Foreign Affairs (A Stone Barrington Novel)

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9780399174674: Foreign Affairs (A Stone Barrington Novel)

Stone Barrington returns in the new edge-of-your-seat thriller from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author.
 
When he’s apprised at the last minute of a mandatory meeting abroad, Stone Barrington rushes off to Europe for a whirlwind tour of business and, of course, pleasure. But from the start the trip seems to be cursed, plagued by suspicious “accidents” and unfortunate events, and some of Stone’s plans go up in flames—literally. 

Not a believer in coincidence, Stone sets out to learn the true source of his curious misfortune and finds that what appeared to be bad luck may, in fact, have been a warning. From the chic streets of Paris to Italy's spectacular Amalfi Coast, Stone is pursued from all sides . . . but when the tables turn, the hunted may become the hunter . . .

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About the Author:

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods lives in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Books by Stuart Woods

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Author’s Note

1

Stone Barrington was at dinner at Patroon, a favorite restaurant, with Dino and Viv Bacchetti, his closest friends.

“Stone,” Viv said, “don’t you sometimes wish you were still a cop?” Stone had spent fourteen years on the NYPD, most of them as a homicide detective with Dino as his partner.

“Viv,” Stone replied, “with the kindest possible intention, are you out of your fucking mind?”

Viv burst out laughing.

Dino looked at him with pity. “He wishes he was still a cop every time I tell him about something the department is investigating.”

“The only time I wish I were a cop,” Stone said, “is when somebody is double-parked in front of my house and I’m having trouble getting the car out of the garage.”

“You mean, you want to arrest the driver?” Viv asked.

“No, I want to shoot him.”

“Stone thinks the worst crime we have to deal with is double-parking in his block,” Dino pointed out.

“No, I just think it’s the worst crime within gunshot range of my garage door.”

“That seems a drastic remedy,” Viv said.

“Not when you consider that I’d only have to do it once—word would get around, then nobody would double-park in front of my house.”

“It wouldn’t matter, because you’d be in jail for quite a long time,” Dino said.

“You mean, you’d have me arrested for shooting a double-parker?” Dino had stayed on the NYPD and was now police commissioner of New York.

“Of course. You’d get no special treatment.”

“I didn’t mean I’d kill the guy, just shoot him a little.”

“Then you’d spend less time in jail. With good behavior you’d be out in seven to ten.”

“But I still have a badge.”

“Take a close look at your solid-gold, honorary-detective-first-class badge that was given to you by our former commissioner, now mayor. It’s not engraved with the words ‘Authorized to shoot anybody who annoys him.’”

“Not even double-parkers who block my garage door?”

“Especially not them.”

Stone’s cell phone rang and he looked at the number. “It’s Joan,” he said. “She never calls at this time of night. I’d better get it. Hello?”

“It’s Joan.”

“I know, I have caller ID.”

“I’ve made a tiny little mistake,” she said.

“Oh, God,” Stone moaned. He covered the phone. “Joan says she’s made a tiny little mistake,” he said to his companions. “That means she’s made a real whopper of a mistake.” He went back to the phone. “All right, let me have it.”

“There’s good news and bad news,” she said. “The good news is that I forgot to put a board meeting of the Arrington Group on your calendar.”

Stone was immediately suspicious. “And what is the bad news?”

“The meeting is tomorrow,” she said. “At noon.”

“Well, I can probably get out of bed early enough to make that.”

“That’s not all the bad news.”

“Oh, God,” Stone said, mostly to himself.

“You already said that.”

“What’s the rest of the bad news?”

“The board meeting is in Rome.”

“Rome is up the Hudson somewhere, isn’t it?”

“Not that Rome.”

“Rome, Georgia? Rome has an airport. I could fly myself down there tomorrow morning.”

“Think farther east.”

“Oh, God,” Stone said. “Not that Rome.”

“That one. Now don’t say, ‘Oh, God’ again, and don’t panic—there’s an Alitalia flight tonight.”

“What time?”

“In, let’s see, fifty-four minutes.”

“Which airport?”

“JFK.”

“That’s a forty-five-minute drive,” he pointed out.

“And Fred is off tonight, he went to the theater.”

“I’ll never make it,” he said.

“Think about this: you’re sitting next to the guy with the fastest car in town.”

“Hang on a minute.” He turned to Dino. “I’ve got to be at JFK in fifty-four minutes to catch a plane to Rome. Can I borrow your car?”

“You mean the one with the flashing lights on top?”

“That’s the one.”

“I can see the headlines in tomorrow’s Post,” Dino said. “POLICE COMMISH LOANS OFFICIAL CAR TO SCHMUCK, WHO IS INVOLVED IN TERRIBLE ACCIDENT.”

“Fifty-three minutes!” Joan shouted from the other end of the phone call.

“Only if I’m in the car with you,” Dino said. “That would shorten the headline to, SCHMUCK HITCHES RIDE WITH COMMISH.”

