The pattern which I felt certain to exist in the photographs on Dr. Michaels' walls had yet to reveal itself and even the most sophistical analysis programs Kyra could devise were failing to see whatever it was my subconscious thought it was detecting. It was enough to make me doubt myself not to mention consider pulling my hair out as the answer seemed indefinitely stuck on the edge of my thoughts, never quite revealing itself to me.
"Hey," Tom said, slipping in through the door and sitting on the edge of my desk. "Anything new?"
I shook my head, pretending not to be annoyed with him sitting on my desk instead of in a chair. "There is something here, I can feel it, but I can't figure it for some stupid reason."
He dropped a flash card on my desk and said, "This won't cheer you up, but it's a lead."
I plugged it into the computer and glanced at Tom's unsmiling face trying to decide if I should ask or just wait to see what he was talking about. I knew it had to be connected to Patrick Hughes, but I did not want to guess at anything more. I turned my attention to the screen as images started to pop up and then as a clear shot appeared I sucked in a deep breath recognizing the man in the image. I hit the pause key, locking the frame on the screen and looked at Tom. He nodded sympathetically.
"Mark," I said.
"I'm sorry to be right, but I told you he was bad news," Tom said.
"You're following him?" I asked.
"Of course," He said, "If we can't locate where he's keeping Patrick's family before approaching him, I doubt we'll ever get to them."
"He knows who I am," I said.
"You mean Allison?" Tom asked.
"Yes, he knows everything about me," I said thinking about the first time I met him. "He's friends with my brother."
"You don't think your brother is involved?" Tom asked a worried expression settling on his unsettled face.
"No," I said dismissing the very idea as preposterous, "He might have unwittingly assisted Mark, but he wouldn't get involved in this sort of thing."
"You're sure?" Tom asked.
"As sure as you are about Jack," I said.
He nodded. "We'll keep an eye on Mark for now and hopefully he'll lead us where we need to go," Tom said.
"If he's working for the other side," I said, Tom and eyes meeting as understanding passed between us, "Then my entire family is in serious danger."
"He might just be a courier," Tom said, but I could see in his eyes he did not believe it to be the case anymore than I did.
My phone rang causing both of us to jump a little. Kyra said, "V, you've got a call on line two."
"Thanks," I said picking up the phone and disconnecting the intercom. Tom got up to leave me with some privacy and I said, "Hello," to static.
"Hello," I said again and Tom paused at the door looking back at me with a raised eyebrow.
"Virginia?" A male voice said through the static.
"This is Virginia West," I said, thinking I recognized the voice.
"It's Brian Osterman," The voice came through clearer for a moment, "Don't tell me you've already forgotten me?"
"No of course not," I said, remembering he was the best part of my trip to Utah. "The connection is awful."
"It can't be helped, it's a SAT phone and I'm on the move," He said.
"Don't take this wrong way, but why are you calling me?" I asked.
"You're the only one I can trust and besides, crazy as it sounds, I think this damn thing is a message for you," He said, his voice cutting in and out with heavy static.
"What are you talking about?" I said, nearly shouting and hoping he could hear me better than I was hearing him.
"The codex," He said, "It's meant for you, I'm sure of it, but it's not safe. Can you meet me tomorrow in Belize?"
"What's this about," I asked, wondering if it was some sort of trap.
"It's not safe to say anymore, Belize tomorrow, get a room at the Belcove Hotel and I'll meet you there." Brian said and the static ended abruptly as the call died.
Hanging up the phone I shoved back from my desk and nearly took Tom down on my way out the door to get to Kyra. "Can you trace that call?" I asked as soon as she was in ear shot.
"I think so," Kyra said giving me a quizzical look. "Why?"
"Just do it," I said.
A minute later she pulled up a map of Southern Mexico and Central America. She said, "Near as I can tell it came from the border region between Guatemala and Mexico."
I nodded. "Thank you," I said, "Has anyone seen Jack?"
"Looking for me?" Jack said, startling me as he walked up from behind me.
I spun around to him and said, "I need to be in Belize by morning."
"I'll go with you," Tom said.
I snapped my head to him and said, "No, I need you to stay on top of the Hughes situation."
"What's this about?" Jack asked.
"A friend is in trouble and he says he has a message for me," I said.
"Not that," Jack said, "Hughes?"
"It's a long story," I said.
"You can explain it on our flight then," Jack said and I raised my eyebrow at him, "I'm going with you. Get your things together. Kyra have the jet prepped for takeoff in an hour."