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.He wanted to enjoy his brief time with Justina, and his time as a free man.While he waited for the best time to tell her.* * *Barcelona, SpainThe following morning Gage stood outside the gleaming terminal of the Barcelona Sants railway station.He kept his eyes on the short-term lot and, at precisely 7:48 A.M., was pleased to see Navarro’s top man, Valentin, enter the lot, taking a ticket from the automated attendant.Gage waited while Valentin parked the gleaming white Jaguar XJL Ultimate.The Spaniard exited the vehicle, carrying a satchel and wearing a sport coat, looking like any businessman at the station to catch a train.After scanning the area for anyone who might be following Valentin, Gage took up a position behind him and walked into the train station.The station was expansive and busier this morning than it had been yesterday evening.Gage continued to scan for surveillance as he followed Valentin to the sprawling underground area containing the short-distance metro tracks.The Spaniard purchased a ticket, went through the turnstile and walked to metro track L-3, just as he was instructed.He looked up at the clock.It was 7:58 A.M.and he was on the Canyelles side of the line.Gage walked to the automated ticket machine and purchased two T-10 tickets, running a twenty-euro bill into the machine and pocketing his change.He passed through the turnstile and waited fifty feet from Valentin, keeping him in sight the entire time.When 8:00 A.M.came and went, Valentin began to look around.Gage remained behind a crowd of people on the platform.When the train finally arrived, he pushed forward and, just before the train departed, grasped Valentin by the arm and led him onto the packed subway car.When the doors had squeezed shut, Valentin eyed Gage.Gage leaned over and spoke Spanish, saying, “Give me your phone.”“Perdón?”“You heard me.”Valentin reached into his jacket and handed Gage a rather cheap phone, which came as no surprise.It was likely disposable and, if Gage were to guess, he and Navarro had a drawer full of them.In fact, they probably used a new one every day or two.Gage unclipped the back cover and removed the battery.“Any other phones or anything else emitting a signal?”“No,” Valentin said, frowning.“Good.Just stare straight ahead and get off when I tell you to.”They rode the train through several stops.By the time they reached the Vallcarca station, the outbound train was nearly empty.As the doors opened, Gage hitched his head and followed Valentin off.The only other people exiting must have been students because they were all very young, laughing and running with their book bags and matching uniforms.Gage gestured up the long escalator, following Valentin and keeping a watchful eye behind them.Outside, he led Valentin into a grocery, finding a small bathroom in the back.Inside the bathroom, Gage held out his hand for the satchel.“Shouldn’t we talk first?” Valentin asked.“I’m not going anywhere,” Gage said, taking the satchel and popping it open.On top of the money was a canister of shaving cream.Gage lifted the canister, frowning.“Please take that,” Valentin said.Gage popped the top and squirted some of the shaving cream.He set the canister aside and perused the satchel.Inside were banded stacks of 50 and 100 euro bills.They weren’t brand new, thankfully, with each bill showing telltale wrinkles.Gage reached behind his body and pulled a folded vinyl bag from his waist.He opened the bag, dumping the contents of the satchel in and zipping it.Then he tossed the leather satchel into the trash next to the toilet.“Follow me.”Valentin slid the shaving cream into his jacket.They departed the grocery, crossing the street to an area with trees and a playground.There, Gage instructed Valentin to sit at a checkerboard built from tile on top of a concrete table.Sitting across from him, Gage unzipped the bag and counted the stacks of money while checking each stack for markers.“I do not understand your constant caution, Mister Hartline,” Valentin said.“We do not aim to cheat you, nor do we want to track you.”“This caution has kept me alive,” Gage muttered, finishing with his count.The money was all there.He looked up.Valentin handed Gage an envelope.“This contains your instructions.Señor Navarro told me to tell you that he is counting on you following through with your commitment every day of your incarceration.”“I understand,” Gage said, folding the envelope and stuffing it into his pocket.Valentin reached into his coat pocket and retrieved a slim, heat-sealed black plastic bag.“This is the satellite phone and an earpiece—the smallest and lightest available.” Seeing Gage’s look, Valentin said, “The battery is disconnected.” He removed the shaving cream canister and wagged it.“On your second day, this shaving cream canister will be replaced with an identical canister with the phone hidden in its bottom.The bottom can be unscrewed.”“Who will put it there?”“Redon has arranged it,” Valentin said, shrugging.“Who else knows that I’ve been hired by your boss?”“Only me and Acusador Redon, along with Señor Navarro, of course.”“When did he tell you?”“I’m Señor Navarro’s eyes, his ears, his hands…I know everything, whether he knows it or not.”“Any thoughts for me?”Valentin moved his eyes side to side before saying, “Cesar, the son, has always been problematic for Señor Navarro.”“In what way?”“Cesar left when he was sixteen.Went to the south.Lived on hookers and cocaine until his father stopped feeding him cash, and then he used the Navarro name to begin importing drugs from Africa.”“What else?”“I know nothing else.”“What is Cesar like?”“It’s been many years, Mister Hartline.”“What was he like?”Valentin shook his head.“Just between us,” Gage said.“Cesar was a little shit and a snake…spoiled, entitled, and very shrewd.Took after his mother.”“Can I trust him?”Valentin pointed at the bag on the bench beside Gage.“You’ll have to.I guess that’s what the money is for.”Gage processed that nugget before saying, “Tell me what you know about Berga.”Producing a tan Gitane from its blue package, Valentin lit it with a match, puffing thoughtfully.“Berga is not talked about much in Spain, even in the underworld circles.The reason is its small size.They simply haven’t had as many people go through [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]