Book 2

Contrarium

Sam couldn’t have imagined a second pair of glasses with even greater powers; the personal cost of holding on to even one pair was too high.

Deciding to take on a position of power for her country was not an option, if she wanted to keep the rest of her family safe. But after discovering the second pair’s forbidden powers, Sam knew instantly that this was all she needed to put an end to all others who sought to use the glasses’ powers for the wrong purposes.

Finding herself in mortal danger, can Sam find a way stop her enemies while protecting her family?

 

SAMPLE

Prologue

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Sunday, 23rd June 1940

“Ya vol mein Fuhrer,” bellowed Albert Speer and Arno Beker, each with their right arm held high in a synchronised show of respect for their Fuhrer.

“Thank you, my friend, and you too, Colonel. You can see now that the Greater Germanic Reich is our destiny. It has been a formidable journey, but success is almost within reach—something that I, and I alone, have made possible,” Hitler replied, taking in the magnificence of the moment, the armistice just signed with the Third French Republic.

He looked back at the Compiègne Wagon—the same train carriage in which the armistice had been signed at the end of the Great War in 1918—symbolism he was only too pleased to employ. It would show the world that previous mistakes had been corrected. He then turned and strode back along the path towards his car, immediately joined by Speer and Beker.

“Mein Fuhrer, may I be permitted to say,” said Speer, “selecting Compiègne Forest as the site to sign the armistice, and in the same rail carriage, was a brilliant move. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Herman Goering, Rudolf Hess, Erich Raeder, and especially Walther von Brauchitsch, they’re all following you in awe of your magnificence.”

“Soon my true greatness will be revealed! And now we must look forward as this is only the begin—” Hitler cut his sentence short. The blood drained from his face. He discreetly patted each of his pockets. Upon finding them empty, his stride faltered momentarily. Where had they gone?

While he didn’t mind the obsequious attentions of Speer and Beker, there were more important things to attend to. He had to find the book glasses! Fortunately, they shut their mouths and followed two steps behind.

By the time Hitler reached his car, he was sweating profusely and walking erratically. His driver scrambled out of his seat and hastened to open the back door. Without a word, Hitler got into the car. Only after his driver had closed the door did he acknowledge the presence of Speer and Beker. He lowered his window. “Return to your hotel in Paris immediately, all of you.” Winding the window back up, he turned back to his driver. “Take me back to the museum quickly!”

The driver responded promptly, and Hitler tried to remember when he had last seen the book glasses. “Where are they? I must have left them at the museum!” he shouted as he pummelled the back of the seat in front of him with his fists. The driver jumped, causing the Mercedes-Benz to swerve slightly.

Then he remembered setting the glasses down on a desk while he signed autographs for some of his devoted followers. After all these years of never letting his guard down, he couldn’t believe this had happened. I can’t lose them now when I’m so close to achieving my destiny. He slumped forward and covered his face with his hands.

The drive back to the museum felt like an eternity. On their arrival, he ordered his driver to escort him to the room where he’d autographed the photos. But the glasses were nowhere to be seen. His worst fears had become reality. The glasses were no longer in his possession. Fury built inside him.

In no time he had five hundred men turning the museum inside out. When they failed to find the glasses, he ordered the executions of the entire museum staff in front of its director. Then he turned to the officer in charge. “Get out. I want everyone out of the museum immediately.”

It took ten minutes to evacuate the museum and, as the soldiers stood guard outside, Hitler returned inside alone. He ran into every room he could recall visiting, searching everywhere his glasses. The longer he searched, the more frantic he became.

By nightfall, Hitler was no closer to finding them and was forced to admit that the unthinkable had happened—he had lost his precious glasses.

In a rage, he returned to the front of the museum and ordered that the museum director and his own driver be shot instantly, leaving no evidence of the target of his frantic search. He then co-opted a soldier to drive him to his hotel.

On the way, an overwhelming desire grew in him to punish the masses for distracting him and causing him to misplace his treasured glasses. “They are all to blame!”

Obliged to attend an evening event at the hotel, he pushed his disappointment aside and accepted the worthy adulation of the crowd. This was where he was meant to be and how he should be received. He allowed the praise to wash over him, trying to mute his frustration over the loss of the glasses. While he made sure he maintained his composure before everyone’s eyes, inwardly, he was panic-stricken. The more he pondered a life without the book glasses, the blacker everything became.

He could already feel that his decision-making was becoming impaired. It was like a sledgehammer to his confidence, shaking him to his core.

