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CIA field agent Turner Simkins crouched in the darkness of Franklin Park and kept his steady gaze on Warren Bellamy. Nobody had taken the bait yet, but it was still early.

Simkins’s transceiver beeped, and he activated it, hoping one of his men had spotted something. But it was Sato. She had new information.

Simkins listened and agreed with her concern. “Hold on,” he said. “I’ll see if I can get a visual.” He crawled through the bushes in which he was hiding and peered back in the direction from which he had entered the square. After some maneuvering, he finally opened a sight line.

Holy shit.

He was staring at a building that looked like an Old World mosque. Nestled between two much larger buildings, the Moorish facade was made of gleaming terra-cotta tile laid in intricate multicolored designs. Above the three massive doors, two tiers of lancet windows looked as if Arabian archers might appear and open fire if anyone approached uninvited.

“I see it,” Simkins said.

“Any activity?”


“Good. I need you to reposition and watch it very carefully. It’s called the Almas Shrine Temple, and it’s the headquarters of a mystical order.”

Simkins had worked in the D.C. area for a long time but was not familiar with this temple or any ancient mystical order headquartered on Franklin Square.

“This building,” Sato said, “belongs to a group called the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.”

“Never heard of them.”

“I think you have,” Sato said. “They’re an appendant body of the Masons, more commonly known as the Shriners.”

Simkins shot a dubious glance at the ornate building. The Shriners? The guys who build hospitals

for kids? He could imagine no “order” less ominous sounding than a fraternity of philanthropists who wore little red fezzes and marched in parades.

Even so, Sato’s concerns were valid. “Ma’am, if our target realizes that this building is in fact ‘The Order’ on Franklin Square, he won’t need the address. He’ll simply bypass the rendezvous and go directly to the correct location.”

“My thoughts exactly. Keep an eye on the entrance.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Any word from Agent Hartmann in Kalorama Heights?”

“No, ma’am. You asked him to phone you directly.”

“Well, he hasn’t.”

Odd, Simkins thought, checking his watch. He’s overdue.