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Authors: Barbara Spencer

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BOOK: Turning Point
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Overhearing, Bill Anderson joined the two men. ‘I doubt that,' he broke in. ‘Among the many unforgettable memories of my captivity is the knowledge that these people are waging war with the help of teenagers. They even boasted that they are happy to use drugs to bend their supporters' minds to their will.'

‘I read your report, Mr Anderson, very interesting.'

‘You did. But why?' Bill said with astonishment.

‘Part of my job, sir,' the young officer explained.

‘You're based here?'

‘Yes, sir. It's essential. This might have been a bomb scare – it has happened.' He tapped his watch. ‘It took thirty minutes today to sweep these offices. We have twenty floors.' He nodded to the US Representative. ‘We're done here, sir. One of my men will stay behind and finish up.'

‘Ladies and gentlemen, you are free to go…' Representative Horrington indicated the officer standing by the door, who had begun to check security badges, noting the details. ‘Please don't be alarmed when a security check is run on you. It's standard procedure. Can you imagine,' he confided to Bill, ‘how much paperwork this is going to create.' He sounded despairing. ‘We'll be up to our ears for the rest of the day.'

Sean Terry appeared in the doorway. He squeezed past the little line of guests blocking the entrance who, like competitors at the start line of a half-marathon, were frantically trying to get away. He collapsed his long frame into an easy chair, conveniently placed opposite the line of presidential photographs.

The suite of rooms was now almost empty. Waiters milled about clearing dirty plates and glasses, Stewart Horrington and his assistants had vanished into one of the inner offices, leaving the Secretary of State to chat with Emma Arneson, and Jane Oliver notebook in hand was telephoning.

Abruptly, Sean Terry shrugged his shoulders, as if ridding himself of the snow falling outside. ‘Damn good job it wasn't a bomb scare.' He nodded towards the departing horde. ‘The elevators would have been out of action and that little lot would have found themselves walking down twenty floors. Most look so unfit they'd have struggled with five and you'd have been up to your asses in heart attacks by the time they reached ground level.'

His face relaxed into a suggestion of a grin, something Scott knew was a very rare occurrence and, after the events of that morning, unlikely to reoccur for some time. The idea that innocent people often felt guilty for no reason appealed to SeanTerry's skewed sense of the absurd. Well, it would, Scott thought. The agent was so obsessed with his pursuit of justice he had little patience with normal behaviour.

Bill, carrying a plate of sandwiches in his right hand, side-stepped one of the men still packing his gear away and joined the group by the window.

‘Bad day all round.' he held out the plate. ‘Sorry Scott… Change of plan. We're probably not going to be able to leave for a while. And you must be starving. Tuck in. You too, Tulsa.'

The agent took a sandwich regarding Bill thoughtfully. ‘We just witnessed something far more serious than an overheard conversation,' he said. ‘The woman you were talking to, the Norwegian. When I found that bug, she looked like she'd been dealt a death sentence.'

‘You're right. Emma Arneson had confided that Lotil Oil were being blackmailed,' Bill kept his voice to a low murmur. ‘She was warned not to say anything. If she did, the price would be doubled. At the moment, it's twenty billion dollars…'

Tulsa whistled.

Bill smiled apologetically. ‘Lotil is partly government owned and supplies sixty per cent of the country's needs. It's what we feared, Scott, that Styrus would eventually work. They proved it by stopping one of the rigs for a week. The computer system simply melted away without the slightest warning, every firewall bypassed. She begged for help and unfortunately I admitted I could…'

Scott gasped. ‘But you told the United Nations you couldn't…'

‘That was for your dad's protection,' Sean Terry broke in. ‘No one knew it but him and me.'

Scott looked miserably at the agent. He loathed him and didn't trust him; yet… he was
the one man they dare trust. ‘Now,
know about it,' he said bitterly. ‘Dad, I'm so sorry I made a fuss about Montreux…'

‘You weren't to know, Scott. And, if anyone should apologise, it should be me. I let the cat out of the bag, speaking about Styrus in public.' He shrugged. ‘I never imagined the UN would be bugged.'

Sean Terry spun his arm round the now empty room. ‘There's still an outside chance the bugs are Europe's way of keeping an eye on us. They don't want us taking over again. It's possible, Bill, but I think unlikely. So they know about this and probably a lot of other stuff too. I've already asked for more men.'

