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Chapter 21: An ending and a beginning

Heather Hopp-Bruce/Globe staff; Adobe/Stepan Bormotov - stock.adobe.co

“The Mechanic” is a novella by best-selling author Ben Mezrich. The fictional work will publish exclusively on BostonGlobe.com over the next two weeks. Read more about this book at globe.com/themechanic. Sign up to be alerted when the next installment goes live here.

Chapter Twenty One - Epilogue

Five miles away, Curt Emerson III moved gracefully down the long private dock toward the figure standing at the far end, backlit by the sun rising up from beyond the harbor. The dock was swaying with the water that crashed and cavorted against the wooden pylons holding it up, but Curt barely noticed, his long, taut muscles reacting instinctively to keep his balance perfect, his motion pure. He didn’t walk so much as glide, his joints perfectly tuned by a near lifetime of physical training.

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But even with all that he had been through, his education, the years he’d spent plying his unique profession, something about the man at the end of the dock still filled him with trepidation. Strange; as Curt moved closer, he could make out the man’s features, and there was nothing unusual or terrifying about them. Middle-aged, handsome, thin but not gaunt, with short hair slightly silver at the edges, and maybe just the hint of a scar above his left eye. If anything, the man looked like a banker, or someone who started companies in Silicon Valley. There was nothing inherently frightening about him.

But as Curt stopped a few feet in front of the man, bowing slightly, he could feel the palpable surge in the nerves of his spine. All of his senses were going off, warning him, and it took much of his energy just to push the feelings away.

“Mr. Arthur,” Curt finally said, when he’d regained his composure. “I have unfortunate news to report.”

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The man sighed. Curt could see, behind him, the leather-lined tender tied to the end of the dock, piloted by a sailor in a crisp gray uniform. The exterior of the tender was sleek and mostly pitch black fiberglass, without markings or numbers. The interior was likewise dark, the leather imported and expensive. Curt knew that the tender was one of the fastest of its kind, ridiculously expensive, with a price running into the millions. But it was nothing compared to the 300-foot yacht it served, anchored just beyond the harbor.

Curt had been on the yacht once before, when he’d first been hired to shadow Patricia, the woman with the black hair, the woman now dead. The yacht was something quite incredible: two helicopter pads, multiple swimming pools, an indoor theater, and a lower level that could only be described as an art museum, filled with Picassos, Van Goghs, and probably now, at least one Vermeer. The yacht flew a flag of a small European country, but the family that owned it had a different provenance, one shrouded in mystery. Even Curt didn’t know their full history. And he didn’t intend to research the matter. There were certain stones you did not turn over, not matter how curious you were.

“It seems Patricia failed again,” Curt started, but Mr. Arthur stopped him with a wave of his hand.

“It doesn’t matter. There’s a new thread to pull, Mr. Emerson. A promising thread.”

Curt instinctively recoiled as Mr. Arthur reached into his jacket pocket, then relaxed as the man retrieved a small photograph, and handed it across to him.

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Curt looked down at the picture. It was of an engraving, one he’d never seen before. The signature at the bottom of the engraving was instantly familiar: Paul Revere. Revere was in the image on the engraving as well, but he wasn’t alone. A second man was there with him. Heavyset, mostly bald but with curly, longish hair at the sides and circular, metal-framed spectacles resting on the ridge of his nose. The two men were standing in what looked to be a workshop, with a table between them. On the table was what appeared to be an eagle, made of what might have been solid gold. But strangely, the eagle wasn’t the focal point of the engraving. The focal point was something else, an object hanging between the men, above the table.

A kite. With what appeared to be a key, dangling from its tail.

Mr. Arthur held out his hand, and Curt handed him back the photograph. Then Arthur turned toward the tender, beckoning Curt to follow.

“We’ll be in Philadelphia by the morning,” he said, as Curt fell into lockstep behind him.

Patricia had failed, but the hunt wasn’t over.

In fact, it was about to begin all over again.