Page 56

The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:12

“Maybe it’ll be the same cops who arrested us the other day,” Joe suggested. “They were awfully nice.”

“We should be so lucky,” Kurt said.

The car stopped and two officers in uniform stepped out with guns raised. Kurt and Joe didn’t resist. They were cuffed, placed into the car and hauled off in record time. Kurt noticed they were being driven away from the center of town instead of toward it and its all-too-familiar police station. “We get to make a phone call, don’t we?”

A smiling face turned to look at them. “One’s already been made on your behalf,” the man said. Strangely, he spoke with a Louisiana drawl instead of a Mediterranean accent. “By the Chairman himself.”

The officer tossed a set of keys in Kurt’s lap. “MacD,” the man said, introducing himself. “Your friend in low places.”

Kurt grinned, unlocked his cuffs and then Joe’s. The lights and siren were shut off, the car continued down the road and several minutes later Kurt and Joe were dropped off only two blocks from their hotel.

“Thanks for the extraction,” Kurt said. “Tell Juan the first drink is on me.”

MacD smiled. “He’ll never let you pay, but I’ll be sure to tell him you offered.” Kurt shut the door. MacD motioned to the driver and the car moved off.

“Any chance we can draft Juan and his crew for this mission?” Joe asked.

“Seems like they’ve got their own problems to deal with,” Kurt replied.

He turned toward the hotel and began walking. They were free and clear, soaking wet, ears ringing from the gunfight, but the street was deserted and it was quiet all around. And despite all that—despite what they’d risked—they were no closer to an answer than they’d been the day before.

“Strange evening,” Kurt said.

“That’s the understatement of the year,” Joe replied.

They snuck into the hotel, rode the freight elevator up to their floor and trudged wearily to their room, discovering Renata waiting inside. Unlike them, she was beaming.

“You guys look terrible!”

[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======

Kurt didn’t doubt that. “Something tells me your night went a lot better than ours,” he said, closing the door and slumping down in the nearest chair.

“I should have known all those police cars were your doing.”

“Not just ours,” Joe said. “It was a party no one’s going to forget.”

Kurt hoped Renata had something of substance behind her smile. “Tell me you’ve found Sophie C.”

“As a matter of fact, I did,” Renata said. “And she’s not far from here at all.”

The news gave Kurt a jolt of energy. “When do we meet her?”

“Hopefully, not for a very long time,” Renata replied. “She’s no longer among the living.”

That was bad news. Or so Kurt thought. “You don’t seem very upset about that.”

“Well, it has been a while,” Renata replied. “She passed away in 1822.”

Kurt looked at Joe. “

This making any sense to you?”

Joe shook his head. “The CO2 has affected my advanced reasoning skills and I’m not hearing this right.”

“I know you’re having fun with this,” he said, “but let’s cut to the chase. Who is Sophie C.? And what could a woman who died in 1822 possibly have in connection with Dr. Kensington and the Lampedusa attack?”

“Sophie C.,” Renata said, “is short for Sophie Celine.”