July 2nd, 20:00 (17:00 GMT)
Blake and Adriana spent the day making love and reviewing all of the details of his plan. For once, Blake felt a renewed spirit in his life. The last two days with Adriana had been some of the best he could remember.
Mike had sent over a dossier that had been made up for each of them. In the dossier were bogus magazine and newspaper articles that had been placed on the web. Most of them were about Blake’s alias, Dan Peart. They sat on the bed and quizzed each other on the specific details of their aliases.
“When the party is in full swing, and most of the guests have had several trips to the bar, I’ll slip away to find the prime minister’s office. The guest to guard ratio will be at its best then.”
“What if they have guards right outside his office?” she asked.
“I’m anticipating it. I’ll have to improvise once I see what I have to work against. I’ve been in situations like this before. It’s part of the job. We’ll just have to deal with the hand that we’re dealt.”
Adriana was nervously ringing her hands. “What do you want me to do?” she asked.
A hand on her shoulder revealed how tense she was. He grasped her hand and felt its clamminess.
“Hey, it’s okay. Just treat this like any other party you’ve been to. Strike up a conversation with Shorets to keep him occupied. If I need you for anything else, you’ll know it. Now take three deep breaths and calm down.”
Blake glanced at his watch.
“Time to go, the car should be here any minute.”
The black Mercedes pulled up under the hotel’s portico and the doorman opened the door for Adriana. She wore the red Versace dress and all the accoutrements that The Company purchased for her. Blake stepped in the other side, sat down and turned to her, his eyes inspecting every inch of her curves. Her tan thigh teased through the split in the dress. Her cleavage invited the eyes, daring for a peek.
“What?” She asked.
Blake shook his head. “One thing’s for sure. There won’t be any problem for you to get the guards attention.”
She blushed and kissed him on the cheek.
Blake opened the wine chiller that sat between the seats, pulled out the bottle, inspected it and gave a little whistle. “Well, one thing’s for sure; the prime minister has good taste in Champagne.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a ninety-five Clos du Mesnil; about seven hundred bucks a bottle—and very rare.”
The bottle made a pop when he uncorked it and poured Adriana a glass. He needed his wits about him, but he didn’t want to spoil the moment so he took only a few sips.
After a fifteen minute ride, they pulled up to the prime minister’s residence. KGB guards were everywhere; obvious ones and those not so obvious to the untrained eye. A bit of worry crept in. He had to be successful, but in the meantime, he, more than anything, didn’t want anything bad to happen to Adriana, should things go wrong.
The doors on both sides of the car were opened for them. There was a line to get into the home, due to a makeshift security screening that was setup on the outside.
KGB agents looked through women’s purses. Men were frisked. Everyone was wanded with a metal detector before they entered the mansion. Blake anticipated this, and as much as he hated it, left his Glock back in the hotel room safe.
When they entered the home, there was a line of people waiting to be greeted by the prime minister and his wife. Blake took the time to look around and scan for cameras and where the guards were located.
The foyer was a grand entrance with black and beige marble tiles inlaid in a checker pattern. The country’s symbol, consisting of ribbons in their flag’s colors, ears of wheat, a red star, along with a map of the country, was inlaid into the floor in the center with different colored marble tiles.
Behind the prime minister was a double curved staircase that went upstairs to the residence. Colored velvet ropes blocked off access. A lone KGB guard stood in the middle.
To the right was the entrance to the prime minister’s personal home office. Blake nudged Adriana.
“Don’t look, but to your right; behind the double doors. That’s his office.”
“How do you know?”
“Instinct.” And Mike sent me the blueprints.
They stepped up and were greeted by their hosts. Blake extended his hand. “Hello, I’m Dan Peart, the Minister for International Cooperation. And this—”
Oleg stopped him and said, “Yes, Minister Peart. You were a last minute addition to my guest list. I am pleased you could come.”
A small alarm went off in Blake’s head. What Oleg said was true, but he couldn’t read the man’s intent behind his statement. Was it just a matter-of-fact? Or was it a warning?
“We will speak in-depth later; I have some idea’s to throw at you. And this—this must be your mistress. A woman as beautiful as you would surely have a ring fit for royalty if she were married.”
Oh shit! “Actually, she is quite humble and fearful at the same time, eh. She does have a beautiful ring at home.” Blake leaned into the prime minister and whispered, “Nearly four carats.”
Blake leaned back and said, “She is also a little bit scared about losing it, so we throw it in the safe when we travel abroad.”
Blake saw the minister’s eyes travel down to his hand. “And you Minister Peart? Do you have a big diamond ring as well?”
“Me? No. I don’t wear a ring. My father didn’t either and I guess that just rubbed off on me, eh?”
Oleg’s eyes moved back up to Blake’s and he smiled, “I see. Well, go in, have some champagne, vodka, wine, whatever you like. We’ll be serving dinner in about ninety minutes. I will catch up with you later, Minister Peart. Thank you so much for coming.”
