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.Cronin and Desayer were sitting at opposite sides of the desk deep in thought.The three of them had been discussing their options for the last two days, but as yet had come up with nothing.However they looked at it there didn’t seem to be any feasible way of stemming the tide.“Any sign of the Messiah?” asked Cronin.“No,” said Stratton.“I think he’s probably called it a night.”“Yes,” said Desayer.“I think you are right.Vittori told me earlier today that he was worried about overexposure.I expect he has sent Christiano to bed.”Stratton sat down next to Cronin and poured himself a glass of water.His head hurt with thinking.His body, though, was still charged with energy.Whatever his opinion about the aims of the Church, there was an awful lot of good feeling circulating the globe.But he was only too aware that this was a honeymoon period.“Perhaps it’s time that we retired as well,” suggested Cronin.“There doesn’t seem to be a lot happening at the moment.”“You’re probably right,” agreed Stratton.“I reckon everything’s about done for the evening.There’s no point staying up all night if we don’t have to.”They said their goodnights to Desayer and left for Cronin’s quarters.The corridor’s were unusually busy for the late hour and Stratton felt uneasy with the amount of traffic.He moved along with his head down, letting Cronin guide the way.“You’re a bit paranoid aren’t you?” said Cronin.“I don’t think anybody’s going to recognize you here.”“Maybe not, but I don’t want to take the risk.If I’m seen then that’s your cover blown, and Desayer’s.”“You’re hardly an international figure.”“No,” said Stratton, “I’m not.But think about it – if Vittori had people doing research on the box, my name could have come up at any time.And it’s not difficult to find pictures of people in this day and age, is it?”“Point taken,” said Cronin.“I must be getting a bit lax.”They rounded a corner.Stratton looked up and then straight back down again.He inched closer to the priest.“What’s up?” whispered Cronin.“Just keep moving.”Cronin nodded politely to the men who walked past them.“What was all that about?” he asked, opening the door to his room.Stratton walked in and pulled off his collar.“Don’t you know who that was?”“Sure, that was Jonathan Ayres, the British Prime Minister.What’s the problem? Is he a friend of yours?”“No, I’ve never met him in my life.But I’ll bet he’s seen a photo of me.”“Why’s that?”“Because it will have been in the report on the murder of his best friend, Henry Mulholland.I was heavily involved in the whole case, remember?”“I’d forgotten about that.But you would just have been a face in a file.I doubt whether he’d have given you more than a second’s thought.He would have been happy that the killer had been found and would have got on with more important things – like running the country.”Stratton sat down on the spare bed.“What’s he doing here anyway?”“He’s been in Rome for the last week.Came over for a conference with the Italian Prime Minister.He’s often at the Vatican visiting the Pope.He’s a devout Catholic – I thought you’d know that.”“Well yeah, I knew, but I didn’t realize he was over here so often.Does he know Cardinal Vittori?”“He might do, I don’t really know.”“I thought you’d been keeping an eye on things over here, and investigating all the cardinals and their associates.”“As far as I could,” said Cronin defensively.“You can’t keep tabs on everybody all of the time.And besides, our prime concern was not to be found out ourselves.It’s difficult watching out for people when you’re under the microscope yourself.”Realizing he’d caused offence Stratton backtracked.“Sorry Pat, I didn’t mean to question your capabilities.I’m just finding his presence here uncomfortable.I’m not sure why.He gives me the creeps.”“Do you think he’s in on the whole thing?” asked Cronin.“I’m not sure,” said Stratton.“But the more I think about it the more suspicious I’m getting.Firstly he was Henry Mulholland’s best friend, which should put him out of the frame of course, but he’s a politician and let’s face it – they don’t have real friends.To me it means that he was close enough to know about Henry’s family history.And secondly there was all this business with Jennings.He seems to think there was some internal plot to kill the Prime Minister, but if there was surely they would have succeeded by now? I’m more inclined to think that it was all a smokescreen for some other plan they had going.Bottom line is – I don’t trust the guy.”Cronin poured himself a whiskey and sat down at his small writing desk [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]