The Sky Is Falling
Chapter Fifteen

 Sidney Sheldon

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WHENDANA ARRIVED home, she found a beautiful little Christmas tree that Mrs. Daley had bought and decorated.
"Look at this ornament," Mrs. Daley said proudly. "Kemal made it himself."
The tenant next door was watching the scene on his television set.
Dana kissed the older woman's cheek. "I love you, Mrs. Daley."
Mrs. Daley blushed. "Oh, what a fuss over nothing."
"Where is Kemal?"
"He's in his room. There are two messages for you, Miss Evans. You're to call Mrs. Hudson. I put the number on your dresser. And your mother called."
"Thank you."
When Dana walked into the study, Kemal was at his computer.
He looked up. "Hey, you're back."
"I'm back," Dana said.
"That's dope. I was hoping you'd be here for Christmas."
Dana hugged him. "You bet. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. How are you getting along here?"
Good. "You like Mrs. Daley?"
He nodded. "She's cool."
Dana smiled. "I know. I have a couple of calls to make. I'll be back."
Bad news first, Dana thought. She called her mother's number. She had not spoken to her since the incident in Westport. How could she have married a man like that? Dana listened to the phone ring several times, then her mother's recorded voice came on.
"We're not home right now, but if you leave a message, we will call you back. Wait for the tone."
Dana waited. "Merry Christmas, Mother." She hung up.
The next call was to Pamela.
"Dana, I'm so glad you're back!" Pamela Hudson exclaimed. "We heard on the news that Jeff is away, but Roger and I are having a few people over for an early Christmas dinner tomorrow, and we want you and Kemal here. Please don't tell me you have other plans."
"No," Dana said. "As a matter of fact, I don't. And we would love to come. Thank you, Pamela."
"Wonderful. We'll expect you at five o'clock. Casual." She paused. "How are things going?"
"I don't know," Dana said frankly. "I don't know if they're going anywhere."
"Well, forget about everything for now. Get some rest. We'll see you both tomorrow."
When Dana and Kemal arrived at the Hudsons' on Christmas Day, they were greeted at the door by Cesar. His face lit up when he saw Dana.
"Miss Evans! I'm so pleased to see you." He smiled at Kemal. "And Master Kemal."
"Hi, Cesar," Kemal said.
Dana handed Cesar a brightly wrapped package. "Merry Christmas, Cesar."
"I don't know what - " He was stammering. "I didn't - you're too kind, Miss Evans!"
The gentle giant, as Dana thought of him, was blushing. Dana handed him two more packages. "These are for Mr. and Mrs. Hudson."
"Yes, Miss Evans. I will put them under the tree. Mr. and Mrs. Hudson are in the drawing room." Cesar led the way.
Pamela said, "You're here! We're so glad you two could make it."
"So are we," Dana assured her.
Pamela was looking at Kemal's right arm. "Dana, Kemal has a - that's wonderful!"
Dana grinned. "Isn't it? Courtesy of my boss. He's quite a fellow. I think it's changed Kemal's whole life."
"I can't tell you how pleased I am."
Roger nodded. "Congratulations, Kemal."
"Thank you, Mr. Hudson."
Roger Hudson said to Dana, "Before the other guests arrive, there's something I should mention. Remember I said that Taylor Winthrop told friends he had retired from public life and then became ambassador to Russia?"
"Yes. I suppose the president pressured him to - "
"That's what I thought. But it seems that it was Winthrop who pressured the president to appoint him ambassador. The question is, why?"
The other guests began to arrive. There were only twelve other people at the dinner, and the evening was warm and festive.
After dessert, everyone went into the drawing room. In front of the fireplace was a huge Christmas tree. There were gifts for everyone, but Kemal got the lion's share: computer games, Rollerblades, a sweater, gloves, and videotapes.
The time passed swiftly. The joy of being with such friendly people, after the stress of the last few days, was immense. I just wish Jeff were here.
Dana Evans was sitting at the anchor desk, waiting for the eleven o'clock news to begin. Beside her was coanchor, Richard Melton. Maury Falstein was seated in the chair usually occupied by Jeff. Dana tried not to think about that.
Richard Melton was saying to Dana, "I miss you when you're away."
Dana smiled. "Thanks, Richard. Miss you, too."
"You've been gone quite a bit. Is everything all right?"
"Everything's fine."
