When Paul came to, he found he was shackled to a radiator with his own handcuffs. He felt sick and had a splitting headache. Concussion, he diagnosed, and closed his eyes again for a minute. He had no idea where or what he was, all he remembered was that he had to be up and go looking for someone.
“Nice to see you are with us again,“ a female voice to his left said with a heavy French accent. ‘Yvonne’. His memory came back. Naomi in the car, he had to find her. He opened his eyes to the darkness, broken only by a dim light. He was in a large windowless room, like a function room at a pub or a bowling alley.
Yvonne was looking at him with a satisfied smile, the cat which had successfully ensnared the canary. “I knew you would follow if we took ‘er with us”, she said, pointing to a spot lighted by the only lamp in the place.
His heart froze. Naomi was standing there, watching him in terror. Walking slowly around her was Buyden.
Paul remembered Marcus’s panic at the thought of Buyden getting close to Naomi again with horror. “Whatever you want, she can give you nothing,“ he said, trying to keep his voice even while thinking wildly for a way out.
“Oh, non, non, chéri, au contraire,“ the woman said. “I don’t want anything from ‘er. Let’s just chat about those papers you so bravely brought back to the archives, n’est-ce pas?”
“She can’t tell you anything about those either. Lynd left them in a bank deposit box. She doesn’t know anything about them.”
Buyden started sniffing Naomi’s hair making an appreciating sound like a connoisseur of wine. Naomi’s eyes widened in fear. Paul struggled against his handcuffs to no avail.
“Ah, but Paul Usher knows about those papers.” She put emphasis on his last name. So that was it. They knew who he was and suspected Secret Service involvement. This was going to get ugly.
“I saw they were potentially sensitive archive material and handed them back. Get away from her!” he screamed at Buyden. Damn, he was playing their game. He really had to calm down and stay in control. He said in an even voice. “Let her go, and I’ll tell you all about it. She didn’t read them anyway, wouldn’t even have looked at them, medievalist, you know.” He tried a conspiratorial smile.
“Non,“ the woman said after a minute of fake deliberation, “I think you will be much more forthcoming if Mademoiselle Downey remains here.”
Paul’s heart sank. She would have Buyden go for Naomi to make him talk. About what? What the hell did they want? He still didn’t have a clue what the whole thing was about, and he very much doubted that they were worried about the embargo-breaking part of the business. He looked at Naomi’s frightened face, trying to put all the love he could in that look. She seemed frozen to the spot now, shuddering at the stalking vampire near her.
“You read the papers?” ‘Yvonne’ was back to business.
“Yes, but I didn’t understand them. I returned them.” Play for time, someone must have gotten his message by now.
“Yes, yes, we know that. Who was the young man with you? Did he read them too?”
Naomi shot him a panicked glance, pleading, shaking her head slightly.
Yvonne had seen that look and smiled. “I’m waiting, Monsieur Usher,“ she was getting impatient quickly, “I want a name and an address to go with it.”
“You’ll have trouble finding him,“ Paul stalled, not willing to give away Marcus’s address if he took so much trouble to keep that hidden.
Buyden was looking at him too, definitely interested.
‘Yvonne’ nodded at Buyden who stepped closer to Naomi now. He took one of her hands into his, almost tenderly. Suddenly Naomi shrieked with pain and held her injured hand with the other.
Paul felt faint. What next? He said: “Marcus Trevelyan-Carter.” Buyden’s head snapped up. Paul screamed at him. “Let her go!”
Buyden took Naomi’s hand again, but Paul had already given Marcus’s address, adding “I hope you’ll find him in!” He had never hated anyone so much before. If they had taken him on, he could have dealt with it, but there was no way he would let Naomi suffer.
“Funny.” Buyden stated.
“Do you have any idea what kind of creatures you employ?” Paul screamed at the French woman.
She shrugged and ignored him, looking at a fax in her hand. “You made a photocopy.”
“Several, actually, we needed them for the files.” What the hell was taking them so long? They ought to be able to trace him easily, unless – a horrifying thought occurred to him – they had searched him and gotten rid of his new mobile. He couldn’t check on that with his shackled hands. He tried pushing himself against the radiator to find out if the phone was still in his pocket. Yes, still there. So they needed time. “Do you want me to go and get them for you?”