As the days passed, a growing number of his decisions were clearly flawed but no one dared question their supreme leader. They would still give him the praise he deserved, but he knew it was the beginning of the end. However, as long as no one questioned his judgement or rulings he would continue as if nothing had happened.

Before leaving the French capital, he issued an order to demolish the Paris Museum. If the glasses were still in the museum, he needed to ensure no one else would ever find them. They were his, and his alone.

Hitler knew that his rule and his regime were doomed without the glasses. His rise from obscurity had taken him to heights even he had not dreamed he would achieve. This had been the precipice, and the momentum of his swift ascent had been pushing him forward, but not even his natural brilliance could save him from the reality he now faced—a reality without the book glasses.

The Second Pair of Glasses

3rd November 2018

“Samantha? Samantha? Doc Page, can you hear me?”

Through the pounding in her head, Sam could hear someone calling her name. It was Detective Gower. Then she heard an explosion and put her hands to her ears, trying to block out the noise. It did nothing, however, to stop the incessant pounding.

That wasn’t an explosion, Sam thought. That was a gunshot! Deliberately keeping her movements slow, Sam lifted her head and took in the scene around her. She was still in the viewing room, where Detectives Roth and Gower had called her after she’d talked to Garza’s son. She clutched the seat of the chair onto which the detectives had helped her sit down on when her world had started spinning.

At her feet, Gower lay unmoving, a hole in his temple. She turned and stared into the barrel of a gun, then dived off her chair onto the floor, curled into a ball, and wrapped her arms around her stomach.

She looked up to see Detective Roth charge into the room, gun drawn. He tossed the glass of water intended for Sam at Gower’s assailant and fired. His slug hit the shoulder of the man now holding Gower’s gun. But Roth was too late. The man had already pulled the trigger and his bullet tore into Roth’s chest.

Terrified for her unborn baby, Sam lay frozen in horror, watching a pool of Roth’s blood spread across the floor. She desperately scanned the room and her gaze rested on her handbag, which contained the two pairs of book glasses. Gower’s knee, clad in black trousers, almost nudged the bag.

But Gower was dead. Alongside his body was the gunman, who Sam recognised as Antonio Garza’s son, Anthony. He had passed out after he’d been shot by Detective Roth. How did Garza Junior get in here, Sam wondered.

Only minutes earlier she had left the adjacent interview room where he was securely handcuffed to the table, and she had seen the young constable lock the door after she left. Then she had walked into the viewing room and was overcome with dizziness. If not for Gower’s quick response, she would have ended up on the floor. As Roth raced out to get her a glass of water, Gower had helped her sit down and gently helped her ease her head down into her lap.

Moments later, drawn by the shooting, the room was filled with law enforcement officers. It was chaos. A young detective helped her up off the floor and onto a chair and asked her what had happened. Another handcuffed Garza Junior, who was just coming to. Sometime later, the paramedics arrived. Sam allowed them to check her for injuries. She was fine but they insisted she should go to a hospital. For the sake of her baby, she agreed. But there was nothing they could do for Detectives Gower or Roth. While waiting to be escorted to an ambulance, Sam overheard a snippet of a conversation between two people out in the hallway.

“Where did the suspect get a gun?” asked the first man.

“It appears he managed to get hold of Gower’s gun,” replied the second.

“What a bloody mess!”

The hallway was crowded when the paramedics escorted her out to the ambulance so Sam couldn’t identify either of the speakers. But she had to agree, it sure was a bloody mess! How did Garza Junior get out of the locked interview room? Perhaps he had inside help? Yes, if Junior is anything like his old man, it is quite likely he has a cop on his payroll.

As she lay in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Sam recalled her shock discovery that the second pair of book glasses may well belong to her mother. This opened a floodgate of thoughts. Why was Mum so secretive about the book glasses? What else is she hiding? But perhaps both Roth and Gower had been mistaken.

Saddened and shocked after witnessing the deaths of Roth and Gower, Sam was also secretly a little relieved they were both dead, but she hated herself for even thinking something so awful. The two detectives had both been good men and had repeatedly gone out of their way to protect her. Today, Roth and Gower had saved her life, at the cost of their own lives. If they hadn’t met her, they would still be alive.

Having been so careful to keep the book glasses hidden over the years, she couldn’t believe how reckless she had been of late. The discovery of the second pair of glasses had rattled her. Then again, she had learned to expect the unexpected. The consequences were too high to risk someone finding them. She needed to refocus and ensure she did not drop her guard again. She needed to protect the book glasses.

