Special Agent Jennifer Lee was put on a short list to see Jeffery Archer, but that didn’t mean she could walk right in. Archer was no more than a senior advisor at the Justice Department, often known in his circles as a glorified attorney. But Archer deservedly earned his reputation. At 26 he was one of the youngest legal minds tapped by the Kennedy administration and was unceremoniously used as a silent member of Kennedy’s Executive Committee (EX-COMM) during the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1963. Now at 64 his mind was still as sharp as ever and his expert but quite presence was welcomed by every administration since then.
A male assistant approached Jennifer, and as common as they had become she was still startled by the sex; but then she thought he probably thought the same of her when he saw her with her FBI-ID fixed to her coat.
“Special Agent Lee,” he began smiling broadly “if you would follow me please. Mr. Archer will see you now.”
She followed him down a well-lit hallway to a large door that simply read J.Archer SA. The assistant knocked on the door and a firm voice replied, “Come!” from the other end. She was ushered inside and the assistant quickly left. She was not too sure what to expect of Jeffery Archer, but she didn’t think he would look the way he did. He rose from behind his mahogany desk and made it look slightly out of place. He was a big man and not what she expected of an old lawyer. He looked trim and his weathered face broke into a smile as he recognized her eyes appraising him. She quickly found his eyes and lowered her head a fraction to hide her embarrassment.
“That’s okay agent Lee,” he said taking her hand “I’m never what people expect me to be and I swear most times that’s a good thing.” His comment had its intended effect, and they shared a hearty laugh together.
“Please have a seat.”
“Thank you Mr. Archer.”
“Now I know you were raised right, and I’m damn near old enough to be your granddaddy, but things would run a lot smoother if you’d humor an ole marine and call me Jeffery.”
She immediately took a liking to him, and by the look on his face she figured things would actually progress if she did call him Jeffery.
“Okay, Jeffery.” She replied looking around his office at all his marine service medals, pictures with past presidents and a prominent picture with what appeared to be his family on vacation at a lake. Though he lived in virtual anonymity, she knew this was not your average legal advisor.
“I don’t want to waste any more of your time, but what I have to tell you is very important and especially sensitive. Is this the best place for us to talk?”
A look of concern crept across his face as he leaned forward in his chair.
“I’m sure it is Jennifer. I personally supervise this place being swept everyday. As far as I know the walls do not have ears.”
Sensing her reluctance, he began again.
“Although, I see you brought your coat and it’s a beautiful day out. It’s only about 25 degrees outside. I could show you the grounds while we talked?”
She smiled. He too was a professional.
“I think that’d be perfect.”
“Good. Let’s not waste any more of my time.”
Forty-five minutes later they were walking back towards the main entrance in silence. Jennifer had said quite a lot and Jeffery Archer asked all the questions someone in his position should and more; and it disturbed him that he arrived at the same conclusions Jennifer did. He knew Simon Franz, knew him since he was a boy and his disappearance made sense to him now. He didn’t tell Jennifer that Simon was his nephew; that wasn’t important. What was important was some unknown person or persons felt they could live by their own code and force others to abide by it, and because they feel they cannot be touched innocent lives hang in the balance…and that pissed him off. But Jennifer was right, they had to be cautious. He felt almost certain that he was being watched. It wasn’t publicized, but it wouldn’t require much digging to unearth the connection between Simon and himself. And because of his contacts he most certainly was a threat.
“I’m leaving with you.” He said solemnly as they approached the revolving glass door.
“I’m no longer safe here, and besides there is much to be done.”
“Would you like me too go with you back to your office?”
“No. I won’t be long,” he said smiling reassuringly “just bring your car around the back and I’ll meet you in a few minutes.”
Archer’s mind went into clandestine mode so he knew they would be found eventually. Time was of the essence and he was sure that he could buy them some. He casually strode back into his office on the twelfth floor and made a point of telling his assistant that he would not like to be disturbed for the rest of the evening. Then after about five minutes he left his office and spoke with a colleague as he walked down the corridor. Moments later he was down the stairwell and out the back entrance. He left an empty briefcase at his office and hoped that at least for the moment that he had bought them a few hours. As the car slowly accelerated out of the parking lot his eyes darted, to one side and then the next studying the people in the immediate area. He wondered if they had already been spotted.
Simon thought about how powerful their adversary was. They had after all found them when they were supposed to be safe and they summoned them from a second haven. It was pointless to try and fight; they had all but proven that if they wanted them dead they would be buried by now. As he sat at the back of the car that was sent for them with William and Natalie he wondered if these efforts were nothing more than a twisted last rites ritual. He looked at William as he held Natalie. He had changed so much in the short time that he knew him. Now he was hardened in ways that only real combat and loss could harden a person and he was so much stronger mentally. He allowed himself a little smile. If the end did come they would both ensure that they didn’t go alone, of this he was sure. As the car snaked up the long driveway Simon thought there was something oddly familiar about the house, the design the ground. That’s it! He remembered seeing it in a magazine ‘House and Home’ was it? In any event it belonged to a Jeauc Pierre or was it Jan. Then…William spoke.
“Oh my God, this house belongs to Jean Pierre.” And then little by little the pieces started to fall into place. The two men looked at each other in quiet recognition. A man of Pierre’s resources, questionably one of the richest men in the world could do the unspeakable and go virtually unnoticed. There also was no doubt in Simon’s mind now that they were summoned here to be executed, nothing else made sense.