The bourne supremacy, p.68
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.68

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 68

 

  'He is, and ten thousand dollars richer. '

  'He's a money-hungry cochon. But I can hardly criticize, I used him myself. I paid him five hundred to pick up and deliver a message. '

  'That brought your creation here tonight so you could kill him? What made you so sure he'd come?'

  'A Medusan's instinct, and skeletal knowledge of an extraordinary liaison he has made, a contact so profitable to him and so dangerous it could have all of Hong Kong at war, the entire colony paralysed. ' 'I heard that theory before,' said Jason, recalling Mr Allister's words spoken that early evening in Maine, 'and I still don't believe it. When killers kill each other, they're the ones who usually lose. They blow themselves away and informers come out of the woodwork thinking they might be next. '

  'If the victims are restricted to such a convenient pattern, certainly you are right. But not when they include a powerful political figure from a vast and aggressive nation. '

  Bourne stared at d'Anjou. 'China?' he asked softly.

  The Frenchman nodded. 'Five men were killed in the Tsim Sha Tsui-'

  'I know that. '

  'Four of those corpses were meaningless. Not the fifth. He was the Vice-Premier of the People's Republic. '

  'Good God!' Jason frowned, the image of a car corning to him. A car with its windows blacked out and an assassin inside. An official government vehicle of the Chinese government.

  'My sources tell me that the wires burned between Government House and Beijing, practicality and face winning out - this time. After all, what was the Vice-Premier doing in Kowloon, to begin with? Was such an august leader of the Central Committee also one of the corrupted? But, as I say, that is this time. No, Delta, my creation must be destroyed before he accepts another contract that could plunge us all into an abyss. '

  'Sorry, Echo. Not killed. Taken and brought to someone else. '

  That is your story, then?' asked d'Anjou.

  'Part of it, yes. '

  Tell me. '

  'Only what you have to know. My wife was kidnapped and brought to Hong Kong. To get her back - and I'll get her back, or every goddamned one of you will die - I have to deliver your son-of- a-bitch creation. And now I'm one step closer because you're going to help me, and I mean really help me. If you don't-'

  Threats are unnecessary, Delta,' interrupted the former Medusan. 'I know what you can do. I've seen you do it. You want him for your reasons and I want him for mine. The order of battle is joined. '

  Chapter Seventeen

  Catherine Staples insisted that her dinner guest had another vodka martini, demurring for herself as her glass was still half full.

  'It's also half empty,' said the thirty-two-year-old American attach�, smiling wanly, nervously, pushing his dark hair away from his forehead. That's stupid of me, Catherine,' he added. 'I'm sorry, but I can't forget that you saw the photographs -never mind that you saved my career and probably my life -it's those goddamned photographs. '

  'No one else saw them except Inspector Ballantyne. '

  'But you saw them. '

  'I'm old enough to be your mother. '

  'That compounds it. I look at you and feel so ashamed, so damned dirty. '

  'My former husband, wherever he is, once said to me that there was absolutely nothing that could or should be considered dirty in sexual encounters. I suspect there was a motive for his making the statement, but I happen to think he was right. Look, John, put them out of your mind. I have. '

  'I'll do my best. ' A waiter approached; the drink was ordered by signal. 'Since your call this afternoon I've been a basket case. I thought more had surfaced. That was a twenty-four-hour period of pure outer space. '

  'You were heavily and insidiously drugged. On that level you weren't responsible. And I'm sorry, I should have told you it had nothing to do with our previous business. '

  'If you had I might have earned my salary for the last five hours. '

  'It was forgetful and cruel of me. I apologize. '

  'Accepted. You're a great girl, Catherine. '

  'I appeal to your infantile regressions. '

  'Don't bet too much money on that. '

  'Then don't you have a fifth martini. '

  'It's only my second. '

  'A little flattery never hurt anyone. '

  They laughed quietly. The waiter returned with John Nelson's drink; he thanked the man and turned back to Staples. 'I have an idea that the prospect of flattery didn't get me a free meal at The Plume. This place is out of my range. '

  'Mine, too, but not Ottawa's. You'll be listed as a terribly important person. In fact, you are. '

  'That's nice. No one ever told me. I'm in a pretty good job over here because I learned Chinese. I figured that with all those Ivy League recruits, a boy from Upper Iowa College in old Fayette, Big I, ought to have an edge somewhere. '

  'You have it, Johnny. The consulates like you. Our out-posted "Embassy Row" thinks very highly of you, and they should. '

  'If they do, it's thanks to you and Ballantyne. And only you two. ' Nelson paused, sipped his martini, and looked at Staples over the rim of the glass. He lowered his drink and spoke again. 'What is it, Catherine? Why am I important?'

  'Because I need your help. '

  'Anything. Anything I can do. '

  'Not so fast, Johnny. It's deep-water time and I could be drowning myself. ' 'If anyone deserves a lifeline from me, it's you. Apart from minor problems, our two countries live next door to each other and basically like each other - we're on the same side. What is it? How can I help youT

  'Marie St Jacques . . . Webb,' said Catherine, studying the attache's face.

  Nelson blinked, his eyes roving aimlessly in thought. 'Nothing,' he said. The name doesn't mean anything to me. '

  'All right, let's try Raymond Havilland. '

  '0h, now that's another barrel of pickled herring. ' The attach� widened his eyes and cocked his head. 'We've all been scuttle-butting about him. He hasn't come to the consulate, hasn't even called our head honcho, who wants to get his picture in the papers with him. After all, Havilland's a class act - kind of metaphysical in this business. He's been around since the loaves and the fishes, and he probably engineered the whole scam. '

  'Then you're aware that over the years your aristocratic ambassador has been involved with more than diplomatic negotiations. '

  'Nobody ever says it, but only the naive accept his above-the-fray posture. '

  'You are good, Johnny. '

  'Merely observant. I do earn some of my pay. What's the connection between a name I do know and one that I don't?'

  'I wish I knew. Do you have any idea why Havilland is over here? Any rumours you've picked up?'

  'I've no idea why he's here, but I do know you won't find him at a hotel. '

  'I assume he has wealthy friends-'

  'I'm sure he does, but he's not staying with them, either. '

  'Oh?'

  'The consulate quietly leased a house in Victoria Peak, and a second marine contingent was flown over from Hawaii for guard duty. None of us in the upper-middle ranks knew about it until a few days ago when one of those dumb things happened. Two marines were having dinner in the Wanchai and one of them paid the bill with a temporary cheque drawn on a Hong Kong bank. Well, you know servicemen and cheques; the manager gave this corporal a hard time. The kid said neither he nor his buddy had had time to round up cash and that the cheque was perfectly good. Why didn't the manager call the consulate and talk to a military attach�?'

 
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