From pages 5-6, in Pope John Paul’s Apartment:
During their years in Venice, prior to his election as pope, Sister Vincenza had always taken the coffee straight into Cardinal Luciani’s bedroom. But in Rome, the always vigilant Vatican curia, the governing bureaucracy of the church, led by its authoritarian secretary of state, French cardinal Jean Villot, felt this violated some unknown historical protocol. Villot had instructed that the morning brew be left in an adjoining study outside the pope’s bedroom, with its presence signaled to His Holiness by a knock on his bedroom door. John Paul did not see the need for this adjustment to his previous practice, but as he already had a lengthy catalogue of substantive issues he intended to raise with Villot and the curia, he had decided to yield on this minor demand. He evidently referenced the overall issue in a comment he made to a visitor following his papal election, noting that the two most difficult things to find in the Vatican were “honesty and a good cup of coffee.”
Having brewed the coffee in the papal apartment’s small kitchen, Sister Vincenza poured it into a silver flask, placed in on a round pewter tray along with a cup and saucer, and headed toward the study adjacent to the pope’s bedroom. As she approached the open door of the study, she paused in surprise at seeing light beneath John Paul’s bedroom door, suggesting he was already awake. She stood in place for a moment, puzzled, but positioned the coffee flask in its usual place, then walked over to knock gently on the bedroom door. “Good morning, Holy Father,” she said softly. There was no reply. This was also unusual, but after a few moments Vincenza departed and headed back toward the kitchen to assemble the pope’s simple breakfast.
Curious and somewhat concerned, Sister Vincenza returned fifteen minutes later to the pope’s study only to find the coffee flask and tray untouched. The bedroom light still reflected on the floor below the doorsill. Sister Vincenza walked over to the door and lightly tapped on it again. In the two decades she had served Albino Luciani, he had never once overslept, nor had she known him to sleep with a light on.
“Holy Father?” she called again, a bit louder than before. “Are you up, Holy Father?” Still, there was no answer. The sister crossed herself, asking for forgiveness for her impending disobedience of Cardinal Villot’s instructions. She opened the door and stepped into the room. Once she did, her eyes widened, and her hands instinctively shot up, nearly knocking the dark-rimmed glasses from her face. She stumbled backward against the door, gasping for air.
John Paul was sitting up in his bed, still clothed. His head was slightly canted and turned to the right, his glasses still in place. His face reflected the agony of death rather than the radiant smile of life for which he had become internationally famous during the thirty-three days since his election. In his hands, he held some papers that he had been studying. The light on his nightstand was illuminating a book and the small vile of the low blood pressure medication he took, which Sister Vincenza closely monitored.
Composing herself as quickly as she could, Vincenza dashed across the room and grabbed the Holy Father’s wrist, desperately checking for a pulse. She detected nothing. She felt his forehead; it was not cold, but neither was it warm. She stepped back from the bed, quickly made the sign of the cross and ended it with her hand on her heart. She herself had suffered from heart issues in the past, and now she felt her heart beginning to pound in her chest. Fighting to take deep breaths, she reached across the nightstand and jabbed furiously at the wall, frantically trying to push a button that would ring a bell in the attic bedroom of the pope’s secretaries, one floor up. After finally hitting the button, she darted from the room to get the other two nuns who worked with her. Their room was at the other end of the papal apartment.
From pages 154-155, at Cardinal John Krol’s residence:
The cardinal thought for a few moments, rubbing his large hands together in front of his chest. “Very well,” he said at last. “I’ll wait to hear from you in Rome. And I’ll trust you know what you’re doing on this. For now, I have to get to another appointment across Logan Circle.”
With that, Krol stood, signaling that the meeting was over, strolled out to the entrance hall, and turned toward the front door. “Thanks for coming by to see me. As I said, I’ll do what I can—either with you or just alone.” He paused for a moment and gazed at Carter as he and Kath stepped through the door. “Do you know what ‘Krol’ means in Polish, young man?”
Carter turned and slowly shook his head. “No, Your Eminence, I don’t actually.”
“It means ‘king,’” Krol answered with a smile. “So, I guess in this instance, perhaps, I can help in some way to be a ‘Krol-maker.’”
Without any further words, Kath and Carter stepped through the door, and the cardinal closed it behind them. Krol turned and slowly made the short walk across the entrance hall to the small closet holding his overcoat. He thought about the discussion. Was this the right thing for him to be doing? Should he have feelings like Cardinal Baum’s? Should he be like Cardinal Carberry and wait for a sign from God? As he opened the closet door and reached for his coat, he thought about the questions he was posing to himself, especially the one about a sign from God. After pulling the garment from the closet, he slowly slipped his muscular arms into it and drew the lapels down over his broad shoulders. “Maybe,” he said quietly to himself, “I just had a sign from God.”
From pages 251-252, at the Hotel De Russie:
Katherine O’Connor always had difficulty adjusting to travel, and although she had been at the De Russie for three nights, she was still waking up about 4:00 a.m. She had hoped that staying up late the night before and reading Herman Wouk’s just-released novel War and Remembrance would put her biological clock in the right time zone. She had loved Wouk’s first novel about the lead-up to World War II, Winds of War, and the romantic in her was interested to see where the obvious relationship between Byron Henry and Natalie Jastrow would go in the sequel. Plus so much of the original story had been set in prewar Italy, and now here she was, in a luxurious room in gorgeous Rome. Still, despite reading several chapters before turning in, she was still awake before 5:00 a.m. Conceding defeat to the clock, she had decided to get up and shower and was now standing in front of the bathroom mirror when she heard a soft knock at the door.
