They put him in a small upstairs room. The window had bars bolted to the outside wall -- a very ornate grill, and very solid, too. One guard was posted on the ground below the window, another outside the door. The furnishings consisted of a plain wooden table, a chair and a narrow bunk.
An hour into his incarceration, Scott got a visit from Ed Russell.
"So what's the verdict?" asked Scott, stretched out on the bunk. He didn't bother getting up when Russell came in.
"Burcham wants to 'off' you, as he puts it," replied Russell. "I nixed that idea. I hope you'll be comfortable here. I'll be taking Delphi -- Saccomando -- out late this afternoon. After that you'll be free to go."
Scott, being well-versed in Greek mythology, recalled that Delphi had been a temple of Apollo containing the Omphalos, a sacred stone marking the center of the earth. It had been the oracle of Homer and Herodotus where, supposedly, one could ask for and sometimes get insights into the future. It was said that Zeus had started two eagles from opposite ends of the earth and they had met at Delphi.
"That's a cute codename for Saccomando," he said. "But I can think of a few that are more appropriate, if less flattering."
"Look," said Russell, exasperated. "I don't like his kind any better than you do. But I've got a job to do. With Saccomando's help we can cripple the Mafia."
"You lay down with dogs, et cetera."
"I mean it when I say I'm sorry about Christian. But, to a degree, he brought it on himself."
Scott nodded. "You keep saying that, and maybe it's true, to an extent. But Burcham didn't have to kill him."
"Burcham isn't on my Christmas card list, but he is a government agent, so I'd advise you to forget it. What's your stake in this anyway? A vendetta isn't your style. There's no profit in it. Unless you're interested in that million dollar contract on Saccomando. And I don't think you've gone rogue."
Scott shook his head. "I have a hard enough time spending my per diem. Wouldn't know what to do with a million dollars."
He had opened the window earlier, and now he heard a car coming up the drive. Swinging his legs off the bed, he crossed the room to have a look. Russell joined him. The black Volvo Scott had followed that afternoon pulled to a stop in front of the villa. Burcham and the girl named Roxanne Wilson got out.
"'How men blame the gods,'" murmured Scott. "'But, through their own perversity, and more than is their due, they meet with sorrow.'"
"Homer. The Odyssey. So you pimp for the Saccomando, too."
"Our orders are to get him what he wants, within reason," said Russell, on the defensive. "As long as he cooperates. The man happens to have a thing for blondes, the younger the better. Getting them is Burcham's territory. He finds them, checks them out, brings them in. But only if they're willing. And they are. . . recompensed."
"I'm sure the taxpayers would love to know they paid so that Nick Saccomando could get his jollies."
"What do you care?"
"Hey, Man, I pay my taxes just like everybody else."
Russell went to the door. "I'm not going to lock this. A lock probably wouldn't stop you. But a bullet would. And Christos -- the man you almost strangled -- is the guard in the hall. He has orders to shoot to kill if you stick your head out of this room. Believe me, he hopes you will. So don't try anything stupid."
Katrina Belleau emerged from the frothy surf of Homer's "wine-dark sea" clad in a black wetsuit, cinnamon strands of wet hair plastered to her neck and rubber-encased shoulders.
Clouds scudded across the moonlit sky, creating a diorama of constantly moving silver light and indigo night-shadow. The villa stood high above her, with terraced steps leading up from the narrow beach. She moved swiftly to the base of a stone wall, unzipping her wetsuit so that she could reach inside and extract the air pistol. The tide was high, and as she crouched there the surf washed around her feet.
Waiting with nerveless patience, she listened for the sentry she knew would come past this point as he patrolled the villa's perimeter. He arrived a few minutes later, right on schedule, pausing directly above her and looking out to sea. Katrina wasn't worried that he would spot the Cigarette speedboat she had used to get here -- it was anchored beyond the point of land a few hundred yards along the coast.
The sentry cupped his hands in front of his face to light a Xanthi. That put enough distance between his trigger finger and the H&K MP5KA4 dangling from a shoulder strap at his side to suit Katrina. She stepped away from the wall and just as the sentry spotted her drew a quick bead and fired the air pistol. The trank dart hit him in the throat. The sentry swayed back on his heels -- then pitched headfirst over the stone balustrade to land in the sand at her feet.
Katrina knew he'd be out for three hours, and she put him in a sitting position against the wall, so that anyone looking down from above would be less likely to see him. She confiscated the H&K, a hand radio and a remote access device for the alarm system. Then she took a slim brass cylinder dangling from a chain around her neck and blew on it sharply, several times. She knew that the sentry's fall over the balustrade had set off a perimeter intruder alarm that automatically released the caged attack dogs. The sound produced by the dog whistle, inaudible to human ears, brought the canines running. Using the air pistol, she brought both of them down with a fine display of marksmanship, considering the unreliable moonlight and the accuracy of the air pistol at anything but short range. This done, she headed up the steps.
The upper terrace on this side of the villa contained a swimming pool, and she waited until clouds obscured the moon before crossing this open space. Trellises laden with star jasmine covered the stone arches supporting a sundeck which adjoined the villa's second story, and she climbed with the agility of a mountaineer. No sentry here, and she moved swiftly to a door leading to an upstairs hall. She had studied the villa's layout, knew it by heart. The door was locked, and the sentry she'd tranked hadn't been carrying a set of keys. Taking a small black leather case from a waterproof belt pouch, she crouched to attack the lock with a set of burglar's tools. She knew she didn't have much time -- though all seemed quiet the perimeter alarm had alerted the occupants of the villa.
Nonetheless, she didn't hear Burcham stealing up behind her.
"Move an inch," he hissed, planting the business end of his .38 Colt Diamondback against the base of her skull, "and I'll blow your head off."
Katrina froze. Her voice was steady as she said, "Oh dear, I must have the wrong house. Isn't this the Moustafa residence?"
Burcham grinned crookedly. "You're a cool customer."
"Would hysteria make a difference? If so, I'll scream."
"Nothing can help you now. I'm going to . . . ."
And he went down, falling like fresh-cut timber. Katrina whirled, put her back to the wall -- and stared at Alexander Scott.
"Hello," he said, smiling. "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"