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Home > Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(44)

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(44)
Author: Dan Brown

“Sienna Brooks,” the man declared suddenly, the words crystal clear.

Sienna startled beside Langdon, her eyes reeling upward, clearly expecting to see the soldier staring down at her. But nobody was there.

“They’re going through her laptop now,” the voice continued, about ten feet away. “I don’t have a report yet, but it is definitely the same machine we traced when Langdon accessed his Harvard e-mail account.”

On hearing this news, Sienna turned to Langdon in disbelief, gaping at him with an expression of shock … and then betrayal.

Langdon was equally stunned. That’s how they tracked us?! It hadn’t even occurred to him at the time. I just needed information! Before Langdon could convey an apology, Sienna had turned away, her expression going blank.

“That’s correct,” the soldier said, arriving at the entrance to the third chamber, a mere six feet from Langdon and Sienna. Two more steps and he would see them for certain.

“Exactly,” he declared, taking one step closer. Suddenly the soldier paused. “Hold on a second.”

Langdon froze, bracing to be discovered.

“Hold on, I’m losing you,” the soldier said, and then retreated a few steps into the second chamber. “Bad connection. Go ahead …” He listened for a moment, then replied. “Yes, I agree, but at least we know who we’re dealing with.”

With that, his footsteps faded out of the grotto, moved across a gravel surface, and then disappeared completely.

Langdon’s shoulders softened, and he turned to Sienna, whose eyes burned with a mixture of fear and anger.

“You used my laptop?!” she demanded. “To check your e-mail?”

“I’m sorry … I thought you’d understand. I needed to find out—”

“That’s how they found us! And now they know my name!”

“I apologize, Sienna. I didn’t realize …” Langdon was racked by guilt.

Sienna turned away, staring blankly at the bulbous stalagmite on the rear wall. Neither one of them said anything for nearly a minute. Langdon wondered if Sienna remembered the personal items that had been stacked on her desk—the playbill from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and press clippings about her life as a young prodigy. Does she suspect I saw them? If so, she wasn’t asking, and Langdon was in enough trouble with her already that he was not about to mention it.

“They know who I am,” Sienna repeated, her voice so faint that Langdon could barely hear her. Over the next ten seconds, Sienna took several slow breaths, as if trying to absorb this new reality. As she did so, Langdon sensed that her resolve was slowly hardening.

Without warning, Sienna scrambled to her feet. “We should go,” she said. “It won’t take long for them to figure out we’re not in the costume gallery.”

Langdon stood up with her. “Yes, but go … where?”

“Vatican City?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I finally figured out what you meant before … what Vatican City has in common with the Boboli Gardens.” She motioned in the direction of the little gray door. “That’s the entrance, right?”

Langdon managed a nod. “Actually, that’s the exit, but I figured it was worth a shot. Unfortunately, we can’t get through.” Langdon had heard enough of the guard’s exchange with the soldier to know this doorway was not an option.

“But if we could get through,” Sienna said, a hint of mischief returning to her voice, “do you know what that would mean?” A faint smile now crossed her lips. “It would mean that twice today you and I have been helped by the same Renaissance artist.”

Langdon had to chuckle, having had the same thought a few minutes ago. “Vasari. Vasari.”

Sienna grinned more broadly now, and Langdon sensed she had forgiven him, at least for the moment. “I think it’s a sign from above,” she declared, sounding half serious. “We should go through that door.”

“Okay … and we’ll just march right past the guard?”

Sienna cracked her knuckles and headed out of the grotto. “No, I’ll have a word with him.” She glanced back at Langdon, the fire returning to her eyes. “Trust me, Professor, I can be quite persuasive when I have to be.”

The pounding on the little gray door had returned.

Firm and relentless.

Security guard Ernesto Russo grumbled in frustration. The strange, cold-eyed soldier was apparently back, but his timing could not have been worse. The televised football match was in overtime with Fiorentina a man short and hanging by a thread.

The pounding continued.

Ernesto was no fool. He knew there was some kind of trouble out there this morning—all the sirens and soldiers—but he had never been one to involve himself in matters that didn’t affect him directly.

Pazzo è colui che bada ai fatti altrui.

Then again, the soldier was clearly someone of importance, and ignoring him was probably unwise. Jobs in Italy were hard to find these days, even boring ones. Stealing a last glance at the game, Ernesto headed off toward the pounding on the door.

He still couldn’t believe he was paid to sit in his tiny office all day and watch television. Perhaps twice a day, a VIP tour would arrive outside the space, having walked all the way from the Uffizi Gallery. Ernesto would greet them, unlock the metal grate, and permit the group to pass through to the little gray door, where their tour would end in the Boboli Gardens.

Now, as the pounding grew more intense, Ernesto opened the steel grate, moved through it, and then closed and locked it behind him.

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