Tulsa looked up, his glance speculative.

‘I suggest, Bill, we move this little party to the Embassy. Bugs are like lice. Once you know you've got them, you never feel clean again, wondering if somehow one has slipped through and been missed. Tulsa, you take Scott back to the hotel and get your stuff together. Use the limo. We'll finish up here.'


Scott slumped back against the plush leather upholstery of the limousine, annoyed that he'd been dispatched back to the hotel with Tulsa to pack their suitcases, while everyone else went to the Embassy, to continue their conversation about the plight of Norway and how to fix it. But it was no good arguing – not with Sean Terry at the helm.

Yet, more than anyone there, he had the right to know what his father was getting himself into. After all, for months now, he'd been patiently helping his dad get better, trying to put the events of the spring behind them, working towards an ordinary, possibly even humdrum existence. Like the villagers who were content with growing dahlias for the annual flower show or taking part in a sponsored walk or hike, they no longer craved excitement and neither did he. In a moment of weakness, Scott had confessed to Tulsa,
excitement they'd had in spades

It had been a pretty good summer too, once exams were over and his dad fit enough to get about. Several times they had been invited to spend a day on the river, with Doug and Catherine Randal, Travers and Mary, peaceful days in which nothing more strenuous than trailing your hand through water was expected of you. The visit to Switzerland had been eagerly discussed and as eagerly awaited; the days counted down, hopeful that the long-awaited day of liberation was fast approaching – like rain for farmers who have experienced the worst drought in living memory.

Now, once again, his dad was thinking about getting involved. Okay, so he hadn't actually admitted it but Scott recognised the look – steely-eyed and stern-lipped. It was his favourite heavy-father expression, the one he adopted every time Scott was due for yet another tongue lashing about his untidy bedroom or throwing his dirty socks and pants under his bed instead of in the washing basket. Hadn't his dad learned his lesson? Last time they'd been lucky to escape with their lives. Couldn't he understand how terrifying it was to be at the mercy of men that killed on a whim? He was always moaning to Scott that he must work hard at school. What was the point, when you needed both eyes to look over your shoulder for an assassin?

Scott glanced across at his bodyguard, relaxed, staring idly through the window of the limousine at the sights, what you could see of them through the snow. It didn't involve Tulsa. He wasn't paid to worry or express an opinion. His job was quite specific, to keep them alive, and for doing that he earned a hefty salary.

The chauffeur slid open the partition. ‘We've picked up a tail.'

Wanting to see for himself, Scott shifted round. Immediately Tulsa's hand was across his chest keeping him in place.

‘You don't look round,' he said. ‘How long?'

‘Two blocks.' The driver's eyes flicked into the rear-view mirror. ‘Brown Peugeot, four cars back.'

Tulsa took a small mirror from his jacket pocket, slowly raising it. ‘Okay, got'em, they didn't waste much time.' He pulled out his mobile phone. ‘How attached are you to your clothes, Scott?'


‘Because you won't be getting them back for a while.' He raised his voice. ‘Can you lose them?'

Scott caught the driver's smile in the mirror. ‘Definitely, but they'll know we've tagged them. And then where?'

Tulsa spoke rapidly into the little machine. ‘The Embassy. They might pick us up again there, but that won't matter.'

‘Not the way I go. You belted up?'

‘Will be, Scott?'

Scott fumbled for his belt, impatiently tugging at the strap where it had become tangled. Leaving the UN building after being told to take himself off, like a kid sent to bed after gate-crashing his parents' party, why would he even bother with anything as trivial as a seat belt. Catching sight of the time, an unexpected shiver tore up and down his spine making his hands tremble, the buckle snagging against the rim of the metal holder. It was only half-past two now, less than five hours since the driver had picked them up at the hotel, free as birds, no one the slightest bit interested in their activities. All this had been arranged since. Who on earth wielded that sort of power? Or were there vehicles stashed all over Geneva, like a colony of bumper cars, waiting for just such an eventuality – his father exiting the United Nations building? And who were they? Through the blacked-out windows, he saw a group of pedestrians waiting for lights to change before crossing the road. It could be anyone. How on earth would he recognise them in a city full of people – they wouldn't be carrying placards with the words:
repent now or die.
Scott caught a robust click as he slotted in the clasp on the seat belt. ‘Got it,' he said.

