Read The Sacred Blood Online

Authors: Michael Byrnes

The Sacred Blood

TH
E

SACRE
D
BLOO
D

MICH A EL BY R NE
S

For Caroline, Vivian, and Camill
e

For God has chosen him of all your tribes to stand and serve with the name of God, he and his sons forever.

—Deuteronomy 18:5

Content
s

Epigraph
iii
Map
xiv
1.
A flock of pigeons took flight as Father James Martin…
7
2.
The deliveryman responded instantly, crowding into the van and clamping…
10
3.
Stepping out from beneath the blue origami canopy that sheltered…
14
4.
A radargram was a far cry from a Polaroid. But…
18
5.
After another two hours, under Amit’s close supervision, the ancient…
20
6.
It had been nearly three months since Father Patrick Donovan…
22
7.
It was easy for Orlando to see that the rear…
28
8.
Descending the precipitous steps from the Old City’s Jewish Quarter,…
29
9.
Cresting the massive earthen mound crowned by fortified ruins, Amit…
34
10.
Another call went to voice mail as Charlotte Hennesey pored…
38
11.
Each time the elevator doors opened, Charlotte reacted like a…
43
12.
Orlando unclipped the geneticist’s ID badge from a neck strap…
48
13.
In the genetics lab, Kwiatkowski was attempting to be low-key…
50
14.
Jozsef Dayan was no stranger to handling ancient papyri. The…
51
15.
“I don’t know what to say…,” Donovan began, shrinking in…
55
16.
“And you have no doubts about that?” Charlotte said. After…
59
17.
The Volvo idled at a scenic overlook along Camelback Mountain.
61
18.
Sheikh Ghalib Hamzah ibn Mu’adh al-Namair claimed the leather armchair…
64
19.
By the time Amit steered the Land Rover off Kaliah-Sedom…
68
20.
In the front corner of the upper chamber, empty polyethylene…
74
21.
Despite the high-speed connection with an IP address assigned to…
78
22.
Ziv ran through the highly detailed PowerPoint presentation with the…
80
23.
In the Land Rover’s fully reclined passenger seat, Jules was…
82
24.
After topping off the tank, Amit pulled the Land Rover…
86
25.
“You’re sure this is going to work?” Charlotte asked as…
88
26.
“So what do you make of all this?” Cohen asked.
92
27.
At the Rockefeller Museum, located directly outside the Old City’s…
95
28.
Amit led Jules through the octagonal Tower Hall with its…
99
29.
Exiting Inshas Airport, the driver turned the dusty Peugeot south…
106
30.
In full stride, Jules was in the lead, Amit close…
110
31.
It was nearing one o’clock when Charlotte heard a knock…
113
32.
Since the Holy Father was still enjoying a five-day retreat…
114
33.
Next to a keypad on the door frame, Rabbi Aaron…
118
34.
Amit and Jules entered the Old City’s southern wall through…
123
35.
The spacious gallery was bustling with tourists, many of whom,…
125
36.
It was at Inshas Airport’s security gate where the problem…
128
37.
Following the leisurely two-and-a-half-hour lunch, Father Martin brought Donovan to…
130
38.
If the four-course meal served up at the Apostolic Palace—antipasti,…
132
39.
Ghalib’s searing caramel irises glared out the window at the…
134
40.
The figure appeared much sooner than anticipated—a dark shadow descending…
136
41.
“Why are we going here?” Jules asked as Amit turned…
139
42.
Donovan was in full sprint as he flew out the…
143
43.
The instant the elevator doors parted, Donovan sprang out with…
145
44.
The taxi turned off Ruppin Boulevard and climbed the steep…
146
45.
The delivery van that had awaited Rabbi Aaron Cohen’s arrival…
148
46.
Amit turned right off the main walkway, splitting away from…
150
47.
Charlotte’s consciousness was a patchy haze, her senses tuning in…
153
48.
Once past security, the rabbi stormed in hobbled strides across…
155
49.
Since the Shrine of the Book housed the majority of…
157
50.
Charlotte’s numbed senses responded sluggishly as consciousness returned once more.
162
51.
Tempted to lash out at her invalid captor—not that she…
164
52.
Thank heavens the woman cut away the bindings, Charlotte thought.
167
53.
The Dome of the Rock was empty as Ghalib—the Waqf’s…
169
54.
At the Israel Museum, Jules struggled to keep stride with…
171
55.
“You all right?” one of the livery guys yelled over,…
175
56.
Though Joshua quickly reached out for his mother’s arm to…
176
57.
Amit killed the headlights on the assassin’s Fiat, with its…
179
58.
The two burly guards who’d manhandled Charlotte out of the…
180
59.
When Amit finally reached the rear service door, he’d waited…
183
60.
The box’s golden lid felt warm and tingly under Charlotte’s…
184
61.
In the fire stairwell Amit set down his shoes and…
187
62.
“Hello, Mrs. Cohen,” Amit said wryly. “A pleasure to see…
189
63.
“Look at this fucking mess,” Kwiatkowski grumbled, unwrapping the blood-caked…
192
64.
Orlando moved quickly down the corridor toward the light coming…
193
65.
By the time Amit got his shoes on, made it…
195
66.
Rabbi Aaron Cohen’s mind was stretched to the limit. Things…
198
67.
“Sorry, Commander,” Enoch said, jogging over to Amit outside the…
199
68.
Charlotte Hennesey felt like she’d been buried alive. The oxygen…
201
69.
Enoch was trying his best to be patient with the…
201
70.
“Everything okay over here?” the female IDF guard said, rifle…
203
71.
Halfway across the plaza, Amit and Enoch simultaneously registered the…
204
72.
Now Charlotte’s pulse was pounding. The gunshot had thrown Cohen’s…
205
73.
Pacing the Dome of the Rock’s wide ambulatory, the Keeper…
207
74.
Five soldiers had pushed forward and taken positions close to…
208
75.
The sides of the wide corridor rose high above, curving…
210
76.
The plaza on the Temple Mount’s southern end was vacant…
212
77.
Enoch raced out to the jeep parked in the plaza…
213
78.
First the gunmen came up from the hole to secure…
216
79.
Two things let Enoch know he hadn’t been killed by…
218
80.
Cohen and his men anxiously waited for the gunfire inside…
220
81.
At the top of the water passage, Enoch turned onto…
222
82.
Charlotte watched the robed priests set down the box dead…
223
83.
Charlotte’s mix of grief and rage was temporarily trumped by…
224
84.
From the shadows, Amit had watched as Cohen and his…
226
85.
Standing over the Ark, Charlotte was surprised by its robust…
228
86.
At first, the Ark’s lid resisted.
233
87.
“Moshe,” Cohen gasped in vindication. “Moses,” he repeated for Charlotte’s…
234
88.
Enoch snapped some bullets out of the spare magazine to…
236
89.
Before Charlotte could turn to get a better look at…
237
90.
After taking down one of the gunmen, Enoch rounded the…
239
91.
“Rumor has it you’re the next messiah,” a deep voice…
240
92.
Amit and Enoch immediately collected the weapons from the two…
242
93.
As Ghalib had hoped, the Israeli prime minister and president…
244
94.
The sterile corridors of the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic were…
249
Epilogue
Charlotte ambled beside Father Donovan, her hiking shoes swishing through…
152
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Other Books by Michael Byrnes
Credits

Cover
Copyright
About the Publisher

Map

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