dusted for prints before it was sent here. None were found.”

He gathered the featherweight material of the chute and started folding it as he kept talking. “It’s definitely one of ours, but we do mostly HALO jumping.”

“High altitude, low opening,” Kate said to Nick.

“That’s right,” Hannon said, impressed. “You’ve jumped before?” “Once or twice.”

“Then I’m sure you used a backup chute. And a slider reefing device.”

“Yes,” Kate said. “Of course.”

“This one’s been modified.” Hannon nodded to the fabric in his hands. “Quicker release, single chute with no backup. It’s not the kind of thing we usually do here, jumping off buildings.”

“Do you know where this chute came from?” Kate asked. “We’ve got thousands of these all over the country. This one

looks a little older than most. It might have been saved by someone who retired from the regiment. But I’ll tell you one thing, whoever modified this knew exactly what he was doing.”

“So how do we find out who did this, Major?” Kate asked. “We’ve had a lot of smart men come through this building,”

Hannon said, “and most of them know their way around a parachute. I’m not sure how we’re going to narrow this down.”

“I might have an idea,” Nick said.

Nick, Kate, and Hannon sat in a conference room, high above the streets of London.

“I was ten years old,” Nick said. “The man who came to visit us, he gave me an SAS pin.”

Hannon listened to every word, and the look on his face made it crystal clear he wasn’t buying any of it. “If this man was in the regiment, he never would have said so. That’s the first rule.”

“First rule of Fight Club, never talk about Fight Club?” Nick said.

Hannon looked at him like he had no idea what Nick was talking about.

“He didn’t say a word about being in the SAS,” Nick said. “But who else would have a pin like that?”

“Nobody.”

“That’s what I thought. And you just told us five minutes ago that this chute definitely came from the SAS. So why not follow up on it?”

“What was this man’s name?” Hannon asked.

“It was a long time ago. But it was an unusual name. Something that sounded funny to me at the time. I think there’s a chance I’d recognize it if I saw it.”

“There’s anywhere from four hundred to six hundred active members at any one time.”

“If we know the year, can you show me the active roster?”

It was obvious Hannon didn’t love the idea. He thought it over for a moment and finally gave in. Using the year that Nick was ten years old, he went off to another room to find the roster.

“This sounds like a long shot,” Kate said. “There must be some other way you can contact your father.”

“I tried calling him. His phone is dead. I called his neighbor, too, and he said the house has been empty for weeks.”

Hannon came back into the room with a roster sheet. “You’ll see we’re divided into four squadrons,” he said. “Each squadron has four troops, led by a captain. The troops have specialties. Mobility, Mountain, Boat, and Air. The Air lads use most of the parachutes, no surprise, so that’s where I’d start.”

Nick went through the names in each squadron list, focusing on the air troops. There were sixteen names in each Air Troop, sixty-four in all. He stopped and closed his eyes like he was transporting himself back to a ten-year-old version of himself, hearing his father’s friend being introduced to him. A friend with a cool British accent and an unusual name.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said. “It’s just not jumping out at me.”

Hannon took back the list and looked at the names. “I know most of these men. I’ll be honest, Mr. Fox. I find it hard to believe that any one of them would help train your father, much less modify a chute so he could make a clean getaway from a robbery at the Vatican. I’m not surprised you didn’t find a name here, because I still don’t believe a single word of this.”

“I understand why you’d say that,” Nick said. “I’m just going by what I remember.”

“Memory’s a funny thing. I won’t hold it against you, sir.”

“We appreciate your help,” Kate said. “I’ll report to Interpol that you did everything you could for us.”

Hannon made an effort not to laugh at that. To him, Interpol was nothing but a bunch of computer geeks and pencil pushers, with tin badges and popguns.

“I’ll see you out,” he said. “And good luck finding your man.”

They had booked two rooms at a hotel in the West End, near Covent Garden. It was still early in the evening, but they were both exhausted and jet-lagged. Nick passed on a nightcap and Kate was grateful, but suspicious.

As soon as Nick was alone in his room, he opened up his laptop and started searching. Thirty minutes later, he opened the door quietly, looked up and down the hallway, and stepped very softly past Kate’s room, toward the elevator.

