The Da Vinci Deception

The Da Vinci Deception by Thomas Swan Read Free Book Online

Book: The Da Vinci Deception by Thomas Swan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Thomas Swan
eliminate fluctuations in either temperature or humidity, that the ideal relative humidity was between forty and fifty percent, and that the temperature should remain between sixteen and eighteen degrees Celsius.
    Three days later Jonas phoned to advise Tony that the package had been put aboard British Airways Flight 176, due to arrive Heathrow at 9:00 A.M. the following morning. Tony phoned Heldwicke for an appointment in the afternoon.
    He sat in front of Barbara Randall for the third time and noted that the young woman spoke very directly as she had in their previous meetings, but she was less severely dressed, her lips were a shade redder, and her hair had obviously been fussed over. “I want to thank you for the opportunity to present my qualifications for the position, Miss Randall. It would be a great honor to be a member of the construction team.” He set a thick folder in front of her.
    She read through the material, pausing to ask a question then listen to the bearded applicant give an articulate response. After more than an hour together, Miss Randall said, “Perhaps if you have a few more minutes, I would like to confer with one of my colleagues.”

    â€œYes, that would be fine. I’m free until an appointment I’ve got later this evening,” he lied.
    He sat alone in the room for nine, perhaps ten minutes. Though he had frequently masqueraded, there were times of uneasiness; always the possibility someone might break through his disguise. Playing the role of Gregory Hewlitt, he had won over Barbara Randall. He always won women to his side when it suited him. All but the damned Shepard woman. He stroked his new beard and, as he did so, made a mental note to use his left hand for making the thoughtful gesture, not the right hand with the long scar. He felt anxiety building. It was a familiar feeling, which, instead of depressing him, sharpened his senses. It was a touch of the old thrill, the game he enjoyed playing. He breathed deeply then slowly exhaled. The door opened and Barbara Randall returned. She smiled and extended her hand.
    â€œCongratulations, Mr. Hewlitt. I’m happy to tell you that we have found your experience suitable and appropriate for an assignment as assistant crew supervisor reporting to Chief of Installation Charles McKean.”
    He accepted her outstretched hand. Firmly and slowly he allowed his fingers to wrap around hers.

    Tony’s enthusiasm began to tarnish at about the time he reported for work on the eighth of May, and for the very good reason that Jonas Kalem was going about the business of speaking at every opportunity on the subject of the lost Leonardo manuscripts. His itinerary included Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago in the States, and there were plans to participate in three symposiums of the Leonardo da Vinci Association in Madrid, Amsterdam, and Paris. Normally, Tony would accompany Jonas on these excursions, acting as aide and associate and at all times enjoying the grand and occasionally sumptuous style that distinguished the big man.
    Instead of the luxury of first-class travel, Tony was working harder than ever. He received regular praise from Charlie McKean for his performance on the job, but reacted to the accolades with disdain. He remained in frequent contact with Jonas and was able to stay abreast of the progress both Stiehl and Eleanor Shepard were making. Stiehl’s major problem was in duplicating Leonardo’s handwriting. Jonas was growing
concerned and was looking for a way to put Giorgio Burri and Stiehl together before September as planned. The Shepard woman was on schedule with her assignments.
    Then in mid-July Jonas flew to Bern, where he had been invited to participate in a festival of the Renaissance arts. Again, he charmed his audience and made a daring prediction that immensely valuable Leonardos would surface within the year and that he expected to participate in their discovery. With each speech his

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