"Let's go for a bite afterward."
"I have to see that Kemal's all right first."
"We can meet somewhere."
We must meet somewhere else. I think I'm being watched. The aviary section at the zoo.
Melton continued. "They say that you're checking out some big story. Want to talk about it?"
"There's nothing to talk about yet, Richard."
"I heard on the grapevine that Cromwell isn't too happy that you're away so much. I hope you don't get into trouble with him."
Let me give you some advice. Don't go looking for trouble, or you're going to find it. That's a promise. Dana was finding it hard to concentrate on what Richard Melton was saying.
"He likes to fire people," Melton said.
Bill Kelly disappeared the day after the fire. He didn't pick up his check, just left.
Richard Melton kept talking. "As God is my witness, I don't want to work with a new anchor."
The witness to the accident was an American tourist, Ralph Benjamin. A blind man.
"Five - four - three - two..." Anastasia Mann pointed a finger at Dana. The camera's red light flashed on.
The announcer's voice boomed out, "This is the eleven o'clock news on WTN with Dana Evans and Richard Melton."
Dana smiled into the camera. "Good evening. I'm Dana Evans."
"And I'm Richard Melton."
They were back on the air.
"Today in Arlington, three students at Wilson High School were arrested after police searched their lockers and found seven ounces of marijuana and various weapons, including a stolen handgun. Holly Rapp has more on this story."
Back to tape.
We don't have too many art thefts, and the MO is always the same. This is different.
The broadcast was over. Richard Melton looked at Dana.
"Do we meet later?"
"Not tonight, Richard. There's something I have to do."
He rose. "Okay." Dana had a feeling he wanted to ask her about Jeff. Instead he said, "See you tomorrow."
Dana stood up. "Good night, everybody."
Dana walked out of the studio and went to her office. She sat down, turned on her computer, logged on to the Internet, and began searching again through the myriad articles about Taylor Winthrop. On one of the Web sites, Dana came across an item about Marcel Falcon, a French government official who had been ambassador to NATO. The article mentioned Marcel Falcon negotiating a trade agreement with Taylor Winthrop. In the middle of negotiations, Falcon had given up his government post and retired. In the middle of a government negotiation? What could have happened?
Dana tried other Web sites, but there was no further information on Marcel Falcon. Very strange. I have to look into that, Dana decided.
By the time Dana was finished, it was twoA. M . Too early to telephone Europe. She went back to the apartment. Mrs. Daley was waiting up for her.
"I'm sorry I'm so late," Dana said. "I - "
"No problem. I saw your broadcast tonight. I thought it was wonderful as always, Miss Evans."
"Thank you."
Mrs. Daley sighed. "I just wish all the news wasn't so dreadful. What kind of world are we living in?"
"That's a good question. How is Kemal?"
"The little devil's fine. I let him beat me at rummy."
Dana smiled. "Good. Thank you, Mrs. Daley. If you want to come in late tomorrow - "
"No, no. I'll be here bright and early to get you all off to school and work."
Dana watched Mrs. Daley leave. A gem, she thought gratefully. Her cell phone rang. She ran to pick it up. "Jeff?"
"Merry Christmas, dearest." His voice washed through her body. "Am I calling too late?"
"Never too late. Tell me about Rachel."
"She's back home."
Jeff means she's back at her house.
"There's a nurse here, but Rachel will only let her stay until tomorrow."
Dana hated to ask. "And then?"
"The test results indicate that the cancer has spread. Rachel doesn't want me to leave yet."
"I see. I don't mean to sound selfish, but isn't there someone else who - ?"
"She has no one, darling. She's all alone and panicky. She won't have anyone else here. I honestly don't know what Rachel would do if I left."
And I don't know what I'm going to do if you stay.
"They want to start chemotherapy immediately."
"How long will it take?"
"She'll need a treatment every three weeks for four months."
Four months.
"Matt has asked me to take a leave of absence. I'm so sorry about all this, honey."
How did he mean that? Sorry about his job? Sorry about Rachel? Or sorry that our lives are being torn apart? How can I be so selfish? Dana asked herself. The woman may be dying.
"I'm sorry, too," Dana finally said. "I hope everything turns out all right."Turns out all right for whom? For Rachel and Jeff? For Jeff and me?
When Jeff put down the phone, he looked up and saw Rachel standing there. She was wearing a nightgown and a robe. She looked lovely, with an almost translucent light about her.
