Agent Diaz led David and A.D. LeMoyne along the hotel corridor and past a couple of additional agents — or so David figured — who might as well have been cut from stone. They nodded and smiled deferentially, and the smiles just made them seem creepier. Through the threshold they went into a fairly opulent suite. Not some ridiculous rococo treatment, but it may as well have been for David’s reaction.

“Damn,” he said in bewilderment. “You sure you have the right guy?”

Things seemed to make less and less sense as they went along. Dr. David Solomon had never done a thing to raise any public notice, and he often wondered if he had peaked with his thesis. He had never been published, other than in ‘blogs… and who of any consequence reads those?

The only thing he could come up with were those damned letters… that they’d turned up at Michael’s place was the only noteworthy thing he could imagine. That, and that they were sent to him at all. Some of the things David had read there could have been called treasonous, but who would care? And why would any of it implicate him?

Diaz had disappeared into the next room as soon as they had entered, in a manner that seemed conspicuously inconspicuous. David dismissed it for now and addressed LeMoyne.

“A.D. LeMoyne… what the hell do I call you guys?… when do I start getting some answers? Who’s after what, and why?”

LeMoyne nodded with an attempt at a reassuring smile. “‘Roger’ will do just fine with me. And you may well know everything before I do; for the moment, at least, we’re your protection detail.”

“An Assistant Director on a protection detail?”

Agent Diaz returned, and subtly nodded to LeMoyne. But not subtly enough. Clumsy, thought David. She’d given a critical tell to their hand.

“You can call me ‘Rebecca’, sir,” she said. “A.D. LeMoyne is here because if advanced protective measures are called for, he can expedite them to an extent that I can’t.”

David allowed himself a laugh. “What, like an air strike?”

“We don’t know yet, and we’re hoping we don’t have to find out,” said LeMoyne. “For now, we’ll leave you to get some rest. I know it’ll be difficult, but please try. You’re welcome to use room service, or watch a pay-per view, or any other services provided by the hotel; but the phone won’t place any external calls, and I need to ask you not to use any cell phones. It’s not safe.”

David nodded doubtfully. “And what about Michael? How’s he?”

“He’s at a separate location, protected as well. I promise he’s also being made as comfortable as we can manage. We’ll notify him that you’re safe, and we’ll be by in the morning with any updates we may have.”

A few awkward goodnights later, David was alone in the room, shoes off, feet on the table and flipping through TV channels. Bored and restless, he turned it off and tossed aside the remote. Then he recalled the cell phone Lorelei had given him.

1 Voice Mail(s)

showed on the screen, and David dialed to retrieve the message. It was Lorelei’s voice.

“Hey, it’s me. Okay, so if you’re listening to this, then obviously you’re okay for now. They must not want you harmed either. But please remember what I said: do not trust them. Whether or not you wanna trust me, I’ll leave up to you. We’ll talk soon, David. Keep safe.”

David deleted the message and recalled Diaz’s furtive retreat into the other half of the suite. Whether she’d fiddled with something, or checked against someone else’s fiddling, fiddling of some sort was involved, and he decided to find out.

This half of the suite was essentially bedroom and bath, with a lounge and breakfast table. He scanned the room for anything obvious, like a camera placement, and saw nothing. Instinctively he looked in the lampshades first for bugs, and wondered if they were still called that. Nothing there. He examined behind picture frames, the undersides of bedstand drawers, and whatever else he could think of. Finally, under the counter of the vanity sink, he felt something that seemed not to belong. He plucked it off and looked it over; it was a very small audio receiver.

David set the device on the counter, unsure whether to feel outraged or smugly satisfied. Perhaps both?

“All right,” he spoke into the receiver, “you don’t trust me, and as of this moment it’s mutual. So, since I doubt any of us is getting any sleep tonight, I’m inviting you over to talk about what the fuck you really want. Or just bring a deck of cards. Or both; I’m not picky.”

He smashed the thing to pieces with the heel of a shoe. And then he waited.

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