Blake and Adriana walked toward the large room. “Damn, that was close,” he said under his breath.
“I think you should have completed my wardrobe with that ring,” she whispered as she leaned in and grasped his arm.
Blake said nothing in return as they entered the party hall, but his mind wandered briefly. Was she someone that he could marry? Images of her caring for the many children entered his mind. Past meaningful conversations raced across his memory as if playing in fast motion. Memories of her kindness lapped against the front of his mind, like waves on the shore. Finally, he glanced down at her perfectly formed feet and moved up her body to her angelic eyes and “light up the room” smile. Absolutely.
There were fully stocked bars on three of the four walls. Life-sized oil paintings of previous prime ministers and other historical political figures adorned the walls. The floors were marble but covered with ornate oriental rugs. The furniture was antique Victorian style with a lot of reds and blues with gilded accents. The windows were draped in sky blue velvet curtains with gold braided ropes that held them back. In the center of the room was a large table with Hors D’oeuvres that consisted of seared tuna, caviar, different cheeses and crackers.
“Well, you can stand around, but I’m hungry.” She walked over and grabbed a plate. Blake followed, got some food and then meandered around and mingled with the crowd.
After twenty minutes, Blake glanced at his watch. The room was completely full and he’d seen countless empty wine and vodka bottles thrown into the trash behind the various bars. The Ambassador from Sweden had taken a bit too much of an interest in Adriana and Blake didn’t like it.
Blake gently grasped her wrist. “Hey, Honey, didn’t you say you had to use the restroom? I think the one down here is finally free.”
She gave a quizzical stare, “No.”
Blake raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?” and poked her at the same time
“Oh—yes, yes I do.” She excused herself and left with Blake.
“Sven was a little too chatty back there.”
Adrianna giggled and said, “You’re not jealous, are you?”
Blake scoffed. “Of what, that scrawny little shit? No. He looks like he spent too much time in a sauna.”
After weaving their way through the crowd, Blake said, “I think I have an idea. There is a restroom back this way. It is in the main foyer underneath the staircase. I’ll walk you there and while you’re in the bathroom I’m going to check out the guard and see how he acts.”
They reached the bathroom and Adriana stepped in as another guest came out. The guard at the front of the stairs turned around and watched Blake while Adriana was in the bathroom. Blake tried to make small talk with him, but he didn’t say a word. When Adriana came out of the restroom, they both walked toward him.
Blake said, “She has a tiny bladder, so you’ll probably see her a lot.” Blake focused in on the guards face. Not even a smirk? You’re a tough cookie. They turned to their right and went back into the party.
Twenty minutes later Blake leaned in close to Adriana and told her what to do. He handed her a small receiver.
“Put this in your ear. I’ll be able to give you instructions with this.”
Blake showed her a tiny transmitter that was on the end of the pin attached to his boutonniere.
A simple nod is all she gave in return. Blake watched her exit the back of the room as she headed back to the restroom under the stairwell. He’d instructed her to go back and stand in front of the door and count to sixty. Then she was to fake fall to the floor to get the guards attention.
Blake slid through the full room of guests and approached the entrance they came in. He heard Adriana give out a squeal. He positioned himself several people deep in the party at an angle where he could see Adriana and the guard. She’d plopped herself on the floor as planned.
Only a few of the guest around Blake heard her, but it garnered nothing more than a quick glance at best. She brushed her hair back and shot a look at the guard they had seen earlier. He stood in the foyer and stared at her.
“Hey, big guy, can you help me up?” she asked in a slurred manner.
Blake adjusted his angle and peered around the people next to him and watched the guard just stare towards Adriana. What the hell, dude? You’ve got a woman that needs your help. Don’t just stand there.
Blake waited another second and then dipped his chin down toward the transmitter.
“Ask him again.”
He saw her look off in another direction as she listened to his instructions. “Do you speak English? Can you please help me up? I think I broke the heel on my shoe.”
Still, nothing. This guy’s a jerk. He faked brushing off the front of his shirt as he spoke again. “Adriana, don’t look away when I talk to you. Keep looking at the guard.” Blake raised his head a bit and saw her eyes move back to the guard. “Good. Lay it on a bit thicker.”
She made herself sound just a tad more drunk and said, “Ya know, you’re kinda cute. Are you in the KBG?”
The guard cocked his head just a bit. She reached down and pulled up her skirt and revealed her tone, tan thighs and spread her legs.
Blake’s heart rate went up just a bit. Oh, that’s gotta get him.
“If you come help me, maybe I’ll give you a peek.” She winked at him.
The guard started to move but stopped. He turned his head to his left, back into the ball room and then to his right. He paused for just another second and then started to finally move towards her.
Careful sweetheart. Don’t give this guy a reason to touch you. I’ll have to kill him. Blake seized his opportunity and quickly walked out of the ballroom and across the hall. His watchful eyes saw the guard was bent, with an offered hand to Adriana. He reached the door; locked. He pulled out an electronic lock pick and jammed it into the lock.
