Hulohot burst out of Cardinal Guerra’s chambers into the blinding morning sun. He shielded his eyes and cursed. He was standing outside the cathedral in a small patio, bordered by a high stone wall, the west face of the Giralda tower, and two wrought‑iron fences. The gate was open. Outside the gate was the square. It was empty. The walls of Santa Cruz were in the distance. There was no way Becker could have made it so far so quickly. Hulohot turned and scanned the patio. He’s in here. He must be!
The patio, Jardin de los Naranjos, was famous in Seville for its twenty blossoming orange trees. The trees were renowned in Seville as the birthplace of English marmalade. An eighteenth‑century English trader had purchased three dozen bushels of oranges from the Seville church and taken them back to London only to find the fruit inedibly bitter. He tried to make jam from the rinds and ended up having to add pounds of sugar just to make it palatable. Orange marmalade had been born.
Hulohot moved forward through the grove, gun leveled. The trees were old, and the foliage had moved high on their trunks. Their lowest branches were unreachable, and the thin bases provided no cover. Hulohot quickly saw the patio was empty. He looked straight up. The Giralda.
The entrance to the Giralda’s spiral staircase was cordoned off by a rope and small wooden sign. The rope hung motionless. Hulohot’s eyes climbed the 419‑foot tower and immediately knew it was a ridiculous thought. There was no way Becker would have been that stupid. The single staircase wound straight up to a square stone cubicle. There were narrow slits in the wall for viewing, but there was no way out.
* * *
David Becker climbed the last of the steep stairs and staggered breathless into a tiny stone cubicle. There were high walls all around him and narrow slits in the perimeter. No exit.
Fate had done Becker no favors this morning. As he’d dashed from the cathedral into the open courtyard, his jacket had caught on the door. The fabric had stopped him mid stride and swung him hard left before tearing. Becker was suddenly stumbling off balance into the blinding sun. When he’d looked up, he was heading straight for a staircase. He’d jumped over the rope and dashed up. By the time he realized where it led, it was too late.
Now he stood in the confined cell and caught his breath. His side burned. Narrow slats of morning sun streamed through the openings in the wall. He looked out. The man in the wire‑rim glasses was far below, his back to Becker, staring out at the plaza. Becker shifted his body in front of the crack for a better view. Cross the plaza, he willed him.
* * *
The shadow of the Giralda lay across the square like a giant felled sequoia. Hulohot stared the length of it. At the far end, three slits of light cut through the tower’s viewing apertures and fell in crisp rectangles on the cobblestone below. One of those rectangles had just been blotted out by the shadow of a man. Without so much as a glance toward the top of the tower, Hulohot spun and dashed toward the Giralda stairs.