Half an hour later, at Nice airport, a converted Boeing 727 was slowly taxiing down the runway to the takeoff point. Up in the tower, the flight controller said, ' certainly are in a hurry to get that plane off the ground. The pilot has asked for a clearance three times. 9 "Whose plane is itt ' Stanford *King Midas himself."'s probably on his way to make another billion or two.' The controller turned to monitor a
taking off, then picked up the microphone.
"Boeing eight nine five Papa, this is Nice departure control. You are cleared for takeoff. Five left. After departure, turn right to a heading of one four zero.' Harry Stanford's pilot and copilot exchanged a relieved look. The pilot pressed the microphone button. '. Boeing eight nine five Papa is cleared for takeoff. Will turn Fight to one four zero.' A moment later, the huge plane thundered down the runway and knifed into the gray dawn sky. 14 The copilot spoke into the microphone again. 413eparture, Boeing eight nine five Papa is climbing out of three thousand for flight level seven zero.' The copilot turned to the pilot.
"Whew! Old Man Stanford was . anxioui for us to get off the ground, wasn't het The pilot shrugged. ' not to reason why, ours but to do and die. How's he doing. back theret The copilot rose and stepped to the door of the cockpit, and looked into the cabin. ''s resting.' They telephoned the airport tower from the car. '. Stanford's plane ... Is it still on the groundt ', monsieur. It has departed." the pilot file a flight plant ' course, monsieur." where?" plane is headed for JKF." you.' He ' to his companion. '.
We'll have people there to meet him.' When the Renault passed the outskirts of Monte Carlo, speeding toward the Italian border, Harry Stanford said, ''s no chance that we were followed, Dmitrit ', sir. We've lost them.".' Harry Stanford leaned back in his seat and r .. There was nothing to worry about. They would be tracking the plane. He reviewed the situation 15 in his mind. It was really a question of what they knew and when they knew it. They were jackals following the trail of a lion, hoping to bring him down. Harry Stanford smiled to himself. They had underestimated the man they were dealing with. Others who had made that mistake had paid dearly for it. Someone would also pay this time. He was Harry Stanford, the confidant of presidents and kings, powerful and rich enough to make or break the economies of a dozen countries. The 727 was in the skies over Marseilles. The pilot spoke into the microphone. ', Boeing eight nine five Papa is with you, climbing out of flight level one nine zero for flight level two three zero.".' The R ' reached San Remb shortly after dawn. Harry Stanford had fond memories of the city, but it had changed drastically. He remembered a time when it had been an elegant town with first-class hotels and restaurants, and a casino where black tie was required and where fortunes could be lost or won in an evening. Now it had succumbed to tourism, with loud-mouthed patrons gambling in their shirtsleeves. The Renault was approaching the harbor, twelve miles from the French-Italian border. There were two marinas at the harbor, Marina Porto Sole to the east, and Porto Communale to the west. In Porto Sole, a 16 marine attendant directed the berthing. In Porto Communale, there was no attendant. ' one?" Dmitri asked. ' Communale,' Stanford directed. Ae fewer people around, the better. ', sir.' A few minutes later, the Renault pulled up next to the Blue Skies, a sleek hundred-and7zghty-foot motor yacht.
Captain Vacarro and the crew of twelve were lined UP on deck. The captain burned down the gangplank to greet the new arrivals. ' morning, Signor Stanford,' Captain Vacarro said. ''ll take your luggage, and .. ' luggage. Let's shove off.", sir." a minute.' Stanford was studying the crew. He frowned. ' man on the end. He's new, isn't he?", sir. Our cabin boy got sick in Capri, and we took on this one. He's highly -" rid of him,' Stanford ordered. The captain looked at him, puzzled. ' ... ?" him off.
Let's get out of here.' Captain Vacaffo nodded. ', sir.' Looking around, Harry Stanford was filled with an increasing -sense of foreboding. He could almost reach out and touch it. He did not want any strangers near him. Captain Vacarro, and his crew had been with him for years. He could trust them. He turned to look at the girl. Since Dmitri had picked her up at random, 17 here was no danger there. And as for Dmitri, his faithful bodyguard had saved his life. more than once.
Stanford turned to Dmitri.-'Stay close to me.", sir.' Stanford took Sophia's arm. ''s go aboard, my dear.' - Dmitri Kaminsky stood on deck, watching the crew prepare to cast off. He scanned the harbor, but he saw nothing to be alarmed about. At this time of the morning, there was very little activity. The yacht's huge generators burst into life, and the vessel got under weigh. The captain approached Harry Stanford.
"You didn't say where we were heading, Signor Stanford.' ,, I didn't, did 1, captaint He thought for a moment. '.", sir." the way, I want you to maintain strict radio silence.' Captain Vacarro frowned. ' silence? Yes, sir, but what if ... T Harry Stanford said, "Don't worry about'it. Just do it. And I don't want anyone using the satellite phones.", sir. Will we be laying over in Portofinot "I'll let you know, captain.' Harry Stanford took Sophia on a tour of the yacht. It was one of his prized possessions, and he enjoyed 18 vessel. It had a 91 Sbowm' it off. It was a breathtaking luxuriously appointed master suite with a sitting room and an office. The office was spacious and comfortably hirnished with a couch, several easy chairs, and a desk, , which was enough equipment to run a small town. On the wall was a large electronic map with a small moving boat showing the current position of the yacht. Sliding glass doors opened from the master suite onto an outside veranda deck furnished with a chaise longue and a table with four chairs. A tea k railing ran along the outside. On balmy days, it was Stanford's custom to have breakfast on the veranda.
There were six guest staterooms, each with hand painted silk panels, picture windows, @and a bath with a Jacuzzi. The large library was done in koa wood. The dining room could seat sixteen guests. A fully equipped. fitness salon was on the lower deck. The yacht also contained a wine cellar and a theater that was ideal for running films. Harry Stanford had one of the world's greatest libraries of pornographic movies. T"he furnishings throughout the vessel were exquisite, and the paintings -would have made any museum proud- ', now you've seen most of it,' Stanford told Sophia at the end of the tour. ''ll show you the rest tomorrow.1 She was awed. ''ve never seen anything like it! It's ... it's like a city!' Harry Stanford smiled at her enthusiasm. ' 19 steward will show you to your cabin. Make yourself comfortable. I have some work to do.' Harry Stanford returned to his office and checked the electronic map on the wall for the location of the yacht. Blue Skies was in the Ligurian Sea, heading northeast. 7hey won't know where Fve gone, Stanford thought. They'll be waiting for me at JFK When we get to Portofino, F11 straighten everything out. Thirty-five thousand feet in the air, the pilot of the 727 was getting new instructions. ' eight nine five Papa, you are cleared directly to Delta India November upper route forty as filed.". Boeing eight nine five Papa is cleared direct Dinard upper route forty as filed.' He turned to the copilot. ' clear.' The pilot stretched, got up, and walked to the cockpit door. He looked into the cabin. "How's our passenger doing?' the copilot asked. ' looks hungry to me."