New York editor Jonas Faukman had just climbed into bed for the night when the telephone rang. A little late for callers, he grumbled, picking up the receiver.
An operator's voice asked him," Will you accept charges for a collect call from Robert Langdon?" Puzzled, Jonas turned on the light. "Uh... sure, okay." The line clicked. "Jonas?"
"Robert? You wake me up and you charge me for it?"
"Jonas, forgive me," Langdon said. "I'll keep this very short. I really need to know. The manuscript I gave you. Have you - "
"Robert, I'm sorry, I know I said I'd send the edits out to you this week, but I'm swamped. Next Monday. I promise."
"I'm not worried about the edits. I need to know if you sent any copies out for blurbs without telling me?"
Faukman hesitated. Langdon's newest manuscript - an exploration of the history of goddess worship - included several sections about Mary Magdalene that were going to raise some eyebrows. Although the material was well documented and had been covered by others, Faukman had no intention of printing Advance Reading Copies of Langdon's book without at least a few endorsements from serious historians and art luminaries. Jonas had chosen ten big names in the art world and sent them all sections of the manuscript along with a polite letter asking if they would be willing to write a short endorsement for the jacket. In Faukman's experience, most people jumped at the opportunity to see their name in print.
"Jonas?" Langdon pressed. "You sent out my manuscript, didn't you?"
Faukman frowned, sensing Langdon was not happy about it. "The manuscript was clean, Robert, and I wanted to surprise you with some terrific blurbs."
A pause. "Did you send one to the curator of the Paris Louvre?"
"What do you think? Your manuscript referenced his Louvre collection several times, his books are in your bibliography, and the guy has some serious clout for foreign sales. Sauniere was a no-brainer."
The silence on the other end lasted a long time. "When did you send it?"
"About a month ago. I also mentioned you would be in Paris soon and suggested you two chat. Did he ever call you to meet?" Faukman paused, rubbing his eyes. "Hold on, aren't you supposed to bein Paris this week?" "I am in Paris." Faukman sat upright. "You called me collect from Paris?"
"Take it out of my royalties, Jonas. Did you ever hear back from Sauniere? Did he like the manuscript?"
"I don't know. I haven't yet heard from him."
"Well, don't hold your breath. I've got to run, but this explains a lot Thanks." "Robert - "But Langdon was gone.
Faukman hung up the phone, shaking his head in disbelief Authors, he thought. Even the sane ones are nuts.
Inside the Range Rover, Leigh Teabing let out a guffaw. "Robert, you're saying you wrote a manuscript that delves into a secret society, and your editor sent a copy to that secret society?"
Langdon slumped. "Evidently."
"A cruel coincidence, my friend."
Coincidence has nothing to do with it, Langdon knew. Asking Jacques Sauniere to endorse a manuscript on goddess worship was as obvious as asking Tiger Woods to endorse a book on golf. Moreover, it was virtually guaranteed that any book on goddess worship would have to mention the Priory of Sion.
"Here's the million-dollar question," Teabing said, still chuckling. "Was your position on the Priory favorable or unfavorable?"
Langdon could hear Teabing's true meaning loud and clear. Many historians questioned why the Priory was still keeping the Sangreal documents hidden. Some felt the information should have been shared with the world long ago. "I took no position on the Priory's actions."
"You mean lack thereof."
Langdon shrugged. Teabing was apparently on the side of making the documents public. "I simply provided history on the brotherhood and described them as a modern goddess worship society, keepers of the Grail, and guardians of ancient documents." Sophie looked at him. "Did you mention the keystone?" Langdon winced. He had. Numerous times. "I talked about the supposed keystone as an example of the lengths to which the Priory would go to protect the Sangreal documents." Sophie looked amazed. "I guess that explains P. S. Find Robert Langdon." Langdon sensed it was actually something else in the manuscript that had piqued Sauniere's interest, but that topic was something he would discuss with Sophie when they were alone.
"So," Sophie said, "you lied to Captain Fache." "What?" Langdon demanded. "You told him you had never corresponded with my grandfather."
"I didn't! My editor sent him a manuscript."
"Think about it, Robert. If Captain Fache didn't find the envelope in which your editor sent the manuscript, he would have to conclude that you sent it." She paused. "Or worse, that you hand- delivered it and lied about it."
When the Range Rover arrived at Le Bourget Airfield, Remy drove to a small hangar at the far end of the airstrip. As they approached, a tousled man in wrinkled khakis hurried from the hangar, waved, and slid open the enormous corrugated metal door to reveal a sleek white jet within.
Langdon stared at the glistening fuselage. "That's Elizabeth?" Teabing grinned. "Beats the bloody Chunnel." The man in khakis hurried toward them, squinting into the headlights. "Almost ready, sir," he called in a British accent. "My apologies for the delay, but you took me by surprise and - " He stopped short as the group unloaded. He looked at Sophie and Langdon, and then Teabing.
Teabing said, "My associates and I have urgent business in London. We've no time to waste. Please prepare to depart immediately." As he spoke, Teabing took the pistol out of the vehicle and handed it to Langdon.
The pilot's eyes bulged at the sight of the weapon. He walked over to Teabing and whispered," Sir, my humble apologies, but my diplomatic flight allowance provides only for you and your manservant. I cannot take your guests."
"Richard," Teabing said, smiling warmly," two thousand pounds sterling and that loaded gun say you can take my guests." He motioned to the Range Rover. "And the unfortunate fellow in the back."
The Hawker 731's twin Garrett TFE-731 engines thundered, powering the plane skyward with gut- wrenching force. Outside the window, Le Bourget Airfield dropped away with startling speed.
I'm fleeing the country, Sophie thought, her body forced back into the leather seat. Until this moment, she had believed her game of cat and mouse with Fache would be somehow justifiable to the Ministry of Defense. I was attempting to protect an innocent man.I was trying to fulfill my grandfather's dying wishes.That window of opportunity, Sophie knew, had just closed. She was leaving the country, without documentation, accompanying a wanted man, and transporting abound hostage. If a" line of reason" had ever existed, she had just crossed it. At almost the speed of sound.
Sophie was seated with Langdon and Teabing near the front of the cabin - the Fan Jet ExecutiveElite Design, according to the gold medallion on the door. Their plush swivel chairs were bolted to tracks on the floor and could be repositioned and locked around a rectangular hardwood table. A mini-boardroom. The dignified surroundings, however, did little to camouflage the less than dignified state of affairs in the rear of the plane where, in a separate seating area near the rest room, Teabing's manservant Remy sat with the pistol in hand, begrudgingly carrying out Teabing's orders to stand guard over the bloody monk who lay trussed at his feet like a piece of luggage.
"Before we turn our attention to the keystone," Teabing said," I was wondering if you would permit me a few words." He sounded apprehensive, like a father about to give the birds-and-the-bees lecture to his children. "My friends, I realize I am but a guest on this journey, and I am honored as such. And yet, as someone who has spent his life in search of the Grail, I feel it is my duty to warn you that you are about to step onto a path from which there is no return, regardless of the dangers involved." He turned to Sophie. "Miss Neveu, your grandfather gave you this cryptex in hopes you would keep the secret of the Holy Grail alive."