“Wait a second,” Dan said. “You guys just said that the Vespers are mobilizing. Do you think they’re watching us?”
There was a short silence. “It’s possible,” Erasmus said. “If so, it would be helpful to flush them out.”
“You mean we’re bait?” Dan asked. “Sweet!”
“Certainly not,” Fiske said. “We would never endanger you and Amy. You’ve been through enough.”
“More than enough,” Nellie said firmly.
“We’ve taken every precaution,” Erasmus said. “We made plane reservations from Logan Airport to a tropical resort. Three Madrigals will serve as decoys.”
“Including me,” Nellie said. “It will be so difficult to have to spend five days in Costa Rica, but hey, anything for you guys.”
One corner of Erasmus’s mouth lifted. “Yes, Nellie, we know how much you hate sunshine and beach towels. The point is — no one will know you’re heading to Switzerland. You’ll take off from Providence, Rhode Island.”
“When?” Dan asked.
“Tonight,” Fiske said.
“It’s just like old times,” Dan said as they disembarked from the plane in the Zurich airport the next morning. “Three hours of sleep, a lousy breakfast, and I feel like I have a bucket of sand in my eyes.”
“That’s probably potato chip crumbs,” Amy said. “You ate five bags on the plane.”
“I was hungry!”
“I was trying to sleep! Crunch crunch crunch! Right in my ear. All night long.”
“Guys? Can we focus?” Fiske asked, stifling a yawn. “Let’s get to the hotel, shower, get something to eat, and then we can head to the bank.”
“This is the cleanest airport I’ve ever seen,” Dan said, registering the gleaming hallway and stainless steel handrails.
“Welcome to Switzerland,” Fiske said. “Everything works.”
They followed signs to the train that would take them to the main terminal. They hadn’t checked any baggage. Amy and Dan were used to traveling light. All three had backpacks, and Fiske held a canvas tote bag with a guidebook and some newspapers.
They boarded the train with a crowd of other tired passengers. The train zipped through a concrete tunnel while a disembodied voice called out terminal information in several languages.
“Switzerland has four official languages,” Fiske told them. “German, French, Italian, and Romansch. Most people speak English, too. But you’ll hear more German in Zurich.”
“Look, Amy,” Dan said. “Heidi is blowing us a kiss.”
Sure enough, a moving image flashed on the window. A woman in braids standing in an alpine meadow waved and leaned forward to blow them a kiss.
“Wow, look at that. I’d love to see the Alps,” Amy said.
“We won’t have time for that on this trip,” Fiske said. “After the bank, it would be safest to leave the country. Tell you what; after we check in to the hotel, I’ll take you to Café Schober for a second breakfast — they have the best hot chocolate in the world.”
They exited the train at the main terminal and followed signs for baggage and taxis. “Wow, can’t we stay and buy some chocolate?” Dan asked, his head swiveling as he took in the array of shops. “Or a watch?”
“Switzerland is known for its banks, too,” Fiske said. “Let’s try that instead.”
As they reached the exit, they saw a driver in a thick wool coat and cap holding up a sign: SMITH.
“That’s us,” Fiske said.
“Smith?” Dan asked. “That’s the best you can do?”
“Hey, I like an easy alias.”
“Mr. Smith?” the driver asked crisply as they walked up. “Let me take your bags, sir. The car is right outside.”
“No luggage,” Fiske said. “We’re ready to go.”
They followed the driver to a black car parked with the other limousines and hired cars. Amy and Dan threw their backpacks inside the trunk, along with Fiske’s.
“We’ll be at the Widder Hotel in a few minutes, sir,” the driver said.
“Fine, fine,” Fiske said. The driver held the door, but Fiske suddenly staggered. He leaned on the frame of the car.
“You okay?” Dan asked him.
He wiped his forehead. “Just got dizzy for a minute. I forgot to take my medication on the plane.”
“What m —” Dan started to ask, but Amy stepped on his foot. Something was wrong.
“You forgot again?” she said in concern.
“Could you get my pack?” Fiske asked the driver.
“Of course, sir.”
As soon as the driver moved toward the rear of the car, Fiske jerked his head away from the car. The three of them leaped back on the curb and raced toward the taxi stand. Fiske signaled a cab that was just letting off a passenger. Urging them forward in a run, he sidestepped the exiting passenger and danced Dan and Amy into the backseat. He jumped in after them.
“Drive!” he barked to the driver.
“Of course. That is what one does in this kind of situation. But where, sir?”
“Anywhere! The Fraumünster! As quick as you can!” Fiske ordered.
“What just happened?” Dan exploded.
“I never gave the car company our hotel information,” Fiske said.
The information sunk in slowly, like a footstep in mud.
“They know we’re here,” Amy said. She turned around and eyed the road behind them. It was full of black cars. It was impossible to tell if they were being followed.
