The Italian Mission

The Italian Mission by Alan Champorcher

Book: The Italian Mission by Alan Champorcher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alan Champorcher
is furious, not to mention half a dozen Senators. The Ambassador is dropping hints about selling off some of the trillion dollars in US debt they hold. Do you have any idea what that would do to our economy?”
    “Sure do,” Ellis answered, leaning back in his leather swivel chair and putting his bare feet up on his desk. “It would be bad news.”
    “Very bad news,” Mobley repeated.
    “Sorry, but I can’t talk about this. To anybody. President’s orders. I can tell you that I believe we’re working toward the same goal though. A better … situation, vis-à-vis the Chinese. The boss wants to go about it a little differently is all. Sort of an experiment.”
    Mobley felt steam rising off his face. But anger wasn’t getting him anywhere. He did what he used to do on the floor of the Senate when someone attacked the Voting Rights Act, or affirmative action, or one his earmarks. He smiled. A big, broad smile. Calmed him down.
    “Well, I’ll have to talk to the President myself, then, won’t I? Maybe I’ll take a little walk over there right now.” He knew this was an empty threat. He didn’t have an appointment and it would take hours to get through all the receptionists, secretaries, and assistants.
    “You go right ahead and do that,” the General replied. “Or I can acquaint him with your views myself. We’re meeting in twenty minutes. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to shower.”
    Mobley’s momentary cool evaporated, and his eyes popped wide open. “You bastard!” He spun on his heel and headed for the door.
    “One more thing.” Ellis raised his index finger in the air. Mobley stopped and turned his head.
    “Don’t mess with the South Africans. They’re on our side.”

    As the SUV crossed the Key Bridge back to Virginia, Mobley stared out the window at a collegiate scull gliding up the Potomac, considering his next move. He yearned for the days when he was Chair of a Senate Committee. Things were simpler then. You either had power or you didn’t. He did. If he wanted to get something done, he twisted someone’s arm until they yelled uncle. Easy, compared to this business. The problem was all the damn secrecy. Couldn’t use political allies, or big money men, or the press. Couldn’t sabotage a highway project or threaten to build a jet engine in a different state. He had to work through back channels, everything on the q.t., when all he wanted to do was to slam someone’s head against the wall.
    He punched in Jill’s number. “Tell me what’s going on.”
    Jill was sitting in the back of a Honda van provided by Israeli intelligence, sandwiched between two Buddhist monks. “Not the best time to talk,” she answered.
    “O.K., just answer my questions then. I got your texts. The Chinese took the Lama, then the South Africans ambushed them, then he got away, right?”
    “And you think the abbot of that monastery is telling the truth. That the Lama never showed up. Still right?”
    “And now you, Conti, the monks, and Cadiz are heading to Florence to try to find the Lama because Conti has a hunch that’s where he went?”
    “Uh huh.”
    “So here are your orders. Forget what I said before about lying low and keeping an eye on the Lama. Find him, take him into custody, and get him to a safe house in Rome. Let me know when you’ve done that. I’m sick and tired of being kept in the goddamned dark. We’re going to find this guy, wrap him up tight, and hold onto him until we find out what’s really going on.”
    “Yes, sir.”
    “Don’t laugh, but they tell me that the South Africans are on our side. I don’t think that’s the whole story, but that’s what the White House says.”
    “They certainly aren’t on my side. They almost killed me. And you want us to work with them?”
    “No. Just the opposite. Cut them out. When we get the Lama, we’ll hold the cards. Then they — and whoever the hell they’re working for —

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