comfortable, and immediately saw his interest. Something intrigued him, or he would have immediately refused the commission.She swiveled her chair toward him and crossed her long legs. Since Cara was six feet tall, they were very long legs indeed. 'And the name is . . . ?""Temple."Her cornflower blue eyes widened. "Wow."She was so American, he thought, so adept in the inelegant phrase. "Wow, indeed."Temple, known only by the one name, was a shadow in the already murky world of terrorists. His name had been whispered in connection with some assassinations, with certain bombings. He did not choose his targets at random, for the sake of creating terror. He might bring down an airplane, but one person on that flight was his specific target. It was unknown whether he belonged to some even more shadowy organization or if he worked for himself. If for himself, no one knew what his agenda was. Temple was an enigma.Ronsard didn't like enigmas. He liked to know exactly with whom, and what, he was dealing."What does he want?""The RDX-a."To his relief, she didn't say "wow" again. Nor did she ask the obvious: How did Temple even know about RDX-a? It had been tested only a week before, and though the compound had performed as it was supposed to, its existence was still known to only a few. There were a few problems in production that were currently being eliminated, such as the tendency of some batches to decompose at an accelerated rate, with unpleasant results for the handler. It was a delicate balancing act, to stabilize an unstable compound just enough to be able to predict its rate of decomposition, without rendering it too stable to perform."Find every available bit of information on Temple," he said. "I want to know what he looks like, where he was born-everything.""Are you going to accept the commission?""It depends." Ronsard lit the cigar, dedicating himself, for a few pleasurable seconds, to the ritual. When the end was glowing to his satisfaction he savored the subtle vanilla taste on his tongue. He would have to change his clothing before seeing Laure; she loved the smell of his cigars, but the smoke wasn't good for her.Cara had already turned back to her computer and was rapidly typing in commands. Computers were something else he didn't trust, so none of his records were on the one Cara used, which was connected to that invisible electronic world the Americans called the Web. There were encryption programs, of course, but they were constantly being broken. Teenagers hacked into the Pentagon's most secure files; corporations spent billions in computer security that leaked like a sieve. The only secure computer, in his opinion, was one that wasn't connected to anything else-like the one on his desk, where he kept his records. As an added precaution he regularly changed his password, to a word chosen at random from the dog-eared volume of Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities that he always kept on his desk. He actually read the thing from time to time, though more to keep Cara from being suspicious about its presence than from any actual interest in the book. He would turn down the page from which he had chosen his password and leave the book lying out in the open as if it were of no importance.His system wasn't perfect. He changed the password so often that sometimes he forgot which word he had chosen, hence the turned-down page. He could always recognize the word once he saw it, if he was on the correct page."Where's Temple from?" Cara asked. "I'm not finding anything on him using a broad search. I need a closer focus.""America, I think, but I've heard rumors he had lived in Europe for at least ten years. Try Scotland Yard."She sighed as she tapped keys. "This is going to get me arrested some day," she grumbled.Ronsard smiled. He did enjoy Cara; she knew exactly what his business entailed but managed to maintain the same attitude as if she worked in a corporate office somewhere. Nor was she intimidated by him, and though a certain amount of intimidation was necessary in his chosen field, sometimes it was wearying.Nor had she fallen in love with him, which was fortunate. Ronsard knew women, knew the effect he had on them, but Cara had bluntly told him that though she liked him she wasn't interested in sleeping with him. That, too, had been a relief.She slept with other men, most recently his Egyptian bodyguard, Hossam, who had been obsessed with the tall blonde woman from the day he first saw her. Ronsard only hoped Hossam wouldn't lose control of his Middle-Eastern temperament when his American Norse goddess lost interest in him."Damn," she muttered and typed furiously. The Scotland Yard computer was giving her problems, he concluded."Damn!" she shouted a minute later and slapped the monitor. "The bastards have added a wrinkle-"She began muttering to herself as she tried to electronically wriggle into the Scotland Yard database. Ronsard waited, puffing on his cigar. Cara's mutterings were only half intelligible, thank God, because as she worked her language deteriorated alarmingly." Shitpissfuck-"His eyebrows rose as she got