The young constable stood frozen just outside the doorway of the interview room. He didn’t even notice as people pushed past him as they entered and exited the room. The male suspect who had escaped and killed two detectives had been taken under guard to hospital and a witness, a young woman, had also been taken to hospital. But the bodies of the two murdered detectives were still in the room.

“Johnson, you’re looking a tad green,” said Sergeant Bernadi. “Don’t puke on the crime scene.” The grim-faced officers in the room shared a fleeting moment of amusement as they watched Johnson back away.

Johnson retreated down the hallway and raced into the toilets. He flung open the door of the nearest cubicle and emptied his stomach into the toilet bowl.

After flushing the toilet, he sat down heavily on the seat and bent over, holding his face in his hands. Then he silently repeated to himself, as if it were a mantra: “He said nobody would get hurt. He said nobody would get hurt. He said nobody would get hurt.” After his shift the day before, when Johnson got into his car, he’d found an envelope on the driver’s seat. He had climbed in and closed the door, then emptied the envelope out onto the passenger’s seat. His attention had been immediately drawn to the two photos, the first showed his wife getting into her car outside their home and the second zoomed in on his daughter outside her school. There was also a phone and a piece of paper with a short, typed message: “Quick dial 2.”

He looked around the car but couldn’t see anyone watching him. Then he picked up the phone and dialled ‘2’, holding his breath until someone answered.

“Constable Johnson?” said a deep accented voice.

“Yes, who are you? And why do you have photos of my wife and daughter?” asked Johnson.

“You can call me Two.”

“If you touch my wife or daughter—”

The man cut him off. “Shut up and listen. If you do exactly as I say, they’ll be fine. All you need to do is find my boss, tell him Two sent you and then do exactly what he asks of you.”

“Who is your boss?” asked Johnson.

It didn’t take long to get the all-clear from the doctors and to discharge herself from St Vincent’s Hospital. She phoned her driver to take her home and when she entered her apartment, she was surprised to discover it was empty.

Sam dialled Sue’s number. “Where are you, Mum?” she asked.

“In the elevator, heading up to your apartment. I just popped out to get some groceries. I’m feeling much better, so I thought I’d cook us a nice dinner.” Sue sounded very convincing.

“Okay, I’m back here in my apartment waiting for you.”

“I’ll be there soon.”

Sam had just hung up when Sue appeared at the door. “Just let me put these groceries away, my dear, and you can tell me how you went. Did you get done what you needed to do?”

Sam wasn’t going to beat around the bush. “Cut the crap. Where did you really go, Mum? Are you even my mother? Who the bloody hell are you?”

Sue’s face paled. “What are you talking about, Samantha? What’s gotten into you?”

Was that guilt in her eyes? “What’s gotten into me?” Sam said. “I’ll tell you what’s gotten into me! The second pair of glasses belong to you!” She held up both pairs.

Sam measured every emotion on Sue’s face. She looked resigned and wary. “So, you have them. I was wondering where they went. I can see you haven’t worn them yet. Or if you have, it must have been only for a few moments.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because if you had, you would be dead by now. You see, this pair is the same as your glasses except for one little detail. Wearing these glasses for more than a few minutes at a time has fatal consequences. You have experienced the dangerous side effects of wearing your glasses for longer than five hours. However, if you wear these glasses for just a few minutes, they’ll kill you!”

Sam wasn’t sure she should trust anything Sue said. “You admit they’re yours?”

There was no hesitation in Sue’s reply. “Yes, of course, but why do you think I’m not your mother?” “First, why didn’t you tell me about the second pair? Secondly, if you lied about them, how can I trust anything you say? You could well be lying about being my mother.”

Sue’s eyes clouded with sadness. “I didn’t lie to you, my love, I just didn’t tell you about them, that’s all. I am, and will always be your mother, my love.”

That seemed to be the truth. “Why have you kept them a secret from me, especially after I told you everything about this pair?”

Sue scowled. “What do you care? You’re heading off to Western Australia to focus on building your precious fortune, aren’t you?”

“That’s not fair!”

But Sam could see Sue had only just started. “Well, it’s true, isn’t it? You live in this luxury penthouse with Sydney Harbour views. You have a personal driver who drives you around in your fancy cars? Who has a personal driver for goodness’ sake?”

