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Authors: Angela Henry

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“Mercy!” She called out after me as I rushed off to catch up with Simon. But it was too late. He was gone. I frantically looked around for him but I’d lost him in the crush of museum-goers.

Panic started to build and I willed myself to stay calm. I couldn’t decide if I should stay put. Surely Simon would notice I wasn’t behind him and come back to look for me. Or maybe I should just go look for him. I was sweltering in the turtleneck and poncho. Sweat ran down my back, so I yanked off the poncho. I went to sit in one of the window wells, my poncho folded in my lap. Five minutes passed and still no sign of Simon. I rooted around in my bag for the museum map and spotted a small white card sticking out of my Paris guidebook. That’s where Simon’s business card went! Should I call him? Would the police be tracking our cells? Surely one quick phone call couldn’t hurt, could it? I headed into the nearest women’s restroom and went into the first empty stall I could find. I flipped open my phone. It was the first time I’d turned it on in two days. I had six missed calls and four voicemail messages.

The first message was from my best friend, Kelly, asking how the trip was going. I laughed out loud. The second one was from a tearful Jarrod informing me that his partner, Brian, had had a massive heart attack on the way back from Versailles and was in the American Hospital of Paris. With everything that had happened the past couple of days, I’d completely forgotten about Brian and Jarrod. The second message was also from Jarrod and had just come in that morning.


Maya, please pick up. What’s going on? Are you okay? You’re all over the news. I know what they’re saying about you can’t be true! Listen, there’s a man from the American Embassy who says he can help you. He’s a lawyer. I gave him your number. He’s supposed to be calling you. Jesus! I hope you get this message. Please, call me if you can.

I went numb with fright. Garland had seen me with Brian and Jarrod on the RER on the way to Versailles. He’d probably even seen me leave the hotel with them. He must have tracked them down at the hospital. He had access to them and they had no idea how dangerous he was. The phone rang in my hand, causing me to jump. I quickly answered it.

“Jarrod?”

“Ms. Sinclair, you’re a hard woman to get a hold of. You and I must speak,” said Vincent Garland.

“We have nothing to discuss. Leave me alone, you psycho.” I tried my best to keep my voice down so no one would hear me on the phone. The last thing I needed was to be reported to the museum’s guards.

“Oh, but I beg to differ. You have something I want and I have something you need.”

“I told you I don’t have that fucking crucifix. Juliet didn’t give it to me. And you couldn’t possibly have anything I need.”

“How about an Eiffel Tower corkscrew with your fingerprints
and
Juliet Rice’s blood on it?”

I was speechless.

“Yes. I thought that’d get your attention. I propose an even exchange, the crucifix for the corkscrew. Once you hand it over, I’ll gladly give you the corkscrew and tell the police I was mistaken in what I witnessed at Versailles.”

“I can’t give you something I don’t have,” I insisted.

“Well you best be finding it then, hadn’t you? Meet me tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. at the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens. You can even bring your French boyfriend. The more the merrier. But don’t even think about showing up without my crucifix or bringing the police, Ms. Sinclair. I’d hate for your two gay friends to suffer any ill effects from being associated with you.”

“Don’t you dare hurt them,” I said. But I was talking to the dial tone. He’d hung up.

I left the restroom in a daze and ran, literally, right into Simon. He saw the phone in my hand and snatched it from me.

“Are you crazy? They’re probably tracking us through our cells,” he whispered.

“My friends Jarrod and Brian from my tour group are in trouble I need to—”

“You need to come with me,” he said, cutting me off. “Francoise isn’t here yet. Come on. Let’s go before we’re late.”

He grabbed me by my hand and pulled me along after him through the various galleries. We flew by painting after painting by French masters. Simon finally stopped when we arrived at a gallery with red walls and shiny parquet floors. There were four long, narrow black benches down the center of the room. Two were occupied. Simon sat on an empty bench in front of the largest painting in the room. The massive painting depicted a group of men—some dying, others merely terrified—clinging to a raft for dear life as it tossed on a dark, churning, tumultuous sea.