up and stalked around the office, swearing under her breath and waving her hands in the air as she appeared to be having a conversation with herself."Okay, what if I try this," she finally muttered and resumed her seat to pound out another series of commands.Ten minutes later she sat back with a blissful expression on her face. "Outsmarted the sons of bitches," she crowed. "Okay, let's see what you have on 'Temple, first name unknown.'"A file popped on the screen. Cara hit the print button, and the printer whirred to life, spitting out a single sheet of paper."That isn't much," Ronsard murmured as she got up and brought the sheet to him. "Try the FBI; if he's American, they may have more on him."He began reading. Scotland Yard didn't have many hard facts on Temple. "Believed" to have worked with Baader-Meinhoff in Germany. "Believed" to have been associated with Basque Fatherland in Spain. "Believed" to have had contact with the IRA. Evidently Scotland Yard "believed" a lot of things about Temple and knew very little.Temple was either American or Canadian, believed -that word again-to be between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. No known place of residence.As sketchy as the information was, at least it gave him a place to begin, Ronsard thought. He had contacts throughout Europe. If anyone in either of the three organizations mentioned had any knowledge of Temple, he-Ronsard-would shortly be in possession of the same.Cara was muttering and swearing her way through the process of gaining access to the FBI's database. When he heard the triumphant "Aha!" he knew she had succeeded."Well, kiss my ass, we got us a photo!" she said in astonishment. "Not a good one, his face is half-hidden, but it's something."Ronsard left his desk to cross the room and lean over Cara's chair, peering at the computer screen. "Can you enhance it?" he asked, studying the grainy, blurred picture that showed a dark-haired man about to get into a car."I can enhance what we have, but nothing will show what the camera didn't get, which is half his face.""He's wearing a ring on his left hand. A wedding band?" Interesting, Ronsard thought. Not that Temple might be married; things like that happened, even in the terrorists' world. But for him to wear such a conventional symbol as a wedding band was amusing.The photo showed a dark-haired man, fairly tall, given the scale of the car beside him. His face was turned partially away from the camera, giving a good view of his left ear. The photograph could have been taken anywhere; no license plates were visible on any of the cars; even the make of the car was impossible to tell. The red brick building in the background was equally anonymous, without any helpful lettering or a convenient sign to give a hint of the location."I'll print out the information for you to read while I work on enhancing this," Cara said and set the printer to working.The FBI had more information than Scotland Yard, which illustrated exactly how closely the two bureaus worked. What information the FBI had on an international terrorist, Interpol was supposed to have. What Interpol had, Scotland Yard should have. That was the whole purpose of Interpol. The FBI had been holding back, and he wondered why."Temple," he silently read. "First name Josef, or Joseph. Birthplace unknown. First identified in Tucson, Arizona, in 1987. Disappeared, resurfaced in 1992 in Berlin. Brown hair, blue eyes. Identifying marks or scars: left scapula, a diagonal scar approximately four inches long, believed to have been made by a knife or other sharp object."Knifed in the back, Ronsard thought. Mr. Temple had indeed lived an interesting life."Subject wanted for questioning regarding 1987 bombing of courthouse in Tucson, Arizona; 1992 hijacking of NATO munitions truck in Italy-" Ronsard's eyebrows rose. He thought he had a sure finger on the pulse of his chosen world, but he hadn't heard anything about the NATO hijacking. The list went on. In all, the FBI wanted Temple for questioning in fifteen separate incidents.Temple was thought to be an independent, with no known affiliation with any one organization. He was a hired weapon, Ronsard thought; he didn't kill for pleasure or for himself, but for whoever bought his services, which would not be cheap. From the list of incidents for which he was the main suspect, none of the targets were "soft." All of them were difficult, and the more difficult, the more expensive.Who was paying him this time? Who had heard of RDX-a and hired Temple to procure it? Why hadn't he-or they-simply approached him themselves, instead of using Temple as a go-between? It had to be someone with a lot to lose if they became known."It isn't a wedding ring," Cara announced, printing out the photo.Ronsard picked up the sheet as soon as the printer spat it out. She was correct; the ring seemed to have a peculiar braided design, like a dozen tiny entwined gold ropes. No, not ropes-snakes. That looked like a snake head on the ring.And Mr. Temple's left ear was pierced. The gold hoop in it was discreet, but the photo enhancement plainly revealed it.