· Andrew and Julian Scott entered the Federal Intelligence Agency building. The renowned man and wife team headed toward the core of the complex where their chief was expecting them. They walked past offices and file store rooms which were used only for show. The elevator operator held the door open for the detectives, ready to take them down five levels to the main floor. He studied the couple intently and noticed that they had changed very little since ten years ago.·
"Glad to see ya." His gruff voice grated in their ears. "Youlook good,Mrs.Scott."·
"Thanks, Ralph. So do you."·
"Anniversary comin' up. Should buy you a binocular."·
"No thanks, Ralph," declined Andrew. "I'm not a spy anymore. I'm into martial art weapons and Julian study files."
"Oh well, good luck."
They departed from the elevator and looked about them for the FIA's chief. Sam Barkely turned a corner and stretched out his hand in greeting. His muscles, which contrasted greatly with Andrew's, threatened to tear the seams of his shirt. But despite his great size, he gently took Julian's hand in friendship. Then he lead them past more offices and storerooms that bustled with FIA men and women who frantically tried to decipher German and Soviet codes.
The FIA's chief unlocked the massive door to his office for the Scotts with his electronic key. The room behind the portal was impressive. Fresh pine and oak drifted out to entice them into comfort and luxury. Chairs, made to seat two, faced toward the fireplace where the pop and crackle of the wood filled the air. Book-lined walls surrounded them and a dark mahogany desk was littered with classic literature.
Although Julian and Andrew had stood in the room dozens of times, it never stopped amazing them how that room could be a part of the dirty white in the rest of the building. Andrew closed his mouth, then sat on a leather chair imported from Europe. Julian chose the swivel chair at the desk.
Mr. Barkley, enjoying their astonished looks, cleared his throat and started the meeting. "Last week we have had the fortune to capture the Mafia leader, Don Fernando."
"The boss man, himself," Andrew muttered.
"As you know," Sam continued, "we've been after him for years. One of our new agents had him under surveillance. Things came about that gave him the opportunity, and he nabbed Fernando. At this moment, he's sulking in our top security cell."
Suddenly, the lamp sitting upon the mantelpiece turned on. The eerie glow caught Sam's attention. He immediately crossed the room. From inside the desk, he pulled out a .357 revolver. He checked the ammunition barrel, nodded his head in satisfaction, then left quickly.
Meanwhile, Julian and Andrew sat back. They knew not to get in Barkley's way when something was up. Andrew still had a scar on his hand from the last time he had tempted to stop him. So Andrew leaned back in the large leather chair, his feet resting against the bricks of the fireplace. Julian poured him a double whiskey. She smoothed back his blond hair, letting her fingers linger a moment. Then she ambled over to the desk and sat on the top.
Several minutes went by with no return from Barkley. They listened for any noise which might give them a clue to what had happened, but the walls blocked out all the sounds of turmoil that could be a signal something was amiss in the corridor. Julian raised her hand and placed the tip of her index finger in her mouth. Thinking the better of it, she let her hand fall and clicked her long nails against the desk top instead.
"I'm nervous," revealed Julian.
"Don't be. It's probably a fluke in the system."
Instantly, a muffled alarm penetrated the air. Julian stood. She motioned Andrew to say where he was. Then she was gone, leaving the door unlocked in case of a hurried return. Andrew strolled over to the desk. He needed a distraction which the books could provide, but he also knew that Barkley kept his weapons inside the drawers. He picked up The Scarlett Letter and began to read.
Five pages and ten minutes later, the click of the door handle made Andrew place his book down. Reaching inside the desk, he wrapped his fingers around the first thing they located. The silver bayonet had been Barkley's prize possession for years. Andrew often marveled why he valued it so highly, but now he didn't have the time to contemplate. He moved to stand before the door. Ready to defend himself against any attacker, he watched the door as it slowly and cautiously opened.
The first form to appear was slim and petite. Long blonde hair hung down the straight back. The face, normally smooth and unlined, was creased. Worry and fear shone in her eyes when Julian noticed Andrew. Her breath caught as she thought of the second figure behind her.
The man was of great weight and size. He stood pointing a 9mm Walther revolver at Andrew's chest. His squinting eyes half concealed the demonic gleam in his eyes, but the twisted smile painted on his face clearly revealed his thoughts. Andrew hid the bayonet behind his back. He knew it didn't matter if the weapon was concealed or not but Andrew felt much better if the man didn't know.
"The boss man, himself," Andrew muttered.
Don Fernando edged up closer to Julian. He placed his sweaty fingers around her arm, but kept the revolver aimed at Andrew. "You must be Andrew Scott. I heard you're good friends with Sam. That's a shame."
"Because now I can use you as bait. We've been rivals for years. I finally got the chance to finish him off."
"I'm not doing your dirty work."
"No need. Your pretty wife will do just fine."
Julian pulled Julian closer to him. Andrew instinctively reacted by bringing his arm from behind. The eerie red light struck the metal object as it flew through the air. Julian froze. Don Fernando grunted. A puzzled expression showed on his face which became paler as the seconds passed. His hand went to his stomach and red seeped through his fingers. Fernando fell, gasped, then died.
Andrew moved to Julian. She embraced him and her eyes glistened as the realization of what had occurred came to her. Sam Barkley put a gentle hand on her shoulder. He looked about him and read the signs of the fight.
"Sorry I wasn't here to help. The lamp was a signal that a prisoner had escaped. They usually leave by the back entrance or a side window. Never have they come down here. But with Mr. Fernando, I should have known. I'm sorry."
"It's alright. It's over now. You'll have no more worries from him."