The Raft of Medusa,
an excellent choice,” came an American voice from behind us.

We turned to see a pretty, young girl dressed in a school uniform. Her wavy brown hair hung to her shoulders. A backpack was strapped to her back.


Merci, mademoiselle,
” Simon said, standing up and smiling.

“Do you know who painted it?” asked the girl. She was looking at Simon as though he were the only person in the room.

“Why I believe it was Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV,” concluded Simon in all seriousness. The girl nodded.

“No it wasn’t. The plaque says Theodore Gericault,” I protested.

The girl sighed and rolled her eyes. Simon leaned over and whispered in my ear.

“It’s our code, Maya.”

“Code for what?” I was confused.

“Who’s the old lady?” the girl stage whispered, giving me the once-over. I took offense at the word
old,
forgetting I was dressed like a giant Mrs. Beasley doll.

“This is my friend Maya,” Simon said to the girl then turned to me. “Maya, this is my goddaughter, Francoise.”


This
is Francoise, Francoise the hacker? Are you crazy, Simon? She’s just a child,” I growled at him, careful to keep my voice down. If I’d been offended by the word
old,
Francoise clearly wasn’t feeling the word
child
. She bristled.

“I am a Leo. I’m also a member of Mensa and a vegan. But what I am
not
is a child. A child is defined as someone under the age of twelve. I’m thirteen, a
teenager.
Do I need to define what the word
teen
means, too?” she asked with her arms crossed and her head held high.

“Child, teen, it’s all the same to me, sweetie, meaning you’re too young for grown folks business,” I replied, refusing to let this girl get to me.

“Marie Antoinette was engaged to be married when she was twelve,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Honey, this isn’t the eighteenth century and you’re no Marie Antoinette. And shouldn’t you be in school with all the other
kids?

Francoise’s face turned bright red and Simon grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me to the side.

“Do you want to know what’s on that flash drive or not?”

“Of course I do, but she’s just kid. We can’t involve her. She could get in trouble for helping us.”

“Do you have a better idea? ’Cause if you do, I’d love to hear it.”

“No, but—”

“But, nothing. We’re in a bind. We have no choice. Besides, I’ve known her since she was little. We can trust her.”

He left me standing there and joined Francoise on the bench. I sat next to Simon just as Francoise pulled a small silver-and-black flash drive and a black laptop from her backpack. She handed both items to him. And he in turn handed them to me to put in my day bag.

“It was a fairly standard encryption program,” she said with a nonchalance she probably thought made her look grown-up. “Anyone with the right software could have unlocked it. Not at all up to my skill level. I could have decoded it blindfolded with my arms tied behind my back.”

“You’re a lifesaver, Francoise. I owe you one.”

“Yes, you do. And I collect on all my debts,” she said with complete seriousness, slinging the backpack over her shoulders and standing up. “And don’t worry.” She looked around to make sure no one was listening. “If anyone asks, I haven’t seen you…or the old lady.” She tossed out that last bit as an afterthought.

We watched her walk away and discreetly rejoin a group of similarly uniformed schoolgirls gathered near the gallery’s entrance, which answered my question as to why we’d had to come all the way to the Louvre to pick up the laptop and flash drive. She was on a fieldtrip. Simon chuckled.

“Thirteen going on thirty-five. And don’t let the attitude fool you. She’s a great kid. Smart like her old man. Real name is Phoebe. Francoise is just her hacker name, after some Japanese anime character—”

“Garland called me,” I whispered. Simon’s eyes grew wide.

“If I don’t find the crucifix Juliet hid and bring it to him in the Luxembourg Gardens tomorrow night, he’s going to kill my friends Jarrod and Brian. And he has my corkscrew. The corkscrew he used to kill Juliet. He must have worn gloves when he did it. But my prints are still on it.”


Merde.
” Simon groaned and buried his head in his hands.