"That was Dana?"
"Yes," Jeff said.
Rachel moved closer to him. "Poor darling. I know how much this is hurting you both. I - I just couldn't have gone through all this without you. I needed you, Jeff. I need you now."
Dana arrived at her office early in the morning and logged on to the Internet again. Two items caught her attention. Separately, they were innocuous, but together, they suggested a mystery.
The first item read: "Vincent Mancino, the Italian minister of commerce, has unexpectedly resigned during trade contract negotiations with Taylor Winthrop, the representative for the United States. Mancino's assistant, Ivo Vale, took over."
The second item read: "Taylor Winthrop, special adviser to NATO in Brussels, has asked to be replaced and has returned to his home in Washington."
Marcel Falcon had resigned, Vincent Mancino had resigned, Taylor Winthrop had quit unexpectedly. Were they connected? Coincidence?
Dana's first call was to Dominick Romano, who worked for the Italia 1 network in Rome.
"Dana! It's good to hear from you. What's up?"
"I'm coming to Rome, and I'd like to talk."
"Bene! What about?"
Dana hesitated. "I'd rather discuss it when I get there."
"When are you coming?"
"I'll be there Saturday."
"I will bring out the fatted pasta."
Dana's next call was to Jean Somville, who was working in Brussels at the press headquarters of NATO on the rue des Chapeliers.
"Jean? Dana Evans."
"Dana! I haven't seen you since Sarajevo. Those were some times. You ever going back there?"
She grimaced. "Not if I can help it."
"What can I do for you, cherie ?"
"I'm coming to Brussels in the next few days. Will you be around?"
"For you? Certainly. Something special going on?"
"No," Dana said quickly.
"Right. You're just sight-seeing, huh?" There was a skeptical note in his voice.
"Something like that," Dana said.
He laughed. "I look forward to it. Au revoir. "
"Au revoir."
"Matt Baker would like to see you."
"Tell him I'll be right there, Olivia."
Two more phone calls and Dana was on her way to Matt's office.
He said without preamble, "We may have lucked into something. I heard a story last night that might be a clue to what we're looking for."
Dana felt her heart quicken. "Yes?"
"There's a man named" - he consulted a slip of paper on his desk -  "Dieter Zander, in Dsseldorf. He was in some kind of business with Taylor Winthrop."
Dana was listening intently.
"I don't have the whole story, but apparently something very bad happened between them. They had a violent falling-out, and Zander swore to kill Winthrop. It sounds like it might be worth checking on."
"It certainly does. I'll look into it right away, Matt."
They chatted for a few more minutes, then Dana left.
I wonder how I can find out more about it? She suddenly thought of Jack Stone and FRA. He might know something. She found the private number he had given her and called it.
His voice came on the line. "Jack Stone."
"It's Dana Evans."
"Hello, Miss Evans. What can I do for you?"
"I'm trying to find something out about a man named Zander in Dsseldorf."
"Dieter Zander?"
"Yes. You know him?"
"We know who he is."
Dana registered thewe. "Can you tell me anything about him?"
"Is this in connection with Taylor Winthrop?"
"Taylor Winthrop and Dieter Zander were partners in a business deal. Zander was sent to prison for manipulating some stock, and while he was in prison, his house burned down, killing his wife and three children. He blames Taylor Winthrop for what happened."
And Taylor Winthrop and his wife had died in a fire. Dana listened in shock. "Is Zander still in prison?"
"No. I believe he got out last year. Anything else?"
"No. Thank you very, very much."
"This is just between us."
"I understand."
The line went dead.
Now there are three possibilities, Dana thought.
Dieter Zander in Dsseldorf.
Vincent Mancino in Rome.
Marcel Falcon in Brussels.
I'll go to Dsseldorf first.
Olivia said, "Mrs. Hudson is on line three."
"Thank you." Dana picked up the phone. "Pamela?"
"Hello, Dana. I know this is sudden, but a good friend has just come to town and Roger and I are giving him a little party next Wednesday. I know Jeff is still out of town, but we would love to have you come. Are you free?"
"I'm afraid I'm not. I'm leaving for Dsseldorf tonight."
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"And, Pamela - "
"Jeff may be gone for a while."
There was a silence. "I hope everything is all right."
"Yes. I'm sure it will be."It has to be.