The wise man reads both books and life itself.

Lin Yutang

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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
Upload bìa: Dieu Chau
Language: English
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Chapter 49
HEY ATE OUTSIDE at a small brasserie that had partial views of the Seine across Quai de Gesvres. If Katie craned her neck just a bit she could glimpse the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral in the middle of the famous river. The Louvre was less than half a mile to their west, the Bastille a little farther than that to the east.
The coffee was strong, the bread hot, the simple egg dish as delicious as only the French seem to be able to accomplish.
“You met her in London,” Shaw said. “At her office? Her flat?”
“We first met at a café, then we moved on to her office.”
“Anything strike you as out of the ordinary when you got there?”
Katie shrugged as she delicately took a forkful of eggs while her stomach continued to do little flip-flops. “It seemed ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. A beautiful old row house on a quiet street in the heart of London filled with a bunch of scholars who write things no one reads, or at least that last part was Anna’s description.” She glanced over at him. “Have you ever been there?”
Shaw nodded. “And just for the hell of it about a year ago I checked the real estate records to see how valuable that building was. Care to guess?” Katie shook her head and bit into a piece of toast as she stared at him curiously. “Sixteen million pounds.”
The toast nearly fell out of Katie’s mouth. “That’s over thirty million dollars.”
“That’s right. And that was just the purchase price ten years ago. It’s obviously worth a lot more now.”
“How long had Anna worked there?”
“Five years. She was a senior analyst, one of the best they had.”
“I’m sure. She told me basically what they do there. But who owns the Phoenix Group?”
“She said once. Some rich American recluse living in Arizona, hence the name. Although she also told me she thought it came from the mythical bird, the phoenix.”
“The one that never dies,” Katie said, and then her face reddened when she found Shaw staring at her.
“Didn’t turn out to be a very apt name, did it?” he noted.
Katie said quickly, “But there must be more to The Phoenix Group than people knew. So we really need to nail down who or what it is.”
“No, I need to do that.”
“I thought we were working this together.”
“You thought wrong.”
“I want to find out what happened to Anna too.”
Shaw just shook his head. “What else can you tell me?”
“Why should I tell you anything now?”
“Because I asked you politely.”
His eyes locked on her again and Katie felt herself quivering under their burn.
“Well, when I was about to leave I noticed she had all this research on her desk.”
“She always did. That was her job.”
“No, I mean it was about one thing, the so-called Red Menace.”
Shaw sat forward. “Did you ask her about it? Was she working on it for The Phoenix Group?”
She shook her head. “Anna said she was just curious. That it was just something she was working on in I suppose her spare time.”
“When we were in Dublin she was very interested about this R.I.C. organization. She went online trying to dig up some stuff but didn’t find much.”
“Well, it seemed like she was still very curious.” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “You don’t think her employer had anything to do with any of that? I mean trying to find out who was behind the Red Menace? And maybe they did and that would explain the shooting?”
Shaw slipped a business card out of his pocket and looked at it. Edward Royce, MI5. The man Frank had wanted him to team with on the Red Menace investigation. He was based in London. Shaw didn’t believe for an instant that The Phoenix Group had been investigating the Red Menace and that was the reason for the slaughter. Yet Royce probably had the connections to get Shaw at least into the building if Shaw agreed to help him on the Red Menace situation.
“Anna would’ve told me if she were working on it for them.”
Katie licked her lips and said nervously, “Take this in the spirit in which it’s offered.”
Shaw looked up from the card. “What?”
“Could Anna have been keeping things from you, I mean about what she really did?” She added quickly as his features turned grim, “Look, you weren’t exactly truthful with her. It’s just a thought.”
“It is a thought. I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks.”
“So when do you leave?”
“Soon.”
Shaw’s BlackBerry vibrated. He had some difficulty getting it out of his coat pocket so Katie helped him pull it out. “Do you want me to bring up your messages?” She asked this as she watched him struggling with the device basically one-handed.
“I can manage,” he said, perhaps suspecting that this was a ploy on Katie’s part to read his mail. He glanced at the screen. He had a first-class ticket on the Eurostar out of Gare du Nord station to St. Pancras in London. He’d be staying at the recently reopened Savoy. At least Frank didn’t do things on the cheap. It was partial compensation for a job that involved the potential of violent death on a minute-by-minute basis.
“Will you at least call and let me know what you find out?”
He stood after dropping some euros on the table to pay for the meal. “Sorry, I can’t do that.”
“Why?”
“Because I don’t want to. That explanation cover it for you?”
It took Katie a moment to realize he was merely throwing her own words back at her, when he’d quizzed her about not getting plastic surgery done on the scar on her arm.
“No, but I guess I don’t have a choice.”
“Thanks for your help. Now go back home and get on with your life.”
“Oh, yeah, great,” she exclaimed in mock delight. “I hear the New York Times needs a new managing editor. Or maybe I can take over Christiane Amanpour’s slot on CNN. I’ve always wanted to cross over to TV. I’ll make millions. I have no idea why I didn’t do it years ago.”
“Take care of yourself, Katie. And lay off the drink.”
He left her sitting there at the table, her head pounding. Five minutes passed and she hadn’t moved, just sat staring at nothing, because that’s apparently all she had left, nothing. Her ringing phone jolted her. It was a stateside number she didn’t recognize.
“Hello?”
“Katie James?”
“Yes.”
“I’m Kevin Gallagher, features editor at Scribe. We’re a fairly new daily based in the U.S.”
“I’ve read some of your stuff. You’ve got some good reporters.”
“Quite a compliment coming from a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Look, I’m sure you’re busy, but I got your number from a buddy at the Trib. I understand you’re no longer there.”
“That’s right,” Katie said, then quickly added, “Irreconcilable differences. Why are you calling?”
“Hey, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a reporter at your level doesn’t become available all that often. I’d like to hire you to cover the story for the paper.”
“The story?”
Gallagher chuckled. “At least the only story anyone cares about right now.”
“The Red Menace?”
“Nope.” He said. “We’ve already got a team on that. I meant the London Massacre.”
Katie’s heartbeat quickened.
“Katie, you still there?”
“Yeah, yeah. How would we work it?”
“We can’t pay what you’re used to at the Trib. But we’ll pay you per story at the going rate for somebody like you plus reasonable expenses. You break anything big I can go back for more. You have free rein on how to get the story. How’s that sound?”
“Sounds like exactly what I’ve been looking for. I happen to be in Europe right now as a matter of fact.”
“I call that a kickass coincidence.”
I wouldn’t.
“I can e-mail you the contract and other essentials.”
They spoke for a couple more minutes and then Katie clicked off. She couldn’t believe this incredible turn of events. She checked her watch. She’d just have time to catch the one o’clock Eurostar to London.
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