16

“It’s been taken care of,” Raymond said.

Seated at the rear of the passenger compartment of his private jet, Alistair Drummond peered up from a report he was reading. The fuselage vibrated softly as the jet streaked through the sky. “Specifics,” he said.

“According to a radio message I just received,” Raymond said, “last night, the director of Mexico’s National Institute of Archaeology and History was killed in a car accident near the National Palace in Mexico City.”

“Tragic,” Drummond said. Despite his age, he didn’t show the strain of having flown to a business meeting in Moscow, then to another in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia before his present transatlantic flight back to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, all within forty-eight hours. “Do we have evidence that Delgado was responsible?”

“The man Delgado ordered to do it is on our payroll. He’ll implicate Delgado if we ask him, provided we guarantee he won’t be punished.”

“We?” Drummond asked.

“I meant you.

“Your confusion of pronouns troubles me, Raymond. I’d hate to think that you consider me an equal.”

“No, sir, I don’t. I won’t make the mistake again.”

“Has his successor been chosen?”

Raymond nodded.

“An executive favorable to our cause?”

Raymond nodded again. “And money will make him more so.”

“Good,” Drummond said, his voice brittle, one of the few signs of his age. “We no longer need the woman, even if we find her. The leverage she provided against Delgado isn’t necessary any longer now that we have another way to put pressure on him. In all probability, Delgado will be Mexico’s next president, but not if we reveal his crimes. Let him know we have proof that he ordered the death of the Institute’s director, that his political future continues to depend on me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, when he becomes president, I’ll have even more influence.”

“All the influence you need.”

“Never,” Drummond corrected him.

“Perhaps, then, you do need the woman.”

The old man scowled, his wrinkles deepening so much that his true age began to show. “I almost lost everything because of her. When your operatives find her. .”

“Yes, sir?”

“Make certain they kill her on sight.”

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