So, she was angry because of the wealth, the lifestyle, the things Sam had amassed because of the glasses. What of it? What did Sue expect? She knew what her life had been like. Sue was the reason she’d been through all the shit she had experienced! After all, Sue had abandoned Sam when she was a small child—yes, her mother had been ill, broken, and unfit to care for a child, but she had certainly felt abandoned and alone as a foster child, placed in one unfriendly home after another. What’s more, once her mother got her own life together, she didn’t go looking for Sam. No, instead, she become a nun—Sister Sue!

“Yes, it’s true, I live in a beautiful apartment, and I do have a personal driver. What has gotten into you? Why are you being so horrible to me? Thanks to you, I had nothing in my entire life until I was given the book glasses!”

Even now, she could hardly believe how much a pair of antique glasses had transformed her life. Despite then being dyslexic and almost illiterate, when she first put on the book glasses she could read. What’s more, she could speed-read entire books and remember every word, every image, every diagram. She could teach herself to speak, read, and write languages in mere hours. Within a short amount of time, she could become an expert on any subject that she would read about.

Yes, somehow the mysterious book glasses endowed her with photographic memory and the ability to acquire, retain and analyse massive amounts of information in a short amount of time. It was nothing short of a miracle that an uneducated, jobless, and desperately poor woman with no hope for the future had obtained a PhD in law in record time and become a brilliant multi-millionaire dollar businesswoman.

“Now, don’t try to change the subject—what is contrarium?”

Sue stood back, her expression guarded. “You need to forget about the second pair, my love. Are you listening? They will kill you. Don’t ever mention that word. Do you understand, Sam? Trust me on this, my darling.”

“It’s Latin, isn’t it? How old are they and where are they from?” Sam asked, watching Sue carefully.

“Stop it, Sam. This is something you shouldn’t meddle in. You don’t know how dangerous this pair is. Even the glasses you have could kill you, you’ve worked that out yourself. This pair… Please, forget they exist.”

Didn’t her mother realise what she was? What the glasses allowed her to do? “Look, sooner or later, I will find out. So why don’t you just tell me now? I’m not in the mood for playing around, Mum. You don’t know what I have been through today, so start talking!”

That distracted Sue. “What happened today?”

“Detective Gower and Detective Roth were both shot and killed by Gaza’s son in front of me. I was lucky to survive. Roth saved my life.”

Sue’s hand went to her throat, shock settling over her face. “What about the baby?”

“The baby is fine. They checked me out at the hospital. But my patience has just about run out, so start talking!”

But Sue persisted. “What happened to Gaza’s son?”

“He was shot and wounded and taken to hospital under police guard. Now stop stalling!”

Finally, her mother’s expression relaxed. “Okay, okay. I’ll tell you, but not here.”

“You’re stalling again!”

“No, I’m not. I’ve sworn an oath and there’s only one place I can you tell everything about them and that’s at St Mary’s Cathedral on the other side of the city.”

Sam watched her mother carefully. She seemed to be telling the truth. And Sam was sure that Sue’s involvement in the Catholic order had likely brought her within the orbit of the glasses, so it made sense. “St Mary’s Cathedral? Fine, when?”

“I need some time to arrange it, let’s make it early next week?” Sue said.

Sam felt heat rise to her face. “I’m bloody well leaving for Perth the day after tomorrow, remember? This is bullshit!”

“Okay, tomorrow.”

“What time tomorrow?”

“Ten o’clock. I’ll meet you out the front of the cathedral. Are you okay with that?”

That was progress, at least. She could wait until tomorrow. And she wanted to trust her mother. She needed her. “Yes. Thanks, Mum. I mean it, thanks.”

Sue’s eyes softened and she reached out for Sam. “I’m not looking forward to losing you again.”

Sam let her mother’s arms come around her. She couldn’t deny it felt good to be loved. She needed it. And Sue needed her. “I’m only going to Perth. You can visit us. Better still, come with us!”

Light returned to Sue’s eyes. “Really? You want me to come with you?”

“Yes, of course, Mum. We’re family.”

Sue seemed as surprised about that as Sam was. Finally, they both had a family. “Are we really?”

“Well, we fight like one; that proves it.” Sam grinned. “Now you must come.”

But her mother became resolute. “I can’t leave the refuge, you know that.”

Yes, that was something Sam had momentarily forgotten. To those at Our Lady Mary Women’s Refuge which she had run for many years, her mother was known as Sister Sue. It was her life’s work. Sam knew she would never leave it.

