Ben Hope 05 - The Shadow Project

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Authors: Scott Mariani
Tags: Fiction, adventure, Thrillers, Action & Adventure, Crime thriller
was just a one-liner in reply to an email Rory had sent.
    ?Cool. Just watched it. Best one yet!?
    Sabrina?s eye flashed down the screen, and it was with a jolt that she saw the date on Rory?s original message.
    Yesterday.
    She frowned. And the time the message had been sent was only about two hours before she?d arrived at the house.
    But that was impossible . Adam had said he?d driven Rory to Donegal the day before.
    She read it again, and the shivers down her back got colder. Could Rory have sent the message from another source, maybe at the tennis camp? She was no expert, but she was pretty sure that if the reply had come here, Rory?s message must have come from here too.
    Calm down, Sabby . There had to be a logical explanation. Maybe there was a glitch with the PC. Unlikely . Or else Rory had somehow managed to sneak home and then away again without anybody noticing. Nuts . Or Adam had written the message to Declan himself, pretending to be Rory. Oh, come on .
    She turned away from the desk. Saw Rory?s mobile phone lying among the rumpled sheets on his bed. The phone he took everywhere with him. The one he?d supposedly spoken to Adam on from the tennis camp.
    ?Oh my God,? she said out loud. ?What the hell?s going on here??

    Chapter Thirteen
    Next morning at eight o?clock sharp, Dorenkamp came for Ben and the team and escorted them to the main residence to meet Steiner. Ben was aware of Neville and the others gaping around them as the PA led the way inside the palatial house, into a hallway about a square mile in size. In its centre was a life-size cast of a medieval warhorse in full dress, rearing up dramatically on its hind legs and carrying a knight with plumed helmet, spiked mace and a shield with a red lion rampant herald. Maybe a ton of glittering armour plate in total between animal and rider, and Ben was fairly sure it wasn?t reproduction antique. He paused a moment to admire it, then walked with Dorenkamp across the hall and through another doorway. The rest of the team followed a few yards behind, talking in low voices.
    ?Tell me, Mr Hope,? Dorenkamp said. ?How much do you know about Maximilian Steiner??
    ?Very little,? Ben admitted.
    ?Try to avoid asking him too many direct questions,? Dorenkamp said. ?If there?s anything you need to know, I would request that you address your queries to me. Herr Steiner is a very private man, and doesn?t tolerate intrusion into his family life. He is notoriously hard to interview, and relatively few people even get to have an audience with him.?
    ?Sounds like I?m going to meet royalty,? Ben said.
    ?In some circles that?s exactly what Maximilian Steiner is,? Dorenkamp replied. ?One thing. You may find him cold. Many people do. But that is just his manner, and you shouldn?t be put off by it. I have known him for many years and I can tell you that he?s a good man. Behind the scenes he is a tireless campaigner against violence in all its forms, a staunch opponent of the international arms trade. He donates a vast amount of money each year to support many worthy causes. The fact that he does so anonymously only reflects his desire for privacy.?
    ?If I?m going to protect him, I need to know everything,? Ben said. ?I need total access to every part of his life. I respect his desire for privacy, but there can?t be any secrets.?
    Dorenkamp nodded thoughtfully. ?Very well. We?ll see what can be done.?
    ?Tell me about the kidnap attempt,? Ben said as they walked.
    ?It happened three weeks ago. Herr Steiner and his wife were on their way to a family wedding in one of the limousines. As they drove, they came across what at first appeared to be an accident. There was a car in the middle of the road, which seemed to have skidded to a halt, blocking the way. Next to the car was a man lying on the ground, apparently injured. A woman was with him, shouting for help as Herr Steiner?s car arrived on the scene.?
    ?It?s an old ploy,? Ben said. ?Exploiting people?s humanity to trap

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