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Authors: Roland Smith

Shatterproof (8 page)

BOOK: Shatterproof
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“Do you still think our data is compromised?”

“It’s hard to say. I’m monitoring it twenty-four-seven and haven’t detected any intruders, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a mole.”

“Call me if you have any updates. Day or night. It doesn’t matter.” Amy glanced away from the screen, then looked back shyly. “You can call me anytime . . . for any reason. I really miss you, Evan.”

“I miss you, too, Ames.” Evan took a deep breath. “Are you sure everything is okay?”

“I guess. I mean . . .”

“You and Jake seem to be getting along pretty well.”

Amy felt her face flush again, but this time with anger. “What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing,” Evan said. “I was just —”

“It’s getting late,” Amy said, looking at her watch — which wasn’t there, adding to her frustration. “I better go.” She ended the call and closed her laptop. The
last
thing she needed right now was to worry about Evan’s ridiculous concerns. She sighed. Why did everything have to be so completely confusing?

Evan stared at his reflection in the blank monitor and saw that his mouth was hanging open. Why would Amy react so strongly to a simple question? He’d only asked because the last time they’d talked, she said Jake was being a jerk. He was about to try to reconnect with her, but was interrupted by a scream.

He jumped up and looked around for some kind of weapon, but all he could find was a Ping-Pong paddle. He grabbed it and rushed downstairs.

Ian Kabra was standing in the living room with blood running down his face.

“Sorry to disturb your game,” Ian said, looking at the paddle.

Evan clenched his teeth. “I wasn’t playing Ping-Pong,” Evan said, hiding the paddle behind his back. “What happened?”

“Saladin happened. Grace’s mangy cat. When I walked in he jumped on my head like a puma. He nearly took my ear off!”

Saladin was lying comfortably in an expensive chair, grooming Kabra blood off his front paws.

“Don’t just stand there,” Ian said. “Go fetch the first-aid kit. I believe it’s in the kitchen.”

“Where have you been?” Evan asked.

“Out, obviously. How about that first-aid kit?”

“Go
fetch
it yourself.”

“I’m wounded,” Ian huffed.

“It’s worse than you think.” Evan pointed at one of Ian’s expensive, handmade shoes. On the toe was an egg-size glob of gray goo.

“What is it?” Ian shouted in horror.

“Looks like a fur ball to me.” Evan started back upstairs, wondering if Saladin could detect something in Ian that Evan couldn’t prove.
Perhaps Saladin is trying to catch a rat
, he thought.

Ian kicked the slimy fur ball off his shoe. It hit the wall above the sofa with a sickening splat and slid down like a giant slug.

He has some nerve
, Ian thought as he watched Evan disappear up the stairs. Sure, his computer skills kept him from being
completely
useless, but Evan wasn’t a Cahill and needed to show some respect for the world’s most powerful family.

Amy could really do better
, he thought as he backed his way into the kitchen, afraid to take his eyes off the demonic cat. When he got there, he closed the door and latched it behind him.

What does that beast have against me?
Animals had always taken a shine to Ian, from the homing poodles on the Kabra estate, to his imported polo ponies, Sebastian and Quigley. American cats were clearly terrible judges of character.

All Ian had wanted to do when he dragged himself into the Attleboro mansion was lie down on the sofa and take a nap. Now, he had to stem the flow of blood and figure out a way to get the lion out of the living room. He found the first-aid kit and patched his ear as best he could, then took a dish towel and buffed the slime off his shoe. He badly missed his servants.

Now for my nemesis
. He opened a cupboard stacked high with tins of red snapper. As soon as he started the electric can opener, there was a scratching at the door. He opened it very carefully. The Egyptian Mau slipped through the crack and strutted over to the cat dish like he was Tutankhamen entering a banquet hall.

Mrrp
, said Saladin before starting in on his fishy meal.

“Just remember who fed you,” Ian said. He shut the door, walked back to the living room, arranged the pillow, and lay down on his good ear, hoping Saladin didn’t know how to open a latch.

Dan was also eating fish when Amy’s cell phone rang.

“Heffo?” He tried to swallow a mouthful of
bratfisch mit pommes frites
and started choking. “Hong on.” He reached for a glass of ice water and took a deep gulp. “Sorry. Who’s this?”

“Erasmus,” a deep voice replied.

“Hey. How’s Pompeii? How are Hamilton and Jonah? I hear Mount Vesuvius is about ready to blow!”

“I wouldn’t know,” Erasmus said. “We’re in Mumbai.”

“As in India? I thought you were in Italy.”

“We came across Luna Amato in Pompeii early this morning,” Erasmus said. “This is where she led us. Where’s Amy?”