In another few minutes, he was down on Monmouth Street, hailing a taxi. Thirty seconds later, Kate hailed her own, and told the driver to follow the taxi in front of them.

“I’m going to kill him,” she said. She kept saying it over and over, until the driver gave her a funny look and she made herself stop.

They stayed on Nick’s tail, through the city, onto Whitechapel Road. There were a few anxious moments, making their way through the evening traffic and trying to keep in contact with a single taxi that looked like any other. Finally, Nick’s taxi turned down a narrow residential street and came to a stop. Kate watched Nick get out. She threw some pound notes at the driver and did the same. She was a block away, partially hidden in the shadows between streetlamps.

Now she had a choice to make. Go strangle the man, or wait and watch. She decided to wait and watch.

After five minutes of standing in the shadows, she started to get that old feeling, which had never failed her, that she was being watched herself. Nick stood down the street from the address he’d given to the driver. The owner of this little row house was a retired SAS captain named Richard Duckworth. It had been half a lie that he didn’t know the name. He remembered the man calling himself “Duckie,” and then that half lie was followed by a full lie when he scanned the list of names and acted like a man coming up empty. In truth, the name had jumped right out at him, and the fact that he had been the Air Troop captain for B Squadron clinched it. The man he had met when he was ten years old, and who might have given his father the parachute, lived in this row house.

Nick’s first order of business was to come up with a plan, a script, and possibly a character. Or maybe this was the one time when he should play it straight? Just tell the man he was the son of Quentin Fox and needed to talk to him?

Because that’s really all he was doing here. He felt bad leaving Kate behind, but he was certain that if he could just get five minutes with his father, alone, he could find out the truth. Without the truth, there was no way to know what to do next. Return the map. Give his dad to the authorities. Or go hunt for treasure.

Nick was halfway to the door when it opened. Two men came out. One was the same model of man he’d seen in the SAS headquarters, brickwall solid, with a high and tight haircut. He may have been a little older, retired from service, but he couldn’t help but carry himself like a soldier. The second man was his father, and he was holding a hard metal tube about a foot long.

Nick knew this had to be the map.

Nick followed them several blocks, back to Whitechapel Road. He watched them enter a narrow two-story building that was tucked into the middle of the block. He gave them a minute, then carefully peeked into the little window set high on the front door.

It was a pub, the kind of place meant only for the locals who’d been drinking there for most of their lives. There wasn’t even a sign on the front announcing the Bell & Crown or the Stag & Spit Bucket.

Nick stepped inside. There was a single rail of a bar running down one side of the room, with a rough-looking bartender on the other side. There was a game of “footie” on the “telly,” but nobody else but the bartender was watching it. There was no sign of Nick’s father or Duckworth.

The bartender stopped wiping a glass, looked at Nick as if he must have gotten himself seriously lost and walked through the wrong door. “Help ya, mate?”

“You got a bathroom?” Nick asked.

The bartender hesitated, then said, “Loo’s back there.”

Nick went down the narrow hallway, found the empty men’s room and an empty women’s room that was probably never used. He pushed open the third door and scanned the small kitchen. Nobody was here.

He pushed open the back door and glanced up and down the filthy alley. Nick was about to go back inside, then stopped himself and looked up at the second-story windows. How do you get up there?

Nick came back down the hallway, into the bar. “All set, mate?” the bartender said.

“How about one quick pint,” Nick said, sitting on one of the stools.

“We’ll be closing soon.”

“Just one. Then I’ll be on my way.”

The bartender tilted a glass and filled it, put it in front of Nick, then walked to the other end of the bar to watch the match. So much for Nick stalling, making conversation, or anything else that might help him figure out where his father had gone.

A minute later, another man walked in. He was wearing an old tweed jacket and a bow tie, but otherwise he looked just as uncomfortable and just as out of place as Nick. “I’m Professor Lewis,” he said to the bartender. “I believe they’re expecting me?”

The bartender put his rag down. “Right this way, Professor.”

He led Professor Lewis to the hallway. Nick leaned back to watch what was happening, but lost sight of them as they turned the corner. The bartender returned a few seconds later, alone.