“Non, only one,“ she corrected him in a languid tone. “Where is that now?”
Great, there was a leak at the Yard too, working for these people. That explained a few things. He just hoped that leak wouldn’t be in charge of looking for him. “I left that with someone in case something happened to Naomi or me”, Paul said, trying to sound confident in spite of his growing panic.
“Don’t hurry,“ Buyden said, running his hand along the side of Naomi’s face.
Paul’s eyes widened. “Thomas Jefferson Clark”, quickly.
Naomi looked at him, flabbergasted. “You what?” she squeaked.
“The lady doesn’t seem to like your choice of friend”, Buyden smirked. Naomi kicked his shin and drew a sharp breath from having injured herself this time.
“Address, s’il vous plait!” ‘Yvonne’s voice could have cut ice.
“Actually I don’t have his private address here in London I’m afraid”, Paul started conversationally.
Buyden touched Naomi’s hand again, and she screamed, then went unconscious, losing all colour. With her black dress, she now looked like a vampire herself. Buyden held her up in his arms, looking to his boss for guidance.
That look opened even more horrifying scenarios in Paul’s mind. “Stop him!” he screamed at Yvonne, “Clark is with the CIA, your game’s up anyway.”
‘Yvonne’ was unfazed. “I’ll see about that!”
“Let her go!!” He was struggling harder against his shackles now.
“I can’t. I promised to pay him.” Yvonne said coldly, nodding to Buyden with her chin.
“No!” Paul pulled at the cuffs frantically and felt his bone snap. His arm was useless now. Everything was lost. Black depression drowned him.
The woman turned to Buyden. “She knows this Clark, ask her for his address!”
Paul closed his eyes. Would they go for Naomi some more now, and he would have to watch? He wanted to be dead. But no, ‘Yvonne’ continued: “Get the papers and see he doesn’t talk! After that you can do… what you do. Eric, you go and find this Carter.”
Buyden smiled, then simply lifted Naomi and was gone.
Before Eric could get to the door, it splintered.
“You took your bloody time!” Paul hollered. Then he looked who had entered the room. Marcus and Philippe, alone.
Yvonne laughed when she saw the unarmed men who had come to the rescue and told her accomplices to shoot them. They didn’t even get to their guns. After knocking their heads together, Philippe turned to Marcus, who was looking around wildly. “Where is she?” When Marcus took in the fact that Buyden was missing, he shot a panicked look at Paul, who pointed to the woman with his chin and said: “She gave her to Buyden for ‘payment’, they left just now.”
Marcus howled at that, then knelt down as if his legs had given in. He looked dazed.
Philippe was all cool efficiency. He freed Paul’s hands by simply breaking the cuffs apart as if he did that every day. “Left for where?”
“She’s supposed to get him the copies of the papers I left with Clark, the guy who called Marcus.”
“Good, let’s go after them,“ Philippe said, heading for the door “Marcus?” he turned.
“He’s got Naomi.” Even his voice sounded dead.
“Marcus, she might still be alive, let’s go after him, he won’t escape”, Philippe went to get him back up.
Marcus nodded still dazed. Eventually he got up to join Philippe, just when the first sirens could be heard.
“Oh, hell, give me a minute, we have to make sure these here are arrested,“ Paul said. ‘Yvonne’ was already trying to sneak out the door, but found Philippe blocking her way with a polite smile. “Non, Madame.” She turned back and faced Marcus, who fixed his dark eyes on her and said in a quiet voice: “I don’t usually attack women, but I’ll be coming for you, and I’ll find you.” The look on ‘Yvonne’s’ face said that she fully understood what Marcus was and what he meant by finding her again. Paul was shocked by Marcus’s threat, even though he felt the same way.
In a matter of seconds, the place was swarming with police and there was no question of ‘Yvonne’ getting away. Paul caught hold of Brian and told him that he was alright but had to go and get out Naomi who’d been taken somewhere else.