The male receptionist in the lobby of the Opus Dei headquarters on Lexington Avenue in New York City was surprised to hear Bishop Aringarosas voice on the line. Good evening, sir.
Have I had any messages? the bishop demanded, sounding unusually anxious.
Yes, sir. Im very glad you called in. I couldnt reach you in your apartment. You had an urgent phone message about half an hour ago.
Yes? He sounded relieved by the news. Did the caller leave a name?
No, sir, just a number. The operator relayed the number.
Prefix thirty‑three? Thats France, am I right?
Yes, sir. Paris. The caller said it was critical you contact him immediately.
Thank you. I have been waiting for that call. Aringarosa quickly severed the connection.
As the receptionist hung up the receiver, he wondered why Aringarosas phone connection sounded so crackly. The bishops daily schedule showed him in New York this weekend, and yet he sounded a world away. The receptionist shrugged it off. Bishop Aringarosa had been acting very strangely the last few months.
* * *
My cellular phone must not have been receiving, Aringarosa thought as the Fiat approached the exit for Romes Ciampino Charter Airport. The Teacher was trying to reach me . Despite Aringarosas concern at having missed the call, he felt encouraged that the Teacher felt confident enough to call Opus Dei headquarters directly.
Things must have gone well in Paris tonight.
As Aringarosa began dialing the number, he felt excited to know he would soon be in Paris. Ill be on the ground before dawn . Aringarosa had a chartered turbo prop awaiting him here for the short flight to France. Commercial carriers were not an option at this hour, especially considering the contents of his briefcase.
The line began to ring.
A female voice answered. Direction Centrale Police Judidaire.
Aringarosa felt himself hesitate. This was unexpected. Ah, yes . . . I was asked to call this number?
Qui кtes‑vous? the woman said. Your name?
Aringarosa was uncertain if he should reveal it. The French Judicial Police?
Your name, monsieur? the woman pressed.
Bishop Manuel Aringarosa.
Un moment. There was a click on the line.
After a long wait, another man came on, his tone gruff and concerned. Bishop, I am glad I finally reached you. You and I have much to discuss.