Summer page-turner: David Baldacci's 'Deliver Us From Evil'

She came forward after locking the door behind her. As she drew closer to the bed he could see that she was wearing only a cotton robe that barely covered her thighs and dipped low around the chest. Her tanned skin peeked out at him from several angles, except at the flap of the robe. There he could see the paleness of her revealed hip. She had loosened her hair and now it swept around her shoulders. She was also barefoot. She slipped onto the bed next to him.

"Barbara?" he said, his heart beginning to beat faster. "What are you doing here?"

"I know you want me," she said in German. "I can see it in your eyes."

He whimpered as she took his hand and drew it inside the folds of her robe, near her breasts. "But I'm an old man, I can't satisfy you. I . . . I can't."

"I will help you. We'll take it nice and slow."

"But the guard? He's outside the door. I don't want him to . . ."

She gently stroked his head. "I told him it was your birthday and I was your present." She smiled. "I told him to give us two hours, at least."

"But my birthday isn't for another month." "I couldn't wait."

"But I can't do it. I do want you, Barbara, but I am too old. Too damn old."

She drew closer, touched him where he hadn't been touched for decades. He moaned. "Don't do this to me. I tell you it won't work."

"I'm patient."

"But why would you want me?"

"You're a very rich and powerful man. And I can see that you were once very handsome."

He seized on this statement. "I was. I was. I have a picture."

"Show me," she said. "Show me," she moaned into his ear as she moved his hand up and down inside her robe. He pressed the panel, extracted the photo, and handed it to her. Her gaze lingered over the image of him and Adolf Hitler. "You look like a hero. Were you a hero?"

"I did my job," he said dutifully. "I did what was asked of me." "I'm sure you were very good at it."

"I've never shown that picture to anyone else. No one." "I am flattered. Now lie back."

He did so and she straddled him, unloosening her robe so he could see her body more fully. She also removed the call device from around his neck.

He started to protest.

"We don't want the buttons to be pushed accidentally," she said, holding it away from him. She bent down so her breasts were close to his face. "We don't want to be interrupted."

"Yes, you are right. No interruptions."

She reached in her pocket and held up a pill. "I brought you this to take. It will help with that." She motioned to his crotch.

"But I don't know if I should. My other medications—"

Her voice dipped still lower. "You will last for hours. You will make me scream."

"God, if I only could."

"All you have to do is swallow this." She held up the small pill. "And then take me."

"Will the pill really work?" In his excitement a bit of spittle appeared on his lips.

"It has never let me down before. Now take it."

She handed it to him, poured out a glass of water from a carafe on the nightstand, and watched as he swallowed the pill and greedily slurped down the water.

"Is it getting bigger?" he asked eagerly.

"Patience. And in the meantime I have something to show you."

From the pocket of her robe she pulled out a slim camera. It was the one that had been tossed to and caught by Barbara at her window when the power had gone off and the security system had disarmed.

"Barbara, I feel funny."

"It is nothing to worry about."

"Call the doctor to come in. Press the button for him. Do it now."

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