“Give me my phone. I need to warn Jarrod and Brian.”

“You can’t use this phone anymore. It’s too risky.”

“It’s my fault they’re in danger. I can’t just sit back and do nothing. I have to warn them. Give me my phone.”

“We still have until tomorrow night. They’ll be safe enough until then. We need to see what’s on this flash drive first.”

“Fine. But I don’t trust Garland. After we check out the flash drive, I’m calling them.”

We left the Louvre and found a shady, secluded spot in the Tuileries gardens to view what was on Juliet’s flash drive. I laid the poncho on the grass for us to sit on and started to take off the scratchy wig.

“Leave it on unless you want to get dragged kicking and screaming to the police station,” Simon said as he inserted the drive into the USB port on the side of the laptop.

“This thing is driving me crazy.” I stuck a finger under the wig to scratch my itchy scalp.

“There’s a fifty-thousand-euro reward for our capture or information leading to our arrest. It was in the paper this morning. I read it on the metro when we were on our way here.”

I left the wig on.

The files on Juliet’s flash drive turned out to be journal entries. The earliest entries looked to have been scanned pages from a paper journal. The entries started in September of 1978 when she was a doctoral candidate at the Sorbonne. Her advisor had been a Dr. Bernard Fouquet.

“Fouquet?” I said. “That name sounds familiar.”

“Isn’t he the art historian Dr. Hewitt said studied the Moret Tapestry?” asked Simon.

“Yes, he’s the one whose theories the Society of Moret legend are based on.”

“Apparently they were more than just theories. Listen to this,” he said and read me an entry dated November 13, 1978.

I’ve worked hard to prove myself since Dr. Fouquet approached me last year. He thinks I’m finally ready to take the next step. I’ve been invited to his home in Moret-sur-Loing for the weekend. As to what will happen, I can only guess. Fouquet insists he can only do so much, and it’s up to the committee to approve my admittance to the society. I’m worried about Oliver. He’s hated me since I ended it. Saturday is Sister Louise-Marie’s birthday. I think it’s a good sign. I’m extremely hopeful.

The next entry was dated November 17.

I kissed the crucifix. I made my promise. I’m in!

“So the Society of Moret not only exists, but both Juliet Rice and Bernard Fouquet were members and they found the Moret Crucifix,” I said.


Oui.
And that also means Juliet stole the crucifix from a society she’d been a member of for thirty years. What would make her do that? Money?”

The last time I’d talked to Juliet, she’d said, “I broke my promise.” She hadn’t been talking about a man. She’d been referring to her promise to the Society of Moret. She’d said she’d given up everything and it had all been for nothing. I could only think of one reason why a woman would act so foolishly.

“Love,” I said. Simon shot me a skeptical look. “I’m serious, Simon. She quit her job, sold her house and came to Paris. She and Garland must have planned on using the crucifix to find the book and run away together, only she had second thoughts and hid the crucifix from Garland and he killed her when she wouldn’t tell him where it was.”

“If that’s true, I wonder what changed her mind.”

I shrugged. “Maybe she found out what happened to Garland’s last girlfriend, the one who’s missing.”

Simon shook his head. “I’m not so sure about that. I have a hard time seeing Vincent Garland and Juliet Rice as couple. She was a snobby art history professor a good decade older than him and he’s a thug and a bully with a gambling problem.”

“Yeah, but he’s also an attorney and an ambassador’s son, which would have appealed to someone like Juliet Rice.”

“I don’t know. Still seems like a stretch to me.”

“Only one way to find out.” I tugged on the wig. “Let’s keep reading. And if I’m right, I promise I won’t say I told you so if you let me wear your beret.”