The chauffeur nodded. ‘Hang on.'

Scott watched him put the heavy vehicle into manual drive. Like the Suzuki he'd ridden all round Scotland, gentle noises, like the contented rumbling of a great cat, were indications of power and speed. Expensive indications too, the limousine a top of the range Mercedes, most likely powered by petrol rather than diesel, and built for a lightning-quick getaway.

Wondering what the man intended, Scott leaned forward watching the limousine cruise slowly towards an intersection, a four-way crossing with lights suspended above the roadway. Ahead, vehicles were filtering into three lanes – two of the three angling right or straight on, only the outer lane turning left across oncoming traffic. Four cars ahead, the lights stood at red. Four cars behind – their tail. The heavy vehicle glided to a halt, waiting patiently among the little queue of cars selecting the
straight on
option, and carefully keeping its distance from the one
in front, like it was playing the children's game of “

An instant before the lights flicked to green, as if the driver had been counting off the seconds, the engine roared, its rear tyres screaming in protest. Then they were moving. The heavy vehicle squeezed through the gap between lines of waiting vehicles to the front of the queue, the massive acceleration hurling Scott deep into the luxurious upholstery. The chauffeur spun the wheel and, at the same time stamped hard on the brakes. The rear of the car slid away. Scott's shoulder collided heavily with Tulsa's as the limousine performed a U-turn, the approaching cars bursting into movement the moment the lights hit green – burned rubber flying into the air from their tyres.

Hastily Scott screwed his eyes shut, his brain somehow taking its own decision that it might also be sensible to stop breathing because, at any second, there would be a fierce crunching of metal, followed by a blow that would knock him sideways. Startled, he hit the window frame with his other shoulder. His eyes flew open, to see the bonnet of a car sliding helplessly towards them. All around, mayhem spread as quickly as an infectious disease. Car horns broke into furious alarm calls, matched only by a screaming of tyres as brakes came into action, like the screeching of monkeys sirening an alarm call at the approach of a predator. Close by, Scott caught the loud bang as a car, unable to stop in time, tailgated the one in front. The lurching faded away and the engine cut back to a satisfied purr. He glanced down at his legs and arms, surprised to find them still in one piece. On the far side of the street, separated now by a strip of raised paving, Scott spotted the brown Peugeot, the driver impotently thumping his horn, his head turned to watch them drive past. A loud report struck the air, like a series of strident backfires, and gravel smacked into the window next to Scott. Automatically, he ducked.

‘What the hell…?'

‘They're shooting at us, sir,' the chauffeur said into the rear mirror. ‘A bit rash, don't you think, in the centre of Geneva. Lucky though, it gets us off the hook nicely.' He waved an arm at the traffic, fast backing up. ‘Plenty of witnesses.'

‘You okay, Scott?'

Scott felt Tulsa's arm on his shoulder and raised his head. ‘I forgot it was bullet-proof,' he admitted, a little shamefaced.

Tulsa grinned affectionately. ‘I promise you, ducking is something all sensible people do. Besides it's a knee-jerk reaction, like blinking, nothing to do with bravery at all.' In the distance, sirens wailed. ‘That was fast.' Again, he pulled out his mobile, quickly dialling. ‘Can you get someone to trace a Peugeot?' He reeled off the licence plate. Scott heard the words. ‘I doubt you'll get anything, its occupants will be long gone by the time the police arrive.'

Scott peered at the pockmarked window, star-shaped ridges of chipped glass smeared right across it in a neat line level with his head. Okay, so ducking was self-preservation but did that also account for his heart? He felt it pounding away, beating like a drummer in a rock band as if it wanted to break through his chest wall. He caught the words, ‘no idea' before Tulsa closed the connection.

‘Terry asked if you stuck your tongue out at them.'

Scott pulled a face. ‘He was joking, wasn't he?'

‘The boss joke – never.
Did you

‘No!' Scott exclaimed indignantly. ‘I looked out of the window – that's all. Why?'

‘Because this is Geneva.'