“You two better get going,” Viv said.

“You’re not coming with us?” Stone asked.

“I’d scream all the way,” she replied. “Go on, get your asses in gear! I’ll get the check.”

“I’ll call you en route with further instructions,” he said to Joan, then hung up and ran for the door, followed closely by Dino.

2

Dino got into the backseat of the black SUV with Stone and slammed the door. “We’ve got fifty-one minutes to make a flight at JFK,” he said to his driver. “Punch it, and use the siren and the lights.”

“God bless you,” Stone said, patting him on the knee.

“Don’t bring God into this, and don’t put your hand on my knee.”

“You want me to shoot him, boss?” the detective in the front passenger seat asked.

“Not unless he does it again. You get on the horn to security at Kennedy and tell them I want to drive onto the ramp. Find out what gate the Alitalia flight to Rome is occupying, and tell them to stand by for an arriving passenger, Barrington.”

“Yes, sir.” The detective whipped out his phone.

Stone dialed Joan’s number.

“I’m here.”

“Am I on the flight?” he shouted over the siren.

“You are—you got the last seat, and I ordered you a car.”

“Good. I need a room at the Hassler in Rome.”

“I’ve already called them and talked to the night man. It’s the middle of the night there, but he’s promised to have you a bed, he just can’t promise you a suite.”

“Where’s the board meeting tomorrow?”

“In a conference room at the Hassler.”

“When did we get notice of the meeting?”

“Do you really need to know?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Maybe ten days ago. I got busy and . . .”

“Okay, go upstairs to my dressing room and pack the following, ready?”

“Shoot.”

“Use the two medium-sized cases. Pack a blue suit, a chalk-stripe, and—I don’t know, maybe a tuxedo, pleated shirt, and black tie. Pack the black alligator oxfords, six pairs of boxers, six pairs of black socks, half a dozen linen handkerchiefs, and six shirts that go with the suits and half a dozen ties, and include my travel toiletries kit. Oh, shit, I don’t have my passport. Find it.”

“Are you wearing your blue blazer with the yacht club buttons?”

“Yes.”

“Try the left inside pocket.”

Stone slapped his chest, rummaged in the pocket, and came up with the alligator passport case. “Got it. How did you know where it was?”

“When the new one came in the mail, I saw you put it there. What else do you need?”

“A briefcase—the black alligator one, and all the stuff that’s in it. You might make sure there’s a legal pad in there.”

“Right. What else?”

“Is it cold in Rome?”

“It’s spring, and Rome is a subtropical climate.”

“No coat, then. What’s the agenda for the board meeting?”

“I’ll fax it to you before I go to bed.”

“FedEx the luggage, so it’ll be there the day after tomorrow. I’ll make do until then.”

“Have a good trip.”

“Bye.” Stone hung up and looked around. They were on what looked like the Van Wyck Expressway, and cars were scattering before them. “I like this,” he said. “This is how to go to the airport.”

“You’re lucky it isn’t rush hour,” the driver said.

“He’s lucky he knows me,” Dino said.

“I know you, and I love you, Dino.”

“Stop that.”

“Is his hand on your knee again, boss?” the detective asked.

“He knows better than that now.”

“Shucks, I was counting on shooting him.”

They were off the expressway and onto the labyrinth of roads around the airport. They stopped at a gate, which rolled back to admit them, and a security guard gave them the gate number and directions.

“You can turn off the siren now,” Dino said. “But keep the lights on.”

“Gotcha, boss.” The driver floored it, and two minutes later they pulled up next to a giant airplane, connected to the terminal by a snaking boarding tunnel.

“Thanks, Dino,” Stone said. “I owe you.”

“I’ll send you a bill. Now get your ass on the plane—it was supposed to push back three minutes ago.”

A security guard waved Stone to a door, and he ran up a flight of stairs, emerging in the tunnel near the aircraft door. A flight attendant awaited, his hand on the door. “Any luggage, Mr. Barrington?”

“None,” Stone said, entering the airplane.

“Just a moment.” He closed the door behind them, turned right, and started down an aisle. They were in the tourist cabin, and the attendant was pointing at a seat right in the middle of the airplane.

“Wait a minute—no first class?” Stone asked.

“The flight is full. This is it.”

Stone sighed and squeezed past the knees of two very large passengers and flopped into the seat. An extremely fat man sat to his left, taking up the entire armrest. “Welcome aboard,” he said.

“Thanks.” Stone looked to his right and found a woman of reasonable proportions.

“Aren’t you the lucky guy?” she said.

“Not lucky enough,” Stone said, trying to find something to do with his left arm. “How long is this flight?”

“For me, nine hours. For you, forever.”

“Too right.”

“I’m Hedy Kiesler,” she said. “Actually Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, but only my mother calls me that.”

“All of it?”