“How long will you be in Perth?” Sue asked.

“I’ll be back way before the birth, okay?”

“You’re having the baby in Sydney?”

Sam forced a smile. “Yes. That’s where my mum lives.”

Sue smiled widely and put her arms around her daughter again. “Thank you, my love.”

“Fine, you go clean up and have a rest while I prepare dinner. We’re having your favourite pasta with my red garlic sauce and garlic bread.”

“Thanks, Mum.”

Sam watched Sue go to get the meal ready, wondering if her mother was really going to tell her everything or if she was just trying to delay her. She would have to wait and see what happened when they visited St Mary’s.

A Special Visit

12th May 2008

Charles Harman sat back in his chair and ran his fingers through his greying hair as he made a note in his diary. Thank goodness he’d been able to secure their special guest. He was exactly the person they needed to open the new exhibit for the Australian Museum. He was certain his team would be pleased with the arrangements too.

As he finished making his notes, he left his office, wanting to tell someone the good news and he knew just the person—James Barlow, their ageing doorman. He knew James was trustworthy and wouldn’t pass on anything he had heard in confidence, which meant that the news wouldn’t get out before Charles could announce it to the rest of the staff. But he had to tell someone.

He was lucky to find James not far away, looking immaculate as usual in his black suit and red bow tie. For years, Charles had been waiting for James to tell him he was retiring, but that hadn’t happened yet, and he hoped it never would.

Charles told him the good news. “We’re getting a special visitor next month—the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Tomas Anthony. I just got off the phone with him and wanted you to know before I announce it at the staff meeting tomorrow. What do you think?”

“A special visit, you say? How delightful.”

“He’ll be here in person to pray at the opening of our upcoming sacred scriptures exhibition and tour.”

“I’m thrilled for you, sir.” But James’ countenance didn’t match his words.

Charles was a little disappointed. “James, don’t you ever get excited?”

“Excuse me, sir. I have to attend to a customer.”

“Yes, of course, carry on.”

“Thank you, sir.”

James’ lacklustre response to his news was deflating. His lack of excitement took the shine off Charles’ elation about the cardinal’s upcoming visit.

Two weeks later, Cardinal Tomas Anthony summoned Charles to St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney to talk about his planned visit to the museum. Charles dropped everything he was doing and dashed over to St Mary’s. He loved the walk over to the cathedral through Hyde Park but, on this occasion, he didn’t stop to smell the roses.

The church’s stone walls captured the warm seasonal breezes that washed over nearby Hyde Park gardens, carrying with them stolen lavender perfume. However, the fresh scent was overpowered by the stale smell of dying flowers from the arrangements that decorated the cathedral.

The afterglow of candles and the sun shining through the stained-glass windows cast bright multi-coloured light over the confessional and the rows of pews. It also bounced onto the altar, giving the place an unusually eerie feel.

Charles was escorted by one of the cardinal’s aides into an office at the back of the cathedral, where he found the cardinal standing next to his desk, a few aides surrounding him. It seemed he’d arrived at the end of a meeting. “Well, that didn’t take long, Charles. Thank you for coming.” He extended his hand.

“Your Eminence, it is my sincere honour and pleasure.” Charles took his hand and bent over to kiss his ring.

“That will do, everyone. Please leave and close the door on your way out. Mr Harman and I would like some privacy. Also, we would enjoy our afternoon tea here please.”

When they were alone, the cardinal said, “Charles, come here and sit close to me. My ears are not as sharp as they once were.”

“Yes, Your Eminence.”

“Please, Tomas is fine.”

“Yes, Cardinal Tomas.”

He was taken aback by the cardinal’s enigmatic expression and wondered if this meeting was really about the cardinal’s visit to the museum or something else.

The cardinal kept his voice low. “I need to tell you something and I hope you’ll keep an open mind. Please leave any questions until I’m finished.”

Charles nodded.

“As a Catholic, I know you know that evil exists. And, my son, I hate to tell you that it’s more apparent and stronger now than it has ever been.

“Over twenty years ago, the Vatican secretly went to great lengths to hide two special pairs of consecrated eyeglasses. These holy glasses have been with every single pope for over two and a half centuries. They are unique and priceless, and I have also been told they confer upon their wearer immeasurable power.”

A knock was heard on the office door. “Yes, come in,” said Cardinal Tomas. The cardinal waited until his young aide set down the tea tray on his desk, poured tea into two fine china teacups and walked out, closing the door behind him.