‘But I've had people firing at me before.'


‘At the motel in Birmingham…' Scott stopped, glancing once again at the damaged window. ‘I see what you mean. High-speed car chases with bullets flying are only supposed to happen in movies – not in civilised countries like Switzerland. I promise you
I only caught sight of the car for a split second.' He noticed their driver staring at him through the mirror and shrugged apologetically. ‘Besides, it's my dad they want, not me. But thanks,' he produced a sickly grin leaning forward, ‘you were amazing. Where did you learn to drive like that?'

‘Goes with the job – manoeuvring a limo like this one is child's play,' the man replied. ‘It's the traffic and lights you need to learn about. That's what takes the time.'

‘I ride my dad's bike, a Suzuki, a thousand cc. I'm pretty good with that.' Scott couldn't resist the boast.

Still concerned, he swivelled round in his seat, wondering if somehow the Peugeot had duplicated their manoeuvre and was once again on their tail, only to find his view blocked by a bus.

‘You won't find many of those in Switzerland. Americans and English love their bikes. Swiss and Italians: their cars.'

Expertly, their chauffeur steered the heavy vehicle into a narrow side road, more used to an average family-size saloon than a limousine. Scott guessed they were heading for the Embassy and taking the scenic route, the long way round; except it wasn't scenic. The elegant mansions of the centre had been left behind, hopefully like their pursuers, and a bank of tall concrete structures now criss-crossed the skyline.

Street after street fell behind the powerful vehicle, its speed reduced to a modest crawl unlikely to attract attention, although, Scott noticed, the driver kept a wary eye on his mirror. The streets narrowed further. Mostly empty of traffic and pedestrians, terraced houses lined both sides of the road. Cut from an identical pattern, with four windows and a door opening straight onto a narrow pavement, not even a clothes line with washing on it or a wall smeared with graffiti to break the monotony. At every junction identical blocks of apartments rose up, the shrubs in their communal gardens obliterated by a covering of snow. Even cars conformed to a rigid pattern, neatly parked in marked bays next to the kerb. Scott recognised the word
which meant parking in French, embossed on metal signs. Nervously, he checked the time. It was forty minutes since they had left the UN and for almost thirty of those they'd been locked among streets that seemed identical. Scott watched the driver indicating left and right with monotonous regularity and wondered if they had blundered into a maze and were trapped on a circular path that took them back to the beginning time and time again. No city could be this big – they had to be doubling back.

Abruptly, the residential quarter vanished, replaced by a single-track roadway with gated factory units. The signs pinned to the walls meant little to Scott, a series of names mostly ending in the words:
et Cie
. Parked cars were dotted about, like dice on a board. All at once he remembered it was Wednesday – an ordinary, uneventful working day for everyone in this city, bar him and his dad. The idea that no one knew or cared what had happened to them seemed both illogical and unreal. It was difficult to accept that the momentous events at the UN had passed over the heads of the residents like a cloud of radiation, unseen and unfelt.

At the far end, a forklift truck trundled back and forth unloading a lorry, drawn up alongside a raised loading bay, its cab facing outwards and blocking the roadway. Noticing the limousine approach, its driver swung up into the cab and started the engine, pulling the vehicle to one side. Abruptly, the limousine turned in through the factory gates and passed through a pair of double-doors, a mere thickness of paint between them.

‘Apologies, this is the back entrance.'

The building appeared to be a storage depot, though for what Scott hadn't a clue, their chauffeur carefully manoeuvring the heavy vehicle along a narrow pathway between tall metal racks stacked with crates and boxes. As if by magic, sliding doors at the far end drew back. At first sight, it looked a dead end. Then Scott spotted a walkway, obviously intended for pedestrians and bicycles – not armour-plated vehicles. Edging slowly between high brick walls, they veered off into a second building and stopped. Behind them, doors slammed shut sealing them in. In the background, Scott caught the faint hum of machinery. Then, to his astonishment, railings grew up out of the concrete floor, encircling the limousine like an alien army of monsters. He felt the ground shudder and realised they were on a moveable ramp. He clutched the arm rest, watching the walls around them slowly descend.

‘I thought they'd got rid of this entrance?' Tulsa said in an amused tone.

BOOK: Turning Point
12.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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