HUIT

For the next hour, Simon and I took turns reading Juliet’s journal. It was slow going. She wrote down everything. Grocery lists, recipes, what she’d had for dinner, books she’d read. She’d even meticulously documented her weight each morning. Despite the minutia, a picture of the woman she’d been slowly emerged from the journal entries. She’d never married and had been devoted to her job at Stanford. She rarely dated, traveled extensively, though mainly to lecture on her specialty of medieval art, and loved expensive designer clothes. She also appeared to have had very few friends. I was disappointed that with the exception of the two earlier journal entries, there appeared to be no other references to the Society of Moret, though starting on April 5, 1980, and every year after that on the same date, the only entry was a hand drawn star. What did it mean?

After reading entry after entry my eyes were starting to cross. But I sat up when I reached the one dated April 5, 2007. Instead of a star, there was an entry.

Lecture at the Sorbonne went well. Richelieu Auditorium was almost full. Spent an hour at Jean Taris’s yesterday morning then went shopping. Bought a new red Dior. Wore it last night to the embassy reception. Can’t believe I was thinking of not going. So glad I did
.
After all this time I met the one I’ve been waiting for.

There wasn’t another entry until two months later on June 10.

Never knew I could feel this way, so alive, and so happy. Had no idea what I was missing. Nothing else matters except for this. We’ve held nothing back. There are no secrets between us. It’s all hush hush for now. Soon we’ll be together forever.

The next entry was dated August 17.

Turned in my resignation. Wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Everything is in motion and falling into place. I feel so full of purpose and no longer have any doubts. This is all for the best. I have every faith that the committee will see that this is for the greater good
.
I truly believe Sister Louise-Marie would approve.

Juliet’s final entry was dated September 5, less than a week before her death.

I’m beginning to question our course of action. I must keep any doubts to myself so as not to cause more anger. I’m seeing a side I didn’t know existed and it scares me. I pray that when this is over things will be back to the way they were five months ago. Don’t know if I can go back to being alone.

“I knew it.” I stabbed a finger at the computer screen. “She met Garland at an embassy reception and fell in love with him. He must have rocked her little uptight world and she spilled her guts to him about the society. Garland needed money and somehow talked her into stealing the crucifix in order to find the book and somewhere along the way, before she could hand it over to him, she found out what he really planned to do with it.”

“And somewhere along the way, one of them murdered my brother to cover their tracks. My money’s on Garland,” said Simon grimly.

I rubbed his arm and thought about Garland’s brutal torture and murder of Juliet, and his violent attack on me. He enjoyed inflicting physical pain. I’d never forget the look in his eyes as he was hurting me. Hitting someone over the head and chucking them into the Seine hardly seemed like his style. I kept it to myself, though, sensing it wouldn’t be something Simon would want to hear.

“So you agree with me that Garland was the one Juliet was in love with, the one she stole from the society for?”

“You’re probably right,” conceded Simon, rubbing his neck. “But from reading this I get the impression that Juliet thought she was doing something noble.”

“I bet Garland talked her into donating the book to a museum or something and she found out he planned to sell it to cover his gambling debts. That’s probably why she hid the crucifix, to keep him from getting his hands on it. She drank the Kool-Aid and when she realized what was really going on it was too late to spit it out.”

“Kool-Aid?” said Simon, looking confused.

“It’s an American saying. It’s when you accept what someone tells you without question,” I explained. “Poor woman. What a waste.” I closed out the last journal entry.

“And poor us. She never mentions Garland by name so we still can’t make a connection between them and I was hoping there’d be a mention of where she could have hidden the damned crucifix.” Simon ripped the beret off his head in frustration.

“Wait. There’s another file here.” Underneath the last journal entry was a document labeled “dissertation.doc.”

“It’s just a copy of her dissertation,” Simon said dismissively and stood to stretch his legs.

I clicked on the file to open it. Simon was right. It was a copy of her dissertation entitled “Deciphering Signs and Symbols in Medieval Tapestry.” I quickly scrolled though it and saw that there was a whole section devoted to the Moret Tapestry. On the last page were the names of Juliet’s dissertation defense committee and the date she successfully defended her dissertation, September 8, 1979, almost a year after she joined the society. I read the names.