Charles was anxious to get back to the specifics. Why would these glasses be so special, just because they were antiques? But if that was all, why had the cardinal started the conversation by reminding Charles of the prevalence of evil? “Cardinal Tomas, I understand that these items could be priceless, but what do you mean by immeasurable power?”

The cardinal smiled slightly. “I am simply a cardinal, what do I know, my son? All I know is the Vatican went to great lengths to hide them. One pair was sent to the Archbishop of Paris and the other, as far away from Rome as possible, to the Archbishop of Sydney, my predecessor. Only three people knew of this at the time, and they are all dead now.”

Cardinal Tomas made the sign of the cross before continuing. “Just before he died, my predecessor, may God rest his soul, informed me of my responsibilities regarding the holy glasses and handed them into my care. My burden lies heavy on me, my son.” The cardinal stared into his cup of tea.

What was the man suggesting? That these people had died because of the glasses? Had someone murdered them and tried to steal the glasses? “What about the Archbishop of Paris?”

“Upon suspecting someone had discovered he had them in his possession, the Archbishop of Paris gave his pair of glasses to someone he trusted.”

“Were his suspicions correct?”

The cardinal sighed. “You tell me. He died the following day and the identity of the person to whom he entrusted the glasses remains unknown.”

While he could see how distressing this might be, Charles didn’t see how he fit into this story. “How do you know all this and why are you telling me?” “

All you need to know is that the holy glasses are real and if they fall into the wrong hands, evil will have immeasurable power to rain havoc on the world. Evil has many names, and one of these is Antonio Garza, who runs an evil empire called Borgata, a worldwide criminal organisation. He is a despicable individual full of hate, anger, and pure evil. He is a fallen angel, my son. And Garza is the reason the Vatican took the unprecedented step of removing the two sets of holy glasses from the protection of the Holy See to hide them out in the world.

“Garza is suspected of murdering the previous Archbishop of Paris, but the set of holy glasses that had been in his possession are believed to be safe from Garza in unknown hands. However, we believe Garza has tracked down the other set of glasses to the archdiocese here in Sydney.”

It was an intriguing story. “Again, why are telling me this, Cardinal Tomas?”

“Because now that Garza knows I have one of these sets of glasses, they are no longer safe with me. The Vatican has summoned me to Rome in three weeks’ time to report on the Holy Book Glasses and security will be at its lowest point during my absence. This will give Garza an opportunity to find them. Therefore, I would like to entrust them to you. Are you up to the task?”

Excited at the mere thought of taking custody of a precious artifact of such historical significance, Charles did not hesitate to respond. “I would be honoured. I could take them off your hands now if you like?”

“It’s too risky. I will hand them over at the exhibition opening in two weeks.” The cardinal put a hand on Charles’ shoulder, his face a mixture of trepidation and relief. “I’m glad you are up for it, my son. Fear no evil. God has shown me the path to you, so thank you.”

“Thank you, Cardinal. It is my honour to serve you in any way I can.”

“God bless you, Charles Harman.”

Charles rose to leave. “Cardinal Tomas, I do have one question.”

“Yes, my son. Don’t hold back.”

“How long do I keep them?”

“As long as Garza is around, the glasses aren’t safe and nor is anyone who knows anything about them. Therefore, even after my return from Rome, the less contact we have with one another, the better it is for all. A dark shadow is confronting us, but the Lord will help us through this trying time. The devil will test us, but don’t be afraid, because God’s love will always prevail!”

Charles couldn’t agree more. “You have honoured me with your trust. I won’t let you or the Lord God down, even if my life depends upon it.” And he had a feeling it would, as a tendril of cold crept around his heart. What did it mean?

“I knew you were the person for this task. Evil would never suspect anyone outside the church would be given such a huge responsibility. This will fool them and frustrate their efforts to locate the glasses while I’m overseas. Thank you for agreeing to do this. Now go, my son, and God be with you.”

“Thank you, Cardinal Tomas. I look forward to seeing you again at the opening of the exhibition.”

Charles stood and kissed the ring on the cardinal’s hand once again before walking backwards all the way to the door. He then closed the door behind him and walked through the magnificence of St Mary’s Cathedral, in awe of its beauty that glowed brighter than ever. But now he was focused on his calling and was determined to do whatever he could to protect the precious holy artefact no matter what challenges lay ahead.

 

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