MADISON TRAILED BEHIND the young woman with the thick luxurious brown hair and piercing green eyes, rather nonchalantly. Thanks to the neuro inhibitor developed by the doctors at CIA Headquarters, and implanted at the base of his skull, he was confident that Ruyah Caneer was completely unaware of his presence.
So far, all she’d done since returning from al-Riyadh was shop. And today was no different. She had already wandered in and out of at least four stores on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.
Madison’s assignment was to stick with Ruyah until she revealed the location of what President Zakaria Khamis described as the greatest and most terrifying weapon ever created. Ruyah’s husband, Youssef bin Caneer, had according to the CIA’s deep cover operatives, constructed a weapon of immense destructive power. In short, a true weapon of mass destruction. Some were secretly calling in a weather machine.
Supposedly, Youssef bin Caneer had spent millions of dollars developing the damn thing, and the boys back at Langley were concerned that Ruyah was using it to cause the freakish weather patterns happening all over the globe. Like the extreme low temperatures in Toronto where Youssef had set up a temporary headquarters from which to attack the United States, the six inch deep snow in Chicago in March that was hampering the excavation of radioactive material, and then there were the tornadoes that had struck Moore and El Reno, Oklahoma — the strongest and widest ones ever recorded.
Europe had not been spared either. Heavy snows had blanketed most of northern France, London, Russia, and Spain. And for the first time in one hundred and twelve years, snow had fallen in Egypt. It was little wonder that nearly every civilized country in the world had agents here in Paris hot on Ruyah’s trail. Madison, operating on behalf of the President of the United States was out to make sure that such a devastating weapon didn’t fall into enemy hands.
He was thinking about that when Ruyah came to halt in front of the Yves Saint Lauren Store, and stared, not at her own reflection, as she’d done in previous store windows, but seemingly studied the reflection of the people walking by on the street. Automatically, he’d slowed his pace so as not to pass by her and give her an opportunity to see his face. She might remember having seen him before. So, he faked a stumble, dropping his bag on purpose, and bent to pick it up. In that split second, Ruyah al-Basir bint al-Azia bin al-Saba disappeared.
Panic surged through Madison like an electric bolt. He ran in the Yves Saint Lauren Store which smelled of exotic perfumes that were heavily scented with lavender and musk. As he ventured deeper in the store, Madison caught sight of Ruyah with a middle-age man dressed in an expensive dark gray pinstriped suit at the top of the escalator. Moving quickly, he launched himself towards the escalator barely missing an expensively dressed dowager carrying a little white dog. A terrier, it clicked in his mind. Double stepping it up the escalator, he made it to the top in time to see Ruyah and the man disappear through a door to the left of the store on the second floor. A sinking feeling went through him as the door closed behind Ruyah. He’d underestimated her. The damn girl had out maneuvered him.
Madison decided he was not going to be out done by a girl, especially one who had grown up in a country that was just coming out of the dark ages. He grabbed the first store clerk coming his way and demanded in a loud English voice, “Where does that door lead?”
“What door, sir? There’s no door there,” the clerk answered hunching her shoulders and shaking her head.
“I saw a woman go through a door in that wall. Now tell me where it leads.” Even while he said it, Madison knew how ridiculous it sounded. He let go of the clerk and raced out of the store. Inwardly, he knew Ruyah was probably at that very moment slipping into the back seat of a limo.
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