CIA people don’t like surprises, and an unexpected early morning knock at the door was a surprise. Kath grabbed the belt on the wonder- fully lush bathrobe provided by the hotel, pulled it tighter around her waist and then gently stepped over to her suitcase on the rack under the window. She unzipped a compartment in the suitcase lining, reached in, and pulled out a Beretta 418 pistol. She then reached into her purse and pulled out a seven-round magazine, slapped it into the pistol’s receiver, and chambered a round. The soft knocking continued.
Kath walked to the door, the loaded revolver in the hand behind her. “Who is it?”
“Carter,” came the reply.
Kath checked to ensure the door chain was in place, paused for a moment, placed her foot firmly on the carpet, and unlocked the door. She opened it slightly, just enough to confirm that the unexpected morning guest was indeed a sweat-suit-clad Carter Caldwell.
“Why are you knocking on my door at this hour?” she asked in an annoyed voice, most of it genuine.
“Can I come in?” was the whispered reply.
Kath hesitated a minute for some reason but concluded she had no excuse to leave her colleague in the hallway. She unhooked the chain, and Carter quickly stepped through the door. Kath looked down the hallway in both directions. Empty. She closed the door and locked it behind them. “To what do I owe this great honor?” she asked, setting the Beretta on the dresser and flipping the safety on.
“You’re armed!” Carter exclaimed, looking wide-eyed at the pistol.
“Well, I do work for the CIA,” Kath replied, surprised that he seemed to be surprised. “What do you expect, especially when someone is knocking on your door just after dawn!”
Carter stared at the pistol. “Isn’t that a Model 418, like the one James Bond initially carried, before they made him switch to the Walther PPK?”
“I guess,” Kath replied in an indifferent manner. “I never was much of a James Bond fan.”
“Really? You work for the CIA…and you’re not a James Bond fan?”
Katherine placed her hands on her hips and rolled her large eyes. “News flash, Carter! James Bond is fiction! Now why are you here at this absurd hour?”
“We need to get to the embassy,” Carter replied, his eyes switching back and forth between Katherine and the Beretta.
From Pages 316-317, at the Café Vaticano:
While Kath and Krol were going over the contents of the Bible, Carter had been watching a small white Fiat slowly move along the street and then stop momentarily at the curb about ten feet from their table. The passenger side window rolled down but then quickly rolled back up, and the car speedily pulled away. He hadn’t thought much of it until he noticed the same car return, slowly going back down the Viale Vaticano in the opposite direction, this time with the driver’s side window mostly down, giving him a good look at a tough-looking man with a sharp nose and thin, receding hair. Carter had started to interrupt Katherine’s discussion with Krol but decided not to.
While they were discussing the batteries, he had gotten up from the table and walked closer to the curb, giving him a clear view down the street to the east, the direction in which he had last seen the car traveling. He stood and stared. Suddenly, he saw the Fiat appear a third time. It rounded the corner about two blocks away and turned in his direction. It began picking up speed. Carter took a couple of hasty steps back toward the table where Kath and Krol were still talking. He looked again. The Fiat was still coming, and the passenger window was opening. He saw the man in the passenger seat partially stick his head out the window. He was holding something in front of his face. Carter squinted in the noon sunlight to get a clear view. A gun! It was a gun! And the man holding it was now looking straight at him!
“Down!” Carter yelled as he dashed toward the table. Krol and Katherine looked up, but did not move. “Down! Get down!” Carter yelled again, diving for the table just as the Fiat screeched to a halt at the curb. It all happened in an instant!
Bap! It was a pistol! He hadn’t been able to get a clear view of what type, but whatever it was, he instantly started counting the shots; there should be at least seven left. He hit the table, knocking Kath and Krol back against the building wall of the café as the first bullet hit the limestone above the table, filling the air with a powdery smell as bits of limestone flew about. The old army saying was true: the first shots are always high!
Bap! The second bullet made a loud, metallic thwack as it ricocheted off the table!
Bap! Bap! Bap! Bap! Four other shots—two hit the café’s sliding glass door behind them, shattering it, throwing shards of glass everywhere, splashing them across the sidewalk, while two more hit the coffee bar! Six shots! There couldn’t be more than two left.
“Mafiosi! Mafiosi!” the sidewalk waitress screamed, tossing her tray to the ground and darting away toward Via Tunisi. Carter looked up as the Fiat, wheels squealing, started to pull away, but as it did, it struck a man on a bicycle who was furiously pedaling, trying to get past it, knocking him into the other lane. A taxi heading down the street in the opposite direction swerved to avoid the bicyclist and crashed head-on into the Fiat. The Fiat driver’s head hit the windshield hard, knocking him out. The gunman leaped from the car and looked at Carter, raising his pistol, taking aim directly at him.
Bam! The gunman slumped back against the Fiat, reaching for his left shoulder, the shirt around it slowly turning red. Carter’s head snapped to his left to see where that shot came from, recognizing from the sound it was from a different weapon. When he did, he saw Katherine lying across Krol, her right arm raised and smoke trailing from the barrel of her Beretta. “He’s getting away! Go get him!” she yelled, tossing the gun to Carter, who caught it in his right hand.
“Are you both OK?” he shouted above the noisy confusion of people swirling around the café and on the sidewalk.
“Yeah! We’re fine! We’re OK! Go! Go!” Kath shouted.
Carter turned his eyes toward the gunman, who was running up the street, holding his left shoulder, the pistol still gripped in his right hand. Carter took off after him.
Pages 417-418, In The Papal Apartments:
He had two bullets, so now he could take out both Poles, Wojtyla and Wyszynski! What a coup this would be! Comrade Andropov would be thrilled! He placed his eye back on the riflescope and centered the reticle pattern on the crucifix hanging squarely in the center of the new pope’s chest, framed between the two sides of the crimson shawl draped across his shoulders. He let out a slow breath… and squeezed the trigger. He heard the click from the receiver as the hammer slammed against the bolt.