“Thank you, sir,” Nick said. “You have a great evening.” He threw a few pound notes on the bar and walked out.

When he was at the end of the block, he made a right turn, worked his way back to the alley, and found the back door of the pub. He opened it quietly. This time, as he made his way up the hallway, he felt along the surface of the ancient wooden wall.

His fingers hit a vertical seam. He kept going until he hit another seam. This could be a hidden door, he thought. He tapped lightly. It sounded hollow. He pressed against one side of the panel, then the other side.

From the bar, he heard footsteps approaching the hallway. The bartender’s coming back here, Nick thought.

Nick pushed on the wall again, higher, then lower. The footsteps were getting closer. He pushed one more time and felt it give, then the panel slid all the way open and he stepped inside, closing the panel behind him.

Kate tailed Nick to Whitechapel Road and watched him go into the little pub with no name. She still couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched herself.

She was about to approach the pub when Nick came back out. She ducked into a doorway, holding her breath as he walked by. A few seconds passed. She poked her head back out, looked down the street. He was gone. Damn, I can’t lose him, she thought. Kate hurried down to the end of the block, but still didn’t see him.

She guessed to the right, went in that direction, came to the alley, and spotted Nick. She darted back just in time to avoid being made. When she peeked around the corner, he had disap- peared again. Kate went down the alley and found the back door to the pub. He must have gone in here, she thought. But why? He just walked out the front door a minute ago.

She cracked open the door, in time to see the bartender leaving the men’s room. Moving down the hallway, she stopped for one moment, pushed the men’s door open. The bathroom was empty.

Kate continued into the bar. The bartender was wiping down some glasses and looked over at her like, what the hell?

“Where is he?” she asked him. “Where’s who, luv?”

“The man who came in here.”

“He wasn’t here more than a minute,” the bartender said. “Then he was on his way.”

Kate came closer to the bar, took out her FBI badge. With no official jurisdiction, no official reason for this guy to give her the time of day, she knew she’d have to really sell this next part. “I’m going to ask you again,” she said, flashing the shield. “Where is he?” The bartender looked at the badge, his world clearly not rocked one tiny bit. “I think we’ve already covered it, luv. Your man came

in and left.”

“He snuck around to the alley and came in the back door. He’s not in the bathroom. So where is he?”

The bartender stopped smiling. “Bloody hell,” he said, throwing down his bar rag and moving quickly to the hallway.

Nick stood motionless inside the doorway. He waited for the sound of footsteps to end, let out his breath, and turned toward the stairs behind him. A dim glow of light was coming from somewhere above. He heard voices. Nick couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. He took a step on the old boards, winced at the squeak, then kept going.

Auf dem Turm, Deutschland Siegt Auf Allen Fronten,” he heard one voice say. It sounded like the professor who had just come in. “On the tower, Germany is victorious on all fronts,” the man said. “Which makes sense, because those were the exact words hanging on the tower. They cut the cables, you know, so that nobody could use the lift. They didn’t want someone to sneak up

and cut the banner down.”

“Are you saying that’s where the treasure is?” It was Nick’s father’s voice. “That’s impossible.”

“I’m just telling you what I see here,” Lewis said. “These runes in the center section, they call them the Elder Futhark. They go back to the eighth century. It’s a code, very common for the Nazis. Hitler was obsessed with the occult, with astrology, ancient symbols, omens.”

Nick stayed frozen where he was, listening intently. “Can you decipher the code?” his father asked.

“I need to see more of it. Are there other documents?”

Before Nick could hear another word, the hidden door opened behind him. He turned to see the bartender, with Kate standing beside him. Nick didn’t have more than one second to react when he heard a riot of heavy footsteps coming through the front door of the pub. Kate pushed the bartender toward the back door, pulled the Glock from her belt, and aimed it down the hallway. A bullet passed over her head and dug into the doorway. She returned fire.

“Move!” she said, coming up toward Nick.

