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Rapp stepped over the threshold and scanned right and then left as he closed the door. A big curved staircase wide enough for four people looped up and around to his right. Sidorov moved ahead down a center gallery that divided the house in half down the middle. Rapp followed him, checking the rooms on the left and right as they went. There was a music room, a library, a sitting room, a dining room and another sitting room. All were empty. Finally, at the back of the house they entered a colossal kitchen that looked as if it had been painstakingly restored to its original 1930s condition. A babushka in a gray house dress was standing on the other side of the kitchen island staring at Rapp.

Sidorov spoke rapidly in Russian to the woman and continued through the kitchen and into a solarium. He took a seat in a white wicker chair and gestured to the one on the other side of the table. Rapp sat and Sidorov offered him his choice between the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. Rapp took neither.

Sidorov began scanning the front page of the Financial Times and asked, “So what can I do to help the famous Mitch Rapp?”

“I had a nice talk with your boy Max last night.”

“Very talented man,” Sidorov said while still reading the paper. “I’m shocked your CIA couldn’t find more use for him.”

“I suppose there was a time where they would have, but things have changed.”

“Yes, they have. That is what I just told my bodyguard, who for obvious reasons doesn’t like you.”

“For the record, I did not want to tangle with him, but he didn’t leave me many choices. I just wanted to collect Johnson and leave.”

“Why did you want him so badly? Surely it wasn’t my business dealings with him.”

This was the part Rapp wasn’t sure about. Had Johnson sold any additional information to Sidorov, or anyone else, for that matter? It would take a while to sort all of that out, but for now Rapp wanted to discuss something else. “His dealings with you are not my concern. At least not at the moment. Let’s just say he’s been involved in some stuff that has a few people upset.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“The kind of stuff he should know better than to get involved in.”

“Fair enough.” The babushka dropped off the service tray of coffee and poured a fresh cup for each of them. Sidorov took his with cream and sugar. Rapp took his black. “So what can I do for you at this early hour?” Sidorov asked.

“Early? It’s almost noon.”

Sidorov smiled. “I am a young man, Mr. Rapp. Early is relative.”

“I suppose so.” Rapp took a sip and said, “Max told me about the moves you’re making in Cuba.”

“He did? I paid him a considerable amount of money. I would think he would at least know how to keep his mouth shut.”

“I can be persuasive.”

“Yes . . . I suppose.” He regarded Rapp for a moment and then asked, “So, why are you here?”

“It involves Cuba.”

“Go on.”

“You’ve had some business dealings with General Ramirez?”

“Anyone who wishes to get things approved in Cuba eventually must deal with General Ramirez.”

“So I’ve heard.” Rapp nudged his coffee cup and then said, “I need to meet with him.”

“I would think that could be arranged.”

“In private.”

“Of course, but why would you need my help?”

“I don’t want him to know he’s sitting down with me until it’s too late for him to back out. And I would prefer to meet him on neutral ground.”

“The general,” Sidorov said, “is a very dangerous man.”

“And what would you call me, Peter?”

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