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Hulohot spotted Becker immediately. The khaki blazer was impossible to miss, particularly with the small bloodstain on one side. The jacket was moving up the center aisle in a sea of black. He must not know I’m here. Hulohot smiled. He’s a dead man.

He fanned the tiny metal contacts on his fingertips, eager to tell his American contact the good news. Soon, he thought, very soon.

Like a predator moving downwind, Hulohot moved to the back of the church. Then he began his approach‑straight up the center aisle. Hulohot was in no mood to track Becker through the crowds leaving the church. His quarry was trapped, a fortunate turn of events. Hulohot just needed a way to eliminate him quietly. His silencer, the best money could buy, emitted no more than a tiny spitting cough. That would be fine.

As Hulohot closed on the khaki blazer, he was unaware of the quiet murmurs coming from those he was passing. The congregation could understand this man’s excitement to receive the blessing of God, but nevertheless, there were strict rules of protocol‑two lines, single file.

Hulohot kept moving. He was closing quickly. He thumbed the revolver in his jacket pocket. The moment had arrived. David Becker had been exceptionally fortunate so far; there was no need to tempt fortune any further.

The khaki blazer was only ten people ahead, facing front, head down. Hulohot rehearsed the kill in his mind. The image was clear‑cutting in behind Becker, keeping the gun low and out of sight, firing two shots into Becker’s back, Becker slumping, Hulohot catching him and helping him into a pew like a concerned friend. Then Hulohot would move quickly to the back of the church as if going for help. In the confusion, he would disappear before anyone knew what had happened.

Five people. Four. Three.

Hulohot fingered the gun in his pocket, keeping it low. He would fire from hip level upward into Becker’s spine. That way the bullet would hit either the spine or a lung before finding the heart. Even if the bullet missed the heart, Becker would die. A punctured lung was fatal, maybe not in more medically advanced parts of the world, but in Spain, it was fatal.

Two people . . . one. And then Hulohot was there. Like a dancer performing a well‑rehearsed move, he turned to his right. He laid his hand on the shoulder of the khaki blazer, aimed the gun, and . . . fired. Two muffled spats.

Instantly the body was rigid. Then it was falling. Hulohot caught his victim under the armpits. In a single motion, he swung the body into a pew before any bloodstains spread across his back. Nearby, people turned. Hulohot paid no heed‑he would be gone in an instant.

He groped the man’s lifeless fingers for the ring. Nothing. He felt again. The fingers were bare. Hulohot spun the man around angrily. The horror was instantaneous. The face was not David Becker’s.

Rafael de la Maza, a banker from the suburbs of Seville, had died almost instantly. He was still clutching the 50,000 pesetas the strange American had paid him for a cheap black blazer.