As Nick hit the top of the stairs, the three men in the room were already in motion. Duckworth had his own semiautomatic drawn and Quentin Fox was rolling up the map, while the pro- fessor just looked like he was deciding which window to jump out of. Quentin pushed open another secret door on the far wall, grabbed the professor by his tweed coat, and pulled him through. Duckworth aimed his barrel at Nick. “Don’t move,” he said.

“I’ll put one right through your eye hole!”

“Captain, it’s me,” Nick said, raising his hands. “I’m Quentin’s son.”

Duckworth froze, trying to understand what he was hearing.

Kate flew into the room, firing back down the staircase. “Get down!” she said.

Nick took cover behind the upended table, but Duckworth was an old SAS man and there was only one thing he knew how to do. He joined Kate at the stop of the stairs and fired down at the intruders.

“Who are they?” he asked Kate between rounds. “I was hoping you could tell me.”

One of the men tried to come up the stairs. Duckworth kept the “eye hole” promise he’d made to Nick and put one through the man’s left eye. When the man went down, another appeared from behind him. He sprayed bullets wildly, one of them hitting Duckworth under his arm.

Kate took aim and fired, killing the second intruder.

“Get out of here!” Duckworth said. “Through that door! I’ll hold them!”

Kate pushed Nick ahead through the other secret door. It led to another staircase, this one caked with dust and cobwebs, obviously not used for years. They followed the two sets of footprints down to a door that had already been pushed open. They emerged in the alley behind the pub. Another man fired on them immediately. Kate took dead aim and put one into his chest.

“Which way did they go?” Kate asked Nick.

Nick saw one set of dusty footprints leading in one direction, another set in the opposite direction. “Both ways!”

Kate grabbed the gun that the man in the alley had just dropped. She got her first good look at the man, saw nothing more remarkable than his raw, stubbled face, his thick sweater and heavy boots, like a dockworker would wear. There was a tattoo on his neck, a hint of something red barely peeking out from under his collar, but Kate had no time to examine it. “Here,” she said to Nick, handing him the gun. “You go that way.”

It was one of Nick’s oldest rules to never touch a gun if he didn’t have to, but today was a great day to make an exception. He gripped it in firing position, finger off the trigger, and headed left down the alley as Kate went in the opposite direction.

As Kate drew nearer to the alley’s opening to the street, she saw one of the men who’d been in the upper room, now splashing through the filthy puddles just ahead of her. It wasn’t Quentin Fox, but rather the third man, the one with the tweed jacket and the bow tie. He ran out onto the street, but before Kate could reach the same opening, it was blocked by the largest man she had ever seen in her life. And he had a gun.

She dove behind a garbage bin as the huge man fired on her. She fired back and caught him high in the right shoulder. The man barely flinched. He kept firing, until he finally ran out of bullets.

The big man came toward her, as if Kate being armed meant nothing to him, but then someone called to him from the street. He turned and left the alley. When Kate caught up, she saw him getting into a black van. He had left a thin trail of blood from where she’d hit him in the shoulder.

She turned and looked back down the alley, but saw no sign of either Fox, father or son.

Nick emerged from the alley and spotted his father running across Whitechapel Road. He gave chase, dodging oncoming cars, catching sight of him again as he entered a park. He lost him, almost gave up, until he finally saw him running toward a pedestrian bridge.

Nick’s lungs were burning as he reached the bridge. He stood at the apex, which gave him a good view of the rest of the park. He saw nothing but trees, the darkness broken only by a few more streetlamps and a dozen people walking calmly. Nobody running.

“Where did you go, Dad?” he asked out loud.

Nick leaned over the edge of the pedestrian bridge, taking long breaths of the cold evening air. On the street directly below him, opening the door to a taxi, was his father. He was holding the metal cylinder containing the map.

Quentin Fox sensed the presence above him, looked up, and saw Nick staring down at him. The two men were frozen like this for several seconds. Nick still had the gun in his hand. He could have pointed it at his father, ordered him to stop. He could have shot the gun into the air. He could have put a bullet into the taxi’s hood, scaring the driver out of his vehicle and drawing the attention of everyone around him, including the police.

He didn’t do any of those things.

He kept staring into his father’s eyes until the driver honked his horn. Quentin nodded to Nick, got into the back with his treasure map, and then the taxi drove away.


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