“She’s taking a shower.”

“Tell her Jonah’s jet is on the way. The pilot will call you when it lands in Berlin.”

“I will, but —”

“Gotta go.” Erasmus ended the call.

“Nice talking to you, too,” Dan said and exchanged the phone for a
pomme frite
, aka French fry, because Atticus had scarfed down the last piece of
bratfisch
, aka deep-fried fish, while he was talking to Erasmus.

“Here it is!” Jake said. He had found something on the television about the Pergamon blackout.

Dan and Atticus joined him in front of the tube. A news reporter was interviewing Rommel outside the entrance to the museum.

“The reporter’s asking him if there was anything stolen from the museum,” Atticus translated. “Rommel says that the collection is all accounted for except for an old manuscript called
The Book of Ingenious Devices
. He says that the manuscript may have been moved by one of the curators. He hasn’t had a chance to talk to all the staff yet.”

“It’s been swiped,” Dan said. “Or more accurately, it’s
being
swiped.” He pointed at the screen.

Cheyenne and Casper Wyoming were walking right past where Rommel was being interviewed. They smiled at the camera. Casper had a wrapped bundle under his arm the size of a large book.

“Vesper used us!” Dan said. “The Golden Jubilee was a diversion!” He pulled the velvet bag out of his pocket. “He knew this would set off the metal detector. He probably tipped Milos Vanek off, too. And then the Wyomings grabbed the book, which isn’t nearly as valuable as some of the other stuff they have in there. There probably wasn’t even a guard on it!” He picked up the Vesper phone and read part of the text again, aloud: “‘Thank you for your help at the Pergamon. We could not have done it without you.’”

Jake stood up. “I’ve had enough of the Vespers for tonight. I’m going to sleep.” He walked into one of the bedrooms and closed the door.

Atticus yawned. “I think I’ll go to sleep, too.” He snagged his third dessert from the serving cart and took it into another bedroom with him.

Dan switched the television off and slumped into a chair. He couldn’t sleep. There was a secret itching at him, scratching away at the back of his brain until he felt like he was going crazy.

Dan took his cell phone out and stared at his last text exchange with AJT — the person who was either posing as Arthur Trent . . . or was actually Dan and Amy’s father.

If you’re really my dad, can you tell me what special thing you said to make us smile together?

 

The answer had come back lightning fast.

Moon face.

Aside from Amy, the only person who could know this special nickname was his father.

Dan had deleted all of the previous texts from AJT, swearing that he would not contact him again. But he couldn’t help himself. He glanced at Amy’s door, then quickly thumbed in a text.

Why did you set us up at Pergamon Museum? What is The Book of Ingenious Devices?

Dan stared at the screen. An hour went by, then two. He finally dozed off, waiting for a reply from the dead.

The hostages were waiting on the dead as well. The Vesper guards had watched the whole thing unfold on their video monitors. Reagan Holt had died from an apparent heart attack on the ninth one-handed push-up of her third set.

At first they thought she was just resting, but the boy named Phoenix rushed over and shook her.

“Reagan?” Phoenix looked at the others with grim horror. “She’s not moving.”

“Ridiculous!” Alistair Oh said. He joined Phoenix and carefully turned her over. Reagan’s face was blue. “Oh, my God!” he shouted.

The guards watched as a few of the hostages took turns administering CPR, while the others shouted for a doctor until they were all hoarse. They cried. Finally, they covered Reagan with a sheet and left her by the door.

The guards waited to go down until after they finished their poker game. Before opening the door, they pulled balaclavas over their heads and shouted for everyone to back away.

The hostages looked at them dully, spent with grief. One of the guards pointed a camera at them. The other pointed a pistol.

“Why don’t you just shoot us right now?” Fiske asked. “Get it over with.”

The man with the camera laughed. “I
am
shooting you . . . in high definition.”

“Pigs!” Nellie said.

“Cretins!” Natalie hissed.

The man shoved the pistol into his waistband and grabbed Reagan’s arms roughly. But before he could drag the corpse an inch, Reagan’s lifeless legs did an acrobatic curl, latching on to his thick neck in a scissor lock. A split second later he was flying through the air, slamming onto the concrete floor on his back. The supposedly dead girl and the others swarmed him and his partner like a pack of flying monkeys. The other Vesper guard managed to land a vicious kick to the knee of the man called Alistair, but it did no good. The guards were overwhelmed.

Reagan picked up the gun and the camera. She put the camera an inch from his face. “Now I’m shooting
you
in high definition!” she cried, then dropped the camera on his chest.

BOOK: Shatterproof
10.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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