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Home > Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(9)

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(9)
Author: Dan Brown

“You’ll live,” she announced.

Langdon hoped she was going to be okay. He could barely fathom what they’d both just endured. “Dr. Brooks,” he said, “we need to call somebody. The consulate … the police. Somebody.”

She nodded in agreement. “Also, you can stop calling me Dr. Brooks—my name is Sienna.”

Langdon nodded. “Thanks. I’m Robert.” It seemed the bond they’d just forged fleeing for their lives warranted a first-name basis. “You said you’re British?”

“By birth, yes.”

“I don’t hear an accent.”

“Good,” she replied. “I worked hard to lose it.”

Langdon was about to inquire why, but Sienna motioned for him to follow. She led him down a narrow corridor to a small, gloomy bathroom. In the mirror above the sink, Langdon glimpsed his reflection for the first time since seeing it in the window of his hospital room.

Not good. Langdon’s thick dark hair was matted, and his eyes looked bloodshot and weary. A shroud of stubble obscured his jaw.

Sienna turned on the faucet and guided Langdon’s injured forearm under the ice-cold water. It stung sharply, but he held it there, wincing.

Sienna retrieved a fresh washcloth and squirted it with antibacterial soap. “You may want to look away.”

“It’s fine. I’m not bothered by—”

Sienna began scrubbing violently, and white-hot pain shot up Langdon’s arm. He clenched his jaw to prevent himself from shouting out in protest.

“You don’t want an infection,” she said, scrubbing harder now. “Besides, if you’re going to call the authorities, you’ll want to be more alert than you are now. Nothing activates adrenaline production like pain.”

Langdon held on for what felt like a full ten seconds of scrubbing before he forcefully yanked his arm away. Enough! Admittedly, he felt stronger and more awake; the pain in his arm had now entirely overshadowed his headache.

“Good,” she said, turning off the water and patting his arm dry with a clean towel. Sienna then applied a small bandage to his forearm, but as she did so, Langdon found himself distracted by something he had just noticed—something deeply upsetting to him.

For nearly four decades, Langdon had worn an antique collector’s edition Mickey Mouse timepiece, a gift from his parents. Mickey’s smiling face and wildly waving arms had always served as his daily reminder to smile more often and take life a little less seriously.

“My … watch,” Langdon stammered. “It’s gone!” Without it, he felt suddenly incomplete. “Was I wearing it when I arrived at the hospital?”

Sienna shot him an incredulous look, clearly mystified that he could be worried about such a trivial thing. “I don’t remember any watch. Just clean yourself up. I’ll be back in a few minutes and we’ll figure out how to get you some help.” She turned to go, but paused in the doorway, locking eyes with him in the mirror. “And while I’m gone, I suggest you think very hard about why someone would want to kill you. I imagine it’s the first question the authorities will ask.”

“Wait, where are you going?”

“You can’t talk to the police half naked. I’m going to find you some clothes. My neighbor is about your size. He’s away, and I’m feeding his cat. He owes me.”

With that, Sienna was gone.

Robert Langdon turned back to the tiny mirror over the sink and barely recognized the person staring back at him. Someone wants me dead. In his mind, he again heard the recording of his own delirious mumblings.

Very sorry. Very sorry.

He probed his memory for some recollection … anything at all. He saw only emptiness. All Langdon knew was that he was in Florence, having suffered a bullet wound to the head.

As Langdon stared into his own weary eyes, he half wondered if he might at any moment wake up in his reading chair at home, clutching an empty martini glass and a copy of Dead Souls, only to remind himself that Bombay Sapphire and Gogol should never be mixed.

CHAPTER 7

Langdon shed his bloody hospital gown and wrapped a towel around his waist. After splashing water on his face, he gingerly touched the stitches on the back of his head. The skin was sore, but when he smoothed his matted hair down over the spot, the injury all but disappeared. The caffeine pills were kicking in, and he finally felt the fog beginning to lift.

Think, Robert. Try to remember.

The windowless bathroom was suddenly feeling claustrophobic, and Langdon stepped into the hall, moving instinctively toward a shaft of natural light that spilled through a partially open door across the corridor. The room was a makeshift study of sorts, with a cheap desk, a worn swivel chair, assorted books on the floor, and, thankfully … a window.

Langdon moved toward daylight.

In the distance, the rising Tuscan sun was just beginning to kiss the highest spires of the waking city—the campanile, the Badia, the Bargello. Langdon pressed his forehead to the cool glass. The March air was crisp and cold, amplifying the full spectrum of sunlight that now peeked up over the hillsides.

Painter’s light, they called it.

At the heart of the skyline, a mountainous dome of red tiles rose up, its zenith adorned with a gilt copper ball that glinted like a beacon. Il Duomo. Brunelleschi had made architectural history by engineering the basilica’s massive dome, and now, more than five hundred years later, the 375-foot-tall structure still stood its ground, an immovable giant on Piazza del Duomo.

Why would I be in Florence?

For Langdon, a lifelong aficionado of Italian art, Florence had become one of his favorite destinations in all of Europe. This was the city on whose streets Michelangelo played as a child, and in whose studios the Italian Renaissance had ignited. This was Florence, whose galleries lured millions of travelers to admire Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Leonardo’s Annunciation, and the city’s pride and joy—Il Davide.

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