morning after I arrived. I was over there trying to find out why.'

Madison dropped his cigar on the floor and ground it out with the toe of his shoe. 'Shit,' he said dispassionately. 'What a waste of time.'


'If I'd known this was all there was to it, I might have decided to let Ibber kill you.'

'You were always a prince, Madison.'

'Can you believe that I'm still pissed at you after all these years? I've got pins in both my collarbones, and they hurt like hell when it rains or snows. Also, I'd probably be top man in Operations if I hadn't lost four years making up the ground you'd shoveled out from under me.'

'Madison,' Veil said evenly, 'I have a personal favor to ask of you.'

'Do you, now. What is it?'

'I want you to take this woman out of here and put her in one of your facilities at Langley—under your absolute control and personal supervision. I'm sure she must have family, but I don't know who, or where, they are. Your people will take care of notification and make up some kind of story about why she has to be where she is. I want the absolute best for her— twice-daily massage, the works. I want her to keep looking beautiful.'

'Is that all?' Madison asked, making no effort to mask his sarcasm.

'No, it isn't. You keep her in exactly the state she's in now, unless I say differently.'

'Unless you say differently?'

'If I give the word, you see to it that somebody pulls the plug; you let her die—but only if I give the word.'

Madison studied Veil for some time. 'You still have a taste for playing God, don't you?' he said at last.

'I love her,' Veil replied simply. 'Also, I need time to think. In the meantime I have to know that her body, at least, is safe.'

'What you're asking could end up costing the taxpayers of this nation a lot of bucks. Hell, we could keep her alive for years.'

'You don't give a damn about the change in your pocket, what's more anything you do at taxpayers' expense.'

'So what? Why should I do anything for you?'

'I want you to do it for the woman.'

'Why should I do it for the woman?'

'Because Veil Kendry is humbling himself to ask you—and that has to give you one hell of a lot of personal satisfaction.'

'It does, but that's not enough. The answer is no.'

'I took care of Ibber for you. If it weren't for me, that bastard would still be sending our secrets back to Mother Russia.'

'What do you want to do, close down the spy industry? Your kind of thinking could cost me my job.'

'I answered your questions freely, told you what you wanted to know. I could have held out and I didn't.'

'Big deal.'

'Madison, for chrissake, you want me to beg? I'm begging. If I weren't stuck in all this plaster. I'd get down on my knees.'

'That would be an amusing sight, but I have a better idea,' Madison said casually as he lit a fresh cigar. He studied the flame at the end of the match as if there were some secret message in it. 'Work for me.'


'Take care of yourself, Kendry,' Madison said, and blew out the match. Then he turned and headed down the corridor.

'Madison!' Veil waited as the man stopped, slowly turned. Then Veil nodded his head. It felt as if the back of his neck were being seared with a blowtorch, but he knew that the pain was only in his mind. 'All right.' 'What if you call me up tomorrow and tell me to kill her?'

'Our deal still stands; you own me. You have my word.'

'I'll accept that any day.'

'Special assignments only.'

'Sure. Did you think I was going to send Veil Kendry out to make nasty faces at Castro?'

'I mean that I have approval over any assignment. If I don't like it, I don't do it.'

'Jesus Christ, you still believe that there are good guys and bad guys, don't you?'

'Give it to me, Madison.'

After a long pause Madison finally nodded and smiled. The smile didn't touch his eyes. 'Why not? Far be it from me to ask you to do something you didn't approve of. Good grief.'

'In the meantime I keep doing what I'm doing now. Except for when you want me.'

'Oh, I insist; it's a great cover. Anything else?'


Madison laughed loudly. 'Damn, Kendry, you are one hell of a negotiator. Thank God the State Department didn't get to you first.' He casually waved his cigar in the direction of the room beyond the glass. 'Don't worry about Sleeping Beauty. I'll have her safely tucked away in her new bedroom by dinnertime.'

And all he had given away was his soul, Veil thought as he watched Madison, trailing blue smoke, disappear around a bend in the corridor. Finally Madison had what he had always wanted.

It had been quite a barter.

But then, Veil thought as he leaned his head against the glass, he had what he wanted. Already his entire attention was drifting to Sharon—now, quite literally, the woman of his dreams.

He was tired, ready to sleep.

Chapter 28


Veil dreams.

Vivid dreaming is his gift and affliction, the lash of memory and a guide to justice, a mystery and sometimes the key to mystery, prod to violence and maker of peace, an invitation to madness and the fountainhead of his power as an artist.

Now vivid dreaming is also his passport to the land where his love is lost. He searches, does not find her, and escapes from the mist the way he has always escaped from dreams, by rolling away. But he searches again and again, until in one dream he finally finds her, exactly as he left her, the process of disintegration halted by his unsuccessful attempt to bring her back along an electric road.

Together they reaffirm the truth that love and courage, while not antidotes to death, are the heart and spine of hope. They meet and talk many times—of their love, of the near-death experience, and of dreaming and escaping from dreams.

Then one dream, when all the mechanical things have been disconnected from her body, Sharon is able to allow Veil gently to lift her in the arms of his mind and roll her away with him. . . .

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