“Look at this.” I grabbed Simon’s hand and pulled him back down beside me. The names of Juliet’s dissertation committee were: Dr. Bernard Fouquet, Dr. Anna Schroder, Dr. Oliver Renard and Dr. Evalyn Hewitt.

“Dr. Hewitt?” Simon said in disbelief.

“She lied to us, Simon. She knew Fouquet. And look at that third name, Oliver Renard. I bet that’s the same Oliver Juliet mentions in the journal that she ended it with. I bet they had an affair and she was worried he’d keep her from joining the society.”

Simon’s brow was creased in concentration.

“What is it?”

“What if these people weren’t just her dissertation committee? What if they could also be the same committee she refers to in her journal, members of the Society of Moret?”

“It would make sense. She said in the journal that Fouquet approached her a year before she joined the society. He was her advisor. Maybe her dissertation was her ticket into the society.”

“Come on,” he said excitedly. “We’ve got to go back and see Dr. Hewitt.”

I wanted to know why Dr. Hewitt had purposely misled us about Fouquet, but I was also hoping she’d be able to help me get this damned posy ring off my finger. It was still stuck. I was putting the poncho back on when I suddenly remembered Garland’s threat.

“Wait! I need to warn Jarrod and Brian first.” Simon ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, making it stand on end.

“Fine, warn them, but make it quick.” He handed me my phone. “And after this, no more using this phone, understand? You’ve got to get rid of it. Promise me, Maya.”

“I promise!” I checked my incoming calls log until I found Jarrod’s number and pressed redial. He answered on the second ring.

“Maya? Where the hell are you?” I could hear the panic in his voice.

“I can’t tell you that. Are you and Brian okay?”

“No, I’m not okay! Brian’s in surgery and I’m freaking the hell out.”

“Jarrod, I don’t have much time. I need you to stay away from Vincent Garland, the man from the U.S. Embassy. He’s not trying to help me. He’s very dangerous.”

“Hello? Maya? You’re breaking up. What did you say? Are you still there?”

“Can you hear me?” I yelled into the receiver.

“Maya? Maya?”

He was cutting in and out. I was loosing the connection. I shook the phone in frustration and the display went black. It was dead, which shouldn’t have been a big surprise. I hadn’t charged it since I’d gotten to Paris. And my charger was back at the hotel.

“Shit!” I threw the phone on the ground.

I was on the verge of asking Simon for his phone when the sound of police sirens filled the air. I peeked over the bushes we were sitting behind to see a cavalcade of police cars converge on the Louvre’s courtyard. Bernier and Bellange emerged from one of the cars and they, along with a group of uniformed officers, rushed inside the museum while another group of officers fanned out into the Tuileries garden. Simon had been right. They’d been tracking our cell phones. He was in such a rush to meet Francoise that he hadn’t turned my cell off when he’d taken it from me in the museum. It had been on the entire time, enabling them to track us down. My first reaction was to run but Simon grabbed my wrist and pulled me back down behind the bushes.

“If we run, it will attract attention. We have to stay calm,” he whispered and put the beret back on, pulling it down over his ears.

“Oh yeah, that’ll be easy.”

“I’m going to walk through the Tuileries to La Grande Roue. I’ll meet you there.”

“Where are you going?”

“The big white Ferris wheel,” he said, pointing off into the distance, toward the Place de la Concorde where a large Ferris wheel turned slowly.

“You’re not leaving me here, Simon Girard. I’m coming with you.”


Non!
We don’t want to raise suspicions. I’ll go first. Then in a few minutes you follow me,
d’accord?

I barely had time to nod before Simon took off walking like he hadn’t a care in the world while pretending to talk and laugh on his cell phone. A chill crawled down my spine as a police officer eyed him before turning his attention to a young interracial couple sitting on a blanket about twenty-five feet away. The woman had my coloring and build but short hair. The man had blond hair and looked nothing like Simon. The officer was barking orders at them in French and they fumbled in their bags for ID.

