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“James Hannibal once again displays his dazzling prose and ability to keep even the more experienced readers guessing. In The Paris Betrayal, Hannibal sets his hook deep and early, then drags you through a riveting, edge-of-your-seat story. Another gripping, high-octane book from one of the best thriller writers in the business.” —Simon Gervais, former RCMP counterterrorism officer and bestselling author of Hunt Them Down
“Riveting and action-packed! The Paris Betrayal is everything you want in a thriller–suspense, intrigue, and white-knuckle action. Hannibal has a knack for keeping you guessing in a plot that moves at a breakneck speed. This is one you don’t want to miss!”
From THE PARIS BETRAYAL
by James R. Hannibal
The following scene didn’t make it into The Paris Betrayal. This impromptu meeting between Ben and his spymaster, the Director, was meant to be a humorous calm before the coming storm. It was also meant to be an allegorical come as you are moment where man meets his Creator. The Director shows up unexpectedly while Ben is in his boxers. Our Creator sees us and sees through us no matter how we dress ourselves up, and we serve His timetable, not the other way around.
In the end, though, the scene felt wedged into the story and required some technology that needed too much explanation. I clipped it out to keep the action moving for the reader and consolidated Ben’s run-in with Clara with another moment later in the story.
DELETED SCENE, CHAPTER SEVEN
A blue-haired girl came down the steps as Ben entered his apartment building’s stairwell. “Haven’t seen you in a while, Jacob.” Her Slovakian heritage colored her English, which—as she had told Ben when they first met—was better than her French. She knew him by his local cover name, Jacob Roy, a wool salesman from Montreal. She held a dachshund close to her chest. He looked as tired as Ben felt.
“Winter sales route. Lots of stops. Big time of year for wool.” He tried to squeeze past.
The girl, Clara, did not give him much room. “We could get something later, if you like. No need to cook if you’re worn out.” The dachshund lifted its head from her forearm, eyes pleading for the extra evening company.
“Thanks, but not tonight. Maybe another time.”
She always asked. He always declined. It felt like a sad game.
“Yes.” Clara set the dog down at the base of the steps. “Another time.”
Ben dropped his bag on the floor of his flat and collapsed onto his king size mattress, eyes closed. Traffic had picked up on the streets outside, honking and beeping. A pounding above told him the upstairs neighbors were renovating. But he could easily have slept—if not for the file burning a hole in his smartphone’s case.
His eyes popped open, and he held the phone before them, frowning. “Stupid analysts.”
He threw open his wardrobe and divided his hanging shirts. A three-inch false panel at the back covered the slick where he kept his A19 Matchbox decryptor. Without the Matchbox to unscramble the data, the file was useless, and keeping the software in a separate device added an extra layer of security. Before digging it out, he hung up the jacket he’d bought in Rome and stripped down to his T-shirt and boxers. Might as well get comfortable.
The Matchbox had no switches and only one connector. He plugged it into his phone and waited. Usually charts and maps popped up on the phone’s screen in rapid sequence—new forms to fill out. The Company nerds liked an overabundance of detail. But the Matchbox decrypted only one page with one line.
“What on earth?”
Ben read the line again. Channel two. What was that supposed to mean?
His phone did not operate like a radio. There were no channels. And he had no other communication devices. He stared at the empty wall beside the bed for a long moment, then glanced at the TV. “Okay. Channel two.”
The TV always powered up on Channel 8. He’d never bothered to ask himself why. He waited for the backlight to warm up, giving him a clear picture, then pointed his remote and punched the channel down button. The numbers in the corner counted backward. 07, 06, 05, 04, 03.
The screen went black for a moment, then resolved to a video of a white-haired man with his back to the camera, wearing blue-jeans and wool coat with the collar flipped up. Ben cocked his head left, then right, taking a step toward the screen. This guy looked familiar—the back of him, anyway.
The man turned to face the camera, and Ben lost all doubt. “The Director,” he said under his breath. “It’s a video message from the Director himself.”
Many at the Company knew him as the Old Man, but the nickname didn’t fit, not to Ben. Sure, he had white hair—snow white—but the lines on his forehead spoke more of experience than age. And though he was tall, the Director never stooped. He eyed the camera with a look of mild surprise, then slipped his hands into the pockets of his coat and smiled. “Hello, Mr. Calix. Did I catch you at a bad time?”
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