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CHAPTER 14

«Where’s Langdon?» Fache demanded, exhaling the last of a cigarette as he paced back into the command post.

«Still in the men’s room, sir.» Lieutenant Collet had been expecting the question. Fache grumbled,» Taking his time, I see.» The captain eyed the GPS dot over Collet’s shoulder, and Collet could almost hear the wheels turning. Fache was fighting the urge to go check on Langdon. Ideally, the subject of an observation was allowed the most time and freedom possible, lulling him into a false sense of security. Langdon needed to return of his own volition. Still, it had been almost ten minutes.

Too long.

«Any chance Langdon is onto us?» Fache asked.

Collet shook his head. «We’re still seeing small movements inside the men’s room, so the GPS dot is obviously still on him. Perhaps he feels ill? If he had found the dot, he would have removed it and tried to run.»

Fache checked his watch. «Fine.»

Still Fache seemed preoccupied. All evening, Collet had sensed an atypical intensity in his captain.

Usually detached and cool under pressure, Fache tonight seemed emotionally engaged, as if this were somehow a personal matter for him.

Not surprising , Collet thought. Fache needs this arrest desperately.Recently the Board of Ministers and the media had become more openly critical of Fache’s aggressive tactics, his clashes with powerful foreign embassies, and his gross over budgeting on new technologies. Tonight, a high-tech, high-profile arrest of an American would go a long way to silence Fache’s critics, helping him secure the job a few more years until he could retire with the lucrative pension. God knows he needs the pension, Collet thought. Fache’s zeal for technology had hurt him both professionally and personally. Fache was rumored to have invested his entire savings in the technology craze a few years back and lost his shirt. And Fache is a man who wears only the finest shirts.

Tonight, there was still plenty of time. Sophie Neveu’s odd interruption, though unfortunate, had been only a minor wrinkle. She was gone now, and Fache still had cards to play. He had yet to inform Langdon that his name had been scrawled on the floor by the victim. P. S.Find Robert Langdon.The American’s reaction to that little bit of evidence would be telling indeed.

«Captain?» one of the DCPJ agents now called from across the office. «I think you better take this call.» He was holding out a telephone receiver, looking concerned.

«Who is it?» Fache said.

The agent frowned. «It’s the director of our Cryptology Department.» «And?» «It’s about Sophie Neveu, sir. Something is not quite right.»

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