“Just Hedwig. If you call me anything but Hedy, I’ll hurt you.”

“I believe you,” Stone said, offering a hand. “I’m Stone Barrington.”

She leaned in. “I’m glad you made it. I thought I was going to have to deal with the fat guy.”

“I heard that!” the fat guy said.

“Sorry.”

The airplane was moving backward; after a moment an engine started. A female flight attendant appeared. “Mr. Barrington? I have two seats for you and your companion in first class.”

“What companion?” Hedy asked Stone.

“I think she means you. Join me?”

“You bet your sweet ass,” she said.

The two of them struggled past the two fat men. “Good riddance,” one of them said. “Move over one, George.”

Stone, followed by Hedy, walked up the aisle and was shown to the first pair of seats at the front of the cabin. “You can have the window,” he said.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t seat you sooner,” the attendant said, “but the seats were booked by someone else who didn’t show. I had to wait until we closed the door and pushed back before giving them to you.”

Hedy eased into her seat. “God, what a relief,” she said. “Do you always fly like this?”

“No, usually I fly myself in a light jet.”

“Why not tonight?”

“I had to leave on short notice for a board meeting tomorrow in Rome.”

“What kind of board?”

“A hotel group. What takes you to Rome?”

“I’m a painter. I’ve taken an apartment for a month, and I’m going to paint Rome.”

“I don’t see any canvases or paints.”

“I shipped all that ahead.”

“Where’s your apartment?”

“In the Pantheon district.”

“Nice.”

“Where are you staying?”

“At the Hassler Villa Medici.”

Very nice.”

The airplane rolled onto the runway and accelerated. Shortly, the attendant brought them dinner menus.

“I’m starved,” Hedy said, opening the menu. “How about you?”

“I had a first course before my secretary called and told me I had to go to Rome.”

“No luggage?”

“Not even a briefcase. I was lucky my passport was in my jacket pocket. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Several,” she said. “I’m terrified of flying.”

“You don’t look terrified.”

“I guess you’re a calming influence,” she said. “I know bourbon is.”

Stone ordered two double bourbons.

3

The cabin lights came on, and a voice blared over the loudspeakers, first in Italian, then: “Ladies and gentlemen, we will land in Rome in approximately one hour. Breakfast will now be served.”

Stone realized there was a head on his shoulder. She made a noise and sat up. “Did she say breakfast?”

“We ordered it last night, don’t you remember?”

“I remember only bourbon, but I don’t remember how many.”

“Don’t ask.”

A flight attendant set omelets before them and they ate hungrily.

“How do you feel?” Stone asked when their plates had been taken away.

“Nearly human.”

They deplaned and walked toward baggage claim. She was pulling a carry-on.

“Do you have any checked luggage?” Stone asked.

“No, I sent it with the painting stuff.”

“Smart. Can I give you a lift into the city?”

“Sure.”

They walked through customs without incident, and Stone saw a man holding a sign with his name on it. A couple of minutes later they were in a large Mercedes sedan.

“You travel well,” she said. “What do you do?”

“I’m an attorney.”

“What firm?”

“Woodman & Weld.”

“They represent my stepfather,” she said.

“Who’s your stepfather?”

“His name is Arthur Steele.”

“I’m his lawyer. I represent the Steele insurance group.”

“I believe this is where I say, ‘Small world.’”

“Not yet—my mother was a painter.”

“What was her name?”

“Matilda Stone. Now you can say it.”

“Small world. I know her stuff from the American Collection at the Metropolitan.”

“Come over to my house when you get back to New York, and I’ll show you another dozen.”

“Beats etchings.” She got out her phone and made a call, then hung up. “Shit.”

“What’s the matter?”

“My apartment rental doesn’t start until the day after tomorrow. They had told me I could probably get in a couple of days early, but nooooo.”

“I’ll put you up at the Hassler, if you like. I don’t know what kind of accommodations I have yet, but there’s probably a sofa.”

“For me or for you?”

“For you.”

“Well, I guess if you’re my stepfather’s lawyer you can’t do anything terrible to me.”

“I think that was part of my oath. I can’t do anything terrible to a client’s daughter.”

“You’re on.”

An hour later, a...

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Descrizione libro G.P. Putnam s Sons, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Stone Barrington returns in the new edge-of-your-seat thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author. When he s apprised at the last minute of a mandatory meeting abroad, Stone Barrington rushes off to Europe for a whirlwind tour of business and, of course, pleasure. But from the start the trip seems to be cursed, plagued by suspicious accidents and unfortunate events, and some of Stone s plans go up in flames literally. Not a believer in coincidence, Stone sets out to learn the true source of his curious misfortune and finds that what appeared to be bad luck may, in fact, have been a warning. From the chic streets of Paris to Italy s spectacular Amalfi Coast, Stone is pursued from all sides . . . but when the tables turn, the hunted may become the hunter . . . Codice libro della libreria AAC9780399174674

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