It’s 1996, and Mark Vincent, senior special agent of the Washington Bureau of Investigation and Security, is sent on assignment to Prague to cancel the head of a terrorist organization. He has no doubt it will be a simple operation. After all, he’s the best, isn’t he?
Only another member of the WBIS gets involved, and when everything goes south -- including the loss of valued members of his team -- Mark vows to destroy the man responsible for this debacle.
Refused permission to return to the States and ordered to take time off to decompress, Mark heads to Paris, where he meets an attractive rent boy who introduces himself as Louis. Unable to resist, Mark, portraying an ordinary businessman, gives his name as Rick, and they spend the week together. However, neither man is what he portrays himself as.
With this unlikely pair, can this be the start of a beautiful friendship?
I went into a small, dark pawnshop. The woman behind the counter gave me an indifferent once-over. “What can I do for you?”
“I’ve got a ring.” Czech wasn’t a language I was comfortable with -- it might as well have been Greek to me. I’d learned the speech by rote.
“Do you want to pawn it or sell it?”
“Sell it, though it breaks my heart. It belonged to my grandmother, but I’m down on my luck.”
Her gaze sharpened. “If you’ll let me see it?”
“Sure.” I handed it to her.
“Ah. This is very old. I have a customer who might be interested in it.”
“Will he give me a fair price?”
“If it proves to be what he wants.”
“I’ll have to leave it with you.”
“I won’t cheat you. Come back to my office, and we’ll fill out the paperwork.”
I followed her to a dingy room in the back, and as soon as the door was closed behind us, I said, “En français, s'il vous plaît.”
She nodded and asked in French, “What did you need to know?”
“Where has the Archbishop gone?”
She shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
“His people?” I’d be willing to settle for canceling them until I could get my hands on their leader.
“Anyone with connections to the Scarlet Chamber has departed Prague.” She studied me intently. “This was a poorly run operation.”
“You won’t get an argument from me.” I took out a business card with one of my aliases on it and wrote down my cell phone number. “If you or any of your people learn the whereabouts of the Archbishop or the Scarlet Chamber, contact me. Anytime, day or night.”
“And you’ll drop everything to come here and deal with him?”
“Damn straight I will. Those were my people he tortured and killed.”
“It’s easy to talk big when you’re not facing a man like him.”
“It is, but I back up my words with actions.” I leaned forward and murmured my name in her ear.
“Truly? I’ve heard of you.”
“Then you know I won’t let my men go unavenged.”
She tapped the business card on her desk. “Someone will call you.” She handed me the ring back.
“Thank you.” I put it in an inner pocket of my suit jacket. “And if you know anyone who can get word to Dieter Abendroth, let him know Mark Vincent will be coming after him.”
She blinked, seeming startled that I knew the Archbishop’s name, and then she gave a slow smile. “Your reputation is warranted.”
“When it comes to my job, I’m dead serious.”
“Or perhaps just dead. Is it wise to warn him?”
“He’ll be looking over his shoulder. Nervous men make foolish mistakes.”
“You think he’ll be nervous?”
“He will be if he’s smart. Thank you again. I’ll wait to hear from you.” Of course, I’d make sure other contacts knew I was gunning for the Archbishop.
It was just a matter of time.