Fiske leaned forward. “Take this exit!” he ordered the driver.
“NOW!” the three of them shouted.
The car swerved off the highway. Amy, Dan, and Fiske all twisted around to look out the rear window. They saw a black car cross two lanes of traffic, trying to get to the exit, but with a squeal of tires and much honking from the other cars, it was forced to stay on the highway.
“There goes my green cashmere sweater,” Amy said, thinking of the items in her backpack. It was the sweater Evan had complimented and now it was gone.
“You sound like Natalie Kabra,” Dan said. “I lost my iPod. That’s tragic!”
“At least we still have our cell phones,” Amy said.
“Don’t worry, I have my credit cards,” Fiske said. “And a bag,” he added with a grin, holding up the canvas tote. “We should go straight to the bank. We just bought ourselves some time. But it’s running out.” He leaned forward and spoke crisply to the driver. “Head toward Bahnhofstrasse, please.”
Fiske drove the cabdriver crazy by making him turn corners, drive into parking lots and reverse out, and go blocks out of the way before they were sure they weren’t being followed. The driver looked relieved when they finally exited the cab.
The bank was located on a swanky street with fashionable pedestrians and designer stores. Fiske, Amy, and Dan looked up at the gray stone building. Suddenly, they felt too disheveled and casual to venture inside. Dan and Amy were dressed in jeans and heavy parkas, and Fiske was wearing his usual black jeans, this time with a black knit cap and a peacoat.
“We look like we’re going to rob the joint,” Dan joked.
“What does a numbered account mean?” Amy asked Fiske.
“It means the name doesn’t go on the paperwork,” Fiske explained, “but it’s not anonymous. The bank knows Grace Cahill. They’re expecting us.”
Inside, the floor was polished stone. An antique desk sat on a beautiful jewel-toned carpet. A man in a gray suit sat at the desk behind a computer. A security guard stood to the side.
“May I help you, sir?” The man’s gaze coolly took in their standard American tourist attire. Fiske quickly removed his knit cap, but that made it worse. Serious hat hair made him look like a spooked gray cat.
“I’m here to access a numbered account.”
The man pushed a keypad across the table. “Please enter the number, sir.”
Fiske entered a number onto the keypad. The man looked at his screen. It took a moment but Amy was positive she heard the crack of ice melting as the man registered some serious money.
“Of course, sir. Welcome.” He clicked a few keys. “For your protection, sir, may I see your passports?”
The three of them handed over their passports, and the man scanned them into the computer.
“You may enter.” Behind him, double steel doors slid open.
A woman was already standing there, slender and poised in a dark suit. Her gray hair was short and spiked, and her gaze was brisk and businesslike behind rectangular black glasses. She spoke with a slight German accent. “Mr. Cahill, welcome. I am Frau Bodner, private banker for Grace Cahill. We here at the bank were saddened to hear of her death.”
“Thank you. This is Dan Cahill, Grace’s grandson, and Amy Cahill, her granddaughter.”
The gaze shifted to Amy. “She is on the account, along with you.”
“I can conduct your business, but first, I’m so sorry to request this, but we do require retinal scans. Security is of course our first concern here.”
The woman led them to a flat panel. Amy put her eye up to the screen. She heard a faint whirr, and she stepped away. Fiske did the same, then Dan.
“Now you’re in our records. We can proceed.”
Another door, this one of satiny wood, slid open. They were in a richly carpeted hallway with dark walnut paneling. At the end was a bank of elevators. Frau Bodner swiped her card at the elevator panel. The doors opened. She stood aside to let them enter, then followed, swiping the card again.
The elevator rose to the twentieth floor. Amy felt woozy. It seemed like yesterday she was doing her homework back in Attleboro and trying not to think about Evan. Actually, it was yesterday, she corrected herself. But now she was shooting up to a secure floor in a Swiss bank, chasing after an ancient ring. Another legacy from Grace, another task that her grandmother seemed to think they were capable of handling. Maybe they were only brave because Grace expected them to be.
The doors opened. This corridor was gray — gray walls, gray carpet, and stainless steel doors. Frau Bodner led them down the hallway to an ornate door with steel pieces twisted in an elaborate pattern that did not disguise the fact that they were security bars.
A guard stood outside, earpiece in place. She nodded at him, once again slid her security card through the slot, then pressed her eye against the retinal scanner. Then she punched in a code.
This place had more security checks than Fort Knox. Amy slid her wet palms on her jeans. Grace wasn’t a high-tech-security kind of person. She relied on people she knew for years, like William MacIntyre, who worked in one of the oldest and stodgiest law firms in Boston. She couldn’t picture her grandmother here. What would make her travel thousands of miles to this cold and forbidding place?
Something so precious she would go to any length to protect it.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com