“Buy me a few seconds.”
Adriana grabbed the guards tie to help herself up, but pulled him down to the floor instead.
The lock clicked.
He cracked the door, slipped inside, closed and relocked it. “I’m in. Get rid of that guard. Tell him you’re going to throw up and go into the restroom. Wait for my instructions.”
He went immediately to the computer on the desk. It was on, but the screen was locked. The username was filled in, but the password was blank. Blake tried various spellings of the Prime Minister’s wife’s name, substituting characters for letters that were close. That didn’t work. He looked around the office and saw Oleg’s vodka bar. He tried multiple variations of the spelling for vodka, replacing common symbols for letters. None worked. He looked at the bar closer and he saw empty bottles of Minsk Kristal. Why would he have empty bottles? Maybe that’s his favorite, or they were given as gifts. He tried multiple variations. Finally he tried M1nsk_Kr1stal. The screen flashed. He was in.
Blake searched for various spellings of the weapon, in English and in Cyrillic. He searched for the name of the ship al Hamwi brought the weapon over in. He searched for Hieraniony. Goddamnit! I know it’s here. Leaning back in the chair he sighed.
“Go ahead and leave the restroom now. Find Shorets and mingle with him.”
Like the first flash of lightning from an approaching storm, it hit him. Blake leaned in and typed Spear Garden in the search box. It returned one folder. It was buried several layers deep in the Faxes Sent folder.
Blake double-clicked it and inside was schematics and information on the weapon, there was a map of Minsk with buildings circled plus several other folders. Blake decided to go old school. Instead of cloning the entire drive, he just wanted the one folder. From his pen he removed the cap that held the USB drive and started to copy the files.
Oleg stood in the corner of the ballroom with one of his guests when one of the KGB henchmen walked over and whispered in his ear.
“He’s gone into your office and has accessed the file.”
A smile crept across his face. “Thank you.”
Oleg turned back to his guests. “My apologies. Something has come up that I must attend to. Please, help yourself to more food and drink. I won’t be long.”
He and the agent walked across the room. “Call the other men. It’s time to take care of our problem.”
When the red light on the USB drive stopped flashing, Blake removed it and stood. The French doors burst open. Oh shit!
“Minister Peart, tell me; what could you possibly be doing in my office? Looking for the restroom? Perhaps something else to drink? Or maybe a fine cigar? None of those?”
Blake stood and thought what he could possibly say or do to get himself out of this situation. I have no clue what to say to get out of this.
“You seem awfully quiet Minister Peart. Maybe it is because I am asking the wrong person. Maybe I should be asking—Mr. MacKay?”
What the fuck? “How do you know who I am?”
“I’ll ask the questions, Mr. MacKay, and to be honest, right now I don’t have any. Take him.”
Blake flinched and readied for a fight as two men approached him.
“I wouldn’t do that, Mr. MacKay. I have guards outside all of the windows and I’ve ordered them to shoot, on-site, anyone that comes through them. Give yourself up to my guards and it will be much less painful for you.”
Oleg turned and started to leave when he stopped and turned back to Blake. “Oh, and I have to thank you. Miss Vasquez will fit perfectly into my plans.”
“You so much as touch her and I’ll kill you.” Blake’s anger grew as his threat fell on deaf ears. He despised the arrogant smirk that rolled across Oleg’s face as he turned and left the room. “Do you hear me? I’ll kill you!”
Blake struggled against the grasp of the two men that held him. He doubled over when a large fist slammed into his gut.
Outside the office, Blake overheard Oleg tell his head guard, “Tie him up in the basement. Beat some sense into him tonight. Tomorrow morning, shoot him in the head and dispose of the body. I’m taking the girl with me. I’ll be leaving when the party is over, so drug her up so she’ll be nice and quiet until then.”
The sense of urgency and the seriousness of his situation shot through him. He slowed his breathing to keep from panicking. He had until morning to figure out how to escape. He knew he had a beating coming and hoped that he wouldn’t be too injured to hinder his escape.
Blake kept an eye on the man that just walked in. He had a shaved head and wore an all-black suite with a black shirt and black tie. The guard walked up to Blake and got in his face.
“We will have fun with you tonight. Enjoy.”
“Yeah? Enjoy this!”
Blake head butted the guard in the nose.
The man stumbled back. He put his finger under his nose and wiped the blood off of his upper lip. His brow furrowed and he grit his teeth. He lunged in and punched Blake square in the nose, followed by three more to the gut.
Blake coughed twice and laughed.
“Is that all you’ve got?”
The guard delivered two hard blows to Blake’s jaw. He stepped back again, wound up and kicked Blake in the center of his chest. The two guards let go as the bald guard connected. Blake flew back and smashed the coffee table as he landed on it.
Blake rolled over. He propped up on his hands and knees. The swelling in his face had started already. The pain in his chest was almost overwhelming. I shouldn’t have done that. I need my wits. This guy is going to kill me if—
A knee to the forehead was the last thing he felt.