I glanced around the garden and saw other officers checking people lounging in chairs around a nearby fountain and waiting in line at the stands selling food and beverages. None of the officers were looking my way. I put the poncho back on and emerged from behind the bushes and took off in the direction Simon had gone. I still wore the wig, glasses and fake moles, but I couldn’t help but feel as though my name was tattooed across my forehead in neon ink. I walked slowly, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, when someone touched my arm.


Excusez moi, madame.

A tall police officer was holding out a black-and-white photo of Simon and me, the same pictures that had been in the newspaper that morning. A thin trickle of sweat ran down the side of my nose, threatening to dislodge my fake mole. I forced myself to smile.


Oui,
” I replied, pronouncing it
way
like Simon did.


Avez-vous vu ces personnes?
” he asked. I didn’t understand what he’d asked but assumed he was asking if I’d seen the people in the photos. I shook my head vigorously.


Non.
” I started to walk away but he blocked my path.

He shoved the picture in my face again but a loud cry from the direction I’d just come from caused him to look away. I looked too. Another police officer was waving something in the air. It was my cell phone. He must have just found it on the ground where I’d thrown it.


Merci, madame,
” said the officer dismissively as he rushed off to join his colleague.

I kept walking as other officers rushed past me to see what had been found. I didn’t look back and the farther I walked, the less I could hear of what was going on behind me. I went down the dirt path past a couple of restaurants set amongst the trees, past school kids playing on a playground, tourists resting on benches, an ice cream stand and around a large round fountain where a man was playing a guitar. Finally, I reached La Grand Roue. The bright sun forced me to shade my eyes as I searched in the crowds for Simon. He wasn’t there.

“Hey!” came a familiar voice from above.

Simon was on the Ferris wheel. He was at the top, waving his arms wildly. I laughed. Another bullet dodged.

 

We could hear Agnes, Evalyn Hewitt’s Bichon Frise, barking like crazy when we knocked on her door. Faint strains of chamber music came from inside the apartment. When we knocked again, Agnes frantically scratched at the door. She whined and yipped. Simon and I both came to the same conclusion at the same time. Something was wrong.

“Dr. Hewitt!” I pounded on the door. “Dr. Hewitt, are you okay?”

Simon turned the doorknob. The door was unlocked. “You wait out here,” he said as he pushed the door open.

I was in no big hurry to see what was on the other side of that door. And once it was open, my fears were validated. Agnes, who was spinning in circles and barking, had tracked bloody paw prints to the door. Simon was apprehensive. He sidestepped the blood and went inside. Seconds later, the music stopped. I paced in the hall for what seemed like forever. Laughter drifted up from the staircase in building’s hallway. Someone was coming up.

I ducked inside the apartment, closing the door behind me, and followed the bloody paw prints. I didn’t have very far to go before coming upon Evalyn Hewitt’s body lying on her kitchen floor in a dark pool of congealed blood. Her skin was so pale it looked translucent. Her lips were white and bloodless. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear. Agnes had followed me in and now was lying across her master’s chest. I had to clamp my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming.

“Maya, up here.” Simon leaned down over the second-floor railing.

I hurried past poor Dr. Hewitt’s body and flew up the steps to find Simon standing by the largest bookshelf in the room, where a handful of books had been pulled off and lay on the floor.

“Someone was looking for something?” I said.

“It must have been Garland looking for the crucifix. He must have found out we came here, Maya, and thought we gave the crucifix to Dr. Hewitt. We probably got her killed,” said Simon. He looked angry.

“No.” I shook my head. “If that were the case then why pull four books from just this one shelf and not the others? Did you check the other rooms? Were any of them disturbed?”

Simon shook his head. “
Non.
Not as far as I could tell. Just this room.”

“Then whoever did this was most likely looking for a specific book.”

“You don’t think Garland thought the book the society was protecting was here, do you?” he asked.

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