Maggie re-read the note that was enclosed: “U Castellu, Chemin de Ronde, 2 PM, Alex Caldwell.” She glanced at her watch: she had four hours to find “U Castellu,” whatever that was. She was more intrigued by “Alex Caldwell.”
Wasn’t that the man from the embassy in Milano? Common name, but will it be him? If it is, at least I will be able to recognize him.
She stuffed the note into her pocket.
She wandered the market. It was getting to be late morning, and she noticed tourists heading towards the beach.
This must be a resort town. Good for me.
She walked up to a vendor selling beach towels and sunglasses and, pulling out the note, pointed to the address written on it. The woman manning the stall pointed west. Maggie said, “Grazie,” and headed away from the rising sun. She had to ask several other people along the way, but finally, she found the sign: “U Castellu.” It was a restaurant. Maggie had no money, so she walked slowly around, playing tourist, until just before two. As she was heading back to the restaurant, she saw Alex Caldwell waiting at the entrance.
“Mr. Caldwell! So good to see you again.” Maggie shook his hand.
“Good to see you, too, Mrs. Tyler.” He extended his arm towards the door, palm up. “After you!”
After the two were seated, Alex asked, “Are you hungry? I am. I haven’t yet eaten lunch.”
Maggie grinned – the first time she had grinned in a long time. “Starving.” She lowered her voice. “I am glad you recognized me.”
“To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have. Good thing I had a description of your clothes. And the hat – that was the tell. Thanks for remembering to wear it.”
Maggie had so many questions for Alex, but he shushed her. “Not here, Mrs. Tyler. Too many potential ears.” The questions gnawed at Maggie, but she tamed her impatience and ate lunch. Soon after they finished, the two left and headed towards Alex’s waiting car. In the privacy of the car, Alex handed Maggie a somewhat worn U.S. passport, already with several travel stamps and in the name of Margaret Stuart, a wallet with a matching New York driver’s license, several credit cards, and both French and U.S. currency. He also handed her a return ticket to New York. “If they ask, the record shows you came to France on holiday two weeks ago. You landed in Marseilles on the fifteenth.” Maggie looked at the documents and marveled at the picture of her – with black hair and brown eyes.
“I don’t even want to ask how you did all of this, but thank you. I am just so grateful.”
“My pleasure, Mrs. Tyler. I will take you to the airport. Your baggage is already checked.” He gave Maggie two luggage claim tickets. “Your flight leaves in three hours.” With that, Alex started the car and headed to the Calvi airport.
When Alex pulled up to departures, he reached into the back seat and gave Maggie a shopping bag. “Here are the souvenirs you bought. You need to declare the necklace. You bought it in Nice. The receipt is enclosed.” He gave it to her and smiled. “I hope you like it.” She climbed out of the car and reached back in to squeeze his hand. “I am deeply in your debt, Mr. Caldwell.”
“Don’t thank me, Maggie. Thank Callum.”
Maggie shut the car door, and Alex drove off, leaving her to wonder in amazement about the intricate web Callum had obviously developed and maintained and kept silent about, only to use when required…an intricate web that lay silently under normal life, known to only a few.
Just like the Third Order.
She wondered how many other such networks existed.
Probably thousands. What else don’t I know?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish